Gym users come in from cold

By Jay Westman

As winter approaches and temperatures tumbled, enrollment at local gyms jumped to near year-highs.
“September and January are the busy months, in general,” says Dwayne Scullion, athletic coordinator for the YMCA at 180 Argyle St.

“In September, there’s around 40 new members a day, at least, signing up. And it will probably be that, if not more in January. January’s the biggest month (for new members), with all the New Year’s resolutions.”

The Metro Central YMCA has by far the largest athletic facilities in Centretown, offering a wide range of aerobic programs to supplement their weightlifting equipment and cardio-training machines.

Smaller fitness centres tend to notice the seasonal shift more, due to a smaller member base.

“The largest membership (increase) is usually September-October because of people coming from holidays and the summer, and getting back into it,” says Maureen Attridge of The Gym, located in the basement of the Ramada Hotel at 111 Cooper St.

Attridge points out that although there are always the steadfast members who come regularly year-round, fall is the season when a lot of new members start coming in out of the cold.

“They can’t do what they’re used to outside, so they’re coming indoors to do their cardio,” she says.
At the YMCA, Scullion expects the weather will be a factor when it comes to cardio training.

“We’re kind of busy here all the time, we have 8,000 members,” he says. “But it’s gonna be busier when it’s not so nice outside. There’s a big, big demand for cardio equipment, especially in the winter.”
For new gym-goers, finding an agreeable atmosphere is important, especially for those who aren’t accustomed to the “jock” crowd.

“Cozy, and not too much ego. A place where you can evolve in your fitness,” is the sort of place to look for, says Mike Azzi, a member at The Gym.

“You meet corporate types and students here, everyone is friendly,” he says.

“Cozy” aptly describes the atmosphere of The Gym, with a number of newer machines and weights organized into a small, clean area. A year-long membership at The Gym costs $320.

For $526 one can enjoy the large, spread out facilities at the YMCA for a year, which houses well-worn and sturdy weights and machines packed into two floors. This price also includes access to a number of additional programs at the YMCA.

Up on Lyon Street, at Citadel Squash and Fitness, members can enjoy a view of the pool and street, for $299 a year, while doing their cardio training on the many elliptical trainers and StairMasters available at the club.

Member Yves Pasquis says that he likes to visit the gym on “off” hours.

“It’s really busy at lunch time and around five o’clock, but it’s really nice (around 3 p.m.). I come here, I use free-weights, (and the) machines, it works well,” he says.

As Pasquis illustrates, finding a relaxing place to workout is as improtant to fitness buffs as getting out of the cold.