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Shaping Up

by Amanda Willis

We know getting fit is probably on your resolution list. Here’s how to make it more than a pipedream and keep the goals going strong all year long.

Research shows that come mid-January, about half of those who make a New Year’s resolution have already given up on it. Resolutions for “getting fit” (one of the most common goals) typically fail because those who make them set their expectations too high.

They come sprinting out of the gate and simply can’t keep up. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you set small fitness goals spread over a period of time, you can achieve the ultimate larger goal of getting in shape.

So, exactly how is that possible? We spoke to some of the area’s top fitness experts to find out how to make it really happen this year.

Set goals—and know your limits
“Fitness can be fun and you can get hooked by achieving certain goals that you’ve set, but that’s all much more doable when you have a baseline,” says Christian Lee, owner of Escape Fitness of Medford. “Get screened by a professional not only on how many push-ups you can do, but on your overall fitness capabilities and level. You need to make sure you’re moving correctly before you even start.”

Doing exercise movements the right way is definitely critical, emphasizes David Duzenski, a co-owner with Evolution Fitness in Cherry Hill. “One of the things we hear people say a lot is that they ‘don’t have a lot of time,’” he says. “So you want to get the most bang for your buck when you are here. At Evolution, you’re always with a trainer whether you come in for a customized workout or for a class. We make sure you’re doing the correct movements so that you’re getting the most out of your workout. We realize most people don’t have a lot of time these days but they still want to get results.”

Once you know your baseline and make sure you are doing movements correctly, you can start setting goals. Jaime Wood, fitness manager and certified personal trainer for Virtua’s William G. Rohrer Center for HealthFitness in Voorhees, suggests keeping those goals simple and realistic—therefore making them more achievable. “Don’t set yourself up for failure,” she says.

“For example, set a goal of getting to the gym or doing exercise two to three days a week—not seven days.”

Wood also finds that planning ahead can pay off. “On Sunday, look at your week and plug in when you can exercise,” she suggests. “Don’t let anything stop you; once you have it on your calendar, treat it like it’s the most important thing you have to do. After all, it’s about your health. Finally, reward yourself. If you do achieve your goals, treat yourself to a massage at the end of the month.”

Getting started
As a newcomer, start at your own pace and don’t overdo it, adds John Piacentino, fitness director for Cherry Hill Health and Racquet Club (CHHRC). “One will not get in better shape in a week,” he says. “It’s a commitment of time, consistency and energy, and the benefits are so empowering, rewarding and numerous. When a member joins CHHRC, they receive ‘Success 4 Ever’ appointments with a trainer so the trainer can teach them specific exercises to do according to their goals.”

Certainly coming out of the gate too fast is a difficult approach to maintain. You’ll become exhausted and feel that the program is too much to keep up with. Brian Kane, a co-owner with Evolution Fitness, suggests focusing on one change at a time. “If you jump right in and go gung-ho right off the bat, you’re setting yourself up for failure,” he says. “To keep your momentum going, join with a friend. That can be a key to success. But at our facility, everyone can take advantage of working with a group.”

Danielle Kane, also a co-owner, adds that goal-setting is huge at Evolution. “The first thing we do is assess every client and nail down two or three goals they’re trying to achieve,” she says. “Then every time they come in, we’re reinforcing those goals. It helps for them to know why they’re walking in the door each day. Having a specific goal and a specific result can really pay off.”

Stay motivated
Of course, it’s critical to have end goals but also a process to get there, adds Helena Duzenski, co-owner of Evolution Fitness. “If your goal is to lose two jean sizes—how do you do that?” she says. “That’s where we come in. We help you develop the process that will get you to that goal. We come up with the process goals that will get you to that final outcome goal, all the while building momen­tum along the way. It’s great to have small successes as well as a tangible final goal.”

It’s also important to remember that reaching the goals you’ve set can be done in a way that’s fun. The class schedule at CHHRC for instance is packed with a wide variety of options. On top of those classes, they also offer pickleball (a fun combination of pingpong, badminton and tennis played on the tennis courts), wallyball, racquetball, yoga, tennis, and group personal training in “boot camp style,” among many other offerings. CHHRC also has an “Ambassador to Fitness” that takes a new member, meets them before class, and is side-by-side with them during the class to make sure they are comfortable. The ambassador also walks around the class to make sure everyone’s form is correct and they’re getting the most out of the workout.

The bottom line is that fitness can be fun and keeping it entertaining will help you stick to your goal. Too many people avoid exercise because it just makes them think of running and treadmills, but there’s more to it. “Exercise doesn’t just have to be about running,” urges Wood. “There are so many ways to burn calories and have fun doing it—biking, swimming, dancing, or even playing a sport you love.”

Resources

Cherry Hill Health and Racquet Club
1820 Old Cuthbert Road
Cherry Hill
(856) 429-1388
CHHRC.com

Escape Fitness
135 Route 70
Medford
(609) 654-8900
EscapeMedford.com

Evolution Fitness
1990 Route 70
Cherry Hill
(856) 751-1300
EvolutionFitnessNow.com

William G. Rohrer Center for HealthFitness
2309 E. Evesham Road
Voorhees
(856) 325-5300
VirtuaFitness.org/wgr

Stay Focused
There’s more to resolutions than fitness, so we spoke with local experts about how to stay motivated and committed throughout the year no matter what your goals may be. Follow these tips when getting started and remember—a resolution is a lifestyle change, not a quick fix.

Find your reason. It is important to figure out why you want to achieve the goal. If you want to shed a couple pounds, is it to be healthier or to look better in your clothes? Patricia Obst, therapist and life coach of Empowerful You in Westmont, suggests finding your why. “I always have clients think deeply about the ‘why’ of their resolutions. Not just the surface ‘why,’ but the deep ‘why’ that reaches to their emotional self. This way, when they begin to get bored or lazy about their resolution, they can tap into the emotional feelings behind it and get motivated again.”

Write them down. It is difficult to maintain a goal all year long, but it helps if you can see the goal. Being able to visualize the target will push you further each day. Paul Dunn, psychologist at Center for Integrated NLP and CBT in Audubon, suggests writing down questions. “Answer questions like the following: Who do I want to be this year? What do I want to accomplish this year? How do I want to behave this year? What new challenges am I willing to go after this year? How do I want to handle disappointment this year?” By answering these questions, you will be able to sharpen the goal you want.

Keep it simple. All too often, complication leads to failure. By keeping the target simple, it is more likely to continue throughout the year. “Keep it simple, making only one to three changes, not a big list that is doomed to become overwhelming and cause them to give up. Do a ‘gut check’ to discern what the priorities really are,” Obst explains.

Stay positive. Instead of trying to lose 20 pounds, try aiming to be 20 pounds lighter. Dunn explains that stating a goal in a more positive way helps people feel better about the goal, which may increase their motivation to move toward the finish line rather than away from it.

Do your homework. A successful resolution will not happen unless you do the proper research. “We have all of our past success and learning experience in us. These are our resources. We also have all the people we have ever observed doing and achieving things we want to do. They serve as models for us and these are our resources,” Dunn concludes.

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 10 (December, 2012).
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