Christmas tends to come about a week late for local gyms each year, as people strive to shed pounds packed on over the holidays and act on New Year's resolutions.
"I've been in this industry for 25 years, and you can pretty much count on a busy first week each year," said Don Foxe, owner of Beach City Health and Fitness on Hilton Head Island.
Foxe said about 30 percent of a gym's new members each year sign up in January. He reported a 40-percent spike in use at his gym for the first week of this year.
"We've already got about 40 new members so far this January, and we usually only get about 15 to 20 in an average month," he said.
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As busy as it's been, he says it's only about half as crowded as it was last January, when unseasonably cold temperatures drove fitness enthusiasts indoors.
He said the area's transient population helps generates traffic at his gym: "A lot of people are only staying here for Christmas or New Year's and want to keep in shape while they're away from home."
Terri Reiff, general manager of Powerhouse Gym in Bluffton, said she's seen "people of all shapes and sizes" so far in 2012.
"You'll get people who are a bit, ah, more de-conditioned," she said. "But it's been great. We've got an 84-year-old lady, who said she'd never been in a gym before, showing up now."
She said her membership has "definitely gotten a boost" since Jan. 1, in part because of a special, first-time membership rate she'd offered to attract new interest.
And it's not just conventional gyms that are enjoying the annual boost.
"We're seeing a lot of new people," said Brittney Goesslin of Dancing Dogs Yoga in Beaufort.
Goesslin said about 50 people had signed up for her studio's "40 Days to Personal Revolution" program, which began earlier this month.
"This is the first year we've done this, and we want them to keep coming back," she said. "We're hoping for the best."
But Foxe, in his third decade of operating a gym, offered a more jaded prediction.
"You know, a lot of those people that sign up in that first week," he said, pausing for emphasis. "They're gone by Valentine's Day."
Follow reporter Grant Martin at twitter.com/LowCoBiz.