Crowded Gyms In East Lansing Won’t Last As Resolutions Fail

Feb 5, 2019

Many Resolve to be fitter, thinner and better eaters in the New Year. Guess where we are a month into 2019?

EAST LANSING, MICH. - Taking a break from jogging on the elliptical, Michigan State University junior, Lea Morelli explains how Powerhouse Gym East Lansing has changed since Jan. 1.

“I go to the gym around 5 p.m. and I’ve noticed it’s definitely more crowded now,” Morelli said.

Morelli has been a member of Powerhouse since August 2018 and works out three to four times per week, varying her routines each day. She doesn’t think newcomers will last.  

Credit Hannah Holliday

“People will give up on resolutions when they don’t see progress fast enough or when Spring Break is over and they don’t have a goal to work towards as much,” Morelli said.

Morelli is a rare case, having made zero New Year’s resolutions for 2019.

But Americans are continuing to set goals. This year, 71 percent of Americans wished for resolutions prioritizing dieting and eating healthier. Exercising more was another popular resolution for 65 percent of Americans and trailing the resolution wishes was 54 percent wanting to lose weight, according to an article on Inc.

“Starting in November when we have Thanksgiving, people start going into an eating frenzy, and it doesn’t stop until maybe right after January,” said Bob Girandola, an associate professor of biological sciences at University of Southern California Dornslife. “Then people start to feel guilty, they make resolutions and initially have motivation but it typically doesn’t hold up.”

This increase in resolutions, also means more gym memberships being sold, in 2017 the global health industry revenue totaled $87.2 billion, according to ihrsa.org.

Included in this revenue, is health club chains—Powerhouse Gym, Planet Fitness, and Anytime Fitness, all which have corporate owned or franchised gyms operating in East Lansing and Okemos.

For Morelli, dieting and cardio craziness aren’t how she prefers to accomplish her fitness and health goals. She instead incorporates weights.

“Weightlifting has typically been a male-dominated sport,” Morelli said. “Getting big has been a stereotype as being unattractive for a lot of women. But I’ve seen several campaigns aimed break those stereotypes.”

Unfortunately, resolutions can require more than just exercise when trying to lose weight, said Brandon Alderman, an associate professor with the Kinesiology and Health Department at Rutgers University.

“Without any kind of accompanying change in your diet or nutrition plan you are likely not going to lose weight as a result of exercising, and that’s the truth.”

Yet, by Jan. 31, more than half of the respondents in a 2,000-person survey confessed to failing their resolution.

Hannah Star, a junior at Michigan State has already noticed a decrease in foot traffic at her gym, Planet Fitness Okemos.

“I would say the first week after New Year’s a ton of people would be waiting to scan in, but after two weeks, it was back to normal and I didn’t need to wait for space or machines.”

Credit Hannah Holliday

Why the drop off period? Alderman thinks the issue could be linked to the average person’s goal setting.

“Generally, New Year’s resolutions are often tied to losing weight or looking better,” said Alderman, who studies how exercise can be used to enhance physiological, neurocognitive and other psychological resilience. “For people wanting to look better, that’s sort of like a distant goal that is not an immediate goal. Distant goals often don’t provide reinforcements in terms of day-to-day activities. I don’t think the idea of attaching exercise to these really long-term distal outcomes like weight loss or looking better is an effective approach.”

While individual goal setting is valuable, having a workout buddy could aid in actually accomplishing resolutions. 

“Connecting our exercise goals with someone else not in our house or an immediate family member, but more like a friend could hold an individual more accountable,” Alderman said.

Corporate gyms in East Lansing and Okemos offer group workout classes and personal training sessions to their members.

Morelli, continues on with her workout, making her way to a large fitness mat, grabbing some eight-pound weights on her way. Not stressing about a timeline, expiring calendar year or countdown and she just might be onto something.