Conventional wisdom would have you believe it’s a sin to steal a glance at ladies sweating it out in the gym, but I beg to differ. Most of us are there because we appreciate what we get out of it, but being surrounded by other humans working on their fitness is a wonderful bonus. And what it really comes down to is the matter of how you look.
So ask yourself, how are you looking at women? Not just in the gym, but on the street, at work, in restaurants, on the subway? Do you show interest in a charming, playful, George Clooney type of way? Or are you looking at her like Sy in One Hour Photo? Are you saying bizarre things under your breath as she walks past or yelling things at her?
See, the way you look at us makes all the difference in our perception of you as dashing or friendly versus gross and distressing. So follow these quick tips.
1. Be brief and subtle
When you notice a new or long-term gym crush, you’ve got to play it cool no matter what. Land in that sweet spot between completely ignoring them and pretending they’re a non-sexual object like a lamp, excluding the one from A Christmas Story, and staring like a Dementor trying to steal their soul.
I enjoy feeling sexy and confident in my own skin and I go to the gym because lifting brings me satisfaction. I leave feeling happier, empowered and accomplished. In essence, I’ve put a lot of energy and effort into staying in shape and sometimes it feels nice for that to be validated via a second glance. If you catch someone’s eye, you can always offer a small smile, but don’t hold a lingering stare or follow girls around the gym.
Men and women are going to check each other out, regardless of where they are. If you think someone’s attractive, it’s better to own it. Just look, briefly—and try not to behave like a weird robot making shifty eye contact at us through six angled mirrors.
2. Be hot
Like it or not, what you look like often determines how you’re perceived. It’s undeniably true, and the gym is no exception. If you’re blessed with the build of Adonis or come close to hitting the Golden Ratio, you’re bound to receive more glances and less protest when you’re the one doing the looking.
I’m not suggesting that being attractive ever warrants a free pass to perv-ville. I’m simply pointing out that beauty privilege is still a very real thing. So, weirdly: If you spend more time working out and less time ogling, eventually you can get away with more ogling. Talk about motivation!
3. Never, ever leer
As a woman, there’s something alarming and invasive about someone you don’t know staring at your body with unwavering intensity, in or outside of the gym. It’s one thing to have a partner worship the post-gym pump, but a stranger makes it infinitely creepy.
It seems self-explanatory, but here’s why. Despite having spent years in mostly male-dominated gyms and weight rooms, I still get nervous when I’m lifting around them. A casual glance turned unrestrained ogle can begin to feel threatening and unsettling. Of course, most of the time this isn’t the case, but my thoughts about the classic creeper sometimes become, “Would he follow me out to my car?” It immediately takes the wind from my sails, or squats, and I want to get the f*ck out of there, ASAP. I came to the gym to work out, not to endure intrusive stares.
4. Put yourself in our Nikes
Basically, practice having empathy and common courtesy for the people around you. If you wouldn’t like your shorts being X-ray visioned (by someone you’re not into) while finishing a set, then don’t do it to others. I know that men can appreciate women’s beauty without making them feel objectified or harassed. Now prove it. Ladies everywhere will thank you.