Learn to Love Fitness

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Thousands of Oklahomans will make a New Year’s Resolution to get fit in 2017, but many of them will give up before reaching their goals. While it may seem difficult to stick with a fitness plan, there are ways to approach your workout differently and find the motivation to keep going until you reach your goals.

Get Help With a Plan

Gaye Campbell, 49, faced the same slowing metabolism as everyone else as she got older. She signed up for a gym membership to help her stay in shape, but she had trouble truly committing to a fitness plan.

“I would just go in, maybe get on the elliptical or the treadmill and maybe lift a couple of weights,” the Sapulpa resident says. “I thought I was doing something, at least, but the older you get, you kind of start packing on the pounds. They don’t come off. And I thought, ‘Maybe I need to switch something up.’”

Photo By Chris Humphrey Photographer.
Photo By Chris Humphrey Photographer.

Six months ago, she entered the Jumpstart program at St. John Siegfried Health Club, part of the St. John Health System. Jumpstart helps people by providing an evaluation of their current fitness program and ways to take it it to the next level. At the end of the program, participants receive a laminated workout card with suggested weekly exercise routines, which allowed Campbell to know what she would be doing every time she went to the health club.

Since then, Campbell went from visiting the gym off and on to working out three to four days a week.

“Just a little bit of a tweak to my workout routine made all the difference in the world, and I actually like going to the gym,” she says. “I go really early in the morning, so it used to be a struggle for me to get up. Once I had a schedule and a plan and knew what I was going to be doing when I got there, it was not so hard to get up and go.”

While many of the changes in her plans were just tweaks, she added to her routine by joining a spin class, where she says she has made several good friends. She also started using free weights, something she had avoided before because she had no training with them and found the possibilities daunting.

“It is overwhelming, and that’s why I never did anything like that,” she says. “I just thought, ‘I don’t even know what I’m doing.’ With a trainer, it was really helpful. You’re in front of a mirror, but they can see what you’re doing.”

Besides enjoying her gym trips now, Campbell says she’s already seeing results. She has lost about 15 pounds since beginning her modified workout routine. She admits to being a bit discouraged with a lack of immediate results, but adds that trainers can also help get past the initial frustration.

“Everyone’s impatient,” she says. “Right away, you drop maybe 3-4 pounds, which doesn’t take very long, but then you’re like, ‘Well, this week I didn’t lose anything.’ That’s another thing with a trainer – you have someone who just keeps preaching persistence and to stay with it. I did, and it was beneficial. I was really excited with the results.”

Find Something You Love

While Tulsa resident Aaron Waken participated in martial arts at an early age in his childhood, events in his life, such as moving from his hometown of Enid, led to a long term pause to his training.

In third grade Waken was diagnosed with absence seizures. He began to take seizure medication that affected his metabolism and caused him to develop a heavier frame. He dealt with bullying and harassment in middle school, largely because of the weight gain caused by his medication, and he adopted a more sedentary lifestyle, playing video games to cope with the stress. Over time, his weight increased to 265 pounds.

Photo by Marc Rains.
Photo by Marc Rains.

Six years ago, Waken decided to make some changes. He pursued his love for the martial arts again by taking classes with Carter Hargrave, a twotime World Martial Arts Hall of Fame instructor in Tulsa.

Waken also discovered parkour, a style of running that encourages looking for new ways to move through the environment.

Waken now weighs 185 pounds (“181 on a good week,” he says) and stays active through both martial arts and parkour.

“The discipline I have gained from practicing the martial arts has transferred not only into the way I train Parkour, but my daily lifestyle as a whole,” he says. “Together, American Combat Kempo and parkour have been the driving forces to my lifestyle change. Thanks to the awesome combination of these training methods  I have lost the weight, and because these arts, especially parkour, are so physically demanding, I have also gained a want and need to improve, causing me to drill and condition on my own time on a regular basis.”

Waken says he would get discouraged occasionally as he worked at losing weight, but he kept the mental image of what he wanted and remembered his goal of losing weight to keep him going.

“When it came to the question of, ‘Do I want to eat this candy bar as I sit on the couch and watch TV, or do I want to get my speed vault down?’ my love for the arts I practiced always outweighed my interest in instant satisfaction,” he says. “If I messed up on my diet or exercise on any given day, I’d try not to hold it against myself, and instead I told myself I would do better tomorrow.”

Not only has Waken managed to lose 80 pounds and change his lifestyle, he also plans on becoming a certified personal trainer and life coach. He works with students as a level 2 certified American Parkour instructor and is an assistant instructor as a Nidan (2nd degree black belt) at Hargrave’s school.

