The power you have in January is like no other time of the year.

That time when you awkwardly stepped forward… dressed in what you thought was appropriate. Ill-equipped to know any better. Just knowing that something needed to change. Do you still laugh or get butterflies thinking about your first step in a gym or doing something physical?

Imagine meeting your “first” self again. This time, you are the one that has been at it for a while and you notice that younger you walking in. How would you greet yourself?

This coming month, as an estimated jump in gym memberships reaches over 40%, you can be sure you will be faced with a previous version of you, the gym virgin. In fact, it won’t be long before all the good intentions die – likely in just a few weeks – and you can have your favourite machine back or spot on the fitness floor.

But what if YOU are the reason why someone stays? What if your greeting, or how you patiently explain a machine or class to a newbie contributes to a positive experience for someone who just might keep coming back?

“I’ll guilt my way to keep going.”

For those that are currently considering a change in your life, you need to know that instructors, staff and longtime members care. A lot. We expect gyms to be uber busy and would be happier contributing to your success than complaining about the crowd. Maybe a big gym isn’t the way to go – “boutique” clubs (yoga studios, boot camps, etc) may sometimes cost more, however the experience is a different level of engagement.

Before you sign up to anything, remind yourself that you’d rather NOT be the subsidy for other members. Gyms succeed when their customers don’t set foot in the door. Do you really want to be that statistic?

Guilt won’t make you go. Building a community will. Work out buddies are one of the biggest reasons people stay committed to physical fitness. In fact, you are three times more likely to show up one year later if you have a social connection. I often contact members who haven’t showed up for a while – because it’s just not the same without you! Another tool to get you moving is to give yourself small rewards (not chocolate) when you reach milestones. Maybe your milestone is June and a gathering with friends is in your sites for the summer. Or set a goal to walk or run a 5K.

Regardless of where in the spectrum of fitness journey – remember that this is a time that you have a rare opportunity to make a difference. Feel good about making a connection that will have life-long, lasting positive effects. Connecting with others will make your experience feel like home. And keeps us all coming back.