I participate in group activities at the local gym, I'm new there (about three months,) however all other people have been members since a year ago. I can tell there is a special bond between the people.

I'm not shy or asocial, I've managed to maintain a very productive and positive relationship with other people around, but it seems impossible to build a normal relationship with some people there.

I tried to greet them, offering to do a workout together, and tried even to start a conversation. Sometimes there are just two of us, after greeting they never try to initiate a simple conversations about the workout we are about to do; they always talk about with other people and, after the workout ends, they just leave the room without a single word.

Why this is a big deal for me, you ask?

After a long day the only thing I want to do is go to the gym. As I have to encounter those people every day, it makes the whole experience very uncomfortable. Besides, we need to partner up and do workouts together, the lack of communication causes disruption and confusion.

In order to clarify the problem I go through a scenario I had two weeks ago:

We had to burn 400 calories on ski machine with three people. The two agreed to do 20 calories each for the first 100 calories, then scale down by five for the second 100 calories, and so on. The problem was, when I asked them how we gonna do the workout, they only said, "You'll see."

It's always like that, they communicate before the workout starts, they set the rules without including me.

By socializing I don't mean to chat with people about what's going on on their lives, I need to know the capacity of my partners, how much they can lift, how fast they can run...

By having this information, and getting to know the partners a little bit better, we can do a great workout. If I know the partners better, then I will push them when they need to be pushed or taking over when they need to rest so they can do the same.

I don't know if I need to confront them in person (if so then how can I?), or should I do something indirectly?

  • 2
    I have a quite-lazy life-style, so gyms are mostly an enygma to me. However, from the countless videos on the net, I would say that gyms are not really about the team work. In the most "complex" case, there is somebody (instructor?) to aid whoever needs help. So, will you please tell us (me) some details about the group workout?
    – virolino
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 9:18
  • 2
    Does by "doing workout together" you mean spot for each other? Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 9:58
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    Why is it important to chat? The gym is not a place for social events, I guess. Do your stuff, proof yourself, maybe they will want to chat. Or you say that you cannot do your physical exercises because they are not involved?
    – virolino
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 10:26
  • 1
    @Ash, I didn't ask you why do you go to gym. I never disrespect their choice either by forcing myself on them, however they need to respect the discipline of a group workout. Just take a look at my comment above in response to virolino.
    – Sam B
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 12:55
  • 2
    Can we please respect Sam's interest in maintaining a positive, non-awkward conversation? If someone's interested in telling what they do or what they expect, Use the answer feature.
    – anki
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 13:28

3 Answers 3


I have just one advice, which applies to all social situations: Don't try to force it. Give it some time instead.

It's obvious that you can't be friends with everyone in a social group. With some people you just don't have any common topic, or they just don't enjoy to talk to you. That's nothing you should be particularly concerned about. If you try to force a conversation in this case, you'll just make it worse and will come across as pesky.

I would advice you to just stay polite and do your thing. Work together as needed, keep conversations limited to the absolute minimum and only about important things to orchestrate the current common workout, but don't try to socialize with that people behind that.

That social dynamics are also bound to change over time in a natural way. When I was a rookie in the gym, some of the old guys wouldn't even greet me back. Years later without me doing anything to cause any change, it's okay for them to chat with me when we see each other.

I also have to disagree with some of the comments here: In my opinion almost every gym will also be a very social place were all sorts of group-dynamics apply, even if there are some people present, who are not interested in socializing and just want to finish their workout. Of course this may also depend on the type of sport that happens in that particular gym, but in the case of the OP, he is clearly not in a gym, where everybody is running on the treadmill by his own, but in a CrossFit gym, were you will naturally work out together and will have to interact with others.

