For many South Africans, a new year often comes with the renewed gusto to attain weight loss goals in a desperate bid to achieve that dream body.The surge in membership numbers at gyms across the country at the start of the year attests to the desire to get washboard abs, or simply to get in line with the healthy lifestyle movement.With more people in the gym and the subsequent overcrowding, petty squabbles over the use of equipment are inevitable. There’s no doubt that some gym veterans will pine for the days when there were fewer newbies in “their space”.But, with half of South Africans older than 15 classified as overweight, and 12% of men and 40% of women classified as obese, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, there has never been a better time for locals to do something about their waistlines.According to Craig Nossel, head of Vitality Wellness, there is no question that people come back from the holidays with renewed energy.“We see a spike in gym attendance and sign-ups. It’s not just gym activity we see a spike in, but also for events such as park runs, where 45 000 people show up for runs every weekend across the country.”He says this is largely driven by the resolutions people make at the start of the year, but is also because people gain weight during the holidays.“In most gyms, the drop in membership or attendance happens from March onwards, and so the question for us has been how to make gym attendance, or just remaining active, more sustainable,” Nossel says.Virgin Active managing director Ross Faragher-Thomas says there are common pitfalls that end the fitness journeys of many gym members, including that people set impossible and unrealistic goals.“Many people start their training with a clear idea of what they want to achieve, but they’re unsure of how to achieve those goals. This generally leads to people training too much or too little, or they get injured or sick and then lose motivation.”According to statistics website Statista, South Africa has the world’s highest fitness club revenue, generating more than $900m (R11.1bn) a year. The latest available statistics depict the revenue of the health and fitness club industry in Africa and Middle Eastern countries in 2016.In second place was Saudi Arabia with $619.9m, the United Arab Emirates was third with $380.2 million and Egypt was fourth with revenue of $348.1m.Virgin Active controls at least 60% of the gym market in South Africa, with more than 500 000 members, followed by Planet Fitness, Zone Fitness and Curves Fitness.The experts say another big mistake many tend to make is that they don’t ask for help. While it may seem daunting to approach a professional on the gym floor, it is a sure way to get the most out of your gym journey.The rule of thumb is to opt for an induction tour when you join a club, or attend a group exercise class – which is a welcoming, fun, social and structured workout. Experts say this makes for a smoother transition into the world of gym exercise.A recent study by US nonprofit organisation, the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that rewarding new gym members with gift cards for exercising makes little to zero impact on their workout motivation. What will ultimately inspire you to get up and start moving is a strong, supportive community, the study found.The laughs, high fives and words of encouragement from those you are exercising with are things money simply can’t buy. From run clubs to yoga circles, there’s a fitness squad for everyone.Nossel says it is important to break a fitness goal into smaller pieces and celebrate those milestones on the way to the bigger goal.“Share your goals with one or two people around you so they can help keep you accountable to yourself. Also, vary the types of exercise so you don’t feel bored.”Faragher-Thomas says more people now understand the value of keeping up a healthy lifestyle, not just during certain times of the year.“Regular club and gym users are seeing the benefits of stronger bodies, higher energy levels and more confidence in the way they feel about their bodies.”TALK TO USWhat can be done to encourage South Africans to exercise regularly and so reduce the cost of illnesses caused by an unhealthy lifestyle?SMS us on 35697 using the keyword GYM and tell us what you think. Include your name and province. SMSes cost R1.50Clean on the insideWhether you believe in its benefits or not, chances are someone around you will be carrying litres of lemon and cucumber infused water around with them in an effort to detox after their festive season overindulgence.Beyond the main goal of losing weight, drinking detox liquids helps clean your body of toxins, thus improving your digestion and mood.Midi Fairgrieve, founder of Detox International Retreats, says: “By true definition, a detox is a metabolic process through which toxins are reduced and removed by the body.“It involves a deliberate metabolic push to get toxins mobilised and eliminated, and it normally uses nutritional supplements, herbs, colon and liver cleansing aids, and raw food or juices.”Popular types of detoxing, include:JUICINGThis involves fruit and vegetables normally taken in the morning on an empty stomach. Users blend the fruit and vegetables into a juice. The fruit and vegetable fibres help to clear the system.COLON CLEANSINGDr Josh Axe is certified doctor of natural medicine. He says colon cleansing is intended to flush out built-up waste by rehydrating old stool that has become impacted. It helps the digestive organs do their job by managing things that interfere with normal bowel functions.LEMON WATER DETOXWater is an integral component of any detox, but add lemon juice to provide mild diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, lemons also provide the all-important vitamin C that boosts the immune system.