Getting hit on at the gym is perhaps the biggest cliche, like, ever. It’s happened to pretty much everyone I know—women and men alike—at some point in their gym-going lives. Occasionally, it’s flattering. But more often than not, it’s just downright creepy.
Thing is, though, the gym is a perfectly natural, perfectly respectable place to meet someone. Think about it: Gyms are little micro communities of like-minded people who, at the very minimum, share a mutual appreciation for being healthy and well. And that’s not something to snuff at! I’ve known couples who’ve either had to overcome or broken up over the fact that one person in the relationship is super healthy and fit and the other is, well, not. So having the whole health-and-fitness thing in common is a very good starting point.
Still. There seems to be something inherently creepy about being scoped out at a place where you're wearing either ratty old clothes or tight technical ones and sweating your brains out. Or maybe—just maaaaybe—it's all in the approach. Track with me on this one, guys.
I asked a few trainers and fitness friends for their tips on how to ask someone out at the gym without looking like a total creep. Here, their 10 best pieces of advice.
1. Don't stare.
Remember how your mom told you not to stare when you were a kid? Still applies. Because obviously this would be the number one rule when it comes to not being creepy while checking someone out. Don't stare. Don't take repeated sideways peeks, either. We can see you and we don't like it one bit.
2. Don't show off.
If you can't deadlift 450 pounds, don't try to deadlift 450 pounds. Same goes for the treadmill or Spin class: Just don't show off. Any normal human being can tell when you're in over your head, and grunting and swearing while you struggle to lift a massive set of barbells isn't the way to win us over.
3. Don't drop knowledge (if you don't know what you're talking about).
This is closely related to showing off, but, believe it or not, it's even worse. This is when a person, in a lame attempt to strike up a conversation, tries to offer you unsolicited advice about something you're doing—your form while using a machine, say, or your resistance while Spinning. It's one thing if this person is a professional personal trainer, who genuinely wants to help you have a better workout. But when said person is clearly an ogler looking for a way in, nope. Shut it down.
4. Approach anyone wearing headphones with extreme caution.
If the object of your affection is a perennial gym-going headphones wearer, it is a clear signal: This is a person who would rather not be bothered at the gym. (I say this from personal experience, people.) So if you must approach this person, do so cautiously. And prepare yourself for a few withering looks, at least until you get out whatever it is you want to say to them. (And, seriously, it had better be good.)
5. Don't lead with a pick-up line.
6. Offer an introductory disclaimer.
Speaking of what to actually say: Acknowledging that the whole picking-up-someone-at-the-gym-thing is awkward and cliche right off the bat is the perfect way to break the ice. Because, duh, that's what everyone is thinking.
7. Ask to work in on a set.
This! This is the perfect way to casually strike up a conversation with someone you've been eyeing (non-creepily, of course) at the gym. If he or she is using a machine you want to use, ask to work in between their sets. It puts you in close proximity and gives you something natural to talk about. "It can totally start an easy conversation," says Body Cycle Studio's Shoshana Katz.
8. Take a group fitness class.
If meeting someone (anyone!) is your goal, your best bet is to do so in a group fitness class, where no one is wearing headphones (see #4) and everyone is there with the goal of working out with other people. See? You're already one step ahead of the game. The point of these classes is to be social, so you should feel comfortable striking up a conversation. If you're looking to get in with the ladies, try a Spin or yoga class. If you're trying to get in with the guys, CrossFit or boot camp are good bets.
9. Give a genuine compliment.
Who doesn't like a nice compliment? The key here is to be real about it. If someone was really working hard on the treadmill and you noticed, it would totally be within the realm of reason to say to that person, "You really killed it on the treadmill! Nice job." Or if you were impressed by his headstand during yoga class, say it. Or if you really like her hot-pink neon shoes, tell her. Just be genuine about it.
10. Above all, be friendly.
Seriously, that's all it takes. Almost everyone I talked to said they're more likely to be open to the gym-approach if the person doing the approaching leads with a warm smile. Just don't follow that smile with, "I know an activity that’s fun and burns 350 calories an hour . . ." Oy.
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