Keeping those exercise resolutions
Published: Monday, January 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, December 31, 2006 at 12:40 a.m.
HOW TO STICK WITH IT
Sheila Gardner offers the following tips for beginners to keep exercising.
The challenge for the club is to find ways to retain those customers, according to Sheila Gardner, group fitness director.
There is a big focus on making the club feel welcome and comfortable, a place to meet friends, grab an apple and hang out - the "Cheers" of fitness, Gardner said, though she finds the reference is becoming outdated.
She said they emphasize that exercise is fun so people say to themselves, "'I'm going to go work out. I'll feel great. See my buddy,' as opposed to, 'Crap, I've got to go exercise. What a drag.'"
Gardner never had a problem sticking with exercise once she started. She noticed immediate rewards, especially in her self-esteem, but also stress reduction, higher energy levels, "not to mention the physical changes. Your body just starts looking better."
"Once you start seeing rewards, drop a few pounds, it's harder to drop out."
Gardner started working out at home, doing Yoga she learned from books and videos when it was the "hip" thing to do. She then got into the aerobic dance phase popularized by Jane Fonda, complete with the leg warmers. Not long after she started doing aerobics, she started teaching it at health clubs, beginning with Glorious Steven's Figure Salons in Chattanooga, Tenn.
The burgeoning field was not at first regulated. Gardner speaks incredulously about the dangers - wearing ballet slippers for high-impact workouts - and the lack of concern for safety and health.
"Anybody was going up and saying 'I'm an aerobics instructor' and people were getting hurt. Jane Fonda, she had absolutely no fitness credentials at all. Here she is standing there giving people nutritional advice, exercise advice. We all were doing that.
"Nobody cared about their health. They just wanted to be thin. And weighing was a big deal. Thank God we got out of that. You'd get on the scales every day. 'Oh God, I gained a pound.' Health is the focus now."
But the industry soon became certified and Gardner was a charter member of the IDEA Health & Fitness Association and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America.
She kept teaching and became an assistant fitness director at different clubs.
Her degree was in theater from Foothill College in her hometown, Los Altos Hills, Calif. She said her background in entertainment comes in handy to keep people in group classes entertained so they keep coming back.
But she realized that to get ahead in the field, she would need a different degree, so she earned a bachelor of science in health science education from the University of Florida.
Gardner has been at Gainesville Health and Fitness for 13 years. She is responsible for the group fitness department of 200 classes a week and 70 instructors.
Class offerings include yoga, T'ai Chi, pilates, step, cycle, aquatics, strength, abdomen, ab and glut, kickboxing, dance and hip-hop and circuits.
She also keeps up with trends. A few years ago, the new thing was kickboxing, then cycle classes. The latest trends include pilates - which strengthens the core muscles of the torso, improves posture and is good for back issues - and fusion, a new word for cross-training. She said the club will soon offer Bodyflow, described as controlled breathing, concentration and a series of stretches, moves and poses to music.
Anthony Clark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 374-5094.
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