I have mixed feelings about going to the gym after January 1st. While finding an open treadmill becomes a laughable exercise (pardon the pun), there is something intrinsically powerful about the shift in attendance, be it at your local YMCA, morning yoga class or spin studio. A remarkable resurgence of commitment accompanies the new year, a resolution-laden month where the inspiration to cultivate a “better self” abounds (for the first 10 days, anyhow). It can be easy to scoff with annoyance at the packed parking lots and droves of hobby-jogger / Netflix-bingeing treadmill walkers. However, if you take a step back, you can almost feel the palpable confidence and empowerment that accompanies this reclamation of the gym. For many “resolutioners,” the gym can be an intimidating place teeming with bystander judgment, fear of failure, low self confidence, and a general sense of “otherness”. The so-called “new year, new me” period has culturally evolved to serve a revolutionary self-recreational purpose, and for most that involves hearkening back to healthful routines, mindful habits and self care priorities.
In this way, the new gym-goer population can be perceived as an almost political force, with New Years resolutions igniting a different-in-kind equality, blurring the lines between professed cardio bunnies / gym rats and novice exercisers taking a stand for their health and well-being.
It is remarkably freeing to shift one’s perspective and recognize this “gym democratization” because, even though open machines may be harder to come by, the alternative outcome is that our friends, neighbors and communities embrace change to build a healthier today, a balanced tomorrow and a mindful future. (Plus, it leaves some time when you first arrive to intentionally stretch, find some spot-on Spotify tunes, and pause for a moment of reflection — and, just like that, you can cross another New Year resolution off your list…)