Surfs up for fitness in the new year

rpulley@lsjournal.comDecember 31, 2013 

Well, it’s a new year and you’re thinking, “Now I’m going to get in shape, or I’ll lose those extra pounds.”

The Journal talked to a couple fitness experts to get their advice on getting started, to give you a chance to look forward to a successful year getting healthier.

Aryn Lessmeier was recently hired by Lee’s Summit Parks and Recreation to run its RevUp program. Judy Schmoeger is operator of the locally owned Anytime Fitness, a private club that’s part of a nation-wide system of franchises. The Journal asked them for some tips.

Lessmeier is working on her master’s degree in kinesiology, which is the study of human movement, at the University of Central Missouri and plans to graduate in May.

RevUp membership includes nutrition classes, sessions with a personal trainer – who’ll also make coaching calls – and 12-week membership to the Legacy Park Community Center. She said her number one piece of advice is to pace your self. Set a reasonable goal and stick too it.

“Sometimes it’s too much, and people get burnt out,” Lessmeier said. “It’ll set you back farther than you go forward.”

Instead of promising to work out seven days a week, start with the minimum recommended amount of exercise three days a week. Make small manageable changes to your diet and improve over time, she said.

If you eat fast food, substitute a salad for french fries, or at home double portions of vegetables in a recipe, she suggested.

She also suggested recruiting a friend or relative as a work out partner. You’ll be able to encourage and hold each other accountable, she said.

Lessmeier and Schmoeger said most fitness centers with basic equipment that can meet the needs for weight training or aerobic exercises.

So keep in mind there are many choices in amenities. Some, like Legacy Park Community Center and other private fitness clubs, offer lockers, racquetball, swimming and basketball. Often they’ll have classes and personal trainers available. There will be a variety of fees, with some including classes within the membership fees.

Some are oriented to serious body builders, where an average person might not feel comfortable.

Anytime Fitness, which caters to adults, doesn’t have a pool, but it has specialized equipment not now available within several states. It also offers wellness programs.

It’s Surfset Fitness equipment is a balancing board simulating being on the water, where members can work on balance while doing other exercise like yoga. It’s good for older adults who’ll need that kind extra work to later years to keep their bodies functioning at its best.

Schmoeger said she bought the equipment for Anytime Fitness to provide additional fun ways to work out.

Working out at home is an option for people who don’t want to travel to a fitness center or can’t afford the fees.

It can be affordable. For example, instead of buying barbells to build arm muscles, a person can put sand in empty plastic milk jugs to lift, Lessmeier said. As you get stronger, adjust the weight by adding more sand, she said.

Going online is a way to find many sources for exercises one can do at home to improve your health. A person also doesn’t have to be worried about being embarrassed as a beginner.

However, one needs to be careful of pacing yourself and doing exercises correctly to avoid injury, experts said. It’s a good idea for a person who hasn’t been active to get a physical or at least consult their physician before undertaking a strenuous program.

Schmoeger said trying to do too much at the gym early can lead to an injury, or at least soreness and being discouraged. She said choosing a workout facility is often a question of personality. It’s important to pick the gym where you feel comfortable with the atmosphere.

She said only about 12 percent of Americans have a gym membership, but most of us have a sedentary lifestyle where it would improve our health.

Schmoeger recommends that people not make resolutions, but set goals. Keep in mind the reason for that goal, whether it’s to have more energy to play a sport or to play with your grandchildren.

Each goal should be reasonable, include action steps to take and deadlines.

She also suggests starting out with a 30-minute workout, three times a week, say the same time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Establishing a routine forms a habit that leads to the long-term achievement of a goal.

“Make a plan and work the plan,” she said.

A resolution without such a plan has dismal chance.

“They set themselves up for failure and they get discouraged,” Schmoeger said. “That’s why they forget about their resolution in the first month. If they can continue to see small successes, they’ll be encouraged.”

Schomeger urges people not to choose fitness center on price alone. She said Lee’s Summit has several gyms that will be comparable in price, “but there are huge differences in culture.”

Some people don’t want to work out in crowds of people or want a very casual atmosphere.

Convenience is an important factor. Hours and location need to fit your schedule, and it’s good for people who travel to join a networked club where they’ll have access to many locations, such as Anytime Fitness.

Schmoeger said most people want a gym to be one to five miles from home, most will pick one within a three-mile range.

“The closer you are, the more likely you are to go,” she said.

Schmoeger said people should visit several gyms and find the facility that suits their personality and has equipment they’ll want to use.

“Check it out, do something and get involved,” Schmoeger said.

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