The Way We Make Fitness Resolutions Is All Wrong

January 01, 2021 by NY Magazine's The Cut

The barrage has started. By now you’re keenly aware of every fitness studio that has your email address and they’ve got the deals and they’ve got the promises. They want you back. A two week free trial in exchange for a year financial commitment and a blood oath. They’re ready to do this thing with you! And you say yes to fourteen months of a barre class, because that feels like the general mood of the moment. And then, three weeks later when it’s not New Year’s anymore, you realize you’re lying on the ground with screaming hamstrings, doing something you never wanted to do before and still don’t want to do now.

The problem isn’t us: Fitness resolutions were never built to last. We overcommit, only to hurt ourselves and never return. New Year’s fitness resolutions are our annual belly flop. The truth smacks a little, but maybe with a slightly more graceful and easy approach, after cooling it with the brute force, we can actually get what we want.

When I was a devotee at my cute queer gym in Los Angeles and a couple semi-preposterous fancy boutique classes, I came to expect a speech at the end of December, warning loyal attendees to brave it out as the new converts of January flooded in. The instructors—a little meanly!—implied that new zealots probably wouldn’t last long. The data backs them up: “With the tens of thousands of studios that run out our platform there’s about a thirty percent increase of total booking from December to January each year,” says Lauren McAllister, who does strategy for fitness booking app MindBody. And according to Strava, the exercise app, most people abandon their fitness resolutions by January 19 (they deemed it “quitter’s day.”)

But this isn’t because people don’t try hard enough—it actually might be the opposite. “My concern is people are going too hard, too fast in January,” says McAllister. “They’re going to burn out and injure themselves, which we’ve seen before in February — and then those same people don’t come back.”

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