by Elena Bittinger
Joining a fitness studio! Yikes! Seems daunting, doesn’t it? Especially right after gaining all that weight from the holidays. Backing away now, aren’t you? Embarrassed that you indulged on sweets and filled up on alcohol over the last few months that you’re no longer willing to keep your New Year’s resolution of getting fit and into shape? You could go to the local YMCA or to a hardcore gym, if that’s what you’re looking for, but another option is to join a fitness center. There are a wide variety, offering a selection of ways to get fit and healthy, such as dancing, martial arts training, yoga and other activities.
Rid yourself of the notion that fitness is just about losing weight and eating right. They are important, especially for your heart, but looks and nutrition don’t entirely encompass your health, only aspects of it.
Fitness can also boost your physical, mental, spiritual and social health.
If your focus is on your physique, and you’re not exactly sure what to do to develop physical strength, join a gym that has a variety of equipment and fitness programs, like Strictly Fitness in York.
Shelby Dietz, a trainer at Strictly Fitness, says, “There are many benefits to joining a fitness facility,” including good equipment, motivation, varied fitness programs and camaraderie.
“Motivation levels are higher when other people are working out at the same time,” Dietz said. And as a further boost, “trainers are available to teach proper lifting techniques, create programs, and hold clients accountable to their goals.”
If your focus is on your mind, and you have difficulties centering yourself, consider joining a boxing studio, where your concentration is solely on the target. One option is Hanover Boxing Club in Hanover.
Joe Dressel, owner and head coach of Hanover Boxing Club, notes many benefits in joining his studio, including building confidence, respect, discipline, accountability, motivation and camaraderie.
Dressel says, “My No. 1 thing is accountability. So if one of my guys comes up to me and says ‘Hey, I won’t be able to make it,’ I say, ‘OK, videotape it. That way I know you’re still doing the techniques right.’”
Boxer Ryan Mitchell says that Dressel will “stand right there with you and show you what you need to know. It’s just a very motivated thing, especially when you see results like losing weight. I lost about 140-ish pounds total here.”
“You make friends pretty immediately that will just encourage you to come, or you want to see familiar faces every day,” Mitchell adds.
If your focus is on your inner being and self-fulfillment, join a yoga studio, where you can learn and practice meditation, like Gettyoga in Gettysburg.
Julie Aha, owner of Gettyoga, explains that the heart of yoga is meditation. And to get there, you must follow the eight limbs of yoga: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi.
She says, “The first two are philosophical, the middle are physical poses/postures, and the last four are meditation.”
The Yamas, she explains, are restraints and moral disciplines or vows. She says you’re “supposed to be kind, nonviolent, and tell the truth.” The Niyamas are positive duties. She says it means “cleanliness and practicing contentedness.”
The benefits of joining a yoga studio begin with learning the terms, practicing the poses with personalized feedback and without injury, and reaching meditation appropriately.
Aha says, “You get the poses explained in more detail. And ideally, hands-on adjustment, maybe not a lot, but it’s very different than some studios, where you just imitate what the instructor does without any explanation.”
Linda Feight, a student at Gettyoga, says “I’m better at learning something new by watching a professional. I also like the fact that Julie walks around the class and helps us so that the poses are done correctly, and we get the full effect from the stretch we’re working on.”
Another benefit, Aha notes, is camaraderie. “So the thing with people doing yoga at home,” she says, “is that you tend to have a pretty set universe as far as what you do — following a DVD.
Nothing wrong with it, really, but it’s nice to learn new things. And there’s really no substitute for having a class at some point. They are fun. And the group energy is fun.”
If your focus is on having fun and not realizing you’re exercising, you could join a Zumba dance class at a place like Body Rhythms Life Fitness in York, where you can dance like you just don’t care.
Co-owners Monica Melendez and Melissa Deitz list many benefits of joining a Zumba studio, such as fun, camaraderie, accountability, personalized feedback and motivation.
Dietz says, “You have the family atmosphere, the friendship. There are so many friendships that have developed here. You have accountability, too, because if you don’t show up people will start asking you, sending you texts — “Hey, where were you today?”
Melendez adds, “You get motivated. And when you’re home, you start doing it and then another minute later, you sit down. You can take as many breaks. But when you’re here, see people doing it, it just kind of motivates you and you just want to push yourself.”
Dietz adds, “You want to do better. Then it becomes a challenge.”
For personalized feedback, Melendez says, “Zumba is always one of the best classes to start with because you can just take it as slow as you can, or you can take it as high as you want to take it.” All classes are co-taught. She explains that while one teacher will remain up front, the other will walk around and help students out with their dance moves.
So find the type of place that fits your goals and personality, and then consider the benefits of joining. It’s more than commiserating with fellow holiday eaters on how your steady downfall began. It’s about finding a place that can build you up and make you feel better.