Gyms see uptick in callers as the New Year begins

Exercising often started with a fresh membership to a gym for the new year but COVID-19 had other plans.
Published: Jan. 1, 2021 at 8:41 AM EST
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Friday is officially the start of the New Year and that means some of you might be thinking of making some lifestyle changes such as hitting the gym.

“The calendar still holds true. I think this is a natural time for people to think about it,” said Mike Feitelberg, the president and part-owner of The Edge fitness club.

It’s a common New Year’s goal -- exercising often started with a fresh membership to a gym for the new year, but COVID-19 had other plans. “We have definitely seen an uptick, certainly thorough December and we expect that to carry through the first part of the year. Certainly, nothing like we have seen in the past,” said Feitelberg.

He says that uptick comes after roughly a 30-percent decrease in gym-goers this year. Gym officials say the member makes the decision to walk through the door and their willingness to come in has been very closely tied to trends in COVID-19. “There is no question that the news in Vermont and nationally certainly impacts people’s decision making when it comes to coming to the clubs. The ebbs and flows of what we see with numbers certainly impacts the numbers of people that decide to come to the club,” said Feitelberg.

But he says the phones are ringing again, less for signups and more on health and safety. “People that are on freeze, that are coming off or new members, are very, very curious about what we have done,” said Feitelberg.

Everything you can see, from physical layout changes, constant sanitizing, and a mask policy, to the unseen, like new air filtration systems had to be changed. And The Edge isn’t alone. Snap Fitness also says between three local spots, they are finally seeing memberships again, as well as tons of inquires about policy. On Monday alone, they did 40 phone calls to members with questions, and about 10 per day since.

Gym-goers we spoke to said they feel safe. “I feel really safe here. There are so many places to clean things, everyone is wearing their masks, we are keeping our distance,” said Lilly Tarricone, a longtime member of The Edge. She has heard that those joining or unfreezing their accounts are excited to have a safe place to go for more than just the physical benefits after a year like 2020. “The mental feeling, like you are accomplishing something. It’s a release, a stress release.”

Tarricone says although the surge of new members may not look the same this year, and it may take time to be comfortable returning, the ambitious will be back. “I think they will definitely want to come back. It may just take a little bit more time,” said Tarricone.

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