Health clubs offer deals & discounts to pump-up enrollment

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) -  Lou Dick is starting off his new year with a healthy commitment. On Friday, he signed up for his first gym membership at Anytime Fitness in Ocean Springs.

"I just turned 62 at the end of 2008, so if I don't do it now, it's going to be too late," said Dick.

The 24-hour fitness center opened just three months ago, and has been getting quite a work-out trying to recruit new members. The owner admits he took a big risk starting a business during a weak economy.

"There's a lot of competition. A lot of people don't know we're here," said Nik McWhirter. "At first, I was scared. Now, everything's picking up."

And with people making New Year's resolutions to slim down or tone up, some gyms are waiving the enrollment fee, offering deals on long-term contracts, and discounts on certain fitness programs.

"January is very important for the fitness industry. So we're looking to see a nice influx in our membership this year. Maybe 500 to 1,000 people we're hoping to recruit this month alone," said Stacy Dinter, a Group Fitness Instructor for E-Fitness and Wellness of Biloxi.

Managers at E-Fitness say people may be cutting back on spending, but they're not sacrificing their health.

"Health is not necessarily looked at as a luxury," said Dinter. "It's something to increase the longevity of life, and I don't think we're going to be as impacted as other businesses around here."

"If you keep working out, it's proven that it betters your health. So you're going less to the doctor. You're taking off less from work. So it is a good investment," said McWhirter.

E-Fitness and Wellness is kicking off a three-month weight loss competition called "Shape Up the Coast". It's open to all south Mississippians. The grand prize will be awarded to the person who loses the most percentage of weight.  For more information, call (228) 396-3200.