Once upon a time, I had a gym crush. He was incredibly good-looking and fit – as well as completely oblivious of my existence. Each time I went to the gym, I tried to muster the nerve to talk to him as I laboured on a nearby StairMaster (believe me, it wasn’t sexy). Eventually, I managed to start an awkward, halting conversation, only to discover that he was taken. Darn.
In the New Year, you might be (once again) aiming to incorporate more physical activity into your life. If you’re single, making romance more of a priority could also figure in your resolutions. The question is: how can you achieve both goals simultaneously? As evidenced by my story, my own strategies are not the best. Instead, I sought out a gym expert in order to find out more about socializing while working out.
Over the phone, Chris Davy, a member of the staff at the Fitness Centre at Mount Pleasant Community Centre, explains why gyms are good places for finding a romantic partner. “People at a gym are trying to better themselves. How people take care of themselves short-term is an indicator of long-term health, which can be desirable in a mate,” he says.
Davy explains that the City of Vancouver’s fitness centres are great options because they appeal to a diverse range of people, from local residents to tourists who want to work out in the place they’re visiting (sometimes for an extended stay). There are gyms located across the city, with affordable drop-in rates and 10-visit and monthly passes (valid at all participating fitness centres, swimming pools, and ice rinks). There are also group fitness classes if you want to follow an instructor.
One of the biggest issues with gym flirting is confidence. You might even feel like me: totally clueless and out-of-shape. Davy says not to stress or overthink your time there. “To a certain degree, everyone looks a little bit different when they’re working out. It’s not actually that judgmental of an activity or an atmosphere since most people are paying attention to what they’re doing,” he says. In other words, that hot guy by the weights is not going to care about your stride on the treadmill.
Davy says you can sign up for a free orientation (approximately 45 minutes) at one of the centres (enroll in person or over the phone), which will help increase your comfort level, or book personal training sessions to further improve your techniques and self-assurance.
As for clothing, Davy says to go for an outfit that lies between grungy sweats and too tight spandex: “There’s a pretty fine balance. You want to feel comfortable in your own skin and wear attire that you can exercise in. But, if you want to attract someone, you also don’t want to look completely disheveled.”
Davy says he definitely has seen romance blossom at the gym, often over a prolonged period of time. “Interactions in the gym happen fairly organically. There are people that you will see on a fairly regular basis if you keep up with your exercise routine.” The chance to chat with your love interest may motivate you to go to the gym more consistently (it did for me).
Probably Davy’s biggest recommendation, which applies to any romantic situation, is about maintaining a friendly, positive attitude. “It’s always good to have a level of openness. There are a lot of big teddy bears at the gym, who, at first glance, may appear intimidating, but are actually fairly approachable. Be willing to ask questions and ask for advice,” he explains.
As a bonus tip, I asked my boyfriend about how he managed to get dates out of his visits to the gym. After some prodding, he admitted that he used to take a wing person and would get him/her to exercise next to his crush. Then, when he was chatting with his friend, he would casually include his crush in the conversation. And after talking for a bit, he had a potential date or new friend.
Hopefully, with these recommendations in hand, you’ll be able to hit the gym this year, feeling at ease with yourself and your ability to meet new people. After all, being healthy and doing what you enjoy are always attractive.