Fitness: Ask the right questions to find the right gym
BY JASON ASHLEY WRIGHT World Scene Writer
Thursday, December 27, 2012
12/27/12 at 11:42 AM
Tammie Legendre has beaten the New Year's resolution-makers to the gym by a full six months.
On New Year's Days past, she'd resolve along with millions of Americans to go to the gym.
Then, like most of those making a similar resolution, she'd stop going to the gym after about a month.
This time around, though, she's been sticking with a routine.
"I realized my genes were stacked against me," said Legendre, who works out at the Thornton Family YMCA, 5002 S. Fulton Ave.
Vows to pen a similar success story will be made now through the New Year, what with losing weight ranked as the No. 1 New Year's resolution in 2012, according to statistics released this month from the University of Scranton's Journal of Clinical Psychology. "Staying fit and healthy" was No. 5.
Often, that means joining a gym. And, often, that resolution doesn't typically stick, as only 8 percent of people are successful in achieving their resolution, those journal statistics stated.
However, local fitness experts offered advice on how to pick a gym if weight loss and fitness figure into your post-holiday plans - advice that might also help you stick to your goals.
January is a busy month for most gyms, and St. John Siegfried Health Club, 1819 E. 19th St., is no exception.
"Everyone is deciding they need to turn over a new leaf," said the health club's director, Ann Walton.
When picking a gym, the first thing you consider is convenience, she said. It needs to be where you can get to it in five to 10 minutes, whether from work or home - 10 minutes, max. That will be the "maker or breaker" - the deciding factor on whether you'll actually use the gym after you've joined it.
Anything that's close to your home or work, a gym you can get in and out of quickly, is the one to consider joining, said Cicel Crosby, a fitness specialist at Hillcrest Exercise and Lifestyle Program, 1265 S. Utica Ave.
From there, Crosby suggested finding out if the trainers at the gym are certified, such as by the American College of Sports Medicine. Such information may be posted on the gym's website, or you might have to call and ask.
Check the gym out in person, advised Deanna Douthit, the medical health and wellness director for YMCA of Greater Tulsa. Most gyms offer a free one-day pass; some offer more days than that.
You should do this for multiple reasons, one of which is to make sure you're comfortable, Douthit said.
Go to determine the gym's "vibe," Walton said, "how friendly it is." What are your initial reactions? Does it feel cold? Would you feel comfortable working out with the people you see?
"If you're middle-aged, you might be intimidated if the gym is filled with 20-somethings," she said.
When you do visit, be sure to go at the times you'd normally be working out.
Also, notice the staff, Walton said. Are they nice? Helpful? Knowledgeable? And are they monitoring the exercise area closely?
On your visit, notice the exercise options - and make sure you have multiple ones, not just a treadmill and some weights in case you get bored with a routine. See if they offer Zumba or yoga, perhaps a couch-to-5k program or boot camp.
Do you love to swim? Look for a place with an indoor pool, and go to a swimming class to try it out, Douthit said.
If group fitness is offered, ask the staff if the classes have progressions and regressions so the workouts are scalable and modifiable, suggested exercise physiologist Clint Howard, the founder and director of Tulsa Fitness Systems.
Make sure they aren't "one size fits all," Howard said. "Many people can get bored or, even worse, injured in workouts that may be too intense for what they can do or that doesn't provide proper exercise modifications."
See what amenities the club offers, Walton said. Do they provide towels? What about locker rooms and showers? Some folks like saunas and whirlpools, which might be that one little perk that helps them keep coming back to the gym.
Check the gym hours and make sure they jibe with the ones you keep, Douthit said. "If it's not going to fit with your schedule, you're just setting yourself up for failure."
Find out if the facility offers a free initial fitness assessment, Howard said, so they can help you set goals and work with you on nutrition recommendations.
Before you sign a contract, look it over thoroughly, Crosby said.
"Make sure it's a contract you can abide by," he added - and know what the cancellation process is before you join.
"Don't let your age or your fitness level hold you back," she said. "If you watch people around you, you'll see success stories unfold in front of your eyes."
Original Print Headline: Strength to stick with it
Jason Ashley Wright 918-581-8483
Travis Hill works out in the Thornton Family YMCA weight room. Gyms can expect a marked increase in business as New Year's resolution-makers try to get fit. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World
Patrick Lowen works out on the elliptical at the Thornton Family YMCA while another patron uses the pool. January is a busy month for most gyms.
MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World