Tonawanda News

January 4, 2013

Hitting the gym

By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Local gyms have been flooded with newbie exercisers pledging to make 2013 the year that they carry out their New Year’s resolutions, but the facilities will likely empty out again as the goal-setters lose sight of their motivation as the year progresses. 

“Enrollment increases by 30, 40, 50 percent now,” Roy Espinosa, the owner of Fitness Factory in Kenmore said. “This is easily the busiest time of the year.”

Although Espinosa is likely happy to see the gym pull in extra membership fees, he is realistic about how long the newly resolved exercisers will stick to their goals, and said most of the newcomers will be gone within a few months.

“They think that if you walk in once and are taught are to use a machine, you’re done,” Espinosa said. “But that doesn’t happen.”

To achieve one’s fitness goals, Espinosa said exercisers must receive training to learn how to exercise and eat correctly — and if they don’t, they won’t see results, and they won’t come back. 

“Many come in, do too much cardio and burn too much sugar, and then they don’t feel good,” he said. “Others do too much weight lifting and are too sore. Then they come back the next year 10 pounds heavier.” 

Espinosa has seen many success stories come out of his gym since it opened 10 years ago, however, and said with the right training and long-term commitment, his new customers can stop making resolutions and start making fitness a habit. 

“It’s just like training for like golf,” Espinosa said. “If you learn about nutrition and have someone teach you how to use the machines correctly, that’s how they set themselves up for success. That’s how long it takes.” 

Espinosa and Jay Marrow, a manager at Best Fitness in Tonawanda, said they work to teach and retain the new customers that walk through the doors at this time of year. 

Best Fitness offers a free consultation with a personal trainer and a free online nutrition program which clients can use to track their workouts and meals.

“We help them figure out how many calories they need and pinpoint their individual goals,” Garrow said. “We help them figure out what they are doing when they are not in the club.” 

Garrow said a popular choice for newcomers is the gym’s exercise classes, like Zumba and Body Pump, a free weights class. 

“People, especially women, have the misconception that weights bulk you up,” Garrow said. “But to lose fat, the biggest thing you want to do is build muscle tissue. And this class really helps people find that out and get what they want.” 

But amid the success stories are the woes of those who join a gym on Jan. 1, stop going a few months later and then are stuck with year or two-year contract they’ve signed with a facility, pledging to pay the monthly fee for the next 12 or 24 months.

Garrow noted the positive aspect of the long-term contracts, and said they can help people stay committed and keep making the trip to the gym. 

“We try to show people that this is a lifetime commitment, and that’s how they will become successful from here on out,” Garrow said. “We don’t want to turn them off with the commitment, but teach them how to do this for the rest of their lives.” 

Although Garrow said there are a lot of new customers this time of year, most of the people exercising at the gym Thursday night have been members for months, and said the increase in the beginning of January comes as an annoyance — not an inspiration.

“I was a little worried coming here tonight,” Brandon Morrisey, a regular exerciser from Buffalo said. “But us diehards say they will all fall off the wagon in a few weeks.”

There are also long-term customers who are using their resolution to recommit to their goals. 

“I’d really like to lose weight and build muscle,” Rob Simmeth, of North Tonawanda said. “But it does get packed in here.” 

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150