By Sally Voth
Northern Shenandoah Valley residents are packing the fitness centers in a burst of New Year's enthusiasm.
Mike Kitts, general manager of Dominion Health and Fitness in Front Royal, has been seeing a steady stream of exercisers -- both new members, and old members returning to their regimens.
"January is off to a great start," he said. "It's a new year, people making New Year's resolutions. January and February are probably two of our best months as far as new members."
But, it's not just New Year's resolutions sending people into the gym this winter. Dominion was also busy in December, according to Kitts. He attributes that to cold weather preventing people from doing some other activities.
"We have a pool, also, and it's a heated pool," Kitts said. "That's very popular in wintertime. It also attracts a number of new members."
Holiday indulgence is spurring Clay Stanley, of Linden, into Dominion a bit more. The 20-year-old has regularly attended the fitness center since he was just 14.
"Christmas and Thanksgiving destroyed me," Stanley said. "My New Year's resolution was to just get back in here and get back in shape for summer."
New Year's resolutions and a lack of other activities to do also led to membership spikes at Gold's Gym in Winchester, manager Claude Lawson said. Current members also are upping their attendance, he said.
"The biggest thing that we try to tell people here ... [is] to just take it slowly and work out three or four times a week, not try to make up for all that lost time in just a couple-week period," Lawson said.
Keeping a manageable pace that can fit into members' schedules, as well as setting them up with personal trainers, seems to keep them from burning out, he said.
Getting a fitness assessment and advice from a trainer is important, according to Randy Price, master trainer at Woodstock Total Fitness.
"Every year, it's will they stay with it is the other question, and usually that's where I come into play," he said.
If someone who isn't already acquainted with fitness programs and working out jumps in all of a sudden, their dedication might not last, according to Price.
"It's not even so much resolutioners, it's more people are trying to make a lifestyle change," he said. "That, I've seen a big increase here."
It's not just about working out, but nutrition, too, Price said.
He urged those looking to improve themselves in the new year to turn to trainers.
"It's nothing to be embarrassed about by seeking some professional advice," Price said. "Even I still do. Even though I've been training for 12 years, I still learn."
Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org