Digging deeper into the root of New Year's resolutions


BENNINGTON — The holiday season has faded away, just like many New Year's resolutions. While they seem to be a hot topic for conversations surrounding the first of the month, resolutions are meant to stretch all year. For many, life seems to get in the way of resolutions, especially when it comes to getting in shape or switching over to a healthier lifestyle.

This is the first year the Bennington Recreation Center hasn't seen an influx of members around Jan. 1.

"They come in before Christmas to purchase gift cards, but we haven't had the big drove come in after New Year's like we've seen in the past," Tracy Knight, director of Parks and Recreation said. "They're good for a couple of weeks and then you don't see them."

According to ABC News and Gold's Gym, foot traffic increases by 40 percent from December to January; a short period of time when health clubs market their best membership deals.

April Sherwin, owner of Revolution Racquet & Fitness Club on Benmont Avenue, believes members stay longer and do better by way of support from a personal trainer.

"I know there was one gentleman who did great with his trainer and then gained weight once he stopped," Sherwin said. "I would say maybe 20 percent stick with it [membership]. The rest do a month and don't follow through, but it depends on the person."

Revolution's holiday and January specials regard incentives for members to refer their friends. Individuals can also try out a class for free and then eventually become a members, Sherwin said.

The number of gym memberships being purchased in the U.S. has grown to 54 million in 2014 from 32 million in 2000, according to a Statista.com report. Whether or not the memberships are being utilized at any of the 34,000 establishments isn't stated, but it's likely that people are paying for memberships without using them. This is not the case for health clubs that offer month-to-month rates, which allows the member to not have as much of a commitment.

Sandy Stevens, certified personal trainer and owner of Time for Yourself, also on Benmont Avenue, holds her clients accountable if they miss a session or group training class. Due to the size of the establishment, Stevens is able to personalize workouts or add modifications to a class program if a client has limitations or a previous injury.

"When someone is missing from a class, it's not uncommon for myself or another member to reach out to them," Stevens said. "They have support from myself and their comrades in class. In a group setting it's more comfortable and they don't feel like they're under a magnifying glass."

Group classes consist of no more than 10 clients at a time, she said, and the programs are designed around the people who attend them. There are 35 active clients out of a total of 80 who have regularly used the facility.

In regards to keeping clients motivated and sticking to their workouts, Stevens believes it depends on the individual and how a particular type of workout makes them feel.

"I think it's just what we're drawn to and we play to our strengths," she said. "It depends on what your goal is. If you want to build muscle mass, you're not going to go into a program that involves more cardio. Everyone is going into a workout with their own goals and paying attention to what only they're doing. There are so many people out there nowadays who can't move around like they'd like to because of juggling life, but when they have a lot of options, it makes it easier."

With so many diverse exercise trends on the market, deciding on a platform depends on the individual and what he or she wants out of a workout. Group exercise classes may not be for someone who depends on self-motivation while CrossFit may not be for someone who needs to drop weight because there is more strength training than cardio incorporated.

Whether an individual sticks with a 'get in shape' resolution or not, the options to embark on that journey are endless and adaptable to personal preferences and limitations.

One might look at resolutions as a way to reset the body or to gain a fresh start toward a healthier life.

"New Year's resolutions arise out of the hope for a better life; a type of 'psychological reset button.' Gym memberships or new diets come from the natural desire for good emotional and physical health," Aaron Sardell, a licensed clinical psychologist, said. "People may use 'a life reset button' to interrupt a pattern of neglect around health concerns."

When an individual joins Anytime Fitness in Bennington, they are encouraged to establish several small goals in a three-month span to reach one ultimate goal, said owner Amy Carey.

"If people don't give themselves that three-month mark to get to the attainable goal, they can't make it a habit," she said. "If they don't build that healthy regime, then it's not going to happen. Once it's a habit, it becomes a way of life."

Sardell agrees with this 90-day notion in which a regular behavior or change of habit typically occurs during this amount of time.

"The start of a new exercise regimen or diet is an important first step that can initially feel satisfying," he said. "If an individual can maintain a new behavior after initial motivations fade and regardless of whether or not it "feels good," they are more likely to make that life change a part of their life. When motivations fade and the difficulty of exercise regimens and diets become apparent, the gym membership and new diet are abandoned. Some individuals will stop going to the gym, but still pay the fees. Perhaps in that way they can maintain the hope of improving health in the future or when the new year comes around again."

— Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.


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