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How To Make Friends In The Gym


For some people, going to the gym is a great solo activity – a time and place to really get some ‘me time’. For others, socialising adds an extra element to the workout. And actually, working out with a friend has been proven to have loads of benefits, including providing extra motivation, fewer skipped workouts, and reduced gym nerves.

But just how do you go about making a gym buddy so you can get these benefits? We’ve spoken to PureGym Leeds based Personal Trainer Matty Ramsden, and several PureGym members who have built close friendships with people at the gym, to get the lowdown on the best way to make friends in the gym.

Smile, and say hi!

One of the best and easiest ways to start building a relationship is by smiling. Matty says: “If you go to the gym at the same time each day, it’s likely you see the same faces throughout the week. Simply smiling as you pass is a great way to let other gym goers know you’re friendly, which can open the opportunity for a conversation. “

Be open to having conversations

If someone is working out, it’s natural to not want to disturb them. However, there’ll be plenty of opportunities to engage in conversations without inconveniencing fellow gym goers. Just make sure not to overstep any boundaries, especially if it’s the first time you are speaking to someone.

Hayley, a PureGym member who met three of her closest friends at the gym, says: “My advice would be to swallow your nerves and be open to having conversations with people.  Everyone is very friendly and no matter what you think, everyone in that gym has been in your position! A lot of people are happy to say hi or give advice, you can always smile and take their lead from there.”

Matty agrees, saying “Simply saying hello and asking someone what they think of something, such as a class, can be a great conversation opener. It’s minimally invasive, and you can gauge whether they are open to chatting. If they are, you can begin to build this up over time!”

Unsure how to open the conversation? Asking for advice, offering to spot a lift, or getting their thoughts on a class or exercise are all potential options.

Try a group workout

Fitness classes, and even small group personal training sessions, are a great way to meet likeminded people and remove barriers to having a conversation.

PureGym member Sue, who joined PureGym after her retirement, made friends with a few class members and now has a ‘Gym Buddies’ WhatsApp group. She says: “Meeting people in the gym has enriched my life and expanded my social contacts. I am in a group of 12 ladies who I met at Halifax PureGym, all different ages and different backgrounds but we just gel – we call ourselves the Gym Buddies. It began with just 3 of us talking at classes and has built up – now we meet for coffee after classes, go for meals, and support each other through good and bad times.

Don’t be afraid to join the classes – it’s a great way to bond with people by encouraging each other through the physical challenge, and this can soon turn into chatting about families, holidays, and becoming good friends”.

Hayley met three of her closest friends though group training sessions, and it has transformed her time in and out of the gym: “Having gym buddies is great, it keeps you motivated as you don't want to let yourself down, but mainly you don't want to let your teammates down. I have hit my deadlift PB of 90kg because I had my buddies chanting and cheering me on! From never lifting a free weight, to this, is a great achievement for me and it's thanks to Matty and the girls for pushing me!”

Build a relationship outside of the gym

Having strong friendships is great for our mental health and wellbeing. If you click with a gym buddy, why not see if you can spend time with them outside the gym and build the friendship? It can be hard as adults to meet new people, so when you meet someone you connect with, it’s worth getting over any fears and seeing if they want to meet for coffee or an activity outside of the gym.

For Sue, engaging outside of the gym has helped her to build a strong support system with her gym buddies: “We support each other by being there to listen and help where we can. We have a Gym Buddies WhatsApp and we have each other’s telephone numbers. If anyone has an accident or is taken ill or has a special birthday, we send flowers and give them extra support. We are all committed to supporting each other through good or bad. That’s what Buddies are for.”

While making friends at the gym can seem scary, just remember that a lot of members are also interested in making gym buddies. While you won’t click with everyone you talk to, that’s one more friendly face to say hi to when working out, and one person closer to making a new close friend.

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