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Bountiful • The South Davis Recreation Center certainly wasn't empty on a mid-December morning.

A group of seniors participated in a water aerobics class in the pool. There was a party with an accordion player wearing a Santa hat in a room surrounded by windows. A lone basketball player shot baskets. And there were some folks in the weight room.

That will soon change as hundreds of Davis County residents determined to get fit or lose weight to start the New Year jam classes and facilities in January. Even kids apparently get into the act.

"Our Junior Jazz program doubles in size," said Betsy Christopherson, a coordinator at the huge facility that includes an ice rink, indoor track and climbing wall. "In December, January and February, it is harder to find a parking spot. Our swimming classes fill up. It is a lot busier in these three months. We have to add on classes. And ice skating fills up, too, in the winter."

Paul Jeffery of Bountiful was among those in the facility trying to get an early start.

"I am just starting a New Year's resolution to come three times a week," he said. "I want to increase the high density stuff and do a lot of aquatics."

Nearby, Karen Mendenhall of Centerville wrestled with her 5-year-old twin sons.

"We use the rec center a lot," she said. "I use the gym."

None of this increased activity surprised Karmel Harper, a personal trainer who teaches Zumba, Aqua Zumba and cycling. She was actually surprised at the lack of a drop-off in participation in late December, when attendance usually dips.

Things get busy in January, when a Zumba class that has 40 participants in December might jump to 70. As someone who works to make certain everyone has a good experience, the high numbers make Harper a bit nervous.

She also sees what happens when people try to do too much too soon.

"People need to stick with their goal," she said. "The biggest mistake is setting a lofty goal and a new lifestyle. They go to the gym five hours a day. They go too hard, too quickly, get burned out and don't come back. We usually see a drop-off in mid-February."

She said that people trying to get back into shape must realize that it will take time and that consistency is the key to success. Staying fit is a lifelong challenge and not something that can be done in a month or two.

What do those who invest $50 for an initial fitness assessment and then $35 an hour for individual training sessions get?

They get an exercise and sometimes diet program designed to help them get fit and stay healthy. For many, having an appointment with a trainer they must keep brings them back into the center to exercise.

Harper said that her clients run the gamut, including one diabetic who requires oxygen and trains mostly in the pool.

"It is very rewarding to see those people who have never picked up a weight and are intimidated who are right at home up there," she said of the weight-training area at the facility. "It's nice to see them comfortable."

As someone who has struggled with weight issues most of my life and who has used personal trainers in the past, I know all the pitfalls. Starting out too fast can be a major problem because it is easy to get sore and discouraged and to decide the effort isn't worth it.

The good thing for those who live in Bountiful or for that matter in Salt Lake County is that there are excellent public and private facilities close to most homeowners were trainers, weight rooms, pools, gyms and aerobic programs are available.

And there is always the opportunity to enjoy a simple walk with the dog as a way of starting slowly.

The key is to begin trying to move more, eat less and be consistent in an exercise program.

Twitter @tribtomwharton

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