How do I get the cool strong girl in the gym to be my friend?
An ode to the ABC (Always Be Chatting) approach.
Dear Swole Woman,
I have been going to the gym every week for about 3 months now and I am getting better and seeing progress. But I have something I don't know how to handle, etiquette wise. There is a girl who goes to my gym who is incredibly strong but not like unreachably strong. I am mesmerized by her not in a like "I have a crush on her," kind of way but in a "what the fuck how are you doing that" kind of way. Today, for example, she was casually split squatting 120 lbs. I don't want to bother her, but I do desperately want to know what program she is doing. Is there a way to ask her that isn't annoying/rude/stupid? Is it dumb to even want to ask her?
If I missed the column where you explained this please forgive me! I did google but could not find in your archive! —KM
I love that you have come to me for this question. I am not sure how I gave the impression that I have, in my life, shown leadership or good habits in the matter of “creating and maintaining healthy relationships.” Not unlike strength, I have nearly zero natural ability at it. However, also not unlike strength, few people have put in more deliberate effort into having even a basic competency at it than I have. Also like strength, it’s been hard work at times, but really rewarding and mostly fun for my personal development as a warped little seedling of a human.
This is not specific to your question, but I want to say a general piece for anyone hoping to make lifting friends: Friendships will happen almost automatically at a gym/club with a shared purpose, like a specific sport (powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, strongman, etc). These gyms have much more of a built-in community aspect. You’re more likely to be paying attention to and invested in each other’s workouts.
You have probably seen some of this at a more commercial gym, where the affinity group is usually more centered around bro-style bodybuilding. That’s what you’re seeing when guys stand around one guy benching like 300 pounds and all yell at him. This also happens in sport-oriented gyms, but usually for someone doing a one-rep max, not doing curls. And this can be really, really fun. You haven’t lived til you have spontaneously yelled in support of someone across the room grinding out a squat rep.
Outside of that, it’s a little bit more of a Wild West. But still, I have some ideas.