YMCA reaping benefits of a new yearPublished 10:51am Wednesday, January 6, 2010
By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star
With the new year underway, resolutions to get in shape, drop a few pounds or add some muscle are in full swing.
And area fitness centers are reaping the benefits. The Niles-Buchanan YMCA is reporting increased usage in recent weeks, as inspired members come in to work off the holiday pounds.
Rick Blake, a member at the Niles-Buchanan YMCA for a year and a half, has a New Year’s resolution, but he’s not making it unrealistic.
“Well, I would like to take off all the weight I put on in the last month and a half,” he said. “I don’t have any unrealistic expectations. I’m not trying to look like Schwarzenegger or anything. I don’t want to be too good looking.”
Blake also said he’s noticed more people coming into the Y since Thanksgiving.
And with good reason.
Director of Membership Greg Schuman said memberships is currently at an all-time high at the YMCA, since a big membership drive took place in mid-October in which 300 people signed up for memberships.
Usage of the facility is also way up, according to YMCA Director Bret Hendrie. He said it’s not uncommon to see 2,000 people come through the doors any given day.
“Our usage has been up the entire year in 2009,” Hendrie said. “There’s a much bigger use of our facility with families coming together. As the economy soured on us, people have taken advantage of the membership as a family and get more bang for their buck so to speak. They’ve chosen the Y as a social outing versus going to a movie or going to a restaurant.”
Schuman said typically January and February is a popular time for people to join the Y, estimating that 25 percent of new memberships each year occur in those two months.
Patty Schrock, the manager of Lakeland Athletic Center in Niles, estimates that 60 percent of new memberships occur early in the year.
“For two reasons,” she said. “New Year’s resolutions and because of the weather, people need a place to work out and be active and obviously unless you’re into snow skiing, you need to go indoors. People that normally don’t use their membership very much use it a lot more in the winter.”
The club also offers a promotion this time of year to attract people to join.
Julie Udell of Niles joined the YMCA in February of last year to change her lifestyle, and she has kept her resolution, coming into the gym five or six days a week.
“This year I’m just trying to do the same thing I did last year, trying to change my lifestyle a little bit by working out and eating better,” she said. “I didn’t really do a specific diet but just watch what I eat.”
Udell’s dedication might be a rarity, though. Blake said while he notices an increase of people at the Y around the new year, he finds that the crowds decrease after a few months.
“A lot of people come in and get that New Year’s resolution out of the way and you won’t see them the rest of the year,” he said. “But it makes it easier for us to work out.”
For those looking to stick to their resolutions this year, the YMCA is offering the fitness challenge, an incentive program that allows members to earn prizes based on exercise hours logged and weight lost. The program is free to members. For more information on the program and other ways to improve fitness, contact the Niles-Buchanan YMCA at (269) 683-1552.