  • I will upvote if you make one thing very clear in your answer: the gym is one thing, and the social area of the gym is another. Similar with: the concert hall, and the cafe at the concert hall. Other than that, I agree with your answer.
    – virolino
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 13:05
  • @virolino hmmm ... I'm not quite sure, what we are disagreeing about. Crossfit (which the OP is talking about) is inherently a group activity and for weightlifting you'll often need a second person as a spotter, so you'll have to ask people in the gym for help if you are training alone ... - or are we talking about doing cardio training in the gym? I would agree that it is - in almost any case - really impolite to interrupt people doing that ...
    – s1lv3r
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 13:33
  • I am not sure... Maybe here: In every gym I have been so far, it clearly was a social place. Now I see 2 options: 1. In every gym there is a place to socialize... 2. Every gym is a place to socialize... I understand option 1, and that is the ground of my comment. If you mean option 2, please explain a bit the kind of socialization, for non-trained people like me.
    – virolino
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 13:37
  • @virolino, I don't mean to talk on s1lv3r behalf, but gyms are places to socialise. one of the common problem at the gymes is when two or more people start chatting while they occupy the machines and not doing the workout, I always have to confront them or passively wait.
    – Sam B
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 13:41
  • @SamB: and you want to be in the group chatting, regardless of the machines being used properly or not. Or?
    – virolino
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 13:44

How to neutralise the behaviour of gym rats in the gym?

"neutralize" and "gym rats" are definitely not nice words. If you use such words with the people at the gym, it is strange that they still accept you there.

Even if you do not use these kinds of words, you have this kind of attitude, and it is very possible that you express it somehow non-verbally.

It is similar with smiling when talking on the phone. The person at the other end will know that you smile, even though they do not see you.

I have to confront those people every day

Maybe I am wrong, but a pattern seems to emerge. Actually, you do NOT have to confront. Not every day, not even once. You just need to be mind your own business, provide help when requested, ask for help when needed.

they never try to initiate a simple conversations about the workout we are about to do, as they always talk about with other people, and after the workout ends, they just leave the room without a single word

If I understand correctly, they actually work with you, but they do not care to include you in the chat. They do not even have to.

My understanding is that the socializing part is actually a kind of a bonus at a gym. The workout is the main stuff.

(According to "internet wisdom", there are people who go to the gym only / mostly for the socializing and for the selfies. It seems you do not go to that kind of gym with that kind of people.)

I need to know the capacity of my partneres, how much they can lift, how fast they can run, ...

If they do not really require / request your help, you might not need to know. Just guessing. If the workout happens, the knowledge transfer is secondary.

If I know the partner better, then I will push them when they need to be pushed

You assume again, that they consider you as one of them, and that they need your support the way you are ready to provide. Maybe they just do not want to be pushed by you.

I don't know if I need to confront them in person

Again, confrontation. NO, you do NOT need to confront. Whether "positive" or "negative", confrontation is not building good relationships. It destroys them, most likely.

And the bottom line, which is the information you started with:

I'm new there (about three month) however all other people have been a member since a year ago, I can tell there is a special bond between the people.

They are already a "family". They have special ties, special stories, they can do things without sharing information.

They already support you, so you can get to their level. If you want them to trust you, then it should be you who should learn to trust them in the first place.

Imagine this: a stranger appears and sits at your family's Sunday lunch. Or Thanksgiving dinner. Or whatever. Maybe you will accept them there out of mercy, or other reason. Will you be able to involve them in the chats as if he is family? As if he knows everybody? As if he know all stories and histories? Will you answer his questions about your families strengths ans weaknesses? I mean, just because he wants to help pushing and supporting?

What to do: read the answer from @s1lv3r. It makes perfect sense.


Now let's analyze some comment(s):

I was talking about the team work all the time

Yes, you did. But it made perfect sense that you considered to be a team with them, without them having a need to consider themselves being a team with you.

I didn't mentioned the national tournament because I thought it's unnecessary.

That tells a lot about your (missing) communication skills, and your (missing) socializing skills. A national tournament is a thing which changes TOTALLY all social dynamics. Personal preferences MUST (usually) be forgotten, for the sake of winning.

So it's a game day, and I'm still clueless about my roll, because I never confront my teammates.

  • "I'm still clueless" - it is normally a weak point of the team leader (formal or informal, official or unofficial). The team lead should have made the objectives and strategy clear from the beginning. But the biggest problem is that you did not report to the team lead that you don't know how to integrate into the team.

