New Years Resolutioners

It is the first week of the new year, and the for the past three weeks or so a common topic of conversation regards how weird it will be at the gym from about January to April. A time when the gym balloons with members, all the classes are jam packed, and the lap pool is always three to a lane. Normally we are complaining about this when we are at the gym at some ridiculous time (like 7:30 on New Years Eve) when no one else is around. This isn’t a new complaint, there is a collective groan at this time by gym regulars because we know the pain we are in for until late spring.

A few days ago I ran across a blog from someone complaining from the other side of my scorn. After I read it I realized that I was that person, I was the gym rat causing enough annoyance that she herself wrote a blog complaining about us gym regulars being, well, unwelcoming. Before I get to that, I will share some statistics from the gym I attend. In the beginning months of the year my gym will grow by 4,000 members. Of those people who sign up, approximately 20% will retain their memberships. Form a purely mathematical perspective, I win, my irritation is justified by statistics. I have been at this particular gym (4 years) long enough to see this cycle play out over and over again.

On the other hand, I read the “Note to Gym Rats” and I have to admit that us regulars are probably not particularly helpful to newbies and if you just showed up to a gym after years of being unhealthy, you are already self conscious and out of your comfort zone, my cranky attitude is a huge turn off. Of course, I am only one person and we don’t meet up with each other to discuss how to make life miserable for new people so there is a shared experience among us that can’t be ignored either.

There are a few times when someone’s perspective really knocks you off your line of thought and this person’s writing did exactly that for me. So I thought about it for a little while and I have relaxed my stance on a few things. I put myself in the newbie’s shoes and thought of a few things.

1. Fitness Centers (mine included) are especially slimy to new members, hard selling things like personal training (I have issues with personal trainers), cardio assessments – what do you need to asses them for, they know they are fat and out of shape, and supplements with dubious benefits.

2. Signing up in January is a terrible idea, the place is packed, all the classes are packed, and daylight is in short supply. Summer is a much better time, classes have slimmed down, and many people who work out at the fitness center as a matter of necessity (runners, bikers, etc) are outside instead of inside.

3. For as much money as gym memberships cost, the least one could offer is a FREE packet on the basics of cardiovascular and resistance training, as well as proper gym etiquette.  Most people don’t need a personal trainer at $70 an hour to jump on a treadmill.

4. 20-30 minute free weightlifting seminars.

5. Most importantly, for the newbies. Welcome to the gym. You might think that we all look at you and are collectively disgusted by your physical appearance. What I am actually thinking is some combination of “Look he/she is hitting the treadmill, good them him/her” or “He/she is making positive change, hopefully they stick with it”.

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