Are you a New Year’s Resolution gym goer? Do you fizzle out after a few weeks of training?Are you afraid of working out? Are you intimidated to walk into that big bad gym all by yourself? Are you not seeing any progress from your time in the gym?
I will readily admit my experience and knowledge is not exhaustive. I haven’t spent my whole life in a gym and most certainly have not conducted any fancy studies on this matter. But, from what I can tell, there are typically four types of groups that people fall into when it comes to fitness and the gym. Identifying the most common fitness groups, and which one you might be in, could possibly motivate you to move toward the results you truly desire.
Now, I realize not everyone has the ability or desire to work out in an actual gym. Although my generalizations are about gym folks, these mindsets can be just as applicable for “home worker-outters” as well! (I think I just made that phrase up!)
I’ve given them names and my own personal descriptions and my hope is that you chuckle at least once while reading this! 🙂
- “The Firecrackers” – The first group represents those that typically come out of hiding around the New Year. Fresh off of the holiday feasts, they make new resolutions and commit themselves all over again for a brand new season of healthy eating and gym workouts. They are quick to buy a gym membership, new running shoes, leggings, tops, sports bras, socks, phone holders, ear phones, water bottles, gym bags…and the list goes on and on and on and on. They are all over Pinterest getting new fitness plans, fitness quotes, fitness advice, and fitness fashion ideas. They are typically overly excited and talk up quite a game as they list off their lofty goals and intended progress on every social media venue possible. Come January the otherwise normally free flowing weight floor is jam packed with squeaky new-shoed, doe-eyed, soon-to-fizzle people we’ve never seen there before, who don’t understand the unwritten “code” of gym conduct, which is simply to spend more time lifting weight than taking pictures. These people sit looking at their phones for inordinate amounts of time on all of the machines, will hog all of the cardio equipment, and think that it’s okay to grab some weights and sit on the floor with them by their side while using their phone to catch up on the latest Hollywood trends and social gossip. They Facebook and Instagram their daily (yes, daily) progress because they think that because they ate a few salads, put some kale into one of their smoothies, and went running for 20 minutes on the treadmill it is sufficient to have made photo worthy changes to brag about.
But these people don’t last long. This group will fade out faster than a low end spray tan. They see fitness as a quick fix and the minute their schedules get busy or there’s a few days they miss they don’t come back. It is sometime around August or September they realize they’ve been paying for a gym membership they haven’t used since the first week of February, so they cancel it and wait until the following January until it’s time to recommit and clog up the gym floors again.
- “The Cats” – The next group of people are the ones who have mentioned month after month or year after year about wanting to get fit and healthy, yet are either too scared or too lazy and have done absolutely nothing about it yet. They watch others from the sidelines, try to listen in on fitness conversations, and try to learn more in their spare time but haven’t made any legitimate moves toward doing it themselves. There is a genuine interest for a lifestyle change, but they don’t want to attempt to commit because they think they will fail before they even begin. They fear they just don’t know enough and might be found out. They “curl up” to the idea that maybe, just maybe, one day they could start a plan but the mere thought of walking into a gym all by themselves brings on a nervous breakdown. “What would I do once I got there?” they wonder.
These people are afraid of being obvious, like the Firecrackers are, and wish they could just be little invisible flies on the wall to observe everything inside the gym before actually having to be seen there alone and clueless about what to do. These people don’t know where to get started so they tip toe around this unobtainable dream and inwardly get frustrated knowing they need to start somewhere, but don’t know the first step. These people are looking for someone to hold their hand and literally drive them to the gym and be their lifetime gym buddy because they honestly have trouble envisioning ever doing it alone.
- “The Scuttlebutters” (fun name right?! seriously, look it up!) – These people are the ones that have the gym membership, and even use it year round, but have not seen changes in their bodies in Lord only knows how long. These people are the ones that use gym time as a social hour and chit chat the entire time. Although not a single drop of sweat was released, they call it a “good workout” because they stayed in the building for over an hour. These are the women (or men!) that personally know every one of the employees, can list off by name the majority of the other members and love, love, love catching up on everyone else’s business…but then they sarcastically wonder why nothing is happening with their body.
