Be a social butterfly and connect with others with these tips.
There’s no denying that the gym can be an excellent place to meet new friends and build community — and it has been known to lead to a few successful soulmate connections. After all, you’ve got an automatic common interest with fellow members — fitness. But in a place where people tend to keep to themselves, you’ve got to open up and be proactive. Here are the best strategies for putting yourself out there and connecting with others.
1. Be approachable
If you want to be approached, you need to look approachable and be authentically yourself. Think about your presentation — would you approach you? Is your hat or hoodie covering your face and sending a message of “don’t mess with me”? Be thoughtful about wearing anything that has a strong fragrance or that will leave your scent behind — it’s inconsiderate and may trigger sensitivities in some (and in general it’s not appropriate gym etiquette).
When it comes to your attire, look like you are ready to train — and wear clothing that gives you confidence but does not make you feel self-conscious. Gym wear is high style and high performance these days, and investing in a new workout look not only empowers your mood, it also gives power to your workouts.
Another crucial element of being approachable is ditching your earbuds (or one of them), and the new Apple airpods are an amazing solution. While music may do wonders for your energy and flow during your workout, wearing earbuds sends the message that you don’t want to be disturbed.
2. Check your body language
Whether you are a planning on making the first move to chat with someone or if you just want to show that you’re interested in talking to new people, having positive body language is just as important as your appearance.
Smile often and be conscious of the tone of your resting face, aiming to keep your expression more neutral to positive than a less inviting scowl. Other positive body language includes an upward gaze (no staring at your phone), according to body language experts at Psychology Today.
3. Try a group fitness class
If you’re always on the elliptical alone, there’s no wonder you haven’t made friends at the gym. Try attending a few studio classes at the same time each week and introduce yourself to others in the class. Oftentimes, these classes encourage community and interaction, and it’s a perfect way to make friends who you’ll see regularly in class.
4. Be the first to be friendly
If you want to make friends, you have to be outgoing. Don’t be scared to strike up a conversation about someone’s race T-shirt or choice of shoes. And when you chat, make sure to phrase questions to be open-ended to leave room for conversation, rather than only requiring simple yes or no answers. Aim to identify a common interest or experience that you share.
Another strategy for starting a conversation is to ask for help using a machine that you’re unfamiliar with. Or ask for a critique of your form while lifting so you can also improve your technique. If there are TVs on in the common area, comment on the content at hand to see if you share the same thoughts.
Whatever conversation starter you choose, be extremely aware of your timing. For instance, don’t interrupt someone while he or she is in the middle of a set or rushing through a timed circuit. Aim to chat when he or she is just getting started with a workout or during a water break so that you don’t ruin his or her focus and flow.
While going to the gym is about getting fit and feeling good, it’s a great place to find a community, make friends and even start a relationship. While respecting the space of others, use these tips to find a new pal during your next sweat session.