Spring and summer are soon on the way and it’s time to get in shape! Well, at least that’s what the women’s magazines at the checkout line in Target tell me. Those covers must work because there’s always an influx of new members at my gym this time of year. New gym members means crowded fitness classes, long waits for treadmills and people who don’t know their way around the weight room getting in their way.
People are not shy about letting their annoyance with new gym members being known. For example, the first week of January when resolutioners hit up the gym, my Facebook and Twitter feed were filled with people venting about the newcomers in their gym. Someone I used to follow on Instagram even went so far to post a photo making fun of a girl trying to figure out a leg machine (notice I said I used to follow this person). Why do people have to be so obnoxious about newcomers? Shaming and complaining about other people just trying to get healthy needs to stop.
The first time I stepped foot in a gym I was an awkward, chubby, 15 year old high school sophomore. I knew I was overweight and wanted to lose weight, but just didn’t know how. I exercised by walking around my neighborhood but it didn’t seem to be enough. I had a few friends who went to the gym and after saving enough money from a part-time job, I bought a membership so I could join them. I was petrified the first day I walked in there. I had no idea how to use any of the weight machines, had never stepped foot on a StairMaster and was afraid I would fall on my face trying to use the treadmill.
I decided on the StairMaster first and when I stepped on, it went straight to the floor. I thought everyone had noticed so I jumped off and just rode the stationary bike for a half hour. The next day, I went back and asked a staff member to show me how to use the StairMaster and was well on my way. Every day that I kept going back, I was a little less scared. Until the day I ran into a girl from my school that didn’t like me and she made fun of me for being there. She said whales don’t belong in the gym (or something like that), then continued to make fun of me for it the next day at school. I never set foot in that gym again after that day. It wasn’t until college where I knew I wouldn’t know anyone that I gained the courage to go back to the gym.
Teenagers are terrible to each other, we all know that. We should outgrow this behavior by the time we’re adults right? So why is it still acceptable to taunt people for trying to improve their lives? Imagine how you would feel if you went to the gym only to return at night to see someone complaining about you taking up space in their precious gym on Facebook or even worse, your picture on Instagram? You would probably never go back.
Instead of complaining about the new people at your gym, try welcoming them. If you see someone struggling with the StairMaster offer to help them. If there’s a new girl in your Zumba class, introduce yourself. Who knows, you could make a new friend!
Everyone’s just trying to get through the day. Let’s help each other out by striving to be empathetic and kind to people. So what if you have to wait five minutes for the treadmill or not be able to find a locker in the changing room? Is it really that big of a deal? We’re all just trying to be healthy, let’s at least help each other get there.