Sex + Dating

How to Pick Up Women at the Gym, According to Women Who Go to the Gym

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Contrary to popular belief, gyms are actually great places to score dates. However! There is a big difference between effective and predatory flirting in the weight room. To properly toe the line, real gym-going women (including me!) have weighed in with some helpful do's and don’ts. Read on, then make a move while you’re still sweating -- that way, she won’t know you’re nervous.

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DO lay down the proper groundwork

Once you spot Cute Girl by the free weights, subtly put out your feelers the same way you would at a bar (sans the whiskey on your breath... hopefully). “I was all about it when this guy first smiled at me from across the gym," said Courtney, 24, "so we exchanged flirty glances the rest of our workouts. The buildup was fun and I was excited when he finally came over to ask me out.” Courtney's suitor did the right thing by not aggressively staring at her or stalking around the gym after her. Her skin-tight spandex and your soaring adrenaline are not excuses to send your signals with all the subtlety of a Neanderthal! Remember: there are mirrors everywhere.

DON’T interrupt her workout

Remember that she’s at the gym to, well, exercise, so don’t interfere with that. One time I was booking it going 8.2 on the treadmill -- Katy Perry blasting, runner’s high achieved -- when a guy approached my machine and tried to strike up a conversation. Not only did I have to rip out my earbuds to hear him, I was forced to slow down to a walk once he took me out of the zone. This is why timing is everything: I was so annoyed that I pulled the fake boyfriend card so I could get back to running. A better move? Catch me by the water fountain after my set. Or place your stretching mat down next to mine. It’ll be harder for me to walk away if I'm sitting.

DO genuinely compliment her

Praising her hard work is a great opener. “A cute guy broke the ice by asking if I devised my impressive circuit routine myself," said Ally, 26. "I was flattered that he noticed me kicking ass. We got to talking and ended up dating for a year." The reason this worked? The man commented on Ally's workout… not her body. Regardless of venue, leading with "Wow, great legs" is both carnivorous and creepy.

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DON’T correct her form

Unless you’re a personal trainer, unsolicited commentary on her push-up form is not an acceptable hello. She won’t be in awe of your knowledge, but she will be offended and irritated. “A dude once told me I was deadlifting wrong," said Lindsey, 31, "then followed up with a demonstration before introducing himself. He was hot, but no one likes a showoff.” Spoiler alert: he did not get her number.

DO treat her like the expert

Sure, your squatting 405lbs is impressive. But your confidence will prevail when you ask her to show you the ropes. This tactic worked on Noel, 28. “I’d been making eyes with this guy at my gym," she said, "but I was pretty intimidated by how ripped he was. He finally came over when I was prepping to work the heavy bags, and asked me to show him how to box. I loved that he took an interest in what I was doing.” So next time you see her leaving yoga, ask how she liked the class because you’ve wanted to try it. (Lie if you have to.) Then, make a plan to meet for it next week. Embarrassing yourself in downward dog will be worth it.

DON’T touch her

Keeping your hands to yourself is still applicable in the weight room. Even if you’re truly impressed that her quads are more toned than yours, no, you can’t touch them. “I lift a lot," said Vicky, 24, "but nothing pisses me off more than when guys ask if they can feel my biceps.” Even worse move? Doing it without asking.

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DO less

This oft-quoted motto of the surfing instructor in Forgetting Sarah Marshall is one worth minding while flirting at the gym. "A guy once told me my sweat smelled good," said Sahar, 28. "I was horrified." Simple (read: LESS) is better. There’s nothing wrong with, “Hi, I’ve seen you training here before. I’m Jeremy.” … and taking it from there.

DON’T grunt

The gym is not the Central Park Zoo, nor is it a club in Seaside, NJ. Refrain from gorilla-like sound effects while lifting if you hope to land a date.

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Brooke Sager is a contributing writer for Thrillist living in NYC. One time, a guy followed her around the gym to hand her a business card for his clay sculpture company. She never called, and prefers any following to be done on Instagram and Twitter: @HIHEELZbrooke.