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Posted January 6, 2009 | comments Leave a comment

Local gyms offer deals to cash in on New Year’s resolutions

Victoria Klavans
Victoria Klavans works out on the leg curl machine while her personal trainer, Sarah Buracker, right, looks on inside Woodstock Rehab and Fitness Center. Rich Cooley/Daily

Yvonne Lytton
Yvonne Lytton, of Woodstock, performs an exercise on a BOSU ball inside Woodstock Rehab and Fitness Center off Hisey Avenue. Rich Cooley/Daily

By Preston Knight — Daily Staff Writer

Every time that ball drops to officially usher in a new year, hordes of people declare that this is the year they will start the march to reach their physical peak by going to the gym.

But that resolution comes with a cost, and with virtually every American taking a hard look at their budgets, renewal or purchase of a gym membership can be considered a candidate to be cut. Some gym owners and managers are facing that reality and offering deals to overcome it.

“It’s no hidden fact that business has dropped off,” said Dave Reichley, who owns Woodstock Rehab and Fitness, where seasonal discounts are available. “When people don’t have a job, they tend not to have money for club membership. It’s been very difficult. People with 12-month contracts come to me and say they can’t make their house payment and need to get out of the contract. I feel for the people. We live in this community, too.

“But I also have 18 employees who count on me for a pay check.”

If the matter is simplified to what cost people should put on being healthy, the answer is priceless, making a gym membership a wise investment in anyone’s constrained budget, owners said.

“No matter how much money they have, if they don’t have their health, they don’t have anything,” said Barbara Sweeney, who owns the Centre 4 Fitness in Winchester. “[Exercise] is a top priority, especially when you become addicted to it. It’s such a stress relief, and when you’re done, it makes you feel better.”

The center is a facility for women and specializes in classes. Because of this, numbers have actually picked up recently, Sweeney said. She is seeking even more women through an open house scheduled for 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, offering memberships for $30 a month.

Sweeney is optimistic about her gym’s outlook.

“We rely on our members who are already to bring referrals,” she said. “A lot of members bring in their friends.”

Dominion Health & Fitness in Front Royal is taking advantage of that buddy system this month. Anyone who joins with a friend will split the monthly costs, about $25, with that friend, General Manager Mike Kitts said. In the past, people were required to live in the same household to receive the discount.

“It increases membership but it’s also a good incentive for buddies,” Kitts said. “It encourages the other person to come.”

The gym is also offering an 18-month membership at $33 a month for single people. Despite the economy, Kitts said Dominion should have a typical busy January after a solid December.

“People still see the need to exercise,” he said. “That’s just one of the most effective ways to reduce stress — walking, swimming in the pool, just the idea of moving.”

Among deals elsewhere, Woodstock Total Fitness is offering a two-for-one deal for $50, which includes no registration fee of $45 if members sign up before Jan. 15, and Winchester’s Sportsplex is offering a 30-month membership through February at $19.95 per month with a one-time initiation fee of $49 for new members.

At Body Renew Fitness in Winchester membership is $24.99 a month. About $500,00 in renovations to what was Winchester Fitness LLC has led to a more popular facility, which even had a small profit last month, co-owner Cory Moore said.

“We’ve been growing,” he said.

Gold’s Gym in Front Royal is also offering a two-for-one membership deal as well as a $1 to join deal with a 12-month agreement that includes one month free. General Manager Casey Cope said January, February and March are the busiest months for the gym, which is banking on a response from the New Year’s resolution demographic with the motto, “A New Year, a New You.”

“It’s hard to tell [if it will work] with the economy and people looking to cut costs,” Cope said.

Meanwhile, the economy was among the factors that led to the closing of Perc Fitness in Winchester at the end of December. The gym’s physical therapy department was moved to Amherst Street.

With the new year often come new goals and a sense of optimism for everyone, gym owners included. Reichley said that the people who join at the beginning of the year will be more likely to stick with their membership.

“I think the population is getting more educated,” he said. “It’s not just ‘exercise,’ it’s exercise for health and the things exercise can do for you. The human body is really the only machine that gets better the more you use it.”

* Contact Preston Knight at pknight@nvdaily.com

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