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Fitness Clubs Trim Their Prices in Annual Post-Holiday Ad Blitz

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Flabby tummy, thickening thighs, muscle tone that went south for the winter. You’re feeling poorly, and your local health club offers a cure.

Fitness clubs have begun their annual post-holiday advertising blitz, offering deals and discounts to tempt the overindulgent and the guilt-ridden.

At one club, two people can join for the price of one. Another club began offering a 50% discount when it opened its doors on the morning after the New Year’s holiday.

“January is always a good month for us,” said Stacy Justin, advertising manager for Family Fitness Centers. “Because, of course, everyone ate over the holidays, and it’s a good time to start a resolution.”

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Club managers and owners stopped short of saying the promotions are tied to the economy, which has been as slack these few months as a neglected bicep.

“I don’t think the focus is going to be as much on the economy as on people deciding what’s important,” said Pamela Angel, a manager and instructor at American Sports Center in Tustin. “You can spend $2 on a pack of cigarettes or $1 a day to put your body in the shape it should be in.”

Many fitness clubs depend on January sign-ups to swell their membership ranks by 20% to 50%.

LA Fitness, with five centers in Orange County and 12 in the Southland, stayed open on New Year’s Day to take advantage of people’s post-holiday resolve to get in shape. The Diamond Bar-based chain, which is opening four new centers in Riverside and Los Angeles counties, is offering two memberships for the price of one or a two-year membership for the one-year price.

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Family Fitness Centers is offering a six-month membership for $99 during the first few days of January. Initiation fees normally range between $90 and $323 for an individual membership, with additional monthly payments of $12 to $14.

“We’re your New Year’s resolution solution for a firm, fit body,” one ad reads.

The special deal applies to the 11 new centers the chain is opening in the Southland, four of which are planned for Orange County. The Carlsbad-based chain has 46 outlets in Southern California. Justin said the population growth in the area is good for business, as is the growing interest in fitness among people in their 20s and 30s.

The Athletic Club of Laguna Niguel offered for the first time this year pre-holiday gift certificates good for up to $250 toward membership. The club is also offering 18 sessions with a personal trainer for $299.

Steve Miller, the club’s fitness director, said the specials have sold well. “In the past, we’ve had membership drives, but this is the first time we’ve offered a double special,” he said.

American Sports Center began offering 50% membership discounts on Wednesday. “I don’t know a health club that doesn’t (discount),” Angel said. “Health clubs definitely play up to the seasons. In June, it’s ‘get ready for summer.’ In November, it’s ‘look good for the holidays.’ ”

Angel, a certified gymnastics and aerobics instructor, said her club arranges aerobics demonstrations at two local nightclubs--a nearby Black Angus restaurant and Baxter’s restaurant--to promote the gym. Those who are interested can sign up for an introductory visit on the spot.

“Nightclubs are set up well for aerobics demos, with the dance floor,” Angel said. “Also, these are active people; they’re out dancing and having a good time, and that’s the type of club we have.”

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