Shake up your fitness regimen to keep it fresh
Reported February 05, 2010
By Laurie Higgins
Everyone knows about the importance of exercise, but if you exercise regularly it’s easy to fall into a rut. Doing the same mindless routine day after day saps the joy out of a fitness program, so local gym owners are always looking for new ways to keep fitness fun.
At Cape Cod Fitness Center in Hyannis, the trainers were all certified in Zumba in April, and general manager Heather Crosby says that since then she’s seen a lot of new people who wouldn’t necessarily join a gym participate.
“Zumba is so much fun, and anybody can do it,” she says, adding that people from their late teens to their 60s have enjoyed the classes. “My mother is 60-something, and I’ve been trying to get her to exercise for a zillion years and she’s absolutely allergic to it. But once we added this, I finally got her to the gym to try it. She smiled the whole time and loved it because she loves to dance.”
Zumba is an energetic, hourlong aerobic workout that focuses on easy dance moves set to Latin music. It’s offered at many fitness centers around the Cape. Each song in the routines has three basic moves so it’s easy to learn. Every six weeks new songs are added to keep things lively.
“Picture an old-school Jane Fonda-type workout with a Latin flair,” Crosby says. “It’s like the old days when everybody got up there and did a routine. We kind of got away from that, but now it’s back and it’s a lot of fun.”
Crosby says Zumba burns a ton of calories and women in her classes have seen the loss of inches on their waists and hips as well as general weight loss. Even she has seen benefits from teaching the classes.
“I’m pretty fit, but I wound up tightening up my waist even more,” she says. “I teach different things, like boot camp and spinning, and they take a toll on your body. This is just a great way to burn calories and you don’t feel beat up afterward.”
Fun is the name of the game at the rock wall at Willy’s World Wellness & Conference Center in North Eastham. The 25-foot-tall rock wall is the only one on the Cape, and general manager Jodi Smith says that on a rainy summer day it is booked from the time the gym opens until it closes.
“It’s a great cardio workout,” she says. “It really gets your heart rate going, and it’s working your whole body.”
Not only does it strengthen your legs, arms and hands, it’s also good for your brain. Smith says figuring out how to maneuver the course makes rock climbing an absorbing form of fitness that also helps people gain better equilibrium, because with every move you are shifting your center of balance.
“It actually made me better at snowboarding,” certified belayer (rope holder) Erin Defeo says.
Rock-wall climbers wear a harness that is attached by a rope and then to a certified belayer, and Willy’s has courses that range from beginner to advanced, with climbers hanging upside-down like spiders. It is especially popular with kids, and the feeling of accomplishment when they make it to the top and ring the bell is an incredible confidence booster.
Parents can even become certified belayers themselves at Willy’s, making rock climbing a fun family activity.
“There’s a connection between the belayer and the climber because there has to be a certain level of trust in it,” Defeo says. “As a climber you’re putting your trust, your life in that person’s hands. Whether it’s a stranger or someone you know, it’s just going to build a relationship.”
You don’t need to be a member of the gym to use the rock wall. Off-season hours are 2 to 6 p.m. Fridays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, or you can call to make an appointment during the week.
At Balance Health & Fitness in North Falmouth, gym owner Greg Lanoue knows members love new fitness challenges, so he recently added two classes called Group Kick and Group Active to the lineup.
The “Group” fitness classes are created by the Body Training Systems (BTS) company, and Lanoue’s instructors were certified to teach Group Power two years ago.
Group Power is mostly for strength and body sculpting. It is an hourlong choreographed barbell program set to contemporary music that strengthens all the major muscle groups.
“Group Kick is a high-energy aerobics class,” Lanoue says. “It’s a full hour of aerobics with karate-based moves, Muay Thai (a Thai martial art) and boxing moves. It’s all set to current music, so all the punches and kicks are timed to music so it’s a lot of fun and high energy.”
While Group Kick is strenuous and might be something an exercise novice would need to work toward, Group Active is the perfect starting point.
Group Active is a class that incorporates three elements. The first 20 minutes are spent doing step aerobics for a cardio workout; the middle section is body sculpting with dumbbells; and the third portion works on balance and flexibility with Pilates or tai chi moves.
“The Group Active is a great class for all levels but particularly for beginners, because you’re not doing a full hour of one thing,” Lanoue says. “You’re only doing about 20 minutes of each. But the more experienced people can always get more by how many risers they have in their steps or how much weight they’re lifting so they can get a great workout, too. It really suits a whole expanse of people.”
The classes are all choreographed and set to music and every quarter, BTS launches a new program so it never gets stale.
For a different twist on fitness, how about trying out a pole?
Stacy Hamilton, owner of Core Motion Pole Fitness in Hyannis, says that even though a lot of women come to her classes for the fun of it, pole fitness is also a phenomenal workout, burning more than 400 calories an hour. When Hamilton started doing it she lost two inches off her waist almost immediately, with no changes to her diet at all.
“It incorporates a calisthenic workout, which is working off your own body weight, and then it’s aerobic because we do a lot of dance techniques, and once you learn different movements I teach transitions into the movements, which helps with sex appeal,” Hamilton says.
Pole Fitness offers a vertical dance class for all fitness levels. The class starts with a group warm-up, and then members of the class works on individual moves while Hamilton and her business partner Heather Thistle go around the studio offering one-on-one instruction.
“Anybody can do it,” Hamilton says. “When you use the pole you are basically distributing your own body weight, so anybody at any fitness level can climb a pole,” she says. Beginners use their leg strength to hold themselves up and as they progress and build up upper body strength they use their arms to put themselves in the different positions.
Each move is a “pole-gression” from the previous one, and once all the different moves are mastered, it is even possible to walk on the ceiling. The best thing about pole fitness is the creativity it allows women as they develop their own style.
“It’s kind of an unconventional means of getting in shape,” Hamilton acknowledges, “but I think as Americans, we are always looking for that next fun thing instead of running consecutively on a treadmill for a half hour. People want variety.”