New Year’s fitness resolutions pack local fitness facilities

Jessica Johnson Staff Reporter

January 5, 2014

On a morning as cold as it was Saturday, with the low temperature below 20 degrees, most would not choose to wake up at the break of dawn to exercise or go to the gym, but at Reeves Community Center on the morning of Jan. 4, all parking lots were packed, with late arrivals circling to find a parking space.

New Year’s resolutions are in full swing, with local gyms and parks enjoying record numbers as many locals strive to achieve better health and fitness in the new year.

Fitness resolutions continue to come out on top for most, following a long tradition of self-improvement goals at the start of the new year — “just in time for bathing suit season,” local resident Casey Stevens said, as she jogged on the Emily B. Taylor Greenway on Friday evening, braving below-freezing temperatures to start a new fitness goal: for Stevens specifically, that goal is lose at least 15 pounds and “tone up” by springtime.

According to, losing weight is the number one New Year’s resolution for 2014, with “get fit” and “eat healthy food” following close behind.

Local fitness facilities reported an increase in new members and long-time members who start attending more at the beginning of each new year.

Reeves Community Center/Mount Airy Parks and Recreation Health and Wellness Coordinator Bradley Key said the staff has noticed “quite a few new faces” and said there is a “noticeable difference this time of the year” for new members joining.

One word of precaution though, Key reminded those with New Year’s fitness resolutions, is that some “try to change too much, too fast,” which can lead to frustration and breaking their fitness resolutions.

“Often, they either exercise too hard and injure themselves or get too sore, and they don’t like that feeling, so they quit. They may change their diet too drastically and can’t continue that routine for the long-term, so one thing I like to tell folks is that you can do almost anything to lose weight in 12 weeks, but if you are not making realistic changes, enough to keep it up for the long-term, you need to rethink your fitness plan. It’s not impossible to lose weight quickly, everyone is different … I like to talk to individuals first, assess their individual needs, but generally speaking, one to two pounds per week is an appropriate goal for most.”

Key said Reeves Community Center is offering multiple programs for weight loss and fitness, including both the facility itself, but also several programs specifically for weight loss goals, such as Biggest Loser, Minus 15 for youth ages 11 to 15, and Silver Sneakers for senior citizens age 65 and older.

Mount Airy’s Biggest Loser: Losing for Life is a popular local weight loss program that starts back up on Jan. 7 and runs through April 1. The Biggest Loser program incorporates nutritional support and specialized exercise classes “to get you on track for a healthy life, today, tomorrow, and for life.”

Key said the center also has a weight management program for youth age 11 to 15. The program is designed “depending on the goals of the parent and child” and parents have the choice of if they want their child to weigh-in or not. Youth enrolled in the program may use the adult fitness area. Key said the program is great for youth who may not be involved in after school sports and recreation and need some time of after-school activity, “not necessarily to lose weight, but to encourage youth to stay fit and healthy.” Space is limited in the Minus 15 program, so early registration is encouraged.

For seniors, Key said Reeves offers the Silver Sneakers program, for senior citizens age 65 and above. Some insurance companies offer the program for free, depending on the insurance carrier. Key said it is up to the individual seniors to call their insurance company and find out if they qualify for free membership.

“I feel like we have enough opportunities here for folks to find something they enjoy, to find an exercise routine they enjoy, because they will most likely to continue if they are participating in something they enjoy. We have enough options to accommodate them.”

If interested in registering for Biggest Loser, Minus 15, or Silver Sneakers, or for more information about Reeves Community Center, call 786-8313 or stop by the front desk of Reeves at 113 Renfro St. in Mount Airy. For questions about fitness and weight loss programs, email Bradley Key at or ask to speak with him when calling Reeves. Also, visit for more information.

Pro Health Center also is seeing an increase in memberships, said Executive Director Mike McHone. “We had quite an increase in late December and early January.”

Silver Sneakers for senior citizens also is offered at Pro Health Center, and may be covered by an individuals insurance, which McHone said sometimes “allows them to attend almost any gym for free if they are age 65 or older.”

McHone said Pro Health has a “full slate of classes in January” with more than 50 classes on the schedule, including “just about anything a person might want” from low intensity workouts, to water aerobics, high intensity classes, body pump, cross training, and much more.

“We also offer a lot of programs for older adults such as Silver Splash, Joint Mobility classes, Zumba Gold, and of course Silver Sneakers,” McHone said.

He added that the best advice he could give someone who has a New Year’s fitness resolution is to “start slow and build up.”

“Generally, people push themselves too hard and get tired and sore and hate it … then they don’t come back. We see that people who start slow and build up enjoy what they are doing more and will make it a part of their lifestyle. It really is a total lifestyle change, and if you enjoy it, it works. It’s a great time to get in here to Pro Health and get yourself in shape for 2014.”

A brief history of New Year’s resolutions

The tradition of New Year’s resolutions may have begun with the Babylonians, as they made promises to their gods at the start of each year to right their wrongs. Also, the ancient Romans began each year by making promises to their god, Janus, the god January was named for.

Knights in Medieval times re-affirmed their commitment to chivalry at the turn of each year, and many Christians prepared for the year ahead by making promises and resolutions at traditional watchnight services.

Other parallels include Rosh Hashanah, Judaism’s new year, which runs through the holidays and culminates in Yom Kippur, which is a time to reflect on wrongdoings over the past year and seek and offer forgiveness. The Christian tradition of Lent also holds similar traditions, with a concept of reflecting on self-improvement.

Reach Jessica Johnson at or 719-1933.