They started in mid-December. The depressing comments about how only people who are “really” into fitness keep a fitness regime up when everyone else is partying. It was unnecessary and made my heart break. And I fear January is about to get even worse. The eye-rolls from seasoned gym-goers, about newbies “taking over” the gym are starting. And I don’t like ’em one bit.
The gym isn’t an elite club. Picking up a weight or sweating on a resistance bike doesn’t make you better than someone else. Wearing expensive kit doesn’t mean you know anything more than the person lifting next to you. This attitude is so damaging! And so, it saddens me every year to hear the negative vibes from regular gym-goers, moaning about newbies “clogging up the gym”. “Roll on February” they say, exasperated. “We’ll be rid of them by then”.
If you’re someone who’s thinking like this, then I’m asking you to please just stop. Did you shoot out of your mother’s womb in a lunge, brandishing a dumbbell and understanding how to use a treadmill? No, you did not.
You used to be a newbie once too, remember?! Yes, I’m sure you’ve forgotten, but there was indeed a day when you walked into a gym and it was your First Time. You needed guidance. You were probably a bit nervous. You read the instructions on machines or watched videos at home so you knew what to do when you got there.
So – no more hating on those who are doing exactly as you did a while ago.
You’re probably the same A-hole who cuts up learner drivers. Perhaps you also sneer at toddlers for not being able to read, yet? GET A GRIP! NEWBIES ARE ENTITLED TO BREATHE THAT SWEATY GYM AIR AS MUCH AS YOU!
If you’re already moaning about the January Brigade, then just think about the damage your eye-rolls or tuts or sniggers or sneers might do to someone’s low self-esteem or meekly blossoming confidence.
The gym is a space that exists to help people feel good about themselves. Allow these January newbies the chance to do something that will make them feel good about themselves, without judgement.
That person is someone who you once were. They’re someone who might be at their lowest, and finally getting the guts to do something about it. They’re someone whose wrestled with their mind for maybe months, maybe years.
They’ve mustered up all their courage to get on their kit and get to the gym. Make them feel glad they did that. Don’t try and make yourself big by making them feel small.
If you see someone who looks like their new, or nervous, or in need of help or a smile, then welcome them. Celebrate their enthusiasm. Make them feel like they want to come back and enjoy cultivating their own personal journey towards fitness.
Every person on this planet deserves the right to move their body, and if they’re trying to do so in a way that’s new to them, then we should be heaping praise and high-fives on them for having the confidence to start. The number of people starting without a trainer too – meaning they’re being driven by intrinsic motivation alone, is staggering. I can’t motivate myself to get to the gym some days. If someone’s motivating themselves to the gym for the first time ever, perhaps using January as an extra factor to actually do it, then this should be celebrated! Good on them!
If you’re that new person, you’re bound to be feeling nervous, and probably like everyone else knows what they’re doing. My best piece of advice here is: don’t worry, they don’t. Sure, some do, but many are probably just a bit better at looking confident that you, or they’ve had a bit more practice. You deserve to be there as much as ANYONE. Probably more than many, actually, because you’re not there looking down your nose at others.
Concentrate on you and you only. If someone’s taking the time to watch and judge you, then that’s their workout (and their sad, empty heart) that’s suffering. Walk, jog, run, squat, lift and roll. Do what you want to do as you get used to moving and feeling like you, in your body. Try new equipment (read the instructions or ask an instructor for advice if you’re not sure how to use it) You’ve paid to be there. Don’t give a single damn what anyone else thinks about you being there.
If you’re new but not sure what you should be doing, then book an induction, or maybe a PT session to learn the basics and know how to workout safely, without injury. And then – well, there are so many apps and online videos and workouts that you can download and watch, you’ll never have to do the same workout twice! Don’t feel ashamed about relying on these to educate yourself, mid-workout, either. So what if you’re carrying around a bit of paper or watching videos?
I’ve been relying on online stuff every time I go to the gym, for almost 4 years now. 75% of the time I go to the gym, I still google or write out a little plan, search google images for each move and take a screenshot of them all to check my form. I’ve seen people with scraps of paper and stuff scrawled on their hand too. There’s no shame in planning and following instructions. In fact, you’re more likely to succeed at what you’re doing, if you plan it anyway!
Newbies, this January, feel nothing but insanely proud of yourself if you’re stepping into the gym for the first time! And veterans, feel proud to offer encouragement to the people you once were! Now, can we all just enjoy sweating in a shared space, please?!