Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — BY MICHAEL WALTON
TRAVERSE CITY — Denice Walton has a laundry list of reasons as to why she joined a gym for her New Year’s resolution.
Diabetes and heart attacks run in the family, said Walton, of Traverse City, as she filled out a membership application at Grand Traverse Athletic Club one morning last week.
“And then, of course, gaining strength and losing weight,” she said.
Joe Lorenz, a personal training manager at Anytime Fitness in Garfield Township, said the post-New Year’s new-membership rush is like a tradition at his gym.
It even becomes an inconvenience — and a bit of a joke — for workout regulars like Ben Blissett, a longtime member of Anytime Fitness.
“Today was the first day in a while where I had to wait for an eliptical (machine),” Blissett said during his post-workout stretch.
But Blissett likely won’t be disrupted for long, as the rush dies down within a month, sometimes even as early as two weeks into January, Lorenz said.
Anytime Fitness staffers do what they can to help newcomers commit to their New Year’s resolutions. The gym offers discounts on sign-up fees and training session costs, but Lorenz said consistency is the single most important factor for reaching New Year’s goals.
“What matters is you continue to do it; you stick with it,” he said.
Blissett said it’s important for new gym members to start slow if they want to last through January.
“People come in here and they just pound weights, then they can’t move for a week,” he said. “You don’t go out and run 10 miles when you’re first starting out. You run for 10 minutes.”
Brittany Theisen, a personal trainer and group fitness instructor at Grand Traverse Bay YMCA, said the resolution-minded should focus on goal-oriented exercise.
“Keep your goals smart, as in specific, measurable, attainable, reasonable and timely,” Theisen said. “Don’t just say, ‘I’m going to lose weight.’ Say, ‘by the end of January I’m going to lose five pounds.’”
Walton, the new member at Grand Traverse Athletic Club, has her own goal for 2014: lose 40 pounds.
It might seem like an ambitious benchmark, but Walton isn’t new to the fitness scene. Walton said she lost 60 pounds while working out over the last 18 months.
Walton said she’s confident she’ll stick with it at her new gym. She plans to take things one day at a time, to focus on small steps like improving her walking and jogging times, increasing the amount of weight she lifts and joining some of the classes offered at the club.
She urged new gym members to remember the hardest part of getting in shape is the start.
“I found it took about six weeks, then I wanted to go to the gym,” Walton said. “Then it starts to gives you more energy and a better outlook on yourself.”