Like many people, I have a gym membership and occasionally go and feel the burn. My gym is teeming with attractive women, but I've never worked up the nerve to actually talk to one of them. I have no game at places where it's acceptable to hit on ladies, so I figure I'd just come off as creepy and desperate if I try to interrupt some woman's workout with my awkward attempt at charm. I also find the prospect of trying to engage in flirty small talk all the more intimidating when the girl is drenched in sweat and not wearing a lot of clothes.
But I've always wondered: Is it appropriate to hit on girls at the gym? So I asked three women from my ever-increasing roster of platonic girlfriends what the etiquette is for approaching a woman who is in mid-workout. As an added bonus for those who like a little schadenfreude with their advice column, I'm going to apply the panel's advice and try and approach a girl(s) at the gym, and write about it next week.
My panel consisted of my former neighbor, Melissa, who goes to the gym regularly and used to tolerate my clumsy attempts at hitting on her in exchange for my famous zucchini bread; a former college chum, Jamie, who actually works as a yoga instructor at a gym in Plano; and Liz, who works at my gym. (Editors note: I conducted these interviews via e-mail, so none of the women involved could see the others' answers. As a consequence, some of the answers are similar).
Yme: Is it appropriate to hit on a girl at the gym?
Melissa: I hate it when guys hit on me, because they always want to give me advice on my workout, and sometimes get a little handsy. I'm also not there to talk to anyone, and I usually have my headphones in my ears. I don't really enjoy working out, so I'm just trying to get through it as quickly as I can. I'm not sure how other women feel about it.
Jamie: I think it's OK to hit on women, but like any other place you'd hit on someone, you have to read the signs when a girl isn't interested. That's the problem with macho gym guys. They don't know when they've been rejected. You have to really be clear that you aren't interested.
Liz: I don't like being hit on, because I'm at work, and I have to be polite to everyone. Guys at the gym are naturally [narcissistic], so they don't know how to take a hint. But I see women who are definitely there to flirt. It's always the ones who are wearing tons of makeup and hardly ever do any actual exercising.
Yme: Is there a good time to approach a woman at the gym?
Melissa: Not in mid-exercise. There's nothing more annoying than having to stop what I'm doing and pull out my headphones so some guy can try and "help" me with my form. I'd do it at the water fountain, or take a class. Before and after classes I'm always talking to people.
Jamie: I would sign up for a class. I'm partial to yoga classes, of course, but most of the classes at my gym are chock full of beautiful women. The few guys who do sign up get a lot of attention from their classmates.
Liz: Definitely wait until they are done with whatever they are doing. Don't approach a girl while she's in a compromised position: lying on the floor, on the treadmill, etc.
Yme: How do I start a conversation with a girl at the gym?
Melissa: If you must, maybe you could ask her how much she can bench. (Just kidding.) Maybe ask if you can buy her a smoothie or something.
Jamie: It's just like anywhere else. Wait for eye contact and just introduce yourself. If they don't respond, just move on.
Liz: You could ask them to spot you. (Please don't do that!) You can ask them what is on their iPod, or if they have taken any of the classes. Don't be cheesy. It's awkward enough getting hit on in the first place. A cheesy line makes me want to hide under my desk.
So there you have it. Don't hit on women at the gym unless they are wearing makeup and not doing any exercise. If you do, don't run game while they are in mid-crunch, don't use a pickup line and maybe sign up for one of those classes.
I'll let you know how things go next week. If you have a funny story about hitting on someone at the gym, or being hit on, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, so I can exploit you.