By Madeleine Starkey
Let me begin by saying: I love you. We, women, love you. We’ve always loved you and we will always love you. But. Just because we love you does not mean we are blind to your shortcomings. Our love is not a new love; you know, the kind in which the object of our affection can do no wrong. Our love is one that is settled, confident. Our love for you is the kind of love that not only allows us to see your flaws, but also makes us comfortable enough to point them out to you. We need to address a particular flaw: you are miserably clueless about when it is and is not appropriate to hit on a gal while she’s getting her sweat on.
You clowns sidle up to us when we’re waiting for the door to our SoulCycle class to open so we can get our bikes set up. You nincompoops try to chat us up on the treadmill when we’re clearly interval training, and therefore are busy and, frankly, have very little breath to spare. You appear out of nowhere and say something inane like, “Hey,” with eyes so expectant an onlooker might misread the situation and believe that we’ve met you before.
To remedy all this, I present to you: When and When Not to Hit on Ladies Who Are Exercising or Are About to Exercise or Just Exercised. The contents of the guide are solid, however we’re still workshopping its official title (we’re open to suggestions). The guide is quick and to the point — so pay attention!
(1) If you see two or more women exercising together, leave them alone.
When women get together to work out, they do so for two reasons. First, they want a buddy around to support and inspire them while they train. Second, they want to chit chat. They already have each other for spotting and form correction and coaching, and they also have each other for socializing. Your presence is not only unnecessary, but potentially very annoying. Keep it moving.
(2) If you see a woman exercising with a man, leave her alone.
Maybe the man is just her brother. Maybe he’s her cousin. Maybe he’s her gay husband. Or, maybe, he’s her boyfriend/fiancé/love interest. You don’t know what the dynamic is and it’s none of your business. Keep it moving.
(3) If you see a woman leading a group fitness class you’re attending, leave her alone. For now, anyway.
Confession: I’m a fitness instructor. And this one hits home for my peers and for me. We are very flattered if you think we’re attractive and/or interesting and want to get to know us better. Seriously, we are. But asking us out after you just took our class is tacky and unimaginative. Find another way, or keep it moving.
(4) If you see a woman and she sees you and you two make eye contact and she smiles ever so slightly then coyly looks away, permission to approach has been granted.
You know the kind of smile I mean. This is not the smile she uses for the barista who gives her her coffee every morning, nor is it the smile she uses when she’s happy to see a gal pal she hasn’t seen in forever. This smile is a little leading, as in it is meant to lead you right to her. Proceed with caution, though. Think of something to say before you head over. This is a little tennis match, and she just lobbed one right to ya. Don’t go overboard, just keep the ball in play.
(5) If you see a woman because she’s standing right next to you asking for your help with something fitness related (assuming you don’t work at whatever gym y’all are at), it is now YOU who’s being hit on. Surprise!
Gyms and boutique fitness studios have staff specifically to help people with their fitness related questions. That’s why we pay to go to these places: so a professional can guide us. If a woman asks a civilian for help with something when she’s working out, chances are she doesn’t really need your help but thinks you’re cute and knows how confusing it can be for men to know when or when not to hit on a lady while she exercises. This is a new guide I’ve written, after all! Not everyone’s read it yet! That said, don’t pass up this opportunity. It’s not often that women want to be bothered with flirting while they train, so if this lass made a pass, she’s into you.
Below are a few extra pointers that I feel are implicit, but are included in case you’re uncertain. Consider it an addendum.
If you try to talk to a woman while she works out and she shuts you down, do not try to change her mind. She’s taking care of business and you’re being a nuisance.
If you holler at a lady from across the room à la construction worker, you are an idiot and should be kicked off the property immediately.
When in doubt, reroute (this will stick with you if you rhyme ‘doubt’ & ‘route’). If you can’t tell if she smiled at you like she likes you, or like she just noticed you staring at her and got uncomfortable and didn’t know what to do so just smiled back, back off. Play it safe so you don’t embarrass yourself, and so you don’t bother someone who’s on a mission to get stronger, not get a new boyfriend.
Keep in mind: we love you! We love you so much, in fact, that we made this guide for you so you know exactly what we want. Isn't it so nice when a woman tells you what she needs so you don’t have to spend all your time trying to read her mind? Thought so. You’re welcome!
Madeleine Starkey is a longtime health and fitness enthusiast turned professional. As a SoulCycle instructor in New York City, Madeleine believes the best way to live a healthy life is to live a well-rounded one. A follower of the Indian tradition of Ayurveda, Madeleine’s approach to a healthful lifestyle means listening to the wisdom of the body as it communicates what is nourishing and fruitful for us as individuals. She uses this approach on and off the bike — in her professional and personal life — to encourage herself and others to tap into the body’s natural desire for movement, challenge, and change. “We only get one body in this life,” Madeleine says, “so we have to love and use and explore it! Take care of it so it takes care of you.” A firm believer that if you feel good you’ll look good (not the other way around!), Madeleine loves the sweat life.