Millions throughout the country and billions around the world ushered in 2012 this past weekend by celebrating with champagne, and watching the ball drop in New York’s Times Square and fireworks. With the fun and joyous start of a new year comes a bevy of personal resolutions to make the upcoming 365 days better than those that just ended, whether the resolution is learning to play guitar, stop gossiping, trying something new every day such as wearing leather pants, or never, ever drinking again.
Yet, resolutions can be hard to fulfill, which is why it’s not surprising that some of the same goals appear year after year.
According to the federal government’s website, the most popular New Year’s resolutions are as follows:
• Drinking less alcohol;
• Eat healthier food;
• Getting a better education;
• Getting a better job;
• Managing debt;
• Managing stress;
• Quitting smoking;
• Saving money;
• Taking a trip;
• Volunteering more;
• Losing weight; and
• Getting fit.
The popularity of the last two resolutions can be seen at gyms all over the country, as well as in west Oakland County, as people feel the need to shed the holiday pounds.
January and February are some of the busiest months for gyms and fitness facilities, according to the owners and managers who operate them throughout the lakes area.
“We absolutely see an influx of new customers around the new year,” said Andrea Bernstein, a personal trainer at Powerhouse Gym in West Bloomfield Township. “It’s probably the No. 1 New Year resolution — to exercise more and have a healthier lifestyle.”
And it’s not just new faces showing up next to you on the treadmills, but returning members, too.
“You’re going to see everything (around the new year),” Bernstein added. “Brand new people, people you haven’t seen in a while, and those people who are dedicated to fitness.”
“It’s one of our busiest times of the year. We also see a lot of members come back,” said Shari Vedro, the owner of the Highland Township and Commerce Township Curves fitness centers, which employ circuit training that focuses on both strength training and cardiovascular work by using 28 work stations for 30 seconds each over one half-hour.
“There are other women here, talking and having fun, and then the whole thing is done,” Vedro said. “It doesn’t seem like a workout anymore.”
However, while gyms and fitness classes may be packed throughout January and February, the deluge of people heading to the gym tends to settle down between the end of March and May, according to Bernstein.
“It’s basically a phenomenon at all gyms,” said Steve Kwapisz, the owner of Snap Fitness in Highland Township, which is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to members so they can workout at any time, on their own time. “We do have an influx right after the new year. But people think they can get fit in a month, and as bad as it sounds, they just can’t. It’s impossible to do that.”
Most new gym joiners are hoping to accomplish two goals — losing weight and improving their overall health.
“Most of them are trying to do both. Some are trying to lose weight, and some are just trying to get fit and toned,” said Vedro, who noted that Curves is a part of the Silver Sneakers program that encourages those over 65-years-old to stay healthy by working out.
The program uses supplemental insurance to pay for seniors on Medicare to go to the fitness center.
“Losing weight is the No. 1 thing, although we are finding more and more people are coming in for health reasons, especially on doctors’ recommendations,” said Bill Sutton, the manager of Balance Fitness in Walled Lake.
Patricia Heath, who co-owns American Fitness in Waterford Township along with her husband, Bob, agrees.
“It seems most people are worried over a number on a scale,” she said. “They are mainly worried about their appearance. Then we have people who don’t need to lose a lot of weight but need to exercise to maintain their health.”
While losing weight is a major goal for most people, staying healthy is an added benefit.
“Those that come and want a healthier lifestyle, to make a difference, are those most likely to stay with a fitness routine rather than just hope for a quick fix,” Bernstein said.
Those hoping for a “quick fix” are often those who do not experience much success. In order to see results, you have to make exercise a new part of your life and not just a short-term thing, according to a fitness professional at Fit Zone for Women in Waterford — which offers a friendly, secure workout atmosphere designed for women — who did not want to be identified for this special report.
“For those who have never exercised, they should look to do moderate exercise five to six times a week to ease into it,” said Bernstein, who has been a personal trainer for over three decades. “And they need to moderate their eating — everything in moderation. You don’t want to do too much too soon and then fizzle out. I’d rather see someone ease into a fitness program and make lifestyle changes by becoming more active and more moderate in eating rather than making too many changes too soon.”
Consistency seems to be a key component to successfully getting fit.
