January 21, 2018
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Maine, NH gyms try to capitalize on bump from 2018 fitness resolutions

By Alex LaCasse, Portsmouth Herald
Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
A potential client takes a tour of the Planet Fitness in Bangor while considering New Year's resolutions in this BDN file photo.

Planet Fitness started as a single gym in Dover, New Hampshire, and in a quarter century has become a billion-dollar enterprise with more than 1,400 locations across the United States and Canada.

According to Bill Bodie, senior vice president of franchise operations, the combination of compatibility with one’s schedule and a low membership cost is part of the reason why the New Hampshire-based gym chain has become so successful.

Planet Fitness has nine locations in Maine, including gyms in Portland, Bangor, Auburn and Augusta.

“This is a specifically important time of the year for us because there is a considerable uptick in people wanting to sign up to become members,” Bodie said. “We’ll go into January offering memberships for a dollar down and $10 a month, which is considerably less expensive than other gyms and it helps people stick with their fitness goals because the commitment becomes more affordable the longer they stick with it.”

With the holiday season in the rear-view mirror many people are turning their attention to fine-tuning their physiques in time for the summer beach season with the most standard method coming in the form of a gym or health-club membership. Annual studies of internet search data and social media traffic regularly find that weight loss and better fitness are among the top New Year resolutions made by Americans.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 25 percent to 30 percent of adults in Maine and New Hampshire are considered obese.

Overall, the CDC estimates nearly 37 percent of all American adults are obese, which may play a role in why so many people make it their New Year’s resolution to lose weight and improve their physical health.

But gym plans and memberships are not one size fits all.

So how does one know which gym membership works best for them?

“It can be very competitive between gyms to court new members for the New Year, it’s the biggest time of year for us,” said Amanda Amoakohene, marketing director of Coastal Fitness in Kittery, Maine. “That’s why for January we are waiving our enrollment fee and only charging 18 cents for the month.”

Amoakohene said the key for anyone looking to sign up for a membership and stick with it is to find programs or classes that the individual likes, to make working out a fun activity instead of a chore.

“A lot of people come in the gym when it gets cold out but go back and exercise outside when it warms up again but if they find a class or a program they like, they’ll stick with it through the summer,” said Amoakohene. “So find something that is convenient for your schedule and do it with a friend so you’re committed to each other.”

Tim Ward is the owner of SmartFit 640 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which opened in May. He said in the new year he anticipates 90 to 100 new members joining his gym over the next 100 days who can take advantage of three-day a week, 45-minute program, such as the 90-day fat-burning, chiseled program that involves participants better understanding the biomechanical and kinesiology components behind their workout. He also said since he’s opened his doors, Ward has enjoyed a 90 percent retention rate among his members.

“People who come to us can focus on educating themselves rather than just going and picking up a dumbbell and doing some curls without knowing why you’re doing a specific exercise,” Ward said. “We’re going to track your progress, so it’s easy to stay accountable to yourself. To me, one of the biggest missing pieces in fitness is the education piece so people are taking ownership of their personal health.”

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