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The next time you are at the gym TALK to someone!

Notice someone new in your step class? Say hello.

See someone you’ve been taking a class with for months? Introduce yourself.

I joined a new gym last summer and have been taking pretty much the same classes for about 3 months. Yet I still feel like a “newb.”

I see the same faces class after class. I’ve tried to say hello but no one seems interested in talking. It doesn’t help that a lot of people already know each other or come together. I’m a complete outsider and honestly, feel really lonely before and after class. I even tend to linger, hoping to hop in a conversation or chat with someone while we clean up.

Nothing. :(

I know this will change the longer I’m there. Some of the instructors seem to recognize me now and the girl at the counter says hello and asks me how I’m doing as if she remembers me.

I’m going to keep going and trying, of course. I love the classes but they’d be so much more fun if made a few friends in the process.

So fess up… Do you keep to yourself at the gym? Or are you chatty and welcoming to your fellow classmates?

  • The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh

    You are very right. I think back to the days I went to the gym and everyone just seemed so focused or were with people they came with that you felt like you risk getting pelted if you approach. Here’s to hoping you get a little interaction going soon! If I went to the same one I’d talk to ya! :)

  • Kae

    I started a yoga series on Saturday and I always find it so awkward how to talk to people before/after classes. At one point in the class the teacher had us do a stretch with a partner, and being introverted it made me REALLY anxious… but then we actually were chatting a bit while we were doing it and she was really nice, so now I’m looking forward to saying hi to her next week… although still a little anxious about it. ;) I can totally relate with your post, though, so had to share. :)

  • Andrea C.

    I always find this extremely difficult to do. I’m a really friendly person when once Im introduced to people, but I have a really hard time just walking up to people and saying Hi.

    Do you have any tips for how to go about it? Gym pick-up lines if you will? LOL

  • Andrea

    I joined a gym a few months ago myself. I have been going with some girlfriends and it does make it so much easier to be friendly to others. I am pretty good at just starting a conversation with anyone though. The other day this girl randomly started talking to me and told me she was three months pregnant. Now when I see her I make it a point of asking how her pregnancy is. My suggestion: just go up to a friendly looking person and say something like wow that was a crazy good workout. Pretty sure I will be sore tomorrow! Wish we went to the same gym though. I can always use another workout buddie!

  • Liz @ Life in Liz’s Shoes

    Great post! I’ve been trying to think of ways that I can make more friends this year and I think I will have to try this :)

  • nic

    Wow! This post couldn’t come at a better time!
    ‘Cause that’s exactely how I felt yesterday at my BodyPump class (going since summer!) and though about it on my way back to work.
    I’m definitely one who says “hello” and “goodbye” to everyone – even if there’s only a few responding – and I talk lots (as you know ;D) when I get a chance.
    So I’ll see how this develops.
    Oh and in my dance class it’s the total opposite. Everyone is very friendly and did welcome me very easily (years back!)! Hmm…

  • Sara, Food Blogger on a Diet / Ms. Adventures in Italy

    Taking a class has helped that, though it did take several weeks before I would chat with people. Italians don’t socialize that much in the gym from what I’ve seen, especially in the weight room :)

    I wrote (on Ms. Adventures in Italy) about a weird experience I had years ago in a gym in Italy – a woman opened up to me out of the blue (while we’re both running on a treadmill) about being anorexic. Not exactly what I was hoping for in forging healthy friendships at the gym!

  • heather

    ah, roni, i understand. what is it about being older and being in a new town, new places that seems so much harder? it’s SO hard to make friends now. seems like at church or in the kid activities i bring my toddler to, connections are hard to come by. i just think a lot of people are busy and self-absorbed, and if they’re ‘established’ somewhere, they really don’t look outward. this is a good reminder for me to look around and reach out to the new people in the class i’ve been attending for 10 months now, three times a week. i at least try to smile a lot at everyone.

