We’ve all been there. You’ve got a lot of bangin’ and clangin’ to get done at the gym before you can get on with your day or evening. But invariably, at a point when you are just getting into a groove and feel like you are really starting to move through your sets, you get drawn into a conversation by a chatterbox that causes your plans for an efficient workout to evaporate with every protein supplement question, unwanted political opinion and/or weekend party story.
As you stand there, pondering the minimum sentences for assault and battery, the internal struggle between getting back to your sets and not being rude plays out within you.
It seems there are two types of people at gyms and fitness clubs: the ones that are there to do work and the ones that have mistaken the gym for a social club that specializes in smoothies. To help you avoid the lamentations of the unfinished workout, we’ve compiled a handy list to keep the weights pumping and the chats to a minimum.
1. Fill Your Sound Holes. Put on those headphones or earbuds and remove yourself from the Top 40-filled sonic landscape of the gym. Project the image that you are in a heavy metal sensory deprivation tank of your own design and don’t be afraid to add the head-bob to really sell the “Not now bro, this is my jam” effect. Pairing this with hoody to avoid eye contact further strengthens your message. Most folks will see wires dangling from your ears and say, “Message received. Proceed with your groove. I’ll tell you about my super fly nacho recipe later.”
2. Use Your Words. When you spot a chatterbox headed toward you like a gab-seeking missile, establish a pre-emptive boundary with firm politeness: “Hey, man, good to see you but I’m in a hurry tonight. Can we trade reality show recaps another time?” Keep in mind this solution is only temporary. While it will stall the conversation for the time-being, you will eventually have to face the chatterbox. However, if you are more pressed for time than usual, it’s a good short-term solution.
3. Wingman Rescue. Like tactic number two, the Wingman Rescue can offer a temporary chatterbox block by allowing a buddy to interrupt and request your presence elsewhere. Admittedly, this is an adolescent move, but a good option for those too considerate to intentionally hurt someone’s feelings. The path of least resistance, if you will. For this to work effectively, you need a vigilant buddy and a gym large enough to get lost in.
4. The Hard Out. This sounds too simple to actually work, but often the best method is to simply wait for the talker to conclude a thought, give you a small opening, then pleasantly say, “It’s been great hearing about your recent surgeries. Time to get back to work!” Then, immediately disengage by putting your headphones back on or heading for the locker room. You’re cutting off the end of the conversation with a cleaver of kindness. To be successful in this maneuver, you must be unequivocal—break eye contact and be on your way.
There are worse things in life than for people to think enough of you to engage in conversation. Much, much worse. Let’s be real. This is a first-world problem in many ways. Don’t mistake chatty people for a real problem in your life. However, there is no denying that there are days where your coping skills may be stretched a little more thinly than others, so rather than be rude, try one of these methods out and get back on task.