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Making fitness resolutions happen

Kyle Snesrud's been in the fitness business since November of 1993, when he closed on his first Olympus 24 club in Northfield. He opened a club in Farmington in 1999, and one in Rosemount in 2002.

He's been around long enough to know this is a busy time of year. In part that's because it becomes harder for people to exercise outside, but it's also because of New Year's resolutions to get in better shape.

We talked with Snesrud this week about the benefits of owning a health club and what people can do to help themselves stick with those resolutions.

Do you enjoy the health club business?

It's just awesome.

If you could take every single volunteer hour of everyone that was willing to give one to you and hand it off to your business and you had a chance to experience that first hand day in and day out and year in and year out - because there isn't anybody that's been told to be here. Everybody is a volunteer and they're volunteering their own time for their own benefit but you get to see the outcome and the results of that. There isn't anyplace else that I can think of where people give that much time on a daily and weekly basis for mutual benefit. It's just an awesome experience.

You probably see a lot of transformations of people when they come in out of shape and leave fitter.

There's a few people that just do the maintenance thing. You wish they'd sell out a little more, but they're happy with where they're at and they're convinced that this is what they want to do and they're fine with that. God bless them for that. But there's another set of people out there that are very goal driven, that are very goal oriented that really invest a little bit more to get a better return and outcome and that's pretty cool to see people really sell out for something They can kick themselves if they want to for not coming in in as good a shape as they could be the day they sign up, but if in six months they're right on top of the world or in much better shape, then that's a much better situation than to be in the first situation and never do anything about it.

This is the time of year for resolutions. Is this a busy time for you with people coming in and saying, "I'm going to do something about this?"

There's two combinations for this time of year. The New Year's resolution is one and it's a big one. But the other side of this is the people who really want to come in and maintain their active lifestyle can't do it outside, because they don't want to slog through the snowdrifts or they don't want to freeze their buns off or they don't want to invest in the cross country skis or they don't want to do the ski passes because they're not comfortable with it....

I would say the vast majority of people who are coming through the door are 80 percent of scale and they're unsatisfied with that last 20 percent of their potential. Those are the people that you see coming through the door. Most of the people who are on the bottom end of the scale, if they come in on a New Year's resolution, it's a temporary thing. Short term thing.

Do you have a sense of how many people are the short-term, who don't stick with it?

I can tell you that our counts are about 125 to about 145 on a daily basis this fall, but we're going to be shooting up to about 200 a day by January....

We'll drop down to less than 200 a day by the first of April, thereabouts. But people are still maintaining their activity levels elsewhere....

These classes are such an awesome asset to this business. There's a gal in there right now teaching a Zumba class and the 60 minutes they spend with her are more entertaining and more encouraging and motivational and fun, just flat out fun and motivational in nature than getting on a treadmill will ever be. You can quote me on that.

If you can give an hour of your life and you can have a charismatic, energetic instructor lead you, that's so much better. That's really what our heart is, too. We want to feel people connected to a small business and equipment and space just doesn't meet that. If we can give them a sense of, you know that Cheers song, where everybody knows your name, by an instructor that's walking through the door to teach a class, that's a much better relationship and you'll see people maintain their memberships and their activity level a little bit longer for that.

Is that one of the answers for the people who come on the New Year's resolution and after a few weeks say, this is harder than I thought it was going to be?

Absolutely it is. No question about it. If you can build a relationship and build a connection with either a personal trainer or a group fitness instructor that gives you a sense of community, that's more important than any fitness level.... I believe that with all my heart that people are social animals and we need to be in relationship. When you come through a door of a club and nobody says anything to you or they don't even know you're there - I'm not passing judgment because there are people that just want to put the iPod on and get in their little bubble and god bless them, we'll leave them alone, but people are so much happier when they're amongst others.

So, how can people do that, to improve their chances of sticking with it and getting in shape?

Trust long enough the club and the people that are working there to get the comfort level. It's not lost on me, I've been in the business for 18 years now, 19 years. I know what it's like for someone to come through the door with that pie-eyed look in their eye. It's like walking into a stranger's house. You really don't know what to expect and you've kind of got to take it on faith that the people you meet in that setting are going to take care of you.

After three weeks, you get that sense of relationship and community and all of a sudden you're going to feel like you have that sense of ownership that a longstanding member has....

You've got to trust yourself, know yourself and understand yourself enough to know that anything you do different for the first three weeks is going to feel different, but after a while, you will through familiarity and repetition ... gradually get that sense of ownership and comfort level for coming into a business, but you've got to give it that time.

I imagine it helps people stick with it when they see some progress.

Absolutely. It's a very addictive thing. There are people that see the light and it's a pretty gratifying thing to be in a business where people, all of a sudden something clicks. You don't know who they are when they sign up, but it sure is gratifying to watch them materialize as time goes by.