It’s that time of the year again, where people make their resolutions to get in shape and lose weight. It’s also that time of year where people get annoyed about all of the new members at the gym. I’ve noticed a lot of animosity lately on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as well as from my friends and fellow gym members, about the January joiners. Sure, there are drawbacks: The gym gets more crowded. It’s harder to find a spot in the parking lot. The treadmills are taken. The squat rack is occupied. I get it, it’s annoying: waiting, dealing with people who lack gym etiquette, being inconvenienced…the list goes on. It can present more barriers to fitness, which for some people who struggle with motivation (umm….myself, shh don’t tell anyone), can be the difference between getting in a great workout and giving up before you begin. Would you believe me if I told you that the influx of new members might actually be a great thing? Since I pride myself on always being able to find the silver lining, let’s look at the positives…because they are plentiful!
1. You may find a new workout buddy. A lot of people like to work out alone, but working out with friends can be even better. Studies show that working out with others can be more beneficial than working out alone. You may find someone who will motivate you and help you hold yourself accountable. Look at health and fitness communities online like bodybuilding.com and myfitnesspal.com where people share their routines and advice while motivating each other. It’s a bit cliche, but in a way, we are all in this together. So the more people working towards goals like yours, the more likely you may be to stay on track.
2. You may find yourself working harder to compete with new members. A little competition can go a long way. I find that I sometimes run faster or longer if there are more people on treadmills around me. I think it’s a natural inclination to want to lead the pack. I think it’s awesome when I walk up to a weight machine and I need to add more weight than the last person who used it was using (especially if it was a guy, #girlpower!!). If it’s set to a heavier load than I usually lift, maybe I’ll try a few extra pounds on my set and see if I can handle it. Or let’s say I’m about to throw in the towel during my run, but that girl who started running on the treadmill next to me at the same time is still going strong. Maybe I’ll put in an extra few minutes. While you only really have to compete with yourself, having people to race against (even though it’s in your head, since we’re all running in place anyway) can help push you to go the extra mile- figuratively and literally.
3. You become a veteran as the newbies trickle in. Rookie status has it’s perks. It’s fresh and new and exciting (just like the start of the year which brings our new friends in!) and it’s fun to start something new. But there’s something rewarding about achieving veteran gym status. New members may look up to you because you seem to know your way around. They’ll notice that you’ve been there for awhile and you appear to know what you’re doing (though I’ve seen enough mishaps at the gym to know that being a veteran does not mean you are an expert. There’s no curling in the squat rack, people.) Your experience conveys seniority, and you could be surprised at who you inspire. I have seen fellow gym members outside of the gym who have said things like, “you’re the girl who’s always running” and “you work out all the time, I wish I was that motivated.” Let me tell you, it feels pretty good to have that kind of reputation.
4. You may find a new addition to your routine. Sometimes we get stuck doing the same old things day after day, week after week, even as seasoned veterans. And then you hit the dreaded plateau (ughh, I cringe). But the best way to bust through a plateau is to switch up your workouts. Having new members at the gym may force you to step outside of your comfort zone. This may happen because your favorite equipment is being used, so you have to get creative with something else. Or, you may see a new member doing something that you haven’t tried before and feel inspired to try it (foam roller, anyone?) Either way, change can be a good thing, and switching it up may be better than you thought.
5. New members could mean new amenities. The more people who belong to your gym, the more money the company is taking in, and increased revenue can mean a better selection of workout options for you. The machines could be updated or new equipment brought in to appeal to the growing member base. It probably wouldn’t be immediate, but they may have to accommodate for the increase in membership eventually with more equipment. As my gym has gotten more popular, we have gotten in a new squat rack (have you noticed my fixation with the squat rack yet? #obsessed), a projector system for doing recorded fitness classes in a studio, and a new sound system for music…all of which have made my gym a nicer place.
6. You may pay less in gym fees. Many gyms offer free months for existing clients who recruit new members. Buddy up with someone testing out a free trial pass to tell them all of the benefits of the gym, and ask them to give your name when they sign up. You may score a discount or a free month for your hospitality. Plus, it would make sense that a successful, profitable gym with many members would be able to offer more deals and discounts on memberships, which you may be able to take advantage of. My gym membership went down $7/month last year from when I started because I was able to negotiate a better deal with my manager during a promotion they were having for new members. And who doesn’t love to save money? If you’re savvy, you can use the influx of new members to your advantage.
7. The more popular it is to work out and get healthy, the more options we all have. Demand often dictates supply. Look at all of the changes that have happened in the past ten years or so in our society as people have put more of a focus on health and fitness. As people have become more calorie conscious, restaurants now offer more healthy options and post nutrition information. People may turn up their nose at trends like going gluten-free, but look at how many places now offer a wider variety of new, unique dietary options because of that rise in popularity. New technology becomes available to help you with your fitness and health when there is more of a demand. There are always new health and fitness apps and websites with resources for you to use, because developers create new technology when there is an audience for it. And, you may even look cuter! Did you know there was life before Nike and Lululemon? People used to have to wear ugly baggy sweatpants and oversize cotton t-shirts to work out in. But we have so many options now, because there is such a growing fitness community that demands the best and newest of what companies have to offer. Who doesn’t want to look awesome at the gym? (Actually a lot of people apparently, because I see some pretty strange ensembles at my gym (jeans and crocs? Really?? Have I actually begun an inner monologue inside of my inner monologue? Really??) but that’s neither here nor there). And let’s not forget that new gyms open up when there is an active community to cater to, which could mean those pesky newcomers go somewhere else, or that you may eventually join a new gym that is better than your current one. Just make sure you don’t make the switch in January, or you’ve ironically just become everything you once hated.
So look at the positives, and welcome the the January joiners! And then keep welcoming fitness newbies all year long. Working out and getting healthy is beneficial for all of us. As they say, the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts. As our fitness community grows, it impacts everyone, and that impact can be awesome.
How do you feel about new members at your gym? How were you treated when you started?