With a new year comes a time of self reflection, new aspirations and forging ahead in whatever goals we might have for us for the new year.
Some of those may be hitting certain PRs, getting better at Olympic weightlifting, mastering a new skill (it’s pistols and bar muscle ups for me), competing at a weightlifting meet, or going all out during the CrossFit Open.
However, with the new year comes an influx of new faces in the gym who want to tackle the fitness portion of their lives and be more consistent with it. Whether it’s getting back into shape after starting a new family, having the energy to play with grand children, losing weight, or simply taking on the challenge of raising their own fitness to the next level. It’s similar, but relatable to everyone else.
While the thrill of a new challenge is great for your new gym mate, what’s in it for you when you already assume the gym is going to turn into a zoo in January?
Lose the grump, chump, and turn that new year frown upside down!
Let’s talk about gym etiquette.
Remember where you once were before
Remember when you first started out on your fitness journey. You were probably pretty intimidated, not as confident or self aware as you are today would be a good guess in terms of what your headspace was at the time when you joined your new gym.
You probably came across someone who made a snarky remark at all the “newbies” ruining the gym and which probably led to a list of other factors of that a person you saw pretty regularly during January all but give up all within the month.
That sort of behaviour or attitude doesn’t lead to a strong or supportive gym culture, it’s weak and we’re all better and stronger than that.
You don’t want to be that d-bag, now do you? My remark to that? Be cool.
What it should be like
What do I mean by be cool? I’d call it a mix between being warm, encouraging, and being engaging. It can be any of those elements or all of them, but being any of those traits I mentioned above are all awesome for making a great environment not only for those new members, but existing ones as well.
Matt Foreman over at Catalyst Athletics wrote a great blog post about keeping your gym environment strong.
Some examples of being warm are just a simple smile to an unfamiliar face, introduction or a hello. Encouragement is a high five or a pat on the back after a workout or a extending a hand after a gym mate is sprawled out in a sweat angel after a brutal WOD. Engaging requires a bit more effort, in terms of introducing yourself and engaging in small talk.
All these little interactions build up to having a great gym environment that we all deserve, for gym mates and existing ones. It self perpetuates and continues building a stronger gym and culture.
Of course are going to be some tensions and confusion, and a bit of chaos because of all the new faces, but things will settle down and go back to normal. Give a little more leeway and understand that those new faces don’t know all the protocols or how things work quite yet, but they will.
Sure, there will be people who drop out, but it won’t because of a weak or negative gym culture, it’s their own misgivings. There’s always an equilibrium, so chill and let things slide off your back because they grabbed “your bar” or whatever it is that you think you own. It’s everyone’s gym.
So remember to not be that d-bag and ruin it for incoming members by being snarky or discouraging.
We’re all better than that and want to continue cultivating an environment that’s welcoming to people from all walks of life and forged by fitness.
Who knows when those genuine high fives you gave out at the beginning of January to your new gym mates makes all the difference in making your day when you’ve had a shitty one?
Leave a comment letting us know what your January gym experience has been like.