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Soft Spots: Love in the Gym

Improve your odds before you approach her.

Today’s the biggest day of your life. At last, you’ve decided to go for it’you’re going to talk to that girl over there, the one with the big eyes and breasts who, more than once, has had you running for a cold shower in the middle of a workout. So you memorize your lines and start to approach her, but the moment your eyes meet, you turn and high-tail it to the locker room.

Never fear, Teagan’s here. Follow these simple steps, and, I guarantee, your cold-shower days are over.

Appearances. Before you present yourself, make sure you look like the kind of guy she’d want to meet. Believe it or not, women look at a man’s clothes first because a man’s clothes indicate his resources’or lack of them. So invest in the best workout wear you can afford. Make sure those duds fit and are clean and well matched. A nice wristwatch won’t hurt, either.

The next thing she’ll assess is your physique. Is your upper body larger than your lower body? That and tight buns are all most women care about, so if you have that, go on to the next step. If you’re pear-shaped, you probably need more training time.

Bad grooming is a potential deal-breaker. Don’t overdo the cologne or deodorant, and avoid hairsprays and gels. Earrings and exotic piercings can be conversation starters, but statistics show that most women don’t like that stuff. Besides, you want her to admire you, not your earrings. To further improve your odds, keep your hair short and neatly combed, your teeth brushed and your face washed. Because women see your hands as instruments of lovemaking, remember to scrub and trim your nails’no jagged edges, please.

Behavior. Examine your behavior, and moderate any extremes. Do you strike people as an intensely macho type? Tone it down a little. Are you a wallflower? Slide out of your shell. Extreme behaviors don’t win female adoration. Likewise, the joke-a-minute comedian gets tiresome very quickly, as does the oh-so-serious intellectual.

When it comes to first impressions, your voice and speech are important. Because there’s lots of background noise in a gym, mumbling like James Dean won’t win her heart, while talking too loud can seem threatening. Speak from the chest’from your heart, not your head’and don’t ever try to sound cute. Above all, remember to breathe normally and maintain eye contact. You can step closer to her, but if she takes a step back, it means you got too close. Let her adjust the distance.

Don’t try to impress her with big words. Use only words you’re completely comfortable with and that you think she’ll understand. And what’s your body language saying? Are you relaxed and open, or are your arms crossed over your chest and your eyes narrowed? Your body should tell her you’re relaxed and happy. Avoid big, sweeping motions; they can frighten people. Don’t put your hands on your hips either’it suggests dominance’and absolutely no pointing. Keep your palms up and open and your hands. Dancing around with your feet can be an indication of uncertainty or lack of confidence.

Approach. Before you approach her directly, take note of who she trains with. Start a conversation with that person first and eventually ask about the person you’re interested in. Casually inquire whether she’s married or otherwise committed. The absence of a wedding ring on her finger doesn’t mean she’s unmarried; it could just mean that she doesn’t want to scratch her ring on the barbells.

Assuming she’s available, begin your approach by exercising near her, about two benches or machines away. Then, when she’s at rest, walk slowly past her on your way to the water fountain and make friendly eye contact. If she smiles back at you, your chances have just doubled. If she doesn’t, she could just be shy. In any event, hold her gaze until she turns away. If you’re so intimidated by her beauty, you’re having a hard time doing that, focus on one of her flaws, like a crooked tooth or something.

When she takes her next break, it’s time to make your move. Forget the obvious lines like, ‘Can I be the hundredth person today to tell you how beautiful you are?’ Beautiful people are generally insensitive to flattery’they hear so much of it. Instead, pay attention to what she’s doing and what her interests appear to be, and comment on them. If she’s reading a book on the stationary bike, ask her for a review.

Even better, if you saw her do something that required great effort, let her know you saw it. Congratulate her on her recent weight loss or anything else she might be proud of. In your initial conversation, the goal is to find things you both agree on right away. Emphasize your similarities. Although opposites attract, similarities provide the foundation of a good relationship.

The question. Now that you’ve shown her what good company you are, introduce yourself. Then ask for her name and extend your hand, making sure your palms meet. Resist the urge to show her the full power of your grip.

At this point you could say something like, ‘I enjoyed talking with you, and I’d really like to talk with you again. Why don’t we continue this conversation over coffee?’ If she agrees, set a date and time, and exchange numbers. If she declines, wait a couple of months, then ask her out again.

Send flowers to her at the gym only if your date went really well. If it flopped, don’t be discouraged. Maybe you were both nervous, in which case, ask her out again, explaining that it takes at least three dates for people to get comfortable with each other

If she bows out, write it off to a bad mood, nothing more. Don’t even think about failure.

Editor’s note: Teagan invites you to write to her at [email protected]. IM

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