MANATEE -- A new year is only days away, which means it is time to make those New Year's resolutions for self improvement. Popular resolutions include quitting smoking and getting organized, but perhaps the most popular is to shed the extra fat that tends to get packed on over the holidays.
Once Christmas is done, the dieting season kicks in.
While most gyms and fitness studios around Bradenton were nearly empty the day after Christmas, and some were still locked up for the Christmas holiday, January is one of the busiest months of the year for gyms, health clubs and studios of all kind. They are bracing themselves now for the wave of new memberships, each offering their own unique way to lose weight.
There's something for everyone out there. Some health centers say weight loss can be accomplished without even breaking a sweat.
Alternatives to the norm
Vibology, which opened in Lakewood Ranch under its new name in October, offers Vibra Pros, machines that shift and vibrate underfoot.
Vibology was formerly part of the Goga Studios franchise, which are now separate and privately owned spaces. Owner Jan Destasio said the machines throw users off balance, forcing their muscles to tighten. Destasio said they also help improve circulation and bone health.
Ten minutes only burns about 40 calories, but Destasio said the benefits extend beyond calories burned. Weight loss is a common by-product of using the Vibra Pros, but not the main goal, Desta
She found out about the machines when her former employer had hip surgery. As part of the recovery process, the doctor recommended the vibrating machines as a means to improve bone density.
"There is a lot of hype out there, but what are you going to do? People want to get healthy and lose the weight," Destasio said.
Destasio is expecting an influx in memberships next month, although she does not have a specific goal for new sign-ups.
Marian Ardes, who has been a member at Vibology for three weeks, purchased a three-month membership with the goal to prove, or disprove, the machines' effectiveness. She and her husband make a daily drive from Anna Maria Island to do so.
Ardes' holistic doctor recommended she try it to build her bone strength and get healthier in the new year.
"People are disgusted with themselves from the year before. They either didn't try, or they tried and failed," Ardes said. "This time, it's a chance they can accomplish it."
Ardes pointed out that the machines are reminiscent of the old shaking exercise belts, but she said the oscillating motion of the machines at Vibology are much gentler.
"This is the opposite of no pain, no gain," Destasio said.
Destasio said customers do not sweat when they use the machines, and many come in before work or on their lunch breaks fully dressed in their regular business attire.
Starting Jan. 1, Vibology will have private coaching and group support sessions for an eating plan based on the Fast Metabolism Diet Cookbook by Haylie Pomroy. The book is a guide for easing into a well-rounded diet and promises to help shed 20 pounds in 28 days.
Other places are borrowing medical practices used for back, neck and shoulder pain relief.
The 7e Fit Spa uses micro current technology to break down fatty tissue. The technology is used in chiropractor's offices to ease muscle spasms. The muscles are forced to contract and relax.
Owner Betty Jo Zeigler said the same concept can be applied to force fat from stubborn areas. The most popular requests from the 7e Fit Spa include the abdomen, the upper arms and the obliques, home of love handles. Each session, called "Torcs," lasts 30 minutes.
The 7e Fit Spa promises customers will lose three inches in a 30-minute Torc, but Fit Spa esthetician Jan Sheib had an asterisk to add to the claim.
"It works best for those who are already maintaining a healthy lifestyle," Sheib said. "You also have to eat well and hydrate."
Member Melissa Martin said her own results have been incredible. She lost 25 inches in three months.
"I am proud to say I come here," Martin said.
The 7e Fit Spa does not do weigh-ins, but rather focuses on members' measurements. Members are on their own to plan their diet and exercise regime outside of the Torc treatments.
"Weight loss is always on everybody's mind," Fit Spa esthetician Kathleen Dahm said. "Unless you have a perfect high metabolism, it is a constant battle."
There are still plenty of options for those seeking a more traditional route for weight loss that requires some cardio and heavy lifting.
The Orangetheory Fitness studio on University Park, which opened in August, is about to experience its first New Year rush.
The gym lives up to its name with orange walls, orange exercise equipment, plush orange chairs in the lobby and orange light fixtures.
Personal trainer Spencer Woods said the franchise that launched in Fort Lauderdale uses orange based on the psychology that orange provides a mood boost and positive energy. Maintaining a high level energy is the goal of each workout.
The hour-long sessions of cardio and resistance training use heart rate monitors to gauge each member's performance. The monitors also display how much fat, carbohydrates and protein participants burn.
Woods played sports in school and served in the military before becoming a personal trainer, but he said the workout is not "boot camp" style and is suited just as well for beginners as it is for triathletes.
"Not everyone in the class works out at the same speed," Woods said. "The heart rate monitors help everyone find their own limits."
Since its opening in August, the studio has garnered over 400 members. Woods said the studio feels like a family, but also offers friendly competition.
Orangetheory holds quarterly weight loss challenges. The most recent was the "12 Days of Fitness," in which the winner lost 45 pounds in six weeks.
The next weight loss challenge is Jan. 17 and is the biggest Orangetheory has held yet. The six-week challenge is a national competition among all 90 franchised studios. The winner, based on the most weight and highest percentage of body fat lost, will take home $25,000.
Woods said coaches at Orangetheory can help clients stay on track with their diets.
"We don't put people on diets, but we can help with figuring out what things to avoid, especially if you have a specific goal," Woods said.
Inches Fitness, a studio for women in west Bradenton, is focused on a more lighthearted way to kick off the new year for those who are not quite ready for a national weight loss competition.
On Jan. 2, the gym is holding a Zumba "marathon" from 4-6 p.m.
In addition to Zumba, kick boxing, aqua aerobics and yoga are popular at Inches Fitness.
Beth Ann Survoy, the fitness manager at Inches Fitness, said the gym values that everyone is exercising properly and looking out for health and safety first.
"There is a correct way and a wrong way," Savoy said. "If you believe in fitness and well-being and share that knowledge love for it, you will be successful."
Erica Earl, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081