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New year means new business for local gyms

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    Bryant Crutchfield spots Michael Self II at Super Fitness in Toledo. Both have been at the gym for about 6 years.

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    Mike Kaucher and his wife Christine lift weights at Super Fitness in Toledo. Christine has been a member at the gym for several years, but today was Mike's first day as a member.

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    Bryant Crutchfield spots Michael Self II at Super Fitness in Toledo. Both have been at the gym for about 6 years.

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    Elisha Stroder works out at Super Fitness in Toledo.

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For many, the end of the holiday season means hauling the Christmas tree to the curb, storing the lights back in the attic, and getting back in shape.

Fitness centers across the country tend to fill up this time of year as many overindulgers write "lose weight" on their list of New Year's resolutions. Gyms in northwest Ohio are no exception.

BIZ-Gyms30-1

Bryant Crutchfield spots Michael Self II at Super Fitness in Toledo. Both have been at the gym for about 6 years.

The Blade/Lori King
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Stephanie Strock, the manager of Super Fitness on North Reynolds Road in West Toledo, said her club has seen an increase in people buying memberships for themselves, and for others.

"Black Friday is when it usually starts and people start thinking about buying gifts for the holidays," Ms. Strock said. "And then we see a bigger increase more towards Christmas because we generally see people start thinking more about New Year's resolutions and wanting to be healthier and happier in their life."

Super Fitness has seen a slight increase in new memberships this year compared to 2016. While some members eventually stop showing up after the new-year rush, Ms. Strock said her gym has a good retention rate.

She also said reasons for wanting to lose weight entering the new year can vary.

"They eat too much over the holidays. They don't want to be unhealthy anymore. They want to keep up with their kids and grandkids," she said. "It's a 'new year, new them' type of mentality, which is great, because that's the best time to start. New year, new you."

LA Fitness on North Holland Sylvania Road in North Toledo has seen a similar upswing in business.

Operations manager Kaitlyn Hutchisson said there have been more people working out lately, thanks in part to out-of-towners visiting family and friends.

"We usually have a different special every day as far as memberships," Ms. Hutchisson said. "Right now, we're doing one where you can add family members. We do a lot of free guest passes this time of year, too, so people can try the gym out and maybe sign up to become a full member come January."

Ms. Hutchisson said about one-third of new members who sign up around New Year's stick it out for a full year. About half of those who don't are gone by February.

A large gym with hundreds of pieces of equipment can be intimidating, but most fitness centers will ease newbies into the process.

"We have a lot of licensed and certified trainers here, and all our new members get a fitness assessment," Ms. Hutchisson said. "Our trainers will go around with them, show them the machines and exercises that will work best for what they're looking to get out of their time here, and teach them how to use those things."

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine issued a statement this week with recommendations for those thinking of joining a gym.

He said consumers should research the gym and check to see if any complaints are on file with them, read contracts carefully and ensure verbal agreements are put in writing, watch out for extra fees, and check the cancellation policy.

The AG's office received nearly 150 complaints in 2017 related to fitness or health club memberships. Ohio's Prepaid Entertainment Contracts Act usually guarantees three business days to cancel a gym membership contract.

“This is a time when many people are thinking about joining a gym, and that can be a great way to get in shape," Attorney General DeWine said. "We just want consumers to understand what they’re signing up for. A little bit of prevention can go a long way.”

Contact Jay Skebba at jskebba@theblade.com, 419-376-9414, or on Twitter @JaySkebbaBlade.

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