By Jill Draper
It’s a new year—is it time for a new you? Local gyms would rather not talk about resolutions, but they do want to help members form intentions, establish goals and meet challenges—especially newcomers who join in January and find their motivation lagging by February.
“A lot of it is about managing expectations and being careful not to injure yourself,” says Janet Schmidt, owner of Blue Bicycle in the Red Bridge Shopping Center. “Ease back into exercise and think about what can realistically fit into your schedule.”
Starting on Jan. 22, Blue Bicycle is offering a three-week Make It/Break It Challenge where members choose one old habit to break and one new habit to make. Participants are asked to track their progress on a special bulletin board display and can enter a weekly drawing for prizes.
The focus is on small, sustainable changes such as:
- Start waking up 30 minutes earlier to take a walk, and stop looking at your computer screen within 30 minutes of going to sleep.
- Add one extra serving of vegetables at dinners, and drink two less sodas each week.
- Drink one extra glass of water each day, and downsize your regular latte or cappuccino.
Schmidt’s personal challenge as a small business owner is to get enough sleep. She’s making a goal to wind down with a cup of decaf tea before bed, and wants to break a habit of looking at her phone after 10 pm.
The challenge is set for three weeks because studies show it takes at least 21 days to form new habits.
Most people have a goal of losing weight after the holidays, says Schmidt, who notes that her instructors can offer ways to individualize any exercise. Some members like to join at the gold level, which includes four sessions with a personal trainer, and then cut back to a less expensive level afterward.
Lameka Brown used a personal trainer at the Cleaver Family YMCA to lose 75 pounds in the last 14 months. According to Brown, who works there as a membership engagement representative, new members are encouraged to enroll in the Smart Start Program, which involves recommendations for classes, instructions on using the equipment and three sessions with a trainer.
Brown is currently seeing a physical therapist for some underlying health problems, but plans to lose 25 more pounds in the coming year by resuming an exercise program that emphasizes flexibility and circuit training with weights. The Cleaver Y at 7000 Troost Ave. has a pool, and she also plans to learn to swim.
“There are always moments when I get off track, but my co-workers encourage me with witty phone calls or messages or little cards and gifts,” she says. “I have a passion for the Y, and after I got a personal trainer and went through the whole wellness portion with her, I knew it was going to work.”
At Martin City CrossFit, members are encouraged to jot down their goals on a whiteboard wall beside the gym. “Most are fitness goals, but they can also be about self-care, like saving money or spending more time with loved ones,” says owner Nilson Goes, whose personal challenge includes doing butterfly pull-ups. “We find when somebody writes something down, it takes on a whole new life.”
Goes describes CrossFit as a mix of gymnastics, weightlifting and cardio that focuses on functional fitness—actions performed regularly like squatting, pulling and pushing. “You won’t find someone just working on building up their biceps,” he says.
Unlike many other gyms, the Martin City facility at 201 W 135th St. does not see a large surge in membership in January. “CrossFit is more like a community you join, and it requires a certain level of commitment,” Goes says. “You’ll make friends and it will push you harder.”
The MC CrossFit community numbers about 160 members who have held Christmas parties together, found spouses and celebrated gym babies. “Tonight we’re all going to see ‘Avatar,’” says Goes, who adds, “It sounds kind of cheesy, but we have a saying in CrossFit: You compete for yourself, but you cheer for other people.”
A big misconception is that you need to be fit to start, he says. Some members are athletes, but others are in their 60s or 70s and dealing with vertigo. There are just as many women as men, and beginners enroll in a series of foundational classes before joining regular one-hour classes guided by a coach.
Members who want to lose weight can consult with a nutritionist on staff, says Goes, because “You can’t out-train a bad diet.”
“Our bodies are meant to move. And how you look is just an expression of what you do.”