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How to Avoid Cruising a Straight Guy at the Gym

By: Justin Hernandez
2.21.2014

There once was a time when you could be pretty certain if the guy you were checking out at the gym was gay. It was based off of telltale signs in his physical appearance, and of course, if eye contact was established, he was most likely cruising you.

However, times have changed. Trendy workout gear that was at one time favored solely by gay boys has found its way into the gym bags of straight men everywhere. And discovering another guy looking at you on the gym floor is no longer a guarantee of sexual attraction. After all, he might want nothing more than just to pick up a few pointers from you by watching your workout technique.

So aside from the obvious answer of “just follow him into the steam room,” here are five fun tips that might help you figure out if the guy you’re cruising at the gym is indeed gay.

1. Pay attention to color coordination of wardrobe. Thanks to Abercrombie & Fitch, American Apparel, and American Eagle, fashionable workout outfits are now mass-produced and sold in malls across the country. This can cause a bit of confusion since most straight men wore comfy elastic waistband sweatpants and a plain white Fruit of the Loom T-shirt at the gym before the dawn of the metrosexual male. (Damn you, Ryan Seacrest!) Look closely, though. Straight men are notorious for wearing mismatched colors. So if you see a pair of neon green shorts paired with a red shirt, keep it moving -- provided that the bright ensemble hasn’t temporarily blinded you.

2. The low-cut cut-off. We gays love to take our cut-off T-shirts to the next level. We remove the sleeves and as much fabric along the sides as possible to the point where we expose our obliques and even show off a hint of nipple. Straight men will cut the sleeves off their tees, and might even take the cut down to the top of their ribcages, but they won’t go any lower than that.

3. The proof is in the socks. Believe it or not, something as simple as footwear is a telling sign of a man’s homo- or heterosexuality. Calf or ankle socks? No way! Black socks on the gym floor are another no-no (unless we just came from work and forgot to pack another pair). We are all about the no-show socks. The only exception to this standard is when gay men don the tube knee-highs with the colored stripes along the top. I’ve noticed an occasional affinity for the kitsch and vintage appeal of the retro ’70s look.

4. Bromance vs. romance. Straight men don’t always readily admit it, but they are capable of engaging in non-sexual bromances…especially at the gym. Their testosterone levels become elevated during their workouts, and as they get pumped, camaraderie forms with the other guys on the gym floor. They like to share in the workout experience, offering to “spot you” and eager to “work in with you” on equipment. Be careful not to mistake chatty men for potential paramours. Listen up for key words when they address you like “bro,” “dude,” and my personal favorite, “bud.”

5. Check your grid. I saved the best, and easiest one, for last. If you see a guy paying too much attention to his phone during his workout, simply open up your Gay.com mobile app, Grindr, SCRUFF, GROWLr, Jack’d — you get the idea — and see if he shows up on your grid.

Now, if you’d still rather rely on the old “just follow him into the steam room” routine, here are two very important things to keep in mind:

  • If he’s not wearing flip-flops, he’s most likely straight and has no idea what kind of recreational man-on-man activities go down in the steam room. If he had a clue, he would not want to walk around barefooted.
  • Not that there’s ever much chit-chat in a steam room, but if sports becomes a topic of conversation, you’ve hitched your wagon to the wrong vehicle and will turn into a withered prune waiting for some action that will never happen.

Cruising is fun pastime that we all engage in when we’re at the gym. I based this entry on colorful observations I’ve made over the years. While some of them might hold true, I wrote this with the intent of being playful. In other words, take it for the humorous write-up it was meant to be and don’t read into this too literally.

Have you ever cruised a guy at the gym only to find out he’s not gay? Share your experiences in the Comments section.

Justin Hernandez writes about sex, dating, and relationships for The Advocate. Follow him on Twitter @HernandezJustin.

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