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January 24-30, 2007

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Exercising: Your Options

By Joseph Rosenfeld

IT'S late January and the holidays are now well behind you. Speaking of which, just when was the last time you checked out that derriere? Or your love handles? Or stomach? Most Americans gained 3 to 7 pounds during the holiday season. From eating fatty fudge to enjoying more than your share of eggnog, it's easy for a vice or two to get the best of you during the holidays. So let's move from vice to advice that will shake those pounds loose and get you ready for your best year yet.

One of the best aspects of the new year is that we get to move away from the people we have been and toward the people we want to be. And one of the best ways to achieve this is to exercise. Elizabeth Cassidy, owner of Pilates studio Tru-Balance in Willow Glen, says people sign up for sessions to "feel better physically, mentally and spiritually." Health fitness director Amy Chang, of the Decathlon Club in Santa Clara, adds that at this time of year, baby boomers start exercise programs out of concern for their health. Are you ready to work out yet?

Both exercise experts agree that losing weight is a winning battle when exercise and nutrition are combined together. Try the group route at the Decathlon Club, where they offer such activities as cycling class and sports camp. Tru-Balance offers 500 resistance training exercises and a body fat content check every six weeks. There are just two things you shouldn't do: don't starve yourself, and don't stop yourself from getting active. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, it's never too late to start exercising. If you've been working out and feel like you're burning out, here are some tips from the pros:

  • Amy says you should ask yourself if you're stuck in a rut with your workout routine. If you're doing the same activity every day, change your routine. She also warns against overtraining. If you've suddenly been working out five days a week for three weeks, you may be pushing too hard. Recall why you decided to commit to the workout routine; then recommit.
  • Elizabeth adds that a change in body fat can cause low level fatigue and should not be confused with fatigue that occurs when you've been overdoing the workouts. She also recommends that cardio routines be changed every six weeks because the body becomes complacent from the repetitiveness of the same exercises.
  • Personal trainers will be your greatest allies as you battle your own bulges or train for events. Good personal trainers should guide you through your workouts. They are there to keep challenging you by varying your routines as well as they want to keep your workouts fun and interesting. Personal trainers also understand the importance of form and like to ensure clients are using the right muscles to make the right movements. Pilates pro Cassidy makes the point, "Your body is a vehicle. If you ran a flat tire, would you just put a tire back on your car or would you have a mechanic make sure the car is in proper alignment?" Despite the fallacy that Pilates is for femmes fatales, it's great for guys, too. You can't walk with confidence when your posture is not at its prime.

    If you're feeling inspired to make this your best year yet, visit the websites of health clubs and fitness studios to learn about what they offer. Research the various trainers, many of whom have their bios posted on the Internet. Consider their certification levels and training philosophies. Then set up face-to-face meetings with the trainers you're most interested in to see if the trainer's style and personality complements yours. When you're ready to commit you'll have found the trainer who will help you set goals and establish expectations. Finally, don't think of this as a resolution. Think of it as making a serious investment in yourself for the long haul.

    Joseph Rosenfeld, AICI, CIP, the nation's only male certified image professional, is a men's image mentor based in downtown San Jose. Contact him at: [email protected]

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