By Ashtin Murphy
Stateline Business Journal
As the New Year arrives, resolutions and determination to make life changes often turn gyms into busy places.
And, sometimes, it even sticks.
Either way, this time of year can bring a sharp uptick in business for companies specializing in fitness.
Stateline Business Journal touched base with several companies to get their take on the challenges that come with a new year. There was considerable agreement it’s important to know exactly what a gym offers, besides workout equipment, when you sign up.
Do they evaluate your fitness level? Do they help with all of your bad habits? Are they prepared for a large increase in members? Do the employees show you around or leave you to fend for yourself? These questions can be critical because the answers can spell the difference between succeeding or failing at your fitness goals.
Representatives of the Stateline Family YMCA Beloit location, 1865 S Riverside Drive, NorthPointe in Roscoe, 5605 E Rockton Road, Anytime Fitness in Janesville, 3023 Milton Ave. and Peak Fitness in Rockford, 4304 E. State St., have answered some of these questions so new members can know exactly what to expect.
“Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, so everyone has to have a plan specifically for them,” said Ann Hankins, executive director of operations at the Stateline Family YMCA. “It’s a team effort between our welcome staff and our wellness coaches.”
To prepare for the influx of people in the new year, Hankins said the YMCA hires extra staff to make sure everyone is being helped and new members are walked through everything so they feel more included.
“New members can meet with a wellness coach four times and we try to get those meetings in within the first month,” Hankins explained. “We try to set people up with an individual plan based on (their) need and our welcome center staff stays connected and checks in with members to make sure they are getting along okay.”
Hankins hopes the new Beloit location — a facility that is being built at the Ironworks complex downtown — will help new members stay motivated, as it will have all new equipment. The new building will also have specific studios for classes, gyms, racquetball and a lap pool in addition to a warm water activity pool. The YMCA hopes to open the new facility in April.
While most people come in to the gym to get tips on how to be healthier through exercise, the YMCA also addresses other issues that could be holding someone back such as poor eating habits or even smoking or drinking.
“It is addressed at the meeting with the wellness coach,” Hankins said. “We help them with behavior changes and that makes people want to stay around. We ask what the specific goal is — is it to lose weight or be healthier or something different? We help them be accountable.”
The YMCA also has a financial aid policy so no one is held back from their fitness goals because of money.
New members at NorthPointe in Roscoe get an orientation and a fitness assessment that shows them where their strengths and weaknesses are when they sign up. This also helps the staff get a better idea of what areas need improvement so instruction can be geared more towards those areas.
“Our members start off knowing what they need to work on,” said fitness coordinator Kristi Lambright. “We make sure they have a game plan and a road map. We try to get to know them because they are not just a number here. We want to make sure they reach their goals.”
“The more interactions our fitness staff has with the members, the more it makes them feel comfortable and helps them want to stay,” Lambright noted. “For members we haven’t seen in a while the system sends them a letter or a reminder. The accountability increases
Lambright said she doesn’t really see a decrease in membership in the spring months like a lot of gyms do. She believes the hands-on approach of the staff helps keep NorthPointe’s numbers from slipping once the new year motivation passes.
“We focus on the whole person. We talk about the stages of changing, like how someone gets ready to stop bad habits. We work around scheduling issues and even have a registered dietitian on staff. We have all the resources of the Beloit Health System as well as social workers,” Lambright said.
Lambright mentioned the goal of the staff at NorthPointe is to help members succeed and achieve their fitness and other health-related goals. NorthPointe even has a small scholarship program for those in need either medically or financially.
Club Manager Jimmy Treslley at Anytime Fitness in Janesville said the firm hires extra staff in order to help with the rising numbers of members during the new year.
“New members have a fitness consultation to get them set on their goals,” Treslley said. “We recommend personal training and will even write up a free plan if they can’t afford the training.”
Treslley said even though membership really increases in January, Anytime Fitness also sees an increase in November and December as well.
In order to keep people motivated, Treslley said if someone has not been to Anytime in over a month, they will offer a workout with a trainer for free in order to help them get back on track.
“We took this job to help people and we want everyone to succeed,” Treslley said.
Anytime Fitness has freeze policies for their accounts and also offers free 14 day passes for those having trouble paying for their membership.
At Peak Fitness in Rockford, manager Mike Koehl said the facility sometimes runs a personal training promotion at the beginning of the new year in order to encourage both new and returning members to keep reaching for their goals.
“We make sure we are fully staffed and ready to go,” Koehl stated. “We include a free training session when you sign up to set up a game plan.”
To help people stick with their plan, Koehl said the free training session really helps. The session doesn’t just help the new member set up a fitness plan, but it also helps to make sure members know how to use the equipment properly and are able to get the fullest use out of the gym.