I woke up hoping to see a snowy yard, but alas – it was just frost and dead leaves.  At least I can still go running!


A snowy breakfast bowl:



In the mix:


  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 banana
  • Ground flax
  • Toppings:  White chocolate chips


Support for the January Joiners!


Since New Year’s Resolutions (NYR) have been a popular topic on my blog later (how to set [and actually achieve] NYR), I thought I’d discuss one more aspect of NYR:  January Joiners.


What’s a January Joiner?  A JJ is someone who signs up for a gym membership after setting a NYR to finally get in shape.  They flood the gym in masse from January to (usually) February, making it difficult to regular gym goers to get access to machines as easily they normally can in March or so.  As a former gym rat, I know that the JJ sweep can be annoying.


But here’s the thing:  Some January Joiners will actually stick around and change their lives for the healthier, and YOU can help.  Instead of being negative towards JJ, let’s be extra positive for them.  Hey, it’s a great way to pick up new friends at the gym.


To support my call for friendliness, here are four stories of people who joined the gym in January.  We’ve got some success stories and some newbies, but each has a special reason for being there in January.   


Beck said: “I began my "healthy living" journey in January 2009.  I was ready and the gym embraced me from the moment I walked in the door.  The gym is a busy pace in January and that kept me going back.  Each day I talked to the people at the gym, which gave me a sense of belonging, a connection, and the motivation to return.  Now, I am the "regular" at the gym.  I want everyone that walks in the door to know that they are not destined for failure.  They do not have to quit, even though so many people say they will.  They can do what they want, what’s best for them, and they have support.  The gym, studio, running club, or any other organization really should be a supportive environment rather than a stark, generic place to sweat.  When people know that others are looking forward to seeing them there, I really believe that it encourages them to continue in a positive way.  I am very grateful for the people who listened to my goals and supported them that January.  Those people gave me the strength to believe in myself.  Maybe cheesy, but it’s true!”  You can read her success story here.


Elizabeth said: I am proud to be a January Gym Joiner! I joined my local Golds Gym on January 3rd 2011. I do not have a New Years Resolution related to the gym or even for fitness. The main reason I am resolutionless in this aspect is because it’s not an option. I have 100 lbs to lose and I need to do it. I do not have a strict time line for myself, I just need to get working on it and need to do it in a safe, healthy and sustaining way. Why did I wait until the New Year to start? A lot of stars fell into alignment for me, making the time right and I knew that there would be New Years incentives ($) to join. Not to mention that this is my last year of my 20’s, with my 29th birthday looming around this month. I will not take this weight with me into my 30’s. I hope people try to engage the new faces around the gym in conversation or with a simple smile. Feeling welcomed by regular’s of the gym, may give those people (like myself) who are taking the healthy first steps into the New Year the encouragement they need to keep coming to the gym and become a healthier person.

January  Joiner Picture

Jess said: I’m a January Joiner! I’d never even heard that term before this last week (thank you, Twitter!) but am rolling with it. My reasons for joining a gym in general are pretty simple: I miss running. I have never felt as good, either mentally or physically, as I did when I was running and exercising regularly. Somehow, thanks to a combination of job/life stress and an unfortunate default to laziness, I have gotten out of the exercise habit over the last couple of years. I’m turning 30 this year and it seems like a good milestone to tie to getting back in shape again. Since I live in NYC and am a complete chicken about running in really cold weather, I am heading indoors and hitting the treadmill for the C25K to start myself off. My goals for this year include running a 5k and a 10k race, and if I can drop a few of the extra pounds that the no-exercise years have left glued to my butt, even better. In additions to the dreaded treadmill, I am determined to master the elliptical (I am secretly convinced I will fall off) and am loving the yoga and zumba classes and hope they will keep me from getting bored. Apart from anything else, I am now pretty determined to prove to myself that sometimes even January joiners can stick it out at the gym past February!


Jim said, “I’m a 32 year old, young professional, who loves sports, social media, and all things animals!  I ballooned up to 306 pounds; I’m 6’4" so I kind of wear the 300 pounds well. My fiancée started to cheat on me, and I found out and called off the wedding.  It was time to get back to being me, and so I did. In 2007, I actually lost 58 pounds and started putting on more muscle and plateaued at about 247 pounds.  Of course I began to date again, and was back to being the guy I wanted to be health-wise and in life… Then late in 2008, I accepted a new job, which was purely a desk job, and slowly but surely started putting the weight back on and stopped working out.  What finally got me to snap out of it? When my mom called me fat and she had to return all the clothes she got me for Christmas 2010 because none of them fit!!!  Blahhh.  As of right now, I’m back under 300 pounds, sitting at 296.   This time around I’m staying motivated, even volunteering to coach kids basketball on the weekends to make sure I have a commitment!  This resolution is more about a true lifestyle change for the rest of my life. I don’t think other gym goers have to treat JJ with respect until I earn that respect. Once the regulars, at this new gym i joined, see me there working hard and gutting it out come this December 2011, then they will respect me. I will be in the "club" and then come January 2012, I can be the guy looking for someone to earn my respect by December 2012… Everyone starts somewhere, but its all about how you come through.”

 n561445498_283038_7105[1] n1102922001_30395012_6857821

Sarah wrote, “Let’s just say I’ve had about a 2 month split from any workout at all, and it was TIME to get back in the gym. Yesterday, Bradley and I joined at a nearby gym and I was so anxious and ready to get back into the swing of routine.  Here’s a thought: Body pump is not a beginner class 🙂 I can already feel that I’m going to be sore tomorrow – good? Yes!  While it can be hard to get back into the routine of working out, I think you all can agree that once you do it, you don’t regret it.  Joining a gym in January has its pros and cons. Joining a gym that you’re going to alone can also be kind of scary – tons of cardio machines, weight machines you may not know how to use, people come in and people leave, you may not know anyone.  The one benefit to being a JJ? Everyone is in the gym working on their fitness and NYR, it’s easier to make new gym friends when there are more people like you!”

Sarah Jane

Are you or were you a January Joiner?  What’s the pro’s and con’s to the gym in January?  What should JJ’s really know about the gym?  Have you made any friends at the gym?



