Improving mind, body and happiness usually tops the list of New Year’s resolutions across the map. With two of those being mental challenges, the most physical display of commitment to these new standards begins for many in the workout room.
Fitness centers across the area see an increase in memberships each year around the end of December leading into January.
Corky Salyer, owner of Fitness World in Raceland and general manager of American Health Center in Ashland, said 65 percent of their total membership enrollment is a product of new year signups, similar to boosts at other gyms, like all five locations of Tri-State Fitness and Rehab.
Maria Wendt, finance manager at Tri-State Fitness and Rehab, said they not see a spike in new memberships, but also see more of their regular patrons getting back into fitness routines at the start of the year.
“Having a New Year’s resolution is only part of it,” she said. “They’re also trying to lose weight and stay fit while committing to healthier lifestyles.”
Taking the first step through the doors of a fitness center is what Tim Pack, an employee at American Health Center, said is most important.
“It’s like trying to sell someone a high-powered car,” Pack said, explaining what it is like trying to motivate newcomers to get fit. “You can tell them all about the features and benefits, but until they really feel the power of the engine, or how smooth it rides, they won’t believe you until they experience it for themselves. Results keep you coming back.”
Jaycee Clark, a senior at Russell High School, trains at Fitness World in Raceland and works at American Health Center in Ashland. She agrees seeing results is the most motivating aspect for gym-goers, but also stresses the importance of being patient.
“It’s all about baby steps. A lot of people need to realize you don’t have to kill yourself at the gym every day or eat good all the time,” she said. “One day, try walking for an hour. The next day eat a salad instead of going to McDonald’s. Just take it day by day”
But sometimes taking things one step at a time fails to satisfy some, especially with the type of commercialism surrounding health conscious people at the beginning of the year.
Pack noted several factors influencing people to look for weight-loss “miracles,” such as supplement advertisements, pressure to eat out instead of cooking at home and discouragement from family or friends.
“Sometimes you’ll have people who have obesity that runs in their family and they’ll tell them when they start working out that they’ve lost too much weight and don’t look right,” he said. “There are also so many restaurants in this area and not a lot of things for people to do except go out to eat. We have great restaurants here, but if you don’t make the right choices, it’s bad for you.”
Wendt similarly said they see some patrons fall off track when results are not immediate, but she doesn’t blame loss of motivation solely on laziness.
“Maybe some people just haven’t found the right thing to make their lifestyle change. If you can find something fun, for example like one-on-one workouts where it’s personalized to you, maybe that’s the best way for you to see results and maybe if you see the pounds coming off you’ll feel more motivated to keep going,” she said.
Because of this variance in fitness preferences, many gyms have better retention when they provide different programs, such as personalized training sessions or group fitness classes that help patrons blend in with the crowd.
Picturing fitness goals as New Year’s resolutions is a popular trend, which could add undue pressure for some of those in-training, but Pack said it can go either way.
“It can be a pressure thing for people, but it can also be a kickstart for others,” he said. “Some people need that. There may be 80 percent of people who fall off, but 20 percent carry on. If there’s just one person who gets something out of that New Year’s resolution who reaches their goal, then it’s a success.”