Moderate Movement: Getting in Shape for the New Year

By Beacon Staff

Whether it’s the cold weather or a sudden pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, the beginning of the year is generally the busiest time for most fitness clubs in the Flathead.

“January’s our busiest month,” said Stan Watkins, owner of the Kalispell Athletic Club.

The popular New Year’s resolution to shed weight and get fit helps boost gym memberships and activity as people work their way out of the holiday season.

If you’re looking at 2011 to be the year you push for a healthier lifestyle and take part in the rush to the gym, here are some tips on getting started from local fitness experts.

Be Realistic

For some new gym members, January might mark the first time they have stepped foot in gym in months or years. New Year’s resolutions to get into shape come into play here, Watkins said, but he warned against setting the bar too high.

A newcomer’s first step is to assess – realistically – where their fitness levels lie. People who specifically target health objectives within their ability levels are more likely to stick with their resolution.

“It’s best to set goals, reasonable goals,” Watkins said.

Some people get on the treadmill with the expectation to lose 30 pounds in 30 days, like they might see on weight-loss commercials, he said. However, long-term weight loss takes a dedication to activity.

“It took a while to put it on, it takes a while to take it off,” Watkins said.

Tasia Dugan, a personal trainer at The Wave in Whitefish, said realistic goals are an important part of the health journey.

“A great thing to do when you’re making goals for yourself is to write it down and be as specific as you possibly can,” Dugan said.

Be Positive

At The Summit Medical Fitness Center, Gordon Opel, supervisor of fitness and wellness services, said a healthy new year could begin with a simple change of perspective.

People should start thinking about their health goals and lives positively, he said.

“So much of our health is predicated upon our thoughts, and the first step toward improved health is improved thinking about your health,” Opel said.

This means using positive affirmations like “I am worth it” or “I am beautiful” instead of self-limiting thoughts like “I can’t do this” or “It’s too late for me,” he said.

Having a personal trainer or fitness coach explore exercise routine possibilities is one way to feel more confident about athletic pursuits, he added.

Be Active

So what should people expect of themselves at a base level, as far as physical activity goes? Opel, along other fitness experts, advised being active for 150 minutes cumulatively per week. For most people, this means being active for a minimum of 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

For those who want to push their bodies a little further, the optimal activity level is one hour per day, seven days a week, Opel said.

Whatever the method, Opel said movement is key for people of all age groups, and too many are living inactive lives.

“I would say just begin moving your body,” Opel said. “Take small steps but take steps. The status quo of being sedentary is no longer a viable option. You must move.”

What Gyms are Offering

The folks at Flathead Health and Fitness advised scheduling a visit with one of their personal trainers to get a workout plan. They also have several membership specials available for 2011.

For more information, visit www.flatheadhealth.com, call 752-2438 or drop in at their downtown Kalispell location, 300 First Ave. West.

The Kalispell Athletic Club will offer a seminar on the benefits of raw foods called “Living Foods,” which will demonstrate how to prepare them in an appetizing way. The club has a variety of visitation options, ranging from day passes to punch cards to monthly and annual memberships.

For more information, visit www.kalispellathleticclub.net, call 752-2880 or visit their 770 West Reserve Dr. location.

The Summit is offering $15 registration fees for its 15th anniversary. The regular registration fee is $159, Opel said. The Summit will also begin a new weight-control program, sponsored by Kalispell Regional Medical Center, in January.

For more information, check out www.nwhc.org/summit, call 751-4520 or drop in at their 205 Sunnyview Lane location in Kalispell.

In Whitefish, check out membership and day pass options at The Wave, where they offer an extensive list of aquatic activities, group exercise options, personal training programs, nutritional services, children’s activities and sports.

For more information on The Wave, go online at www.whitefishwave.com, call 862-2444 or check it out in person at their 1250 Baker Ave. location.

In Bigfork, head to the Montana Athletic Club for their pool, exercise classes, basketball and racquetball courts, tennis courts and personal training options.

For more information, check out www.montanaathleticclub.com, call 837-2582 or visit at 850 Holt Dr.

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