  • Natalia@TheHealthScript January 7, 2011, 9:31 am

    My passion for running started from a New Year’s Resolution 2 years ago. I told myself I would run twice a week for the whole year and for the first few months I HATED IT! But now I am about to start training for a half marathon! 🙂

  • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday January 7, 2011, 9:33 am

    I find a lot of the JJs just hit the cardio machines or the group fitness classes. Since I spend most of my time doing weights, these people hardly get in my way.

    My only peeve is that the parking lot is extra full.

  • Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin January 7, 2011, 9:36 am

    I actually did set my resolution to “Get Healthy” in 2009 – since then I have lost over 50 pounds and have run in 9 races! The gym does get SO crowded in January but I have to remind myself that I was there once too! And you know, I have NEVER made a friend at the gym. Weird.

  • Ali @ Food, Fitness, Fashion January 7, 2011, 9:36 am

    I too was a January joiner in Jan of 2009 and I stuck with it. I am actually writing a piece for an online newspaper about it next week! I have to admit though, ever as a former JJ I still get annoyed with JJ’s, but I am working on it!

  • Kelly January 7, 2011, 9:37 am

    My husband is a fitness trainer and I am a nutritionist so as annoying as them gym is right now my husband and I both broth gross our highest income months January through April. So I try not to let it bug me knowing that it we make money. But I will tell you from 5 years of experience (10 years experience for my husband) that only about 5-10% of the clients we get in January stay past April. But you’re right…there are some.

    • Jill E. January 7, 2011, 12:35 pm

      wow that is beyond sad of a percentage. i mean way to go for that 5-10% but its amazing that the majority dont stick with it. i wonder how many of those are repeat offenders.

      • Kelly January 7, 2011, 2:02 pm

        It is a quite low percentage, unfortunately. As for repeat offenders there are some but so many times I notice that people try and then once they quit they use at as the exuse…”I tried that and it didn’t work for me so there is no need to try again…” Sad.

  • Kristina @ spabettie January 7, 2011, 9:37 am

    this is great, Caitlin, thanks!! I am actually waiting for my gym to open (we joined a brand new one that opens in Feb!!)

    but I am always frustrated when I hear people complaining about things like WALKERS on treadmills. In my knee surgery and recovery, I HAD to walk. I was extremely fit (runner, ski team, tennis instructor) but people just thought I was “wasting their time”. It was mean.

  • Stacy @ Every Little Thing January 7, 2011, 9:38 am

    I always always hate when people say negative things about ANY attempt at a healthier lifestyle. We should be celebrating that people are at the gym at ALL! I get the annoyance and less open machines and parking, sure, but let’s not take it out on the people themselves 🙂

  • Kristy @ Kristyruns.com January 7, 2011, 9:39 am

    White chocolate chips = great addition to breakfast.

    I was not a JJ, but I agree that we need to support anyone who’s trying to get healthier. It can be tough to do it on your own. Heck! I’ve been running for years and it’s still hard to make it out the door somedays!

  • Stephanie Cummins January 7, 2011, 9:39 am

    Yep my gym was manic the other night, all the cardio machines were full, i started talking to the personnel trainer there and he said give it a few weeks and it will calm down… I decided since it was full to go do a pilates class that was just about to start (never done it before) and i loved it!! I cannot wait to go again, would never have normally tried it… maybe i have found a silver lining haha

  • Michele @ Healthy Cultivations January 7, 2011, 9:40 am

    My gym has been extremely crowded this week… so much so that last night I had to wait 20 minutes for an elliptical. I’m making efforts to smile and speak to obvious newcomers.

  • Gracie (complicated day) January 7, 2011, 9:41 am

    I always notice a January increase in traffic in the park on the running trails. Last year, a very overweight woman started speed-walking with the January crowd. She has stuck with it, and I see her on the occasions when my work schedule allows me to exercise mid-morning. She’s lost so much weight and looks great! I debated telling her – she’s a total stranger – but I’ve determined that the next time I run in to her I’m going to congratulate her on her progress and her persistence.

  • Melissa January 7, 2011, 9:42 am

    I wish Elizabeth had a link to a blog! Her story is so very similar to my beginning story. I’d love to contact her!

    Great post anyway! I admit that I had a bad attitude when I walked in the gym yesterday and saw all of the newbies, but I thought about it while I was getting dressed and I was that newbie once. So, I came out of the dressing room and tried being friendly to some of them and it put me in an awesome mood!

    • Elizabeth January 7, 2011, 10:34 am

      Hi melissa!

      My blog is: http://eatcleanfun.com. I’d love to hear from you!


      • Caitlin January 7, 2011, 11:41 am

        I’m adding the link to the post, too!

  • Carla @ Will Run for Health January 7, 2011, 9:43 am

    After seeing your tweet this week about mocking the JJ, instantly felt bad. Not out right, but internally, my attitude has been pretty negative about my gym being so crowded. I’ve tried to shift my thinking and realize that the masses at the gym usually thin out toward the end of the month and I don’t own or have any real rights to my favorite machines. We were all beginners at some point and I agree we should be friendly and welcoming as possible.

  • Heather @ Side of Sneakers January 7, 2011, 9:45 am

    As annoying as the sudden crowds at the gym are, I think it’s so important to remember that those people are there because they’ve made a positive choice to become healthier. We all started somewhere- it shouldn’t be any less celebratory just because you start in January!

  • Amalfi Girl (EatRunHaveFun.blogspot) January 7, 2011, 9:45 am

    Awesome post! I think it is equally applicable to JJ of other change-your-life type programs, like Weight Watchers (Holla!).

  • Kimberly @ Healthy Strides January 7, 2011, 9:45 am

    I put white chocolate chips in my oats this morning, too! I made mine with 1/3 c oats, 1/3 c OJ, 2/3 c water and cinnamon, all topped with cranberry sauce and white chocolate chips.

    I am not a January Joiner but if the New Year gets people motivated, so be it. It doesn’t matter when you do it so long as you do it!

