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It’s a tale as old as time: the ball drops on New Year’s Eve and we all resolve that this is the year. This is it. We’re going to get in shape. After a few lukewarm sessions spent huffing and puffing in a gym full of people who are younger, leaner, and more beautiful than us, however, we inevitably admit defeat and fall back into our routines of old: sitting on the couch with a remote in one hand and cheese puff dust coating the other.
So, how can we break January’s cycle of optimism and subsequent surrender? Can 2017 truly be the year that we take control of our health and fitness? The answer is yes – with the right tools, facilities, and mindset, of course. The greater Jamestown area has a wealth of gyms, outdoor recreation opportunities, and health professionals that are here to help. We simply have to take the first step.
Mind Over Matter
Many people think the first step to regaining health is one that lands them straight on the treadmill. Jump onto that whirring belt cold-turkey, however, and the most important step has already been overlooked. Before you can condition your body, you must condition your mind.
Cheryl Chase, director of the Weight Watchers meetings held in Jamestown’s Northwest Arena, knows just how important mindset is to maintaining long-term health goals. She says cultivating healthy perspectives is an integral part of the Weight Watchers mission.
“We all know what healthy eating is, we know what it looks like; we know what exercise is, we know we should be doing it,” Chase said. “But people have to actively make the decision that they want something different for their life. We must focus on changing our mindset, because learning how to think differently can lead to big changes.”
Setting Realistic Goals
Once the mental conviction to make a change has been cemented, goals must be established. Not only an end goal, but also check-in points along the way to achieving that goal. According to Salvatore Rachuna, co-owner of the new Fitness Bunker gym at 9 W. Summit Ave. in Lakewood, the biggest mistake many people make is setting unrealistic goals.
“Every January, people come in with this drastic goal of losing a set amount of weight,” he said. “If you set these huge goals, they’re harder to achieve. Nobody’s going to lose fifty pounds in a month. That’s not realistic. Setting smaller goals is going to keep you motivated.”
Chase agreed with Rachuna’s idea of setting realistic goals, adding that it can be helpful to focus on leading a healthier lifestyle rather than focusing on a specific number on the scale. She also noted that goals should be tailored to the individual – comparing yourself to someone else and their accomplishments should be taboo.
“Health goals are individualized,” Chase said. “At Weight Watchers, we never tell people what to do – we work with people and help them set their own goals. We don’t treat people as a general whole. We treat them as individuals.”
As much as some people like to go it alone, a little support can go a long way when it comes to staying fit. That’s why many health and fitness professionals suggest working out, or following a diet, with friends. It’s also the same reason Chase has seen so much success with Weight Watchers – she says working towards a goal within a group holds people much more accountable.
“It’s good to be with people who know the struggle, and also to see people who have made it through the struggle,” she said. “It’s nice to know you’re not alone.”
So what if you don’t have a group of gym buddies to work out with? That’s where exercise classes and personal trainers come in, says Rachuna, who believes support is key to long-term success.
“A big problem for many people is that they have no accountability, but working with a trainer isn’t as easy to blow off,” he said. “Being in a class atmosphere can also change a lot for you. It gives you a little extra push and gives you direction in what you’re doing, so you’re not just blindly jumping on a treadmill and hoping for the best.”
Get Out There
Mentally prepared? Goals established? Decided whether you’ll exercise solo or find safety in numbers? Then the only thing left to do is to actually do it. Luckily, there are plenty of local places to get your sweat on. Aside from the area’s many established, all-purpose gyms – such as the YMCA, Forge Health and Performance, Snap Fitness, and Anytime Fitness, to name a few – there have been several specialized, locally-owned gyms cropping up in recent months. One such gym is the aforementioned Fitness Bunker, co-owned by Rachuna and Laurie Shults, which is set to open on Monday, Jan. 16.
“The CrossFit community has always been big for me, so that’s what we’re trying to build here in Lakewood,” Rachuna said. “Nobody in town is really doing high intensity interval training yet. So you won’t be walking in here and doing the same exercises every day – they will be constantly varied to keep you interested.”
Staying true to its CrossFit roots, the Fitness Bunker will offer high intensity interval training (HIIT) among many classes, such as hot yoga, POUND, and Olympic style lifts. The gym will use monitors to track members’ heart rates, steps, and calories burned throughout the class.
On the other end of the spectrum from this sort of high intensity cardio facility are places like Southern Tier Barbell, a gym which opened its doors in July 2016, on the second floor of 100 Institute St. in Jamestown. Southern Tier Barbell is self-described as a “Rogue Fitness equipped old school strength training facility.” Translation: this is a not a gym where you will find treadmills and stationary bikes – it’s meant for powerlifting free weights.
“Our philosophy is to lift heavy and get stronger,” said Erick Sandberg, who co-owns the gym with his wife, Cammy Sandberg. “Focusing on heavier lifting helps you build strength and muscle faster, lose body fat, burn calories, and improve your physique.”
While such a gym may sound intimidating, Southern Tier Barbell is anything but. The Sandbergs are happy to welcome newcomers and competitive lifters alike, and they are eager to share their love of powerlifting.
“We like to motivate people first by showing them that they can do this at any age, regardless of experience,” Sandberg said. “Our members motivate each other, too.”
Not interested in joining a gym? There are still plenty of other ways to get active in the New Year. Don’t forget all the hiking trails and other outdoor recreation opportunities in Western New York – and don’t forget that the snow, while bemoaned by many, actually provides a unique and fun way to stay fit.
Maggie Parsons, Marketing Manager at Peek’n Peak Resort, says the Resort is all about getting people to get outside and get their heart rates pumping this January. This month only, the Resort is offering buy one, get one free beginner ski lessons.
“We definitely have a lot going on at the Resort to keep people active,” Parsons said. “Aside from our swimming pool and fitness center, we also have skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and our terrain parks. We love to encourage people to get out on the snow and try a new sport. Hopefully they will become lifelong skiers and snowboarders.”
Reap the Rewards
Results may not come fast, or even easily, but they will come – and they will make all the difference.
“Your health is the most important thing,” Rachuna said. “It’s going to allow you to play with your kids, your grandkids. Staying healthy is going to allow you a better quality of life.”
Chase agrees. In her time at Weight Watchers, she said she has seen the simple decisions to “get healthy” transform people’s lives.
“When people see results, it’s infectious,” Chase said. “They light up. When you’re not happy with your health, your light is not turned on. Taking control of your health turns your light on.”
So what are you waiting for? The tools, facilities, and support needed to take control of your health are all over the greater Jamestown area. There are gyms galore, outdoor sports, healthy eateries, support groups, and health professionals. The New Year is as good a time as any to invest in your health and your future. The only person who can make that resolution stick, however, is you.
Keep your health goals on track this year by reading the Jamestown Gazette’s newest column, The Gazette’s Guide to Your Health, which will be featured monthly.