With the Christmas season comes the new year. And with the new year, invariably come resolutions — very often to live healthier, to get in shape, etc.

In his year-plus as the facility director at FirstHealth’s fitness center in Sanford, Phillip Williams has already seen it once, and expects to again.

“Last year we saw a little bump after Christmas, as well as an increase in traffic from our current customers,” he said. “But it’s really mid-January before we see the big increase, and we expect that to last until about March.”

But Williams said that the company’s fitness center, which opened in October 2018, is really all about changing that dynamic, or at the very least giving its customers the resources and opportunities to avoid a mid-spring relapse and live healthier throughout the year.

To that end, the vast facility not only offers a range of fitness options — free weights, machines, a piece of equipment called the Synrgy 360 or more commonly, “the adult jungle gym,” a walking track, a pool, and even a children’s center — it also engages customers by making available to them more than 40 classes each week.

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“Our biggest job is to keep people engaged,” Williams explained. “We preach member engagement here. We’ll call people if we haven’t seen them in 30 or 60 or 90 days. If people feel like the staff really cares, they’ll be more apt to keep coming in.”

Many gym memberships are made up of a mix of folks who join to achieve fitness goals and others who are referred by a doctor for physical therapy or cardiac rehabilitation, but FirstHealth’s facility is unique in that the staff is medically integrated, meaning everyone on hand is knowledgeable about the range of resources available to folks whatever the reason they’re there.

Of the center’s 1,700 members, Williams guessed about a quarter are there for cardiac rehab or PT. He also said that with FirstHealth being relatively new to the Sanford area — the Pinehurst-based company had previously had some presence here through individual doctor’s offices, but the medical and fitness center is its first brick and mortar effort locally – it was the first experience with FirstHealth for as much as 75 percent of members.

“FirstHealth really looks at this building as a gateway to all of the other services we offer,” he said.

Monthly rates at FirstHealth Fitness run between $39 and $61 per month, with a variety of options and discounts (seniors, veterans, corporate rates) available depending on the circumstance. The facility, located at 2925 Beechtree Drive in Sanford, is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.


Ingram Family YMCA ($33.51-$88.30/month, plus one-time $50 fee): 1907 K.M. Wicker Memorial Drive, Sanford

Planet Fitness ($10-$22.99/month, plus one-time $1 and $39 annual fee): 2507 S. Horner Blvd., Sanford

Anytime Fitness ($29.99-$34.99/month, 7 day free trial available): 2563 Hawkins Ave., Sanford

Workout Anytime (opening 2020, $10-$39/month): 2045 S. Horner Blvd., Sanford

SNR Express ($38-$50/month, free pass available): 2629 Dalrymple St., Sanford