A Reader Asks: Almost every time I go to a local gym and run on the treadmill there is a cute girl next to me running. Sometimes they look friendlier than others, but I can never figure out what I could possible say to start a conversation in that situation without coming across as lame or creepy. I keep hearing how girls dislike being bother at a gym, and this doesn’t exactly help my confidence either. At the same time, I feel that there has to be a way to start talking to someone who is running next to you in this relatively safe environment. Do you have any suggestions? – Josh, 28, Denver, CO.
That’s a great and important question, as surely many guys often find themselves in your situation. You are absolutely correct. Gyms are notoriously tough places to strike up a conversation with a girl because of all kinds of stigmas that have developed over the years in a typical woman’s mind about gyms and the guys who go there to try to hit on girls.
Having said that, there is one fun, low pressure way you can try to start a conversation with a girl who runs on a treadmill and who seems to be in shape, but it does require an advanced degree of confidence and persistence. Here is what you do: Assuming that she has been running for a while, you wait till she gets off, while doing whatever it is that you are doing on a treadmill next to her. Then, once she is finished running an she gets off the treadmill, you walk by her and exclaim with admiration “That must have been a whole marathon you ran there, wasn’t it?” Don’t expect this to work like some kind of magic and get her to open up to you and start being super nice to you and eager to continue the conversation. She is out of breath and she feels uncomfortable because she is tired and sweaty, not to mention being caught by surprise by you talking to her, since it’s so rare for guys to do that. She will at best acknowledge your compliment and move on with her work out or she might even ignore what you said because she didn’t quite know what to say in response.
The key to overcoming this initial discomfort on her part when you start talking to her is (1) not to stand too close to her so that she doesn’t feel uncomfortable and insecure about being sweaty (yes, most girls don’t realize that we, guys, like it when they are sweaty, and it actually makes them more attractive); and (2) get her to talk to you by asking something specific. For instance, if she doesn’t respond to the above comment, you follow up and say “So, I am just curious – how long was this run?” and then “Have you been running in high school / college?” Even if you manage to talk to her for a few minutes, it’s best not to ask her for her tel number and e-mail right then and there. Instead, finish your first conversation by asking her for her name and introducing yourself and shaking her hand as if you would do with a new male friend. Then, go back to what you were doing and walk by her in about 10-15 minutes. As you walk by, call her by her name and ask her if she ever goes running outside. If she says “yes” ask her if she would like to run together sometimes. If she says “yes”, then you can ask her for her contact information and go from there. If she says that she never runs outside, tell her that she is missing out because it’s so much more fun to run in fresh air and then invite her to join you running anyway.
Because of the inherently challenging nature of talking to girls at a gym, it’s even better if you think you can split your interaction into two different days. You would talk to her about running the first time you see her, and then you would ask her about going and running outside the next time you see her. Of course, this is only possible if you know you are going to run into her again soon.
Gyms are one type of place where you don’t want to be too flirtatious or playful right off the bat, because you don’t want the girl to think that you are just trying to pick her up or that you are at the gym to just hang out and hit on girls. You should be slightly more serious and formal until she warms up to you. It’s also important that you look fairly conservative. No muscle shirts or wife beaters or anything else that would gross a normal woman out or would make her roll her eyes before you even have a chance to say anything to her.