SPRINGVILLE — As 2014 enters its first days, many people strike out on what they plan as a yearlong journey toward better health and a commitment to get in shape and stay there. Local trainers and fitness experts offered a few ways people can get there.
About a third of New Year’s resolvers make weight loss their primary goal, and about 15 percent aim to begin an exercise program, suggested a study John Norcross, Ph.D, professor of psychology at the University of Scranton, Pa. conducted and published in the “Journal of Clinical Psychology.” Further, 46 percent of resolutions are still in place after six months.
How to keep those resolutions going, long after the Christmas cookies are gone?
Laurel Ebert, a local fitness expert and personal trainer at Springville Health and Fitness, said that exercise is “a matter of life and death.” After both of her parents died of heart disease, Ebert was inspired to get involved in fitness, not just for herself, but as a motivator for others.
“You can’t control your genetics, but you can control two things: what you put in your mouth and how much you move,” Ebert said. “Exercise is proven to help every, single disease out there. No matter what it is: heart disease, diabetes, dementia, anything, exercise will help alleviate symptoms.
“Literally, it’s about quality of life, but it’s also about extending your life,” she said. “Nowadays, we, as a society, are so unfit and it’s so, so important to just get up and move. My big thing is that I just want everybody to get up and move. Even the person who’s just puttering around the gym and not really doing anything strenuous is doing better than the person who’s just sitting on the couch.”
Ebert said that many people, when devising an exercise routine, don’t think about what they currently enjoy or their current lifestyle.
“A lot of people want a prescribed plan that tells them what to do, but a gym’s biggest problem is adherence. If you go to a gym on Jan. 3, it’s packed. If you go a few months later, there’s plenty of room. The perfect program for you is the one you’re going to stick with.”
At SHF, Ebert leads several classes, in additional to working with individuals. One of those classes is geared toward seniors, but the teacher said that it is also good for those who have not exercised lately, and need a gentle, easier routine to start themselves off.
“A lot of people get gung-ho and get hurt and quit or get discouraged and quit,” she said. “[The senior class] is four days a week, so it’s a good habit-starter, and it’s gentle enough that most people can do it.”
Carly Miller, an occupational therapy Master’s Degree student at Keuka College, who also works at SHF, said that, based on her knowledge, starting out slow is the way to go.
“Someone who just wants to get in shape and doesn’t have any specific fitness or training goals should just get in here and see what we’re all about,” she said. “We encourage attendance [at our classes], not just for fitness, but for socialization. It’s better to work out with people, to offer motivation,” she added.
Ebert seconded that. “If you get into a class and you go regularly, people will see you there and when you miss one, will say ‘Hey, why weren’t you at class?’ It creates that accountability.”
But Ebert also added that fitness does not necessarily require a gym membership, but is more focused on “making the right thing easier than the wrong thing.
“Keep your gym bag in your car or by the door, so it’s easy to just grab and go,” she said. For those who are gym-adverse, Ebert recommended walking outside, using exercise DVDs, home weights, resistance bands and medicine balls. For those who are completely sedentary, she said that walking even 15 minutes per day will make a difference.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the Surgeon General, recommends 30 minutes of activity per day, for better health. Ebert said that walking is a good start, for those who are not used to working out.
“A lot of people are embarrassed to be seen at a gym, if they’re not as fit as they’d like,” she said. “You can get fit in the comfort of your own home, but the downside is that [external] motivation from other people.”
Ebert also emphasizes the different aspects of fitness in her other class, “Power and Strength.
“Endurance is important, flexibility is important, strength is important. There are so many different aspects of fitness, that I try to hit as many of those aspects as possible.”
Yoga, according to the fitness instructor, is one class she would recommend for every person. “It provides flexibility and strength, in such a way that a lot of times, you don’t even realize it,” she said. “And, depending on the class and how it’s run, yoga can teach meditation techniques. And these days, we all need a way to reduce stress in our lives.
“Most of the time, we get this attitude that we have to take care of others, but we forget to take care of ourselves,” Ebert concluded. “Well, you can’t take care of others if you’re in a nursing home. You’ve got to keep yourself in shape, for yourself and for your loved ones.”
Spring Creek Athletic Club is located at 535 West Main St. in Springville and can be reached by calling 592-2000 or visiting www.springcreekac.com.
Springville Health and Fitness is located at 243 West Main St. in Springville and can be reached by calling 592-5510 or visiting www.springvillehealthfitness.com.