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Crunching the Costs of New Year's Resolutions

Get in shape
You know that guy in the tracksuit who nearly knocked you over as you got the mail this morning, then bent over winded half a block later? Woman in spandex on the Schwinn who held up evening rush pedaling home from work last night? Not only weren't they there a week ago, but they'll likely be taking up your space on the elliptical machine or treadmill once you get to your local Town Sports (CLUB - Get Report) or Life Time Fitness (LTM - Get Report).

In a surprise to no one, 16% of Marist Poll respondents who planned to make a New Year's resolution this year wanted to lose weight -- placing fitness first among all resolutions. According to The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, a health club industry group, the recent economic downturn has made this a really good time to join a gym. In 2009 -- the last year for which statistics were available -- 45 million health club members nationwide paid an average of $41.47 a month (or just less than $500 a year) in gym fees, down from $42.55 a month in 2008. Meanwhile, gym members were sneaking in more average visits -- 101 in 2008 to 102 in 2009 -- while trying to squeeze more value out of their New Year's vow.

"Due to less discretionary income, consumers now expect to pay a bit less for their memberships, but they tend to use them more -- in short, they want more bang for their buck," Melissa Rodriguez, IHRSA's Research Manager, said in a statement.


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