Because weight loss is widely recognized as the quintessential New Year’s resolution, local fitness facilities are expecting a spike in membership sales over the next month, just as they see every year.

Because weight loss is widely recognized as the quintessential New Year’s resolution, local fitness facilities are expecting a spike in membership sales over the next month, just as they see every year.

“January and February are our biggest revenue months,” said Heidi Helou, owner of Flex World Fitness in Georgetown. “It’s sad to say but, usually people keep their resolutions for about three months and we start to die down a little in March.”

A little more than 12 percent of gym memberships are sold in January compared to an average of 8.3 percent per month throughout the rest of the year, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. February falls in second with 9.3 percent and March in third with 8.9 percent.

John Lehne, owner of 302 Fitness in Milton, has been a personal trainer for about four years and said he usually sees an increase during the second week of January, after folks hit the gym and realize they need help from a trainer.

“I definitely see a spike in January; but it’s temporary money,” Lehne said. “A lot of people break their resolutions and some just want to work with me for a few weeks to learn the exercises.”

According to StatisticBrain.com, the average monthly cost of a gym membership is $55. Of that amount, about $39 per month is wasted due to underutilization, as about 67 percent of people with gym memberships almost never use them.

Emily Knearl, a spokeswoman for the state Division of Public Health’s Office of Health and Risk Communications, said “it’s very natural for the new year, especially after all the eating, fun times and partying during the holidays, for people to want to think about eating and living better.”

However, Knearl added, if these well-intentioned folks try to make too drastic of a change in January, they’ll become discouraged and fall back into their old habits by February.

Knearl said the state recommends the “5-2-1 Almost None” method of weight loss, which encourages five or more fruits or vegetables per day, two or less hours of recreational screen time (watching TV, gaming or using a computer), one hour of physical activity and almost no sugary beverages.

“When people think about the hour of physical activity, they assume it means jogging and swimming, which are good things,” she said. “However it’s also good to think in doable bits. People can start walking for 20 minutes and build up slowly, or they can garden or play with their children.”

Knearl said no one should expect to change their lifestyle in one fell swoop.

“Make small changes and small improvements,” she said. “If you build on your small successes, you’ll starting feeling and looking better and your health will be better. That’s going to be your reward down the road.”

Helou said in her experience, about 80 percent of people who buy gym memberships in January stop using them after a few months. To keep weight loss resolutions, Helou recommends joining with a friend who can hold you accountable, remembering that having a membership and not using it is a waste of money, setting goals that are realistic and maintaining a consistent routine.

Lehne said having a personal trainer is a huge motivator to stay on track.

“The advantage of having a personal trainer is that you have someone who holds you accountable and who is trained in the industry to make sure you’re doing proper form and don’t get injured,” he said. “Also, with my clients no workout is the same as the last one. That way you don’t get into a rut and lose your motivation.”

Nevertheless, old habits die hard and regular gym-goers can expect treadmills to free up by March.

“Usually during January my regular members get discouraged because classes are so full,” Helou said. “They get a little annoyed, but they understand and are very accommodating. If it gets too crazy, we can add more classes so everyone can get in for a workout.”