Fitness centers see uptick with start of new year

1/2/2014

By ANGIE HAFLICH

By ANGIE HAFLICH

ahaflich@gctelegram.com

After all the extra indulgence over the holidays, the next step for most people when entering the new year is to make resolutions, often times revolving around health and fitness.

That means more local residents hitting the gym.

Megan McFee, wellness coordinator at the Garden City Recreation Commission, said she definitely sees an upsurge in gym visits in January.

"I know that we'll see probably 1,000 to 1,500 more visits for the month vs. December," McFee said. "Probably starting on (today), since we're closed New Year's Day, we'll see a lot of new faces and a lot of old members returning who we maybe haven't seen for awhile."

While many new members will stick with their exercise program throughout the year, others will stop within weeks of joining, McFee said.

"Unfortunately, we do have some who are gung-ho to begin with. They're going to make the 12-month commitment to be fit, and we only end up seeing them for two or three weeks, which is very unfortunate for them," she said. "It's more common than I think we would like, but there's not a whole lot we can do about it."

One way people can stick to their health and fitness programs, McFee suggests, is to make short-term goals.

"A lot of people make a 12-month commitment and say things like, 'I'm going to work out six days a week,' when in reality, if they were to make a short-term commitment and say, 'for the next four weeks, I'm going to work out for 30 minutes, three times a week, and then after that, I'm going to do it for another four weeks, and then after that, another four weeks,' it might be a little more sustainable," she said.

She also said that many people often feel too intimidated to join a gym.

"We have a lot of new people. They come in, and they're very intimidated by the process, or the facility, or by the people who have been there for years and years and know exactly what they're doing. For those people who are a little bit intimidated, I wish they could understand it's not an intimidating place. Everyone's there doing their own thing, and they're really not concerned with you or what you're doing or what you look like when you're doing it," McFee said. "It's not an intimidating place, and if it is for any reason, that's what we're there for. We're there to bring them in and make them feel comfortable in the facility and with the machines and with what they're doing."

Dan Knight, wellness director at the Holcomb Recreation Commission, said the first two months of the new year are definitely the busiest, in terms of new memberships, but by March, it starts tailing off.

He thinks people sometimes limit themselves by being too narrowly focused on specific goals. A big picture approach would help them stick to their resolutions.

"Many times, people set goals that are too hard to reach in a short time, and they don't have the patience and vision to see what can be accomplished in say, a year or two. They also put too much emphasis on just weight loss and not on improving their health and changing their life in so many other areas," Knight said. "If I could find the answer to why people quit just about the time they are beginning to see results, I could make a fortune. I think part of it is that they have short-term goals and don't see the big picture of long-term benefits. Plus, they may go so hard early on that they burn themselves out."

Sarah Tighe, health and fitness director at the Garden City Family YMCA, said it's important that people don't jump into an extremely intense workout routine all at once. Accountability is also a helpful component in keeping one's resolutions.

"Hold yourself accountable. If you need to, keep a food journal or exercise journal — both are known to be very effective," Tighe said, adding that having a workout buddy also helps keep people on track.

Keeping it manageable and tracking results is another effective way of sticking with a fitness routine.

"And if you don't reach a certain goal in a certain time, don't give up," Tighe said. "It will come."

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