Monday, April 27, 2009

In A Dead Job Market, Unemployed Hit The Gym

“When Richard Gill's financial consulting work came to a "screeching halt" in late January, he could easily have submitted to temptation. ‘Some people run to a bottle,’ the 38-year-old Lake View man said last week. But Gill -- like an increasing number of out-of-work Americans -- has run a different way: to the gym. ‘I can lose myself for an hour and a half in a wonderful sweat, and then chat with some of the guys,’ Gill said of his exercise routine at Quads gym, 3727 N. Broadway. When he was working 12 hours a day, Gill hardly had time to get in shape. Now, as business has all but dried up, he's spending two hours a day at the gym -- five times per week. Gill says he feels better than he used to and the exercise gives him a "mental release" from the stress of job hunting. ‘When I work out, I'm a kinder, gentler soul for a little while,’ he said. Gill is part of a growing trend as Americans grapple with the recession, says Equinox, which runs 48 gyms in the U.S., including four in the Chicago area. Gym usage among existing Equinox members grew as much as 15 percent in the first quarter. Participation in classes that are included in the cost of the membership has increased by a similar amount, and the gym is adding more yoga classes to meet demand. In a survey released this month by Rodale Inc., the publisher of Men's Health and Runner's World, 84 percent of those polled said despite the recession, there is no better time to invest in maintaining good health. ‘Your health-club membership, your cable TV and your cell phone are in the last third of things that you're going to cut off’ in a tough economy, said Anthony Gikas, a leisure analyst at Piper Jaffray & Co. in Minneapolis. The gym and fitness-club market will grow 2.2 percent this year, according to Los Angeles-based researcher IBISWorld Inc. The current interest in fitness in a down economy doesn't surprise Al Phillips, who owns five-Chicago area World Gym franchises. During the recession triggered by the oil crisis in the early 1970s, people also toned up. ‘In Detroit, where the economy was absolutely the worst, we had a record year,’ Phillips said. To lure new members, World Gym is offering to pick up more than half the cost of monthly dues if a client loses his or her job after joining, but only until the member finds work. Other clubs promote fitness as a way to get noticed by prospective employers. Paula Randazzo, 48, of Oak Lawn, was let go from her job with a trade show company in early March. ‘I just kind of sat there in a daze, and then the tears started falling,’ Randazzo said after losing the job she had held for 20 years. Randazzo had exercised frequently before, but it was something she had to squeeze in when she could. Now, as she's searching for work, she' has doubled the amount of time she spends in the gym. More frequent exercise has helped her maintain her weight after quitting smoking three years ago, and it helps her stay upbeat, she said. ‘You should probably talk to my husband,’ Randazzo joked. ‘I was a really moody witch at times.’”,CST-NWS-gym27.article

No comments: