Surviving January in the Gym: A Realistic Guide to your Fitness Resolution

A lot of you readers may not know this, but before I was an attorney with way too many pants suits, I was actually a personal trainer, spinning instructor, and boxing coach. For five years, a spent my days listening to people tell me about their lives, loves, jobs, and breakfast choices while I made them sweat. I taught group classes, couples training, one-on-one training with all sorts of people: grandmothers looking to have the energy to run after their grandkids at the park, and Olympic level athletes looking to qualify one last time. I’ve trained NHL wives and 89 year-old judges (well, one judge in particular but we spent most of the hour talking about his favorite operas.) I was a baby gay in windpants with a Justin Bieber haircut trying to make a difference.

This time of the year always brings back memories, because for an employee at a gym, January is a literal hellscape of clumsy beginners clashing with semi-clumsy gym veterans (because everyone is a little clumsy at the gym.) I’m here to offer you some tips to help you get into shape and stay into shape this January as you enter the Hunger Games-esque environment of the gym you have been paying for the last six months and have only to gone three times.


Tip #1: Remember… the gym doesn’t want you.

If everyone who signed up for a gym actually had every member show up 3 times a week, the gym would be so overcrowded that you wouldn’t be able to move and would have to assign three people at a time to a treadmill. Gyms THRIVE on those who sign up, work out once, and walk out never to be heard from again. Sure, you casually drive by while picking up Indian take-out and say, “Oh, yea! I should cancel my membership.” But then you get home and eat your weight in rice and completely forget. Mmmm rice.

Some gyms even offer pizza parties and candy at the front desk… why? BECAUSE THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO GET FIT. Think of the gym as your aunt who always feeds you 18 servings of lasagna when you go to her place and then finishes it off with a “small” slice of cake that is actually the size of a human head. This is your chance to FIGHT back and beat the system. How? By actually going to the gym. Don’t eat the candy at the front desk either. It’s a trap.


Tip #2: What you do at the gym doesn’t really matter.

There’s some phrase from some fitness person (that I don’t want to google) that says “a body is made in the kitchen, not the gym.” Whoever said that is really annoying and also right. I would constantly have clients who were not getting results and would explain that I only spent 2 hours a week with them, which is less than 2% of their week. Average 8 hours of sleep per week (yea right!) and that’s 110 hours of choices that I am not watching.  And in those 110 hours, you know what happens? Chips. Candy. That stupid cake from your aunt. Pizza. Happy hour(s).

If you are having a busy January and cannot stomach the thought of trying to deal with the chaos of a gym in January, try instead improving your food intake. That could mean a million things: cut back on snacks, or curtail the drinking, or change the type of carbohydrates you are eating from simple to complex (an easy example is white potato to sweet potato). You don’t have to live on kale… but you can if you want. I can’t.


Tip #3: Don’t worry about the gym vets. They are just salty. (Literally. Ha!)

I have been a regular gym goer for almost a decade, and as a veteran of living through January at the gym as both an employee and a member, I can tell you that the gym veterans KNOW January is coming. They are going to be assholes, and they shouldn’t be. There will be a grunter. Or seven.

You go in, you do you, and if there is a jerk hogging a machine, you should politely say, “Can I work in?” and alternate sets. Your instincts, even if you aren’t a gym freak, are probably on point: if you see someone screaming and yelling and breaking their back, they are probably actually hurting themselves and not caring about form and trying to impress people. Either that, or you stumbled into a BDSM club/gym. And if that’s the case, give me a call. Sounds like that is worth the 3-month free trial.

Check out this article and much more at Outlook Ohio, and join Brooke at a Planned Parenthood benefit on February 15th at Ace of Cups. Follow her on social media for details. Even if you don’t want to come to the show, follow her anyway.

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