Local gyms are getting ready for a possible surge in newcomers seeking to get in good physical shape for 2021.
Matt Gentry, Lenoir City Fitness owner, during typical years sees a bump in new members. He’s hopeful that will be the same after 2020 saw a roughly 20% decline in memberships due to COVID-19 concerns.
“We’ve seen, obviously, a decline in memberships,” Gentry said. “I think it’s been more of a fear factor than anything, which is understandable. People taking precautions, which I do recommend. If you are at risk, you should avoid these type areas. But I do encourage people maybe to not come at peak hours. We are sanitizing multiple, multiple times a day. We’re encouraging members to use the equipment wipes before and after each use, which are placed throughout the gym, hand sanitizer. We aren’t requiring masks because we feel like that’s your personal decision. We’re 24/7 so I can’t monitor 24/7, so it’s almost impossible to monitor that, but we will follow state and government guidelines as those come.”
Early last year, Gentry limited patrons to five per 1,000 square feet, putting the max number inside at one time at 20. He plans to continue that practice in 2021.
“We’re hopeful,” he said. “Since the vaccine’s coming along, we’re hoping the numbers will go down, people will become less fearful of it. That’s what we’re hoping for.”
Although not open to the general public, Tellico Village’s Wellness Center typically sees a 8% spike in membership in January, Simon Bradbury, Tellico Village Property Owners Association recreation director, said.
“We have systems in place in accordance with governor’s guidelines,” Bradbury said in an email correspondence. “There are set numbers of participants for each activity and they must reserve ahead of time. Our traffic patterns are set up so each activity has a different start time and all enter and exit different doors. Every 15 minutes an area is disinfected by staff. We have installed ultraviolet light air purification systems in our HVAC systems.”
Although 2020 was a “very challenging” year, Bradbury felt confident heading into 2021 with the way staff adapted to guidelines.
“We have our systems down now,” he said. “The jobs are harder with all the cleaning, social distancing and expectations, but it has made us a better team of professionals.”
Gold’s Gym’s also saw a dip in membership in March before it gradually increased throughout the year. Jesse Fain, general manager, said typically January sees a boost of 30% in membership. He hopes that happens this year.
“We’re thinking January is going to be a solid month,” Fain said. “It’s going to be busy again. I mean the gym is the best place to build your immune system, help feel a healthier body, just really fight the virus off.”
Plans are to continue cleaning efforts in preparation for an influx of newcomers.
“We have an outside cleaning crew that comes in every night, so they come in seven days a week to do the deep cleaning,” Fain said. “We also have in-house cleaners who go around during the day and wipe down the equipment, refill the cleaning products. We have paper towels, Virex spray, hand sanitizer, then all our members are wiping down their equipment before and after use. We’re kind of patrolling to make sure everyone takes care of that. Just so that everyone’s being safe, we did come in to space the equipment out. Upon entry we’re doing temperature checks and member screening questions.”
Getting in shape
With many likely setting resolutions to get fit, health experts have recommendations to avoid discouragement.
“It’s probably the most sought-after goal,” Gentry said. “There’s always the saying, ‘new year, new me,’ but I think this year it’s more prevalent than ever. People need something to focus on other than the bad. They need to focus on maybe bettering themselves, coming out of a depressive state that we’ve all kind of been over the last year. Make 2021 more about yourself, getting in better shape physically, which will help yourself getting in better shape mentally. It’ll help combat other illnesses and this, that and the other. I think this year is more important than ever to maybe focus on whatever your New Year’s resolution goal might be.”
Set small, obtainable goals, Gentry said.
“Set short-term goals and long-term goals,” he said. “Set weekly goals and where you want to be in a year from now. Don’t just say, ‘I want to lose 100 pounds in a year.’ You have to take baby steps to get there. It’s easy to get discouraged when you set those huge, enormous, long-term goals and then in a week you’ve only lost a couple pounds or you’re a couple pounds up, you get discouraged and you want to quit.”
Fain agreed setting goals can go a long way.
“Personally what works best for me is if I have a certain goal, I’ll set five in-between goals,” he said. “It just really helps when you hit those goals, you hit a smaller goal and it just keeps you going. You have this huge goal that you want to handle — say you want to lose 50 pounds in a year. That’s a long stretch of time, that’s a lot of time in between. If you say, ‘I want to lose 5 pounds this month, 5 pounds next month,’ every time you hit one of those smaller goals, it really just boosts your self-esteem and boosts your confidence because you’re still seeing that progress — it’s on a smaller scale — but you’re still seeing that progress, you’re still accomplishing what you set out to do.”
Lofty goals are likely the reason many back out of a workout regiment, Bradbury said. “Resolutioners” typically drop off around March.
Some of that falls on not finding a support system, whether that be a friend, group or personal trainer, he said.
“Personal trainers can be good for anyone, really,” Fain said. “Any kind of goal you have they can really help you achieve. It’s just like having that buddy there to help push you and even if you’re struggling they can help push you and help recognize what you are doing correctly and how you are accomplishing these goals. It’s really something awesome. It’s really a great way to stay into fitness, not get burnt out and just keep hitting those goals and just keep advancing and advancing.”
Nutrition also plays a key role in maintaining a fitness goal.
“The nutrition is crucial to it as well, and it just really goes hand in hand,” Fain said. “You’re doing this awesome training making your body stronger, you need to fuel your body and it’s going to keep getting stronger and stronger burning that fat and putting in that muscle.”