“(To be successful) stay consistent,” said Kevin Shaw, the manager at Fitness 19 in Commerce Township, which offers deals with monthly payments as low as $5. “Basically you should surround yourself with people who have similar interests and similar goals.”
American Fitness’ Heath said she believes people can be successful if they “can just be consistent.”
“A common error everybody has is an ‘all or nothing’ approach — a whole hour of working out or nothing at all,” Heath said. “The ones I see who are really successful are the ones I see doing something every day, whether it’s 10 or 20 minutes one day and then 60 minutes the next day. A lot of people look at the clock and think, ‘Oh, I don’t have an hour to work out.’ But stop in and walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes up hill when you are out doing errands. Some people will think it’s not a very good workout, but guess what? It was a workout. So many people feel you have to be sweating buckets to get fitness in, but that’s not the case.”
She added that you don’t want to always do only 10 minutes every day, but to vary your workouts accordingly.
Setting realistic goals is instrumental to success, as well.
“You need to set goals,” said Balance Fitness’ Sutton. “You can’t walk into a gym without knowing what you are going to be doing that particular day. You won’t accomplish anything. And it’s not just your weight or health goals. You need to come in knowing what program you are working on and knowing what you want to achieve.”
“Consistency is everything,” said Kwapisz of Snap Fitness, which has a fitness trainer on-site to help with nutritional goals. “You need to get a fitness plan and stick with it. And 85 percent of it is diet. People need to watch what they are eating. If they have a diet down and increase their physical activity, everything should fall into place.”
While exercise has many important benefits, it’s hard to lose weight if you aren’t eating healthy in moderate proportions.
Faye Lloyd is a coach with the Waterford Township-based nutrition club Daily Nutrition, which helps people achieve their health goals including weight loss, increased energy, and sports nutrition.
“There a lot of different areas that we can help you with,” she said. “We help people learn how to eat healthy.”
One of the biggest problems with nutrition is a lack of knowledge, according to Lloyd.
“A lot of people just don’t know what’s healthy to eat. They want to eat healthier, but they don’t even know what that means. We give them suggestions of healthy snacks and a place to start from,” said Lloyd, who is also starting a free workout class on Wednesdays starting Jan. 11 at 6:30 p.m. at Riverside Elementary School in Waterford.
She and other coaches also have a weight loss challenge starting this month which offers cash prizes.
“It’s a way to support on a weekly basis and to learn nutrition to make better, healthier choices throughout life,” she said.
According to Vedro, Curves also offers a complete management program that helps with exercise, diet and motivation to start and stay on a diet.
“We are certified through the Cleveland Clinic,” Vedro explained. “And the program is overseen by Curves’ corporate registered dietitian.”
The Carl’s Family YMCA in Milford also offers nutrition classes to help people maintain a healthy lifestyle.
“It’s healthy to exercise at least three days a week and to eat healthy. We have nutrition classes here,” said Jeff Brown, the marketing and membership director at the Carl’s Family YMCA.
People can even get a taste of the nutrition classes at the YMCA’s open house on Saturday, Jan. 14.
“It’s a free event for the community to try every area of the YMCA — our group exercise, pool, basketball courts, and personal training. They can try it out for a day and see if it’s the right option,” said Brown, who added that as a non-profit organization, the YMCA raises money to help families who may not have the income to join a fitness facility.
The YMCA, with its slew of classes — including the recently added ballroom dancing, equipment, two pools, and pick-up sports activities — can be a great place to add variety to your workout, which gym experts agree is important both physically and mentally.
“At 46 weeks, your body will plateau if you keep doing the same thing all the time,” said Powerhouse Gym’s Bernstein. “It’s not that you won’t keep fit — you might just not see change. You need to add enough variety to see continued improvements and changes.”
“The best way to avoid plateauing is to change your workout after a time,” said Kwapisz of Snap Fitness. “Once you plateau you tend not to make any gains. You need to change things up and change new things.”
Many gym owners and managers suggest meeting with a personal trainer at least once as a way to learn new techniques, how to use new equipment, and to incorporate new exercises to vary your workout.
Others suggest joining a class such as yoga, pilates, or kickboxing, among many others.
One in particular that happens to be widely popular right now is Zumba.
