Prepare Thyself: How to Survive the New Year’s Resolution Crowds at the Gym



Every year between January and March, commercial gyms look more like the set of a zombie movie than a place to get in shape, with the resolution crowd plodding on treadmills like a mindless horde.

If you’re a seasoned gym-goer, it can be frustrating—but be patient. Everyone is there to accomplish the same goal—to improve—and it’s difficult to fault a person for self-improvement … however much he or she may hog your favorite machine.

Here are some strategies to get you through Q1 at your overflowing gym:

1. Avoid rush hour at all costs.
Most people exercise before or after work, so do whatever it takes to avoid those times. Get up extra early to be there right when the doors open, or figure out a way to pop in on your lunch break.

2. Go to the weight room.
Most gym newbies are going to hop on a cardio machine; fewer will venture over to the barbells and dumbbells. And besides, if your usual gym routine involves lots of cardio or yoga, this is your opportunity to get stronger.

3. Ditch the gym altogether.

Many people enjoy the social aspect of hitting the gym, but if you’re more of an introverted, headphones-in, get-out-of-my-way-while-I-work-up-a-sweat type, now might be a good time to set up a training space at home. With just a few square feet of floor space and some inexpensive basics, you can execute incredibly effective, time-efficient training programs, like the one below.

4. Become an exercise minimalist.

No, that doesn’t mean train with minimal effort; it means train with minimal complicatedness. I’ve designed a brutally effective workout program that will give you a total-body workout using a single dumbbell. Check it out; click the links below for video instructions for all the exercises. (This version is appropriate for intermediate lifters. Scroll down for a link to descriptions and video of the beginner and advanced routines.)


1. Forward crawl, 10 paces
2. World’s greatest stretch with rib grab, both sides
3. Marching bridge x 10
4. Dumbbell belly hinge x 5
5. Jumping jacks x 30

Perform the warmup circuit three times without rest.

Strength Circuit
1. Reverse lunge to push press x 5/side
2. Plank row x 5/side (alternating)
Perform the strength circuit three times with minimal rest.

Cardio Circuit
1. Wide stance deadlift 10, 9, 8, 7, 6… 1
2. Mountain climbers x 10
Perform the cardio circuit 10 rounds without rest.

*Click here to sign up to receive beginner and advanced versions of the dumbbell workout.


Marshall Roy is the owner of RISE gym in King of Prussia, a kettlebell and barbell studio offering personal training and group strength & conditioning classes. During his career he’s trained rugby players, triathletes, news anchors, Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighters, middle-aged men and women, the obese, and even figure competitors. Learn more about what RISE has to offer at