January is upon us, which means New Year’s resolutions.
I recently read a statistic that said one-third of the people who make resolutions make theirs about getting healthy.
That’s a whole lot of new people at the gym. YOUR gym. That means a lot of people who may not even know how to properly use the equipment or what gym etiquette even is. It means waiting longer for the equipment you want to use, it means possibly not even being able to get the equipment you want.
Classes are full, maybe TOO full so you don’t get a spot. Trainers’ schedules get crazy and you might have to switch around your usual time to make time for all the new clients.
The parking lot is overcrowded and you have to park what feels like a mile away and drag your kids into a daycare that is full of new kids crying because they have no idea where they are.
For the gym regular, January is the least favorite time of year. I actually had a guy tell me he might just skip the gym in January to avoid the crowds.
To be perfectly honest, as a fitness instructor and personal trainer, I have joked about not getting too attached to people in January because chances are they will be gone by March (thank God I have thick skin and do not take it personally!).
I know that for a gym regular this time of year can be a pain, but have you ever stopped to think how painful it is for a newbie to walk into a gym?
To them, everyone is fit and strong and amazing, just like they want to be. They are likely intimidated and overwhelmed. The courage it took to walk in the doors was huge.
Now, are we going to make them feel unwanted? Like them trying to be healthy is a pain?
I have had a few clients who I train in their homes because they are terrified of gyms; when I even mention a gym, they start to tear up. They have horror stories of being laughed at when they went to a gym (yes, local gyms). They tell me about being stared at and people mimicking them, making fun of them. Or even worse, people using their phones to video them and posting it online so the world can laugh at them.
Stories like this make me ashamed to be a part of the fitness world. America is at an all-time high for obesity and we are going to laugh people out of the gym? We are going to make them terrified to ever walk in the doors again? All so you don’t have to share the squat rack? Seriously?
How about we try something different this January. I know it will be hard, but it could change someone’s life. What if when you see that newbie struggling with equipment, you walk over and help them out, show them how to use it properly and not in a rude “I know it all” way, but a “Yeah, when I started working out I was lost, too” kind of way.
Or you could even go one step further and ask if they want to join you with your workout. You might not get the workout that day that you planned, but you could help save somebody’s life.
If you see somebody staring at the class schedule, invite them to join you in a class, help them set up, introduce them to the instructor and remind them that you struggled in the beginning, too.
I know I did. The first class I ever took we were asked to do like 80 pushups; I couldn’t do one…on my knees. I left in tears so ashamed of how out of shape I was. And for the guy (in his 60s, I might add) who wants to skip the gym in January to avoid the crowds, what if another person in his 50s or 60s sees you are able to take a bootcamp or spin class, so they find the confidence to give it a shot? You might be the person to inspire them to change their life.
What if that person you ask to work out with you sticks with it, becomes a lifelong friend and has you to thank for helping them get healthy?
This is a matter of life or death for some people, and you could be the one to help save them.
So let’s give the newbies a shot. Congratulate them on starting, invite them to join you, show them the proper way to use equipment, make them feel like they belong.
And for you newbies, stick with it. If you are at a gym that makes you feel unwanted or uncomfortable, try a different gym. Your health is worth finding the right fit for you.
We all started somewhere. January is when some people begin. Let’s fight to help keep them around. Who knows? They could be a future fitness instructor, personal trainer or fitness competitor. Let’s see them for what they can become, and let’s help them get there.
Samantha Williams is a personal trainer with her company Fit he owns Rhema Music & Clothing Company in Fruita and is also a fitness instructor and personal trainer through the Fruita Community Center. She is the mother of two beautiful girls and the wife of an incredibly talented musician. She was born and raised in Fruita, and can’t imagine calling anywhere else home.