With the new year here, it means nothing more than swarms of people entering your local health club in hopes of obtaining their summer beach body. For the ritualistic gym goer, this begins feelings of anger, frustration that you can't find a parking spot and anxiety over "Dumbbell Dom" curling in the squat rack.
With the boom of social media, the next month or so is a time that many will "bash" these New Year's resolutioners online. But in all honesty, what good is that doing other than making you seem foolish for whining about an influx of people who are trying to get fit?!
If you are a regular gym goer, I challenge you to practice "Friendly Fitness" in the New Year. It won't hurt... too badly. Below are a few reminders and tips that will help you get through the January rush.
We All Start Somewhere
Every single one of us had our first day in the gym and for most it can be very overwhelming. If you see someone who seems a bit lost or uncomfortable, be kind and help them out. Too often people give snarky remarks when others ask for help on a certain machine or ask what may seem like simple questions. Just remember how you initially felt when you started being active and be a bit sympathetic to those who are there for the right reasons.
Share Your Equipment
On the weight floor, most new gym goers will not know what it means to "work in" with someone. If you say you are using a piece of equipment, a new gym goer will probably walk away and look for a different machine. Instead, allow for a new gym member to work in with you and alternate on equipment. Who knows, you may strike up conversation and have some things in common.
Our Society Needs This
More than two-thirds of the U.S. population are overweight or obese. There is no better time than now for members of our society to take control of their health. Physical activity is just one factor that will aid in an individual's weight loss. Being active and dropping excess weight can also reduce the risk of weight related health conditions. So rather than mocking someone who seems out of shape or overweight for training, remember that being in the gym beats sitting on the couch and being sedentary. You never know an individual's personal struggles or past, at least they can reap the psychological and physical benefits of fitness.
Obey Time Limits
No matter if you are new to the gym or a lifetime member, always pay attention to the time limits on cardio machines. During this time of year the cardio equipment is almost always full. So if you are trying to get 30 minutes in on the treadmill, you may have to cut it a bit short if others are waiting. Most gyms have a 20-minute time limit if others are trying to get on the same equipment. Once you reach the maximum time, you can move to a different piece of cardio equipment and finish off your remaining routine.
Practice What You Preach
With a huge influx of gym members, it is bound to get a bit chaotic and messy. If you already get frustrated when people do not re-rack their weights or wipe down the equipment, get ready for your patience to really get tested this time of year. Most will not learn the proper gym etiquette for a few weeks or days if we are lucky. So lead by example, wipe down your machines, and place the equipment where it belongs. Others who are new to the gym scene will look for cues from those who look a bit more confident in the space. Show others how it is done and eventually they should catch on... we hope.
This Too Shall Pass
Having to park in the lot across the street? Your favorite machines constantly being used? In most cases by the second week of February, the resolutioners begin to drop like flies and the gym becomes less congested. This has to do with the fact that may will overshoot their goals and set unrealistic expectations for themselves. The initial seven days in the gym will soon turn into three or four. While we do hope that many will continue to remain active and live a healthier life, there is a large chunk that will not maintain daily gym visits and the congestion will soon fade.
Try to practice these friendly fitness tips in the new year. Make the gym a welcoming environment rather than one that is intimidating and unfriendly. Remember, we all are after the same goal of taking care of our bodies and living a healthier life. You can't be mad about someone making an effort to be a little bit better than they were last year.
If you have any experiences from previous new year madness at the gym or have other pointers to share with us, please leave them in the comments section below! I hope you find these reminders helpful and I wish you a happy and healthy new year.