The gym can be a great place to make good friends with people who have the same goals and ambitions as you. Many great friendships have been formed in gyms and if you want the kind of friends that like to be active and live a healthy life as well, the gym might be a great place to start.
You might want to start building your network of exercise-related contacts to help you get into the fitness industry, or just make a few mates that will be a positive influence.
How to make friends at the gym
Don't be annoying
First off: Don't be the person that everybody wants to avoid. See the most annoying people in the gym and make sure you are not one of these people. Make sure you aren't the annoying guy at the gym because you won't make any friends at all that way.
Make sure that your first objective for going to gym is to work out. Don't go to the gym just to make friends. This comes across and you won't win the respect of anybody there if that is the case.
Train hard. Look good and exercise as well as you can. People around you notice these things. Ironically, people who go to gym for the right reasons end up making more friends than people who attend for nothing but social interaction.
You should not go to the gym in jeans and a shirt to look good. That will make you look silly and unfocused on training hard. Look good by being presentable. You might be at gym, but take some pride in yourself. I'm referring to things like brushing your teeth and wearing clean gym clothes. The bigger and stronger you are, the more likely people will want to be friends with you. Use this as motivation to do your best at the gym. Just as much as you notice the people who are really performing their best at the gym, you want to be one of those people so that others can notice you too.
Start by being approachable. You might look intimidating without knowing it. Many people do. If your eye meets someone else's (which will happen by accident), smile. Smile often to give off the impression that you are kind, a nice human being and easy to talk to. Open up your body language. If you are on your phone between sets or if you are using headphones, then people should respect you and not bother you. Ditch these things if you want to make friends.
Talk to a variety of people
You might want to be friends with the biggest and coolest looking guys in the gym exclusively, but going up to these people in the middle of their training session is going to irritate them. You don't want to be the irritating guy. Be nice and pleasant to everybody at the gym. Greet the staff, cleaners, the old guy from the steam room that talks to everybody and even the people that you wouldn't usually associate yourself with. They are generally nice people, and once you make friends with these people, you will be introduced to more and more people until you know almost everybody around the facility.
Don't talk down to anybody. Do not judge the guy that does cardio along with weight training and don't say bad things about people to others at the gym. This will give you a bad reputation.
Gym at a set time
Most people gym at the same time routinely. If you are able to gym at the same time regularly, you will start to recognize reoccurring faces, and start getting to know the people there. Going to gym at a different time can sometimes feel like walking into a different gym altogether. Personally, whenever I gym at a different time from normal, I am surprised at all the strangers there. The funny part is that they all probably think I'm a newbie because they obviously haven't seen me before either.
Take baby steps
Don't rush in and try to start conversations with everybody. That will be annoying to the other gym members. Start with smaller steps. Make it a habit of smiling often. Greet people as you walk past them. Try to greet everybody you can and not only certain people. A simple 'how you doing' will do. Don't stop everybody to shake their hands if you don't know them.
When working on exercises that need spotting like the bench press ask people around you for a spot - but make sure not to cause them inconvenience. Don't take up too much their time so that they can't focus on their own workouts. If someone is using a machine or weight that you want to use, ask how many sets they have left. If the number is 3 or greater, it is okay to ask if they mind sharing the machine with you. Most people won't mind sharing weights with you as long as it doesn't slow down their own workout. If the number of sets they have left is 2 or more, asking to share will sound silly so just wait until they are done.
Feel free to ask people for advice when you need to, but don't ask a million questions every time you see them. Most people love giving advice and they will enjoy talking to you about what they know. You might want to ask someone how they got such big calve muscles or how to do better at your bench press.
Don't overdo it
This is very important. Don't ever talk to someone for so long that they end up taking too long in-between their exercise sets. They will start to associate you with slacking off and will try avoiding your conversation altogether if they think it will lead to decreased performance in their training.
If you want people to like you, you need to try to end up doing most of the listening in a conversation. When we talk, we often focus so much on what we are saying that we don't realize that the person who is listening is just waiting for you to end talking so that they can get away. You don't want that to happen to you. Develop the ability to distinguish whether the person is interested in talking to you or not. Most people won't tell you that you are irritating them out of courtesy, so try to draw the line between being annoying and friendly.
If someone has earphones or is on their phone, don't bother them unless you know them. There are many people who don't like chatting at all when they're working out. You need to distinguish the difference between the people who don't mind interacting with others and the ones that don't want to socialize at all.
Take it easy. Just because someone greeted you back doesn't mean you should be asking for their number. People will take time to start seeing you as a buddy in the gym as opposed to a stranger. Slowly but surely, get to know all the people a little more and more each time you can and let things happen naturally.