New year, new goals: Fitness experts share insight

Published 6:55 pm Tuesday, January 5, 2021

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By Lauren Johnson

With the start of a new year, local gyms and physical trainers are hoping to see the traditional surge of new members this January.

Dan Smith, the director of Troy Parks and Recreation, said the rec center usually gains more members at the start of the year as people make New Year’s resolutions to exercise.

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“We have already seen an influx of new guests and returning customers that we haven’t seen for a while,” Smith said. “We’re excited to see people in the building using our facility.”

Smith explained that people continue to enjoy the walking track, indoor pool, and fitness center as well as a variety of different classes that are included in the membership. Yoga, water aerobics, spin bike, boot camp, and other classes are offered at Troy Parks and Recreation.

“I believe that many people choose to join a gym at the start of a new year because it’s a time to turn a page in life and decide to make self improvements and challenge yourself,” Smith said.

“Everyone wants to feel better and look better regardless of age,” he said. “Exercise is vital to our daily quality of life.” Exercising and staying healthy has always been important, and now during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is even more crucial.

Troy Parks and Recreation urges everyone to use caution and to use good hygiene habits. Visitors are asked to wear a mask when entering the building, but are not required to wear them while exercising, as stated in Gov. Kay Ivey’s mask mandate.

Smith also urges everyone to clean before and after using any equipment. Cleaning supplies are available throughout the facility. “I’m proud of our staff for going above and beyond to make sure our building is clean and safe,” he said. “The pandemic has been challenging, but the safety of our customers is our main focus.”

Smith is hopeful that COVID-19 will pass soon and is continuing to pray for the community of Troy. He is also looking forward to helping provide an opportunity for others to reach their fitness goals this year.

“We are blessed to have a number of excellent exercise facilities and businesses in Troy, and we hope that people will consider our facility in addition to the other facilities,” Smith said.

Casey Browder, owner of Neighborhood Barre and co-owner of Ilium Fitness and Barbell, expects a slower increase in new members this year. “In the past we’ve had lots of new people coming in at the beginning of the new year, but we feel like it will be a slow trickle because of the COVID numbers right now,” she said.

Browder predicts to see the usual New Year boom closer to February or March as people start to get back into a routine and when the number of COVID cases decreases.

Browder, her husband, and another couple opened Ilium Fitness and Barbell in 2013 for the people of Troy to have another option for Crossfit. A few years later in 2017, Browder realized that a place was needed for women to feel comfortable while working out, so she opened Neighborhood Barre.

“Not all women feel comfortable in a gym with men and women or with barbell exercises. I wanted to create a space for them where they could feel comfortable, get a good workout, and work towards a healthy lifestyle,” she said.

When setting a new fitness goal, Browder wants to encourage everyone to set achievable and realistic goals. “A lot of people set goals that are too high, which leads them to give up when it feels like it’s taking too long,” she said. “It’s important to set low goals that you can achieve in 2 to 4 weeks. Once you reach that goal, you can set another one or build off of that previous goal.”

At both Neighborhood Barre and Ilium Fitness and Barbell, Browder helps clients set realistic goals and achieve them. Both gyms have numerous classes available ranging from high intensity to low impact.

Mitchell Sneed, the physical trainer and owner of Physiques by SUSO, has seen an increase in more clients not only from those with New Year’s resolutions to get in shape, but also throughout the past few months.

“Since the pandemic started, I’ve received calls and messages from people who want to get healthy, not just to lose weight,” Sneed said. “I think COVID-19 made people more health conscious, and they have had more questions about vitamins and different types of detox, which is one benefit that COVID brought.”

Sneed started working as a personal trainer in 2013 at Murphree Park offering classes for $5. Now he owns two studio locations here in Troy. During the shutdowns, Sneed started offering training sessions via Zoom, and is continuing to have one-on-one and group workout sessions over Zoom.

“My program is based on not just physical heath, but also mental health. The acronym SUSO stands for show up and show out,” he explained. “In order to show out you have to mentally show up.”

Sneed believes it’s important to help his clients be mentally and physically up to par. “This year, I just want to encourage everyone to get active, stay hydrated, and eat accordingly,” he said.

For more information about Physiques by SUSO, call 334-434-9455 or email

For more information about Neighborhood Barre, call 334-372-4142 or visit

For more information about Ilium Fitness and Barbell, call 334-372-4142 or visit

For more information about Troy Parks and Recreation, call 334-566-4031 or visit