Every January, like clockwork, a whole new group of fitness hopefuls overcrowd your local gym for the sake of some disingenuous New Year’s resolution.
As a former gym employee, I saw this mass migration annually. People from all walks of life would sign up for a membership, work out for a month or two and then promptly cancel the membership and never enter the gym again.
There are many reasons people give up on working out after a few months. There’s the lack of work ethic, lack of free time and the disheartening realization that progress isn’t immediate.
There is also “gym-timidation.” Gym-timidation tends to occur when one member of the gym intimidates another, usually because one member is in better shape than the other.
Gym-timidation can also occur with a lack of knowledge about the gym equipment. If you don’t know how to use a machine, you’re likely to fear looking stupid, so you may not even attempt to use a machine.
In order to boost sales to capitalize on this fear, some gyms have branded themselves to be a “judgment free zone” while others have taken to only installing non-complex equipment.
While it seems that this reality would satisfy the more sensitive of fitness enthusiasts, it does not.
Recently, a Planet Fitness made headlines for removing a squat rack because a customer complained that the machine was too intimidating.
To a person who actually uses a squat rack, the only intimidating aspect is the amount of weight one decides to put onto it — not the physical existence of the machine.
Planet Fitness is known for poking fun at the stereotypical gym-goer. Many of its commercials dramatize situations and people you may encounter in gyms and many of the ads are humorous. But, they definitely exaggerate what actually happens in a gym.
While I agree with Planet Fitness that the gym should be a welcoming place to support an enjoyable experience, I will never agree that it is an environment's fault if a person feels ostracized because other people are simply in better condition.
Working out requires a lot of effort — it’s not easy, but those who keep at it will always see results. It’s not fair to victimize the people who put in the time and effort to actually achieve their goals. It sends the message that those who committed themselves to fitness are subject to victimization rather than accolades for the hard work.
Intimidation is an unavoidable part of life. There will always be someone who you feel is better than you in some way, but this doesn’t mean you should run from those feelings.
When you walk into the gym, you should know that you are there to give your very best and it shouldn’t matter how everyone else looks. Your Day 1 is not comparable to someone else’s Day 365.
Bring this attitude into other aspects of your everyday life. Someone may have a better car than you or a better job than you, but you hold the power to turn your purported shortcomings into vehicles of motivation.
Top Photo Courtesy: We Heart It