The start of a new year always seems so promising. Your resolution is strong, your workout clothes are fresh and your gym membership is brand new. This is the year, you tell yourself. This will be the year of the regular exercise program, getting in shape and losing weight.
And then … then, for millions of Americans every year, something happens along the way. The next thing you know, it’s been weeks since you’ve even put on your gym shoes, you’ve not lost weight and you feel like you’ve failed again.
Many Twin Harbor fitness experts said they often see this annual pattern – the huge signup in January and the great fall off in the next two or three months. Don’t despair. They have some tips and tricks to combat the inertia and get you back on the road to working out and better health.
“Usually there is a rush in January,” confirmed Jerusala Evans of Anytime Fitness in Elma. “People come in with their New Year’s resolutions ready to rock and roll and for about six weeks the gym is packed. And then we begin to see them fall off.”
A BUDDY CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE
“One of the things we try to do to prevent this from happening is that the personal trainers on site encourage them to become active with classes. That keeps them motivated because they have a group or find a buddy,” she said. “And then, if they miss a class, we try to reach out. The class instructor will text them to encourage them to come back to class.”
“One of the reasons working with a trainer is often helpful,” said Lisa Kless, the health and wellness director of the YMCA of Grays Harbor, located in Hoquiam, “is that you’ve made an appointment with someone. Sometimes people just need a trainer for a few months to develop the new exercise habit pattern and they can stay on track after that.”
“Even if you don’t have a trainer or a friend to work out with, one thing I tell people is to make an appointment with yourself and decide to stick with it,” Kless said.
“Write it on your calendar. It’s OK to tell someone that you need to get off the phone, or you can’t meet at a certain time because you have an appointment – they don’t need to know the appointment is with yourself to exercise,” said Kless.
Kless knows the journey personally. Years ago as a young mom with two busy kids, she turned to exercise to help her lose 70 pounds. Little would she have guessed when she started that she would be a popular instructor and trainer someday.
Even if you don’t join a gym, having someone to walk with every day – or even just the dog – can make a difference, said Randy Henneman, owner of Randy’s Family Fitness in Raymond. “I see success in my fitness center with people who have a partner to help them stick to it,” he said. “I think you need a support group. Just like Weight Watchers and Alcoholics Anonymous, when you are starting a new lifestyle with exercise, I think you need support.”
SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE
After many years of encouraging people to exercise, another trick to staying with the program, is to not make the program too difficult, Henneman said. “I suggest if you are going from a coach potato into a gym, that you talk to a gym owner or trainer and they will set you up on a routine that isn’t too much for them where you are … Still the first two weeks, you will be sore, then you will get used to it and you won’t be.
“Take your time, pace yourself, don’t overdo it, especially for the first two weeks. Your body has muscle memory. If you lifted weights 10 years ago, it will come back, but not right away. That workout you tried the first day, when you do it in a month you won’t feel sore,” he said. The other trainers and gym owners agreed that taking it slowly is critical to success and helps prevent discouragement and injury.
PICK SOMETHING YOU ENJOY
As obvious as it may seem, another key to successfully staying with becoming more active is making sure you enjoy the exercise. “It’s important that people pick exercises that they like,” said Barrett Bollen, owner of Barrett’s Gym in a distinctive red barnlike building in Grayland, the newest gym on the Twin Harbors.
“It’s important to make it enjoyable,” Kless agreed. “That’s why I often suggest a class where you can build friendships, particularly for women, because we’re typically so social.”
“If you want to lose 10 pounds and tighten up some belly fat, some people would think they had to run and do sit ups,“ Bollen said. “But if you hate doing that, you won’t keep at it. Many people like a partner, but for some people coming in and reading a book while they pedal a bike works. Everyone is different.
“Whatever you do, consistency, consistency, consistency will make a difference. Someone who has an unscientific crazy program but sticks to it is better off than one who is working on a scientifically planned exercise regime but hardly ever does it,” Bollen said.
Bollen said he works with a nurse in her 50s who was very thin and not strong. “We’ve worked three hours a week for a year and her body has transformed to having toned, strong muscles in her legs, arms and across her shoulders. She’s one of my most consistent clients… She missed very few days. Flesh, blood and bones can’t be tricked, so if you are consistent you are going to see results,” he said.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A MODEL TO WORK OUT
Many of the owners and trainers said that for some people walking into a gym can be intimidating. In fact, Evans of Anytime Fitness in Elma said that to combat that, one of their trainers, Allison O’Rourke, is starting online personal training. She will help people online and over the phone, give them videos and nutritional support.
“It’s kind of a new way to reach out to customers. Our hope is that after a while, they’ll feel more comfortable to come into the gym,” Evans said. Dr. Don Bell, owner of Timber Gym knows that his downtown Aberdeen facility in the former Aberdeen YMCA, has a reputation for having a lot of serious body builders. “Yes, we have about 10 competitive weight lifters, people who lift weights as a sport. However, no one needs to feel intimidated coming here, about 97 percent of our members are regular people, from kids to people in their 90s and all shapes and sizes.
“We have several people who have lost 50, 75 and 100 pounds and at least three members who have lost 200 pounds,” said Bell, a chiropractor who has his office in the same building.
“The trend I would like to see is that people use their physicians to maintain their health instead of only going when they are sick.” People who regularly exercise are less likely to get sick or injured, he said.
“And, what I see all the time is that someone who is physically fit and somehow throws out their back, they can recover much faster than someone who hasn’t been exercising,” he said.
In Grayland, Bollen said, many of his clientele are either retired people or people in physical jobs. “Whether you are a nurse or a fisherman, moving patients or crab pots, you will need to have a strong back. A big part of the problem comes from being taught not to lift with your back. You don’t want to strain your back. However, if you never use those muscles, over time they weaken and then those muscles can’t help you when you need them because they haven’t been worked.”
Unfortunately, many people are familiar with the negative spiral — being overweight, feeling tired, not having the energy to exercise, feeling down about life, eating more, feeling more tired. However, that spiral also works in reverse: The more you exercise, the more energy you have and the better you feel about yourself, the easier it is to move and the more you feel like moving and the less hungry you are for junk food, and the more you lose weight, which gives you energy to exercise. Or as Dr. Bell put it, “Human bodies are such that the more you do, the more you get to do.”
GET BACK ON THE HORSE
“If you’ve stopped exercising , don’t beat yourself up,” said Kless, “Just get back at it.”
“Those who we see succeed are committing for a lifetime lifestyle,” agreed Evans. “So, life happened and you took a little break. Just come back to it. Even if you take two or three or four weeks off, don’t dwell on that, just come back in.”
In addition to walking on the beach, here are some places to exercise in Grays Harbor and Pacific counties.
Anytime Fitness, 3 Shouweiller Road, (360) 8618340
YMCA of Grays Harbor, 2500 Simpson Ave., (360) 5333881
Timber Gym, 500 East Market St., (360) 5328339
Randy’s Family Fitness, 337 Peters St., (360) 9420073
Barrett’s Gym, 1674 State Route 105, (253) 3273450