Damn the Pandemic, Full Speed Ahead
New Year Resolutions for Better Pec Flys, Triceps, Pushdowns

A study commissioned by Planet Fitness in 2022 found that health and fitness ranked high on the list of New Year Resolutions. How high? Ninety-one percent of those surveyed.

Of that grouping, about 66 percent said they desired to be healthier while 51 percent wanted to feel better about themselves and 48 percent wanted to look better.

Picture by Kirby Inot.

This reporter decided to follow up that report.

A large flag with the Planet Fitness logo is positioned at the top of the gym entrance of the Wall Street branch of Planet Fitness. Across the street is the world famous Charging Bull that attracts tourists from around the world who show up to take photos next to it every day.

I visited the gym during the pandemic in search of stories to tell.

Gym Rat Newton Rosario, 19, a college student who lives in Staten Island, was a regular at this gym. He said he had been working on himself and trying to achieve the goals that he had set for the new year.

“For this year in the gym, my new year’s resolution was to have an awesome set of six pack abs. I am currently still working on them,” Rosario said. “It’s getting there. I’ve been doing 50 crunches and sit-ups ever since the Christmas dinner and have been seeing some genuine progress.”

He was locked in and focusing on himself to become the person he wanted to be.

Rosario shared his routine for the day, and this day was his “push day.” His workout consisted of bench presses, inclined presses, cable pec flys, triceps pushdowns, as well as his daily abs workout that he has been doing since Christmas.

Picture by Kirby Inot.

“Resolutions in general aren’t usually kept but are always a good way to get back into the swing of working out and keeping consistent,” Newton said during his workout. “Sometimes people set unrealistic expectations or arbitrary goals that get a little too easy to drop. The best way for me to keep a resolution is to establish a realistic goal and to keep tabs on what you do. Make sure you are indeed working towards your resolution and have an actual plan to get there.”

Rosario rested in the men’s locker room after his gym routine. I ask him about his opinion about the mask mandate in the gym. “As for mask mandates,” he said, “it’s always nice to be able to work out without a mask. There is always the fear of the spread of covid and various diseases so it’s always best for me to keep everything I touch and use, clean for the sake of myself and my fellow resolution-ers.”

Rosario exercised without his mask but he used a sanitizing spray that the gym provided and wiped down the machines with paper towels.

Picture by Kirby Inot.

Although we were three months into 2022 and the Pandemic was still raging, Wall Street Planet Fitness receptionist Jessica Lauro said, “Yeah, yeah, we definitely still see a lot of members coming here into the gym in March, there has been a lot of people coming in these past few days.”

Those entering the facility were greeted by receptionists who told them  to “Have a great workout!.” I went down to the lower level and saw several people – some maskless, but also social distancing. After the mask mandate had been lifted, many people returned to indoor public spaces.

In the lower level of Planet Fitness Wall Street Branch were the cardio machines. I saw employees cleaning unoccupied machines, making sure everything was clean and wiped down from its previous users. Planet Fitness employees were constantly checking up on machines that are commonly used and making sure patrons were using them correctly.

The strength and cable machines were found in a lower level with the locker rooms. This was usually where most people gathered and do their workouts.

Picture by Kirby Inot

Back in the men’s locker room, 33-year-old California native, Joe, who has been living in New York for 6 years, said, “To be honest with you, I’m okay with the mask mandate being lifted. I don’t have any kids or any older people to worry about, so it doesn’t really affect me, I work from home and currently live by myself, so it’s been okay, I guess.”

I eventually got dressed and left the gym after his weekly workout. Seeing many people maskless in the gym indicated to me that more should have been vaccinated, especially being in an indoor space alongside strangers. Many people believed that exercising was easier without a mask. But was it worth the risk.

Exiting the men’s locker room, I saw many working out with the strength and cable machines but the patrons here seemed to be mutually respectable.

Michael Lawrence was seated by the stretch area and was taking a break from his workout. Lawrence, who is 71 years old and said he had been living and exercising in Manhattan for 40 years,  said  he had “no resolutions, more like personal goals, working out for my whole adult life to stay healthy and keep my body in check. It’s more of my lifestyle.”

Lawrence also said that if the gym was to ever get crowded he suggested enforcing masks. “It’s fine for not a crowded situation, it’s gotta be flexible though when the gym is full capacity it should be used,” he said. If gyms were to ever reach full capacity, an enforcement of the masks would have been a good idea to keep a safe space for everyone. However back then gyms weren’t at a high capacity due to the pandemic.

A large part of the population increase at gyms was due to, one, the mask mandate being lifted and, two, people’s passions for their resolutions. What was next for New Yorkers? I thought it would be to work on themselves and to find what they wanted to work towards.

Picture by Kirby Inot,

Whether it be crunches every day after Christmas or setting personal goals in and out of the gym, people should have resolutions.

Many New Yorkers, I believe, can relate to what Jessica Lauro 18, an employee, said: “I should make a resolution for myself now that I think about it, but my resolution right now is to get money and make money.”

Kirby Inot can be reached at KIRBY.INOT27@myhunter.cuny.edu