Looking to kick-start the new year with healthier habits? According to Equinox, that has to wait a day.
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a collage of an Equinox storefront with a calendar of January 2023 with a red X over it and some weights
Credit: Design elements: Getty Images. Collage: Cassie Basford.

The high-priced gym chain came under fire for launching a day-long "We Don't Speak January" campaign where new clients were forbidden from signing up for a membership. That's right—people who visited the Equinox website on January 1 were greeted with this message, "It's not you, it's January."

In an Instagram post, the company called the month of January "a fantasy, delivered to your door in a pastel-colored box." They continued by saying, "Your life doesn't start at the beginning of the year. And that's not what being part of Equinox is about." The gym doubled down by stating, "We defy expectations. We are not moderation. We want it all. We want it all, every day."

a photo of Equinox's January 2023 message for not accepting new memberships
Credit: Courtesy of Equinox

As someone who started my professional fitness career with The Bar Method in 2018 and vividly remembers what it was like to be a beginner, I'm taken aback by this campaign. I'm crushed by the thought of someone mustering up the courage to finally join a gym, only to be met with "We don't speak January" and "we'll welcome you tomorrow." 

The campaign feels belittling to those looking to form healthier lifestyle habits, while simultaneously seems like pandering to their current members who are already in a consistent workout routine. To me, it comes off as elitist.  

And to be clear, we at EatingWell don't love implementing strict New Year's resolutions either. (Check out why one of our on-staff dietitians chooses to opt out of resolutions entirely here.) They can lead to shame, guilt and burnout before even reaching the end of January. Adopting the mindset of "new year, new you" implies that something was wrong with you to begin with, which is far from the truth. 

That said, to blatantly not welcome newcomers into a healthy space could deter them from wanting to make a lifestyle change altogether. Gyms can be extremely intimidating, and as a fitness professional, it's my job to look out for the clients I serve by lowering the barriers to entry and encouraging clients to meet themselves where they are. 

And while I understand the sentiment behind the viral campaign, this wasn't it, Equinox. I hope the outpouring of love and support online encourages those impacted by the campaign to love themselves at every point in their wellness journey—and maybe to consider another gym if they're interested.