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It happens every year around this time: Gyms, yoga studios and other such venues become busier than normal, as people with a New Year's resolution to get healthier start or restart their fitness regimen.
"It's like killer," as the new year begins, said Jenna Lomazzo, owner of Thee House of Yoga on Fifth Avenue in Indialantic. "I see a huge spike in January. There's so much energy," with attendance increasing by about 50%.
Bo Smith, a certified trainer and owner of Concierge Fitness on Barton Boulevard in Rockledge, sees a similar trend at his facility.
Some clients even call him in December, but don't schedule their classes and training sessions until early January.
"There's just something about the new year — getting a fresh start," said Smith, a former Rockledge High and Western Kentucky University football player. "People start goal-setting. They want to be 'beach-ready' or 'vacation-ready' by spring or summer."
But Lomazzo, Smith and others in the fitness field caution that, when starting or restarting a fitness program, you need to do it right.
Michael Dean, a certified personal trainer at Health First's Pro-Health & Fitness Center on North Wickham Road in Viera, uses the acronym SMART to describe how people should approach fitness goal-setting.
Dean, who formerly was a trainer in the Air Force, said the acronym stands for these five attributes — the goals needed to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.
He said some people get discouraged if they set unrealistic goals, then give up on their efforts.
"People want to lose 50 pounds in a month," Dean said. "But it's going to take time."
Commit to 'lifestyle change'
Dr. Mark Pinsky, who runs the Pinsky Medical Weight Loss Clinic on Spyglass Hill Road in the Suntree/Viera area, said the biggest problem with people not succeeding on their fitness goals is not being focused or consistent.
"You have to make a decision to commit yourself to a lifestyle change," both in the areas of nutrition and physical activity, Pinsky said. "It really needs to be a comprehensive approach. People have good intentions to start the new year. But you have to go from resolutions to goals. The problem is people don't want to make a change."
Pinsky also cautioned that some people "go from fad to fad to fad" in approaching their diet, rather than transitioning to a diet that they can maintain for the long term.
Scott Breault, vice president for marketing at Orlando-based Sunshine Fitness, which operates Planet Fitness clubs throughout the Southeast, said the clubs get busier in January.
"People in our clubs are typically looking to focus on their overall wellness, getting active and feeling good as they head into a new year," said Breault, whose company operates five Planet Fitness clubs in Brevard County. "Historically, Januarys have always brought on an increase in activity within our Planet Fitness clubs. We see it is a combination of those recommitting themselves to fitness as part of their New Year's resolutions and when we offer our most competitive rates for joining."
Breault said the COVID-19 pandemic also has spurred some people to join health clubs.
With a large percentage of Americans gaining weight during the pandemic, "this makes exercise and overall wellness as important as it has ever been," Breault said.
"The biggest trend we are seeing now is a commitment to mental health, in addition to physical health," Breault said. "Most Americans have found the pandemic to be incredibly stressful. The science behind physical activity and working out suggests that both reduce stress, increase feelings of positivity and boost mood."
Breault said that many people "are now focused more than ever on finding ways to reduce stress," whether it is at a fitness club, using a fitness app, "or just by getting off the couch and doing something that gets them moving indoors or outside."
Start out gradually
Lomazzo said consistency is important, and she encourages her clients to be systemic in their activity.
"It takes 40 days to create every habit," Lomazzo said.
But also important is to start any new regimen gradually.
"My best advice is 1% is better than 0%," said Lomazzo, who taught yoga in Hong Kong before opening her facility in Indialantic.
Pinsky said he advises his patients who may want to lose weight that "you didn't get this way yesterday. So you won't get to your goal tomorrow."
He recommends setting "small, intermittent goals" on their fitness journey, in conjunction with "learning how to eat" better through such things as monitoring portion size and calorie intake.
Initially, for those who have been generally sedentary, "walk 10 minutes a day at a slower pace to allow for consistency," Pinsky said. "Then you'll just start to do more."
Smith maintains that "fitness is for everybody. But you need to understand the process. It's a lifestyle vs. a trend. You have to start out slow, and progress over time. You want to lose 20 or 30 pounds. That's great. But you have to be realistic and understand it's not going to happen overnight."
Dean at Pro-Health advises people getting into fitness to "have a plan, write it down and stick to it. Keep it simple. Stick to the basics. You don't have to go to a gym. Walk on the beach. Play with your kids."
Also important, Dean said, are making sure you properly warm up and cool down before and after a workout, as well as drinking plenty of water.
Breault said, in advance of starting a fitness program, "the best thing for anybody to do before starting their journey is to consult with their physician and follow their prescriptive instructions."
Also, be aware that many other people are starting out around now, too.
Dean said, once the new year begins, Pro-Health gets a little crowded.
"The regulars will see so many new faces," Dean said. "They want to feel better and look better."
This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Experts offer insights on beginning a post-New Year's fitness regimen