Every January brings a new crop of workout enthusiasts to Dallas-area gyms. Fueled by New Year's resolutions and post holiday excess, they storm the treadmills and ellipticals like starstruck fans at an Oprah wellness camp.
In good news for workout veterans, the "get in shape" zeal fades fairly quickly. Resolutions get fuzzy, there are happy hours to attend, and by the end of January, the gym is back to normal.
But the year 2020 has seen the newbies display dedication beyond the norm, sticking it out a month — even two.
If you're a regular who knows the beneficial effects of working out, you have no choice but to give them a pumped-up high-5 for initiating their self improvement efforts and sticking to it. You must welcome them to the tribe. You must "woot" their perseverance.
You must even bow to the cardio neophyte who arrives 10 minutes early and commandeers your favorite exercise bike. I mean, you don't own it.
All of this said, there are times when the rookies seem clueless to the accepted decorum at any exercise facility. We're talking about the timeless rules that have been in place since Roman baths were invented in 200 BC.
Rules like, Put your weights back when you're done, wipe your sweat off the Nautilus seat, and the floor mats are for sit-ups and push-ups only. Repeat: The floor mats are for sit-ups and push-ups only.
If you judge by my neighborhood L.A. Fitness, the 2020 newbies seem to be showing deeper signs of oblivion that surpass prior years. Here are some notes on the latest crop of newbies:
Singing on the Gauntlet
The Gauntlet is the big enchilada of stair devices, not for the meek. You get a great sweat going, and since it's a hulking 8-foot-tall machine, it puts you higher than everyone else at the gym, allowing you to look down upon the rest from your elevated perch.
That should be enough, right? Not for the passive aggressive guy in the tank top. He is not merely rocking to his headphone, he's singing at the top of his lungs. He is really feeling that Anthony Ramos pop tune. Try to shush him and it's: "If you don't like it, get your own headphones."
On the plus side, maybe he'll learn to really sing and become a big star and actually get his own private gym.
The internet tells us that a sauna session can relax the muscles, revitalize the skin, improve blood circulation, and ease mental stress. The internet also says that the proper way to use a sauna is in your "birthday suit." A towel, if you're modest.
So what's the deal with the 15 teenage girls jammed into the sauna, all at once, all fully dressed? Is this a thing? It's definitely a thing at the Garland L.A. Fitness. Any time of the year, open the sauna door and it's a party, everyone is fully dressed, and all are a-chatter. All that's missing is a disco ball.
The locker room selfie
You've been working out for a month. You can already see a difference. You've seen the people on YouTube who track their changes via photos and videos. It has been said that this kind of activity can help stoke your commitment.
Question: Is the locker room mirror really the best place to document your journey?
More specific question: Is the locker room mirror really the place to document your journey in that kind of no-holds-barred no-clothes-on manner? Yes, the lighting is fantastic. Yes there are mirrors for miles. But how many Mr. Atlas bicep flexes ... how many attempts to do a Kim Kardashian ass does a person need?
But this rant is futile. There's even a #lockerroomselfie on Instagram.
The nonfitness buffs
Working out at a gym is intrinsically a social experience. To a certain extent, you're working out so that someone might find you attractive.
But one tiny request: Please do not dawdle with your pal at the shoulder pulley. If you do not intend to do the shoulder pulley within the next 15 minutes, please step away from the shoulder pulley entirely. Look — there are tables over by the smoothie counter where you can chat to your heart's content. Except that's not the point, because you want to look like you're working out.
Don't say you're "between reps," because I've been watching for the past 15 minutes and no reps were executed during that time. Yes, I could have gone and done another machine, but that's beside the point. I'm asking again, nicely, step away from the shoulder pulley right now.
Facetiming your beloved
You're going to be home in 15 minutes. You're already dressed. But you gotta check in with your honey. Totally get that. There are decisions to make. Who's gonna pick up dinner and who's gonna walk the dog?
Totally don't get propping your cell on the sink and doing a Facetime. Hello, there are people behind you not dressed. We can see the background of your honey's office, so she can definitely see us behind you in the locker room.
Some situations call for a text. This is one such situation.