General Manager Lynn Olexy and manager Andrew Bespolka preside over a wide range of exercise machines at Gold’s Gym in Westminster.
Written By Scott Braden
Feeling depressed and lethargic?
You are not alone.
The problem is seasonal: short days, long nights. The temperature is dropping and the sky gets dark earlier.
In fact, most people, according to John M. Grohol, writing for PychCentral.com, are not aware that the body’s physical and mental health are interconnected.
“One affects the other,” according to Grohol.
So what can you do to stay mentally and physically fit during the dreary winter months? If the weather cooperates, you might go outside and fight mental and physical distress by skiing, snowshoeing, or snowtubing
For indoor activity, the most obvious place to turn to is the Y. According to Tina Antkowiak, fitness director of Y of Central Maryland’s Hill Family Center Y in Westminster, one can join the Y for $51 a month on a month-to-month membership. And Antkowiak says there is no contract involved.
The Y offers programs like tai chi, yoga, and Pilates. Members can use the fitness center equipment and can take group exercise classes. The Y has “body pump” classes, which are barbell-stretch conditioning programs. The Y also has athletic core classes, as well as cardiovascular and cycling classes, to get its members’ blood flowing.
According to Lynn Olexy, general manager of Gold’s Gym in Westminster, the combination of diet and exercise is very important, “especially around the holidays, when alcohol consumption is higher and you tend to hang around appetizer tables more. Diet as well as exercise plays a key part in maintaining your weight. Plus, let’s face it, most people don’t like to go outside and exercise in the cold.”
Gold’s Gym offers a variety of programs for individuals hoping to get healthy.
“We have different types of memberships here,” explained Olexy. “We find that a lot of people do not want to commit to a contract. So, we have a basic membership that does not have a contract with it — it is month to month. We also have our Gold membership, which is one that includes all of our classes, tanning and kids club.
“We run about 50 group exercise classes a week in our gym studio. We also run about 20 classes a week in the Center Street Yoga studio. Our classes include BodyPump, BodyCombat, BodyStep, BodyFlow (tai chi/Pilates/yoga blend), CX WORX (30-minute Core workout), Interval Training, Small Group Training, and RPM Cycle. I recommend you team up with someone to meet for a walk or work out at the gym. If someone is waiting for you, you are more likely to show up.”
The Y’s Antkowiak believes that everyone should join a gym. But if they cannot afford it, there are activities at home that work.
“If people don’t have any equipment, and they have steps, they can walk up and down the steps,” says Antkowiak. “They can use their own body resistance — they can do push-ups, squats, and can run or march in place.
“People can also use exercise DVDs. The DVD they should use depends on their fitness level. If they have never worked out, they can use a beginner’s level.
“If they have worked out and want an extra challenge, I suggest a more advanced level. I definitely recommend a well-balanced routine. What I mean by that is a cardiovascular activity, strength-training, and stretching; yoga for stretching, weight training for strength and resistance and cardiovascular training through kickboxing.”
Los Angeles-based writer and fitness enthusiast Alana Michelle Brager also recommends investing in fitness DVDs. In her article for Active.com, “How to Stay Fit During Winter,” Brager writes: “An exercise DVD makes it easier to exercise at any time, any season. Research some DVDs online and find the type of exercise you would like to do at home.
“If you have limited space, try a yoga or Pilates DVD because it involves a lot of mat work, which is great for apartment living. If you have more space, try a Zumba fitness DVD, or even a full-body workout that incorporates strength training and plyometrics. Find the type of workout that works for you, in the space that you have available. Many libraries carry exercise DVDs that you can borrow, so call your local library and see what they have available.”
Golds Gym’s Olexy also recommends walking with a companion. “Having a buddy makes a big difference,” said Olexy. “It could be your spouse or even your kids. Whether it is walking or taking your dog for a walk; whatever it takes, just get out and move.”
Children also need to exercise over the winter. When they are not throwing snowballs at each other, they can participate in programs offered at the Y. These include Adventure Challenge (ages 6 to 12), which is free to members and features structured play using obstacle courses, ropes, tunnels, and scooters; kids’ yoga (ages 5 to 9 years old); swimming programs (all levels and ages); fit kids (ages 6 to 10 years old); and teen strength training (ages 11 to 15 years old).
There are also sports programs like football and soccer leagues, as well as soccer skills (ages 6 to 10 years old), Pee Wee Passers (ages 3 to 5 years old), Kinder Kicks (ages 3 to 5 years old), and basketball skills (ages 6 to 10 years old).
Even the tots get a chance to romp around with Toddler Playtime (ages 3 months to 3 years), Fit n’ Fun (ages 3 to 5 years old), Miniastics/Tumbling (ages 3 to 5 years old), and Music and Movement (ages 3 to 5 years old).
Business and salespeople have their own problems. Because December marks the beginning of winter — and the very heart of the holiday season — busy salespeople might not have time to go to a gym, much less exercise at home.
One alternative is offered by ShapeUp — a Providence, R.I.-corporate wellness company focused on promoting healthy living. The company has released its “Fit & Festive” program, a team competition that teaches participants how to balance their seasonal obligations with fitness-related behaviors. The program is a suite of online wellness challenges including “Ready, Set, Go,” a walking and fitness challenge, and “Flex Your Food,” a nutrition challenge focusing on incremental dietary improvement, and many more.
Tom Beverly, proprietor of Showcase 51 in the Westminster Antique Mall and owner of A2Z Toys in Hanover, Pa., believes that lifting boxes full of merchandise and stocking the store helps him stay in shape during the winter holiday months.
A2Z Toys’ Catherine DeMario keeps a dumbbell under the store’s front counter. That way, she can exercise while waiting for the next customer.
According to Antkowiak, retailers could also do heel raises behind the desk, knee lifts, and they can draw their belly buttons in toward their spines about 10 to 15 times, 3 to 4 times a day. They can also walk around the store, do wall push-ups when the store is not too crowded, and step side-to-side behind the counter or do ham curls to help with circulation and stretch tired muscles from standing all day. Shoulder rolls and pelvic tilts are good for releasing lower back tension, and improving posture.
“For retailers,” said Olexy, “I go back to the group concept, because everybody has good intentions, but if they have someone pushing them, they accomplish it. It’s as easy as sharing healthy snacks and lunch foods or starting a recipe swap. So even at work, one can take time to stretch, walk around the office, climb stairs or start a group exercise class on-site.”