Here’s my confession. I am one of those people at the gym. I am there six days a week. The regulars know me. The trainers know me. My kids are fixtures in the childcare room. Heck, I even know which rower doesn’t work quite right.
I am a gym rat. Looking at me, you would never know it (because I have zero metabolism and an abiding love of carbs). I’m not going to lie and say I always enjoy going to the gym, but I appreciate the challenge, and it provides great stress relief. My habit can probably be traced back to my gymnastics days, where 4-hour practices five days a week were the norm.
So, this is a time of year I dread. Each New Year brings with it scores of new gym members, anxious to fulfill their resolutions to lose weight or get fit. The newbies wander around the gym, a bit lost, and take up just about every piece of equipment. Parking spaces are full; locker rooms are packed.
I do not go to the gym to socialize or to chat. I’m there to do my job, get in and get out. I usually have a plan, and I aim to get it done as quickly as possible. The New Year’s influx really cramps my style. I can’t get on a treadmill; I can’t get a weight machine; I can’t get my workout done. I just want all these new folks to go home!
Don’t get me wrong. I applaud the resolution-makers’ newfound commitment to health and fitness. I think everyone should make exercise a part of their routine and their life. But I’ve been around long enough to know that almost none of these people will stick around until June. Too many people shell out cash for a gym membership just to find a million reasons not to go.
According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions, and less than half of those who make resolutions stick for longer than six months.
There are plenty of recommendations out there for how to make and keep resolutions.
- Focus on just one realistic and specific goal.
- Hold yourself accountable. Have a friend check in on you or post your progress on social media.
- Take small, reasonable steps and celebrate each of them.
- Focus on creating new habits and behaviors.
- Recognize that change is a process.
A trainer friend just wrote a good piece about fitness resolutions and how to make them stick. Making real, lasting change is more of an art than a science, requiring just the right of mix of commitment, toughness and timing – and maybe some fairy dust.
Be honest with yourself. If you haven’t really worked out before (or in a long time), ask for help. Hook up with a trainer or ask some of the regulars at the gym. Take time to understand the culture and the etiquette. Don’t just hang around looking macho and taking up space.
If the gym is not your thing, don’t waste your money on a swanky membership or a fancy fitness tracker. Go out and take a walk. Play a game of soccer with your kids.
Go ahead, make your resolution and do your best. Creating new habits and changing old ones are hard work. Cut yourself some slack when you fall a bit short, and celebrate your successes.
My resolution this year is to be nice to the newbies at the gym.
Sara Lang has worked in North Carolina politics at the state, federal and local levels for more than 15 years. A communications consultant, she lives in Cary with her husband, two young children, and a pampered dog. You can follow her on Twitter @saraylang.