Did you know “a brisk 20 minute walk a day may be enough to reduce an individual’s risk of early death by up to 30 percent?” Today, TIME magazine published a report on research that claims “twice as many deaths may be attributed to a lack of physical activity when compared with the number of deaths linked to obesity.”

This month, health clubs and fitness centers experience a spike in visits as people start their new year’s resolutions to get in shape. According to the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), more than 12 percent of gym members join in January, in comparison to an average 8 percent for the year’s remaining months.

A gym membership is something Americans are increasingly budgeting into their normal expenses, as opposed to a luxury purchase. For many consumers, January is the perfect time to make the commitment. You’ve got cold weather, a long month, psychological awareness about achieving goals and everybody’s finally out of vacation mode. Anticipating the newbies and trying to get their share, most health and fitness centers waive a sign-up fee or offer other specials in the month of January.

It’s not necessarily just a January bump; the entire first quarter of the year is a busy time for health clubs. While attendance spikes in the first month, some health and fitness centers also notice a similar uptick in March, which is becoming an equally popular month for exercise-related activity. In that month, people are shedding clothing and getting ready for their spring and summer attire.

New memberships and a rise in attendance at facilities means plenty of advance planning for health clubs and fitness centers. Programs, classes and equipment, as well as staffing, have to be planned months ahead. Chain Store Guide’s database of Drug Store & HBC Chains has detailed information on the top 35 health and fitness center chains, which together operate over 19,000 locations and do over $5.8 billion in yearly sales.