When it comes to getting a workout, 2012 is flush with options.
Individuals can join a traditional gym and count seconds on an elliptical machine, or they can register for a yoga class, learn to rock climb or practice mixed martial arts. These fun fitness alternatives, like their old school counterparts, experience huge membership swells in January.
“Obviously, people are trying to get in after the holidays,” said Nate Osenga, assistant manager of Centennial climbing gym Rock’n and Jam’n 2. “We mainly see people joining for about a month to try it out, as most of the people coming in are new climbers looking for a new workout routine.”
Denver-based CorePower Yoga, which operates studios across the country, experiences a similar annual trend. From December to January, the number of students attending CorePower Yoga classes jumps an average of 35 percent, according to Marketing Director Holly Georgelos.
“We do see a surge of new students at the first of the year,” Georgelos said. “It’s noticeable in the studios.”
Visitors to traditional gyms often are focused on completing a certain number of cardio minutes or weightlifting repetitions. Alternative fitness opportunities often focus instead on an activity, with a workout coming as a natural byproduct. Rock climbers, for instance, concentrate on completing harder and harder routes. Building strength and stamina is simply an added benefit of progression.
“It’s just a much different workout. You’re using muscles from every part of your body all at once. Rather than just isolating one section of your body, you’re using it all at one time,” Osenga said.
In addition to being a great physical workout, yoga can also can provide mental health benefits, including decreased stress levels and increased focus. CorePower additionally offers lifestyle and wellness coaching that can improve dietary and day-to-day habits. The cumulative effect can prove addictive.
“If people come three times a week, it’s hard to give up, because it’s such a drastic improvement in their well being,” Georgelos said.
Flexible billing plans are an added benefit of alternative workout programs. Rock climbing gyms, yoga studios and other fitness facilities usually offer traditional monthly memberships, as well as per-visit punch cars, one-day fees and other options.
These tangible effects can often keep a person committed to their fitness resolution for more than a few weeks. Improving a grade in climbing or feeling noticeably healthier from yoga are accomplishments that can give novice gym-goers the motivation to continue. The social aspect of such activities also can keep people coming back for more. Still, like many New Year’s resolutions, the will to get in better shape often diminishes after only a few weeks.
“After the first of the year, it tends to be fairly busy,” Osenga said. “But it tapers off after about the second week.”