Health and Fitness

Start of new year a business boon for fitness clubs


If you’re looking to get in shape in the new year, you’re not alone.

Getting fitter is a popular New Year’s resolution and that’s translating to more business for the places that help people make it happen.

“I think health and fitness is important to a lot of people and their families, and their well-being,” said Tariq Sheikh, a manager for GoodLife Fitness clubs in Halifax and Dartmouth.

“This time of the year it just seems natural for people to try and get a good start to the year and feel good about their goals.”

Sheikh said new memberships at GoodLife starting in January usually account for about 10 per cent of the new memberships for the year. That’s about a two per cent increase from new memberships in other months.

But he said the gyms see existing members coming in to work up a sweat more often.

“We do see some members that maybe have been on break over the holidays or maybe haven’t been as diligent to their workouts through the winter months as they’d like to be,” Sheikh said.

“This is a good time to get back in and get going again.”

Sheikh said GoodLife usually increases the number of employees or shifts available, and includes complimentary services like orientations and introductions to personal training services to accommodate the uptick of new memberships in January. (Shutterstock / DayOwl)

Sheikh said the company usually increases the number of employees or shifts available, and includes complimentary services like orientations and introductions to personal training services in January.

‘Spike of enrolments and usage’

Scott Wildeman, the president of the Fitness Industry Council of Canada, reported more dramatic numbers for January.

According to numbers from the 5,000 facilities the council represents across the country, Wildeman said a typical facility will see about double the normal enrolment and one-and-a-half times their check-ins in January.

“We do see a spike of enrolments and usage, which is always great,” he said.

Wildeman said the Fitness Industry Council of Canada represents gyms at YMCAs across Nova Scotia, as well as a number of fitness centres at educational institutions and municipal facilities.

Wildeman said council partners work both to bring new members in but also to ensure they actually stay past January.

Wildeman says gyms need to work on not only recruiting new members in January, but making sure they don’t fall back on their goals. (CBC)

He said new gym-goers might try to take on too many changes at once and get overwhelmed, which can lead to some membership cancellations in the first few months.

“One of the common pitfalls is people will say, ‘I want to work out five days a week,’ because they think that’s the right answer. But the reality is not many people can do that,” he said.

“When they don’t meet that goal, then they feel like they’re failing, so then they quit, usually [in] mid-February.”

Keeping your resolution

Wildeman said his best advice for keeping a New Year’s resolution is to make small changes and keep at them.

He said just going to the gym by itself is a behaviour change, so he advises that new gym-goers just focus on that until it becomes easy.

“After you’ve built that habit, then focus on your next behaviour change, such as nutrition. And then once you get good at that, then focus on your next behaviour change, which could be changing your sleep patterns,” he said.

“But if you try and change all three of those at the same time, that’s when people typically bite off more than they can chew.”

Sheikh agreed, and added that some people might find it easier to stay on track by working out with a friend or family member.

He also said people looking to get in shape should also take a more “holistic” approach to health and fitness.

“It doesn’t only mean being muscular or athletic,” he said. “It’s about personal fitness, and it’s about feeling comfortable, confident and full of energy.”

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