Match goals to your personality, budget and schedule. Are your thighs the only things at work that haven’t been downsized? Do you think tai chi and Pilates are two new drinks at Starbucks? Is your definition of working out walking from your car to Krispy Kreme? Raise your hand (halfway) if you answered yes to any of these questions. Congratulations, this article is for you! Do you ever wish you were more fit? Do you wish you had more stamina and energy? Do you tell yourself you would work out consistently if you could find something you enjoyed, or are you just bored with your current approach? Well, DENVER WOMAN has taken some of the legwork out of your search for fitness. When reviewing your fitness options, start by getting clear on your personal style, your goals, your time constraints and your budget.
Personality: We tend to do best what we love most. Frame the language of fitness in a way that is appealing to you. For instance, if you are a person who hates structure, then don’t call it your fitness “routine.” Rather, call it your fitness expression or your dance of health. If you would rather play than work, then stop referring to your “workout,” and start integrating “playouts.” (Activities that feel like play and keep you fit.) Remember, as kids we didn’t plan for fitness; we just hopped on our bikes and rode, or skipped rope or chased the ice cream truck for blocks. Maybe as adults we should have a pizza truck, and if you ever wanted to taste pizza again, you’d have to stay fit enough to catch the truck.
Goals: Once you’ve checked in with your personal preferences, the next step is to get realistic about your fitness goals. Be realistic about which fitness activities you can actually imagine yourself doing. Not only doing, but enjoying. Enjoying your workout is key to consistency, and consistent activity is truly the key to fitness success. The secret here is to be specific and apply your goal to an activity rather than a number on a scale. For instance, Goal: “In six weeks I will be able to run two miles without stopping” instead of “In six weeks I’ll lose 20 pounds.” Focus on the activity, and the numbers will take care of themselves.
Time: How much time can you realistically commit to fitness everyday? Think about fitness as extending your lifespan. As you are exercising, think about expanding time instead of being distracted by all of the things you think you “should” be doing. Put your fitness appointments in your weekly calendar. Start small and be specific. For instance, maybe this week you decide you will walk around the park once and do 15 sit-ups. That’s it. You’ll do it three times this week, you’ll make an appointment with yourself, and you’ll do it. Then next week, maybe it’s two times around the park and 20 situps, etc. Once you start to experience the sense of well-being and optimism that comes with fitness, you will make it a priority in your life, and you will create the time.
Budget: Decide if you want to spend money on fitness. How much are you willing to invest in your health and well-being? Are you willing to spend as much as you spend on your nails or your spa treatments or your social activities each month? It’s your health, it’s your choice. With these four criteria in mind, let’s look at some of the fitness choices in the Denver area.
NATIONAL CLUB CHAINS: 24 Hour Fitness (www.24HourFitness.com) and Bally’s Total Fitness (www.ballyfitness.com)
Personality: These clubs are highenergy and crowded. Rows of televisions line the wall in front of the cardio area, so you can run five miles on the treadmill and never miss a play of the Bronco’s game. The atmosphere is very high-energy. The music is LOUD! If you are sensitive to noise, bring some earplugs. Many offer day care. There are a lot of locations throughout the Denver area. Check Web sites for your nearest location.
Goals: If you want to increase your cardiovascular strength, build muscle, take a step or spin class or even yoga, these clubs have it. You can pay extra for a personal trainer if you need personalized attention, or you can work out on your own. Don’t be intimidated by the hard bodies; there are also plenty of soft bodies walking around these clubs.
Time: They’re called 24 Hour Fitness — they’re open! These clubs are great for that Sunday 3 a.m. workout when other clubs are closed.
Budget: You can sign up month to month for around $49 per month or save a little money with a yearly contract. Reciprocal memberships, which permit use of all affiliated clubs nationally, are available.
WOMEN ONLY CLUBS:
Personality: Clubs like Curves For Women cater to women who want to work out in an atmosphere of “no mirrors, no makeup and no men.” These clubs are small, with about 20 machines arranged in a circuit. The atmosphere is friendly, active and fun. There is no locker room, just a small changing area. No day care. This format is great for someone who wants a highly structured workout on her schedule.
Goals: If you want to build bone and muscle strength and get a mild cardio workout in just 30 minutes, then this is the club for you. The key is to change your movement every 30 seconds. There is a recorded voice that prompts you to your next machine and keeps you moving.
