How to Handle Gym Newbies

January and February can be trying months if you’re a regular gym-goer. New Year’s resolutions and the membership marketing drives that go with them make fitness facilities everywhere more crowded.

And part of every early-year crowd are the rookies, the gym newbies who are visiting a gym perhaps for the first time ever. Gym regulars might resent the crowds that slow down their workouts for a couple of months, and sometimes this manifests itself in disdain for those brand new to fitness.

Often, those just starting out aren’t that fit. Or they don’t know how to properly use some pieces of equipment. Maybe they are just learning gym etiquette. None of this makes them a bad person, it just means they’re new to all this.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions for handling gym newbies:

  • Remember you were one, too
  • No matter how often you work out or for how long you’ve been going to the gym, you have at least one thing exactly in common with every rookie in the gym: You had a first time, too. Try to keep that in mind if you feel yourself getting frustrated by or resenting those new to fitness.
  • When you were in their shoes, how did people treat you? Do you remember how you wanted to be treated? That’s not a bad place to start with setting the right attitude toward newbies.

Give them credit

Yes, there are going to be overweight people in the gym in January and February. There will be skinny guys bench-pressing just the bar because it’s the first time they’ve lifted a weight in their life. But that’s why they’re there. They are trying to make a change, better themselves. If it took a cliché New Year’s resolution to motivate them to improve their fitness, so be it.

The newcomers who aren’t as fit as you deserve some credit for making an effort. They aren’t sitting lying on the couch and watching TV, but rather doing something about their situation. You don’t have to approve the habits that got them to where they are now, but they should have earned some respect from you for trying to change.

Encourage and help them

As awkward or unfit some of the gym newbies might be, what they aspire to be is simple: you. If you’re a gym regular who’s pretty fit, the level of fitness you’ve attained is what they’re after for themselves. Like it or not, you are their role model.

So imagine how it would feel if your own role model turned up their nose at you. Think about how much better you’d feel if someone with your goal body instead helped you when you were new to the gym and unfit.

Chances are, someone helped you. Maybe they gave you a spot. Maybe they took time out to patiently show you how to do an exercise you were doing wrong. Maybe it was just a word or two of encouragement. Being a jerk toward gym newbies doesn’t make you any more fit. But offering help and encouragement to the newcomers could very well help make them more fit.

Newcomers to the gym are inevitable in January and February. Keeping all of the above in mind might help you handle it a little better for everybody. And also remember that by March, the gym will be back to normal. The newbies will either have given up on their resolutions by then or, maybe because of people like you, they’ll still be coming to the gym but won’t be newbies anymore.

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