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Weak economy presses gyms

People think about two things every January: fitness and money.

This year, worried that concerns about money will outweigh resolutions to get fit, gyms are using special deals to shore up business in what has become an increasingly competitive market.

* Through January, Life Time Fitness in Cary is waiving its enrollment fee, which is usually about $130.

* Triangle YMCA branches are cutting the fee to join in half. It normally ranges from $95 to $250 for a family.

* And O2 Fitness branches are waiving their enrollment fees of up to $149 and offering new members January and February membership free.

Gyms typically run promotions at the beginning of the year, but in 2009, the stakes are higher.

"Everybody in our business is really trying to put everyone else out of business," said Kevin Hedley, chief operating officer of Raleigh-based O2 Fitness. "They're trying to drive the price as low as possible, but at the same time, it won't allow anyone to be successful in the long term."

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