Snowbirds drive up gym memberships

YMCA membership signup

SUN PHOTO BY TOM CHANG, tchang@sun-herald.com.
Englewood residents Jim and Patty Mello, left, are signing up for new membership by Tilly Plank at the Englewood YMCA on 701 Medical Blvd.

ENGLEWOOD — The most popular New Year’s resolution in 2013 is to lose weight, but that may not be the only thing driving people to area gyms.

As seasonal residents arrive for the winter months, a surge in local gym membership can be expected and relied-upon, area gym salespeople say.

“The primary demographic (for our surge) is the seasonal residents,” said Patti Grant, owner of Curves in Englewood. “We see a big increase in the season from January through April.”

Curves caters to women and they stay and work out for the duration of the season, Grant said. “They usually leave around the summer because it’s too hot.”

Most of her customers are retirees who like the gym’s 30-minute workout program.

“We have about 50 new people right now,” she said. “Holiday sales are expected to surge…It’s as busy this year as it was last year.”

Curves averages 250 people for the season. The majority are not making hardcore resolutions, Grant said.

YMCA treadmill

A surge of seasonal residents are signing up for new memberships at area gyms. The treadmills at the Englewood Y were nearly filled to capacity Friday.

South County Family YMCA at Venice and Englewood held open houses on Saturday where they waived the join fee for new members.

“This time of year, we always see a lot of growth in membership,” said Mischa Kirby, director of communications and marketing at the South County Family YMCA. “We were busy on New Year’s Eve.”

The Y holds monthly records and won’t see final figures until the end of January. In 2011, more than 1,000 signed up for new memberships.

“Not everyone starts their resolution around the same time,” Kirby said.

The Y is starting a New Year’s fitness challenge — an eight-week program — on Jan. 14 that has increasing challenges and rewards built in over time.

“We will test your body and we implement a point rewards program where members could potentially earn free personal training lessons and professional massage,” Kirby said.

At Snap Fitness in Port Charlotte, there’s about a 50-50 ratio for new signups between seasonal and residential memberships, according to owner Woody Simpson.

January is Snap Fitness’ busiest time of the year. Seasonal residents tend to resume existing exercise regimens when they sign up while permanent residents tend to want to make personal changes in their lives to improve their health.

“The numbers tend to fluctuate from year to year, but I know it is better compared to last year,” Simpson said.

Snap Fitness is running a promotion from January to February where new members can get free orientations and consultation. Permanent residents tend to stay on as members an average of six to eight months, he said.

Call Curves at 941-474-7797. Call the Venice Y at 941-492-9622. Call the Englewood Y at 941-475-1234. Call Snap Fitness at 941-766-7627.

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About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News, Examiner.com, and Tampa Tribune.
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