Ah – New Year’s at the gym. Kudos to you if you’re heading back after time off or starting a new regimen. If you’re a faithful gym-goer, though, the New Year can become a time of frustration and inconvenience when it comes to working out.
If you’re one of the seasonal newbies, or a seasoned regular, coexistence is possible.
New folks desire to reap the benefits of exercise – if you’re a regular and make it a bad experience for them, they’ll bail and be newbies again next year. Instead – what would happen if you gave them support and created the environment so they want to make the gym a habit, not just a resolution? I’m not suggesting you be a fitness know-it-all that berates returnees for their foibles and condescends their successes. Rather, coach them in etiquette and show a little patience.
Here are some ways:
1) Parking Lot: It starts here. Resolutioners mean fewer parking spots for you. Resign yourself to parking farther out in the lot and treat the walk as the warm up for your workout. Provide yourself with plenty of time if you’re heading to a class or training session. If you’re rushed, you’re likely to be on edge and less-than-polite to those that you perceive to be in your way.
2) Yoga: New folks may not know that it is not cool — not cool at all — to arrive late, dash out half way through or skip final relaxation. If you find yourself chatting with a new yogi before class, subtly throw in that they might be tempted to leave due to frustration or confusion – but that sticking it out is part of the practice. Of course the instructor should convey this info, but the more these points are emphasized, the better.
3) Group Fitness Classes: If you see a new face, let her know the equipment needed and, if you’ve got time, maybe you even grab a weight for her. Recommend she not hide in the back but get to a location where she can see the instructor and be seen.
4) Cardio Machines: If you see a new member step off without wiping down their space – kindly point out the cleaning supplies. Be willing to jump on a machine that’s not your first choice, too.
5) Gym Floor: If someone is monopolizing a piece of equipment or a bench, he may just be oblivious – not rude. Ask them if you can work in. If they give you a blank stare, explain it in layman’s terms. Not everyone will comply – but that may not mean they’re new, just rude.
Whatever you do DON’T:
1) Give workout advice. you can recommend a class or trainer, but leave form and workout design to the professionals
2) Assume someone is new. Lots of regulars return during the New Year and may lack manners.
3) Dodge the gym because you’re frustrated by the crowds. Have alternate lifting and cardio plans in mind so that if the equipment you want is full, you can still exercise.