The Januaryers


It’s been said that some people go to the mall for the sole purpose of people watching. A mall is an excellent place to people watch–all kind of humans come marching through, all bound in different directions, wearing different kinds of clothing (and sometimes a lack thereof).

But another excellent place to people watch is the gym.

If you have a gym membership (and actually make good use of it), then you know exactly what I’m talking about. I don’t have a gym membership, but my father does, and he got mother and I permission to use the facilities for a week. Mother’s been three times, and I’ve been twice. I went running for the first time in months.

The people who frequent fitness centers are fascinating.

There are people who are clearly there 90% of the time. These people are built. They’re hulking rock walls of sculpted muscle. The men…and the ladies. Something about the way their muscles are built (or perhaps for the hubris that inevitably oozes from those same muscles) makes these men and women strut. And I mean strut. They swagger from one machine to the next with languid grace. People are staring. They know it.

There are the yuppie mommies. To be fair, not every mommy who goes to a gym is a yuppie, but those that are find each other and huddle up. They’re all skinny, they all have skin-tight yoga pants that color-coordinate with their portable mats, and you won’t catch them dead with a plastic water bottle. They travel in flocks from the front door to the classroom in the rear, chattering gaily about how to get the best deals at Earth Fare. Most women secretly envy these conscientious ladies, but usually only for their perpetually slender silhouettes.

Then there are the newbies. These dear children are the Januaryers. They made resolutions to lose X amount of pounds by the end of the year–either this year or the last, it doesn’t matter. The point is, they are visibly new to the whole fitness thing. There’s no problem with that–everybody’s got to start somewhere. You should’ve seen me as a junior higher. Scary. With a little discipline, I got healthy, and that what the Januaryers intend to do. What’s humorous is that these are always the people who come with vigor on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays in early January. Maybe February. Maybe. But after that point, they disappear altogether.  

I, on my treadmill,watched them all from a distance, huffing and puffing away for the first time in weeks. I saw some figures I wouldn’t mind imitating. I saw dedicated people and people who came for socialization and not much else. I worked out like an introvert and spent my whole workout (1.25 miles) watching people be people. 

And I wondered what the other introverts thought when they saw me in the crowd, awkwardly jogging…and in what category they put me.  


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