How to Meet Someone at the Gym (Without Being a Creep)
There's no denying the gym is a great place to people-watch and (possibly) check out others in your dating pool who enjoy the same extracurricular activities as you. And in a go-go-go world, where it's tough to find time between work, family and social obligations, the gym remains a viable place to meet new and interesting people outside of a dating app.
The problem? In a place where many people are wearing spandex and moving in somewhat compromising positions, a lot can go wrong as you make your move. For instance, it's generally a bad idea to break the ice by correcting a person's downward-facing-dog form if you're not the yoga instructor. If you make this misstep (or a similar one), you could be labeled the "creepy gym-stalker" or the "starer," even if your intentions are benign.
This doesn't mean asking someone out at the gym is off-limits, though. You just have to be careful about how you go about doing it. The main thing to remember? Harness your emotional intelligence and pay attention to body language and nonverbal cues. And no matter how fantastic the object of your interest looks in their spandex, the gym is actually not the place to make body-focused comments or compliments. Save those for date night, once you've actually received confirmation of mutual interest.
Don't stare, touch or offer unsolicited advice
The gym might seem like the perfect place to get a little handsy, right? You could offer a spot, correct a person's form or volunteer to teach a new move, but ultimately, that's a bad idea. For one thing, any ice-breaker where you're essentially downplaying the other person's knowledge might be perceived as both presumptuous (on your part) and demeaning (to them). Generally speaking, asking for tips or advice is more likely to be well-received than giving unsolicited tips or advice.
When the "advice" you're offering comes with a side of hands-on "instruction" (like guiding someone's hips while correcting squat form), you're asking to be labeled a creep. If the type of touching goes beyond anything you'd do with a new client at work or with a stranger at a coffee shop, you shouldn't be doing it with a stranger at the gym, either.
'If you want to make it clear you've noticed someone, try to be mindful of your intentions and how intensely you may be coming off.'
As far as staring goes, it's important to pay attention to the other person's reception of your eye contact. Most people have an inkling when someone's trying to catch their eye, and eye contact is an important first step in gauging whether someone might be interested in having a conversation. But if you're constantly trying to catch someone's eye and they're clearly avoiding eye contact, that's your cue to stop hunting them with your peepers.
"It's important to remember how vulnerable a lot of gym-goers can feel," said Amanda Stein, the lead editor of BeautyMag, a website dedicated to relationships, fashion and makeup. "If you want to make it clear you've noticed someone, try to be mindful of your intentions and how intensely you may be coming off. Just make brief eye contact, and don't act like you 'got caught' when they meet your gaze, which sends the signal you know you're doing something creepy."
If you make eye contact, Stein suggests offering a brief smile or a wave to gauge their response. If they reciprocate, that's an indicator they may be open to talking more later.
Don't follow the person around
Relationship expert and founder of Her Norm, Sonya Schwartz, points out if you always happen to be one machine over from your love interest or you're always waiting for the machine they're using, you're going to be labeled a stalker. The other person will notice, and chances are they're going to feel more uneasy than flattered. Plan your routine in advance and follow it, just as you would if your love interest didn't exist. If you happen to cross paths, great—it may be an opportunity to make eye contact or banter over a set of dumbbells, but at least the interaction will feel natural, not forced.
Avoid getting personal during a workout
There may be opportunities to chat with your future swolemate while breaking a sweat (see the next tip), but the middle of a workout isn't the time to ask someone out. For one thing, most people are trying to buzz through their routine and get on with their lives, which means they might have a minute or so to spare between sets or exercises, but not much more. A quick, "Hey, are you using that machine?" is completely acceptable, but starting a more personal or in-depth conversation may feel intrusive (and obnoxious) in the middle of a workout.
Be considerate as a means to strike up a conversation
Since staring and touching are generally ill-advised and long conversations in the middle of a workout are annoying, your best bet for breaking the conversation barrier is to be a considerate human being. Schwartz points out that simple, gym-appropriate interactions can give you the bridge to move from eye-contact-only to a more personal conversation later on. For instance, she suggests asking if you're blocking someone's view of the mirror, offering to unload a machine's weights because you'll be using it next or asking if someone waiting for the bench press you're using wants to "work in." These are all simple ways of signaling you're conscientious and helpful, and can help put the other person at ease, which could make it easier to strike up a slightly more involved conversation after your routine.
Pay attention to body language and reactions
Unreciprocated eye contact is one surefire sign your love interest doesn't feel the same way, but it's not the only sign. Make sure you're paying attention to all the verbal and nonverbal cues they are sending off. For instance, Stein points out if a person is wearing headphones and never takes them off, they don't want to have a conversation. Likewise, let's say you ask a question and they pause their music or remove their headphones just long enough to give a curt response before returning to their routine. You're better off leaving well enough alone.
Also, Stein points out where a person chooses to work out can offer an indication of their openness to conversation. For instance, if they're always working out in the least-crowded parts of the gym or they avoid machines next to occupied ones, chances are they don't want to be approached.
The reality is, if someone is interested, they will give off some clues. They'll reciprocate eye contact, offer a smile or say a quick greeting. They may engage in the same sort of welcoming, intra-workout convo as you. The point is, they'll be open to engagement, even if it's brief.
Wait until after the workout to make a move
The best time to try to expand on initial interest is after a workout. It'll likely be obvious when someone is rushing to get home or out the door, or if they're able to linger a little while as they pack up their things. If the moment seems appropriate, go ahead and introduce yourself and ask for a recommendation, like a good place to grab a post-workout smoothie. If you're lucky, they might suggest heading that way together.
Offer compliments, but not body-focused ones
Even if your love interest's body is bangin', Stein is clear that your initial interaction isn't the time to tell them how great they look in workout gear. Save these compliments for an official date and stick with the more general, "Wow, you look amazing!"
Rather, use your post-workout chat to compliment how hard they work and their focus. This gives you the chance to ask if they're training for a specific purpose or how long they've been at it. In other words, it's a way to show interest and find out more about them, rather than making someone feel self-conscious about how you've been staring at their glutes.
And Schwartz also suggests asking what other interests they have outside of the gym, such as hiking, rock climbing or swimming. If one of their interests matches yours, you can use it as a way to suggest a future activity you can do together...you know, an actual date.