It’s that time of year again.
New Year’s Eve. That means January 1st is tomorrow. Those of us in the fitness world know all too well what’s about to happen…

The gym is about to get crushed.

Yes, the annual Gympocalypse is upon us once more. “They” are coming. “They” – those who claim “Yes, THIS will be my year! This time, this time by golly I’ll actually do it!”.

I can hear my fellow gym-goers already.

“Ah shit…” – “Don’t worry, they’ll be gone in a few weeks.” – etc. Gym rats the world over already hate these people about to invade their holy spaces, and they’re not shy about sending the message of “you’re not welcome. Be Gone, you of weak mind and body.”

I know these “resolutioners” all too well.

Yes, I know your type. I’ve got your number. I know what you’re all about, how you tick, and what, exactly, the formula here is. I know how this is going to go…so…

I have my own message for you…

You’d better dig in.
Yeah, I DO know your type. It’s one of a few:

Maybe you’ve tried and failed before, lost hope temporarily but still aren’t willing to give up the dream of finally being happy with your body.

Maybe you used to be Mr./Ms. Athletic…and thanks to “life” you fell out of it. Now you’ve finally mustered up the courage to find your way back to the promised land, but it’ll be harder now.
Maybe you’ve never been the athletic or “fit” type…but hey, why not me? And y’know what, now seems like a great time. There’s New Year’s specials!

Am I close? Probably.
So I’ll say it again: You’d better dig in. Why?

This is going to take time and effort.

Yes, your body will change. However, nobody said it was an easy task…and it will not happen overnight. It might take anywhere from 1 – 3 months to start seeing visible change. And that’s if you work out enough. It’s generally accepted that you need to work out (i.e. a structured workout routine) consistently at least 3 days a week (Says who? Here, here, and here are examples).

Please don’t get discouraged when things don’t go your way. Keep at it. If you’re not getting anywhere…

Ask for help.

Nobody at the gym expects you to be a pro…but they DO expect you not to act like an idiot. You should know “gym etiquette”, you should have a plan, and you should refrain from being a jerk.

“Being a jerk”? Not putting away your weights/equipment. Aimlessly occupying space. Sitting on a piece of equipment reading a book. Talking/texting/selfie-ing in the gym. Making excessive grunting/groaning/noises in an attempt to look impressive. All of these, and just generally being obnoxious, are great ways to make more tenured gym members (and even your fellow resolutioners) absolutely hate you. So don’t do it.

Don’t have a plan/program/routine? Get one. Your best bet is an actual, legitimate personal trainer. They are educated, certified, and know what they’re talking about. They understand how to build a plan specific to YOU that will get you the results you want. They will push you past your perceived limits. They will motivate and encourage you. I recommend it.

Not willing to pay for a trainer? You’re gonna have to learn it the hard way. Make sure you’ve got both cardio AND strength in your plan. You’re going to have to do lots of research, and lots of trial-and-error. And that’s fine. It’s what I did, and I turned out just fine. Would’ve been easier with a trainer, though.

You’re either paying in cash money or your time and effort…you choose. Either way, you get what you pay for.

Got some general questions? Need a little motivation or encouragement? If you look like you’re genuinely making an effort, many of the more tenured and experienced gym members might be willing to help rather than make you feel unwelcome. The staff at your gym (not necessarily a personal trainer) should be able to help out, too.

It’s tough to get help, though, if the staff doesn’t care…so…

Choose wisely.

The right gym/health club can make a huge difference. Unfortunately, there are many gyms out there that know how likely you are to fail. And that’s fine by them. They are more than happy to sign you up, take your money, and never talk to you again (unless you have a billing problem). I work in a gym…and I hate those clubs. They make us all look bad. I could go on for days (seriously…you mention Planet Fitness and I see red)…

Again, as a general rule, you get what you pay for. If a gym is touting only their low low price, how many “free” things they’re throwing at you, and “no commitment!”walk away. Trust me. On the flip side…unless there’s a pool, steam/sauna, tennis/racquetball, and I get a personal trainer at least weekly… I see no need for a gym membership to cost much more than $60/month (with commitment). On that note…


There is NOTHING wrong with signing a commitment term at a gym. We’ve established that this is going to take a while, right? So why do you have a problem committing to that period of time? If a gym lets you sign up without a commitment they are inviting you to give up and fail. Some days you are NOT going to want to get out of bed. You might falter, miss a month (or two…or five…), and want to quit because “you’re throwing money out the window”. When you’re hanging by a thread and you’re ready to throw in the towel…that commitment might be what gets you back on track. So quit whining, quit making excuses, and sign up, already. 

That said…making the right choice of gym isn’t the last piece of the puzzle.

This is bigger than just “going to the gym”

Yes, unfortunately, the “new you” doesn’t just happen by arriving at the gym 3x/week. You can work out 3 hours a day 8 days a week and crush it…but it doesn’t matter if you don’t eat right.

Nutrition is a critically important part of your new fitness journey. Get rid of the garbage, get more of the good stuff, and develop good habits of how and when to fuel yourself with that good stuff.

What’s “garbage”? Some is obvious, some is not. If it gets to you in a paper bag through your car window…it’s probably garbage. Use your noggin – you know if you shouldn’t be eating it.

What’s good? Veggies, lean meats, chicken, fish, whole grains, fruits (in moderation), etc. The less “processed” it is, the better. The shorter the ingredients list and the more of it you can pronounce/understand, the better. You do not have to remove an entire category (like fat, or carbs) from your diet.

How/when do I eat? Think of food as fuel. The more of your day you have left, the more fuel you need to get through it. “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a peasant, dinner like a pauper.” Better yet, take it to the next level by learning to eat small meals (200 – 400 calories depending on your needs) every 2 to 3 hours. That method will keep your metabolism fired up, give you more energy, and you won’t binge because you’re over-hungry.

“Diets do not work long-term”. Focus on making choices and behavior modifications that you can stick with. This is a lifestyle change, not a temporary diet.

Remember why you’re doing this.

This is a lot of work. If you lose sight of why you’re doing it in the first place…it’s not going to seem worth it to you, and you will fail. Make sure you’ve got a concrete, attainable goal. Something measurable. Maybe it’s a size of clothing to fit into. Maybe it’s finishing a 5K/10K/Marathon. Maybe it’s being able to do 5 pull-ups. I recommend NOT making it a weight goal…and here’s why.

Yes, it’s a lot of work…but you CAN do it. It’s worth it.

You are not alone.

I know you because I used to be one of you. August 2012 I was about 305. Today I’m running marathons to train for ultramarathons. You don’t necessarily have to run marathons…the point is…if I can do it, so can you. I may not have joined the gym in January…but so what? Joining in January doesn’t make you any less a member or any less able to do it than someone who started in August or May.

Don’t quit, believe in your ability to do it, and stick with it. Unless you’re injured or sick from the neck down…drag yourself out of bed and make your workout happen at all costs.

This can happen. It is a lot of work. So you’d better dig in, believe, commit, and make it happen. This CAN be your year…so let’s do this.