It’s that time of year again, January 1st, a time of year where the masses resolve to improve their lives in several different areas. When it comes to resolutions, a high percentage are going to involve exercise and nutrition. As you peek into any fitness facility, you can be sure that poor form, worse exercise selection, horrific etiquette, and a general sense of cluelessness are commonplace. No other time of year is it ordinary to find someone wearing a plastic suit, doing half-assed burpees with a weighted vest in the squat rack while the google results to “how to lose 30lbs in 30 minutes” are still loading on their iPhone. After the 15th burpee, the first inclination is to find the closest 45lb plate and put them out of their misery with a series of blows to the face. After all, the squat rack is for squats, and its leg day brother.
While the inner meathead may react in this fashion, every so often it pays off to take a step back and look at the bigger picture before you let your surging testosterone hijack the interaction with the gym newbies in your way. Or maybe just don’t be an asshole, whatever works for you. Remember when you were a new lifter, back when you were supersetting bench press and bicep curls 5 days per week and doing crunches and cardio as “finishers”? When most of your back training was the lower back arch you were getting on standing curls and leg day was jogging 1 mile? Everyone starts somewhere, nobody brand new is going to be totally polished as far as the intricacies of how to handle themselves in the gym. It takes time, consistency and in most cases a helping hand from a veteran.
Be Part of the Solution
Here’s a novel idea, instead of bashing the gym newbie with insults, maybe a better route to take would be showing them proper form or teaching them the unwritten rules of gym etiquette. Not only is that a more respectful way to deal with other human beings in general, this may benefit you in the long run. We know January 1st brings tons of new paying members to your gym, more members mean more money. If the influx of new members keep at it and become engaged in the facility purchasing extras (training, Pilates, group ex, etc.), then the financial gain of the gym helps their bottom line. Now they can afford to replace that piece of equipment that’s been down since the summer and get another squat rack preventing the aforementioned murder by weight plate.
I have never met anyone who has had success in the gym that can’t name one or multiple people who helped them improve their lifting along the way. Personally, my list would be longer than this blog post, I have had more mentors than I can count and every single one of them has been instrumental to my progress as a lifter and trainer. On the other hand, I’ve helped others and seen the “light come on” when I corrected their exercise form or given them a nutrition tip that improved their diet, that’s a great feeling. As funny as it might be to mock a newbie totally butchering an exercise, you won’t remember it years later like you would if you helped them get some lasting results. Be a mentor. Pay it forward, it’s a win-win situation.
Another issue that pops up during the new year is the bitching and moaning on social media. Every January, my timeline overflows with whining about crowded gyms and resolutioners being a general nuisance to the veterans. As I’ve covered some months back (click for social media and fitness article), fitness and social media have a rocky relationship. Usually, the motives of such posts can be linked to a need for adulation. If these posters were honest with themselves and everyone else, the posts would be more like “Hey everyone, look at me, I go to the gym regularly so that makes me a better person than the people who are new!!!” We get it, you go to the gym, we see your check ins and selfies all year long, stop putting down others to try and boost your own ego, it’s a bad look.
January can be a tough month for the veterans and newbies alike, but with a little bit of coaching and a modicum of respect, everyone should be able to train together and start working on goals for 2018, Happy New Year!