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Many resolve to shape up in 2014
Members of the Forsyth County Recreation Center at Fowler Park work out on tread mills. Fitness facilities see a spike in business as the new year begins. - photo by Crystal Ledford

Errol Harris is looking forward to the next few weeks.

The owner of Anytime Fitness on Freedom Parkway in north Forsyth said the first weeks of any new year always bring in a lot of new business for gyms and workout facilities.

“It’s always funny to me that people will come by in January,” Harris said. “For some reason, it’s like that magical month when everyone decides that they want to come and start working out.”

The Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Department also has seen an influx of people wanting to get into better shape.

Laura Pate, programs supervisor with the department, said the county offers many fitness programs — such as weight room facilities at Central, Fowler and Old Atlanta parks — that are on par with commercial gyms. There are also numerous workout classes at the centers, as well as basketball courts and walking tracks.

Visitors can buy passes at various prices that give them access to the different offerings.

“[Sales of memberships] are definitely high in January and then it levels out in February, March and April,” Pate said. “Then it dips down in May, June, July and then it picks back up for the fall. “So far this year, we’ve already sold 299 memberships and that’s just one week.”

Even before he bought Anytime Fitness about three years ago, Harris had an idea of what to expect.

“I was one of those people that if I didn’t have a membership already, I’d wait until after New Year’s to come join,” he said. “So I anticipated it would by busy during January and February after just being a member of a gym.”

While some who work out consistently year round may be a little annoyed by the influx, it doesn’t bother Todd Scott.

Scott, who has been working out regularly for about four years at the Freedom Parkway gym, said he does notice the annual increase.  

“After going to gyms since I was about 20, you always look for that after New Year’s acceleration in memberships, absolutely,” he said. “I was just talking to my wife about the other day, how the gym was about to get crowded again because of New Year’s resolutions.”

Unlike some who may get peeved, he just works around the influx of members.

“It doesn’t bother me,” he said. “It could be any time of day that I’m here and there’s plenty of stuff here so you can still move around freely.

“I’m not a big socializer when I work out anyway. I’m just trying to get done and get back home, so it doesn’t bother me either way.”

The increase certainly doesn’t bother gym owners like Harris.

“It’s a good thing and we’re definitely not complaining,” he said. “We expect to get even more members this January than we have in years past.

“Our corporate office has a lot of really good promotions … like this week, new members can join for just $14. Normally, it’ll cost around $57, so that’s a pretty good deal.”

While there are no special promotions in January, Pate said parks and recreation staff are adding new programs, such as several for children and teenagers, to hopefully encourage more people to take advantage of the county’s fitness offerings this year.

“We really want everyone to continue with those New Year’s resolutions all throughout the year to be as healthy and fit as possible,” she said.

Harris echoed those sentiments.

“Most people drop off in their attendance around March,” he said. “Hopefully, they’ll stick with it this year.”