Keeping your resolutions isn't half the battle. It IS the battle.

Photo: Allan Woods

Will YOU keep your resolutions?

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By Colin Hunter

They’re called Resolutionites, a fascinating breed of creatures that flourish every year just after January 1st. You can see them everywhere: longingly eyeing a nearby smoker’s cigarette, solemnly ordering a salad while salivating over a menu’s pictured cheeseburger, or grudgingly committing a daily good deed. But at no time will you see Resolutionites more numerous, and behaving more adorably, than when they are frolicking in their own natural habitat, your neighbourhood gym.

Resolutionites just adore playing in gyms, whether lifting weights to increase muscular strength, participating in games or sports, or just stretching out on a padded mat. They seem particularly fond of cardiovascular exercise machines, and can be seen huffing and puffing for hours on devices designed to simulate biking, jogging, and even rowing! Black training attire, sometimes adorned with vertical stripes intended to give their bodies a slimmer, lengthened appearance, seems to be the apparel of choice. Especially notable is their almost unanimous desire to decrease body mass, a unique instinct seen virtually nowhere else in the animal kingdom.

Though science is only beginning to understand the unique traits and habits of Resolutionites, this much is known: they reach their larval state in mid-to-late December. During this larval stage, Resolutionites subsist primarily on a diet of turkey, ham, semi-congealed poultry fat drippings (or “gravy”), and a liquid diet comprised of mainly eggnog and cheap wine. Larval Resolutionites spend much of their time indoors — often in their parents’ lair — usually cocooned on couches or reclining chairs, incubating in the warm light emitted from a television. They eat and grow for a period of two or three weeks; then, when the time is right — rarely sooner than December 31st — the larvae hatch and begin their new lives as active Resoluionites.

Upon hatching, a newborn Resolutionite immediately and instinctually makes several noble yet unrealistic promises to itself: “no more heavy drinking,” it might say, or perhaps “I will donate money to charity.” Of these promises none is more common and fervently declared than: “I will lose weight.”

Thus begins the life cycle of the Resolutionite (which, interestingly, is spent largely on a LifeCycle). The determined Resolutionites flock to the gyms in droves. To catch a glimpse of some of this year’s brood you need look no further than Ryerson’s own Recreation and Athletics Centre.

“I gained a lot of weight in December,” says Liz Tayag, a civil engineering student and an admitted Resolutionite, while resting between exercises at the RAC. “I want to go down to 105 pounds,” she says, adding with a smile, “and look like Jessica Alba.”

Leona Mouliakis, the customer service supervisor at the RAC, expects to issue a flurry of new memberships to this year’s Resolutionites. “For the next few weeks, it’ll be very, very busy around here.”

Greg Hildebrand, a Ryerson graduate who has been coming to the RAC for over seven years, has seen many generations of Resolutionite hatchlings arrive each January. “It gets really busy every year when there’s an enormous spurt of them, all trying to get rid of the turkey fat.”

Though Hildebrand admits that the influx of Resolutionites can cause some annoyances, he says, “there’s really not much you can do about it.” Besides, he says with a shrug, “lots of them stop showing up after a while.”

There lies the tragedy in the lives of Resolutionites: as quickly as they appear, nearly all of them soon die off.

Resolutionite Kim Van Moorsel, who has revently vowed to “keep in shape and stop sleeping too much,” is concerned that her ambition might wear off. “I don’t know if I’ll survive,” the fashion design student says.

RAC personal trainer Nino Robles says that Van Moorsel’s plight is all too common among Resolutionites. “Toward the end of January and into February, they get bored or tired of their routines, and things die down in here.”

Exactly where the Resolutionites go is not fully known. It is believed that some go into hibernation until the beginning of the next year, at which time they return to the gyms, even larger and more dedicated than before. Some are never seen or heard from again.

Yet there is hope. The RAC staff are acutely aware of the February extinction phenomenon, and are going to admirable lengths to bring an end to it. “we try to stop it with our retention program,” says Robles. “We try to get them to stay for an entire year, and longer.”

The RAC’s retention program — the centre’s most proactive Resolutionite conservation effort to date — is now getting underway. New members, for example, will be encouraged to play “Mind and Body Trivial Pursuit” — a day-by-day version of the popular board game — each time they visit the gym.

With the promise of prizes to the top players, Robles hopes the game, and other efforts like it, will help retain members, interest and keep them coming back.

Thanks largely to the admirable efforts of conservationists like Robles and Mouliakis at the RAC, some Resolutionites are managing to keep their promises, outlast their brethren, and thrive.

Until personal trainers and fitness experts worldwide begin to follow the example set by Robles and Mouliakis, however, this year’s group of Resolutionites — as well as those of new years to come — are likely to all but vanish from gyms everywhere come February. So get out to your local gym and see these darling animals while you still have the chance.

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