A fantasy, delivered to your door in a pastel colored box. It talks about change. It wants you to start something when you should be in the middle of it. It thinks time is on its side. It needs a new outfit before it can begin.
Nay, that’s not a riddle from a fantasy novel. It’s a line from Equinox’s mystifying new “We Don’t Speak January” stratagem, which the luxury gym rolled out on social media — and on billboards in New York and Los Angeles — this past week.
The campaign is a resounding rebuke of “new year, new me” resolutions, which often lead to shiny new gym memberships (12% of sign-ups occur in January)…that too often go to waste (“Quitters Day” usually falls around January 17, the point at which most people abandon their healthy reboot).
Equinox’s anti-January diatribe isn’t just philosophical, though. For 24 hours, at least, it was also logistical; on New Year’s Day, Equinox didn’t accept any new membership applications.
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Evidently, Equinox marketers aren’t impressed with those looking to jumpstart their wellness after the indulgent holidays. If you’re not “in the middle” of your fitness journey already, forget it — head down the road to Orangetheory.
On one hand, you have to admire the chutzpah here. As an opulent label that has never minded courting a bit of controversy, this campaign has a clear POV that fits seamlessly with Equinox’s hashtag of choice: #ItsNotFitnessItsLife. Any gym that charges $300 a month (plus a half-grand initiation fee) is used to having pissed-off people in its mentions, so why not lean into it? Let those who eat too much salt be salty. Right?
Besides — Equinox is correct to encourage people (however indirectly…or sneeringly) that we probably place too much pressure on January. Should one fresh month really be held responsible for getting us fit, keeping us sober and optimizing our workflows?
At the same time, though, Equinox is obviously full of shit. The gym was back to accepting brand-new memberships by the second day of 2023, and stands to make a ton of money as Americans continue to move on from their connected fitness machines and return to working out in public.
As far as those of us keen to join a gym right now? Don’t let Equinox get you down. This campaign has received enough attention online that certain research biologists felt compelled to weigh in. As one replied: “January 1 needn’t be ‘just another day.’ Our brain can segment time in many ways. Only some are constrained by biology. Designating a calendar date as a starting place to achieve behavioral and/or psychological change is entirely legitimate. If you want a change, set it & get it.”
Absolutely. If setting a New Year’s resolution works for you — or, perhaps, this year you’re just particularly determined to stick to one — then that’s all that matters. Resolve is a powerful thing. If you try to stick to a behavioral change, one day at a time, you have as good a shot as besting Quitters’ Day as anyone else.
And remember — while lemon-eucalyptus-scented locker room towels are nice, Equinox needs you more than you need them.