Overnight, our gym is mobbed and bulging. That’s because the January people are here.
They are bright-eyed, eager and determined. This year — 2012! — they are going to change. They will lose weight, gain muscle, increase lung capacity. They will pound the treadmills, raise the weights, fling themselves into warrior two position.
Here and there, among the teeming crowd of January enthusiasts, you will see the rest of us. We were here in December and we’ll be here in February — assuming the January people don’t drive us nuts.
We’re not as enthusiastic as the January people. We’re really kind of, well, resigned. We know our body-mass index is as good as it’s ever going to be (which isn’t that great, frankly.)
We don’t get high from exercise. We just know that if we keep showing up, we’ll slow the deterioration a little.
But don’t tell that to the January people. They look exalted under their sheen of sweat. Their ears are iPodded and their clothes are colorful and coordinated. They are excited because 2012 is their year, which is why they have prepaid a deluxe year-long membership at the gym.
All their zest and determination will last, well, a couple of weeks. Then, gradually, you’ll begin to see the changes. The exuberant light in their eyes will die slowly — or suddenly. The pounds will cling stubbornly in all the wrong places.
In the cold winter light, they will see the gym for what it really is: a place of sweat and drudgery that smells kind of funky.
By late February, the January people will have thinned out. The rest of us will go back to normal, pleased to have more room, relieved not to be swamped by such rampant, ultimately tragic enthusiasm.
Only a few January people will last into the summer. By then, they will have exchange their fervent passion for grim determination. Their workout clothes will be wrinkled and sweat-stained.
In December of 2012, you will find yourself chatting with somebody at the gym who rolls her eyes and says she’s heard horror stories about the hordes of January people. As you agree, you look at her more closely. You realize she’s one of the few January ’12 people who persisted. But how did she get this cynical, this beaten, this badly dressed so quickly?
“Don’t worry,” you tell her. “They’re almost always gone by February.”
(Copyright 2012 by Ruth Pennebaker)
Read one of my favorite posts about communication skills of the long-married