Just Another Manic January

Heard any of these comments lately??
“Are you telling me that here is actually a sign up sheet for the cardio equipment?”
“Why is she permitted to stay on that treadmill? I thought there was a time limit for usage during peek times of the day?”
“May I work in with you? What do you mean no, you have six more sets to do?!?”
“What exactly is the proper etiquette for using the strength training machines?”
“Why is that person camping out on that machine I need to use?”
“Do I really have to clean this thing after I work out on it?”
“Is it always this hot in here?”
“Why do the televisions always have to be showing sporting events?”
“When is this crowd going to begin to shrink in size?”
“What am I supposed to do? I was only shown how to use a couple of machines?”
“What is that smell? It is overpowering!”
“Where are the fitness staff members when you need assistance?”
“Hey, is anyone going to clean up this mess? The garbage can is overflowing and the paper towel dispenser is empty.”
“Can you please change this hideous music. I can’t possibly be expected to exercise with this blasting in my ears!”
“Can somebody do something about the incessant dropping of dumbbells on the floor?”
“Why can’t I just leave my jacket on the floor in the corner? I don’t have time to go to the locker room.”
Oh, boy! Welcome to January and the wonderful world of wintertime working out! A typical January day at fitness centers everywhere could best be described as a purely chaotic scene. People from all walks of life, all imaginable backgrounds, young and old, male and female, first-timers, exercise regulars, fitness addicts, all come crashing together, sometimes literally, in one place. Fire codes are probably violated as gyms overreach  their various capacities. Exercise safety codes are violated as many intentionally ignore the basic fundamentals of training. Some are in violation only because they were not taught properly. Personal space is certainly violated as people are herded into what could easily be seen as a big barn filled with strange equipment and animals that stink. Moral codes are violated as these crowded days seem to bring out the worst in human nature and selfishness abounds. Fashion codes are violated, and I’m not even going to venture into that realm. How are you to survive this nightmare long enough to stick to your resolution of taking better care of yourself?
The early weeks, even months, of the new year typically present some highly unusual circumstances. I’m sorry if you are feeling more than a bit overwhelmed. I apologize if you feel like a stranger, and quite alone amidst the mass of humanity scrambling for some control of their lives at the same time in the same place. For what it’s worth, if I were there, I would notice you. I would come to your aid. If you were left hanging from an incomplete or rushed fitness orientation, I would gladly fulfill my duty to teach you. Despite the obstacles, due to the apparent gridlock on the fitness floor, I would see to it that you are instructed on how to use those machines which would enable you to have a thorough workout each time you courageously show up. You would no longer be a foreigner, but a fellow citizen with the exercise regulars. Your confusion would disappear as you would no longer be swayed to and fro by the every whim of false fitness doctrine. It is not necessary for you to know how to use every single piece of equipment, every multi-tasking gym apparatus, nor be able to perform every free weight exercise, and become expertly acquainted with all the many forms of cardiovascular machines in one day, or one week, or even one month for that matter. It is already an overwhelming experience to attempt this heath and wellness journey with others surrounding you on all sides. As long as you are prepared with the knowledge and skills to perform a complete body workout three times per week, you are off to a superb start. As you observe others, please do not feel as if you are missing out greatly on something. You clearly see a number of movements being performed that are not as of yet a part of your routine. Be patient. All in good time. I will not leave you stranded. There is much to learn. Don’t be in a hurry. I have seen what happens too frequently this time of year. Were I with you today at the gym, I would give you options so that even when the traffic jam stretches for miles, you will not be at a standstill. Your workout will go on because you know a way out. You have an escape route mapped out for you.
If you need me to be a bouncer for you, I can wear that hat as well. No violence, of course! But, I have never been shy when it comes to politely explaining to others that they must share all equipment! If you wish to “work in” with someone on a particular machine, you are well within the bounds of appropriate etiquette in asking to do so. “No” is never the correct response from another member. I don’t care who it is. That answer doesn’t fly with me. Your time is as valuable as anyone else’s time. Don’t be intimidated. I give unto you knowledge that you may display confidence and competence under any circumstances.
I am convinced that those people who leave their workout area a mess, most likely do the same thing at home or in the workplace. All weight plates need to be removed from Olympic size bars, curl bars, Smith machines, and other specific plate loaded equipment. All dumbbells must be put back in the same place from which they were removed. Please don’t ever rest your dumbbells on the benches. Do you put a bunch of bowling balls on your living room furniture? Well, I would hope not, even if you bowl three nights per week. So, the thought of using a towel and a spray bottle is foreign to you? Get used to it. Be thoughtful. Please consider if someone else left a pool of sweat and an imprint of their figure on a machine, would you feel comfortable sitting or standing in that workout residue? No, you would not. So, be clean, not mean. You can set a good example for others by what you do and by the manner in which you choose to communicate. These crowds can easily produce “gym rage”, and I’m not referring to the symptoms brought on by illegal P.E.D. usage. Be kind in all situations. Annoying as some may be, as stubborn as others may come across, as rude as someone may seem, you don’t have to add fuel to a highly flammable scene. “Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”– Mark Twain  You never know how another’s day has been nor the personal challenges and struggles that they are trying desperately to deal with.  As previously stated though, seek out your friendly, neighborhood Personal Trainer if you need backup.
With so many people thrust into this January madness, I am certain of one thing. What a wonderful opportunity to meet someone new. Even if you rate yourself at the very bottom of the social butterfly scale, the huge throng of gym goers presents you with the chance to find another to connect with. I believe that this just might be the most important element in determining if you are to endure the resolution rush and be a consistent fixture in the facility when springtime bursts upon us. If the staff is on the top of their game, they should assist everyone in this area. From Januarys gone by, memories of the great feeling derived from simple introductions still warm my heart. During training sessions or new member orientations, I always made it my personal quest to introduce my students to as many other members as possible.  As we all do our best to deal with January’s difficult dilemma, we can find that a few laughs with a new friend are just what the doctor ordered. Also, don’t be so hard on the staff. They, too, can be overwhelmed. If you are a rebel, and take pleasure in constantly disobeying the fitness center policies, you make their job so much more complicated.
Best wishes to you, and don’t forget to change your wet, slushy shoes in the locker room!