My gym has been a bit of a madhouse lately.
Yesterday, I went for my usual lunchtime workout, only to discover that all of the treadmills were occupied.
Since I will use almost any excuse to skip a workout, I thought about calling it quits right then and there. But I had made a killer new running playlist that morning; and I did have a pretty cute outfit on. So I decided to stick it out.
As I waited in line for a machine, I couldn’t get over how busy the cardio room was. There were even lineups at the water fountain.
This, my friends, is what’s known as the “January Gym Rush”. Membership sales surge as eager new members seek to carry out their New Year’s resolutions to get healthy. I call these newbies the “Resolutioners”. They’re sort of like One Direction’s “Directioners”, only about 10-15 years older, and 50-75% more annoying.
Resolutioners file into the gym on January 1st like a bunch of nervous, high school freshmen: so eager, yet so, unbelievably scared. While generally well-intentioned, Resolutioners can wreak havoc on your workout routine. They crowd the change rooms, take up all the good parking spots and steal your favourite treadmill. They don’t know where anything is or how to use it, and they frequently disobey the most basic rules of gym etiquette; like “always wipe down your machines” and “Treadmill #15 belongs to BreezyK”.
I quickly found myself becoming impatient and cursing these Resolutioners for messing up my workout chi. Then I remembered that back in 2005, I was a Resolutioner myself.
(Cue the flashback)
After spending the first half of my freshman year at University subsisting on nothing but Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Little Caesar’s pizza and dining hall hash browns, I inevitably gained the Freshman 15. Plus 5. Unhappy with how I looked and felt, I signed up for a membership at my school’s athletic club and resolved to lose the weight in January.
At first, I had no idea what I was doing. Despite being a high school athlete, I knew shockingly little about fitness. I spent a solid month trying to figure out the settings on the treadmills, not realizing they were measured in miles rather than kilometres.
I set a routine for myself, waking up at 6am every day to hit the gym before my 8:30 classes. I’m not going to say it was easy; I was hopelessly intimidated by all of the fit, beautiful football players and Volleyball chicks with mile-long legs and perfect ponytails. There were days where I wanted to end it all by fashioning a noose out of the treadmill emergency cord.
But I put my head down, listened to some more JaRule and kept going.
By May, I had lost almost all of the 20lbs I had gained. I felt awesome.
For the next three years, I stuck to my fitness regime. Things dipped off for a bit in 2008 when I started law school and became convinced I was “too busy” for the gym. Incidentally, however, I was not too busy to drink copious amounts of alcohol and devour muffins the size of my head. When my “fat clothes” started fitting a little too well again, I quickly sprang into action. I trained for my first 10k and hit the gym before class in the mornings. I read my notes on the treadmill and highlighted cases on the upright bike. I’m sure people thought I was crazy, but what they didn’t know, was that all of this was actually keeping me sane.
I graduated law school fitter, of sound mind, and with only a few more grey hairs than when I started. Success.
3 years later, I am still a regular gym-goer. And while at least 75% (ok, 90%) of my motivation can be attributed to vanity, the other 10% can be chalked up to enjoyment.
While I often joke about my disillusionment with the gym and how the treadmill is ruining my life, the truth is, the gym is actually sort of a happy place for me. It’s a time to be alone with my thoughts; where no one bothers me. The treadmill doesn’t yell me for drafting a document incorrectly. I don’t get scolded by the elliptical for taking too long to respond to an e-mail. They are just there for me. Whenever I need them. For as long as I want. (Except on statutory holidays. Or between the hours of 11pm and 5am.But you get the idea.)
The gym is a place where I feel confident even when I don’t anywhere else. Plus, I’ve really come to know and like all of the staff and the regulars there. Even if we don’t always talk, I can still feel a sense of mutual respect and admiration between us. The warm smiles, the supportive nods; it’s like “hey, we’re all in this together”.
My gym has sort of become my home-away-from-home. My second family.The treadmills are like my siblings; the free weights those weird second cousins I only see once or twice a year.
Let’s face it, working out is hard. So hard, in fact, that a lot of North Americans just don’t do it at all. But if you’re thinking about taking the plunge, I promise you it’s worth it. You can even join my gym if you need moral support. They totally gouge you on monthly fees, but the hairdryers are top-notch.
And if you’re a seasoned gym vet frustrated with all of those newbies, just remember: You, too, didn’t know the difference between a deadlift and a power lunge at one point. Be Patient. We’re all in this together.