  • Liz January 7, 2011, 9:46 am

    I use a gym at my office, but I was actually considering of taking advantage of all the great deals out there right now to join a gym. So technically that would make me a January Joiner, although I know my way around the gym at least. I really love seeing people turn there lives around though!
    p.s. I <3 Beck and she has the best stories about her gym.

  • megan @ whatmegansmaking January 7, 2011, 9:47 am

    What a great way to show support for people joining the gym in january. You’re right, they shouldn’t be mocked or made fun of. It actually makes a lot of sense to join in january – there is always some kind of incentive or lower price! I actually haven’t seen as much increase as I expected at my gym, but that might be because I got in the morning and miss the main rush.

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) January 7, 2011, 9:48 am

    The oats this morning look so good! I just finished off my pumpkin oats and was sad to see it over.

    I’m glad you said this about the JJ. I think it is important to have a positive attitude for anyone that is trying to better themselves. Being negative because they are “in your space” doesn’t help anyone. You are so right, use it as an opportunity to find new friends!

  • Sara @ OurDogBuffy January 7, 2011, 9:48 am

    I can’t afford a gym membership so I’m hoping to motivate myself and work out at home 🙂 Good luck to all JJ!

  • Freya January 7, 2011, 9:48 am

    I don’t even have a gym nearby to go to – the nearest one is a 20min car ride! Gah 🙁 this post makes me want to join one, just so I can be a JJ or be someone who commands respect from other JJs :p
    Good on all those people – thy’re super!

  • jen @ taste life January 7, 2011, 9:49 am

    I was actually already on the healthy bandwagon before I got into goal-setting and stuff, so I was never a January Joiner. I am guilty of being annoyed when it’s more crowded at the gym 🙂

    However, I’m always proud of people for trying something new out, and hopeful they’ll stick with it – and I know some people do make a change!

  • Sara January 7, 2011, 9:49 am

    I am annoyed with all this negative “January Joiners” talk. Why is it any different than regulars who say, “I fell off during the holidays and need to get back to my routine?” Plus, there are other reasons people join in January, including financial incentives that gyms offer due to the post-holiday, get-in-shape-by-summer mentality. I work out at home so perhaps I shouldn’t say much, since crowded gyms obviously don’t affect me. But one reason I don’t go to the gym (I have a free membership to one through my sister; I can’t afford a gym membership otherwise) is that it’s intimidating. And I work out regularly! So imagine how someone feels if they’re just starting out and get dirty looks from regulars for taking “their” machines because “they won’t be there is a few months anyway.” Encourage those people to stick with it; we all were new to this at some point, right?

  • Becky January 7, 2011, 9:52 am

    Thanks again for posting about January Joiners! I love reading everyone’s stories and experiences 🙂

  • Katie P. January 7, 2011, 9:53 am

    Thank you for being so supportive of January joiners!! I joined the gym last January with the hope of training for a half-marathon and completed a 20k in June and a half-marathon in October! The supportive gym members definitely helped keep me motivated 🙂

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey January 7, 2011, 9:54 am

    I’ve never been one to get frustrated by the amount of people in the gym come January. Do I think the number of people coming will die down by February or March? Probably, but I would never discourage someone from working out and becoming healthier!

    I was never a January joiner as I’ve been a regular gym go-er since I was a Freshman in college. I’m glad I have been able to keep up the habit!

  • Sarah @ See Sarah Graduate January 7, 2011, 9:56 am

    I love that you highlighted January Joiners! All their stories are so inspiring. I’ve been lazy about going to the gym/running over the past 2 weeks and reading about these guys is definitely pushing me to lace up my sneakers and hit the pavement right now. 🙂

  • Mrs. Muffins January 7, 2011, 9:58 am

    Omigosh, yesterday when I was working out I was just thinking about how I was pretty sure she was a JJ but I wasn’t making fun, I really wanted to encourage her but I was afraid anything I would say would come out wrong so I said nothing. I’m thinking about just leaving some OB notes in the locker room instead!? xx

    • Mrs. Muffins January 7, 2011, 9:59 am

      I guess I left out that I noticed a girl I hadn’t seen before and I was pretty sure she was a JJ.

      • Caitlin January 7, 2011, 11:38 am

        That’s an awesome idea – I love OB notes at the gym 🙂

  • Angela January 7, 2011, 9:59 am

    My husband was a January Joiner last year, and one year later, he still hits the gym 4-5 times a week and has lost 35 pounds. He hasn’t missed a week all year. I’ve worked out regularly my whole life, but now he’s the one motivating ME to work out sometimes, which I would have never thought possible 18 months ago. I’m really proud of him!

    • Caitlin January 7, 2011, 11:38 am

      That is awesome 🙂

  • Jenifer January 7, 2011, 10:02 am

    Elizabeth looks very very much like the woman who was beside me in Body Jam class last night! If so, I really would love to hook up with her and do the gym thing together. I kicked myself when I left for being to shy to talk to her because we very much had the same physical make-up. Eilizabth, if you live in VA and go to the AmFam in Mechanicsville please email me! jphelton3@aol.com I’m the crazy lady who looked like an afflicted chicken trying to do the Body Jam dances last night with the Bodacious Tata’s t’shirt on. (From a breast cancer run)

  • Caitlin January 7, 2011, 10:02 am

    Kristina, that IS mean!! (Plus, they paid their membership dues just like anyone else – who cares what they do! I hate that kind of superiority stuff.)

    I feel like the people being harshest on JJ’s are also the ones who would judge them for sitting in the McDonald’s drive-thru…you can’t have it both ways, people!

    A friend of mine was talking about this recently, and summed it up best: “Be kind. Maybe offer to help if you see someone struggling, or just offer a friendly smile. You went somewhere for the first time once too. Just be kind.”

    • Caitlin January 7, 2011, 11:39 am


  • MaryBe January 7, 2011, 10:03 am

    I never understood the reasons to be snarky to January Joiners. So, you’re superior because you started a year or a month or a week before them? Lame.
    I loved these stories! Thanks to you and to all who posted them

  • Whitney @ Whitinspired January 7, 2011, 10:04 am

    I’m sort of a JJ b/c I did join a new gym in January, but it was really to take advantage of the no enrollment fees. My company has a gym in the building, but the classes suck. So I joined to take advantage of the choices! At my old gym I used to get very annoyed with classes being full and machines occupied. I would often look forward to the day they would all give up. But I realized this was really negative and quite frankly mean. Someone who is trying to make a life altering change should be supported, not criticized!

