February is where most New Year’s resolutions go to die. Gym membership starts to dwindle, and exercise equipment sits fallow in a corner. I know this because I was an aerobics instructor for 27 years.
Every January, no matter the decade, the swarm of fitness seekers entering my classes with New Year’s resolutions inspired me to give advice. I’d encourage new members not to feel self-conscious because most people were too busy watching their own form in the mirror.
I would also share my personal daily slogans. Having a goal for each weekday helped me hit the reset button, so I invited my students to adapt these seven daily slogans as needed:
▪ Moderate Monday
▪ Take Charge Tuesday
▪ Go Wild Wednesday
▪ Think About it Thursday
▪ Flattery Friday
▪ Stay Strong Saturday (Thank you, Lance Armstrong.)
▪ Sugar-free Sunday
The daily slogan technique wasn’t a perfect solution. There were days when I said to myself, “The only thing I’m taking charge of is this candy bar!” or “I’m thinking about this cookie as I eat it.” But on most days, the slogans helped.
By the time Wednesday came around, I was not as prone to go wild with sugary foods and I might say to myself, “Go wild with vegetables! Go wild with Brussels sprouts!” Well, maybe not so wild with the Brussels sprouts.
In spite of my advice and efforts to provide a safe, accessible class format, by Valentine’s Day my class would have dwindled down to mostly veteran gym enthusiasts.
It’s disheartening when the newbies aren’t able to keep their resolutions alive. Was there more I could have done? Did they injure themselves by going at fitness too fast and furious?
I’ll never know. They weren’t around to ask.
I retired my aerobics instructor shoes two years ago at age 53 when I moved to Lakewood from West Seattle. Since then, returning to the gym regularly has been challenging. I no longer have the incentive of being in front of a bunch of fit people, who are, let’s face it, judging my level of fitness.
Without a doubt, I love to work out, so I joined a gym a year ago, but instead of pedaling an exercise bike, I mostly peddled excuses:
My (fill in the blank) hurts. I don’t have enough time. I washed my hair this morning and don’t want to wash it again this evening. It’s too far to drive. I’m hungry. I found a dead cockroach on the countertop in the locker room and now I am grossed out.
The excuses were infinite, so after a year of making payments, I canceled the gym membership I had scarcely used. For a month I did yoga, extra sit-ups and push-ups, squats, couch and car aerobics (contracting muscles during commercials or red lights) and faster walks with my dog.
Two months ago, I joined a different gym just 2 1/2 minutes from my house and resolved to work out for 30 minutes of cardio two to three times per week.
I didn’t want to overdo it, which might result in an injury that would sideline me. I removed the biggest obstacle of trying to combine gym visits with other errands so as not to waste time and gas driving. Also, the gym’s atmosphere was unhurried and inviting.
This is what I needed, and it’s working so far.
I guess you could say I put a little “Moderate Monday” into each day.
Heidi Fedore of Lakewood is a middle school principal in Gig Harbor. She is one of six reader columnists who write for this page. Reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.