“The best advice I could give anyone trying to adopt a healthy lifestyle is this: Find something active you really enjoy doing and want to excel in rather than trying to stick to a boring workout routine you will likely fall out of,” he says.

Photo courtesy Greg Heiple.
Photo courtesy Greg Heiple.

Spend Time With Your Family

Greg Heiple, 52, was a competitive road rider on bicycle and played indoor soccer until he was 47, but he never expected to take up rock climbing.

“It was the wildest,” he says. “I drive home one day, and I notice that my son was hanging from the second story of our house. I knew that he’d been watching climbing videos on YouTube, and just out of raw fear I put him in the car, and I drove out to Climb Up [a climbing  gym in Norman]. I told him, ‘If you’re going to do this, let’s learn how to do it safely.’ And we fell in love with it.”

Later, Heiple’s other son started joining them, and a year after Heiple made his first drive to the climbing gym, Zach, 18, and Xander, 15, have become dedicated climbers – a change that Heiple never expected.

“They’re both in band, they’re straight-A students, they are great at killing little digital men, and they play their instruments extraordinarily well, but neither of them really wanted to do anything as far as organized sports go,” he says.

Besides introducing his sons into fitness and keeping him in shape as well, Heiple says the love the family has developed for rock climbing has created more opportunities for them to spend time together. Last summer, they traveled to Horseshoe Canyon in Jasper, Arkansas, and river climbed, where climbs start from the water and climb a wall, went up elevations more than 100 feet and bouldered, a form of climbing performed without ropes or harnesses.

While rock climbing may look intimidating at the beginning, Heiple is quick to point out that people of all ages can do it.

Photo courtesy Greg Heiple.
Photo courtesy Greg Heiple.

“Start in the gym, and it’s just like anything,” he says. “It’s kind of like bowling – you rent the equipment, you start easy, and you figure it out. I think a lot of people look at it and go, ‘I’m not that strong’ or ‘I could never do that,” but it’s more about balance and coordination and technique than it is about raw strength.”

Heiple says his wife and 9-year-old daughter have also started climbing. While neither has quite developed the same love for the sport as Heiple and his sons, it gives all of them a way to spend time together while staying active.

“This is something you do in the family, and it gets in your blood,” he says. “It’s the greatest bonding time in the world, and let’s face it, there is no texting or tweeting or Facebook when you’re belaying someone 100 feet up on a rock. You truly do get that bonding moment, and, not to sound too cheesy, but it’s as special a gift as any dad could have with his two sons.”


Trainer Tips

One of the best choices a person can make with a fitness routine? Change it up.

Adriane Lakin, a trainer at Saint Francis Health Zone, says changing up your fitness routine does more than keep you out of a mental rut. It also has physical benefits.

“Our bodies get so used to the activities that we do that you need to put your body through different ranges of motions, different intensity levels and different exercises,” she says. “Our muscles adapt pretty quickly, then they get kind of complacent. So we need to keep shocking them and doing as much as we can to shake them up a bit.”

New workouts such as high-intensity training (quick burst workouts with low recovery time) are gaining popularity, but those programs are even more beneficial when coupled with workouts such as a barre or yoga class, which exercise the body’s stabilizers instead of just the large muscles in the body.

Lakin says many people underestimate how difficult barre or Pilates may be, but the classes are gaining popularity – even with men.

“It only takes one time for them to try it out, and they realize how hard it is in some cases,” she says. “In barre and Pilates, you can see every part of your body start to shake and quiver. You may look at someone lying on the mat doing the smallest, tiniest movement, but it requires every bit of your body, and people don’t realize that. I think the more men try it out, the more they realize it is a workout.”

Health Zone offers small group personal training for people who feel like they’re getting into a rut in their workout routine. The program, called ZoneFit, pairs a trainer with a group of two to eight people and focuses on teaching a new kind of workout.

“I just did a session with six people in it,” Lakin says. “They had been members of the Health Zone for years and years, but had never used weights. I got to work six weeks with them, three times a week, and now they have a whole new workout they can come in and do.”

For people just starting a fitness routine, Lakin says it’s important to realize you may not see instant results and to not give up early. She tells people they have to give her two weeks of a class before they decide if they like it or hate it, and that people need to give themselves 3-4 months and realize it can be challenging.

Lakin is also passionate about the role of a trainer in keeping people motivated.

“I think for any new member, they have to realize it’s never instant gratification,” she says. “Your body is a very complex machine, and it’s going to take a while for your muscles to respond and tear down and regrow.

“I think a lot of that falls on us in the fitness industry. We really need to take the time to educate people and sit down and talk to them and set their goals with them and really help them understand their expectations and keep encouraging them.”

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