  • Ella January 7, 2011, 10:08 am

    I try really hard not to get annoyed with January joiners but my college’s gym is so so tiny and its usually hard enough as is to get a machine. Like to the point where I have to sign up for a tredmill three hours in advance and then fight tooth and nail with the person who has the slot before me to get off it in time for me to get in my whole 30 minutes, because at the end of the half hour someone will instantly be there to kick me out. I’m really happy that so many people are making a change for the better but gahhh it makes getting my own workout in so impossible!

  • Jen January 7, 2011, 10:11 am

    Great Post! I’m glad you talked about this. I’m a gym regular but I LOVE the JJers. Sure, it’s sometimes annoying but it helps me because I have to think OUTSIDE my “gym box”. I always do the same thing! So, when the equipment is busy, I have to be creative and think of other things to do. That’s how I say positive about January – the JJer’s help me! Plus, it’s fun to have new faces at the gym!

    • Caitlin January 7, 2011, 11:39 am

      What a positive spin. Love this!

  • Hannah Hawley January 7, 2011, 10:12 am

    I am a January Joiner too, but that has more to do with open enrollment at my place of employment! We get a HUGE discount signing up through work, instead of $480 for the year, its only $291 (for both my BF and myself). With a savings like that, even once a week of use by each of us makes it worth it and its a gym I used all the time when in school.
    January Joiners are the people to talk to and encourage, keep them coming back 🙂

  • Bethany January 7, 2011, 10:13 am

    Love these stories! I especially love this thought: “The gym, studio, running club, or any other organization really should be a supportive environment rather than a stark, generic place to sweat.” I wish they were!!

  • Jaclyn January 7, 2011, 10:14 am

    I suppose I was a “January Joiner” although I didn’t join a gym in January, 2010. I started going to my condo gym (I’ve since moved to a house and miss the gym, but don’t have time for a gym membership) and I did the Couch to 5K program from January to March of last year. I stuck with it and continued to commit to healthy living all of last year – I reduced and then completely eliminated meat from my diet, ran two 5Ks and an 8K, started road biking, and managed to work out four days a week (at least) for most of the year. Not everyone who makes a new year’s resolution is destined to fail at it!

    This year, I’m not making a resolution because what I really want to do is continue on the path I started last January. I am planning to run a 10K in February and I’m already signed up for a 10 mile race and a half marathon (both firsts for me). I do want to lose weight because I’m still not down to my happy weight, but I feel like I already have the tools in place and I just need to keep doing what I’m doing. Oh, and I want to try Zumba.

    There’s nothing wrong with turning over a new leaf in January! If I had a gym membership, I’d be encouraging all the newbies to do what I did – set frequent, small, achievable goals and use them as motivation to continue on a journey to healthy living.

  • Amanda (Eating Up) January 7, 2011, 10:17 am

    I love this call for support for JJ!

  • Beth @ Will Run for Books January 7, 2011, 10:17 am

    I was a JJ of sorts in January 2009 – I joined a gym because of all the special promotions! I have always worked out pretty regularly, but that winter I needed special motivation and a new gym was it! I’m sure people thought at the time that I was a JJ (something that never crossed my mind until now) but honestly, I went several times a week until I moved in May 2010.

    The lesson is that you don’t know who these people are or what their goals are – so don’t judge them – support them! Also, we all have the same goal – to get/stay healthy!

  • vann January 7, 2011, 10:18 am

    I am a JJ too! I joined Weight Watchers and Jazzercise in Jan 2010 and I’ve lost 43 pounds! 🙂 I am still on my journey and now there are new people joining jazzercise who some people complain about but I have a completely open mind about it! We need to show them how much fun jazzercise is. The more people who want to join, the more time slots they will make available. I welcome all JJs!

    • Caitlin January 7, 2011, 11:40 am

      Yay congrats on your healthy weight loss!

  • Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun January 7, 2011, 10:20 am

    These are awesome stories! We should never complain about people wanting to make better changes in their lives. Yes, we don’t need to wait until the arbitrary New Years date, but if that is when people commit who are we to judge? Cheer them on!

  • Stephanie January 7, 2011, 10:21 am

    I used to be a fitness instructor at a gym and January/Febuary was my favorite time of the year. The classes were full and had way more energy and excitement. I found that alot of them would become regulars and it made me so proud of them for sticking with it! I have to say now I am guilty of being annoyed come January. Mostly because NYC gyms are already over crowded. Spinning class signups are 24 hours in advance and is often a wait list so you never know if your in. During peak hours, cardio machines have a 20 minute time limit and then gym workers come around to remove you. So it is frustrating, but overall it’s for a great reason and we should all stay positive!

  • Beth @ DiningAndDishing January 7, 2011, 10:24 am

    you are right caitlin!! i get soooo annoyed with how busy the gym is in january, but it’s true – some people do stick with it! plus if i feel it’s too crowded, it’s a good time to dust off some work out videos and try something new at home :).

  • Leanne (For Health's Sake) January 7, 2011, 10:24 am

    I think it’s super important to be friendly at the gym… I’ve never understood snobby gym-goers!

  • Kelly January 7, 2011, 10:24 am

    Yes, some people stick around, but sadly the majority of people do not. 20 minute time limit on treadmills aren’t cool for people training for a race. I don’t judge and I’m happy when people do stick around, but it’s still frustrating and annoying.

  • Alison @ Around the VeggieTable January 7, 2011, 10:27 am

    Thank you SO much for posting this! I am a regular gym goer and while it is a slight annoyance to have to wait for a machine, I think we should be WAY more supportive of the JJs. I am so sick of seeing facebook statuses about how annoyed people are with the “resolutioners.” We should try to encourage them to keep up the good work rather than hoping they will go away!