  • Deb

    Ive been at my gym since this past August, and only now am I getting “hellos” from other members. There are one or two people who I see regularly now and have occasional chit chat with before or after class. One woman even called me one of the “regulars” just the other day while we were discussing the New Year crowd. It takes time, for sure. And it does feel lonely. I wish I had a friend to go with, it would be nice to have an accountability partner, but I remind myself that I keep going because it’s good for me, it’s MY time, and I love the classes.

  • Ellen

    I am, by nature, very social and friendly, and also very sensitive to other people. At the gym, I will smile at people, and say “hello,” and sometimes welcome new members if I’m not interrupting their workout, or initial meeting with a personal trainer. While I haven’t befriended anyone – although I have fabulous relationships with all of the “counter help” – I’m friendly with everyone.

    I hope it gets better for you sooner, rather than later, Roni.

  • KarenJ

    I encountered the same thing when I joined a women’s gym. I’d be on the treadmill and these women would be talking all around me and not include me in the conversation. I’m a very friendly person and will usually be the first one to reach out, but I was not able to make any connections in spite of my efforts. Eventually, I joined a co-ed gym, but I didn’t like working out around men. When I used to do Jazzercise, the women there were always friendly. So I think it’s not you, but some sort of gym phenomenon.

  • Patty

    This is why I’ve never joined a gym. I’d rather walk/do videos etc at home than deal with those feelings. I admire that you can keep going. I must say though I’m surprised that YOU have this issues. You are the one who started/organizes FitBloggin, and you seem so socially savy…just goes to show we are all human and everybody faces challenges from time to time.

  • Jessica

    I feel ya. Yesterday was my third class and it sure is awkward to try and start conversation and get nothing in return :( Not sure if people are just so into working out or what the deal it, but it sucks.

  • Lori McHugh

    I take a lot of classes at the y – it’s funny how people will find their “spot” on the gym floor – typically the “newbies” tend to stay in the back. I’m an extrovert, so before or after class I like to go to the back and say, “how did you like the class? Are you relatively new?” Most people love to chat a bit – and I love getting to know them.

  • Carla

    I only talked to one person at Golds when I’d go, but at Crossfit? Wow, we meet each other, socialize once in a while and are even friends on Facebook. If I don’t go, they’re posting on my wall asking where I am. It keeps me accountable. lol

  • jim

    I keep to myself, as I’m a big introvert. I think it’s easier to focus on whatever I’m doing at the gym, too. I’m not unfriendly, though. It’s just easier to mind my own business.

  • valerie

    This is one reason I don’t like going to group classes unless I go with someone. My friend and I went to a hot yoga class and it was packed but no one talked to us. I’m a friendly person by nature and am chatty. I went to a Zumba class once and the only person that was friendly was the instructor and one lady in the back of the room. It felt like some of the people were sizing me up. It didn’t feel welcoming. So, I never went back. I run or use the elliptical instead. I do speak to the gym employees. I go to the gym with my husband now. We don’t talk at the gym. We go, we work out, we go home…

  • sugar

    I feel the same way. I’ve been going to the rec center gym and taking classes for over two years and feel like an outsider still.
    it is hard when everyone has “buddies” they come with or meet there..
    but I’m there to workout for me. so it’s kinda ok. I think..

  • Laura Jane @ Recovering Chocoholic

    Great post! I’ve been pretty fortunate that most people at my gym are fairly friendly and I have struck a conversation with a few people. When I first started braving group classes, I went with a friend and that really helped. (I’m super shy and self-conscious so I don’t know that I would have had the courage to go alone.) I tend to have conversations mostly with people in a group class before/after it starts. Since I’m fairly shy, I wish I were better about greeting people and trying to strike up a conversation. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Leslie

    I love this Roni. There is nothing worse than feeling alone (lonely) in a room full of people, esp. when you’ve tried to extend yourself to others. When that happens to me, it taps into some very old painful stuff from long ago that I don’t actually remember, but is painful enough in the present to tell me that. Feeling that uncomfortable can actually make me not want to go back somewhere. Thanks for this and for your own honesty.

