Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Be Nice to the Newbies

Here comes another confession.  I haven't been to the commercial gym yet this year.  That doesn't mean I've been slacking, far from it actually.  I have my place of employment to use and I've been training at Cressey Performance on Fridays.  But if at all possible, I avoid my local gym like the plague this time of year.

This time of year is super frustrating to us gym-going regulars.  Flocks of new people eagerly commit to health clubs, crowding every square foot of space while looking like deer in headlights.  Put simply, they're annoying as crap. 

Suddenly, you're crammed into your favorite yoga class like a can of sardines.  It's no longer a calming experience when a first-timer is giggling at the funny poses.  You resort to stalking the row of treadmills ready to pounce at the first opening to get some sprints in.  (Newbies love to frequent here first since they can generally master a "Quick Start" button and putting one foot in front of the other.)  An awkward dance emerges to navigate around an amateur staring blankly at the cable column wondering what all the attachments "work" so you can finish your alternating sets of goblet squats and single-arm standing cable rows.

Be nice to the newbies.  They may be on to something.

Yes, it's frustrating because they're impinging on your training session.  But you were a beginner at some point too.  And yes, some of the idiotic things they do make for a good laugh.  But at least they're doing something.

A mediocre plan put into action is better than the most meticulous preparations that never leave the table. 

The newbie looking to lose weight may be spending all their time on the elliptical and ignoring the weights because they don't want to "get too bulky".  They may not yet understand that building lean muscle mass is key to fat loss but at least they're building the habit of regular activity into their lifestyle. 

Gym newbies teach us the concept of failing forward.  Their actions may not always be the most effective method, but at least it's not a step backwards.  Get started if you have 80 percent of the information you need.  Correct the other 20 percent as you go. 

Maybe you want to take your own training to the next level.  Maybe you have a long overdue home improvement project you've been putting off.  Maybe you need to learn a skill to improve your career.  Fail forward and start.  Momentum gradually builds and carries you forward.

Learn a lesson from the newbies.  Be considerate of their learning curve.  Admire their determination.  Smile at them so they stick around into February.  They may get bitten by the bug and have something to teach you some day.

Note:  There is a key difference between failing forward in regards to safety and effectiveness when it comes to exercise.  Ignoring proper form and safety of exercise is a mistake that can result in serious injury.  Always consult a qualified fitness professional for assistance.  A mistake in choosing an ineffective method in relation to your goals just results in a longer path to the end point.

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