I’m not an athlete.
I lettered on my varsity volleyball team my junior and senior years, and I completed a half marathon in 2011, but I’m not an athlete. Certainly not these days. This last year of graduate school really ran me down physically as well as mentally, so if you saw me at the gym this week, you’d assume I was just another Resolutionary.
Resolutionary (n.) – A person that resolves to improve their physical fitness at the beginning of the year then quits by February.
This year is the closest I’ve come to being a Resolutionary. In the past I’ve always maintained a fairly consistent level of health and fitness, so even if I “felt fat” after the holidays and increased my exercise during the first week of January, you probably wouldn’t have identified me as out of shape quite as easily. Let me say that I don’t think it’s fair or accurate to judge a person’s health based on their outward appearance alone; society doesn’t care about my rules, however, so I have to acknowledge that bigger people are, in general, going to be judged more harshly by gym regulars this month.
As someone that has been on the flip side of the health coin (as most of us probably were as teenagers), I can understand the frustration that regular gym-goers experience when a bunch of n00bs crowd around the equipment in January, doing curls in the squat rack and not wiping down the equipment. It gets you out of your own routine.
My fiance runs marathons (yeah, he gets to be the athlete in the family). He is a committed runner; while living in Wisconsin the past two years, he often ran in the middle of blizzard warnings and frostbite advisories. In January 2012, a warm snap occurred, and tons of previously hibernating runners came out of the woodwork to bask in the winter sunshine.
“I was out there all winter! In the snow! These people just run when it’s nice out!” Matt complained, half-jokingly.
As someone that is finally understanding what it feels like to be treated differently when you’re significantly overweight, I encourage all ye fit people to bear with the new kids this month. At least some of us will be sticking around, while others you’ll see again this time next year with renewed determination. It’s intimidating to go to a new gym for the first time, especially if you’ve never been to a gym before. I at least know the protocol and fall easily into my routine, wipe down machines, and make sure to let people “work in” sets when it’s crowded. I also have no problem acting confident, even when I don’t feel confident, which is not a skill that everyone has.
So be kind to the Resolutionaries. Encourage everyone on their journey to improved health. And maybe (if you don’t come off as a douche) the guy curling in the squat rack will listen when you ask him to move.