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The Gym Bully: Dimming The New Year’s Magic Since Jan. 1

Jan 17, 2017 11:49AM ● Published by Kait Taylor

I once heard someone say that is brave to believe in magic. It’s something I remember as we step into a brand new year and I see brand-new faces cross the gym lobby, eager with a renewed faith to make a big change in their lives.

And if you’ve been around the fitness block for awhile, you can probably remember what that feels like: after months or years of feeling self-conscious in your body, of hiding “flaws,” of holding yourself back because you felt you weren’t good enough, you were ready to make a change. Unsure but determined, you slowly learned more about fitness and yourself, and then eventually, it became your lifestyle. You know what it means to make a transformation. If you’re like me and many others, that transformation led you in a direction for a much better, more whole-ly lived life.

Ah, the circle of life. The power of fitness. The magic of believing in change. OH, THE PLACES YOU WILL GO!

Unfortunately, something dims this bright and shiny magic. A pack of bullies.

Sometimes, gym regulars forget they were once walking the gym floor for the first time like these eager new faces. They treat the arrival of these New Year’s “resolutionaries” with disdain, like the stereotypical unwelcome stepchild who is there to take up their treadmills, their benches and use all the weights they need at the EXACT same time.

I have encountered these bullies already in the last few days, with comments like “OMG it’s going to be soooo crooowwded…” and “New Year, new me? Haha, yeah right.” Some have said they plan to avoid the gym altogether until mid-January. One person said they were avoiding an part of the gym to steer clear of the “New Year’s resolution people.” Said with a scowl, “They’ll be gone after two to three weeks anyway, but in the meantime …”

Ever wonder why they drop off after two weeks?

A lot of the gym newbies and longtime returners cite intimidation as a huge factor in not committing to the gym. They feel out of place already, armed with only a wish for their dream body. With no knowledge or no established fitness community, and every excuse in the world to give, one can only imagine why one mean look from a gym bully could be all they need to run back to their couch. Shame on you and that mean face!

It’s not just the employees that want to keep a positive atmosphere. Renee Noble is a prize-winning bodybuilder who trains regularly at Tewksbury Sports Club. With so many workouts to log and only so much time in her day, you’d think of all people, she would be among the one waxing nostalgia of time when the gym was less crowded.

In fact, Renee recently published a post on her Facebook page that I needed to share, calling for “gym regulars to be extra-courteous.”

 

“You know what really bothers me? When the ‘regular’ gym goers constantly complain about the ‘resolutioners’ that crowd the gym the first few months of the year. Yes, it is most likely going to be more crowded, but I for one used to be one of those people. I didn’t know where anything was, what I should use, and quite honestly felt out of place and embarrassed being there. If you see someone trying to figure out how to use a machine…help them. If they appear uncomfortable, introduce yourself and make them feel welcome. There will be people who quit, but there will be also be some who prevail, and why not try to help them! We’re supposed to want to inspire others and WANT people to love health and fitness. It’s a lifestyle that takes time, motivation, and commitment before it turns into habit and a way of life. I’m still getting used to it and I’ve been doing it for 2 years now! Give people a break!

With that being said…knowing that it will be more crowded in gyms all around, the regulars at the gyms should be extra courteous to each other and the gym staff.

Ways to do this:

1) Don’t sit on your phone while occupying a machine (even if it’s during your resting period). Let someone jump in between sets.

2) Don’t occupy 5 machines at once by leaving you water bottle at one, phone at another, shirt at this one, etc. Yes we all know how precious supersets are, but bottom line is you can’t use multiple machines at once. If you’re on one, then the other is available for others to use and you’ll have to share.

3) Don’t hog multiple sets of weights. It’s one thing to have 2 different sets, but any more than that is inconsiderate knowing it’s a crowded gym and other people need to use them as well.

4) Unrack your weights! More times than I can count I’ve had to put away plates from people leaving them on the smith machine, leg press, etc. when you’re done using a machine just put the damn plates back.

5) CLEAN OFF YOUR EQUIPMENT! With many more people, comes many more germs. Please just be respectful and clean off equipment after you use it.

For my 2017 gym resolutions I plan to do my best to inspire and motivate others, as well as myself, to be the best I can be.”

Amen, Renee! She really covered it all, but I’ll two more suggestions for gym regulars:

  1. Use a packed gym as a reason to mix up your gym routine – try new classes, new machines. Or, get a serious whole-body workout using bodyweight exercises. You don’t need a machine: YOU are the machine. There really is room for everyone!
  2. You too, can learn something from the newbies: feed off their positive new energy and get a renewed perspective in your own lives! Dare to be optimistic together. Look at a fresh new calendar, buy a new pair of sneakers and feel the magic. Welcome 2017 into your life.

And here’s a message to those fitness hopefuls: DON’T EVER GIVE UP!

You ever hear that expression related to bullies, “Don’t give in and show them it upsets you, because that’s exactly what they want? Are friends, family and coworkers doubting your resolve to change? PROVE THEM WRONG! Keep packing your gym bag, keep prepping your meals. There’s a reason New Year’s is a perfect time to get going – with the holidays gone, it’s a time to get track with your goals, with a realistic deadline of six months until warmer days. If you ever needed “permission” to get going, here’s the symbol for a fresh start. Keep believing in the power of your own transformation.

Happy New Year, and I’ll see you ALL in the gym 🙂

Your Trainer,

Kait

(Kait Taylor is a certified professional personal trainer at the Tewksbury Sports Club. Her columns can be found by clicking here.)

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