There’s plenty of advice out there on how to avoid, outsmart or otherwise grit your teeth and bear the New Years’ gym rush that inevitably occurs each year, starting on January 1st and ending roughly mid-February. Trying new workout hours, setting up “contingency plans” in case your favorite machines are taken or normal group classes are full, and lengthening the amount of time you spend on each piece of equipment are all ways that popular bloggers and fitness experts often advise gym members to simply work around the sudden influx of people, who “regulars” may resent due to their inexperience following gym etiquette.

But we say, with a new year, you always get the chance to turn over a new leaf: rather than do your best to ignore the crowds or seethe quietly when there’s a line for your favorite, normally-open thigh abductor, focus on the potential positives you can gain from the temporary disruption to your schedule.

More opportunity to cross train. Whether intentional or not! Let’s say you’re a cardio regular, but your Tuesday night Zumba class ends up being packed to the gills while the machine circuit is alluringly void of action. Now’s your chance to work a little anaerobic exercise into your routine, rather than consider the entire gym trip a waste. Nuts for free weights but not sure if it’s the best use of your limited time to stand in line at the squat rack? Switch things up with a little cardio on the treadmill or stair-stepper, either while you wait (if etiquette allows) or in place of your normally scheduled routine.

A self-esteem boost – help a newbie. We’ve all seen someone struggling to work a machine, not because they physically can’t do it but rather due to a simple lack of understanding about how the thing works. Politely approaching someone who appears to be struggling with a simple “Hello, do you need help with that?” will help motivate you in your own fitness journey, while also aiding someone at the start of theirs – a place we all surely remember being at.

A bigger support system. It can be hard to remember when you spend a lot of time at the gym, but not everyone understands the drive to push yourself to the limit in your daily exercise routines! Rather than seeing all new members as nuisances, remember that many of them share the same interests as you, and could make for great gym buddies or general companions. In addition, not everyone new to the club immediately following the New Year is new to fitness in general; many may be returning after a hiatus or injury, or are switching clubs to take advantage of a new membership deal.

In sum: while we understand the frustrations that many of our members feel come the January rush, we encourage patience and a positive outlook during this brief period of time. In the end, it’s undeniably a positive that so many have chosen to change their health for the better, and we don’t care what time of year – we welcome our new members with open arms!