It was 8 years ago January 1st that I stepped into the gym for my first time. It was loud, crowded and the people there were superheroes. My first thought was “I don’t belong here” followed by the instinct to turn around and leave. It was intimidating, being somewhere so far out of your element surrounded by people who couldn’t be more in theirs. People were pushing hundreds of pounds over their heads and jogging faster then I could even sprint. There were so many machines, but what did they do and how would I figure it out? I decided to just use the treadmill. Mine wouldn’t turn on. Was I doing something wrong? I picked up all of my things and moved to the next one. It again didn’t work. I felt like everyone was watching me because I obviously had no idea what I was doing. I told myself I would move one more time and if it didn’t work I was out of there. It worked. I felt a sense of relief and was grateful to feel like people weren’t watching me anymore. Instead I was watching people. I was slowly picking myself apart as I watched the other women in the gym. They were slender and strong and being surrounded by mirrors was a constant reminder that I was anything but that. It was a terrible feeling but a feeling I told myself would never go away unless I changed so I was determined to stay.
I was mid-walk, sweating, when I heard it for the first time. “I can’t wait until March when all of these New Years Resolution people are gone.” My finger reached for the stop button and I walked out the door with no intentions of returning. I sat in my car devastated and humiliated that I thought I could do it. I was so stupid to think that I could lose weight, take control of my health and someday look like those other women, muscular and healthy. I thought I could do it but the sad part was that that man in the gym knew I would quit before I did. The next year, after a year of self loathing and complete disappointment in myself for being unable to make the changes that I wanted I decided to try again and this time I was going to prove them wrong. I made it a little longer this year, but eventually after seeing little to no results and constantly hearing people complain about the “New Years Resolution people” I quit again. This continued for 2 more years.
This year as I drove into the parking lot of the gym as I do every morning it was packed. Ah, January 2nd. It took me over 7 minutes to find a place to park. There was a line to drop my kids off at the daycare. The machines I always use were taken and in some cases being used incorrectly if not as just a place to sit. The treadmills were all taken and there were people wandering all over the place that you could tell have never felt more uncomfortable. I couldn’t help but smile. Look how many people I was surrounded by that had made a choice to do something that was important to them. My smile was short lived as suddenly I could hear it. “I hate this time of year, it took way to long to park, I can’t wait until March.” “I’ve been waiting for a squat rack for over 20 minutes and this guy doesn’t even know what he’s doing. What dude only squats 50 pounds? I can’t wait until March.” “So much for wanting to run today. I can’t wait until March when all of these people decide this isn’t for them.” I started frantically looking around to see who had heard those comments, ready to chase someone to the parking lot and beg them to come back, but if anyone heard I didn’t see them. I spent my whole workout that day remembering all of the years that I just wished I could get to where I am now. I remembered the goals to eat better that lasted two weeks before my addiction to food took over again. I remembered digging to the bottom of the pile of jeans in the store and leaving when they didn’t have my size.
New Years isn’t the time that someone decides that they are unhappy with something, or someone…or themselves. They have been unhappy in their skin for years, sometimes even decades. New Years is just the perfect time to say “I get to start over,” especially for someone who has a hard time getting started. I get it, finding parking, SUCKS. Trying to find a machine that fits into leg day that isn’t being used, SUCKS. Wishing that a treadmill was open so that you could get your cardio in indoors because it’s freaking freezing outside, SUCKS. However, let me tell you what sucks more. Listening to people who motivate you and you set goals to look like wishing your dreams would end so that they could have a more convenient workout, that sucks more. It’s not your job to personally train anyone and no this isn’t dismissing the free agency of others to stay despite the comments that are made but when you lack motivation negative comments don’t help.
You started somewhere, even if it was so long ago you don’t remember, you started from the beginning too. Sure, when March comes around, inevitably every year the people that have joined us in the gym, with the exception of very few, have started to clear out and everyone rejoices. Is it really a reason to celebrate though? When you take a second to think about why the gym is more open you’ll realize that it’s because that many people gave up on themselves. Your machines are more readily available because someone was overwhelmed, didn’t know how to use it and was too afraid and intimidated to ask. You got to park closer to the front right as you arrived because someone decided that they couldn’t handle the anxiety that the gym caused and stayed home. Someone is at home because they heard one too many people comment on how excited they were for “The New Years Resolution” people to stop coming.
Please don’t be that person. Please stop openly counting down until someone that wants that change in their lives decides that it’s impossible. Please stop complaining about the extra company we have that doesn’t even know how to adjust that machine and help them adjust it. Please be the reason that someone stays and fights for something that is important to them instead of walking out the door. The person I was 8 years ago really could have used someone like that.
If you’re that person, the one going to the gym and feeling like you want to quit, you can do this. I’m rooting for you.