Written by Imane
Image by kk_fit_
At first glance, we don’t really associate gyms with socialization – Sweaty environments do not typically spring to mind when you think about a buzzing social lifestyle, but as they say, strong (and sweaty) is the new sexy; and gyms can be a great place to meet people and build relationships, whether friendships, “work-ships” or who knows? “Love-ships” if you’re lucky. You can make your gym membership add to your social life, by making some proactive changes and adopting new behaviors at the gym.
The best thing about classes is the sense of community that they bring. Everyone suffers together around a common purpose, whether it is getting fitter or feeling better. Push yourself to stick to the same class schedule every week at least at the beginning; switching classes every time makes it hard to connect with others based on familiarity. You know how uncomfortable it can be to see someone you kind of know but not really after a long time? Awkward right? You don’t want that. You can explore other classes once you’ve passed that awkward stage with the people you got along with the most at first sight. Arriving at the studio a few minutes before or staying slightly longer after the workout ends is often useful to choose your spot and start small talk with whoever is there. You will be surprised how open people are to get to know you. Most gyms also organize some social activities outside of the studio, where you can connect with members around a drink.
Stick to a regular schedule
You know how consistent you are in checking your crush’s Instagram posts? That’s the energy we want when it comes to your gym and class attendance. Sticking to a regular workout time is a powerful way to make strong connections because you’ll meet other people with similar schedules (most humans are creatures of habit). Be patient, the first few times you meet someone may not lead to a conversation, but after some time you’ll find yourselves nodding at each other saying hi and before you know it, you speak, get to know each other, and exchange numbers. You can then start scheduling classes and meeting times with your new friends, which will take the quality of your workouts and motivation to a whole new level.
Leverage your personal trainer’s network
Pick a personal trainer that you get along with (aka vibe with). Truth is that personal trainers have an extensive network of people they train, which they get to know quite well over time. Personal trainers can pair you up with workout partners if you need some extra motivation or can even play cupid if you are looking for a boo. I’ve heard of personal trainers creating a strong community with their clients, organizing weekend outdoor activities, dinners, drinks, etc. It is important to build strong relationships with your personal trainer so they always have your back (literally) and add to your social life.
Fix your attitude (and body language)
There are some behaviors that scream “don’t speak to me”. Cap, headphones, head down. Guilty? I can fully relate because this is me on days when I just can’t be bothered to speak to anyone at the gym. Doing this all the time can only take you as far as… nowhere if your goal is to meet people. Instead, smiling, making subtle eye contact once in a while, removing your headphones, or even asking questions on how to perform an exercise can take you a long way. It is also helpful to not look scruffy at the gym. For many people, gym rhymes with sweatpants and messy hair. This is fine but please make it look cute – the lifestyle holds anywhere, hun.
Speak to people in common areas
The best way to get rejected and get bad vibes from someone at the gym is to speak to them when they are running on the treadmill or deep in the workout zone. Instead, engage with people in common areas as they wait to use a machine, stretch, look bored/open to chat, having small talk with other people or heading to the changing rooms. You can approach the conversation by complimenting people on their gears, asking for advice on exercises, or just saying hi.
Fun fact: I met one of my best friends now turned sister by (almost) applying those tips. We both used to go to the gym in the evenings on set days but me being me, I was super antisocial. Luckily this didn’t prevent her from waiting for me outside the gym in a dark corner after her workout one evening to say hi – she asked for my name and the rest is history. Stay open-minded because you never know what life-changing experiences can come your way.