Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The New Year's Resolution Crowd at the Gym

Have you heard about the New Year's Resolution Crowd?

You know them. They're the fine folks who swear that this year they're gonna get fit in the New Year and run out to join a gym on January 1st, work out religiously for maybe 8 weeks and then just as suddenly never return again come about late-February maybe early-March. They make your gym some kind of unGodly crowded and are slow. Not just slow, but so slow they make going at a snail's pace look like Indy Car speed. They leave their towels on the treadmills, never wipe down a machine and change the tv channels without checking to see if you're really into that episode of Price is Right because they obviously grew up in a cave. Oh, and they're in horrible shape and you don't want to watch them, but like any good train wreck, you can't divert your eyes.

I had never heard the phrase "New Year's Resolution Crowd" until a few years ago when a good friend of mine made a comment to me about how disgusted he was by all these people and he couldn't wait for them to stop showing up so his gym could get back to normal and he could work out the way he wanted to without the inconvenience of people who weren't going to stick to their goals anyway. They were clearly on his turf where they obviously didn't belong. Suddenly this year, I've seen a bunch of people make snide comments about the "New Year's Resolution Crowd" on Facebook. Maybe it was always there and I just hadn't noticed it. I'm not sure.

I haven't said anything to any of these friends of mine, but truthfully the phrase and its connotation offends me. The connotation, of course, being that somehow people who have been working out for ages, who have their routines down, and are probably in great shape are somehow more entitled to the gym than those of us who struggle with getting fit and resolve year after year that this year is it, only to fall off the wagon, but keep trying again and again.

To me, the phrase "New Year's Resolution Crowd" reminds me of high school gym class when we were divided up into classes based on our athletic ability and it was very obvious which kids were in "low gym." The kids in "high gym" looked down on us often giggling when they walked by. They learned sports like tennis while we played dodge ball and got humiliated when the male gym teacher told us to lift our shirts each quarter so he could do the fat test with the calipers (I was thin then and still did everything in my power to avoid that test each quarter). Based on my personal experiences, I've long believed that High School Gym Class should be classified as torture under the Geneva Conventions. To date, I'm still a minority in this belief.

I joined a gym last year (not at New Year's) and was really good about going for a number of months. I had a routine down and I loved what I was doing, how my body felt and saw visible results. For some reason (more than likely a variety of reasons), I got off track. One thing led to another and , until today, I haven't been to the gym since the beginning of November, because my only New Year's Resolution is to finish losing the weight I started losing over a year ago and to feel good and healthy again.

So I'm part of the New Year's Resolution Crowd. Truthfully, I was nervous about going today. I was nervous that everyone would be looking at me. That I'd feel like Shamu in my bathing suit. That I'd sink in the pool. That I'd forgotten how to swim. That the pool would be overcrowded and so my slowness would be an unforgivable liability. I all but ordered a friend to meet me at the gym so I'd actually get there today and not have to be all alone. We didn't work out together, but just knowing I wasn't alone made it easier.

While I know that the New Year's Resolution Crowd may slow gym rats down a bit and cramp their style, I'm rooting for the New Year's Resolution Crowd and hope this is the year that they (and me) finally stick to our resolutions. I know how defeating it is to know that I'm starting from close to scratch.

I imagine what our world would be like if we all finally got it this year kept our promises to ourselves. Yes, gyms would be crowded, but health insurance rates would go down for all of us. We'd all be physically and mentally stronger. Our blood pressures, cholesterol levels, and weights would be lower. We'd feel more comfortable in our skin and our clothes. Our risk for diabetes and depression would be minimized. The rates of sleep apnea would go down. The benefits are endless.

So when you see one of us, could you do us a favor? Rather than talking about us behind our backs, rolling your eyes, or getting huffy while you're waiting for a machine longer than you'd like, stop and congratulate us on being at the gym. Tell us we're doing great and to keep going, even when we're sore the next day. Tell us you remember how tough the first few weeks were when you were trying to get back in shape and we can do it. Stop and show us a tip about a machine we may not know. And when you see us again the next day, smile and say hello. Be our cheerleaders. Eventually, we'll speed up and learn all the etiquette.


  1. I felt the same way yesterday (wanting an invisibility cloak) at my gym after my hiatus due to injury (I'd been out of the gym since October).

  2. I agree with you on all accounts. I support your weight loss efforts and encourage you to keep going. Its definitely worth the end results.

  3. Tim Tebow (Bronco's QB), as much as I can't stand him, had a great line in an interview:

    Keep working. You can only get better.

    As a gym rat by necessity now, I just close my eyes and ears.......and keep working.:)

  4. I applaud your efforts. Seriously - why can't people just be kind?


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