Some queer men see cruising as a lost art — killed by hookup apps, an evolved social climate, changing queer norms, and everything else. These people have never been to a gay gym.
Maybe that’s not fair. Sure, Grindr made hooking up easier. That’s what technology does. It makes things easier, not better. Now we regret the ease and effortlessness of which we can find a guy nearby who meets all our specs with just a few clicks.
If you want to try your hand at the tried-and-true, old-school art of cruising in public, grab your shorts (no underwear necessary, commando only) and some lifting gloves. It’s time to get sweaty.
Here are my top tips for cruising at the gym:
1. Find a “gay gym”
If you’re in the Castro, West Hollywood or Hell’s Kitchen, every gym is the gay gym. But, if you don’t live in a queer city, you’re going to have to ask around. Ask the locals for suggestions on gay-friendly gyms.
Asking around is extra work, but don’t lament this step in the process. In established gayborhood gyms, the staff are extra vigilant and on the lookout for fuckery (also called “public indecency”), which means you may have a higher chance of getting caught in those establishments. Some of the naughtiest sessions happen in small-town gyms.
2. Change at the gym
Most cruising happens in the locker room, truthfully. You’ll find that most guys don’t want to be cruised too hard out on the floor. I love cruising and getting cruised, but I also take my gym time very seriously. If someone is overtly cruising me during a lift, it can be distracting and a little annoying.
Every time I go to the gym, I strip three times: once when I’m changing into my gym clothes, again when I’m sweaty and taking them off, and when I change back into my day clothes after showering. The repeated disrobing give guys three opportunities to sneak a peek and make a move.
4. Wear your usual gym attire
Don’t wear the shortest, tightest shorts you own. It’s hotter to wear actual athletic gear, not a cute club tank.
That said, don’t wear baggy basketball shorts. Wear workout clothes that fit, that show off your body (shorts should fall mid-thigh, never lower than the knee). Show off your personality. Some guys can get away with teal sleeveless hoodies printed with neon cats, but I can’t. (Actually, I would totally wear that, tbh).
Cruising is fun (partly) because of its illicit, wordless subtlety. Don’t be too obvious and try not to look like you’re hunting and thirsty AF. You can dress in skimpy clothes and still be wearing suitable athletic gear. I do.
5. Stand next to him at the urinal
Close-proximity peeing is one the oldest tricks in the book. And it’s still one of the best.
When you’re standing next to him at the urinal, glance at him and give the nod. If there’s a divider, do not attempt to sneak a peek — not without his permission.
Let him know you noticed him. That’s all you can do. That gives him the go-ahead to glance back at you, or to nod down, directing your eyes to what he knows you want to see. If he’s bold (or if there’s no one else in the bathroom), he may turn sideways and show you what he’s packing.
6. Don’t wear headphones on the floor
Headphones are useful if you want to finish your workout and leave. However, if you’re on the prowl, be present and notice people. Headphones read “I am not interested so leave me the fuck alone.”
7. Make eye contact
Cruising happens in glances: averted, held, direct, passing. There is an art to glancing that can’t be taught. Mastering the perfect glance takes practice.
Don’t hold the eye contact for too long unless you’re getting signals that he’s cruising you back (a half smile while scanning your body is a good sign).
8. Ask him to spot you
Some cruise queens say this move is way too bold. I disagree. You’re asking him to be your spotter, not your boyfriend. Having a spotter is useful, particularly if you’re lifting heavy weight.
Don’t ask him to spot every set for a particular lift. That’s rude and inconsiderate. However, if you want to go up in weight on your last set and if he’s nearby, ask him to spot you. It’s a great way to get him to look at you up close.
9. Always be courteous and polite
Nothing is more unattractive than a dickish dude who doesn’t respect gym etiquette. It’s an automatic turnoff. Don’t leave dumbbells lying on the floor. Re-rack your weights. When you’re finished, wipe off the equipment. Don’t hog machines.
10. Leave your phone in your locker
Stay off your phone. Not only will this make you more present and attentive (and make you aware if someone is cruising you), but it will also keep you from sitting and texting on a machine that someone is waiting to use (see “gym jerk” above).
11. Be friendly
If he talks to you, engage with him authentically. Tell him your name. Ask him about a lift you saw him doing, even if you know how to do it already. Guys love talking about their “unique” lift, what muscle groups it works, and how their “trainer friend” taught them how to do it. Everyone has a gym story they like to tell. I certainly do.
Be charming. Don’t call him “bro.” Do not immediately ask to suck his dick. Remember that some guys aren’t cruising, they’re just friendly.
12. Get in the zone
If you’re working out hard, you’ll look good without trying to. It’s attractive to see someone working out hard. I get the most attention when I’m pumped, and frustratingly it’s also when I’m the least aware of my surroundings. It’s probably a good thing: I’m relaxed, I’m not performing, and that natural, unaided “me” is what people seem to like. Remember that you’re still working out. Don’t let cruising swallow your gym time. Interested guys will see and respect that you’re taking your time there seriously.
13. Pay attention
If he offers you a nod before heading into the locker room, cut your workout short. Sometimes, we have to sacrifice the last few minutes of our routine to shower across from the man of our dreams — or a stranger with a nice ass.
14. Roam the locker room in the buff
There are few places where it’s socially acceptable and legal for men to walk around uncovered in front of other guys. One of them is your local bathhouse. The other is the public locker room at the gym. Walk to and from the showers bare and swing thing for all to enjoy.
15. Be wary of saunas and steam rooms
I know more stories of guys getting caught in saunas and steam rooms than I do of success stories. Typically, saunas and steam rooms only have one door. If you’re rocking a rager in the shower, you can quickly close the curtain if the gym staff is nearby. In the steam room? Not a chance.
16. Crack the curtain
Shower with both ends of the curtain pulled into the middle, or with the curtain open completely. This is where you can truly perform. The shower is the make-or-break moment. You’re horned up from pumping iron, and he’s been killing himself on cardio. You’re both hot and sweaty and throbbing with testosterone.
An open curtain is a universally recognized signal that you’re interested, you’re inviting him to look, and you want to look at him. It’s essentially hanky code to say, “I’m cruising, I’m game.”
17. Don’t be nervous
He’s leaving the curtain open just for you. Look across at his sudsy shaft. Take a peek as he bends over to wash his feet. Make sure he knows you’re looking. And most importantly, look at his face. Look in his eyes. Hold the gaze for a second. And smile. It’s disarming and bold and lovely. This is the moment where you both know what’s happening.
18. Follow him out
If he’s looking at you and you’re looking at him, follow him out. Time your exit so that you leave around the time he does.
From there, my friend, you’re on your own. I send you out into the parking lot, into his car for a quick blowjob, to his apartment, or to that dark spot behind the building. I send you out into the world as a hunter. Get pumped.
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