Advice for January Joiners

It seems as if the health/wellness blog-o-sphere has blown up over the January Joiners–you know, those folks that take over our gym and our Weight Watcher meetings starting the first Monday of the new year.

I get it. I WAS one. I started Weight Watchers on January 7, 2007. A Monday night. It was a big meeting to begin with (we always had 25-30 people even once March rolled around), but there was easily a line of 50 new members that first day. I lost 50lbs that year. And kept it off.

Despite being one of those January Joiners, I definitely get frustrated on days like Monday, when I have the best intentions to get to the gym and even go late enough so the after-work crowds should have died down and I STILL end up circling the parking lot for 10 minutes and can’t find a legal space to park.

Or when suddenly I have to fight for spin class (show up 30 minutes early, sign-up, get my hand stamped and wait outside the room until the previous class is over so I can get one of the better bikes that let me clip in).

This year, I decided to adjust. It’s not worth getting upset or stressed or losing my patience. Especially if some of those folks stick with it and make some awesome health strides. Instead, I’m trying to fit in morning or lunch break workouts.  

But, I offer advice to you January Joiners who are equally frustrated–by us entitled “gym rats” who make you feel unwelcome.

1. Know the rules of the gym. Is there a 30 minute cardio rule? Then follow it. Realistically, there’s always a big jump in membership at the beginning of the year. You have to deal just as those of us who have been going to that gym and using that treadmill the other 11 months of the year have to deal. Know that maybe once March or April rolls around, you may be able to get away with hogging the machine longer. Instead, follow the rules for now. And consider trying a different, less popular machine. That’s how I learned that the StairMill could whup my ass.

2. Use common courtesy. Wipe your machine off after using it. Don’t leave your towel and water bottle to “hold” a machine you’re not using. Also, use deodorant, brush your teeth before your morning workout and don’t overcompensate on the cologne. Those cardio machines are too close together to avoid those common courtesies. I’ve worked out next to the lady who was bathed in Britney Spears’ Curious, the dude who had the worst morning breath I’ve ever smelled in my life and the guy who clearly hadn’t washed his performance gear recentle–like in the past month. It’s not the reputation you want.

3. Strike up conversation. Not only may it help you meet people, but it’s a great way to get to know who that awesome trainer is or whether that hottie spin instructor is single. And people like me can’t get irritated when a friendly person is in class. It makes the gym more fun, less intense. Like the older woman who was whooping and hollering at spin class last night after “a long time” away.

4. Stick around. The gym is even MORE fun during the rest of the year. People are more relaxed. It’s easier to get access to equipment. They get new upgrades after the January rush kills older machines. I also notice gyms can get a little more creative with their class offerings. It’s easier to add an experimental salsa dancing class to the schedule when you don’t have to add extra sessions of spin and Zumba due to overenrollment. Better yet: the competitions. My gym does a Biggest Loser-type competition two or three times a year, has contests to see who goes to the gym most during the busy holiday season and holds raffles as slower parts of the year. There are also sponsored trips to baseball games, tennis matches and they solicit runners for 5ks or bikers for community rides.

What advice do you have for January joiners? Were you one yourself? 

6 responses to “Advice for January Joiners

  1. I don’t know if this is necessarily advice for January Joiners as it is for anyone, everyday at the gym. The gym is not a place for social hour, especially when it’s 5:30pm, there are no open machines, and there are still people piling in the door. I know that I have just gotten back into going to the gym about a month ago, but it seems like many of the people treat it as social hour. I don’t mean just striking up a conversation while there, I mean meeting up, and being workout buddies, without really getting an actual workout in. I’ve seen them barely break a sweat on cardio machines and spend more time on weight machines chatting it up than actually moving weights. FRUSTRATING!!! That’s just one of my peeves right now with my gym….I’m sure I could go on.

  2. I started weight watchers Jan 07 of this year. I do it online though, so there are no crowds 🙂

  3. seriously though- i was spinning next to a lady with the worst B.O. EVAHHHH! common sense people. and a reminder to january joiners- it’s not too cold to play outside.

  4. 1/7/07 was my day too! Hubby and I joined a boot camp that we still attend about 3x/week. Too funny that you and I both started something big that day. I had no idea how much hubby and I would come to like it, and never guessed we’d still be doing it this many years later. Starting that definitely changed my life, suddenly I was cross-training, building muscle, changing my body shape, and getting a lot stronger and faster (well, couldn’t have really gotten slower, but oh well).

  5. #2 is the best advice – its so gross when you get on a treadmill and there is sweat all over it!

    I have been doing water jogging in the therapy pool until a swim lane opens up – its surprising how good a work out that is!

    Hope you had a great weekend!

  6. I work out at a university gym and January is a battlefield because not only do we have January Joiners, we also have students returning from holiday break, students prepping for Spring Break and in extremely cold weather, the ROTC moves in for morning workouts. My biggest peeve is people who sit on machines to talk on their phones, read War and Peace on their Ipods and carry on conversations. Do your reps and move it along!

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