Gyms among those who can thrive in January

Jeremy Hicks of Grand Junction is a blur of motion as he runs on a treadmill at Crossroads Health and Fitness Tuesday. Hicks said Tuesday was his second day working out at the gym; he didn’t start coming until after New Years Day even though he had signed up for membership in 2010.

Nearly every business dedicated to retail, groceries, travel or battling winter weather enjoys a profitable fourth quarter.

But a select few wait until the holidays have wrapped to celebrate booming business.

Gyms welcome hordes of newcomers with resolutions to lose weight. Bridal shops, reception halls and caterers get their first few calls from brides-to-be who were proposed to over the holidays. College students load up on books for second semester, tax experts begin the march toward April 15, and hospitals, doctors’ offices and pharmacies are stuffed with patients who caught bugs from relatives or fellow passengers on vacation.

January is busy at Crossroads Fitness not only because of New Year’s resolutions but because cold, wet weather and shorter days tend to keep some exercise enthusiasts indoors, Crossroads Co-owner Paula Reece said.

“The weather is really what determines our classes and how many we have,” she said.

Extra exercise classes and a few more staff members on duty than usual during busy times are the norm for January at the gym, which has locations at 2768 Compass Drive and 225 N. Fifth St. Every year is different, Reece said, so it’s hard to estimate how many more people are at the gym in January than during any other month, but “it definitely is a busy time.”

The challenge of January is figuring out how to help people stick to their resolutions and keep coming the rest of the year. Reece suggests starting with attainable goals and enrolling in the Getting Started program, which offers clients a free session with a trainer and teaches newcomers how to use equipment and weights.

“Usually, we find out people don’t know how to exercise. They have a resolution but don’t have a next step,” Reece said. “For us, (the challenge) is taking that motivation and helping them put that into an actual lifestyle so that resolution doesn’t begin and end in January.”

On the other side of the health spectrum, January is a month that can mean calling in sick and nursing the flu, strep throat or any number of ailments after coming into contact with germs at family gatherings or on planes, trains or buses over the holidays. Community Hospital’s urgent care center saw a spike in visits earlier this week, according to the hospital’s marketing and communications director, Becky Jessen.

“Anecdotally, from speaking to family practice physicians, they’ve been busy also,” Jessen said.

Jessen said illness can keep physicians busy in January if that’s when flu season peaks, which can happen between November and March. This time of year also can be busy because of students home from college seeking an annual check-up before heading back to school.

Some students already are back in school for a brief January term at Mesa State College. Tracy Brodrick, manager of the college’s bookstore, said the store was packed early on Monday, when it reopened after a winter break closure, as students shopped for textbooks for the second semester.

Because of increasing enrollment, Brodrick said e-books, which are sold in the store, and the growing trend of students buying books on sites such as haven’t hurt sales at the bookstore. Brodrick said the store hires temporary workers to help stock shelves and handle returns and exchanges during January.

“January and August are most of our annual business,” Brodrick said.

And students aren’t just buying books.

“We sell a lot of supplies and clothing, too. A lot of times because a student’s financial aid is distributed at the beginning of a semester, that’s when they have money, so that’s when they spend it,” Brodrick said.

Clothing is also flying off the shelves at Victoria Rose Bridal Parlor 2454 U.S. Highway 6&50, or at least it’s moving more quickly. November and December may be big months for other apparel stores, Victoria Rose Owner Judy Panozzo said, but those are her slow months.

Panozzo said she had a rough summer, with most brides looking to do weddings quickly and on the cheap, but the brides she’s seen who were proposed to over Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s Eve are going for full-price gowns and accessories.

“They’ll spend $1,600” on a dress, Panozzo said. “It used to be hard to sell an $800 dress in this town.”

January is also a big month because dresses ordered in this month are delivered in late May, just in time for June weddings.

Also working ahead for spring deadlines are tax preparers. Enrolled agent and office director Patti Reece of H & R Block at 2454 U.S. Highway 6&50 said the earliest a person or business can file a tax return is Jan. 14, and the office is ready for early birds. The office also helps some businesses get W-2 forms done for employees and close the books on 2010.

All that work means this is the month H & R Block looks to hire more receptionists for tax season, according to Reece. Those new employees will begin training next week.

“By about the third week in January we’re really starting to cook,” she said.


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