Posted by: Bob Clark | January 25, 2011

Gym Regulars (and the resolution crowd)

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article by Dana Mattioli about friction generated at gyms and fitness centers when the regulars are faced with the arrival of the New Year’s resolution crowd.  The piece begins with the story of a newcomer who turned his smart phone into a boom box. As he exercised in orange snow boots with Latin hip hop music blasting, the regulars were left wondering if going to the gym in January is even worth it.

Think of all the regulars have to put up with when the resolution crowd shows up.

  • The resolution crowd is out of shape.
  • The resolution crowd doesn’t know the unwritten rules and traditions.
  • The resolution crowd doesn’t know or respect gym etiquette.
  • The resolution crowd says inappropriate things at inappropriate times.
  • The resolution crowd takes up space needed by the regulars.
  • The resolution crowd is awkward as they wobble on the equipment.
  • The resolution crowd is clueless sometimes as to where to go and what to do.

And how do the regulars respond to the newcomers when they are forced to interact?

  • The regulars shake their heads.
  • The regulars become exasperated.
  • The regulars isolate themselves from the newbies.
  • The regulars point out the violations of gym customs.
  • The regulars complain to management about the ways of newcomers.
  • The regulars work together to deny access to the best equipment.
  • The regulars wonder aloud how long the newcomers will last.
  • The regulars communicate their ownership and privilege to the newcomers.
  • The regulars get flabbergasted by the actions of the newcomers.

Perhaps the reaction of one veteran gym member best sums up the feelings of regulars toward the resolution crowd: “This time of year it’s hard because [new] people are working out thinking they’re doing the right thing, but they’re really just getting in the way of all the rest of us,” she says. This particular gym regular expressed hope by saying, “Last year within six weeks it was back to normal.”

Since I am mentioning this in a church setting you know that I am not so much interested in the tension between regulars and newcomers at the health club. Since you are an intelligent person, I don’t have to spend a lot of words to draw parallels. Simply put: How do church regulars treat church newcomers?

If you have ears, listen.

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Responses

  1. Welcome back, Bob. We missed you!

  2. I read once an author, in regards to the Parable of the Prodigal Son, ask if the Prodigal had met the Older Brother on the road back instead of the Father, what would have happened? Most likely, the Older Brother would have admonished him and made him feel guilty for even wanting to come home. The kicker is how many times do we act like the Older Brother? How many times do we get in the way of someone trying to come back to the Father?

    By the way, glad you back blogging.

    David
    http://davidbeshirs.wordpress.com

  3. Well, it is a good application to “regular” church members, but since I was one of those “gripey” regular gym members on Saturday, guess I’d better think about it as it’s written too!

  4. As being one of those newcomers to Church over the years and having to find a new congregation in a new area due to job transders it is interesting to see how different congregations handle newcomers/visitors. We were visiting one in the south Atlanta area and we sat in some families spot and all we heard during the service was them complaining about us sitting in their spot. I know can be an issue for some people but its real good in keeping out newcomers to your congregation. We didn’t go back to that congregation. We went to a congregation in Charlotte where they were so organized that when we arrived home there was a welcome package on our doorstep with some fresh baked cookies inside along with a letter thanking us for visiting etc. We placed membership with that congregation. So along with your msge watch out for new members they visit every day so don’t waste opportunity by being petty about seating…


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