LAUREN WOOD / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Chase Smith lifts weights Friday afternoon at Vidalia Total Fitness, shortly after the beginning of the new year when more people head to the gyms to keep their New Year’s resolutions.

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PUMPING UP BUSINESS: Gyms see biggest jump in membership at beginning of year

Published 12:26am Sunday, January 6, 2013

NATCHEZ — Area gyms are hoping the most popular of the New Year’s resolutions drives more new members to their businesses this week.

Daphne Turner and her husband, Bobby, own Natchez Total Fitness, Vidalia Total and Natchez Lady Fitness. Turner said January is the biggest month for the gym, but she said the gyms haven’t seen a heavy influx of new members in the first week.

“We’ve had a few, but it usually hits more the second or third week of January,” Turner said.

It is especially important this year, Turner said, because the couple recently opened Vidalia Total Fitness.

“We really didn’t plan on doing that, but we had so many members from Vidalia who asked,” she said. “We’re hoping we get a lot of members because we need to justify that.”

January also sets the pace for the year at Perfect Fit studio, which offers a variety of fitness classes.

Co-owner Emily Maxwell said new membership generally picks up the second of third week in January after people’s children return to school.

LAUREN WOOD / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Emily Maxwell, center, leads a hip-hop class with Ariel Gardner, left, and Caroline Hungerford, another instructor and studio partner, Thursday night at Perfect Fit at Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center.

“We look forward to the influx of new members, and we’re hoping New Year’s resolutions bring a lot of people in,” she said. “We also look forward to getting full classes back because attendance always drops off during the holidays.”

In a perfect world, all New Year’s resolutions would be kept the whole year. Perfect Fit co-owner Caroline Hungerford said that is a difficult task, but it can be done with a little help.

“For me, group classes help,” Hungerford said. “If I was going to do it on my own, it would be intimidating. But if you get a buddy, it helps keep you accountable.”

Vidalia Total Fitness manager Dallas Butler said some people prefer to work out alone like she does. The key to keeping motivation when starting to work out alone, Butler said, is to start off slow.

“When I first started, I couldn’t stay on the elliptical machine five minutes, now I work out two hours, five days a week,” she said. “You have to start out slow, no more than 30 minutes your first time, so you don’t get overwhelmed and give up.”

And the longer people stick with their resolutions, Turner said, the better it is for business and the members. The key to sticking with it, she said, is making it a habit.

“You have do it so that when you don’t work out, you miss it,” she said.

Hungerford agrees and said working out or attending group classes should become part of a routine.

Perfect Fit offers toning, step, cardio, senior, hip-hop, yoga and Pilates, as well as other specialty classes such as Piloxing, which is a combination of Pilates and boxing. The studio also offers Booty Barre, which combines dance, Pilates and yoga.

A one-year contract for $35 month includes unlimited classes, or members can pay a $45 per month membership that can be canceled at any time or $8 for each class.

The studio is located in room 206 of the Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center.

At Natchez Total Fitness, Vidalia Total Fitness and Natchez Lady Fitness, members can sign up for $22 a month. The fee covers access to all three facilities and is deducted from the members’ bank account each month but can be canceled at any time.

Some fitness resolution makers may only stick around the gym for a couple of months, but Turner said she sees more and more people sticking with their resolutions.

“I guess I’m seeing a more health-conscious generation, but I think if people come in and make the decision to go for it, they have a better chance of sticking to it than not,” Turner said.