- 2009 - January - 9th -

Mike Sharkey

When you walked into the gym Monday night, did you see any new faces? Did you see a few faces you hadn’t seen on the treadmill or in spin class or working out in a while?

There’s a good reason for both. With the new year come resolutions and often those resolutions include either joining a gym or getting back into the gym.

“We see in the month of January an influx of new members,” said Ashley Wilson, media relations manager for the Jacksonville area YMCAs.

Wilson said the Y — which has 17 facilities in the area — ran what she called a “pretty enticing” special in December and that helped generate interest in joining the gym.

“All of our branches’ front desks were very busy,” said Wilson, who joined the staff at the Y in September. “There were a lot of people coming in. Some took tours and others wanted information about joining.”

The same scenario held true at the three area Gold’s Gyms. According to COO Jay Kaplan, his Downtown, Beach Boulevard and Baymeadows gyms were all jammed Monday with both new members and those who belonged but had slacked off over the holidays.

“There’s no question,” said Kaplan about the gyms being busier. “Citywide, we are doing 20 new members a day at our signature clubs and 10 a day at the Downtown club. It (the number of people in the gym) picks up dramatically as far as existing members.

“We did see a dip in December, which is traditional. But, this year (the numbers in the gym) were higher and I attribute that to the economy and people not traveling for the holidays.”

The enrollment special the Y ran in December revolved primarily around current members recruiting new members. If a member helped someone sign up, they got a month free. Also, there was no initiation fee for new members. The Y also has a sliding membership fee.

“You have your own unique rate,” said Wilson, explaining that everyone’s monthly dues are based on their ability to pay.

Kaplan said he and his brother Lee, the Gold’s CEO, decided the best way to attract new members and keep them coming to the gym — as opposed to seeing attendance drop off as February nears — was to offer a monthly fee that was simply too good to pass.

“The thing we have done differently this year that no one else has done is we went the other way on our price point. Our membership is $17.50 a month,” said Kaplan. “For years we have wondered, how do we keep people on the boat? How do we keep them on an exercise routine? So many people stop coming in February or March because they don’t want to pay $30 or $40 a month.”

Kaplan said the idea was to create a monthly fee that was affordable and also allowed new members to afford the personal training that many new to working out need.

“We want to get you with a personal trainer A, so you will see results and, B, so you will stick with it,” he said. “We will also develop a price plan for you. If you say you only have $50 a month to spend on a trainer, we’ll work with you.”

Kaplan also said the gym was busy from day one of this year.

“It was noticeably busier. On New Year’s Day, when I walked in there were five people working out at the new gym (the Baymeadows location) and the next day there were 12,” said Kaplan. “Either people had a really rough New Year’s Eve or we were enticing with our rates.”



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