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.