By NOBULL Contributing Editor

It’s one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. 

Join a gym. 

The rationale for joining a gym in the New Year usually goes a little something like, “If I join a gym then I’ll have to go because I'm paying for a membership.” 

And yet, it’s amazing how many of those memberships go unused year after year. You join in January and then by March the resolution has burned off, life gets in your way and now you’re stuck paying a recurring payment. 

Trust me. I speak from experience. You name the gym and I’ve joined it. I’ve joined and canceled so many gym memberships it's starting to feel like a holiday tradition. 

Enter Kristi O’Connell. Gym owner and trainer who specializes in the psychology around fitness. 

“Find where you are comfortable. Try out a couple gyms in your area and see where you feel at home. Find a place that’s convenient. And with people you like or are on your level. Because you aren’t going to go if you feel like you don't belong there.” 

Is that what you mean by a community? 

“I believe in community. I think it’s absolutely the biggest aspect to a workout journey. There’s going to be lots of time you don’t feel like doing it. And you don’t feel motivated but when you have ten people or you have one person . . . .they are going to pull you through. When you meet them and there’s the social aspect and having someone to connect to through this health and fitness journey it ends up feeling amazing for two reasons. 1. You get the social aspect and connection that we all strive for as humans and 2. You also get a great workout and you work harder with somebody. And they are going to keep you accountable and motivated.” 

I could definitely use an accountability partner. 

“I always say, ‘if they can do it, I can too. And it works!!!” 

So this year, instead of joining a gym because they have great protein shakes or the signup deal is too good to pass up, look closer. Don’t just aim to gain muscle, lose weight or get more cardio in. Look to find a place where you feel comfortable and supported. Because in the end, the truest most lasting strength we gain from going the gym isn’t muscle, it’s connection.