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) or Life Time Fitness ( LTM).

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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