Lynn Hodges says going to the gym is a family outing for her and her husband. The supportive atmosphere has helped her lose more than 34 pounds and 66 inches. "Which is taller than me," she said. MONA MOORE | WDN

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Published 8:48pm Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Weeks of pumpkin pie and sugar cookies have a lot of people thinking about new fitness regimens.
“The beginning of the year is definitely the busiest time of the year,” said Robin Clarke, manager of Fitness Unlimited. “I think people are concerned about their health. They want to make weight-loss resolutions.”
Edwin Castro, personal training director at Fitness Unlimited, is always happy to see new faces at the start of the year.
“I think a resolution’s good because it’s kinda like setting a goal,” he said. “I think people are more concerned about their health, now. They understand why they should work out.”
The tough part for him is keeping those new members coming back.
Lynn Hodges is one of the Fitness Unlimited success stories. She joined the gym years ago and did not stick to it. When she returned in August of 2011, she found that the gym atmosphere had changed.
“I came in and it wasn’t intimidating anymore,” she said. “He’s (owner Austin Thomas) constantly offering new equipment that’s user-friendly. When he added the Total Solutions part … that’s when it all came together for me.”
Total Solutions is a program that incorporates motivation, exercise and nutrition.
Thomas said the most intimidating part of his gym is the number of cars in the parking lot. Once people enter, they become family.
The biggest catalyst was the Total Solutions program. Thomas said they stopped marketing to the 10 percent of the population who regularly worked out and focused on the 90 percent who did not. Now, the average weight-loss goal is 80 pounds.
“We changed to a much greater wellness focus. Clubs that are successful have understood the shift from health to wellness,” Thomas said. “Watching people change their lives is extremely rewarding.”
In his 13 years of business, Thomas said February has always been the busiest month of the year in new memberships and usage. January and it’s New Year’s resolutions do not hold a candle to the shortest month of the year. Thomas had a few theories on the February business boom.

“February is the month when people begin to change clothes. They put on shorts and start thinking about bathing suits,” he said. “The average person gains nine to 15 pounds in the winter. February is when they realize it.”
Thomas also said those who sign up in January often wait a month to start.
Another reason for the February boom is word-of-mouth. Those who started going to the gym in January start looking and feeling better. Friends and family notice the change and sign up.
After several members of Harvest Time Evangelical Outreach gave Pastor JoAnn McCullough free gym passes, she decided to use one on New Year’s Day.
“I turned 50 in August and know that it’s important, that I need to do something,” McCullough said. “I enjoyed it and I’m ready to go again.”
McCullough worked out with her goddaughter, Debra Collins, who said she lost 45 pounds in the last year. She said the variety of classes made it easy to stay motivated and excited to come to the gym.
Fitness Unlimited gave members passes to share with others for Christmas. Collins said she considered the passes a wonderful gift.
“I got to give it to my mom so she could see what it’s really about,” Collins said.

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