  • Tina

    AWESOME post Roni. I always think you and I would get along if we lived in the same city. I go to a running class and always want to be the person to say “hi” to our group but get shy every time and I just smile instead. As soon as someone says hello to me though, I love it and can chit-chat up a storm!

  • Molly

    It’s funny that you posted this because last night when I was at the gym. A man who I see almost every time I go and does cardio at the same time I do stopped me and said, “Have a great workout.” That was the first time we’ve talked but it made me smile. So yes, talk to people, even it’s just a hi or have a good workout.

  • Patty at A Day in My NYC

    I’m guilty of this I just go to the gym to zone out. Mostly I just run on the treadmill so I have my headphones on and I really am not a run & talk girl. When I’ve taken a class I used to try and chat up other people but I got nothing, so I became one of those people that just doesn’t chat.It kind of stinks but I’ll give it another try next time.

    Roni you just have to move to NYC (or me to MD) so we can take classes together :) easy stuff right! LOL :)

  • Stephanie

    It depends on what I am doing at the gym. If I am doing cardio and weights my music is on and I dont interact, but if I am in a class I tend to be a little more friendly. I have also found that since loosing some weight and getting better at the classes I have become more comfortable with myself so I am more likely to talk to fellow classmates. Zumba seems to be the most friendly of them all, I think we all feel totally out of place and that makes it easier to talk to people.

  • sugar
  • Amy L.

    You know what’s even worse than having no one talk to you? People talking ABOUT you. Here I was, working with a trainer, sweating my considerable butt off, and getting grief for it. A couple of veritable Barbie-types (you know the ones- matching workout clothes, hair and make up perfect, wouldn’t break a sweat if their life depended on it) would loudly discuss why I was even bothering, and other gym employees went so far as to try to get my trainer to convince me to quit coming. I was bad for business, you see- people don’t want to see fat when they work out. (To my trainer’s credit, he never once tried to get me to quit. He even quit his job because of the bs going on.) I tried changing the time I went to avoid the Barbies, but I’m limited in my free time as I work full-time and have a 14-year-old. I put up with this for months, but then finally quit going because I just couldn’t take the mental beating. I just joined a new gym last week- they open February 4th. I’m hoping, praying, counting on this being a better experience.

  • AmandaRunz

    I love this! I always try to say hi to SOMEONE at the gym. But this morning, I wanted to make heads roll. Ugh, it’s neither here nor there, but some people are just assholes. Even at 6am.

    Point being, I love this! and HI!

  • Alyse

    I don’t belong to a gym but there is a popular walking trail in my community. I always say, “Hello!” to everyone I pass and some of them look at me like I’m crazy. Some just put their heads down and ignore me. Some look at me like I smell bad (I don’t, cross my heart). I don’t get it. We’re all out for the same reason. Everyone goes to the gym for the same reason. What is so hard about saying hello?

  • AZBaby

    OK – not trying to be a pain here – but I really don’t want to talk to anyone at the gym! After a full day of work and juggling a hubby and 2 kids under 5, the gym is a place where I can be alone with my thoughts for an hour. A bit of meditation, if you will. Now, this doesn’t mean I won’t say hello or goodbye to others, but I’m not looking to get into extended conversations.

  • roni

    AZBaby – I think that’s cool. I don’t want to have a heated debate with people but many give the cold shoulder. Guess that’s what I’m more talking about.

  • roni

    Alyse – I ALWAYS say hi to fellow runners and am shocked how many won’t pick up their heads and even acknowledge me on the trail. Just seems rude.

  • roni

    Amy L. – OMG I can not believe that happened to you! Some people are jerks!

