Every January, people flock to the gym, resolving to get fit or lose weight in the new year. But more often than not, the sudden influx of patronage begins to taper off as people fall off the wagon.
In fact, a 2014 YMCA survey found that less than a quarter of respondents stuck to their resolutions — 71 percent tried but fell short of their goals and 40 percent gave up within the first few months or weeks of the new year.
While challenging, sticking to your resolutions is not impossible. One way to stay on track is to try something new, and in the Corridor, the options are wide-ranging and seemingly limitless, so we’ve put together a list of some suggestions.
Getting a personal trainer will not only keep you accountable to someone other than yourself, but may also help you reach your fitness goals faster. “In just a few sessions with a trainer, you’re more likely to stick to your goals,” said Jane Jakobsen, personal training director at Midwest Athletic Club in Cedar Rapids, also known as the M.A.C. “Intimidation is a huge factor” when it comes to the gym, Jakobsen said. But by teaching people how to properly use equipment and how to accomplish a good workout more efficiently — if you don’t have an hour to exercise, for example — trainers “set people up for success,” she said.
One of the most popular fitness trends is building strength and mobility to live your life better for longer. Functional fitness routines include exercises that train your muscles to better perform daily tasks, such as getting off the couch, carrying your children or lifting heavy items overhead. “It’s not just to get people in shape,” said Erik Barnhill, owner of Fitness Farm in Cedar Rapids. “It’s about making people the best human beings they can be.” At Fitness Farm, for example, workouts are designed to be well-rounded, combining high intensity cardio with weight lifting and stretching. Workouts are often challenging, which not only improves your physical fitness but also builds “mental toughness,” Barnhill said.
Another fitness program that combines high intensity cardio with strength training is coming soon to Cedar Rapids: Orangetheory Fitness, a nationwide franchise with more than 500 locations, where workouts are designed to keep you in the heart rate “sweet spot” by using a variety of equipment, including monitors that show your heart rate in real time.
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“We’re using heart rate zones to eliminate the guess work from the workout,” said Mary Kate Beardsworth, head trainer at the Cedar Rapids Orangetheory, which is expected to open in February. “Interval training has been proven to spike metabolism in a more effective way by keeping your body guessing,” she added, and being able to see your heart rate on a big screen in front of you “kicks it up another notch” by showing you when you need to work harder. In just an hour, you can burn up to 1,000 calories and continue to burn calories for the next 24 to 36 hours.
With kickboxing, not only do you burn hundreds of calories in just an hour, you also get to punch things. Not a bad stress reliever, am I right? Kickboxing is a total body workout that combines high intensity cardio with body weight strength training, which can be adjusted to fit any fitness level. An added bonus is learning moves that could help you defend yourself, if necessary. Hannah Solchenberger, instructor and manager at iLoveKickboxing — a kickboxing franchise that opened a Cedar Rapids location in October — said the workouts are different every day and “not something you’ll dread going and doing.”
Biking is a great, low-impact workout. But just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you can’t go for a spin. In fact, spinning is another hot exercise trend that can burn an average of 500 calories per class, and you don’t have to be an experienced cyclist to do it. “No matter what your fitness level, you can push yourself as hard as you want,” said Stacie Shannon, owner of Burst, a spinning studio in Cedar Rapids. “You’re in control of your workout, so you can ease into it.”
At Burst, classes are set to music videos in a dimly lit room, which also allows participants to “shut their mind out from the every day and just focus on themselves and their fitness,” she said.
If you like dancing and yoga, Nia is like the best of both worlds — kind of like zumba but slowed way down. Debbie Jump, a Nia and Pilates instructor at Metamorphosis Pilates Center in Cedar Rapids, described it as “mind body cardio done to music barefoot.” A Nia workout is structured like an aerobics workout with aspects of yoga. Nia choreography is based on 52 moves that combine dance, healing and martial arts and works on flexibility, agility, mobility, strength and stability, but the No. 1 principle of the exercise is “the joy of movement,” Jump said. “It’s about helping people connect to sensation in their bodies and choosing pleasure and comfort over pain.”
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Another low impact option is Barre, an exercise created in the 1960s by an injured ballerina who wanted to incorporate her dance conditioning routine into rehabilitative therapy. Barre routines are based on ballet moves and are set to music, but dancing skill is not necessary. Although you may not sweat bullets like you would in a high intensity workout, you’ll still be working hard and using isometric movements that work the “tiny little muscles you didn’t know you had,” said Sarah Grabe, a barre instructor at the M.A.C. Working these muscles helps tone and lean the body, particularly the abs, which are constantly worked throughout the whole class, Grabe said. “I watch people’s bodies change,” she added. “I call it their inner Spanx.”
Continuing with the dance theme — another way to shimmy your way to fitness is with burlesque dancing. Cat Cantrill, owner of Vitality Fitness, a burlesque studio in Cedar Rapids, said there are a lot of misconceptions about burlesque. “Burlesque gets a really bad rap,” she told The Gazette last year. But it’s “never what people think it’s going to be.” For her, burlesque made her feel “confident, beautiful and sensual,” but it can also be a fun and different way to exercise.
If you want to work out and feel like a kid while doing it, aerial fitness is a great, trendy option. Aerial yoga, for example, offers yoga with a twist — using silk hammocks, yogis can stretch deeper and work their muscles in different ways. The hammock adds support or challenge to their practice, depending on how it’s used, said Donna Herring, owner of Metamorphosis Pilates Center. “It’s really a total body workout and can be very healing to the back,” she added. Other options include aerial silks, Lyra or pole fitness — all of which you can find at Elevate Vertical Fitness in Cedar Rapids. “We’re trying to give people a fun, different workout,” said Joyous Fisher, owner of Elevate. “You get a full body workout without even realizing it,” she added. “People say it’s the most sore they’ve ever been but the most fun they’ve ever had.”
It’s exactly what it sounds like: yoga on a surfboard. Iowa may be landlocked and a little too cold for surfing in the winter, but inside a warm yoga studio on a surfboard attached to a stable base, it’s possible even here.
Kelli Slocum, yoga instructor and owner of Downward Dog Yoga & Fitness in Coralville — where surfboard yoga is offered — told The Gazette in February that surfboard yoga has improved her practice because there’s “no cheating.”
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The surfboard tool is an extra challenge for any yogi, mimicking the instability of water and forcing them to engage all of their muscles to balance on the surfboard’s rocking surface.
Wine and yoga
Wine makes everything better, including yoga. You might be taking in calories as you burn them, but you have to start somewhere, right? Mindy Seiffert of Shores Event Center in Cedar Rapids said yoga helps people relax and feel more comfortable. “I think sometimes with group exercise people can be nervous or uncomfortable before they try it,” she said. “So I think it helps and makes it a little more laid back.”
Ultimately, the best thing you can do for your fitness and health is to make small choices that will last a lifetime. “Don’t overwhelm yourself right off the bat,” Jakobsen, the M.A.C.’s personal training director, said. “Find something fun and enjoyable and try it a few different times before giving up.”
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