How to Avoid Being Chatted up at the Gym

Many fitness enthusiasts head to the gym for a variety of reasons. Some find that the motivating atmosphere provides them with the gumption to hit the treadmill harder, whereas others see going to the gym as more a social opportunity. If you prefer to jump on a machine, slap on the headphones and find your focus, having another gym-goer standing in front of you, trying to start a conversation may make you want to scream. However, instead of being rude and telling them to “go scratch” you can use a few techniques to avoid becoming a social target.


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    Wear headphones--even if you don’t like to workout to music. It’s far more difficult to be open to a conversation if you are listening to music and “in the zone” than easy to access without the headphones.
    • Act like you don’t know someone is trying to talk to you. Either look down or find a focal point that is away from where someone could get into your social space. Even if you can tell someone is talking to you peripherally act like you don't know he/she is trying to get your attention and all.
    • Crank up the volume. While most likely not the healthiest idea (since consistent, loud music can lead to hearing loss), but can be used as a last resort from time to time, turning up the volume so there’s no way you can hear anyone can help throw up a barrier.
    • Quickly remove one earphone and act like you can receive an “emergency” message such as “where is the bathroom” or “hey, you are bleeding” if someone is desperately trying to get your attention. Once you’ve answered that one question, stuff the ear bud back in your ear the minute the question is resolved.
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    Dress for success. Often the more attractively, provocatively dressed gym rats get hit on and talked to most, so if you wear indiscriminate clothing that shout, “I’m here only to work out,” hopefully you’ll be safe.
    • Avoid bold colors. Even wearing tight pants and tops in all black can make you a target. Instead, find an old, muted t-shirt (without your college letters or a saying that could start a conversation) and relatively baggy shorts or sweat pants to help you to blend into the background.
    • Don’t accentuate your hot features. If you have a nice butt, don't wear butt-enhancing shorts. Cleavage should definitely be covered and men should always keep their shirt on.
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    Get the “eye of the tiger” during your workout. If you are bored and looking around the room, the gym talkers will smell your boredom like a group of vampires at a blood bank. Even if you are bored out of your mind, cultivate that look of extreme focus that people won’t want to mess with or most importantly drum up a conversation.
    • Don’t smile. This will make you look approachable and open opportunities for gym talkers to approach and talk to you.
    • Never make eye contact with anyone. If you act like you are super focused on your workout, you won’t be looking into anyone else’s eyes. Make eye contact with the wrong person and you could be trapped in conversation.
    • Allow for the occasional grunt. No one really wants to talk to the person with the tennis scream or grunt so allow yourself to fully express that you feel the burn during your workout.
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    Make it clear that you are here to work out if you bump into someone who wants to chat. If you get caught the idea is to make the conversation short and simple without being totally rude.
    • Be friendly if it’s a friend. Even though you want to avoid getting into the conversation, there’s no point in ruining a friendship because you don't want to talk at the gym.
    • Tell your friend that you are in the middle of an awful workout and that you need to concentrate so you can avoid getting hurt. Take a few minutes to exchange pleasantries and then ask your friend if you can meet up for coffee or juice after the gym.
    • Make sure you end the exchange by scheduling time together later and then replacing your headphones and resuming your workout. Go directly back into your workout and regain your focus.


  • Don’t be so opposed to talking to someone at the gym. In some cases you could be using the equipment wrong and the other person just wants to show you how to use it correctly.
  • Wearing a baseball cap during your workout is another way to keep your eyes diverted and help you avoid eye contact.


  • If you ever feel uncomfortable at your gym and your own attempts to get the person to leave you alone have not worked, consider either having a conversation with gym management or switch to another gym.
  • The person does have every right to try to socialize and make friends, just as much as you have to right to be left alone.

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Categories: Gym