Midstate fitness workers see greater commitment from gym clients

WARNER ROBINS — Gym-goers can usually count on a busy workspace the first two months of the year as they are joined by those who have made New Year’s resolutions to get fit.

This year, it is taking a bit longer for the gyms to return to normal.

“We’re glad to see it,” said Kevin Carter, the director of wellness services at The Wellness Center at 3797 Northside Drive in Macon, which is owned by The Medical Center of Central Georgia.

Carter said he believes numbers in health clubs are holding steady in part because people are forgoing family vacations, choosing to stay closer to home when they would normally travel. It is among the reasons contributing to a 15-percent jump in clients normally seen at The Wellness Center and The Macon Health Club, also run by the Medical Center.

Carter also says he has seen a larger number of older adults becoming clients. A 2007 study by The American Council on Exercise did show that older adults see significant results a month after beginning a fitness regimen.

Brett Moore, community benefit coordinator for Houston Healthcare, said more people with health issues are stepping into gyms to start on the road to getting those issues under control. Calling Middle Georgia “The Diabetes Belt,” he said people are more willing to do something about their health when it affects them financially.

“We’ve told people for 30 years if you don’t exercise, you’ll develop diabetes, back problems or whatever,” said Moore, a trained exercise physiologist and sports medicine specialist. “And they never really change things until it hits them in their pocketbooks.”

The push for many to stay active also is proving beneficial for an economy trying to get back on track. Carter said additional staff is on standby to work during high-traffic hours on an as-needed basis. Personal trainers can also identify the increase in people wanting their assistance — sometimes through the amount of sleep they’re losing.

Marvin Gulley, a personal trainer at Kinetix Health Club, starts most days before sunrise and makes it home to his family well after sunset. Some days, he sees more than a dozen clients. For whatever reason, he said, more people are fitting a workout into their schedules. One client told him he only shows up because Gulley holds him accountable. Another was denied health-care coverage for various issues, and he is working with Gulley to get them under control.

“There are a lot more people still coming than I thought there would be after March,” said Gulley, a former Marine who has been working as a personal trainer since 2007.

To contact writer Marlon A. Walker, call 256-9685.