Banking on New Year's resolutionaries

People exercise on treadmills

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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: The New Year is three weeks old. How many of those New Year's resolutions have you kept so far — or even started? Everyone begins the year with grand hopes and great promise. Alisa Roth tells us that those hopes translate into big bucks for a lot of businesses.


ALISA ROTH: Call them Resolutionaries. Those zealous types who give all to keeping the promises they made to themselves. Dropping pounds, shedding junk, quitting smoking.

At the gym, they're decked out in fancy workout gear.

You know, the ones who appear out of nowhere in January to take over every treadmill, stairmaster and weight machine.

For regular gym-goers, resolutionaries can be an exercise in frustration.

But for others they're a gold mine.

LACEY STONE: It's craziness. I feel like a rock star this month. It's awesome.

For personal trainer Lacey Stone, January means an enormous waitlist and lines out the door for classes she teaches at a New York gym.

Resolutionaries bring her a windfall.

STONE: I know that January, all those winter months are the year's the time I need to buckle down and do as much as I can because that's the time I'm going to make the most over the course of the year.

Just about any kind of self-improvement imaginable can be transformed into a promise — and profit.

One bankruptcy lawyer told me he sees more people in January because they've resolved to get their financial houses in order.

And personal coach Anne Fifield says her profession often get more calls around this time, too.

ANNE FIFIELD: It's a time of year when people actively take stock of their lives. So if there's a goal someone hasn't achieved or something that they really want, this might be the time of year they would think of it and get committed to it and get really to put resources behind the change.

But some people say it's the holidays themselves that create the problems in the first place.

Audrey Lavine is a professional organizer:

AUDREY LAVINE: You accumulate a lot of stuff either pulling all your things out to pack your presents or getting all your presents or pulling out the decorations or having the kids come and dump all their stuff from the end of the school term.

Plus she says, there are all those who promise themselves to get it together while they have time off during the holidays and then don't.

Of course, it could be argued that broken promises are what New Year's resolutions are really about. How long does anybody actually keep at it anyway?

Well, nobody I talked to would rat out their clients on tape, but maybe that's because even failed resolutions can have a silver lining. After all, isn't that just more business for next year?

In New York, I'm Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

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