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Published: Thursday, 1/6/2005

Health resolutions fatten rolls of area fitness club memberships

BY MARY-BETH McLAUGHLIN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Jim Crocker, left, stretches as part of his workout routine with trainer Joey Shinaver. Jim Crocker, left, stretches as part of his workout routine with trainer Joey Shinaver.
MORRISON / THE BLADE Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Area health clubs are packed this week, thanks to New Year's resolutions about getting into shape and losing weight.

"We are swamped," said Amy Hemelgarn, area manager for the three Super Fitness locations in the Toledo area, which offer personal training as part of a monthly fee of $19.50.

"I think that draws people in, because they're getting results and they're not having to pay extra for the service," she said.

Ryan Joyce, manager of the Airport Highway location of Bally Total Fitness, estimated that he will work 60 to 70 hours a week for the next six weeks to keep up with the influx of new members and people who have slacked off in their visits.

"New members coming definitely doubles, if not triples, every year at this time," said Mr. Joyce.

Andrea Tanner, a nursing student, resolved to exercise more.
Andrea Tanner, a nursing student, resolved to exercise more.
MORRISON / THE BLADE Enlarge | Buy This Photo

"That usually lasts about six weeks and then people start peeling off until we're at our normal numbers."

He credited New Year's resolutions for the influx. The club is offering the first month free and then starts charging its $30 to $60 monthly fees.

Suzette Valiton, fitness director of the Wildwood Athletic Club in Sylvania Township, said January is traditionally the busiest month.

"Honestly, from January until March, we're pretty busy," she said. "People who are mentally prepared stick pretty good to what they intended to do. Those who are not really mentally and emotionally committed tend to fall by the wayside."

The upsurge at health clubs in January is a national phenomenon.

Bill Howland, director of research for the International Health, Racquet, and Sports Club Association in Boston, said an annual study of its said an annual study of its members found January "is consistently the single biggest month in terms of new membership sales."

He added: "Year in and year out, most clubs will generate 12 to 15 percent of their total annual business in January alone."

The notion of fitness and health has given rise to a $14 billion industry in the United States, with new health clubs opening daily.

As of last July 1, the United States had more than 26,000 health clubs, up 11 percent in six months, the trade group said.

The national average for a single adult membership is $50 a month, with an initiation fee of $100 to $150.

The health club association recommends would-be exercisers shop around before settling on one place.

"We recommend the consumers do their homework and find a place that fits their budget and their goals," Mr. Howland said.

To celebrate its 140th anniversary in Toledo, the YMCA and JCC of Greater Toledo has sharply discounted sign-up and membership fees.

The special has monthly fees under $19 for singles and under $36 for families. Members can use eight area facilities. The reduced fees apply only to the first month after signup.

"I think people are just realizing that it's time to get back into a fitness routine," said YMCA spokesman Jennifer Ruple.

The activity starts to taper off in mid-February, she added.

Contact Mary-Beth McLaughlin at

mmclaughlin@theblade.com

or 419-724-6199.



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