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Workout warriors hit gyms

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Old calendar pages are not all that Litchfield County residents are leaving behind with the year 2002.

Determined to fulfill their healthy resolutions in the year 2003, hundreds of people are flocking to athletic clubs this month.

According to enrollment numbers of many local health clubs, residents will be trading their New Yearsí Eve cocktails and party garb for a water bottle and sweatpants.

"Membership has increased overwhelmingly," Litchfield Athletic Club assistant Manager Nancy Schuler said. "People have bought memberships for others as well as themselves for Christmas, so we see a lot of new and old faces in January."

Aside from a desire to lose weight, Schuler said people want to make a lifestyle change by incorporating health and exercise into their daily lives.

Although members are usually eager and dedicated in the first few winter months, Schuler said members become less active as the year continues, as the memories of their resolutions fade with their motivation.

Pinewoods Health and Racquet Club owner Eric Claman has seen the same increase in his membership.

He has noticed a specific increase of "baby-boomer" members, discovering the benefits of exercise, both physical and emotional.

"Thereís actually been a major push in fitness in that age group recently, with membership up about 40 percent over the last year," Claman said. "We cater to the 35 to 50 age group, who donít spend a lot of time in the gym, theyíre in and out pretty fast."

According to Claman, national gym membership has increased by 120 percent for the age group of 35-50. They have realized the stereotype of athletic clubs as havens of with buff, steroid-ridden men is not true.

Although he sees an increase at the beginning of each year, Claman said membership usually decreases over the subsequent year. There was a 20 percent decrease in membership in 2002.

An increase in members of all ages is also evident at the Torrington YMCA, where membership purchases and one-day gym passes increase in January continue through the winter months.

With its 2003 membership already up by 30 percent, Olympia Gym also did its best to prepare for the "mobs" of gym-goers who planned to crowd its walls on the first.

"We always see our membership numbers increase a lot in January," gym personnel member Laurie Leach said, "Itís probably about 50-50, in relation to people joining to loose weight and trying to just stay in shape."

Also noticing a consistent decrease after the multitudes of "resolution enrollments" occurring every year, Nautilus Plus owner Bruce Kasenetz said people usually drop out of their fitness regimes in as little as two weeks, losing their enthusiasm and determination.

"People are always really excited at first, and have good intentions," Kasenetz said. "But before you know it they go from five days to three days a week, and then they just give up."

Kasenetz, also a physical education teacher, says the reason people are so unsuccessful in maintaining their exercise routines is because they havenít been exercising their entire lives, and they view their workout routines as being work, rather than a regular part of life.

"Its so important for kids to have a foundation of exercise patterns at an early age, because then it becomes part of their lives, and they can understand and appreciate personal wellness," Kasenetz said.


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