Many Americans kicked off the New Year with resolutions: eat more vegetables, cut out sugar, drink more water and hit the gym more often. As winter fades into spring and the weather warms up, there may be a second chance to make good on those resolutions.
Several Fredericksburg-area fitness gurus offered their go-to advice to spring into fitness this year. They agreed that everyone—from gym newbie to seasoned athlete—can benefit from trying something new, getting a coach and engaging in a social fitness routine.
Get out of your comfort zone
A month or two into the New Year, steadfast resolutions begin to dissolve into half-hearted obligations. It becomes difficult to muster the motivation to get to the gym or plod along on the treadmill, particularly when the routine is not enjoyable.
Alex Kelly–Maartens, creator of Pitaiyo, said trying something new can be the catalyst needed to overcome inertia and get excited about working out again.
“All human beings are intimidated to try something new,” Kelly–Maartens said. “But trying something new is what gives us life.”
Kelly–Maartens created and trademarked Pitaiyo—a blend of Pilates, tai chi and yoga—in 2007. It is designed to create a strong, lean and flexible body. Instructors lead students through a 16-step series, which varies in levels of intensity and offers a variety of modifications for all fitness levels.
Kelly–Maartens explained that the body is designed to adapt to exercise, so it’s important to vary workouts to reap all the benefits of exercise.
“In the fitness world—and in life—the body adapts,” said Kelly–Maartens. “If you do the same thing all the time, you can hit a plateau.”
She said the hardest part of trying a new fitness routine is getting through the door—especially for the first class. Her clients have mentioned to her that they often feel more at ease if they attend with a friend until they feel comfortable enough to go on their own.
One way to get out of your comfort zone is to try something out-of-the-box. Polar Fitness of Spotsylvania County offers parkour classes, which involves obstacle course training loosely modeled off the popular television show “American Ninja Warrior.”
Paige Welch said the studio attracts many individuals who are bored with their current gym routines and tired of spending 90 minutes slogging away on the treadmill every night. In the parkour classes, children and adults run, jump and climb over obstacles.
Get a coach or personal trainer
Accountability is arguably the most important ingredient of any successful workout regime, according to Ryan Warrenburg, a coach at Zap Fitness. Without it, keeping up the motivation not to hit snooze on the alarm in the morning can be daunting. This is where a personal trainer or fitness coach can be very helpful.
“Having someone to meet you or hold you accountable, even if it’s over the phone or online, can be a huge incentive for putting the work in on days where you’re feeling less than motivated,” said Warrenburg.
Hiring a personal trainer can also save people the headache of sifting through enormous amounts of information to create a training and nutrition plan. Warrenburg said there is a lot of misinformation out there, and it can often lead to self-doubt and lack of progress.
“There is a lot of information out there regarding training and working out, and it can be overwhelming to try to decipher through all of it, weed out the bad, and find out what is valuable,” he said.
A personal trainer possesses the expertise to develop a training plan tailored to an individual’s unique goals, which can provide them with a huge leg up. The trainer can also guide them step-by-step through the plan and suggest changes along the way.
Warrenburg said everyone—even the most knowledgeable athletes—can benefit from the objective perspective of a coach.
“Having someone to support you and help you adjust for the unexpected bumps in the road is also extremely valuable,” he added.
Similarly, Sarah Jennings, a Fredericksburg area personal trainer, explained that even as a personal trainer herself with a wide range of knowledge on exercise and nutrition, she still hires her own coach.
“I am very busy and sometimes my schedule doesn’t allow me to get my workout in so I pay someone to come to me—it’s worth my money 100 percent,” she said.
Make it social
Jennings said a great way to build friendships and provide accountability is to pull together a group to exercise. Jennings has seen many friendships emerge in her studio through group fitness.
“It’s a camaraderie thing,” she said. “They joke, vent, laugh, comfort one another and keep each other accountable. It’s awesome to witness.”
Similarly, Keone Pierce of Fredericksburg Fit Body Boot Camp said the energy and enthusiasm is palpable in a group training environment.
However, he said it is also important not to lose sight of individual goals in a group setting. Each individual is unique and may require specific workouts and eating habits.
This is why each member of Fredericksburg Fit Body Boot Camp has his or her own personalized fitness plan, which is overseen by a certified personal trainer. The trainers help tracker their progress, and meet face-to-face weekly to discuss adjustments.
The expectation is that all members come into the studio to work-out three days a week. When unable to attend, trainers recommend that members choose three or four exercises and perform them nonstop for 10-12 minutes. The idea is to transform their lifestyle so that exercise becomes a priority.
Group exercise classes are not the only way to experience the social benefits of exercise. Leslie Kash, a member of the Fredericksburg Area Running Club, said it is a common misconception that running is a solo sport. People often fail to realize that it can be a group activity, and that runners often rely on camaraderie for accountability and encouragement.
She said there are many compelling reasons to take up running. It’s great exercise, cheap and doesn’t require much equipment—all you need is a pair of shoes. But, the camaraderie is one of her favorite aspects.
Every Saturday morning, FARC meets outside of Hyperion for their group runs. She said new people are always welcome, but they are often intimidated to show up because they don’t think of themselves as runners—whether it is because they are slow or don’t run competitively.
“We want people to feel like we are inclusive and not going to leave people behind,” Kash said.
Aimee Weems, another FARC member, said there is no cookie-cutter mold of what it is to be a runner. She said there are people of all shapes, sizes and paces in the club, and everyone is able to find a running buddy.
“Some people think they are not runners because they walk or jog,” Weems said. “But that is just not true—they are runners.”