New Year’s resolutions inspire more people to hit the gym

Published 9:48 am Thursday, January 3, 2019

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN — Each new year, people across the globe take on similar resolutions to better their health and get fit. This shared goal inspires many to put on their workout gear and hit the gym.

At the Niles-Buchanan YMCA, the trend is no different and officials said they typically see a rise in business.   

“There is a huge spike,” said Tiffany Rusher, the YMCA director of group fitness for the Niles and St. Joseph facilities. “Usually it starts the week before New Year’s.”

Rusher has worked for the YMCA for four years, helping to coordinate fitness classes and community fitness efforts. She said the difference in members during the start of the year is one that is noticeable not only to Y employees but also to regular members. She approximated that the memberships nearly double around this time a year.

“In the cardio area, you would see maybe 30 people and now you will see double that in the aerobics room and weight room area,” Rusher said. “Obviously it is good for business that memberships rise.”

At Redbud Fitness & Lifestyle Center, owner Teresa Green, is also expecting to see an increase in memberships. The Buchanan gym opened in March of 2018 and this will be its first year operating in January. 

“The winter is our busy season,” Green said. “Hopefully it will bring our quality memberships to others.”

By March, Rusher said, new year’s memberships start to see a decline. The memberships will pick up once again in the spring as people look to get in shape for impending summer weather.

With more people in the gym at the beginning of the year, however, Rusher said sometimes longtime members get frustrated with the crowds.

“There is more waiting time at the machines. Classes are a lot more packed,” Rusher said. “But it is awesome because not everyone falls off. You have those people that keep their memberships. The Y is like a small family … friendships [are made] and they end up staying. Overall, it is a good thing.”

While the motivation to get healthier is one aspect of the goal, Rusher said a number of local gyms also offer discounts and savings. The YMCA, for example, offers a no joiners fee through January.

While the trend bolsters business for a time, Rusher said memberships start dropping off around March. As the summer months near, they will typically climb again.

To help motivate people to stick to their resolutions this year, Rusher said the YMCA, alongside many other gyms try to offer incentives to keep people on track.

At the YMCA, a 12-week fitness challenge will begin Jan. 21. The challenge is $10 for those who have memberships. The goal is to get 36 workouts in 12 weeks. Those who participate track their progress by putting a sticker on a board at the YMCA.

“People just love getting that sticker up there,” Rusher said.

This year, the YMCA is partnering with Andrews University for the challenge to host weekly meetings about nutrition and health.

Similarly, Redbud will initiate a Biggest Winner challenge starting in February, modeled after the reality TV show “Biggest Loser.” The goal will be to encourage members to lose weight. Green said finding new ways to engage members in getting healthy is always a goal.

“We are working on other ways to support our members, so they can keep track of their progress,” Green said.

Wellness coaches that are available at Redbud work at the gym with this goal in mind.

For those looking to stick with their fitness goals, Rusher said creating realistic goals can help people succeed. 

“It helps if people start small,” Rusher said. “For someone who normally does not work out, they shouldn’t say, ‘OK, by Feb. 1, I want to run 10 miles,” Rusher said. “Maybe they should start off with a half mile and maybe they should walk 30 seconds, run for a minute.”

Having a workout buddy to help keep each other’s goals in check can also help people to keep their fitness resolutions, Rusher said.

No matter what their reason for hitting the gym this time of year, Rusher encouraged them to keep at it.

“Start small, make small attainable goals and then gradually add on to that,” Rusher said.