In the gym I go to, we don't have personal trainers but gym instructors - they just stay there and guide pretty much everyone if they have doubts or they see someone exercising incorrectly.

From what I know, there are 3 gym instructors. I always go to gym in the afternoon and I always meet the same instructor. He's a very cool dude and I have no personal problem with him, even though he is not actually my friend: I never have contact with him outside the gym.

However, he ALWAYS talks to me, from the moment I get there until I leave. I only have about an hour to train and since he is always talking to me, 95% of the time I don't get to finish all the exercises I should.


I have tried some non-direct approaches:

  1. Going with earphones on: didn't work, he still talks to me and practically ignores that I am listening to music.

  2. Giving short answers (trying to show that I am not inclined to talk): he seems not to notice that someone does not want to talk.


I don't want to be rude with him because again, he is a nice person and I don't think he does that on purpose. The subjects we talk about are not the problem either (just current events, chit-chat, not gym-related). The only problem is that I want to be able to finish all my exercises.

How can I express my willingness to be able to finish my workout, should it mean for him to talk less to me? I don't want to completely stop talking to him, but not that frequently.

The gym instructor and I are both males. I don't think he was romantically interested in me because I'm pretty sure he has a girlfriend (as I have seen him leaving holding hands with her). Even if that is not the case, I'm also heterosexual so I think I never gave him the impression I was flirting with him.

  • 3
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up vote 23 down vote accepted

From the way you ask the question, it sounds like you don't have an issue with the person or the conversation, you have an issue that you aren't able to complete your workout.

Especially when you want someone to change their behavior because of you rather than because of them it is best to emphasize the problem you are having and let them change their behavior to help you (this strategy can also work even if they are at fault in some way to avoid them pushing back).

You could come across as rude if you were to say that they are distracting you or preventing you from finishing your sets. However, if you say something like

I have a hard time focusing on my exercise and talking at the same time and I am worried I am not going to finish today, could we chat another time?

This way, he can help you with your workout just by ending the conversation: rather than feeling bad because he lost a conversation partner, you give him an opportunity to feel good by helping you out (of course he may not feel this way, but that's not up to you: you are definitely not being rude if you are giving that option).

In addition, you are making clear that the conversation itself is not the problem because you are offering to postpone it. By referring to that day in particular, you avoid calling them out on their past habit of conversing with you (which is not really their fault anyways if you haven't made your preference clear yet).

If they argue at all (maybe they say you don't have to speak back or something?) you can be more direct, while keeping the focus on yourself. "I know myself too well, even just listening slows me down because I stop to think about it."

If you wanted this person to completely avoid talking to you when you are working out, even for a short time when you arrive, you will probably need to be a bit more direct and you are more likely to hurt some feelings, but you can use a similar script: just explain that you will always be pressed for time and can't be talking during the limited time you have to exercise. Just as long as the focus is still on your exercise habits rather than their distraction you are doing the best you can to get what you need without being rude - you can't expect any more from yourself than that.

Although I do not have any direct experience with Brazil or gym culture in Brazil, in the U.S. probably one of the least offensive needs one could assert in a gym is a desire to focus on working out: that is a value that many in that space will share and understand.

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    I like this answer, but the "could we chat another time" could lead into why he's chatting. He probably wants a date and adding that section to the response could lead to more trouble. If the OP is fine with the date, that's their prerogative, I just wanted to point out one possible unintended outcome here. – computercarguy Oct 11 at 21:35
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    @computercarguy That's possible, though the topics of conversation (mentioned by OP in comments) don't sound like typical date-approach topics and they didn't mention any more overt come-ons - the guy sounds more just bored at work. OP also mentioned not being bothered by communicating with this person in the future, so even if they are uninterested in a date, it seems reasonable to make clear they are not against future talking. – Bryan Krause Oct 11 at 21:51
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    @DDD That doesn't necessarily matter, and OP didn't bring it up. – Bryan Krause Oct 11 at 22:14
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    I will edit the question to become more clear, but I'm almost 100% positive it isn't a move on me, I'm pretty sure he is actually just bored as @BryanKrause said. – ihavenoidea Oct 11 at 22:49
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    @Acccumulation Quote from the OP: "I don't want to completely stop talking to him, but not that frequently." – Bryan Krause Oct 12 at 3:09

Remind him of this one exercise rule - No one should talk while doing any exercise.

First thing is that he is not your personal trainer so there is no need to stand beside you and talk to you for the whole time. (Personal trainers generally get payment according to an hourly basis)

Second thing, he is a gym instructor. His job is to give attention to all the members in the gym. All members deserve equal attention from the gym instructor. His behavior affects the gym quality because he is not concerned about how much he should talk to one specific person.

You have joined the gym for a specific purpose that may be weight loss, or simply to remain fit and fine. His job is to help all members to achieve their health goals. He is not doing that. Rather, he is more interested in talking about various subjects which are irrelevant to exercise. So he is diverting you from your goal (not purposefully). You easily get slowed down or diverted due to his talk. It seems that your "silent" approaches of body language do not make any impact on him. Still, he continues to talk and can't understand your body language. He does not seem like a professional trainer.

You can use the following options if you have any related health goal.

Suppose your goal is weight loss, then you can talk to him politely,

Sir, I am very desperate to lose my 3 kg weight within this month. I have to concentrate on my exercise. I hope you would help me to achieve my target. I can not talk while exercising.

Suppose your goal is to remain fit and fine. Then you can suggest to him that he change his own daily workout time and join you in your workout so that he will not engage in chit-chatting, and can able to do his workout also. Or, you can politely tell him,

Sir, I've heard from experts that if we talk while doing any exercise, then we don't get good results out of that exercise. So, I want to follow expert guidelines and really want to concentrate on my workout.

Then it won't be rude to him. You also said in your question that you don't want to stop talking to him. You can talk with him after finishing your daily workout, and for 5 minutes at the end.

Last but not least, you are paying and taking service from them. So, sometime you need to be straight forward while talking.

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    Thanks for your input. I like your last sentence, sometimes it just has to come down to a direct approach. – ihavenoidea Oct 11 at 23:00

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