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January is a time of renewal.  It marks the end of one year and the beginning of the next.  And, at health clubs, gyms, and YMCA’s all over the world, it marks the return of The Newbies.

The Newbies, a nickname for those who make New Year’s resolutions to get in shape, arrive in droves, hoping to make regular exercise a habit.  If you are a gym regular, you’ll notice a Newbie as a stranger in the locker room. They’re using the locker you have taken five days a week for ten years.  They are walking on your favorite treadmill, doing reps on your abduction machine.  Or is it the adduction machine?

Most of the regulars treat the Newbies with disdain.  A majority of Newbies will be just a memory in four to six weeks.  A snowy morning or a few days with temperatures in the teens will send them back to their warm beds.

But, hold up a second.  Weren’t we all Newbies once?  I know I was.

My introduction to my YMCA was a few days a week after work, running on a track. I can’t remember exactly why I started going, but I’m pretty sure it had something to do with weight and high cholesterol. I actually went to a small facility across the street but also owned by the YMCA.  We had a few nautilus and cardio machines, a basketball court, and a running track.  And, though I only went a few days a week, I was elitist. I would not cross the street to go to the main building which was much more crowded.

After a few years of sporadic workouts, the YMCA decided to sell our building to a neighboring private school.  To accommodate the extra people, they renovated the main building.  They pulled the primary workout area out of the basement and put it into a splashy new building.  Reluctantly, I crossed the street.

The track in the new building was smaller than the old track, and more crowded with walkers.  I didn’t like running on a treadmill, so it wasn’t long before I became frustrated.  The sheer number of people working out made it difficult getting on other cardio machines.  When I had to skip workouts because I couldn’t find a parking spot, I was faced with a dilemma: exercise somewhere else or at a different time.

Enter the vegan spouse.  She had started working out in the morning at the same YMCA.  If I exercised before work, I could get on any machine at any time.  I wouldn’t have to worry about crowds.  I could not only find parking, but get a better spot than I had ever had.

Still, it would mean getting my work clothes prepared the night before to bring with me.  What if I forgot my belt or my tie or my towel (all things I’ve forgotten)?  I would have to get up a lot earlier. I was used to exercising after working a full day, not ten minutes after getting out of bed.  Exercising at 6 AM sounded like something prisoners might be made to do.

I wanted to exercise in peace, so I tried it.  The first day felt like I was getting up in the middle of the night.  Working out in the morning was an acquired taste, but I drank it up thirstily.  I started going my usual few days a week. After a few months, I couldn’t figure out why I was taking days off.

Flash forward ten years and I’ve become a five and often six days a week warrior. Well, maybe warrior is too strong a word.  But now I’m that guy who doesn’t want to miss a day of exercise. I go so early, I wait in my car for the doors to open.  It took me a while to get there, but I made it.

So, welcome Newbies!  Check out the great parking.  Let me move my stuff out of your way so you can get to a locker.  And I hope I see you back here tomorrow.

January 17th has been dubbed “Ditch New Years Resolutions Day”.  Stay strong, stay committed, and dictate your own path.  Please leave a message…