Last week I interviewed three of my gal pals on the subject of how and when it's appropriate to hit on girls at the gym. Armed with the trio's ideas, I donned my shortest shorts, knee-high socks and headband, and went down to my gym to pump some iron.
Unfortunately, I felt the burn, not of a good workout, but that of rejection.
At least the ladies whom I hit on were polite. One of them even told me what I did wrong.
I don't make it to the gym as often as I'd like, and my attempts at creating a spark at the gym are in no way bolstered by the fact that I have the figure of a coat hanger. But I do want a woman who works out and cares about her appearance, so it's only fair that I should have to suffer the awkward groans of the muling meatheads who practically live at 24 Hour Fitness.
I went on a recent weekday around 6 p.m., when I knew the gym would be packed, which it was.
My first stop was the treadmill, thinking that a little sweat would add to my gym-cred. I ended up next to a really good-looking woman, but I remembered the words of my friend Liz, who suggested that I "...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."
All of my women friends suggested I sign up for a class, so I tried something called "Body Attack," which, according to the pamphlet I read, "combines athletic aerobic movements with strength and stabilization exercises." Great, I thought, I crave stability.
While waiting for the class to begin, I struck up a conversation with an attractive woman, and asked her if she'd taken the class before. She answered that she had -- and that she and her boyfriend take it all the time. Ouch.
During parts of the grueling hourlong class, I had to fight the temptation to lie down and cry. My lungs felt as if I'd inhaled battery acid, and my knees wobbled like a newborn deer. I emerged soaked from my own sweat and drenched in the shame of being so out of shape. I was not in a good place to run game, so I sat in the men's locker room for 15 or 20 minutes, and tried not to look at the nude elderly men who always seem to be there.
After recovering, I saw a woman standing by herself near the water fountains, arms folded as though she was waiting for a bus. The moment I built up the courage to approach her, a door swung open and she walked into it. I guess I'd never noticed there was another bathroom outside of the locker rooms, but I was grateful that I caught myself before hitting on her.
Just before leaving, I talked myself into giving it one more try. I saw a woman sitting down near the reception area, and I sat near her. I asked if she had ever taken the Body Attack class, and it turns out she had. We had a brief conversation and eventually I worked up the courage to ask her out.
She politely turned me down and started to walk away. In addition to forcing her into awkward small talk, I thought, I'd also chased her away from her resting spot.
I stopped her and revealed that I write an advice column on dating, and asked her to give me some feedback.
"It wasn't so much that I wouldn't consider going out with you," she said. "I just find men who hit on girls at the gym really obnoxious."
Well, there you go. I tried. I failed. Never again.