Be compassionate in the gym this month, k?

I'm not really big into New Year's Resolutions, but I was reminded over the weekend, as I tried to stake out a spot to use the foam roller in my gym, that January is the time when many people commit or re-commit to fitness. 

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The commercial gym I work out at is super casual, pretty small, and, I forget, incredibly intimidating for someone new. There are snarky signs about re-racking your weights because your mother doesn't live there (she doesn't) and on any given day, you'll find a cross-fit class going on in the shared space of the gym. That usually means a lot of bouncing weights, grunting, aggressive rowing on the machines, and sweaty people who look like they were born fit.

They weren't. 

And the thing is, the veterans forget. Those of us who have been at this for awhile completely forget how we felt the first time we walked into a gym. So we lock into our headphones and look with annoyance at the overly crowded gym, dudes curling in the squat rack (always annoying though), and people spending an inordinate amount of time on the cardio machines.

Then we grumble to ourselves that we can't wait for March, when all of these people will give up. (It's usually by Valentine's Day.)

And what an awful attitude to have. I've been guilty of it myself. 

Now is the time to do less grumbling and more smiling; to take the headphones off and welcome new people into your gym community. You're kindness and welcoming attitude could be the difference between someone sticking to her routine and giving up. 

Don't forget that.

Don't forget the people that helped you out in the beginning. And if no one helped you out, don't forget that either. 

Don't forget how much courage it took for you to get through that door in the first place, whether it was in high school or college or Planet Fitness last June. 

If ever there was a time to smile, engage, and greet people in your gym, it's now and over the next few weeks. 

On the flip side, if you've committed yourself to a new fitness routine, congratulations!* 

I know that gyms can be intimidating. I know that the entire process can be scary. Especially when you feel so out of place and compare yourself to the 20-year old running on the treadmill. Don't compare yourself to the 20-year old on the treadmill. 

But don't be afraid to make eye contact or ask questions - about gym etiquette, about where the towels are, about how to move the pin on the machine or where the attachments are. And if you don't see a staff member, don't be afraid to ask someone else. 

There are friendly people at the gym. I promise. 

We all started somewhere. 

If you are new to the gym, that's awesome. Let me know how I can help you stick with it. 

*I'm so excited for you that I used one of my five allotted exclamation points for my lifetime.