Islanders resolve to shape up in ’10

An Islander runs the treadmill at the Mercer Island Community Center fitness room on Sunday, Jan. 4. Private and public fitness centers across the Island see a surge in visitors after the new year. - Elizabeth Celms/Mercer Island Reporter
An Islander runs the treadmill at the Mercer Island Community Center fitness room on Sunday, Jan. 4. Private and public fitness centers across the Island see a surge in visitors after the new year.
— image credit: Elizabeth Celms/Mercer Island Reporter

Island fitness centers embrace New Year’s resolutions

According to national polls, the number one New Year’s resolution made by Americans is to “get in shape.” Even on Mercer Island, which boasts a relatively healthy population, fitness clubs see a swell in membership each January and community gyms are packed.

“We see a tremendous upsurge in January,” said Club Emerald co-owner Brian Welch. “We have a little over 800 members in the summer, and then it jumps to more than 1,000 in January, so a 20 percent uptick.”

Amanda Gellock, who owns Fitness Together, a personal training facility located in the Town Center, shared a similar observation.

“Typically, the phone calls start picking up in December. These are my favorite. I love the clients who call on Dec. 22 and, say, ‘I’m not a New Year’s resolutionist. I’m starting in December,” she said with a laugh. “The new year, especially the start of a new decade, is a great opportunity for people of all ages to make the dedication of taking better care of their health.”

Indeed, 2010 brings new prospects of health and fitness to many Island residents. Yet where a vast majority of the American population will jump into early-year workouts and then lose motivation after a month or so, Islanders, according to Welch, are more concerned about long-term fitness.

“We tend to work with a fairly fit population. People want to improve their overall health, not necessarily just lose pounds and then go to Mexico,” Welch observed. “We offer a long-term approach to weight loss and help [members] build a healthy lifestyle over time.”

Unlike large-scale fitness chains, Club Emerald does not advertise special new year’s workout packages. Yet there are some programs that automatically pick up in January. One of these is Club Emerald’s body composition testing.

“We get an analysis of a person’s fat content, muscle content and water weight. Then we put people on an exercise and nutrition program,” he said.

The initial body composition test costs $15, and the follow-up fitness regimen is free with membership.

Fitness Together offers its own incentive.

“In the third week of January, we launch a transformation contest,” Gellock said. “The contest is based on overall transformation — flexibility, cardiovascular health — not just weight loss. The person who transforms the most by March is the winner and ends up with a nice weekend getaway.”

And then there are the community fitness centers such as the Country Club, Mercerwood Shore Club, Beach Club, Jewish Community Center (JCC) and Community Center at Mercer View (CCMV).

According to Mark David, who has worked at the CCMV since 2006, Islanders flock to the center’s fitness room after the new year.

“On Saturday [Jan. 2], I think it will be very, very packed,” he said, adding that things “taper off” after about one month.

In addition to its drop-in exercise room, the CCMV offers plenty of fitness classes for all ages; jazzercise, fitness boot camp, pilates and yoga, a Parkinson’s exercise class and aerobic dancing are some of the more popular options. These classes, according to David, see constant membership.

“Jazzercise and other programs have a pretty consistent following, so the numbers don’t fluctuate that much. But in our fitness room, there’s definitely some new year traffic.”

The JCC offers a variety of classes including a new “Welcome Back to Fitness” program for those new to exercise, a fitness boot camp and intense CrossFit strength and conditioning class.

So whether it’s one-on-one personal training or a half-hour jaunt on the community center treadmill, Mercer Island is hardly short of places to get fit in 2010.

Islanders can sign up for fitness programs through the following contacts: Club Emerald, 232-7080; Fitness Together, 275-1313; JCC fitness center, 232-7120; CCMV fitness center, 275-7609.

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