As all of you should know—primarily because you must be as socially awkward as I am or else you wouldn’t spend your time “reading” and would be out jet skiing or playing beach volleyball all summer long like a cool mix of Rob Gronkowski and Kerri Walsh—making friends is no easy task. It takes time. It takes energy. It takes the ability to make audible comments that do not cause other people to be filled with the desire to Photoshop a picture of you wearing a soiled diaper and place it on Instagram with the caption “Kid still can’t poop in a toilet…hilarious”
At work with the 69-year-old secretary who will never leave the company due to her irrational fear of giving her job to an out of work 29-year-old because the idea of other people having health insurance makes her want to vote for Mitt Romney all over again? At a bar where, if you are living your right life, the only person who is willing to listen to you speak in slurred words and random curses is the bathroom attendant, because he knows there may be a JFK half-dollar in it for him at the end of the day? On that bus you got on marked “adult day-care” where not one single person seems to have any interest in providing you a coloring book or glass of apple juice in perhaps the worst case of false advertising our nation has ever seen?
At the gym? Wait…what? The local gymnasium? You mean the place where you and a solid crew of other adults are present at the same time every single day in order to crush lat pull-downs, bench 220 lbs., and prove your physical dominance to the world? You mean the place where you are surrounded by non-agoraphobic men and women on a consistent basis who you share at least one obvious conversation starter with (i.e.…Killed it on that elliptical Stephen)? You mean the place where the employees are so helpful that they will only charge you $3 for a towel and $17.75 for a 20-ounce bottle of Orange Gatorade?
Yes. That is exactly the place that I mean. The gym is the place in our modern lives where we are most likely to see familiar faces. The gym is the place in our current culture where we are most likely to become a part of a community. The gym is the place in our ever-evolving society, the only place, where we can make best friends.
So sit up, take notice of what I am about to non-audibly say, and quit spending your Thursday nights watching reruns of Naked & Afraid, while you yourself are both Naked & Afraid and crying into the scolding hot bowl of Campbell’s soup you accidently placed on your privates (how could anyone be crying while eating Jambalaya though?). Because I am about to tell you how to make gym friends. Ipso facto, I am about to tell you how to give yourself a better life…
How To Make Friends At Your Local Gymnasium
Step 1: Fart Sparing-This rule also applies to airplanes, daycare centers, barbershops, and every single public place you will ever walk into, public places where giveing it the old college try when it comes to not farting willy nilly so that the middle-aged woman doing seven skips on the jump rope directly behind your anal cavity doesn’t rip her nose off of her face entirely and blame you for her own poor choices can come in handy. If you must fart try to do it somewhere confined, like in the bathroom or around the old man no one likes because he accuses every person under 32 of tweeting ISIS on their flip phones. That extra effort will save you a lot of headaches and bad first impressions my friend.
Step 2: Be Helpful-Someone needs you to watch their squat form to verify that they are capable of bending their knees without their legs exploding? No problem. A small child or an elderly woman is trapped under the bar because they tried to bench 45 lbs. without ever lifting a weight before? Help them pick the dang thing up off their chest. An married couple in your spin class is looking for someone to watch their cat while they vacation in beautiful Toledo? Tell them you’re busy that day because cats are stupid. But do so in the nicest way possible.
Helpful and polite people generally make more friends than douche bags and people who have previously been convicted of aggravated assault. This is true when you go off to college. This is true when you join a gym. This is true in an Ikea. This is always true. That’s the point I am attempting to get across.
Step 3: Appear to Be Intensely Busy-Every day I enter the gym and spend roughly the first 30-45 minutes of my “workout” session standing in front of the squat rack while I randomly add/take weight off the bar without ever lifting it and make a variety of furious facial expressions and grunts into the mirror for both myself and all of the gym to see/hear. Why do I do this? Because I am an insane person? Yeah. More or less.
