Happy New Year!
Do you make New Year’s resolutions?
Not me, not anymore. But I watch plenty of other people try.
Take the resolution to work out at the gym. Every January, just as sure as the temperatures turn frigid, I know that my gym will be more crowded.
Not for the entire month, mind you. Because for most people, New Year’s resolutions to work out at the gym have a shelf life of two to three weeks, tops. Experience tells me so.
The first half of January I spy the new faces at my gym knowingly. On the one hand, I commend their pledge to get healthier and exercise more. It’s hard to criticize. On the other hand, these people annoy me.
Who wants more bodies at the gym?
Your favorite machines are suddenly occupied, or pounced on as soon as you finish using them. One recent morning, I stood up from the pull-down machine, walked five steps to get a wet wipe to clean it off, turned around and there was a new guy plunked down on the seat, pumping away.
“I was about to wipe it down,” I said to the new guy. I waved my wet wipe like a white flag of ceasefire, to return to the sweaty field of action to remove some germs.
“No worries I’ll do it after,” he replied.
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Newbies like him can impose in other irritating ways. The same guy on the pull-down machine started talking to one of the regulars, a short and very muscular guy that mostly keeps to himself and busts out a tough strength-training regime every time I’m there.
New guy started complimenting muscle guy and asking him questions. Muscle guy was polite but kept his answers brief.
Hey New Guy, I wanted to say, if your resolution included training advice, hire a trainer!
Another newbie was a loud grunter who took up space in a high traffic area. My gym is long and narrow, located in a renovated townhouse. This guy splayed out in the middle of the aisle like a beached squid grunting at every rep while his limbs flailed.
He was oblivious to the traffic jam he’d caused.
I know I sound like a gym snob. I’m not. Working out at the gym just happens to be one of my few good and long-standing habits.
I suppose if I “resolved” to do it every year I’d feel more accomplished. But habits are habits and New Year’s resolutions are like “should’s,” those fleeting declarations you and I make to our friends and family when we feel like beating ourselves up.
According to a Time article, annual resolutions evolved from the ancient Babylonians who made promises to their gods that mostly involved doing right by others. Like lending a hand to your neighbor as you both struggled to build the town moat!
Now, New Year’s resolutions are mostly self-centered and, like going to the gym, most people don’t stick to them.
A recent study by the University of Scranton found that 45% of Americans “usually” make New Year’s resolutions, but only 8% are successful in achieving them.
The study also found that 64% maintain their resolution past one month. I have to disagree, at least when it comes to exercise. My gym habit tells me I have only one more week of putting up with nosy newbie and grunting newbie and all the rest before the gym is back to normal.
Their New Year’s resolution fail can’t come soon enough.