  • Chelsea @ Strawberry Sweat January 7, 2011, 10:30 am

    I didn’t join a gym in January (I just use my apartment gym), but I did start my Couch to 5K plan in January 2010. Now, I’m hooked!!

    Food for thought: being annoyed or frustrated about the January Joiners doesn’t help you or them. It’s just wasted negative energy. So I love your approach, Caitlin, about being friendly to them and/or trying to recruit them as gym buddies!

  • Sarah for Real January 7, 2011, 10:31 am

    I think if a person has trouble using the gym because of JJ then they need a new gym. My gym is actually a user owned, not for profit company so their only goal in life is to make users happy. Thus means that if things get full, they add more machines.

    Try going at a different time or just be patient. Truthfully, it’s only a problem for one month. Get over yourself, we all have to start somewhere!

  • DefineDiana January 7, 2011, 10:38 am

    I think this is a great topic. I am apart of weight watchers and browse the online community too. During the holidays everyone was complaining about the Jan joiners.

    To me it doesn’t matter what the motivation of the person who is joining is. They are there to change their life and they need the motivation. You never know what you are going to say to someone that will encourage or not encourage them to continue.

    The whole reason I got to weight watchers meetings is the feeling of community with like minded people, these people are doing the same. Who cares if it is in Jan. Maybe something you say to them will help them make it past March and finally make the changes in their life they really want to make.

    Eveyone needs encouragement sometimes, no matter what time of year it is.

  • Maddie (Healthy Maddie) January 7, 2011, 10:45 am

    I love hearing everyone’s stories. I do get annoyed by how busy the gym gets in January, but on the other hand it;s great to see so many new people wanting to get healthy and fit.

  • Alina @ Duty Free Foodie January 7, 2011, 10:45 am

    I love this post! I was a January Joiner (it wasn’t due to a resolution though so much as a traumatic moment in the change room on Boxing Day). But anyway, when I finally joined, I stuck with it. It was really awkward for the first little while though because I didn’t really know my way around the gym etc. and there was this chasm between the self-assured gait of the regulars and the somewhat-uncomfortable attitude of all the women who were new (it was an all-women’s gym, maybe JJ men are more self-assured).

  • Stephanie January 7, 2011, 10:47 am

    I just keep smiling at all the newbies that come in. Who am I to judge? Nothing will make them want to quit quicker than negative Nancys or Neds up in the gym making them feel inferior.

  • Ashley January 7, 2011, 10:47 am

    What a great positive spin to take! I think many of us are quick to be annoyed at the packed parking lots, full machines, etc. But regardless of the reasons people show up in January, we should respect the fact that they’re trying to do something different in their lives and instead of complaining, we should be encouraging & supportive! : )

  • Anne Weber-Falk January 7, 2011, 10:49 am

    Right on Jim!! You all have the right attitude but Jim’s story really spoke to me. While I’m not a JJ, I surprised a few of the regulars when I joined our facility. I was big, 280, and while I am still a big woman, I am working on it. I am stronger, lighter, and leaner with all the hard work. People encouraged me, and continued to do so as they saw how hard I work. After a couple of years I was approached by some of the instructors about teaching classes. I thought no way can I do that but now, four years later, there I am. I am on that pool deck leading seven aqua classes a week at both of our facilities. I could not have done this without the encouragement and support of the staff and other members. I treasure this and I am always sure to do the same for the other members, new and not so new, because I know the power of a few good words and a smile.

  • Megan (Braise The Roof) January 7, 2011, 10:55 am

    Good luck to all of your featured JJ’s! I made a resolution to do the same thing about 7 years ago and actually felt that the sheer number of people crowding the gym was MORE intimidating than normal. Once the usual drop-off happened a few months later, I felt more comfortable and was able to stick with my routine. I guess we all have different preferences!

  • Kim (Book Worm Runs) January 7, 2011, 10:57 am

    Thank you for posting this!! I love all the stories and hope they achieve their goals and stick with it! 🙂 My gym hasn’t been too bad, actually, but I do go at 5 am so maybe there is not a big rush at that time 🙂

  • Amy --- Just A Titch January 7, 2011, 10:57 am

    I am so glad you posted this. I’m not exactly a January Joiner, but I HATE it when people who are gym regulars are mean to people who have just joined the gym. It’s unnecessary and everyone starts somewhere, right? Thanks for this.

  • Erin January 7, 2011, 11:07 am

    I like what Jim had to say about “earning respect”. I also agree with what Megan said about more people being more intimidating. Of course, I’ve never made a friend at the gym and prefer just to get in and get out. In fact, I hardly talk to anyone while I’m there. Now, my running group, that’s a different story. I’ve made a lot of friends there and the more the merrier!

  • Kara January 7, 2011, 11:09 am

    I’ve never been a JJ, but I do confess to being short of patience with them. I used to teach cardio kickboxing and I HATED Jan. I had to slow down the whole class and spend extra time with people who never came back. I wonder if I had been more welcoming if more would have stuck around!

    • Amy January 7, 2011, 11:17 am

      Interesting.. I never thought of it from the perspective of an instructor. Good point though!

    • Gracie January 7, 2011, 11:31 am

      Yeah, that must be SO frustrating!

  • Rachel January 7, 2011, 11:10 am

    I’ve definitely been a judgy mcjudgerson to the JJ’s in the past.

    Guess it bit me in the ass because this year I most definitely became one of them.

    My mantra on January first was: “I wasn’t here yesterday but I am here today. Let’s SHARE!” (Sharing is good practice for me anyway, since I am an only child)

    • Caitlin January 7, 2011, 11:36 am

      hehehe i’m an only child too!

  • Ashley January 7, 2011, 11:10 am

    I was a January joiner but I never thought of it that way. It wasn’t because of new years or anything. It just happened to be January when I decided to lose the weight. I don’t think it’s necessary to be mean to January joiners, everyone started some where and they need encouragement too. (unless they’re walking at a turtles pace on a treadmill when there is a smaller track upstairs, then I might be irritated)

  • kimmy January 7, 2011, 11:13 am

    Thanks for discussing this topic!

