New Year’s Eve is approaching, and with it comes the usual resolutions to get fit. Promising yourself you’ll do it is one thing, but sticking with it into February (and beyond) is a whole different ballgame. Following are some tips from local experts, and a few places to find more help if you, too, have committed to better health in 2012.
Make it a social event
"Starting with a support team is important," says Kristen Dowd, an instructor and local franchise owner for Stroller Strides in Deerfield. She leads power walking and toning classes for stroller-pushing parents indoors through April and will move back outdoors in May. "If you're working with a consistent group of people you see on a regular basis and get to know a little bit, it might motivate you to get out the door,” Dowd adds. “You'll share your success and it makes the time go by faster if you're having fun together. And if you’re doing it with your kids, you're setting an example for their healthy lifestyle and getting fit without any guilt about leaving them behind."
Dance, dance, dance
Another social option for people who can't help but tap their toes to the radio is Glenview's Jazzercise studio. Owner and lifelong Glenview resident Melissa Miller Kopera polled her team of 13 instructors to brainstorm a few ideas for sticking with a new fitness regime. Their advice? "Set realistic goals. Dive right in; don't procrastinate. Don't make excuses or let the weather deter you." Like Dowd, Miller Kopera says participants come more frequently when they get to work out with friends, and a Jazzercise class is definitely a social environment. The 60-minute workouts incorporate a warm-up, cardio, stretching and strength training, set to a wide range of musical styles. Find a class almost any time of day, seven days a week. "Choose what you like, make a commitment, and buy into it,” Miller Kopera says.
Find something that interests you
If your personality is more "sports training" than "group dance," look into Redefined Fitness's individual and group training options. At the Wilmette gym, instructors combine sports rehabilitation and functional fitness techniques to help clients meet personal fitness goals – whether it’s running a 10-minute mile, building arm strength or improving your golf swing. There’s nothing like a personal trainer if you’re looking for accountability.
Put in on your calendar
"Write it down and stick with it," says Marcia Tazioli, a personal trainer and owner of Shri Yoga Center in Highland Park. "Make an appointment like going to the doctor - it's what you do." Despite her dual roles as a trainer and business owner, Tazioli still carves out time for her own workouts because she knows it will make her feel better the rest of the day. "With yoga you build your core strength and flexibility and relax the brain,” Tazioli says. “A lot of people find that because yoga is more mindful of how your body is feeling, they leave feeling really good and they make better decisions throughout the day because they are thinking and seeing things more clearly. People like that feeling and it keeps them coming back. Who doesn't want to feel better?"
Put it on the kids' calendar
Healthy living can be a goal shared among family members. For the parents of little ones, Northbrook's Fitness 19 provides a supervised kids' play area so that parents can be sure that nothing will get in the way of their workouts, while the North Suburban YMCA is nearly finished with a renovation of its “Kids Zone.” If you’ve got older kids, the Y offers “boot camp” and yoga for kids, among many other programs. Maybe the family that goes to the gym together stays together?
Treat your kids, and yourself
Look to your local park district for open gym hours when you can be active and have fun with your family without being deterred by bad winter weather. The Northfield Park District, for example, lists times online divided by age groups, for like-sized kids to relieve their cabin fever. They offer separate family times for parents and kids to get on the court together, and other times for adults only to enjoy neighborly competition. Dribble on!