Also because I both 1-don’t want to do anything while I get myself psyched up and 2-don’t want people to get upset at me because I am monopolizing a major piece of gym equipment without like, you know, ever using it. That’s the key. I want to monopolize the equipment, so I can use it the second I am ready to, without actually using it in any of the seconds before I am ready to begin the 4.5 minutes of actual physical exertion I have scheduled into my day. The only way to accomplishes these distinct goals simultaneously is to scare people into believing that I am using said equipment even if I am rarely, if ever, touching it. The facial expressions and the grunts are the best method through which to do that. And, as it turns out, the facial expressions and the grunts are the best method through which to screw everyone else in the gym while still being their friend.
Step 4: Learn One Conversation Starter About Your Fellow Gym Goers-Let’s say that Terry wears a Houston Dynamo Jer-Tee to workout one day, or Milton lets it drop in casual conversation that his grandson is a habitual user of the recreational drug molly, or Byron has a tattoo of St. Michael ripping Satan’s throat out on his left calf? Notice these things. Store them away in your brain. Save them for later use.
And then, the next time you see Terry or Milton or Byron, ask them whether or not the Dyanmo are actually the only team in the MLS, or if they tripped balls with Milton III while listening to hipster music last Saturday night, or if they visualize themselves ripping the Devil’s throat out while doing those 4 reps of 15 lbs. dumbbell curls. Not only will this tactic start a dialogue with your fellow Club Legitness members, but it will also allow you to become buddies with different people at your gym while only taking the time to learn one shallow and fairly obvious thing about them. Talk about your ultimate win-win.
Step 5: Buddy Up With The Trainers-Personal training is a well meaning, and for many people, necessary service that enables clients to live better and more fulfilling lives. I learned this by watching Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition and weeping gently while doing so. Personal training also costs somewhere between $9 and $3,760,913/hour, a fee that is just a little too rich for my blood. I learned this by asking a personal trainer what I could get for the $2.87 I had in my bank account and being told “doing 1 burpee during the course of your life is slightly healthier than never doing a burpee ever.”
Personal trainers themselves, in spite of their ridiculous wealth and stature in our nation, are also, as a whole, wonderful people. They are sweet. They are thoughtful. And, while they care way more about helping rich fat people than they do poor fat people, they genuinely do, kind of, care. They are also the people who run the gym. Get in with the trainers, and you’ll get in with the fat cats (literally and economically) that pay them. Don’t get in with the trainers…and everyone will hate you forever. Or something like that.
Step 6: Steal Some Towels…and then bring them back. Gym towels suck. They’re coarse and they cause, uh, certain parts of your body to feel not all that good after a hot spritz. Ergo you have no need for them. What you do have a need for, however, is convincing Edith, the 113-year-old volunteer at the front desk, that you are just a real authentically nice and hilarious guy when you bring you towel back every day and say something along the lines of “I can’t believe I forgot this…again” while shrugging your shoulders in the most hysterical way possible.
Why are you trying to flirt so hard with Edith? One, to keep your game tight. Practice makes perfect. Two, because flirting with old women is the only way I know of to get in their will. Besides being a blood relative or a charismatic enough figure to convince them to join your cult…
Steal 7: Rap Along With Offensive Hip-Hop Songs Out Loud-Because people love guys who know Kanye lyrics word for word way more than they hate people who gratuitously use foul language in front of their children and/or a lady I always say…
Step 8: Try Your Hardest Not to Mention Ashley Madison-Do you remember seeing the lady in your zumba class or the fella in a speedo taking his kids to the indoor pool on the site? Yeah. You do. But if you call someone else out for being on Ashley Madison then you also have to admit that you were on Ashley Madison too. And take it from Josh Duggar…that ain’t no picnic homey.
Step 9: Also Try Your Hardest...Not to Be Yourself-If you were cool then you wouldn't need to become best buddies with the dude who can't even squat the bar on the Smith Machine just so that there would be one attendee at the bachelor party which you are throwing for yourself. Don't be the person you are. Be someone better. A person who wears deodorant. A person that doesn't use the word "yo" in business emails. A person that can be in the room with other people without getting stabbed in the ribs. No, that's not the dude or lady that you are right now. But, if you try hard enough, at the gym that's the kind of person that you might one day be.