Monday, January 10, 2011

New Year Gym

I never make New Year resolutions. I'm a big believer in fixing a problem as soon as I notice it exists rather than waiting for January; and am generally suspicious of set dates for anything. (Like NaNoWriMo – for me, it makes sense to write when I have a desire to write a novel and not write when I don't.)

I also know that other people aren't me and many DO like set dates – and hey, whatever works; but I can't help but to get all judgey when your New Year resolutions affect my gym time. Like, right now. As every gym rat will be happy to tell you, January is the worst. You have to find new times to work out because there's a gazillion people waiting for an elliptical. Lifting becomes an annoyance since neophytes can't be bothered to read the signs asking everyone to put back the weights and wipe the machines after use, and don't know any better than to sit on a leg extension machine for good half an hour, texting or just spacing out. And all of this would be a lot less annoying if these people were there to stay and gradually learned the etiquette – but they don't. 90% will disappear within 2 weeks, while another 5% will eke it out til Valentine's Day and then disappear too. They will come back next year though, just as clueless.

An additional perk is getting to listen to conversations of those resolutioners. It is shocking to me how many are there to lose weight they gained during the Holidays. How many view physical exercise as a temporary thing, a quick solution to a problem – to exercise 2 weeks and then not do it again until next year. And I am terrified at how the notion of exercise became tied into the whole weight loss industry: instead of exercising consistently because it's the sort of thing that's good for you, REGARDLESS of weight loss, it becomes the means, while the weight loss itself became a signifier of health. That's so backwards it makes my eyes cross.

And this is not just people at the gym, you know: perfectly respectable personal trainers to the stars and Victoria's Secret models advocate only working out with small weights and avoiding resistance on the elliptical because it will make your muscles bigger. But hey, it's all about health! Physical fitness experts sell cleanses which make you lose weight fast (and we all know that starvation diets permanently lower your metabolic rate, but hey, that's an acceptable price for thinness! We mean health.) Jillian Michaels, the terrifying trainer of the Biggest Loser, advocates dehydration and starvation diet as means of quick weight loss for an important event. But hey, she just wants fatties to be healthy. Even on supposedly pro-women internet forums, questions about exercise quickly devolve into weight loss tips. (I especially love the advocates of circuit training – which is awesome, don't get me wrong – making fun of those of us who spend an hour on the elliptical. “It's not necessary,” they say, “circuit training makes you lose weight faster.” Sure, and aerobic training builds endurance and has tons of other health benefits. But silly me, I thought we were talking about health.)

And you know, I understand why people might choose not to exercise. I understand that being healthy might not be a priority, or the opportunities might be lacking, or whatever. But if health is a priority, I'd say ditch the resolutions and a New Year, and start an exercise program when it suits you, with long-term goals in mind rather than viewing it as a quick fix for a month of overeating. After all, health at every size (HAES) means that your weight is not the main factor in your health – thin people need good diet and exercise too. And if you're a regular, I won't give you a stink-eye for hogging the elliptical.

2 comments:

Rhea Harris said...

I completely get the new year gym thing im holding a lot of xmas weight but i hate working out

i really love this blog

im following now i would love for u 2 follow me
http://styledefinedlondon.blogspot.com/

Rhea Harris said...

I completely get the new year gym thing im holding a lot of xmas weight but i hate working out

i really love this blog

im following now i would love for u 2 follow me
http://styledefinedlondon.blogspot.com/