  • "I never confront my teammates" - you have one very clear idea, the one confrontation. It is actually very good that you do not confront anybody. Talk and discussions are NOT confrontation. Usually confrontation means conflict - and conflict is something you want to avoid.

All I have written might sound discouraging. However, I think it should be seen only as an eyes opener - that you need to take into considerations things you did not think about in the past.

Unfortunately, I have no idea (my bad) on how you can improve short-term. Long term, the "cheap and easy" way is to read books about:

  • communication skills;
  • teamwork;
  • leadership;
  • conflict avoidance and management;

Of course, it might prove better if you could attend some trainings, or have some sessions with some specialists on the same topics.

Additionally, you might want to think also to use the services off a specialist / coach / psychologist to help you solve the (generic) anger which you store - the one that I sense from your entire communication.

To get better advice, you should ask another question about how to improve in the few areas I mentioned above. You should also make a reference to this question, so people can adjust their answers to your needs.

  • I'm a gym rat, I guess that's describe someone who pays a visit to gym everyday and spend several hours in the gym, at least that's people in gym made me believe. I read your answer, respectfully you didn't understand my question at all. For example, "If they do not really require / request your help", I don't want to help them, I need to adjust my pace, if my partner can't do 10 push jerks at once, they slow the rest down, they cause disruption, because there is not enough space and equipment for all of us, we need coordination, we always end up in chaos. I'm sorry you got it all wrong.
    – Sam B
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 15:59
  • And we are training for the national tournament, if we can't work as a team, as we should in the game day, then why we even try.
    – Sam B
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 16:02
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    I did not understand the question at all?! Where did you tell anything about any national tournament, please?
    – virolino
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 16:11
  • I was talking about the team work all the time, In my original question and in the comments in response to you. Here is another example I'm quoting : "gain, confrontation. NO" So it's a game day, and I'm still clueless about my roll, because I never confront my teammates. I didn't mentioned the national tournament because I thought it's unnecessary.
    – Sam B
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 16:15
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    @SamB: in virolino's defense, the bit about the tournament changes everything. Now, you have to train with these people for a common goal. As I read the question, it seemed that you joined a training club and you try to get along better with the other members (people that just happen to be there at the same time as you), in order to make the training session more pleasant or more efficient.
    – Taladris
    Commented Oct 18, 2019 at 11:16

1. Understand the new place

In this article on being new in the workplace, the first item has some relevance for your situation:

1. Understanding the Company Culture

...Observing my co-workers allowed me to see what was and wasn’t acceptable at my new company.

In your situation, your "coworkers" might (socially) include the members of the gym.

  • Point: THEY define what is acceptable
  • Point: Learn by observing, not being told

2. Take it slow

In another article, How to Be the New Guy (or Gal) at Work?...

Take it slow with your co-workers at first. Listening more than answering is probably the wisest course for any new person. ...Win them over by doing your job well...

  • Point: It takes time, let it take time
  • Point: Just do good work

3. On their terms

Consider that the outgoing people might misinterpret quiet people's normal behavior as rejection. They are not rejecting you, it might just feel like it.

Someone asked on Quora: Why is it difficult to deal with quiet people? One answer included:

...You just have to view how they act and why they act the way they are from their perspective.

...Don’t try to change someone to be something they are not.

Do your best to learn their way, no matter how difficult, accepting friendship on their terms. View yourself as being there to learn and serve.

  • Point: When they say, "You will see," that's how you will need to learn: on their terms

My time in the gym

In my own exercise and gym time, I usually am not talkative, though I am most of the rest of the day.

When I exercise, I want to be left alone, I don't want to make new friends, I want minimal conversation, I'm focused only on strengthening my own body, thinking about anyone else's need for improvement is a distraction... for me.

I don't mean that I'm inconsiderate or uncaring. I am respectful, aware of others, and safe. It's just that I think of "gym time" as my own need to improve, time to address my own weaknesses, time for me to do my job to become stronger. As I'm becoming a better person, thinking about others feels like blame-shifting... for me.

I might chat it up with you on the street, but ignore you in the gym just so I can focus.

Maybe I'm right or wrong in that thinking. But, that might be a similar frame of mind the other members have. By understanding their perspective, it might be easier to work with them.

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