  • Allison @ Happy Tales January 7, 2011, 11:13 am

    Caitlin! I was actually just going to do a post on this, since I work at the Y and all. And I especially wanted to let you know since I know you were looking for new ways to exercise.

    For anyone living in/around the Charlotte area, they can attend the Y on ANY Tuesday of January for free and experience all of the amenities that normal members have access to (classes, pool, locker room and wellness center, steam room, track, weights, cardio machines.. the works). And what’s really neat is that on each of these “open house” day Tuesdays… you can pick up a 2-week free pass and have 2 weeks free worth of membership! If you’re interested but can’t make it this Tuesday (or any Tuesday, you can get more than one card and just activate it later, say in like, March!) Let me know and I can pick you up one (or however many you’d want). PS. I have zero ties to membership and only work in the health center.. so I have no way of benefiting from this at all! Just wanted to share the knowledge as I know these really, really cold months can be hard to get outside (and it helps with cross training and injury prevention!)

    • Allison @ Happy Tales January 7, 2011, 11:17 am

      Oh and I forgot to say! I know the branch I am working at (Dowd) as well as the other two branches uptown are taking part in this, but I’m not sure if the other 15 branches are (so you may want to call and ask if you were planning on going to a non-center-city Y).

      • Caitlin January 7, 2011, 11:36 am


        The Hubby works out at Dowd 🙂

  • Amy January 7, 2011, 11:15 am

    I was a January Joiner and lost 100lbs… so I have nothing but positive things to say about the JJs! 🙂

  • Elizabeth@The Sweet Life January 7, 2011, 11:16 am

    Wow–some of those stories are really inspirational. I think it’s hard to stay motivated as a healthy person at a normal weight-I can’t imagine having to slog through the cold weather, the darkness, etc., as someone just getting started on a plan. Thanks for sharing!

  • Tulip January 7, 2011, 11:24 am

    it annoys me when people are snide about the JJ. Everyone has to start somewhere!!

  • Natalia - a side of simple January 7, 2011, 11:31 am

    I think JJ get a pretty bad reputation. Sure, a bunch fade out but I’m sure a ton also stick with it. They may also just move around their time slots or find different things that work for them, so it’s wrong when people assume come February that they’ve quit. A great topic to bring up, Cailtin!

  • Maryann January 7, 2011, 11:32 am

    This is an awesome post! I am not a JJ and its easy to get irritated with them, but we need to remember that it’s great they’re making an effort to become more healthy. I am a regular at my gym and have met lots of great people.

  • Gracie January 7, 2011, 11:33 am

    I haven’t really noticed an influx of new gym members this year! Maybe I’m just going at the right times during the day…? I don’t really mind January Joiners, though. Props to them for at least taking a step in the right direction for the new year.

  • MelanieF January 7, 2011, 11:37 am

    I was not a JJ at all. I joined my first gym 4 years ago in late winter and the second gym I joined after that was in the fall. I now own an eliptical since late 2008. This year, I did not make any NYR, but I WILL lose 51 pounds before the end of the year, I can assure you 🙂

  • Megan January 7, 2011, 11:41 am

    As someone who used to be super intimidated by the weight machines and equipment, I try to be as friendly as possible to whoever is around. However, I do get totally annoyed (internally) when I get to the gym and can’t find any available machines. My solution to the crowds is to try and hit the gym at off-peak times – that means delaying my weekend workouts until after lunch (around 2pm) and during the week waiting until the “after work” crowd leaves (usually after 6pm at my gym).

  • Lizz (leadingthegoodlife) January 7, 2011, 11:42 am

    The parking situation at my gym gets messy this time of year. As do the lockers. But I try not to get frustrated…it’s not like I have any more right to the parking spaces, lockers, or equipment than anyone else! I just try to be patient and give myself plenty of time.

  • Michelle January 7, 2011, 11:46 am

    I work out in a small gym at my job. We’re talking a gym that has 4 treadmills, 4 bikes, 1 of different weight machines, etc. So when you double the amount of people coming through there, it gets really difficult to get a solid workout in with the time you have. My main problem with the JJ’s is the serious lack of gym etiquette! It should be mandatory that once they pay their fee, they have a debriefing on how to be a good gym-goer. The other day I was doing ab work on a mat next to a machine when some girl comes up and says “I HAVE to use this machine. You HAVE to move” in the rudest tone ever. I looked at her and moved because I was totally taken by surprise, but I had a serious talking to myself conversation afterwards basically saying “Who does she think she is?” You can bet I won’t be so quiet the next time. The other thing that is super annoying is when people will sit on a machine and talk to whatever buddy they’ve brought with them, but not use the machine. If you ask if you can cut in, the immediate response is “I’m using this”. I walk away, but again have a nice conversation in my head “Well gee, I didn’t know your mouth was here for a workout”. I’m sure some people will argue that even regulars can exhibit this behavior, but 1) they’ve always asked someone to move out of the way politely and not in an OMG you have to move now tone and 2) if they have been talking with someone they’ll say something like “1 more set” and get right to working rather than continuing to sit and talk and monopolize a machine. Good gym etiquette goes a long way people!

    I wish all the JJs could be like Jim. I like his line about earning respect when he’s still showing up to the gym in December!

    • Charise January 7, 2011, 2:57 pm

      I go to a big mega gym. Before you can join you have to take a tour with a salesperson, and they go over wiping down machines (showing you where some of the wipes are at), talk about the rules for saving spaces in classes, etc., plus there’s a lot more equipment. That could all have to do with why I don’t get as annoyed as people at smaller gyms. In college, I haaaaated signing up for/waiting in line for cardio machines.

      • Michelle January 8, 2011, 1:11 pm

        Every gym has pros/cons and I guess you could say a pro to the mega gyms is that they have the time/people/money to do stuff like that. Our gym is mostly self-run by employees. Management provides limited money, mainly for things like infrastructure (for example a few years ago they got a fresh coat of paint on the walls and the floor replaced). Otherwise we are self funded by memberships – that’s the only way we get new equipment. Every summer during a lunchtime meeting we elect a new board (Pres, VP, Treas., Sec’y.) and they manage the facility. Obviously they have their day jobs to worry about and not the little things like gym etiquette. So for ~45 weeks of the year, the gym is really clean and the people are respectful and such because all the regulars know we have a good deal. The first ~6 weeks are so are like one big tornado whirlwind and it just sucks. The only way to keep my sanity is that all these people who give up after a few weeks are subsidizing my membership and buying the rest of us new equipment!

