Today I joined the throngs of people flocking to health clubs to get back in shape this week. I shouldn’t have been surprised by the suddenly packed parking lot and the crowded fitness center at my YMCA: in January alone, over one million Americans join health clubs each year. And sadly, up to 75% of those quit their goals within the first three months.
But today, the place was teeming with people prepared to sweat off their holiday indulgences (cookies, anyone?). I found an empty bike, adjusted my settings and hopped on, ready to tackle the imaginary trail ahead. Twenty-plus wheels cranked, spinned, climbed and coasted up and down the virtual hills and valleys. Twenty-plus bodies synchronized with the pounding music and our instructor’s commands. Twenty-plus souls pushed, pulled, cycled and sweated to gain some strength and burn a boatload of calories in our quest for fitness. We felt proud. We felt strong. We felt high on the endorphins. Okay, we were gasping for air, trying not to throw up and about to feel exhausted, but not just yet.
At that moment, we were full of hope. Full of optimism. Full of energy.
Can you imagine how much hope, optimism and energy fills America’s health clubs in the month of January every year? One million new souls, believing that this year we will really get back in shape, conquer those demons, and get on with a healthier lifestyle. It’s a valliant effort, even it costs us over $18 billion per year, and it might be short lived. I’m part of it, in my own sporadic way.
But I can’t help thinking about all of these people who come out of hiding this week. What if we could capture all that new energy? What if we could harness it and channel it to last the whole year through? What if one million people used all of that energy and optimism to promote a different kind of health–not just body-sculpting–but a community-building kind of health?
What if, instead of just working out, a million newly energized, motivated people could instead work together to:
- feed someone. . . toward stamping out hunger
- tutor a child. . . toward improved literacy
- give to a charity. . . toward ending poverty
- visit a church (or temple, or mosque, or someone who needs a friend) . . . toward a better community
What if. . . ?
Imagine the possibilities.
Where would you channel these one million energetic, hopeful people?