I don’t need a calendar to know that a new year is underway. It’s obvious by the throng of people – nay, newcomers – at my gym.
This is a complicated thing.
See, I’m not against New Year’s resolutions or people improving their health. Quite the opposite, actually.
However, I’ve been watching this happen long enough to know how it’s going to play out: There will be a temporary spike in exercise traffic, but most of them won’t stick with it. They’ll stop showing up for whatever reason, and things will return to normal at the gym – no more lines or breaches of etiquette.
And that is the problem. These short-timers are the fitness equivalent of office temps – they’re not going to last, and the regulars know it. That perhaps justified lack of respect makes having to wait for equipment and having to wade through the newbies less tolerable. At the least, this makes me a gym snob. (Shutout to Fury for coming up with that label.) At the worst, it makes me a bad person.
To be fair, I’m hardly an elite athlete. I’m just a 33-year-old schmuck who likes – yes, likes – to work out, and does so six days a week. It’s my one stress reliever. I feel borderline sick without it, an addiction that developed over the last 15 years or so. While I’ve never been overweight, I have been underweight. The stats on my first driver’s license: 5-foot-10, 135-pounds. Tayshaun Prince would have classified me as rail thin. Some of the older kids called me, “Pipes” and not in a positive way. (Is there a positive way?) So I understand the intimidation factor. In fact, that feeling still drives me.
However, that’s part of the frustration – I know that exercise is good for you and that you’ll start to like it (or at least the results) if you merely stick with it for even a month. (There’s an old wives tale that says it takes 21 days to form a habit.) I want you to work out. So just do it. (Somebody should trademark that.) Show up, put in your time, go home, look and feel better and then do it again in a day or two. The regulars will respect that over time. I promise. We’re not an unreasonable bunch. But you must earn your spot.
What’s more, it turns out the gym industry needs you. One of the directors at my gym said the membership jumps that coincide with New Year’s and spring break are crucial to the annual bottom line. That’s right: You help keep down my monthly fees. And I appreciate that … mostly.
It’s not that I have any more right to the gym space than you do; we probably pay the same rate, and I’m not looking for an elitist, country-club hideout. It’s just that I’m showing up day after day, putting in work and really learning the system. It’s really not all that different than my day job – the dogged reporters have a better sense of things on their beats because they are on the scene all the time. Showing up matters in life. So does following the rules, like knowing how to use the sign-up sheet for the cardio equipment.
All I’m saying is this: Show some real dedication in terms of going to the gym this year or make a new resolution. The rest of us don’t like standing in line waiting for your to make up your mind.