  • Whitney January 7, 2011, 11:56 am

    I am a “regular” at the gym and there has been a ton of new faces this week. I usually am very frustrated and annoyed with all of this, but have made the effort to commend the newbies on making the right positive step to the gym. I really hope they stick it out. It is said that the director of my gym told me it would be back to “normal” by February. Hope this changes! 🙂

  • Stephanie January 7, 2011, 12:07 pm

    I’m a regular now, and I jointed my gym in April 2009 (there was a deal, can’t beat that!). I think there’s a huge difference between JJs and “Resolutionaries”…The latter being the people who are like “I’m going to work out 18 times a week for an hour a time, and I’ll lose the 40 lbs I gained over the past 2 years in 2 months!!” They tend to be gone by March. They’re also the same ones who get on the treadmill, set it to 6.5 mph when they’ve never used it before and sound like an elephant on steroids. All I can think is “OMG, your KNEES!!!” (They also don’t wipe down the machines, and I really can’t stop myself from saying something about that.)

  • Amber K January 7, 2011, 12:16 pm

    I like to be in my own world at the gym so I like to go when it’s pretty much dead. That way I can also have my pick of machines. I do want everyone to be healthier, but I have to admit I look forward to March every year.

  • Liz January 7, 2011, 12:17 pm

    Great Topic!

    I have been both: the January Joiner and also the member annoyed by all the JJs! In January of 2009, I decided “enough is enough” and started really hitting the gym and going to Weight Watchers meetings. I lost 50 pounds and for the first time, I really felt like an athlete! I remember in 2010 when the gym was flooded with JJs, I was so annoyed when classes were packed and you couldn’t find an open treadmill. But I had to remind myself that I had BEEN one of those people.

    One trend I have noticed is how territorial group fitness participants are in the classes they attend, such as Zumba. The regulars want the front row. They stalk the room and as soon as the class before is out, they are in “their spot.” Some people even go so far as to tell others, “You can’t have that spot. It’s _____’s spot.” With this type of behavior, it is no wonder many people get overwhelmed and intimidated and quit.

    I don’t know what the solution is. But I have tried to not let myself get annoyed, because I wasn’t just a January Joiner– I really stuck with it. And shouldn’t we root for all the JJ to succeed? I mean, we root for those people on The Biggest Loser… why don’t we root for them in our own towns? And gyms?

    Wow. That sure was long-winded. Guess I had some strong feelings on that topic! 🙂

  • Errign January 7, 2011, 12:20 pm

    I have never been a January Joiner, but I certainly have been a beginning of the semester joiner. 🙂 Ain’t no thang! I don’t know if I’ve made any new gym friends, or just see friends at the gym that I’ll work out with, but it’s fun regardless. Woot woot to everyone gearing up to tackle their NYR or keep up their ongoing goals & fitness!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat January 7, 2011, 12:31 pm

    I wasn’t a JJ myself but my advice to them would to be social in the gym because I like meeting new friends!! As a fitness instructor I love welcoming new people and hearing about their goals, so my opinion is that JJs are always welcome! 🙂

  • Kate (What Kate is Cooking) January 7, 2011, 12:37 pm

    I started running last January, so kind of! Surprisingly, my gym has been pretty empty. It’s weird!

  • Vikki January 7, 2011, 12:40 pm

    I was a June Joiner (my birthday was june and I somehow lost my chin over the years. I want it back). I needed to read this post. Just last night, I was feeling annoyed and hemmed in with the sheer number of people at the gym. In the last six months, I’ve become mostly a morning exerciser because I discovered that I like being done with exercise before I really start my day and it makes me feel amazing. I’ve only 10lbs and my chin is still MIA, but I feel better and my measurements have changed. I will try to remember to be nice to the newbies because it wasn’t so long ago that I was in their shoes. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Lauren January 7, 2011, 12:46 pm

    I love hearing others’ success stories! I hope the JJs stick with it just like these people.

  • Emily @ Comfortable Home Life January 7, 2011, 12:48 pm

    My main gripe with JJ’s is the full parking lot. Although, it forces me to walk further in the parking lot, so really I should be thanking them for the extra steps! As long as they are considerate and follow the rules, I have no problem with January Joiners!

  • mary (what's cookin' with mary) January 7, 2011, 12:57 pm

    Thank you all for sharing your stories! They helped me to look at JJ’s differently. I will admit that it still is a little annoying when I can’t get into ‘my’ regular spin class at the time I normally take it, but I’ll gladly give up my spot for a few weeks if it means someone is making a healthy choice 🙂

  • Susan @ Mom Swim Bike Run January 7, 2011, 1:08 pm

    I’m a January joiner and proof that some of us do stick it out! Still going strong after 2 years and more active than I’ve ever been!

  • Rachel January 7, 2011, 1:46 pm

    I am a January Joiner, and I appreciate all of this positive energy. I found an inexpensive and completely not crowded gym on my walk home from work. Hopefully a year from now I’ll still be there, when 2012’s January Joiners show up!

  • Emilie @livetoeatrunforfun January 7, 2011, 1:51 pm

    I think JJ’s deserve MORE respect that the regulars… after all, isn’t it harder to go workout in a place where you’re uncomfortable and possibly feel like others are looking down at you? Props to them for even walking through the door.
    I sometimes feel this way when I venture over to the free weight area where all the giant muscle heads are lifting. I do notice them staring at me with a mixture of amusement and annoyance. I realize that I am using an 8 pound dumbell and that was my intention!!!

  • AlyR January 7, 2011, 1:54 pm

    I was a January Joiner in 2009. Since then I have lost 70 pounds, raised my anaerobic threshold to around 180, gained much muscle, went from a size 20 to a size 10 (5’5″). I am not done yet. I work out religiously now and could not be happier. I believe in the power of optimism that is present in the gym in January. For anyone who is lacking motivation, try a group fitness class. I have found a core group of friends, and we work out together five days a week. We celebrate birthdays together. It is such a source of happiness for me. Love your blog!

