After consuming massive amounts of chocolate, candy and pie during the holiday season, as soon as the clock strikes 12 a.m. on January 1 most Americans have a plan to get fit for the new year by dusting off their running shoes and pulling on their sweatshirts. 



Studies show gym memberships experience at least a 12% growth in January, compared to an average of 8.3% per month for the full year.  Santa Rosa County has many avenues to get back into shape and an assortment of avenues to assist within the quest towards better fitness.



Locally, Anytime Fitness in Pace is expecting an increase of memberships in the new year and are expecting to help members achieve those goals. 



"Anytime Fitness in Pace is a 24 hour, 7 day a week gym that is built to help anyone looking to achieve a fitness goal. Our goal is to help people learn why health and fitness and wellness is so important in life, and how to achieve that without letting it consume their life," says Matt Fox, manager of the gym.



The newest venture in fitness is a sport called Crossfit. 



Joey Paladio from Crossfit Pace Patriot Pride says growth has exceeded his goals since opening the box's (gym) doors in March located on School Lane in Pea Ridge.  He says the definition of Crossfit is to forge a broad, general and inclusive fitness. 



Paladio adds many of Crossfit's athletes are active military, police officers and firefighters and some are housewives, farmers, teachers, nurses, students, paramedics, engineers, bankers and are in retail sales. There are Crossfit athletes from every walk of life.  Some Crossfitters have no experience with working out, while some are elite athletes. 



Paladio says, "Anyone can do crossfit.  The crossfit trainers here will give you the tools, all you have to do is drive away with it.  You can be a Pinto or a Corvette.  It's up to you to decide."



Santa Rosa County's Blackwater Heritage State Trail is an invaluable asset for getting back into shape.  The 8.5 mile paved trail winds through Milton and ends at Whiting Field Naval Air Station. 



The trail was originally where the old railroad tracks came through Milton. It was one of the State’s first linear parks.



It is available for biking, running, walking, roller skating and horseback riding and it's open every day of the year from 8 a.m. until sundown.  There is no fee to utilize the trail.  If you like hiking, the Blackwater River State Forest offers access. Bear Lake has a four mile trail loop around the lake with pine and magnolia trees.  Sometimes a bald eagle will fly overhead.  There is a small fee to enter the park.