I'm going to the gym quite frequently, so does the guy this question revolves around. I don't really like chit-chatting (or talking in general) while im working out - I'm usually in my zone, with headphones on and music blasting. Never had an issue with someone interrupting me.

Yesterday though, the gym was pretty well visited. Thus I had to work in on the same machine with this guy (he did his set and while he takes a break I did my mine, and so on) so none of us had to wait.

Thing is, he was doing a slightly different exercise than me and then tried to convince me to do this exercise too, because to him it seems superior. I tried to tell him I'd rather do the exercise I normally do but he kept on talking about the benefits, which annoyed me a lot.

I hate it when people try to talk me into something which clearly is not on my current workout routine or try to correct my form. Especially when it's like this guy, who has horrible form himself and doesn't seem to know a lot about the exercises. (all of this I obviously didn't say to him, because I don't want to sound rude)

How can I turn him (or others) down quicker in the future?

  • 8
    Have you tried searching for "gym" on this SE? A couple of very similar questions have been asked already. If you don't find anything in them, I think it is important to establish whether you are aware of his motives. Is he trying to be helpful, does he really know a lot, is he concerned with you getting injured or is he perhaps just e.g. lonely? A lot of people have nothing in their life but the gym or some other hobby. It's the one thing they are good at and they want to show that. I believe depending on why he gives you advice in the first place, you have to approach him differently
    – Raditz_35
    Aug 21, 2018 at 9:45
  • with eventually being a little rude and without at all ?
    – Walfrat
    Aug 21, 2018 at 12:40
  • This one might be related or even duplicated
    – Arsak
    Aug 21, 2018 at 15:11
  • 1
    @Marzipanherz The solution to this question might be similar, but the questions are about pretty different types of comments.
    – spacetyper
    Aug 21, 2018 at 15:41
  • What keeps you from simply explain your preference? It's not rude, and it satisfies his suffering for setting you doing the less efficient exercises? You don't need to talk about his horrible form, you can just explain how that would effect the body and he will conclude that himself?
    – Ooker
    Aug 21, 2018 at 16:49

4 Answers 4


In addition to @pyro's response, I will add this:

When this kind of situation happens to me, I use my technique of "politely not engaging in the conversation". In other words, I let them speak but instead of responding "yes" or "no" when needed, I just say a neutral "humm". This "humm" is just here to say "I hear you". Eventually they will stop talking, maybe ask you if you are convinced, to which you can respond: "I'd prefer to do it my way but thanks". At this point, they will probably end the conversation, disappointed. If not, just keep using the same technique and refuse to argue.

  • 1
    I think that "ok" would work better instead of "hmmm". Aug 21, 2018 at 15:58
  • 1
    "hmmm" work great in french but yes, "ok" or other alternatives must be better suited for other languages.
    – Ael
    Aug 21, 2018 at 16:00
  • 2
    @BЈовић In German, "ok" is a confirmation, just less strong than "yes". Aug 21, 2018 at 17:06
  • 2
    In English, I think the best responses would be a combination of "oh right" and "oh." Okay is too positive, "hmmm" could work but might be too rude for OP.
    – minseong
    Aug 22, 2018 at 0:50
  • @VolkerSiegel Good to know. I meant more like "ok, I heard you" and then not do as they said ;) Aug 22, 2018 at 6:43

The classic advice is to keep your headphones in. This will either discourage someone from talking to you in the first place, or if they do you have justification for not hearing them, whether you genuinely didn't, or did but chose to ignore them.

If you have to talk, you could say something like, "I'd prefer to do it my way, thanks." If they persist, just repeat it or some variation of it. Eventually they'll get the message.

In the gym, if you want to escalate this, you could always make a complaint about being harassed to the owners and they might have a talk with the person in question.


Be polite and politely decline. Just say something like, "thanks for the suggestion but I'm working through a set routine right now." When the guy persists, put your headphones back on. There's always those guys at the gym who are more interested in socializing or showing off than working out. I'm just there to work out.


First, thank the guy for his advice, and then make it clear that you're not going to follow it. It doesn't cost you anything (not anything real, anyway) to thank someone for unwelcome advice. But you don't have to follow it. "I sure appreciate the advice, but it's not going to work for me right now." Something like that.

One thing that you can say is that while his may be a great exercise, you have a routine that you follow and it's much easier for you to follow it than to change it, especially on the fly.

Another thing you could say is that you're prone to injuries if you don't do things very carefully, so if you were going to incorporate his exercise, you'd need to spend some time working up to it. Maybe you'll try it out with less weight some other time when things aren't so busy. If he then offers to show you with less weight, tell him thanks again, but you only have time to do your routine and then you have to move along.

Now, I've been guilty of that particular sort of abrasiveness in the past, which is probably why I can easily imagine some of the ways that he might take it even further over the line! At some point I'm afraid your choices are to pack up and leave, ignore him, or complain to management. Hopefully, you won't need to do any of those.

  • I would strongly suggest not thanking them for their advice. If you tell that that you appreciate their advice they are far more likely to offer you and other people in the gym more advice in the future. I think a response that declines their advice and tells them it isn't wanted is actually far more productive even if it is momentarily awkward.
    – Kevin
    Apr 14, 2020 at 18:02

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