  • mel

    I’m commenting because my point of view is coming from the “other side”. I specifically hate when people try to talk to me at the gym. I am other wise a very friendly, considerate person, but when i am at the gym, I am on a mission, and having “me” time (having 2 kids at home). I do not however do classes, so i might feel different if i was in that group setting. My tactic is walk in the gym with my ipod on.. walk out the door with my ipod on. I am also not really looking to make friends at the gym.. i even have a best friend that is there sometimes while i am, and i even try to avoid standing and talking to much with her. I go for the weight machines, so i need to keep it moving!

  • mel

    I just want to add, that i do have a running course i do each morning, i pass the same people and I always say hi and try to be friendly as i pass by!

  • Jenny

    These people obviously don’t understand what a big deal you are. Where they featured in an article on Yahoo? Oh, no, that’s right, they weren’t.

  • Lisa

    I’m the type of person that is super focused and I tend to get tunnel vision when I work out. There have been a few times that I did have conversations with fellow gym goers and most of the time they were fun. One specifically was with a guy in the pool who had just done the Kona Ironman. That was a fun conversation. :)

  • dani

    interesting…when I go to the gym I admit I tend to be more focused on working out than on socializing…though it may in part that I am a bit shy…though at the same time I do wish I had more “friends” at the gym…so I guess I had better make more of an effort to try chatting! though I DO smile at everyone and say hi to some already, will try harder, never occurred to me others might feel the same way ;-)

  • MO

    I went to a Boot Camp for three days these past weeks and was happy that the other ladies made an effort to chat it up with me. Very supportive – it is what I needed!!
    Here’s hoping that you do get a friendly smile and chat soon!


  • Kris

    I completely understand this. I go with my boyfriend to the gym after work – it’s a good way for us to reconnect at the end of the day. We also push each other to do our best – even on days when we are lacking in the motivation department. Nonetheless, I think that going with another person prevents me from reaching out to new people.
    I also think that gender dynamics can affect how people interact at the gym. My gym is heavily male-dominated and I have founds this to be the case at many gyms. (My last gym had a “women’s section,” though.) The physical layout of the gym is also pretty segregated – the women seems to keep to the treadmills and elliptical machines, and the men predominate in the weight-lifting area.

  • Christina

    Great post! This bugs me so much. It’s hard to be outgoing and friendly when you get SO little response! I make myself stay upbeat and keep at it but it really annoys me to always make the effort for so little back. I figure EVENTUALLY there will be a few people that might be friendly back? It makes it so much more fun! Thanks for the post, maybe it will encourage others to start…gasp….talking to people!!!

  • Mehgann

    I am a huge extrovert, but when at the gym just to work out, I like to be left to my own devices. However, in the classes, I always make friends and talk to people! I never do the tentative “hi”, though…I always strike up a specific conversation with a group of random people and wait to see who will bite. Someone almost ALWAYS does!

  • Mindy

    I feel exactly the same way. I have found that in swimming classes people tend to be a lot friendlier because it’s quiet and all the work is under the water so there’s lots of time to chat. Does your gym have a pool? The people might be a little odd LOL but it’s still nice to see friendly faces. One BIG thing that helps is that the instructor asks new people their names and actually uses them in class and during one exercise we actually go around and introduce ourselves to each other. Maybe you can suggest this to the instructor to help break the ice and create a little community. I bet everyone in class would enjoy that!

  • Mehgann

    Oh, one more thing…Amy L., I’m DISGUSTED to hear what happened to you, and I hope your next experience is much more positive. We all have to start somewhere…who are they to judge??? Good for you for sticking with it and not letting those mean people win. Reading that broke my heart…what’s the point of being beautiful on the outside when the inside is made of sludge?

  • Dee

    I actually hate talking before group classes, and sometimes resent it when people force convo. I just want to be in a zone. But this post is making me think a little differently… couldn’t hurt to look around and say hello and if a new friend came out of it, how great would that be? I’ve never thought about the “idle” chatter as bonding, just as banter that was taking my focus away. Now I can see it in a little bit of a different light.

