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Resolution gone awry: From getting fit to pfft

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It’s a new year again, and your New Year’s resolution to get fit means buying a gym membership and telling yourself 2014 is the year.

You’ll finally lose those 15 pounds or train for your first 5K race. Or not, for many people.

In Franklin, Chip Orner, director of parks and recreation, has noticed the usual uptick in membership sales and gym use.

“This is my favorite time of year,” he said.

The peak month for selling memberships at The Gathering Place fitness center, a ministry of Community Church of Greenwood, is January. For example, in January 2013, the center sold 364 memberships for $25,000, compared with its monthly average of about $8,000 in sales.

And the Greenwood Community Center’s membership sales go up in December and January. In January 2013, the community center’s staff sold $14,140, or 310 memberships, an increase of 124 percent from November 2012.

But sales begin to slide again in February.

Every year, December and January are top months for selling memberships for the Franklin fitness and recreation center. In December, the staff sold $16,136 in memberships. In January 2013, the center sold $26,695 in memberships. Typically, between $4,700 to $11,300 in memberships are sold each month from April to November.

Attendance always jumps at the same time as membership sales, but it tends to drop starting in March, The Gathering Place executive director Dean Bouzeos said. Last January, 5,015 scanned their membership cards to get into the organization’s fitness center. That amount dropped by 888 scan-ins, or 17 percent, in March.

That wasn’t just a New Year’s trend. Year-over-year, the Greenwood Community Center reported having 9 percent fewer gym users than in 2012, even though sales of membership passes and daily passes went up 27 percent.

Sales of memberships and usage of the Greenwood center went up in December 2012 and January 2013. Despite the additional memberships, attendance

fell by more than half from January to February.

Bailey VanVleet of Franklin bought a membership to the city’s recreation center this month. She hopes to lose some weight and get in better shape in the coming year, she said. She graduated from high school last year and no longer has cheerleading to keep her active.

VanVleet planned for a few months to buy a gym membership, and the new year seemed like a good time to do it, especially after a holiday season of opportunities to eat constantly, she said.

“It’s a new beginning, a new start, I guess,” she said.

VanVleet plans to exercise for up to 45 minutes a day in the coming year, using the recreation center’s weight machines and treadmill.

Jama Young of Greenwood picked 2014 to increase her twice-per-week walking routine to a six-days-a-week schedule. She bought a membership to The Gathering Place so she can walk on the indoor track when it snows or rains.

The women are among a group of gym-goers in Johnson County who set out after New Year’s resolved to get fit. Most of them don’t stick with their plans, according to local gym directors.

At the Franklin recreation center, January 2013 had a total attendance of 11,244. That amount fell by 7 percent in March and by 30 percent in April.

In keeping with the New Year’s trend, attendance at the Greenwood Community Center went from 7,151 in November 2012 to 9,209 in January 2013.

Some members do head outside to exercise during the warmer months, as Young plans to do in the spring and summer. Many quit working out altogether, Bouzeos said.

“If they do buy it, they at least start (working out),” Bouzeos said. “The problem is sustaining it. How do you keep people coming March, April, May and throughout the course of the year?”

The New Year’s resolutions to get fit get dropped especially quickly if people exercise by themselves, so Bouzeos encourages people to join a fitness class. Exercising with people you know provides accountability and helps residents stay committed, he said.

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