Monday, February 10th, 2014...12:03 pm

Don’t Make the Gym Your New Year’s Resolution

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by Lauren Keefer

Not exactly the welcoming fitness support you’d expect for the new year, huh? Especially coming from a gym employee, nonetheless. However, as a Patron Service Assistant (or PSA, as we front-desk inhabitants tend to call ourselves) and a frequent gym-attendee, I find myself in a unique position to watch the ebb and flow of attendance all year round. Along with number counts, the atmosphere of the environment continuously changes depending on the season. In the slow summertime, we encounter more endorphin-guzzling runners sprinting in to put the cherry on top of their workout, whereas during finals week the stress thrown from the students’ minds is as palpable as the sweat tossed from their bodies, and the fervent churn of the elliptical halts only when the semester does. At last we encounter the New Year, with it bringing two popular trends I tend to disagree with. First (and most important) of all, the New Year prompts reflection on the past year, which inevitably leads to some unsatisfactory conclusions. You dislike your previous eating habits, regret the missed runs, vow to study more, and look with disdain on pretty much everything you did or didn’t do.

Thus we flock to the gym, and here begins disagreement number two. On college campuses, the gym is usually the most sought-after reprieve from busy schedules, essays and basic stresses of classes. Yet in the dreary months of January and February, I constantly see dissatisfaction and negativity infiltrate the safe haven of the Rec Center, and I’ve come to realize the harmful, unconscious effects of resolutions are to blame. While the numbers through the turnstiles increase, doubts triple as confidence dies. I’ve seen you sneaking glances at your neighbors, comparing your effort, form, and sweat level to theirs. This constant assessment of your workout leads to insecurity and even more misgivings, while the pressure of just trying to find an open machine adds to everyone’s troubles. Thus, the energy of the gym transforms from positive empowerment to measuring-up to the others, then the inevitable shame you feel when your imagination tells you that you don’t.

Now I’m not saying to forget resolutions. By all means, resolve to be healthy if you like. And if that means coming to the gym, come on in! Stop by, say hi – Even if you don’t, chances are I’ll say it to you anyway, headphones or not. I’m saying the New Year shouldn’t be another voice in society that says you’re doing something wrong. Don’t make the gym your resolution because you think you should. That’s when the healthy energy of the Rec changes into unnecessary stress, and no one benefits. In your new effort to better yourself, why surround yourself with more insecurity? Come to the gym, but make sure you’re making the icy trek for yourself, not for what the media, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, anyone else wants you to be. We need to celebrate ourselves and our achievements, and change because we want to – not because we have to.

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