Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 6, 2013

New Year’s resolutions refilling fitness centers

Tim Preston
The Independent

ASHLAND — After a season filled with treats and feasts, it is no wonder gyms and fitness centers always have a wave of fresh members filled with resolve for the new year.

“People are definitely flooding in here right now,” said Missy Griffith, membership and marketing director for the Ashland YMCA, reporting the facility’s new cardio room with six televisions has been especially popular with newcomers.

Griffith said the Y has just started a “member fitness orientation” program to benefit newcomers by providing a trained staff member to explain the use of all equipment and resources there. She said parents will appreciate the new youth activity center and nursery that allow them to work out while the children are in a safe and supervised environment.

Griffith said Y staffers have worked with “several, several” people who have lost from 20 to 100 pounds, and advises anyone with similar goals to be realistic.

“They have to not think it is going to happen overnight. They need to pace themselves and not expect miracles,” she said, noting a combined regimen of cardio training, body toning and diet should be adopted.

Ryan Arnett, manager at Firm Fitness in the Bellefonte Pavillion, said the new year is a motivating force for many.

“Everyone is ready and fired up,” Arnett said. “I think the biggest thing is having a plan. Joining a gym is not really a plan per se.”

Arnett advises those who want to get in shape should ask themselves what they want to accomplish, and then consider how they can reach that goal.

“It’s sort of like the story of the tortoise and hare ... slow and steady wins the race,” he said, suggesting people find ways to “stay focused and consistent,” rather than diving into an unrealistic or unguided workout regimen. Based on his observations, Arnett said many who sign up at a gym at the start of the year give up after two to eight weeks. He also endorses the use of a personal trainer, noting the added expense is a worthwhile investment for anyone who is serious about making changes and reaching goals.  

“There is no replacement for sweat equity. There’s no magic pill. There’s no magic diet,” he said.

While not “magic,” Arnett said many who work out at Firm Fitness are singing the praises of results achieved with the assistance of a free phone app called “My Fitness Pal,” which makes it easy to keep track of calories and other fitness factors, allowing the user to make informed food choices.

American Health Centers fitness director Jimmy Billheimer said the center on Winchester Avenue has everything needed to make 2013 resolutions for health and fitness a reality.

“Naturally, it’s the busiest time. Anytime it gets colder outside we see an influx,” he said.

“Always remember every little thing counts and never give up,” Billheimer advised. “We have some great programs to help reach that goal. We have programs geared from beginner to advanced.”

Fitness programs are also designed to be fun, he noted, suggesting programs ranging from Zumba to “boot camps.” The center’s exercise equipment is also designed to be easy for newcomers, or advanced for more experienced clients.

“We have something for everybody,” he said, noting the facility also has an indoor walking track and free weights, with 24-hour access to meet the needs of all work schedules.

“The key to doing anything is to just do it,” he said.

Paul Castle at Tri-State Rehab Services/Preferred Fitness on Greenup Avenue said “there’s always a spike” in membership following the holidays because people are often frustrated about their caloric intake and lack of ability to get outside and exercise.

“Winter just lends itself to an influx,” Castle said, noting activities such as gardening or lawn care are not options during cold weather. “And, some of the same reasons that cause that influx are the same reasons for people quitting ... when it starts to warm up they can get back outside and do some of those things.”

The presence of a physical therapist gives his facilities a bit of a “niche,” Castle said, explaining people often ask about exercises they can do to help alleviate physical pain related to specific injuries.

“If someone asks what exercises they can do to help with a knee, or if they have a history of back pain ... what they’re talking about is physical therapy,” he said, adding Medicaid will often cover the cost of such therapy.

As a personal year-end resolution, Castle said he now makes a point to “take half of it home in a box” when dining out. Those who are trying to watch their weight while still eating fast food or other restaurant meals can also make a considerable dent in calorie count by avoiding things such as cheese and condiments, including special sauces, he said.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.