Gyms everywhere are supposedly packed to the brim at the start of the year. Regular gymgoers groan about the slew of new members resolving to chase their fitness goals down once and for all this year. But are gyms really busier in January than at any other time of the year? For Auburn area fitness centers, it turns out that while there is some truth to this assertion, the answer is more complicated than a straightforward “yes.”
Being in a college town, Auburn gyms are heavily affected by the academic schedule. Fitness centers see a lot of activity at the beginning of semesters, which contributes to January’s popularity. Nicole Agostino,
“We have a lot of students who are on the academic schedule, as are teachers and administrators of the University,” Agostino said. “So it seems like January’s the very beginning of a new semester, and it’s kind of a time before everything gets super crazy.”
However, the academic influence means that the start of the fall semester also competes for the most-packed gym award.
“This last year, we were busier in the fall — like in August, September
Tray Wright, Manager at Tiger Iron Gym, said that while he’s not sure if January is the busiest month of the year, it’s definitely in the top three, adding that August, September and the beginning of summer are busy as well.
“Theoretically speaking, let’s say if a normal month we have 200 sign-ups in a month, then I’d say in January we’d probably easily do 350, maybe more in a month,” Wright said.
Agostino estimates that she sees an increase of 30 percent in the number of students in January.
For most gyms, those increases turn into decreases as the year progresses and people get busy or lose motivation. Agostino says that people tend to slow down around the middle of February, though she does have students who stick with it all year.
Wright said that the crowd at Tiger Iron Gym would probably be biggest from Jan. 8 until the beginning of February.
Ard sees a different situation at CrossFit on the Plains.
“Honestly, we get the busiest in February,” he said. “January is like slowly adding people into the fold. And then February, March, April is everybody’s coming in and working out and that’s when it’s really busy.
Ard says people stick around longer at CrossFit on the Plains, as members have to sign up for an extended time.
“We make them commit to three months,” he said. “So if someone comes in, they can’t just … join for January and then quit.”
Ard said after the initial three months, probably two out of three people continue with the program for an extended time.
Wright estimated that 33 percent of people stayed for a longer time at Tiger Iron Gym.
“Generally one out of every three people that signs up in January, I’ll say maybe one of them will stick with their plan of trying to get in shape and they’ll come in here for maybe three months or two months at a … regular pace,” Wright said. The other two or three will probably work out maybe that first month, and then they’ll drop back off or they’ll lose their motivation so to speak.”
Agostino said that as people’s schedules pick up and they get busier, they no longer prioritize going to the gym or fitness class.
“I think people allow other things to get in the way,” she said. “And it’s easy to fall off. Once you say even a couple of times, ‘Well, I’ve got this other project happening. I’ll pick it up again next week.’ Well, that often doesn’t happen next week. Something else always comes up.”
Finding time to work out is a factor that influences people staying with their fitness goal at Tiger Iron Gym as well.
“A lot of people will convince themselves they can’t lose enough weight or it’s taking too long or it’s too hard,” Wright said. “Most people that stick with it, they usually find a comfortable schedule that they can work around with the gym, and they’ll really stick with what they want to accomplish at the gym.”
Ard and Agostino both said that accountability, or lack thereof, affects whether or not students keep going.
“People that come to our gym, they work out in classes with other people, they form relationships and they keep each other accountable and that kind of thing,” Ard said. “If someone’s going to a conventional gym, then they may have a workout partner or a friend that they go with.”
Agostino recommends people focus on the results of their workout as well.
“Try to remember how good you feel after yoga,” she said. “When you go to class, it’s like going to the gym. There’s a lot of work ahead of you, but if you can remember how good it feels once you’ve done it, that is the thing that keeps bringing you back, I think.”
While it’s true that the January gym crowd is real, in Auburn, the August and September crowd is a close competitor and even bigger in some cases. Regular fitness buffs can blame the new school year resolutions.