Those new year gym bunnies will have hopped off by Easter

New Year, new gym-goers. But will any of them be here come Spring? I'm making it my resolution to help them.


Ah, so another year begins at the gym.

How many times have I forgotten my post-gym underpants? How many times have I tried to peek at the blonde guy with the amazing legs whilst needlessly tying and re-tying my laces? How many times have I fallen off the gym ball trying to do that thing where you balance your feet on the gym ball? How many times have I wondered what the machine with the levers and the weird pads is for? How many times have I wanted to reach inside the speakers and strangle the Heart FM presenters? Many, many times.

But this is January and for the next six to eight weeks, things will be a little different around here. You see, there are new, strange clothes hanging in the changing rooms and there is something large, pink and distressed on the rowing machine. I glance to the far end of the gym there? Yes. A glutinous maximus is straddling the cross trainer.

The cross trainer: every newbie’s favourite toy. Not too strenuous, not too serious, the cross trainer includes a handy shelf upon which the user can perch their bottle of sugary energy drink and poolside book. It is also positioned, not by mistake, in front of the TV screen showing re-runs of Cash in The Attic – subtitled of course. You wouldn't want to drown out your Now 32 album!

On the stretching mat is the obligatory man doing irreparable damage to his spine whilst completing his third set of woodlouse sit ups. Keep your back straight man!  Beside him, a spindly woman is kidding herself that the crab impression she watched some witch in a leotard perform on Youtube is going to make her look like Jessica Ennis. It won’t, it will make her look like Anne Kirkbride.

Enough of this negativity though! I have made a New Year's resolution. For once, it is not to get a six pack. Nor is it to get pecs or to rid myself of the weird bit of fat my body likes to stash beneath my buttocks in case of unexpected famine. No. My resolution this year is to try and encourage one – just one – of these gym newbies to stick it out until June. If they are going to monopolise the free weights section with their absurd cheerleader routine and populate the stretching area like a bunch of barking seals then they can make it all seem worthwhile by actually achieving something in this artificially-lit vanity bunker. I do not hold out much hope.

Last year, in the heady haze of a new and optimistic January, a pudgy gentleman in his mid-forties appeared beside the water-cooler. Here was a man fresh from a rather worrying health MOT who had decided to punch his declining health in the face and steal back some self-control. He had purchased a special pair of yellow running shorts and bright green trainers for the purpose. He looked rather shifty and self-conscious as he climbed onto the running machine.

Well…I was staring at him. I watched as he struggled to make sense of the buttons on the dashboard. The belt began to move and for a second, he forgot to walk, making him look a little like a suitcase on a baggage carousel. But then he began to move his legs and soon the speed was picking up and, though he wasn't running, he was striding at quite a pace. By the time I completed my set of ten lateral raises (keeping my back straight, my head up and my knees soft) he was looking tired and there were thick beads of sweat dripping from his cheeks and forehead. But he walked on, and the next day he was there again. And the next day after that.

He was still visiting the gym a month later and by that point, he had managed to start jogging. I became obsessed. Fellow gym-goers will be aware of the monotony of completing endless sets and reps and anyone who tells you that “You shouldn't worry, no one is looking at you at the gym!” is a total liar. Be under no illusion, we are watching you. This man knew he was being scrutinised but he just kept on coming and he was really doing well! One by one his fellow gym-clots flickered and disappeared from the group. But there he was, three times a week, pounding the treadmill.  I considered having a chat with him and perhaps even congratulating him on his progress but I thought he might find that a little patronising.

And then in May...the man just disappeared. I didn't see him for months until one day I was standing in the queue in Pretentious A Manger and he was buying a Posh Fat and Pickle baguette AND a death-by-flapjack. Was that a hot chocolate? It bloody was! What weight he had lost in the first two months of 2012 had been recouped and bolstered in the subsequent three. He turned from the counter and made his way to the door. As he passed me, our eyes met and I smiled. He looked to the floor and shuffled onto the street. It made me feel terribly sad. No, it really did. I was thinking about it whilst totally fly-weighting the **** out of my pectoralis majors! He had really achieved something against the odds but then he'd just thrown it all away. In a dusty cupboard somewhere lay a crumpled pair of yellow shorts and some faded green trainers. Hidden, but not forgotten. Gathering fluff like his arteries.

Not this year. I am going to do everything I can to keep at least one of this new herd of gym-clots going. I'm gonna cheer them on like Bruno Tagliatelli off of Strictly Dumb Prancing. I want them to know that, even though they're not self-obsessed, strutting, mirror-posers like the rest of us, they are still a highly valued and respected part of the gang. MORE valued. MORE respected. They have finally decided to change, to act, to try. They have confronted their schoolyard demons and are now cross-training, cycling and rowing their way towards a new land of self-confidence and delicious smugness.

So now I'm scanning the gym wondering who, specifically, to back. I shan't bother with the 30-something woman in the Hello Kitty sweatpants and I have no faith at all in the staying power of the skinny lad in the plimsolls. I was him eight years ago and I know he will return in his late twenties when he's ready.

Actually I have to tell you about the guy who just walked in. He’s wearing shoes. No….shoes! In the gym! Shoes and socks! SHOES! He won’t last the week. Okay…I choose…the big man on the rowing machine. He's been going all the time I’m writing this (on my phone). He was going before I got changed. There isn't just sweat in his eyes, there's determination. He's in pain, I can see it, but he's still tugging that handle into his moobs like Russell Grant fighting a dog for the last chew. Decision made.

I will say hello to this man. I will tell him he's doing a great thing. I will look the other way during my minute's rest between sets and I will encourage him to try weighted squats and lunges (to stress his thigh muscles and gluts, thus improving stamina, boosting metabolism and burning crucial calories). He might not like it. In fact, he'll hate it, but he's going to stick with his gym membership if it kills him. His New Year's Resolution is my New Year's Resolution. That guy has just made himself the gym buddy from hell. I'm going to keep his chin and his pecker up so high he'll look like a cactus in a neck brace.

I bet you 20 quid he's gone by February.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Y1 Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Y1 Teacher required for a So...

Senior Financial Services Associate - City

Highly Competitive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - FINANCIAL SERVICES - Senior...

Residential Property

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Residential Conveyancer - Wiltshire We have a...

Y5 Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Long term position for a KS2...

Day In a Page

Read Next
An independent Scotland might find itself unable to guarantee the deposits of savers in the event of another financial crisis, the Treasury has warned  

Scottish referendum: this will give Scotland’s economy an immediate bounce

Hamish McRae

Scottish referendum results: A change is gonna come – it’s GOT to come

James Bloodworth
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week