  • Teresa

    OMG, Roni! This post is exactly, exactly the thing I need to have a teaching point with my son. He’s 10, new to this school this year and feels like the whole school is supposed to follow him around dancing and singing with him on their shoulders like High School Musical or something. He often comes home upset and claiming no one is his friend or will talk to him. This will at least show him that that feeling doesn’t go away just cuz you grow up and it will also teach him the importance of speaking up to new folks and sayin’ ‘Hey, my name is Miguel, what’s yours!” When I was in Zumba (and I plan to return), I felt that way too, everyone either had a click somehow but I did speak up and say hello and they answered for the most part. And the thing that even got me in the class was one student that pulled me from the doorway and told me “I know you don’t think you gonna just stand there and watch us work! C’mon in here! It doesn’t matter that you’re in your work clothes, girl. Have FUN!” Her attitude and the class itself is what hooked me.

  • Karen@WaistingTime

    By nature I am quite shy. But I learned that it is much more enjoyable to be at the gym when I have someone to share the experience with in some little way. So I am all about smiling at people or striking up a conversation. It makes the gym a nicer place all around:) But I think some gym’s are different in the overall clientele. Mine is a community center with people of all ages. No one seems too seriously into fitness to the exclusion of all else. No one is dressed in fancy workout clothes.

  • Jim Burnett

    Keep trying too. Eventually someone will chat back. Hasn’t happened to me in a long time though. Most people stick to themselves or their cliques.

  • Amber

    Ha! I’m a group fitness instructor and I know what you mean! I’ve worked at gyms where they actually have a “mean girl” clique(did I spell that right?). The only gym where I work now is awesome. All the regulars in class are very supportive of others and I try to be as well since I have been there on the “outside” I’ll always be an outsider in my mind even though I’m in the middle of it all and lost lots of weight and kept it off. Wierd how that works…

  • Lethal Astronaut

    Yeeks – one of the many reasons why I loathe gyms.

    I’ve started going to the swimming pool instead, and am finding (once I got over the whole swimsuit issue) that it works well for me.

    While my kids are on holidays, I can take them with me – which I can’t do with a gym. And afterwards, once school and kindy are back, I’ll still be able to go by myself.

    But yeah, never met anyone friendly at the gym, when I used to go years ago. Weird – you’d think people would walk to chat, but no.

    And yeah, if I went to your gym, I’d say hello and chat. But I’m one of the talkers of the world!

  • Sarah

    I’ll be moving out of state soon, and I want to join a gym (rather than work out at home, which I love to do) as a way to meet new people. Hopefully my gym experience won’t be like yours. I understand wanting to go in & out and just do your thing, but I hope I come into contact with some friendly people.

  • Laura

    Lately, I’ve sort of done a 180 at the gym: Back when I mainly used the elliptical, I tended to stay “plugged in” with my blinders on. More recently though, I’ve become a Zumba fanatic, and going to classes has been good for me socially. For the first time, I’ve started talking to people at the gym–mainly people in class, before and after class, between songs. I’m a big introvert, but for me this has been a positive change!

    Based on some of the comments here, talking vs. keeping to oneself may have a lot to do with the activity itself. If you’re using any sort of cardio machine like the elliptical, it’s difficult to have a conversation (which it should be, if you’re really pushing your cardio!), and it makes sense that many people would not welcome intrusion, at least during the activity. I don’t, anyway. In classes, though, even though you’re not talking *during* a Zumba song for instance, there’s plenty of opportunity for socializing–even if one’s preference is just for a “hello” or two–when you’re standing around before class, between songs, and when everyone’s leaving.

    I hope to be teaching Zumba classes soon, and this post and its comments were really helpful in showing both sides of this issue!

  • RG

    I wonder if, this is just the modern age. We’re all so bombarded with people on-line; extended family, friends back to high school, that we’re reluctant to add on to this community with someone at a gym. We just don’t value face to face friendships as much, even though they’re usually deeper and more valuable if you do engage.

