The Right Way to Meet People at the Gym

Group Chat at Gym

Did you know that training with another person could increase your fitness success by up to 200%? I know it sounds too good to be true, but that’s exactly what a recent study by the Society of Behavioral Medicine demonstrated—that training with a partner has the potential to double your exercise performance.

Every successful fitness journey or body transformation I’ve personally witnessed had one thing in common: an improved support system. It’s quite possibly the most important factor for long-term fitness success. Motivation is great to get you started, but it’s a finite resource that typically runs out quickly. Finding something else—or someone—to keep you in the gym and adherent to your fitness regimen is a must!

The answer is right in front of you. It’s the people. Making friends could make your experience in the gym 500% more enjoyable. (No studies to support this, yet.) Gym friends hold you accountable, provide friendly competition, and make the experience a lot more fun. But meeting people can be hard! I know from personal, introverted experience. And we’ve all seen or heard about those awkward gym encounters that feel like a surprise speed-dating session! You don’t want to be that guy. So here are a few handy dos and don’ts to help you out and approach people in a welcome, unobtrusive way.

How to Meet People at the Gym

DO

  • Talk to the staff – The club manager and coaches are your golden ticket to introductions to other members.
  • Take advantage of any free personal training or consultations – Even if you know your way around the gym, meeting with one of the most outgoing people in the gym can’t be a bad thing. It’s an easy way to make a friend on day one without awkwardly approaching anyone.
  • Be consistent – Working out at the same time each day is a great way to become familiar with other people on the same schedule.
  • Compliment – There’s nothing bothersome or creepy about liking someone’s shoes. (Though probably lay off her pecs!)
  • Smile – Smiling is an introvert’s best friend. A consistent smile has (probably) been proven to bait other gym goers into approaching you.
  • Follow proper gym etiquette – It doesn’t take long to become known as the person who never wipes down equipment, makes too much noise, forgets personal hygiene, or makes other gym goers uncomfortable. Make it a point to be respectful of the gym and its members.
  • Engage in some friendly competition – Asking someone to join in on a partner exercise or even race is a fun way to break the ice!

DON’T

  • Wear headphones – If you are new to the gym, you want to appear approachable. Headphones exude “I don’t want to be bothered.”
  • Interrupt someone mid-set or during an intense workout – Who wants to talk when they’re out of breath and drenched in sweat?
  • Be scared or intimidated by group classes – Many times, the loyal group class members are the heartbeat of a gym, and they’re always looking for new recruits. Not to mention, the accountability from 10+ people expecting you to be in class is second to none.
  • Avoid busy times – Your odds of making friends during peak hours like 5-6 p.m. are exponentially better than 10 p.m. Peak hours will also be the times you’re more likely to run into the “regulars” of the gym, and they typically notice and acknowledge new members.
  • Have wandering eyes – The thing about mirrors is, if you can see them, they can see you. Don’t be creepy. And don’t stare.
  • Hesitate to ask for help – Rarely will you find someone who wouldn’t enjoy showing you how to do an exercise or help you adjust equipment.

Ok, it’s time. Get out there and stretch your comfort zone. Kids make friends easily—and adults can too!

Have any other tips you’ve found useful? We’d love to hear them below.

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Mason Woodruff is a strength and nutrition coach, Anytime Fitness area manager, and writer from the great state of Arkansas. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Science and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). His passion lies in educating others on how to sustainably achieve a healthy life with a strong and functional body they’re confident in. You can usually find Mason lifting heavy things or enjoying the outdoors, and it’s not uncommon for him to eat breakfast three times a day.