Gym Rats 

Dear Minerva,

Every year about this time, I notice people who go to my gym start making fun of the "New Year's Resolution" crew that starts coming. Sometimes these people are visibly out of shape, sometimes they aren't. I swear I can feel the tension, and then the rolling eyes, smirks, whispered comments and laughs start. I don't know how to make people stop being terrible, but I feel like I need to do something. Do you have any ideas?

Sincerely,

Patience Plateau

Dear Patience,

This is a disheartening thing to hear. The gym, which is supposed to be a place of self-improvement, is not immune to schoolyard bullies. It might be hard for some to comprehend that there are many reasons that people want to work out—not just weight loss or to look good in a bathing suit. It is true, you cannot force people to be kind. Maybe the regulars stick their noses in the air because so many people fail on their gym resolutions. Maybe fitness comes easy to them so they don't realize the sheer act of being willing to be seen working out in public among bronzed Adonises is terrifying and, all too often, enough to keep people home. I encourage you to set an example. If someone starts talking trash to you about the newcomers, shut them down. Smile and say, "Hello" to those who are trying to turn over a new leaf. Kindness is just as worthwhile of a workout.

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