Douglas Bayne joined the Merritt Athletic Club in downtown Baltimore about five years ago, but he hasn't exactly been a gym rat.
"I work out for two weeks and I'll take off for eight months," the 38-year-old social worker said.
So like many other Americans, Bayne resolved to get healthy in 2012. He spent New Year's Day at the gym, hopping onto the treadmill for a 60-minute walk. He hopes to gain energy and improve his health as approaches "the big 4-0," he said.
"I don't feel as healthy as I used to feel," Bayne said. "I have become the biggest couch potato."
January is the busiest time of year for gyms, but for many people, consistency is a struggle. Some of the regulars at Merritt on Sunday afternoon said they notice that new members' enthusiasm for the gym seems to wane only a month or so after Jan. 1.
Steve Shavitz, who's been working out for decades, said it seems that many people don't take the time to figure out what kind of exercise they will enjoy.
"People get on the rowing machine because they think they have to," said the 65-year-old, who works out up to two and a half hours a day. "But they don't like it. … Then they fade away."
At Merritt, January is so busy at the gym that it's a "black out month" — sales staff can't request days off, said Karen Codd, a lifestyle consultant who sells memberships.
About 85 percent of people who join a gym do it because they want to lose weight, she said. But for many overweight people, it's intimidating to get started.
"Even when people hear from the doctor that they are morbidly obese or overweight, it's very, very scary to walk into a gym," she said. "I always say there's somebody in here who's in worse shape than you are."
Merritt regular Uhmar Alston, 45, joined the gym in 2006 to improve his health. Now, he does high-impact aerobics and resistance-band exercises with a trainer three times a week, and works out on his own another three days a week.
"What I advise people to do is to have a purpose for [working out] other than superficial purposes," said Alston, an executive assistant, "not to look good for other people."
Exercise has helped him deal with stress much better than he used to, he said.
"I don't call it a resolution," Alston said. "I call it a life change."
Ricky Mason, a 24-year-old dental student, joined the gym about a year ago. In 2012, he hopes to get into more of a routine with his workouts.
Regular exercise "is a new year's resolution every year," said Mason, who was working off a New Year's Eve meal of McDonald's fries, a McDouble and a McChicken.