These people are not at all afraid of being seen at the gym, in fact, it is the opposite. Being seen at the gym somehow equates to working out at the gym. Being able to publicly “check in” gives off the impression that they know what they are doing and are healthy and fit. Yet these people are usually the farthest thing from it. They haphazardly move the weights around pretending as if it’s challenging, so that they can appear as if they are working hard, all the while saying they don’t want to lift too much because they fear they might bulk up. They linger on their favorite machines or come up with thousands of stretches to do on the cool down mats to fill in the remainder of the time they think deserves “good workout status” spent at the gym. They’ll set the treadmill at an incredibly slow pace, so they are able to simultaneously walk and talk, to make certain the movement with their feet won’t interfere too much with the movement of their mouths.
- And lastly there’s “The Lifers” – These are the people who understand that fitness and health is a lifestyle that doesn’t work like a quick fix ATM. These people understand that a great body, increased energy, increased muscle growth, and increased strength comes not with fancy motivational Instagram quotes, not with some “magical” pixie dust, but with hard work, dedication, a serious plan, and a whole lotta effort. These people wear out their key-ring-gym-tags, as well as their running shoes from consistent usage day after day, month after month, and year after year.
But, I’m going to let you in on a little secret…here’s something you may not know…the majority of the people that are now called “Lifers” USED to be Firecrackers and can relate to those feelings of being overly hyped up and have fizzled out a time or two…or twelve…in their lifetime. Yet, they now understand the soberness of what is required to remain wholehearted for the long haul, rather than a mere 5 weeks. “Lifers” USED to be Cats and can remember what it was like to have been afraid and not know where to begin and have at one point or another felt clueless and childish. Yet, they’ve put in the effort to grow in knowledge and humbled themselves to ask for help. Now they feel a lightheartedness and inner confidence as they can walk up to any machine in ANY part of the gym and know exactly how to use it. “Lifer’s” USED to be Scuttlebutters and can remember all too well what it was like to not take fitness seriously and look at gym time as social hour. And although they still love to know everyone’s name and everyone’s business, they now choose to see the gym as the place to truly work hard to put the effort forth to get those long awaited results.
Personally, I feel quite skilled at being able to write about each of these groups for it’s me that I’m actually writing about. And if I’m even more honest, I bounce in and out of these various groups often! Sometimes depending on the day…or even the hour!
Sure, there may be others out there who can relate to the stereotypes, but I wasn’t writing about anyone else…not at all. I was writing about me. Stereotypes like these are often times what I feel others are thinking of me and are not only far from reality, but are a total distraction.
I am that girl who is every one of those categories. I am the girl that was scared to death to ask questions. I am the girl that thought if my shoes weren’t dirty enough I would be “found out.” I am the girl that bought all of the new things thinking it would change my health. I am the girl that only went for a few weeks and the fizzled out, not just once but probably a thousand times. I am the girl who literally wants someone to hold my hand and take me there every single day. I am the girl that questions whether or not I belong there and wonders if I am using each machine correctly. I am the one who catches myself spending more time on my phone than I do working out. I am the one who lingers on the stretch mats and check out other girls’ fantastic bodies and wonder what they have that I don’t. I am the one who desperately desires to have someone just tell me what to do and how to do it and when to do it.
And the journey isn’t over. The struggles are real for me every single day. So often I find my mind wandering as I compare myself to those other women. At the gym in particular, I catch myself gazing at those who I feel look like they might have been born there. I’ll watch what they do and how they do it and I think in my mind, “what’s their secret?” When I allow my mind to wander, when I allow my thoughts to become filled with self-doubt I quickly move to despair. It is at that point that I want to give up. It is at that point I think “why bother.” It is at that point that I think there’s just no reason to keep trying because I’ll never ever “get there.”
But where is “there” anyway???
If I allow my mind to become distracted with fear or with what I feel others might be thinking of me the discouragement that follows is paralyzing.
But the truth is I do need to stop. I do need to quit. I do need to give up…
on comparing myself to others.
My job as a mom, as a wife and a woman is to take care of what I’ve been given. My past fitness posts have beat this same drum again and again, but I’ll continue to say it in as many ways as I possibly can. Fitness is a matter of stewardship. It is about taking care of what I’ve been given. It is not about what someone else says I am, or what someone else says that I am not. It is not about what I look like, it is not about what that other girl over there looks like. It’s not about some standard that’s “out there” that I need to measure up to. And there certainly isn’t anything “magical” that those other girls have that the rest of us don’t.
Keep pushing sweet friends. But please, oh please, don’t waste your time comparing.