Time: This is the fastest, most efficient workout out there. For moms on a schedule or women who want a low-pressure, quick workout, this is perfect. You get the benefits of a guided workout without having to show up for a specific class time. They are open Monday through Friday 6 a.m.-7 p.m. and Saturdays 6:30 a.m.- noon. Closed Sundays.
Budget: You can go month to month for around $39/month or yearly for about $29/month. Go to www.curvesinternational.com for a location nearest you.
Personality: These facilities cater to women and a few brave men. The focus here is on classes and not equipment. The atmosphere is very social, and each class is carefully choreographed to mix fitness and dance in a fun format. If you want to get in and out in an hour and don’t care about the amenities, this is a good choice.
Goals: You can achieve a good cardio workout during the classes as well as stretching and toning.
Budget: For more information on pricing and services, go to www.jazzercise. com.
PRIVATE HEALTH CLUBS:
I toured the Colorado Athletic Club (www.ColoradoAC.com) on Yale and Monaco as a sample of this format.
Personality: Very upscale, very clean, not loud, huge variety, incredible amenities, personalized service. If you like a little pampering with your workout, then this is the place for you. It’s a combination of athletic center, Pilates studio, country club and spa. Offerings range from cardio to tennis (indoor and outdoor) to racquetball, pools (indoor and outdoor), day care, restaurant, massage, Pilates studio, and social activities, including wine tastings. The only thing I didn’t see in this club was a shoeshine station.
Goals: Any fitness goal you have you can achieve here, whether you are training for a triathlon or just want to improve flexibility and sit in the steam room. When choosing a private club, get a full list of amenities. Each club varies.
Time: These clubs are not open 24 hours, but they are open 7 days a week, and the only day CAC closes is Christmas. So you can find a time that works. If you want a more structured workout, take a class; if you want to spend a half-day there, you can do that too!
Budget: All these amenities are gonna cost you. You are looking at a range from $115 to $171 per month for a single membership at CAC. This is an investment in your health. If it’s a format that appeals to you and you will use it, it’s a great investment.
I had the opportunity to interview the owners of two very impressive Pilates studios, Amy de Sa of Denver Pilates (www.pilatesdenverstudio.com) in DTC and Wendy Evans of The Pilates Institute in Littleton. (www.pilatesinstituteco.com). Here’s what I found out.
Personality: Extremely personalized. If you want a private coach to help you with your fitness goals and you like the idea of a customized workout, this is a good choice. Quiet, well-lit studios without the crowd of the big clubs.
Goals: Pilates, originally called Contrology, was invented by Joseph Pilates to help people strengthen their core muscles. Pilates achieves this in several ways. The focus is on form and resistance, and every move is deliberate and controlled whether on the mat or the machines. I like to think of it as yoga on steroids. You should supplement your Pilates workout with a cardio workout.
Time: This is the beauty of the personalized session — you get to schedule the time. Both these studios offer online scheduling.
Budget: Private sessions are available at around $65-$75 per session (less if you buy a package). Mat classes are around $15 per class.
Note: After finding out more about Pilates, I decided to sign up for a package of five private sessions. I always thought you had to be in really great shape BEFORE you could take Pilates, but you don’t. You just have to be willing to start from where you are and keep moving. Pilates is also great for rehabilitation and physical therapy. Both of the Pilates studios I interviewed accept insurance.
Your local recreation center is a lowcost, no-frills option for fitness.
Personality: Limited machines, fitness classes. Some offer aqua fitness and swim lessons or basketball/volleyball leagues. Very family-oriented, more of a gym atmosphere than a club.
Goals: If you are self-motivated to achieve your fitness goals and don’t need the frills, this is a good choice.
Time: Most rec centers have convenient hours.
Budget: Low cost in comparison to most other options. Annual fee or punch cards are used. Contact your local rec center for specific pricing options.
I hope you’ve found something in this list that will get you moving in the right direction. Getting fit and keeping fit is a challenge that takes commitment, perseverance and discipline, but it should also be fun. Find a fitness activity that you are passionate about. Mix it up — try belly dancing or ice skating or even bowling. Match your fitness choices to your personality, goals, time and budget, and you will be well on your way to living healthy, happy and fit!
By KARYN RUTH WHITE