Online dating fatigue is real, and you’re so over lame roommate setups that flop. But don’t give up, because you probably haven’t tried meeting someone in every possible place. We’re talking about the gym. Turns out, meeting someone at the Temple of Sweat is as good a spot as any. Plus, shared interests make a relationship better, so you could be off to a great start. We tapped relationship experts and fitness instructors for their secrets to meeting a potential S.O. at the gym. Use these nine tips and you’ll be nailing those creative partner workouts in no time.
1. Start with solid eye contact. “A great way to test the waters is to position yourself in a way where you can make eye contact. If they make eye contact back, you have a potential signal to move forward. If you think you have a possible warm reception, simply say ‘hello’ and see what kind of response you get,” suggests Dr. Judith Wright, relationship expert and author of The Heart of the Fight. “If they are interested, they’ll ask back about your name and who you are. If they are polite and answer your question but don’t go further, take it as a sign that they are not interested and move on.”
2. Be the one to initiate a conversation. “Your mission is simple — it’s to make people feel good, to spread some sunshine and to build community and social contacts,” says matchmaker and dating coach Julie Ferman. Even if things don’t work out on a romantic level, you might get a friend or a business connection through the intro, and you’ll also work on building confidence for when attraction strikes again. “Practice being warm and friendly to everyone who crosses your path. Think of your gym as one of your social centers and utilize it fully.”
3. Take a partner class. It may sound obvious, but it’s an even-better-than-you-think way to meet your match. “Acrobatic yoga requires you to work with a partner and encourages small talk, so it’s easy to find out more about that person,” suggests Cristina Osorio, kettlebell instructor at TruFusion in Las Vegas. “The best time for me to reach out to someone is right after a class, when we are all feeling good, relaxed and satisfied with ourselves. It’s easy to grab a quick post-workout recovery smoothie with the cute guy next to you.”
4. Be real and confident in what you offer. Dr. Wright nails it: “So many people, when trying to hook up, put forward a false, overhyped version of themselves. If you strike up a conversation at the gym, tell them something about you that is genuine. If they say something you disagree with, disagree with them. Your first conversation at a gym is no different than your conversation on your first date. If you start out on a false footing now, then you’ll spend all of your time keeping that going. Take the risk to be yourself and be willing to face rejection if there is not a fit.”
5. Ask if they need help. And don’t be afraid to ask for it, too! “Look for opportunities to jump in to spot someone who’s doing some heavy lifting. See someone interesting using a machine that you’d like to explore? Try saying, ‘I’d like to try that machine — any tips for me?'” suggests Ferman. If they help you, be sure to thank them when you’re done, and ask if they’d like for you to spot them or help with anything in return. Not only does that follow the golden rule, but it’s a nice way to keep the conversation going.
6. Arrange a casual way to see them again. Try this tip from Patrick Mason, yoga instructor at TruFusion, who actually met his girlfriend at the studio. “When you eventually try to transition to meeting up outside the gym, or for something other than class say, ‘Hey do you wanna grab a smoothie after class? Have you tried the new place right down the street yet? What do you mean you’ve never had a wheatgrass shot, let’s go get healthy!’ Then you make another sweat-date, hang out after and boom.” It worked for him!
7. Stay away from booze on the first date. “Research has shown that people tend to be more attracted to people when your heart rate is elevated, like when you are at the gym. You get the same feeling you have when you have a crush or are turned on. Unconsciously, you can easily mistake that same feeling for attraction when it’s not,” says Dr. Wright. “You could be getting a false signal at the gym. By setting up a coffee instead of a two-hour Friday night date, you can better get to know each other as a next step and see if that interest and connection is still there.”
8. Keep practicing. Don’t be discouraged if your first attempt to meet someone at the gym doesn’t work out. Just like you have to exercise your biceps to keep ’em healthy, you have to flex your romance muscle too. “The secret is to practice. Stretch out of your current comfort zone to develop your schmooze-ability and give a broader circle of people access to you,” Ferman reminds us. “Place yourself strategically where you can be found!” Bottom floor treadmill session-takers, we’re looking at you.
9. And DON’T do this. Just a few guidelines to keep in mind: “Don’t say, ‘You have a hot body,’ look the person up and down, or compliment them on their tank top,” states Dr. Wright. “Remember, despite the beautiful bodies you may observe, people want to be seen and known for who they are, not just for how they look.” Respect goes a long way!
(Photos via Getty)