Here we go!
This is the time of year when I try to inspire people to great heights of fitness. January, if you are not aware, is the busiest time of the year for an exercise instructor. It is the time when you are driven to make your body pay for the holiday pie, thus the hordes of chubby students who cross the line into sweat. However, after six weeks of dedication, I usually find even the most conscientious student of fitness fading away into the background of March.
So every January, I have the horrendous responsibility of finding reasons for you to, not only leap into your Nike shoes, but to keep them on through March. Ten percent of you will retain the exercise habit, and the rest of you will F A D E.
Ah, but the 10 percent of you who stay “with it” are going to have a lot of fun running around in circles and jumping into swimming pools. Does that make you feel better? We’ll be out there having a great time, and you’ll still be fat.
Taking up exercise is like giving up smoking. Your whole circle of friends will change. Soon your vocabulary becomes laced with such words as deltoids, bench pressing, stroke volume and cardiovascular endurance. A whole new way of talking, living and a new lifestyle, too! Not bad, huh?
To be honest with you, sometimes even I need to dig up reasons to show up in a fitness class; especially on the weekend. Now, add that dark thought to the COLD temperature outside, and you have a very reluctant fitness student. However, you DO need to exercise, every day at least for 20 or 30 minutes of continuous movement hard enough to raise your pulse to 120 beats per minute. The key here is “continuous.” You cannot use a walk to the refrigerator or putting away the laundry as your required amount of endurance work.
Here are your reasons for January sweating: better posture (hold that belly in!); better self-image; lower heart rate for less stress on your heart, lungs, etc.; improved circulation; better coordination (so you won’t trip over your belly!); and, of course, the usual things such as stronger muscles, longer endurance and let us not forget flexibility. (You won’t have to trim your toe nails with a hedge clipper any more.)
If for some small reason you find this column stimulating enough to slog through March and continue on through 2000, then there will be less of you to roll into 2001. And I will have gained another percentage point to add to the 10 percent of us who laugh and sweat.
Jerry Vance is certified by the American Council on Exercise and teaches fitness at the Carson City Community Center and for the American Lung Association.