Winston Family YMCA hits record high in memberships at start of new year

Lots of people are getting started on their New Year's resolutions, and it's have a big impact on a local YMCA.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — After ringing in the new year, resolutions are soon to follow. For many, those resolutions involve fitness.

“Between January and April, it’ll be a zoo,” Long-time YMCA Member Ronnie Cage said.

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The Winston Family YMCA reached a record amount of memberships in December. It nearly doubled in numbers. Associate Executive Director Sarah Schmitt said they’ll be able to expand even more in January.

“We had an amazing December,” Schmitt said. “We exceeded our goal, so people are starting early with their New Year’s resolutions. It’s just a great time of year for people to make a positive change in their fitness goals.”

The YMCA is new to the Downtown area, off of Riverside Avenue. On New Years Day it was full of members getting started on their fitness goals.

“It is a new excitement because you have new people coming into the gym who maybe haven’t worked out in a while,” Cage said. “They want to get their bodies back and get excited. Then you have the old people here who can’t get equipment because everybody’s here. It’s kind of like a jungle, but it’s fun.”

Employees anticipate their biggest crowd the second week of January when families are back from holiday vacation.

“We see a very big crowd coming in January and then they slowly weed themselves out by March,” Schmitt said. “But we’re big enough and there’s always room for everybody.”

A 2018 survey by Wallet Hub examined the healthiest cities across the country. Some Florida cities made the cut, but Jacksonville fell short. It was ranked near the lowest 20 percent of all cities examined.

YMCA Healthy Living Director Randi Fort said it is important to set realistic goals at the start of the year, so members don’t get burnt out early on.

“A lot of people get overwhelmed with their goals because they set these huge, humongous goals,” Fort said. “They can do it in small increments. This month this is what I want to accomplish. And if it’s a weight loss goal, two or three pounds at a time.”