Just joined a Denver gym? Try to make it past April

Endorphin "boot camp" in the hanger at Stanley Marketplace. Jan 7, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

stanley marketplace; aurora; retail; kevinjbeaty; colorado; denverite; exercise; workout; gym;
Endorphin "boot camp" in the hanger at Stanley Marketplace. Jan 7, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) stanley marketplace; aurora; retail; kevinjbeaty; colorado; denverite; exercise; workout; gym;
Endorphin “boot camp” in the hanger at Stanley Marketplace. Jan 7, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

This morning, I went to the 20th Street Recreation Center and the weight room was totally empty. Much like last week.

Seems that Denver, ever the paragon of fitness and health, isn’t that preoccupied with getting ripped in the new year. But what does local data say about the famed January gym bump?

At first glance, the numbers back that up — the biggest increase in usage for the local, regional and neighborhood fitness centers and pools comes during the summer because of Denver’s MyDenver Card program. The youth of Denver have their priorities in order, namely, spending the maximum amount of time at the pool.

Usage peaks in June.
Usage peaks in June.

But if you take kids and outdoor pools out of the equation, you get a result that fits expectations a little closer:

Usage of the rec centers does indeed go up in January.
Usage of the rec centers does indeed go up in January.

That January bump represents 17 percent higher usage than the average percent for the year. So it turns out I just got lucky this morning.

A 17 percent higher usage is on par for another stalwart of the Denver fitness community, the YMCA of Metro Denver. Their usage also has an increase of 15 percent during January, as compared to the average percent for the rest of the year:

Data courtesy of YMCA of Metropolitan Denver.
Data courtesy of YMCA of Metropolitan Denver. January usage is at 9.55 percent.

We know that’s not the whole picture though. Some people – OK, lots of people – join a gym and then almost never go. National surveys suggest that gym memberships joins go up about 12 percent to 15 percent during the month of January.

For YMCAs in Denver, that’s about right:

January new joins were on par with national averages.
January new joins were on par with national averages.

So if you’re out there looking for a gym buddy, maybe wait until April to find them. Seems like you’ll have a better chance of keeping them around, given that usage in both the Denver recreation system and the YMCA seems to taper at that point.

Methodology: Data for this story came from the Denver Parks and Recreation department and the YMCA of Metropolitan Denver. To control for MyDenver usage, I created a total for recreation centers and pools, then subtracted pool usage, then MyDenver usage.