DEAR MISS MANNERS: I work out at lunchtime in the gym located in the building where I work. I’m always in a bit of a rush to get my workout done during lunch hour, and really value the time to myself away from work.
The problem is a man who is also in the gym typically at the same time. And who likes talking to me.
I don’t want to spend time chatting during my workout, but so far, he has not picked up on my wearing headphones or being on equipment doing heavy cardio work, or the lack of interest on my part. He will come talk with me whether I’m doing yoga, lifting weights or running on the treadmill.
Any suggestions on what to say to this person without offending or embarrassing him? I realize I will continue to see him rather frequently, so do not wish to hurt his feelings, but obviously what I’m doing is not working and he does not seem to know gym etiquette.
GENTLE READER: It is no more polite to pester a stranger on the street than one at your gym, but being in the gym gives you several unique ways to fend the person off.
The next time he approaches, pretend not to hear him. You are, after all, listening to music and working out. Once you do see him, stop your workout, take off your headphones and ask him to repeat what he said. This disengagement from your workout is for demonstration purposes and should be slow and methodical.
Answer whatever he says with as few words as possible, excuse yourself, and then go back to your headphones and your workout. A few repetitions should be enough to convince him that you are not available for chitchat. If not, you can always smile, apologize, and say that now is not a good time to talk, as you only have a limited time and you promised yourself that you would do this workout.
You can also do that in the first place, but Miss Manners rather likes the idea of dramatizing the disruption.