Never underestimate the effect of the New Year’s Bump at the gym.
Check-in lines are longer; typically empty lockers are filled with sparkly new running shoes and tights; the new-plastic smell of freshly purchased yoga mats fill the air; awkward swimmers take up previously empty pool lanes to restore their once-stellar high school stroke. New members gratefully ask for help on how to ‘work in’ on weight machines.
As a regular gym goer, I forget (until I arrive at the gym) that so many resolve to get healthy, lose weight, or try a new exercise class after the first of the year. That flurry of activity starts with all the fanfare of fireworks behind the New Year’s Eve ball drop at Times Square. Then, it ends with a lot of sore muscles and dashed intentions by January 15.
Why don’t all those good intentions stick for more than two weeks? The good news: It doesn’t have much to do with New Year’s itself. The bad news: It does have to do with the bad habits we’ve formed around making change in general.
Here’s why we waste money on new gym memberships and struggle to make change at any time of year:
Expectations. We expect to be able to learn to run, swim or do yoga without any discomfort. We’d prefer to be very good at something immediately rather than recognizing that learning a new thing is awkward, difficult and likely embarrassing when we can’t do a new thing perfectly right away. You’d be better to go into a new endeavor with a beginners mind and accept that you’ll fall down, get sore, violate gym etiquette and walk in on the wrong class. You may even laugh at yourself along the way.
Inspiration. We may feel the high of resolution inspiration on Jan. 2, but those endorphins quickly wear off as we are confronted with our now-adjusted expectations of what is possible. We need more of a motivator than losing weight or the abstract “getting healthy” to keep us going. Connect your change to a higher purpose — perhaps going to the gym can be a daily reminder that we are good and worthy enough to be healthy and happy.
Support. Communities and coaches help you persevere when the toughness of change sets in. I don’t know what I would do without my gym buddies and coaches, fellow yogis and yoga teachers, and supportive mentors and colleagues. Find a community with whom you like to work out and I can almost guarantee you’ll stay past Jan. 15.
Speaking of inspiration, support and community — join me for my first-ever online retreat starting Feb. 26! Move in a Different Direction Retreat will help you develop mindfulness practices that can support your intention for change. You’ll also connect to a supportive community that will last well-past our ending date of April 12. See you online!