I do not understand those couples who claim to have met at the gym. Think about it, with the exception of the increased endorphins and self-esteem upon completing a rigorous workout, the gym is one of the least attractive places on earth. Yes, the blond with the surfer physique and rugged abs is attractive, and the chick in the Yoga pants has a bottom worthy of a T-Pain club anthem (and my envy), but sweat is not a way to entice the opposite sex, in my opinion. The gym is home to sweat-drenched, odorous, breathless masses working relentlessly to stay one step ahead of the bulge. (Stop fooling yourself; you do not "glisten". No one in the gym glistens. "Glistening" only happens in commercials for cruise lines. If you go to the gym, and leave with only a glisten, you need to go back in and try again.) In fact, I think there are only two places where your partner should see you as sweaty and as breathless as he/she will find you in the gym. (I'll leave you to ponder what those may be. My siblings would argue that a 311 concert is the third place. I guess it's a matter of preference.) The point being that it perplexes me that one could meet a date or a mate at the gym.
But at least women today have avenues such as the gym (though I'd prefer a bookstore or a park or even trivia night) for meeting guys. In the Middle Ages, chronic dating in search of "the one" was not an option. Courtship may have happened, but only after an arrangement (fancy talk for financial backing) between the man and the potential in-laws. In most cases, however, you would have been married off to some guy you barely knew, if you knew him at all, without all the hassle of dating.
The upsides to such an arrangement: no cheesy pick-up lines and no "dating stress". The downsides: too numerous to list. (But the hassles of dating and the stupid pick-up lines seem quite positive in comparison to a life-long marriage to a person you didn't choose.)