January starts gym season, fitness goals for the new year
Getting in shape is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions.
People vow to make healthier lifestyle decisions, eat less junk food and join a gym.
“I think it’s a ‘new year, new you’ type of situation,” said Chris Gilbert, fitness coordinator and certified personal trainer at the Monroeville Senior Center. “I also think sometimes we regret some of the decisions we make over the holidays and consequences of those decisions, and we decide to start fresh and start anew in January.”
Throughout the east suburbs, there are plenty of spots to start chasing a fitness goal — including a few you might not expect — and those who run such facilities know what it takes to make a resolution a reality.
Gilbert oversees programs at the fitness center at 6000 Gateway Campus Blvd. It’s run by the municipality, and residents ages 65 and older can use it for free.
Nonresidents and those younger than 65 pay a membership fee every six months or a discounted annual fee to use the amenities, which includes a full-scale gym and multiple fitness classes such as seated yoga. Fees can vary based on insurance.
Gilbert said the center serves about 5,000 people per month.
“We are seeing a growth in folks who are 50 to 66… baby boomers are generally more interested in staying active,” said Gilbert.
Getting active and staying active are two very different things, and many who start the year off strong soon see their interest in exercise dwindle.
The Sampson Family YMCA along Golden Mile Highway in Plum added more than 40 new members in the first three days of the new year with a projected 250 sign-ups by the end of the month. But YMCA Executive Director Kelli McIntyre said some who sign up during the big January gym rush only last about eight weeks.
“The rush is really right now, and usually people are working out more often than they normally would,” she said. “They’ll probably keep their membership, but it will back off a little bit. Then we get right back into April and May, and they’re here again.”
Sticking with it
The YMCA offers nearly 100 classes per week including weight training, cycling and water aerobics, among others.
“I love the variety of classes that they offer and the number of classes,” Amy Hassell, 58, of Murrysville said. “They have so many options and so many different time slots. I think there’s something with group dynamics where everybody’s working hard and everybody’s pushing themselves. The people in the classes are very friendly.”
Hassell has been going to the YMCA for over a year. Her 2019 fitness goals include more consistent cardio and weight training.
Rachel Bimber, personal training director of the Sampson Family YMCA, said people who participate in group exercise classes and personal training sessions tend to stick it out longer.
It’s about “accountability, motivation, knowledge on technique and the extra push you can’t really give yourself,” Bimber explained. “This is a place where you can come and people can know your name. It’s more than just come in get your workout done. There’s so many other programming that happens within the walls. A lot of it, too, is the relationship with the person and the trainer. It ends up being an appointment the client doensn’t want to miss. It becomes more exciting.”
Pam Ellis, 55, of Claridge has been with the YMCA the past six months. Family is her motivation. She is Bimber’s mother and her grandson, Dalton Yeater, 8, goes swimming at the Plum facility. Ellis’ goals include increased heart and brain health and weight loss through exercise.
“Both of us are very competitive, so it’s a good thing,” Ellis said of her daughter. “I can’t show her that I’m weak. I think she’s the best (instructor).”
Unorthodox workout spot
Libraries might not be the first place you think of when you think “fitness,” but many offer health and wellness opportunities.
Oakmont Carnegie Library at 700 Allegheny River Blvd. has yoga Monday nights and Tuesday mornings, Zumba on Wednesdays, tai chi Thursday mornings and meditation Tuesdays and every other Thursday.
“A lot of people are looking for ways to refocus and clear their minds in the new year,” said Beth Mellor, library director. “We like hosting those sorts of classes. It’s something the community wants. They keep showing up for them, and I think it’s a good fit for the library.”
Mellor said between eight and 25 people participate in a given class with the most participation being around this time of year and the weeks leading up to summer.
“A library is a place for learning, and these are things people learn and want to learn more about,” she said. “I think people want to participate in something and get out of the house. They don’t have to pay. They can come and try it out. There’s no membership requirement or regular dues to pay so it’s good use of the space that the taxpayers are paying for.”
Call 412-828-9532 or go to oakmontlibrary.org for more information about library programs.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.