  • Jessica

    Bless your heart Roni, for trying to be friendly and social!!

    Unfortunately I am very introverted and pretty self conscious, so especially when working out I tend to be pretty reserved and keep to myself. That’s kinda just my personality though. Keep on trucking and I’m sure you will make friends soon! You sure deserve to with your great attitude.

  • http://deleted Paula

    I’ve experienced the same thing you are right now. I attended one class for years and never really spoke to anyone. But of course we are there to work out and most people have so much on their plates they are “squeezing” in this time.

  • Kelly

    I am not social at the gym or in yoga class. I don’t think I am unfriendly- I just am not that interested in meeting new people in that setting. I guess it’s just my personality. Good for you for reaching out! Keep it up and I am sure you’ll attract other outgoing souls.

  • Erica M.

    I think most of the time I keep to myself. As I read this I started to think about why. I think it’s because personally I feel intimidated at times or maybe even embarrassed by my weight. So many people at the gym look so good and are a little stuck up. I don’t know, I’m starting to think maybe I should start making friends at the gym, it might even help with the weight loss effort.

  • Svanhvit

    You need to come over and do a class with me :) I am more of a chatty time and make a point of talking to the new ones that turn up. Of course it helps that I am in a 7 people group of “group private training” – but by now, a lot of people also just know me from different events and stuff. Never ceases to amaze me, though….. It did take some time, mind you, and I felt rather lonely at first. I just kept coming and talking and in the end it paid off :)

  • Heather

    I’m so chatty that I tend to scare people. I will talk to ANYONE and I usually do.

  • girliefriend

    I am a total introvert, but, I work hard to overcome that. When I was in classes at the gym, I would often ‘turn it on’ and become a bit of the class tease, or clown if you will. I would talk back to the trainer, which would engage her and would often get others to relax a bit. I’m there to workout, but I also want it to be fun.

    I was always one of those people that was terrified of going to a gym, I had been ridiculed because of my weight all my life and figured it would be even worse in a gym environment. I never experienced that, thank goodness. I actually got more encouragement for making the effort.

    I also went out of my way to engage people, saying hello, asking for help using a piece of equipment, or mastering a step in a class. I find people very generous when it comes to helping and is a great way to break the ice. And I would make a point of engaging new people. It can be scary to go to a new gym.

    I also think we’re in a time when actually, face to face interaction is difficult for some people. We communicate so much through technology anymore, we don’t always know how to do it in real life.

    You have a great personality Roni, just keep putting it out there. People will realize what a wonderful person you are.

  • Amanda

    I’m super shy. But I see people at the gym and I’m like she looks like a cool chick to know. I would love to live closer to you!

  • Erica


    I have to thank you for this post! I am super shy and NEVER talk to anyone at the gym. Today I went to spin class and the girl next to me was talking to the instructor about how she had not been to class in a while because she had a baby. Now this woman had a ginormous diamond and perfectly manicured hands and I was worried she might be snobby, but being 5 months pregnant myself, I decided to ask her about her baby. She was the nicest woman. I told her I was pregnant and she was so kind and fun. We talked for 30 minutes after class. I do not have many friends and it was really nice to talk to someone. So, THANK YOU:) I never would have reached out to her if it wasn’t for this post.

  • Nicole

    I go to a very small gym that is based on a semi-private personal training model. So most people come in once a week to work with the trainer and a couple times a week to train on their own. I know the names of all the people who work out at around the same time as I do, and I try to say hello to the newbies. Only during my warm up or after I’m done though–during the workout there’s no chit-chat!
    It is the perfect set up for me!

  • Becky

    I sat down to browse (clean up) all the articles that stacked up in Google Reader and you’ll laugh when you see what I read right after this blog:

    One of the distance runners I follow blogged about how she met a very good friend at the gym. =D Thought I would share (even though these two are playing on a different level then the rest of us!)


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