Fitness centers focused on client motivation this time of year

by Lynn Lofton

Published: December 17,2007

Keeping clients motivated to maintain workout schedules is a big issue for fitness centers this time of year. Some are giving prizes and starting new programs to keep the momentum going.

The Baldwyn Wellness Center introduced the Twelve Days of Christmas Fitness program with a log of recommended exercises in 15-minutes increments for clients. “We keep a record and put the names of those who complete the program in a box,” said the center’s supervisor Henry Daniels. “When the event is over, we’ll draw for a prize.”

Located in the small Northeast Mississippi town of Baldwyn, the center is an offshoot of the Tupelo Wellness Center and for that reason offers services small centers usually don’t have. They offer out-patient rehabilitation, infra-red heat saunas and massage therapy.

“For a small facility, we’re able to offer a lot that others don’t have,” Daniels said. “Things are going well here.”

Nutrition critical

Another plus for the center is having a dietician there half a day each week, and they’re working to have one full time. The dietician conducts 30-minute individual consultations and cooking demonstrations. Daniels said she has been showing clients how to make traditional Christmas dishes with low-fat options this month.

“Nutrition is the hardest thing to get people in rural areas to understand,” he said. “We want them to understand it’s a lifestyle they can continue the rest of their lives.”

Overall, Daniels said clients come to the Baldwyn Wellness Center looking to improve their health. Some come on doctors’ orders due to high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes, but the majority come to lose weight.

At Fitness Lady in Ridgeland, prizes are being given as motivation to patrons who do not gain weight this holiday season. It’s the center’s annual Maintain, Don’t Gain Program, and general manager Sissy Gory said everybody loves it.

“The average holiday weight gain is eight pounds,” she said. “We try to motivate everyone to keep going with their exercise programs and keep workouts in their schedules. The biggest challenge this time of year is fitting exercise in people’s schedules, and our biggest challenge is keeping them motivated.”

Participants who do not gain weight get a prize each week, but move to the second level for better prizes if they lose weight. There’s even a third level for more weight loss. Prizes include useful items such as water bottles, t-shirts, free drinks and Fitness Lady workout bags.

“We encourage them to try not to gain weight and to eat sensibly through the holidays,” Gory said.

She’s also rolling out the latest exercise craze, Zumba, a Latin-inspired dance that’s fun, a good workout and does not have intricate steps.

“We had planned to introduce Zumba in January, but brought it out early as part of keeping clients motivated,” she said. “We wanted to give them something new.”

Gift packages for workouts or for sessions with personal trainers are hot items at Fitness Lady, too. “We encourage clients to give the gift of health to others, and it’s doing great,” Gory said.

Mind, body and spirit

Educating the public to the benefits of Pilates is the current issue for Andrea Tower, owner of Cypress Pilates in Vicksburg, where she also offers yoga and massage.

“We have a pretty good clientele base, but we need more education about it. I’m not sure what the knowledge of it is in Vicksburg,” she said. “All ages can do it. A lot of people focus on it as strengthening and stretching in one exercise. It’s healthy for the mind, body and spirit. It’s holistic and keeps the mind and body together.”

People can do Pilates all their lives, she pointed out, and the benefits derived are up to the individual. “Most people don’t stay with it long enough,” she added. “Three times a week is recommended, The more you do to get your body focused, centered, the more you will gain from it.”

Tower said often clients over age 65 give up on Pilates because they haven’t exercised before and haven’t started at the proper level. She hopes to begin a basic movement class early next year to make clients more aware of their bodies. She suggested different ways of doing it to keep clients from hurting themselves.

“Sticking with it is the most important thing,” she said. “Sometimes it takes a while to make the connection. Those who’ve been exercising don’t have any trouble with it.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.

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