I don’t mean to quote a line from “The Bachelor,” but I’m not here to make friends.
I am at the gym for one reason and one reason alone: to work out.
I work out because I want donuts.
Some people consider the gym to be their social event of the day.
I say, more power to them. They meander from one machine to the other, strolling casually and shooting the breeze with their fellow compadres.
I see friendships forming and relationships blossoming, but my personal goal is simple at the gym: Get in and get out quickly, and talk to as few people as possible.
I didn’t always feel this way. In fact, some of my dearest friends are people I have met at the gym over the years.
I used to be a social butterfly as I got my fitness on. Spin class was social hour. Butts and guts class was time for girl talk.
But my views have changed, and life has taught me some cold, hard lessons.
You see, I dated the trainer at my gym for the better part of two years. It was the classic “Cinderella” story of two people falling hard between all the lunges and shoulder raises. It was a true fitness fairytale.
It can be. Thatis, until you break up.
Then, you have to leave your second home: your gym. Changing your gym due to a messy breakup is a devastating occurrence no one should have to go through.
My hardened view thanks to that experience is this: We need to keep the mingling to the coffee shops.
January is an awful month to be at the gym. There are tons of new faces at the gym, fulfilling their resolutions.
Don’t worry. By February, they will be gone, and you won’t need to be as sharp with your people-avoiding skills.
Until then, however, here are seven tips to help:
1. Keep your headphones in. Always.
Headphones are the ultimate accessory for avoiding human interaction. Even if you aren’t playing music, keep your headphones in.
Sure, there aren’t actual scientific studies on this. But I guess you would be able to reduce your chances of someone approaching you by a good 70 percent if you have your headphones in.
2. Avoid eye contact at all costs.
The gym has tons of mirrors, so it’s easy to accidentally make eye contact with dozens of people.
Keep your eyes away from the mirrors and the general direction of people.
Focus on your workout. Avoid scanning the gym and daydreaming.
3. Sweat profusely.
I envy the people who are able to glisten at the gym.
I really do. They look so cute and shiny.
I am not so lucky. When I work out, I sweat profusely.
Some might think this is a negative thing, but I use it to my advantage.
I sweat to the point where others think there is something wrong with my health. This negates the chances of someone approaching me.
I usually look like I’m drowning at the gym. Believe it or not, this is super helpful.
4. Look agitated.
Keeping an overall look of agitation on your face is a good idea if you are trying to fend off conversations.
Friendly-looking people are way more likely to get sucked into conversations with random strangers at the gym, so make sure you don’t look too friendly.
5. Master the wave.
If there is a code red — i.e., you see someone you know and absolutely have to acknowledge his or her presence or be considered a horrible person — you must use the wave.
The wave is a simple gesture you do with your hand to signal you saw him or her. You signal with your hand, give a nice (but not over-welcoming) smile, and — as always — keep your headphones in.
This shows you have acknowledged this person, but have no plans to engage in a lengthy conversation.
6. Avoid peak times.
There is nothing worse than an overcrowded gym at 5:30 pm, when everyone is off from work.
Try to head to the gym during the slow hours. Fewer people there means fewer chances of talking to someone.
7. Look extremely disheveled.
Most girls look adorable at the gym.
I always look at their cute tank tops and bright fitness shoes. Yes, I am jealous.
They look great. My overall style at the gym is a “camping, oversized pajamas and recovering from swine flu” look. I pretty much just look like a sweaty, disheveled mess.
This also helps me when it comes to being unapproachable. I think some people are scared of me.
With these people-repelling strategies, you should be able to work out in peace and avoid tons of interactions.
However, if someone approaches you and talks to you while you’re using these techniques, maybe you should give him or her a chance and pop out one headphone.
If this person still wants to talk to you despite your obvious commitment to being totally antisocial, he or she could be your soulmate.
At this point, you can forget everything you thought about gym relationships and enjoy your unlikely fitness fairytale.