“It’s a fun Latin dance exercise craze,” Bernstein said. “People like it because it’s fun, but you don’t necessarily have to be a dancer to do it.”
“It’s really booming,” said American Fitness’ Heath. “You burn a ton of calories while having the best time in Zumba classes. It’s just a really fun dance. We even throw Zumba parties. Join the party and get into shape. We dance for two hours and turn the studio into a disco with lights.”
Vedro said Curves has even integrated Zumba into their circuit training.
While exercise can be a way to look great, it also makes you feel great in mind and body, according to experts. So while getting fit and losing weight might be your resolution, it might also help you knock off another couple on the country’s most popular resolution list.
“I just always believe a healthy body, a healthy mind. Exercise is a great stress reliever,” said Fitness 19′s Shaw.
Where you can keep trim — locally
We’ve compiled a list of fitness and exercise facilities in west Oakland County for you to keep handy as 2012 progresses, if you’re looking to lose weight or just get healthier in the new year.
While we’ve done our best to include all relevant locations, there may be businesses in the lakes area not listed below that provide similar services.
Best of luck to you in your quest to shed the pounds!
• Snap Fitness, 2825 E. Highland Road, Highland Township, 248-714-9686.
• Carl’s Family YMCA, 300 Family Drive, Milford, 248-685-3020.
• Huron Valley Schools Pools and Fitness Centers, Lakeland High School, 1630 Bogie Lake Road, White Lake Township, 248-676-2341; Milford High School, 2380 S. Milford Road, Highland, 248-676-2346.
• Waterford Schools Pools and Fitness Centers, Kettering High School, 2800 Kettering Drive, Waterford, 248-673-9969; Mott High School, 1151 Scott Lake Road, Waterford, 248-674-6360.
• Balance Fitness Personal Training, 686 N. Pontiac Trail, Walled Lake, 248-669-3370.
• Powerhouse Gym, 2258 N. Milford Road, Highland Township, 248-889-8884.
• Your Fit Club, 9278 Highland Road, White Lake Township, 248-698-2100.
• 59 Fitness, 786 W. Highland Road, Highland Township, 248-889-3004.
• Modern Messages Dance Company, 2336 E. Highland Road, Suite No. 102, Highland Township, 248-889-2499.
• Plymouth Physical Therapy, 29822 S. Wixom Road, Wixom, 248-926-5826.
• Plymouth Physical Therapy, 8896 Commerce Road, Suite No. 1, Commerce Township, 248-363-2115.
• Plymouth Physical Therapy, 9178 Highland Road, Suite B, White Lake Township, 248-698-1277.
• Curves, 546 Union Lake Road, Commerce Township, 248-360-4880.
• Curves, 730 W. Highland Road, Highland Township, 248-889-9400.
• Curves, 3675 Highland Road, Waterford Township, 248-738-7725.
• World Gym, 4721 Highland Road, Waterford Township, 248-618-9293.
• Planet Fitness, 5142 Highland Road, Waterford Township, 248-706-1553.
• Fitness 19, 4299 Orchard Lake Road, West Bloomfield Township, 248-932-1919.
• Fitness 19, 3050 Union Lake Road, Commerce Township, 248-366-1919.
• Fit Zone for Women, 5217 Highland Road, Waterford Township, 248-674-9800.
• 24/7 Fitness Center, 2083 N. Wixom Road, Wixom, 248-926-4077.
• Center for Yoga, 6710 Orchard Lake Road, West Bloomfield Township, 248-865-9642.
• Fitness Together, 6279 Haggerty Road, West Bloomfield Township, 248-668-9884.
• American Fitness, 5806 Dixie Highway, Waterford Township, 248-623-0099.
• Bally Total Fitness, 1490 North Oakland Boulevard, Waterford Township, 248-666-3611.
• Anytime Fitness, 1001 Welch Road, Commerce Township, 248-926-0558.
• Powerhouse Gym, 6750 Orchard Lake Road, West Bloomfield Township, 248-539-3370.
• Life Time Fitness, 2901 Commerce Crossing Boulevard, Commerce Township, 248-960-0955.
• Fit Zone for Women, 1537 N. Wixom Road, Wixom, 248-668-8410.
• Anytime Fitness, 141 S. Milford Road, Milford, 248-685-8373.