Getting in shape
Many Americans, if not most, who have a new year's resolution or two place getting in shape at or near the top of their lists.
With nearly 70 percent of Americans overweight and more than one in three adults — plus one in every six children — measuring in as obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, weight issues affect many people.
In January every year, some of those people decide to go to the gym with the idea that a new year will bring new levels of healthiness.
The Sanford Nautilus, which has a pool and racquetball court in addition to typical gym offerings at its location on K.M Wicker Drive, opened on New Year's Day a little later than usual, at 10 a.m. Just before opening, front desk employee Haley Dorman told The Herald a line had formed outside, with both regulars and newcomers waiting to get in.
But even before the weather gets warm again, she said, many of those new faces will have disappeared.
"It's very busy for the first three months," said Dorman, who has worked there for about four years. "But then people stop wanting to come."
At the Lee County YMCA near the Lowes Foods on Spring Lane, the story is similar.
"It's always going to be where you gain some and lose some," said Cliff Manion, the Y's wellness director. "People do join in heavy numbers at New Year's, but then you always do have some who fall off the bandwagon."
Manion and Dorman both said the trick to not falling off is to have a more specific goal than just "get fit."
Whether it's being able to meet a certain benchmark for lifting or running, losing a certain number of pounds or coming in on specific days of the week, they both said it's the people with more concrete goals who tend to thrive.
But people also need to be realistic in their goals, they said.
"Don't let what's going on in the media or pop culture affect what you think your fitness should be," Manion said.
Manion said the Y has special classes and activities for newcomers to come to see exercise as fun instead of a chore, and that later in the year, a running club may add another layer to their offerings. The Nautilus, on the other hand, is going to be expanding its SNR Express 'sister' club, located at 2629 Dalrymple St., to a 24-7 schedule sometime in the next few weeks to allow people to take advantage of all it offers whenever they want.
"We have cardio equipment, all the weight machines, aerobics classes and even a nursery," Dorman said. They have a second sister site, Cape Fear Fitness, in Lillington. It's open seven days a week, but not 24 hours a day.
Elsewhere in Lee County, there's Olympic Fitness Club at 1701 Broadway Road, Carolina Women's Fitness Center at 999 Center Church Road, Phalanx Crossfit at 3509 Cameron Drive, One on One Fitness Studios at 129 S. Steele St., and a host of other niche businesses in martial arts, dance, gymnastics and more.
The Better Business Bureau warns people to carefully read their contracts before signing up with a gym or other fitness center. The group's Eastern North Carolina region received more than 200 complaints in 2013 about fitness businesses, mostly involving disputes over money.
"It is important for consumers to read the fine print on the contract to make sure they understand what they are signing," Toby Barfield, president and CEO of the regional BBB, said in a press release. "Also, keeping a close eye on their bank statements will ensure that they are not getting billed more than they should be."
For people who want to avoid paying a monthly fee to work out, local running and biking areas are an option, as well as trails and athletic facilities like basketball courts, tennis courts, baseball fields and playgrounds at local public parks. Those who want to get involved in a kids' or adults' sports league can contact the county's Parks and Recreation Department at (919) 775-2107.