New Year Gym Goers

Christmas is still to pass and yet the gym community is already dreading the impending arrival of the resolutionaries. The website Digital Spy ranked last year’s most popular New Year’s resolutions. They found that to lose weight, get a six-pack, eat less chocolate and run a marathon all featured in the top 30. This means that at the start of each year most gyms across the country experience a sharp increase in both sign-ups and attendance.

Gyms rely on these yearly sign-ups and they also rely on these people to give up. If you have ever been to the gym in early January you will know about the sheer volume of people that turn up. There is no way a gym could maintain those numbers throughout a whole year without losing a load of regulars. This has led to a divide and it can’t just be described as festive banter. Lots of hardcore gym goers feel very hostile about the new influx of people each year. The fact is that the gym is a completely territorial environment and it has led to this Us vs. Them mentality.

It isn’t that gym regulars feel threatened by newcomers, it’s more to do with the distraction. With more people comes a whole range of issues, including:

  • Equipment shortages/poaching
  • Improper equipment use
  • Less room to train
  • Locker shortages
  • Crowded gym classes

New people join gyms all the time and don’t receive this level of animosity because it is only in the New Year that we see such a drastic increase in sign-ups. It’s important that the gym community as a whole encourages people to train though. The phrase same time next week is quite common but it’s the phrase same time next year that gets attributed to resolutionaries. By the time February comes around most of the newcomers has given up and the gym is back to normal. There shouldn’t be the intention to scare these people away though.

Everyone started off as the new person in the gym and it is only through sticking at it that you got to where you are now. Now imagine trying to stick at it if every time you trained you were surrounded by clear hostility and resentment. The situation isn’t ideal – most people like the comradery and atmosphere of the gym but at the same time want the space to be able to train without waiting for equipment or colliding with other people. Everyone has the right to use the gym if they pay for it – that needs to be remembered.

Just like when you are on a golf course, there is a certain etiquette that needs to be observed. Going to the gym because you have chosen it as a new resolution is great but you need to make sure you follow this etiquette. So here is a couple of things to remember if you are planning to start up in January:

  • Make sure you return all equipment to its allocated location
  • Try not to hog any piece of equipment
  • Don’t forget to wipe down the equipment

You will be far less likely to stick to the gym if you aren’t enjoying it but as long as you are using all the equipment correctly and stick to it you shouldn’t experience any animosity. Generally it’s the lack of education and etiquette that causes the resentment, not that people who train don’t think you should be there. And if you are a regular attendant of the gym who gets annoyed during the busy January period, remember you were there once and you had to learn what you know now. Something that provides as many benefits as training shouldn’t be restricted to the elite – everybody has the right to train.

Ollie Lawrence
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