Getting fit in 2010? Edward Health & Fitness Center personal trainers say start slow.
Suburban fitness centers bracing for crush of 'Biggest Loser' wannabes
By Matt Arado | Daily Herald StaffContact writer
After several glorious weeks spent consuming holiday cookies, mugs of frothy egg nog, second helpings of ham and big wedges of pie with whipped cream on top, it's time to think about getting into shape.
Millions of people resolve to do just that at the start of each new year, making the beginning of January the Black Friday of the fitness world. But experts say just a fraction of people actually make good on those new-year promises.
"We always have a huge influx in January and February," personal trainer Renee Nelson said Saturday while people sweated on bikes and treadmills just outside her office. Nelson works at both the Naperville and Woodridge locations of the Edward Health & Fitness Center. "Everyone is super, super motivated at the beginning. Then by March, it goes way down."
Suburban trainers say there's one big reason for this: Unrealistic expectations.
In the age of "The Biggest Loser" - a popular reality TV show in which obese people shed hundreds of pounds before viewers' eyes - people join a gym with visions of quick, dramatic results dancing in their heads, trainers say.
When people don't see the kind of change they expected right away, or when they dive into workouts that are too intense and leave them paralyzed with soreness, they get discouraged and quit.
The good news is that avoiding the trap is pretty simple: Start slow.
"I see so many people overdo it in the beginning," said personal trainer Carol Teteak, who also works at the Edward Health & Fitness Center. "And that never produces results. The first thing I would say to someone who wants to get in shape in 2010 is to be realistic and set attainable goals, even if that means walking for just 10 minutes a day at the start."
Max Savar, the health and wellness director at Fry Family YMCA in Naperville, said he tells members again and again that getting fit is a gradual process, one that will take months to show true results and that has to be maintained for a lifetime.
"People see commercials on television that say if you use a particular device a few seconds each day it will transform you in no time," he said. "But it doesn't work that way. You have to start slow, then build over time. Getting fit and staying fit has to involve a genuine change in lifestyle."
Other tips that trainers offer to suburbanites who want to get in shape in 2010:
- Eat right. You don't have to starve yourself. Just eat a moderate, balanced diet and cut back on junk food. "We all know broccoli is better for us than pizza," Savar said. "It's a matter of making the right day-to-day choices."
- Work out with a companion. A friend or spouse can make exercising more fun and provide much-needed motivation on days when you don't feel much like going to the gym, Nelson said.
- Vary your workouts. Your overall fitness and weight loss goals will be met faster when you alternate between cardiovascular training and strength training, Teteak said.
Sheila Gallagher and Debbie Fleming worked out at Edward Health & Fitness on Saturday morning. Both said they've stuck with their exercise routines for years by making the workouts part of their daily schedules.
"It's a priority now," said Fleming, a Naperville resident. "It's something I know I have to do first thing in the morning, because if it doesn't get done by 10 o'clock or so, it's not going to get done."
Teteak stressed, though, that going to a gym isn't a requirement for getting in shape.
"Home workouts can produce excellent results, too, whether that means taking walks around the neighborhood or exercising to a DVD or video game like Wii Fit," she said. "The only thing that matters is that you get off the couch and start to move!"
Naperville, Illinois (IL) - Edward Hospital and Health Services