Maxed-out gyms


Dara Getoff, a junior at UF, uses a treadmill at Southwest Recreation Center on the UF campus. Last year, January was the most popular month for the gym.

BRANDON KRUSE/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 18, 2008 at 7:25 p.m.

Rachel Gormely got dressed and headed to the gym ready to start the new year off right.

Facts

Getting a better workout

David Bowles, director of recreational sports at the University of Florida, offers these tips for coping with crowded gyms.

Have multiple workout partners so you can have different options for time and place of workout.

Try new exercises if machines are taken. Don't be afraid to change up your routine.

Come early in the day, primarily before lunch time.

Get to the gym about 30 minutes early if you have a desired class you want to attend.

Fifteen minutes later, she returned home with no trace of sweat or fatigue.

"I got to the Student Rec Center 40 minutes early to do a Total Body class, but when I got there, I was told that there were no more spots left," said Gormely, a nursing student at the University of Florida. "So I went to the fitness center, but every single machine was taken, so I just went home without even working out."

If you joined a gym this month with the idea of getting in shape this year, chances are you're not alone.

Gyms this time of the year are more crowded, and with the limited space in group fitness classes and a limited number of treadmills and ellipticals, some people go home discouraged without even working out.

Nick Clayton, assistant director of fitness for student recreational sports, said that every January at Southwest Recreation Center they see an increase in the gym attendance, mainly due to New Year's resolutions.

Last year, January was the most popular month for gym visits with more than 40,000 students visiting the weight room. By March, gym visits decreased to 30,000.

"Most of the regulars who work out consistently realize that the numbers will start to drop off after about three weeks of the new year," said Clayton.

David Bowles, director of recreational sports at the University of Florida, said that the number of students using the gym increases at the beginning of the new year because people are re-energized.

"At the last class that I went to our instructor asked us how many people were here because of New Year's resolutions," said Leah Mann, an animal biology major at the University of Florida. "Every single person raised their hand."

Mann said the class had about 35 people in it, and that floor space was very limited for the Cardio Sculpt group fitness class.

There are ways around the crowds, including trying new machines if the one you usually use is taken or to come early in the day when the gym is less crowded, Bowles recommends.

Fitness centers usually anticipate a spike in visits at the beginning of the year and take steps to be ready.

Bailey's Powerhouse Gym, which has only been open five months, has seen an increase in membership due to the newness of the gym and the new year, said manager Mike Halprin.

Bailey's has a $10 enhancement fee that is paid once a year by members to guarantee that equipment is always working and members always have a machine to work out on, Helprin said.

"This allows us to buy new equipment and complete work orders quickly to make sure that the gym is in great shape come January," he said.

Joe Cerulli, the owner of Gainesville Heath and Fitness Center, says the gym has taken steps over the years to prevent overcrowding in January, including changing gym hours so they are open 24 hours a day.

"We always look at what we can add, maybe offer more classes, or bring in more staff to take care of people more efficiently," he said.

GHFC offers about 900 classes a month - up from 600 - among the three centers to offer members plenty of options, he said. The center has also added pool programs and other amenities.

But Cerulli said he has another way of thinking when it comes to a crowded gym.

"Many times people like to come to the gym when it's more crowded because there is so much energy," he said. "Some people just don't like working out when the gym is empty."

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