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No more excuses! Grab a buddy and start exercising PDF Print E-mail
Written by Darci Tomky   
With all this cold weather lately, it’s easy to give in to the television and snack foods and say, “I’ll start following my New Year’s resolution to lose weight next month...or the month after...or...oh forget it!”

It is never too late to start exercising, and the winter months are a perfect time to take advantage of all the indoor exercise options Holyoke has to offer.

One of the best things to do to stay fit is walking—it’s easy and just about anyone can find time in their day to walk. When the temperature drops and walking outside isn’t an option, consider walking on the indoor track at Holyoke High School’s new gym.

The track is available from 6:30 a.m. through the rest of the school day as long as it isn’t in use by students.

Dedicated walkers Sharon Michael and her co-worker Judy McFadden have committed themselves to walking 32 laps just about every day. With around 12 1/2 laps equaling a mile, the two ladies walk approximately 2 1/2 miles each time they go.

But that’s not all! Michael and McFadden, who work at Phillips County Social Services on Denver Street, walk from work to the school and back, adding another mile to their daily exercise routine. Michael explained that since neither of them can go home for lunch, they choose to use their lunch hour for exercise.

Walking with a buddy really helps, said Michael, because she and McFadden can give each other encouragement to go when they don’t feel like it and they walk faster to match the pace of their partner. She said the only thing that would stop them from walking to the gym is icy roads, otherwise they simply bundle up and walk faster!

If walking isn’t appealing, consider swimming. Holyoke is very fortunate to have a pool available year ‘round.

The pool offers water aerobic classes Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:30-9:30 a.m. as well as high energy classes Tuesday and Thursday from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Lap swimming is scheduled for Monday-Thursday from 5-7 p.m. and Sundays from 4-5 p.m.

“Swimming is a great form of exercise,” said pool manager Karla Pargas. She added swimming is a low-impact exercise that isn’t as hard on the body as something like running or jogging. Everyone from children to adults participate in the pool’s programs, and even a 97-year-old woman utilizes this unique form of exercise.

As schedules become busier and busier, often times exercising is the first thing to get put on the back burner. Keeping this in mind, Holyoke’s Simply Fit is available to members 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A work out at the Simply Fit gym could include circuit training or time on stationary machines like a treadmill, bike or elliptical.

Simply Fit owner Kristie Pelle said one of the most important things is to get a schedule going, even if it has to be before work or after the kids are in bed. Start with three days a week and build from that, but make sure to keep the routine because it’s harder to get going again after quitting.

Additional exercise facilities in Holyoke include Melissa Memorial Hospital which offers Phase II and Phase III Cardiac Rehab at their new building.

Program coordinator Sara Ring explained Phase II is a medically monitored exercise program designed for those who have had a recent heart illness or surgery/procedure such as acute myocardial infraction, cardiac stent placement or heart valve replacement. The program mixes regular physical exercise with risk factor modification in order to help with recovery and strengthen the body.

Phase III is a supervised exercise program whereby individuals learn to self-manage their overall cardiovascular health. It is designed for those with known risk factors, for those with existing heart problems or for those simply wishing to improve their level of cardiovascular fitness.

Those involved in Phase III will first meet with a technician to discuss the program and health history. Trained technicians will supervise and monitor exercise including checking heart rate and blood pressure. If any problems are encountered, the technician will be there to assist.

Classes at the hospital’s cardiac rehabilitation facility are offered Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8 a.m., 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. and Monday and Wednesday at 2 p.m. Because of size limits, speak with a technician to determine available times. Contact Ring at 854-2241 x229.

Melissa Memorial Hospital’s Physical Therapy Clinic also offers a supervised but independent exercise program. The equipment is shared with Cardiac Rehab and includes stationary bikes, treadmills, rowing machines and an elliptical walker. Exercise balls and hand weights are also available.Instructions in a general program are offered. The fitness program is open Monday-Friday, but hours are limited. Call Physical Therapy at 854-2241 x240 for more information about cost and times.

Another alternative offered in Holyoke is a free community exercise program with Erica Brady. Classes are Tuesday and Friday from 11:10-11:50 a.m. at SunSet View. Classes consist of stretching, strengthening and balance activities. Questions can be directed to Brady at 854-2241 x264.

Additionally, Holyoke has a step aerobics class which meets a couple times a week at the Peerless. Instructor Michelle Vieselmeyer likes the class setting because it makes people be accountable to exercise on a regular basis. Here again, it’s helpful to exercise with friends because the same program would be boring if done alone.

Vieselmeyer, who has been an instructor for 10 years, said she likes the combination of the cardio and toning aspects of step aerobics.

“There are no excuses!” she said. Even though Holyoke is a small community and there isn’t an official rec center, there are still options for exercise,” Vieselemeyer pointed out. “You just gotta get out there and do it!”

Another program Vieselmeyer is involved with is the adult co-ed volleyball league. Teams compete against each other Monday and Tuesday evenings during the winter.

Even without an official volleyball or basketball team, there are still opportunities to get some time on the court. The gym at the Peerless is open for public use for a small fee. Simply stop by whenever the building is open for a movie showing.

Don’t forget exercise can take place in the home as well. Consider investing in home equipment like an exercise bike or even a Wii Fit system. Kathy Schneller said she has a number of different exercise machines, but walking either outside or on the treadmill is still her favorite.

Schneller said in the past she would invite her friends over regularly to exercise together in her basement. (Is there a common theme here with exercising with a buddy?)

It takes six weeks to get in the habit of doing something, said Schneller. “So do whatever you can!” It will pay off in the long run—whether it’s running 10 miles or walking for 10 minutes—what counts is the effort made to do it on a regular basis.

Vieselmeyer suggested working out 20 minutes every day or 30-40 minutes at least three times a week. Consult your doctor about a plan that will fit your needs.

Besides trimming weight, exercisers, like Michael, say regular physical activity improves health as a whole and gives the body more energy.

Of course, always combine an exercise program with a healthy, balanced diet. When exercising, appetite will increase, so eat wisely, said Vieselmeyer.

With all these options for exercising, there is no excuse for breaking that New Year’s resolution. Celebrate Family Fit Lifestyle Month and Healthy Weight Week by getting out and getting fit!