New year means gyms full of people getting fit

Jay Canter wants to do more aerobics this year to stay in shape and knock off a couple of pounds.


Jay Canter wants to do more aerobics this year to stay in shape and knock off a couple of pounds.

He already does weight training three days a week at the Saratoga YMCA, but the 57-year-old Greenfield man knows he should hop on the cardio machines as well.

“They all say that to lose weight, you have to do aerobics,” Canter said.

Holiday indulgence and New Year’s reflection drive people to gyms and weight-loss centers come Jan. 1.

“I find that probably 90 percent of the people coming in right now are putting their goals toward weight loss,” said Dan Pozzouli, trainer at Planet Fitness in Clifton Park. “We do see a great increase in membership during this time of year.”

Fifty-one new members signed up on Thursday under a New Year’s promotion, he said.

At the Saratoga YMCA, class attendance skyrockets, from maybe 20 people per class normally to 40 or 50. Busy times, mornings and evenings, get even crazier, with every machine taken and people waiting to use workout machines, said health and wellness director Yonka Perkins.

Perkins sees people lined up way down the hallway before cycling classes hoping to get a spot on a stationary bike.

Zumba classes also are extremely popular.

“Their number one goal is to lose weight,” Perkins said. “It is all about the weight-loss goal.”

But cardio isn’t the only way to lose weight, said Bill Laznovsky, a trainer at the Schenectady Jewish Community Center. Weight lifting burns fat, too.

“Just by putting on a pound of muscle, it needs to feed itself,” he said, adding that’s good news to people who like to eat.

But while people start with good intentions to exercise in January, most will start to slack off in about six weeks.

Regulars at local gyms watch the newbies with skepticism, Perkins admitted.

“They’ll say, ‘Let’s bet on how long it’s going to last,’ ” she said.

But last year, the influx never really died down, surprising Perkins.

People who sign up for personal training might stay longer because it’s one-on-one, Laznovsky said.

“There’s some people that flat-out admit to me that if they didn’t sign up for a session and pay for it, they wouldn’t come at all.”

Canter admits making time to work out is challenging.

“The hardest thing is really to get there,” he said. Excuses abound, but once people get to the gym, they leave feeling happier and healthier, he said.

“Nobody ever feels worse leaving the gym,” he said.

It’s OK if people don’t end up developing a gym habit, said Tomas Martinez of Saratoga Springs, a self-described scholar and psychoanalyst who works out regularly at the Saratoga YMCA.

“If you start and you fail, that’s not the end-all,” Martinez said. “New Year’s is like a wake-up call.”

Other people resolve to get in better shape for sports, like Saratoga Springs High School students Katy Hogan and Ali Samach. The 15-year-olds row with the Saratoga Rowing Association, and on Thursday afternoon they worked side-by-side on elliptical machines.

After the New Year they’ll start their winter training.

“It’s just kind of about staying fit and doing cross-training before it actually starts,” Samach said.

They don’t have specific resolutions related to rowing, but Hogan said she wants to improve.

“Every year I keep trying to do better than I did last year,” she said. “You can start over because it’s the beginning of a new season.”

Shane Matthews, 19, of Ballston Spa was keeping in shape at the Saratoga YMCA on Thursday by practicing his jumps — leaping from the ground to a platform three feet high. He plays baseball at Marist College in Poughkeepsie.

Matthews also would like to put on a little more muscle mass this year.

Categories: Schenectady County

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