    ~ thealyway.blogspot.com ~

    • Caitlin January 7, 2011, 2:11 pm

      I love this comment. You rock!

  • Ellen@FirednFabulous January 7, 2011, 2:08 pm

    I must admit, I was feeling pretty down on the JJs early this am when I had to wait in line for a treadmill. But, I’m turning my attitude around. Starting…now!

  • Lisa January 7, 2011, 2:13 pm

    I support anyone trying to get fit but I really don’t like when the newbies don’t respect GYM ETIQUETTE. That’s the quickest way to make me hate January Joiners. Sorry.

    • Amanda January 7, 2011, 2:18 pm

      YES!!! All gyms should post something like that!

      • Lisa January 7, 2011, 2:36 pm

        It’s just common sense tho! No one wants to touch your SWEAT! Wipe off the machine after you use it!! Can we say MERSA? Gross.

  • Amanda January 7, 2011, 2:15 pm

    Oh the JJers…… I call them ‘resolutionists’ : ) There are quite a few of them at my gym. I find it so disheartening that only a small amount stick with it for the long term! I would tell them that if it’s their FIRST TIME EVER in a gym to take it nice and slow. Find something you like, try a few classes (my gym doesn’t charge extra for any of the classes). And talk to the instructors because that’s what they are there for.

    My pet peeve’s though: not putting away weights and monopolizing a machine. Drives me bonkers.

  • Carina January 7, 2011, 2:39 pm

    At least some JJs are just normal healthy people like us who decide it’s simply too cold or snowy to work out or run outside in Jan and Feb. Those are the only months I even consider using my gym membership unless there are 4 straight days of downpour or something else the rest of the year. March through Dec can be tolerable most places in the country for outdoor activity, so I think it’s kind of silly to conclude all those JJs have quit when you don’t see them in the spring. It’s just too nice to stay indoors for exercise! But yeah, some do quit.

    I wonder if people think I’m a JJ. I’m training for Boston and do all my long runs outside, but if it’s too nasty outside, I might do weekday runs indoors in Jan. and maybe Feb. Do you count as a JJ if you hammer out 10 miles on the treadmill? Don’t JJs keep distances more like 3 miles?

  • Charise January 7, 2011, 2:46 pm

    I tend to get internally annoyed by the January crowds, but not at the people themselves, because I think it is great they are trying to be healthier. I slack off a bit over the holidays so am amping up gym time in January myself, even if I’m not a newbie.

    And I totally agree with Carina – I do my cardio outside April-October, and then have to spend more time at the gym the other half of the year. So that could be part of it too.

    • Caitlin January 7, 2011, 2:51 pm

      Good luck at Boston!

  • carlee January 7, 2011, 6:03 pm

    I have that breakfast sometimes! Toppled with PB and Coconut!

    I think its awesome when people continue to go the the gym!!

  • Rosi January 7, 2011, 6:09 pm

    I’m not a January Joiner, per say, but I am a January “get the hell back on it”. I’ve had a gym membership for a long while, years. (I’m afraid to give it up because I got such a great deal and I’ll lose that if I do!)
    I’ve just been in a slump with my schedule since about October, then lost momentum and haven’t been since. I decided that if I don’t make the time, I will never have it.
    So, this year, I’ve committed to running a 5k in March by doing the couch to 5k program, then continuing to stay active and hopefully have worked up to the LA Rock n Roll half marathon (which I wanted to do last year but got started too late) by October.
    I also have convinced my mom to get into it with me and she’s committed to doing the same.

  • Cate January 7, 2011, 7:58 pm

    I was a January Joiner in 2009 and have stuck with it ever since. I guess it was kind of resolution, but I just needed to make some healthy changes to my lifestyle. I started walking and eating better and eventually took some group fitness classes at my university gym. Since I have lost around 80lbs (& am still going) and will be running my first half marathon tomorrow! My life is so much fuller and I am so much happier with all of the healthy living changes I have made. 🙂

  • Laura I. January 7, 2011, 10:24 pm

    I was a January Joiner last year and stuck with it all year (some slackage in November and December, but there wasn’t a week I wasn’t there at least once).

    I’m back strong again now and I like the energy the January Joiners have. Maybe a lot of them won’t stay, but their determination now helps remind me of what kept me going all through last year. Guess I’m co-opting some of their motivation?

    What I would tell them is this: You have as much right to be at ANY place in the gym as anyone else there who’s paid the dues and fees. Don’t let the old-timers intimidate you from changing your life. THAT SAID, make an effor to learn gym etiquette, and treat everyone with respect. Most of the old-timers will respect and help you, too–when they find out you’re serious. Everyone has to start somewhere.

  • Leila @ Spinach and Skittles January 8, 2011, 1:23 am

    My only issue with the JJ’s is the (sometimes) long wait for the showers in the morning! I go before work, so while I have seen an influx every January for the past 5 years, I am always able to get a machine. I haven’t made any gym friends (my gym buddy is a friend outside of the gym), although I would love to! I know I need to start taking some group exercise classes to expand my comfort zone. Although I do try to strike up conversation with the gals as I get ready and always offer up my shampoo/conditioner/straightener/blush brush/blow dryer/whatever if someone forgot something 🙂

  • Nadine January 8, 2011, 5:27 am

    Thank you for this post! Everyone should remember they were once a newbie — January or not! Perhaps more people wouldn’t quit if they were treated with kindness and welcomed from the start!

  • Kristen January 9, 2011, 9:35 pm

    Good Things About January Joiners and how to deal with them (even if it means staying out of the gym for a week)

    1) They keep your fees lower, without the high increase of people joining the gym, you’d be paying more for your membership and as most said they don’t stick with it.

    2) December at the gym, I truly realized how many people completely abandoned the idea of the gym during the holidays it felt like I was in a home gym.

    3) I just avoided the gym for the first week and did sit ups, weights and work out videos at my house

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