Resolutions: Getting Fit and Healthy

By Nancy Arsenault

Nolan Duchi of Stow does some heavy lifting at Anytime Fitness
Nancy Arsenault

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to become more healthy and physically fit. That resolution is the reason that fitness clubs, exercise classes and sellers of home exercise equipment see January as their busiest time of  year.

Stow’s Global Fitness in the Stow Plaza, specializes in providing clients with  a group experience and a wide range of equipment and personal training opportunities. Across the road, Curves attracts women who are looking for more of a community feel to the exercise experience, in a females-only setting. In Maynard, Anytime Fitness is attracting Stow residents who see the 24-hr operating time as one that fits with their busy schedule.

For those who are not inspired by a public gym or group setting found at  the larger facilities, there are opportunities offered in Stow for individuals and small groups. Classes through the Council on Aging provide workouts and movement geared toward seniors that help keep older bodies limber and strong.

Things like yoga, low impact aerobics and stretching can help lessen the pains of arthritis and keep bodies more flexible and healthy. There are also personal trainers and yoga instructors who offer both individual and small group programs for all ages.

Regardless of where someone chooses to get exercise, whether at a facility, at home or just around the neighborhood, all experts agree that increased physical activity of any kind is a resolution worth keeping.

Start with a Plan
“Setting a goal without putting together a plan is simply wishful thinking,” said Julie Soar, a certified personal trainer at Global Fitness who also specializes in nutrition. Instead of stating that you want to merely be healthy, Soar suggests saying, ‘I want to lose 10lbs by April.’ This is a realistic and attainable goal. Starting with small goals, like shooting for 5 pounds per month, is a good idea,” she said. “You will become more inspired by achieving smaller goals over time.”

At Anytime Fitness, as well as Global, the vast array of workout equipment could appear intimidating, especially to someone who is new to the gym experience. Both places recommend sessions with in-house personal trainers to evaluate your current level of physical fitness, understand your goals, and then recommend certain machines and the proper use of those machines before you even step foot onto the gym floor.

At Curves,  a tested program is utilized; ideally suited to older clients, it incorporates a 30-minute rotation through a number of exercise machines. The physical workout is paired with a nutritional plan suited to the individual. The Curves plan promises to burn up to 500 calories over the 30-miute period, working most muscle groups through weight training and cardio movements.

Soar said that while many people strive to work out every day, that commitment is not specific enough and possibly unrealistic. “Too much too soon will surely lead to burn out or injury. Mix up your exercise program to stay interested. If you’re bored, you won’t follow through.”

She also recommends recruiting a friend to serve as exercise partner explaining it’s harder to say no if someone is waiting to take that walk or run with you, or to stand alongside you in a class at the gym.

Nutrition Plays a Role
For Soar, proper nutritional habits are as important to fitness and weight loss as is an effective exercise program. “People think they are following a good nutritional plan if they eat low or no carbs,” she said. “But your body needs carbs for energy. Instead, a healthy nutritional program should include eating   whole foods vs processed foods; eating several small meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism up; drinking lots of water and eating green and colorful vegetables. Healthy fats and lean proteins also have a place,” she said.

While it may be hard to get started, nearly anyone can begin by walking around the block, or even briskly walking the perimeter of a shopping mall. “By doing something -anything- people who haven’t been regularly exercising, will see results quickly,” said Dave Bundy, owner of Global Fitness. “You will see results right away, even if it is just in an increased energy level and an increased ease in doing everyday things.”