New Year's resolutions for many include losing weight, getting fit and staying active. However, in this uncertain economy, it may be difficult for some to afford a gym membership.Several local gyms are offering deals to entice new members and keep their current ones.
While it's still too early to tell whether new memberships will suffer as pocketbooks become thinner, gym managers are hoping families will still be able to include health and wellness in their plans for the upcoming year.
Chicago-based Bally Total Fitness already has been a victim of the down economy as the company closed three gyms - in Gilbert, Chandler and Scottsdale - earlier this month.
The Chandler-Gilbert Family YMCA in Chandler on Frye Road between Dobson and Alma School roads offers financial assistance for membership, and membership director Geoff Bloom said he has seen more families take advantage of the help.
The YMCA has seen families cancel their membership for financial reasons. Some are losing their jobs, taking pay cuts or needing more money to put food on their table, Bloom said.
"We're doing what we can, but it's definitely been a very challenging year," Bloom said. "I really think when people look at their budget right now, this is something they don't have to have."
Extra perks at the YMCA included a discounted rate of a couple hundred dollars on the family annual pass, offering temporary holds on membership until finances are more stable, and advertising gift of health memberships as holiday presents.
"We're trying to keep the members engaged and help them see the value of the YMCA," Bloom said.
"We serve the community in many different ways and we have so many different programs we offer. We want to be able to help in as many ways as we can," he said.
Pure Fitness in Mesa at Gilbert Road and Southern Avenue has special offers to attract membership, such as decreasing dues by $10-$15 a month and offering a "recession fighter" lifetime membership at a lower price, said fitness director Mark Kish.
"It's a little bit slower than it was last year. (However, we) haven't taken any major hits," Kish said. "We're still doing fine, (but) everyone is freaking out with the economy. People are hesitant to spend money."
January usually is one of the busiest months of the year for new members to sign up, and Kish is expecting the slowdown to end once those New Year's resolutions start kicking in.
"Exercising is going to prolong life, increase bone density and decrease the risk of diseases," Kish said. "It kind of gets you in a good habit to stay around longer. There's no reason to wait. Get in now, because the longer you wait, the harder it's going to be."
Cathy Thomas, manager of the Curves in Gilbert at Elliot and McQueen roads, said she won't know until January if the economy will affect her gym, which is designed specifically for women.
"That's when we see whether they're coming or not," Thomas said. "We're mostly keeping track of people, and seeing whether they are working out and fulfilling their goal."
The gym isn't offering any special deals that are different than in the past. However, Curves is unveiling a new nutrition plan in January and offering a new personal coaching system, Thomas said.
"We're hoping for big success there," Thomas said. "In the past, January has been fairly busy. A lot of New Year's resolutions are in January."
And the hope is this January won't be any different.