Bad advice in dealing with New Year's resolutioners

This is the time of year at which gym aficionados complain about the early January crowd. It's also the time of year at which people respond, "Instead of complaining, we should make friends with the resolutioners! That way, they'll be motivated to stay. And if they're using the equipment wrong or violating some rule of gym etiquette, gently correct them. That way, gym veterans will be less annoyed with them and they'll feel more at home."

This kind of advice is well intentioned, but for several reasons, I don't recommend it.

First, I do believe in being friendly to newcomers. Maybe nod their way or give them a smile. Heck, start a conversation with them if it occurs naturally. Going out of your way to make friends and engage them in conversation, though? Not a good idea. Treating the gym as a social club is considered bad etiquette, and it can distract people from their actual workouts. Let conversations occur naturally. Deliberately making them happen is a good way to encourage bad behavior.

Besides, when resolutioners give up on exercise, it generally isn't because they failed to make friends. Rather, it's because they never had much resolve in the first place. Maybe a few of them would change their minds, but the odds are strongly against it.

Moreover, when I go to the gym, I am there to get things done. At the risk of sounding harsh, I'm not there to slow my workouts down and serve as the welcome wagon. And people who are there to focus on exercise probably wouldn't appreciate the extended pleasantries anyway.

Also, unless someone is about to hurt himself or herself, trying to correct them generally doesn't go over well. This holds true for both exercise and for gym etiquette. It's better to let things slide and deal with the inconvenience.

So yes, by all means, be civil toward them. Say hello or smile their way if this wouldn't seem creepy. Don't go out of your way to befriend them though, and don't expect other gym goers to interrupt their routines to befriend them either. That doesn't really help in the long run.



  • BZAH10
    BZAH10 Posts: 5,609 Member
    I agree with some of what you say, but as we've covered ad neusaum on this topic (already this year and in previous years) there is no one-size-fits all on this topic.

    All gyms are different. People are different. Basic rules of etiquette apply but there are rule variants depending on the type of gym, location, region, etc. Personally, I've learned a lot about different gyms from reading these types of threads but it really boils down to common sense from everyone, whether new at the gym or not. Find out the rules and practice them. Be considerate of others.

    If you see violations or possible really bad form that can result in injury approach the gym staff. Although, some gyms don't have staff, as someone on another thread mentioned so that "advice" doesn't apply, either, does it?
  • cathipa
    cathipa Posts: 2,992 Member
    I've been going to the same gym for the past 2 years. The same people at the same times are there. They are polite and everyone keeps to their own. I've never felt intimidated, but I've also been to just about every other gym within a 10 mile radius from my home and all of the others I have quit within the first 2 months, but it was because of me. Some times it was the distance, inconvenient times, lack of classes, the "meat market" feeling I had when I walked in, or sheer intimidation from the regular "fit" people. I have only been at what I now call my "home gym" because it is not intimidating and no one bothers me. We are all there to do a job, get it done and go home. I have said hi to people and I'm always polite, but I'm not there to socialize. Not to say that I wouldn't, but its not my intent. So OP I'm agreeing with you. I wouldn't go up to a new person, but I would smile and say hi in passing. I wouldn't offer help unless medically necessary or someone said "HELP".
  • try2again
    try2again Posts: 3,562 Member
    cwolfman13 wrote: »
    try2again wrote: »
    I wonder if people aren't setting themselves up for failure by joining the gym at this time. They probably get discouraged with the crowds & long wait times just like everyone else does. Even some long-time users avoid the gym for a while at this time. Too bad they can't make their resolution in April.

    Crowds in general make me feel claustrophobic so it wasn't something I looked forward to at all and didn't last long.

    Same here. I don't need to go to a gym because we have equipment at home, but if I had to deal with a crowd to exercise, it just wouldn't happen.
  • Agreed. I don't go to the gym. When I did have a membership for a short time and was a "newb", I didn't want anyone talking to me. I was there to work out. If I didn't know how to work a machine, I'd ask for help from an employee before using it. I liked to keep conversations short & sweet if they happened naturally. A smile and nod is acceptable. I'd rather be ignored than approached!! Nothing new to see here, just go about your day please, thanks!
    PWRLFTR1 Posts: 324 Member
    I am not a gym newbie at ALL but a man who thought I was walked over to me and gave me some unsolicited advice: "You don't need to lift such heavy weights. It's not like you're a professional bodybuilder." It left an impression on me!! He said it like he was trying to be helpful but I found it very condescending...and I am someone who is very confident in the gym! I can't even imagine how I'd feel if it actually had been my first time in the gym on top of that.

    I say stay in your lane. I'd never ignore someone who reached out to me for help, but I also would never offer unsolicited correction on form, how to lose weight, etc.

  • CSARdiver
    CSARdiver Posts: 6,257 Member
    cathipa wrote: »
    CSARdiver wrote: »
    This is a truthful, but sad commentary on our social state.

    We have lost our ability and desire to communicate and socialize.

    I don't know. I would be glad to carry on a conversation with someone (there is a lady at my gym who does more talking than exercising) and I'm glad to have a conversation with her. The problem for me is I typically have a limited amount of time so to have a conversation also takes away from my purpose at the gym.

    I do this as well, but this is the exception to the rule. I use 4 gyms and note a common factor with the majority of those in great shape - they communicate. Just like any other muscle it needs to be flexed to grow.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,531 Member
    CSARdiver wrote: »
    This is a truthful, but sad commentary on our social state.

    We have lost our ability and desire to communicate and socialize.

    I'm always chatting with people between sets provided they are also in between sets. I don't go to a big commercial gym anymore though...small private gym with at most 4 to maybe 5 people working out at any one time with the trainers.