Gyms see rise in business in new year

pseligson@newsobserver.comJanuary 20, 2014 

Wintertime brings holidays focused on food and cold weather that encourages people to stay inside where it’s warm rather than go out to exercise.

But after the holidays, many people make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight.

And where do they go to lose that weight?

The gym.

Gyms and fitness centers in Johnston County are still enjoying the extra business from New Year’s resolutions. But for many of those businesses, the bump in memberships will fade as the year goes on.

At Body Fit Health and Fitness in Smithfield, business increases by about 50 percent from January through April, said owner and manager Wendy Wolbert.

But how many stick around? “It’s about half and half,” she said.

The gym has about 575 members, and the influx in January includes many people trying to get in shape for summer, Wolbert said.

“I love it, number one, because it increases revenue but also because it makes the gym have more energy,” Wolbert said. “The more people that are here, the more exciting and motivating it gets. Bigger, better energy.”

Wolbert said she tries to motivate people to keep them coming back, and she will call members who haven’t come by recently. She also tries to offer a variety of programs to keep things interesting.

But at the end of the day, Wolbert said, people aren’t going to do something if they don’t want to.

Her advice to sticking with fitness is to set a realistic goal of working out three to four times a week and do that for at least a month.

“Usually you get into the habit and ... then it seems like it’s part of your life,” Wolbert said. “I would just say the biggest thing about working out and being fit is consistency. If they are consistent, they will see results. If they’re not consistent, they’re not going to see results, and they’re not going to continue to be motivated.”

At Clayton Fitness, manager Christy Parks sees a similar trend each new year. “About 40 to 50 percent of the new people will stick with it,” she said. “We try to engage our new members by taking them through some training and showing them how to use the machines and getting them involved so they’ll stay and stick with the fitness.”

How many new people join in January varies from year to year, Parks said. Sometimes up to 200 will join; other times it’s closer to 60 to 70. The fitness center has about 1,200 members.

“Usually we see the decline starting probably in February to mid-March,” Parks said.

Her advice: “Just to stick with it. Once you do it for two or three weeks, it kind of becomes a habit, and it’s easier to stay in a routine than to get out of a routine and get back into the routine again.”

At Yoga Connection in Smithfield, Martha Catz, owner and director, said business increases by about one-third this time of the year. “I think it’s less spur of the moment than what you might find at the gym,” she said. “People are more thoughtful, and they’re coming to it for a different reason.”

Instead, Catz sees a drop in summer when people become busy. Then, in August, at the end of the summer, people often rejoin. Catz said she tries to bring people back by offering classes at different times.

Catz said she’s happy that more people are giving yoga a try. “I’m very grateful that people are starting to make that connection that you cannot separate the body and the mind,” she said.

Darren Rosado, 47, of Wendell has been going to Body Fit, the Smithfield gym, for about four years. He started going because he wanted to get healthy. “The older you get, the more you need to do it,” he said. Rosado also quit smoking around the same time.

Rosado said he sees new people around after New Year’s. “Usually the first month or two, you can see a lot of people, but they fall off, but they usually come back,” he said.

When Rosado sees the newcomers, he said he hopes they can accomplish whatever it is they set out to do.

Salvador Alvarez, 32, of Selma lifts weights with his friends and comes about five times a week to Body Fit. He started going a year ago. “I wanted to look good, but I wanted to feel good about myself,” he said.

Daniel Munaz, 23, of Selma is a friend of his and has been working out for about a year. They said part of sticking with the gym is the social part and promising each other to be there.

Munaz said he has mixed emotions when he sees the newcomers. “Some stick to it,” he said. “Some stay here a couple of days. ... You hope it goes good for them. You hope they stick with it.”

Seligson: 919-836-5768

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