Role Models or Obstacles? Thoughts on Seasoned Gym-Goers.

Going to the gym for the first time can be a nerve wracking experience. You’re walking into a foreign world of new equipment that requires certain form and safety awareness, you’re about to get sweaty and vulnerable in a room full of people you don’t know – and worse, they might judge you.

This is an all too common scenario I hear from someone who wants to make a change in their life, but may be self conscious about doing so. Being judged by seasoned gym-goers is a huge fear, and an unfortunate reality that discourages newcomers to a healthy way of life. This is particularly evident at this time of year, when we so often year gymgoers complaining about the “New Years Resolutioners” who are clogging up the gym, with comments about how they can’t wait for the herd to thin out – and I am SO disappointed by this attitude!

I find it baffling that these people don’t seem to remember that at one point, they were a beginner too. Someone who didn’t know what they were doing, someone taking the first step towards getting where they are today. Are their memories so short?

Instead, as seasoned gymgoers, we should be encouraging newcomers (regardless of the time of year), for taking the first step towards a healthy life. We should cheer them on for what could be a definitive moment in their lives, and we should also be willing to offer help, advice, and assistance with a smile. So this is my call to the seasoned, long term gym goers to be more supportive, to stop being so judgmental, and to remember how to be a courteous human being.

When I posted my thoughts on Facebook, I got varied responses, including:
“It makes it hard to work out!” – Really? Be creative and work around them. Maybe its an indication its time to change up your routine as well, and try something new.

“Well you know they won’t stick with it!” – This gets to me. DO you know that? No you don’t. You do not know whether or not someone will stick with their goal or not, because you have no idea what that person is capable of. Whether they start January 1st, or any day of the year, whether or not they are 5 lbs overweight or 100 lbs overweight, it doesn’t matter. You cannot anticipate if that person expects immediate results, of if they’re willing to work hard day in and day out, and you are not the judge of how bad they may want it. To assume you know otherwise is incredibly self righteous. That person deserves to be treated based on their potential just like you do, and not be assumed a failure.

Worst of all, one of my fans said she saw this quote on a Fan Page, which will remain nameless:

“It would be nice if we could get together as a group and take pictures of the buffalo in the gym tackinling their NYE resolutions. We’ll call it a month long social science experiment since they should be back to Mcribbing it up in a month”

I was disgusted that anyone in an industry dedicated to helping people feel healthy, happy, fit and confident could ever be so tactless, tasteless, and just plain rude! And its disheartening, to know so many in the industry have been saying much the same…

So I’m asking you with this post, to reconsider how you’ve been treating people at the gym since the new year, and to evaluate your attitude. Are you being self-righteous? Are you acting entitled? Could you be more supportive?

Inevitably, someone is going to read this post and think, “Its not MY responsibility to help someone at the gym, I don’t work there.” You’re right, its not. Just like its not your responsibility to hold the door for someone behind you or help someone pick up something they’ve dropped,  and so on. But you still do them, because you’re a decent human being, and not a selfish jerk. No one is asking for you to completely derail your workouts either. Courtesy and a smile alone will get you a long ways.

And yes, occasionally, I judge. I judged the guy with the swastika and white power tattoos, I judged the drug addict who started jumping over benches and making karate noises, and I judged the woman sipping a Starbucks latte while walking on the treadmill. So I’m not perfect. I never said I was. But I’d like to think I do a pretty good job of supporting people when they’re trying something new.

 

  • Dianaklk

    wonderful article!! thanks Bry

    • http://bryjensen.com/ Bry Jensen

      You’re welcome! I’m glad you like it!

  • Angela

    Thanks for the article. I’m trying to rein in my cynical and judgemental impulses and your little reminders are helpful

    • http://bryjensen.com/ Bry Jensen

      I’m glad to hear that Angela! It takes some time to break those negative habits, but a positive attitude is so much more rewarding – both to us and those around us!

  • Tattooedevilj

    I would love to have a so called newb for a training partner because they are usually so full of drive and energy to get at it that it would infact push me to work harder. These so called seasoned gym goers need to remember they was once new to this as well just like you mentioned.

    • http://bryjensen.com/ Bry Jensen

      Its true! I love training with someone new, they do have such a strong enthusiasm, especially when they know they’re being accepted and supported in what they do!
      It seems that once you get passed “being new”, people forget what it was like. Sad, really.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alyse.mckee Alyse McKee

    I agree wholeheartedly with your point of view Bry.
    I cannot believe anyone would say something that cruel and disgusting about another person who is OBVIOUSLY concerned about their weight, health, diet, or shape and trying to make a move in the right direction to improve it. That person is trying, and putting out the effort. IF they fail it’s probably because of assholes like that who fed them negative vibes and never gave an encouraging smile at least.

    • http://bryjensen.com/ Bry Jensen

      Mhm, I was really disheartened to see that comment. I’m glad its no on I was a fan of; I would have been crushed, and unfollowed them immediately.

  • Kristen

    I just had this same discussion with someone a few weeks ago. As a someone who works in the health and fitness industry I see that it’s my job to do my best and convert these newbies into seasoned gym goers. Judging them is only going to discourage them. And who knows, if you give them a chance you might even like them. :)

    • http://bryjensen.com/ Bry Jensen

      Absolutely, Kristen! As a public figure in this business, it is my personal responsibility to be an open, encouraging and positive person and I’d hold everyone to the same standard too! We’re supposed to be doing our best to convince people to live this way,not turning them away so we have an easier time getting to the bench press!

  • http://tucktakesoff.com/ Steph

    Nice post! I get annoyed when I see people talking loudly on their cellphones while walking on the treadmill at the gym but I will try to have a better attitude about that:) All in all, I find people to really supportive of one another in the gym, even with strangers. It’s great to see newbie people starting out on their fitness journey – the start is the hardest part so they get my respect for sure.

    • http://bryjensen.com/ Bry Jensen

      Thank you Steph!
      I’m really glad to hear you go to a supportive gym – I do too! Its mostly on facebook that I have been witnessing such negative attitudes. And I’d agree with you, that cell phones have no place in the gym!

  • CieloSedik

    Two thumbs up to this Post..!!! “decent humans” I like it..!!!!

  • Spartan Yoseph

    I share your thoughts. One day I went to the gym and you can see that there were new and inexperienced people and the way we do note that the exercise could hurt, so I went to them in a respectful way to try to explain how to exercise and ejercutar I was surprised that the answer I received is that they did not want to meet in the gym with a person of Latin origin. And that always happens to me many people are marginalized by our Latin origin and living in an American country. I think that everything can change when we accept that we are all equal.

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