GYMS have always been big business in the post-Christmas effort to shed the pounds accumulated by a week of eating too much of everything.
But the sector is certainly tougher now as more people eschew what they see as an unnecessary expense in these increasingly expensive times.
Just less than two years ago, the Total Fitness chain in Dublin closed down, while another chain – Jackie Skelly Fitness – went into examinership in 2010 and was later acquired by British firm Energie Fitness.
But Ben Dunne (pictured), the somewhat unlikely gym king, continues to power ahead on the treadmill.
He tells The Punt that his latest gym is on track to open in Cherrywood in Dublin in March.
It will be the ninth gym in his chain (there are two in Liverpool, seven in Dublin) and involves an investment of about €1.25m.
He said 2012 was tough, "but things are ticking along and we're certainly not going bust".
His website is advertising for self-employed personal trainers to work in his gyms with the potential to earn, it says, "up to" €60,000.
Not bad for an industry getting a tough workout.