So, which gym type are you? Do you feel like you’re in one of those categories more often than another? Or do you flip flop in and out of them all like I do? Which group do you relate to the most? Do you catch yourself comparing? What fears do you have about being a woman and being at the gym?
SO encouraging to hear from you about being in each category and cycling through the categories and sticking with it despite feeling the pressures of comparison. THANK YOU 🙂
Thank you, Eryn, for the encouragement. 🙂
Thanks so much for sharing, Meg! This post really struck a chord with me. So many of the things you listed are exactly what I often times fear people are thinking of me – “What is she doing here with those new tennis shoes? She obviously has no idea what she’s doing. She’s not fooling anyone.” – and even more often, they’re the things I truly AM doing – curling up to the idea that maybe one day I’ll start a program and make a change or spending more time stretching on the mats than actually breaking a sweat. It stings to read some of those descriptions and recognize myself in them. But on the heels of that, there is overwhelming comfort in being reminded that I am not defined by it, not doomed by it, and not ALONE in it! So much better than burying my head in the sand. Thank you for writing this and letting me in on the secret that even gals who I think have this whole fitness thing down can still wrestle with it like I do and fall into the same patterns I fall into. I love the paradigm shift of fitness as stewardship, rather than identity. When I see it that way, I can fall down, dust myself off, and get back at it because there is grace every new day. Blessed by you sharing your wisdom! Keep it coming, sister!
Becky, you are a delight. I felt the need to respond publicly as I did privately that your encouragement was timely and so needed. I thank you for reaching out and not assuming that I would just “know” it had meant something to you. This is risky business putting some of these things “out there” and although I love it, there’s still some fear in it. Thank you for sharing what these words have meant to you. You are most definitely not alone in the struggles. Fitness is not a mystery, it’s not unobtainable, it’s not something that some just “get” and others don’t. But in the pursuit of whatever goals we may have it is our heart that matters far more. Let me know if I can help in any way for the practical side of fitness things. I’ll gladly share what little I DO know! And thank you again. You’re awesome.
I decided to check out your blog hoping to be encouraged and inspired but quite honestly was very disappointed. Your article is highly judgmental, mocking, and self righteous. I couldn’t even get all the way through it. Yes those people probably do exist at the gym, I am probably one of those people. You don’t know the reasons why people fall into these categories. It would be nice to have a blog that would encourage each one of these groups to see it differently instead of ridicule and mock them. My hesitation for even coming out to your blog in the first place was it seems more of a vanity blog, a way to promote your beauty and what a great mom and how awesomely fit you are. After reading this blog I am convinced I was right but sadly I am disappointed I really wanted more from you. You are the person that I see at the gym, the one who intimidates me, the one who makes me feel like I don’t belong. You are the one who judges me and you may never say it to me personally but I feel it when I walk into the gym.
Dear Mystery, thank you very much for your feedback. I am so very saddened for your words. It stings, but probably not for the reasons you had intended to write the response. I honestly feel that had you read the ending of the post you would have seen that it was ME that I was writing about the whole time. Sure, there may be others out there who can relate to the stereotypes, but I wasn’t writing about them…not at all. I was writing about ME!!! The exact reasons that you wrote about it are exactly what I was I was trying to move people away from! Those stereotypes are often times what we feel others are thinking of us, not what people actually ARE thinking of us. I am that girl who is every one of those categories! I am the girl that was scared to death to ask questions. I am the girl that thought if my shoes weren’t dirty enough I would be “found out.” I am the girl that bought all of the new things thinking it would change my health. I am the girl that only went for a few weeks and the fizzled out, not just once but probably a thousand times. I am the girl who literally wants someone to hold my hand and take me there every day. I am the girl that questions whether or not I belong there and wonders if how I am using each machine correctly. I am the one who catches myself spending more time on my phone than I do working out. I am the one who desperately desires to have someone just tell me what to do and how to do it and when to do it. It’s me, sweet friend. It’s me. The same goes for motherhood, and fashion and beauty, and life…I wish you would have read more of the backstory of how this blog was started. It has come from brokenness and pain, from NOT having life figured out, yet hoping to share what little I have learned with others. And it’s about finding joy through things that don’t make sense or when you feel lost or when you want to quit….the dress, the hair, the photos…all of it to show that no, life is FAR from perfect and pictures are VERY deceiving…yet we see images or we are only exposed to one tiny piece of something and we make a judgement, either about others or ourselves, and we don’t have the full story. Dear Mystery, please read the remainder of the post.