We’ve all seen them. There could be one next to you right now on the treadmill holding on for dear life and hiking up a level 15 incline. You may have spotted one inquisitively eying a BOSU ball, wondering what manner of cruel and unusual punishment a semi-circle could possibly deliver. They’re the Resolutioners who have taken your gym by storm this January to get started on their weight loss and fitness goals, and they haven’t received the warmest of welcomes.
I used to be a Resolutioner. In fact, I can say with confidence that “losing weight” or “eating better” was probably my staple resolution from the year 2003 through 2011. When it comes to my New Year’s resolutions, it was probably only surpassed in frequency by “This year I’m going to have a boyfriend,” or “This year I’m committing to not being so quiet and weird.”
I never stuck to it. I’d show up to the gym in January side-by-side with the men who were put on diets by their wives and the women who want to feel more comfortable in a bathing suit this summer, and for about two weeks, I’d dutifully serve my time on the cardio equipment and hit the mat to do all my crunches. But then one day something would always come up. A tiring, stressful day. The start of my period. A meal that completely undermined every health goal ever set forth by anyone. I’d skip a day or two, and pretty soon I’d stop showing at the gym altogether, becoming the stereotypical person who starts the new year with lofty weight loss goals and abandons them when the going gets rough.
Eventually, I did accomplish the goal I set in my weight loss resolutions each year, but that journey didn’t begin January 1st. Not even close. It was between August 2011 and October 2012 that I lost 120 pounds. I didn’t realize that August was the beginning of something until after I succeeded. You see, after trying and failing to lose weight so many times, you begin every new attempt at being healthier with a measured skepticism, because you know when you don’t have the best track record. I know how hard it is to get started and keep going — and I also know how the start of a new year is empowering — so while I understand why most of us assume (sometimes rightly) that the Resolutioners are embarking on a fool’s errand, I think we could we have a better attitude about it.
This year especially, I’ve noticed that everyone’s really mad at the Resolutioners. I’ve seen a lot of Facebook posts and tweets being posted live from the gym that say things like,
ugh gym is so crowded from these ny resolutioners
can’t wait til the gym gets back to normal after the resolutioners give up
bet there’s gonna be a lot of people at the gym this month…
There was a time when I would have gladly joined these naysayers, grabbed a kettlebell, and rousted these posers from their respective fitness equipment. I know it’s inconvenient circling the gym parking lot for a space, and believe me, I completely relate to the horrible inconvenience of someone using your favorite exercise bike, but what does it say about us that instead of being (even quietly) supportive, we’re jaded on behalf of the Resolutioners who haven’t given up yet?
As someone who has done it several times before, I know how it goes. Many of the people crowding your gym in January will not be there come February or March, but could we extend a disinfectant wipe of peace here? We want people to get healthy, fit, thin, whatever just as long as it doesn’t inconvenience us when one of the newbies uses the hip abductor machine for ten minutes while one of us regulars is impatiently tapping our foot nearby. The “new year, new me” routine has become a bad cliche, but we should be able to put aside our disdain and acknowledge that even if someone doesn’t succeed on their first try, thinking about their health, fitness, and eating habits is an admirable thing–regardless of what time of the year it happens.
Maybe some of the Resolutioners are doing it for the wrong reasons. Maybe they’re not as motivated as you are all 365 days of the year. Maybe one of them really is systematically trying to ruin your workout experience by hogging all your favorite things. All of that could be true, but all of us regular (and less regular than we’d like to admit) gym-goers should make the choice to be supportive anyway. No eyerolls, no snarky tweets about the guy who couldn’t figure out the stepper, and no wishes that the Resolutioners fail just so you don’t have to deal with them in your shared space anymore. We should all be hoping the Resolutioners become regulars because that means they succeeded.
My advice? Leave the Resolutioners alone and focus on you.
This article is also featured on Huffington Post.