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Health

Getting healthy is a popular New Year's resolution, fitness instructors have advice on how to stick with it

Some of the most popular new year's resolutions are ones about getting in shape —whether that is eating healthier or joining a gym. Not everyone will stick with it, but fitness instructors say creating a longterm goal and being part of a community are ways to help people get fit.

"I think (January is) always a good time to reset your goals for the year," said fitness instructor Andra Valencia. "Maybe we ate too much from the holidays and want to get rid of the winter fun we’ve had and get started on a fresh new page."

Valencia leads a class at San Diego Oasis called cardio drumming. It involves drumsticks and large inflated exercise balls, while dancing to music.

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"We’re using the whole body and we’re engaging all the muscles in the body — so it’s a great full body workout," Valencia said.

Earlier this month Valencia was promoting her class at Oasis' "Fitness Palooza" — where seniors looking to get in shape tried a variety of exercise classes including soul line dancing and zumba gold. Valencia said when it comes to new year's resolutions to get fit, choose something that is going to be fun.

"If it feels like it’s a chore and if it feels like you’re really struggling to get out and do something — just pick something to keep you moving," she said.

Lisa Garvey from Santee came to check out the different classes. She was there on a new year's resolution to get in shape.

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"My husband passed away last year and I had been a caregiver for many years and I thought, 'I have to take care of myself now,'" Garvey said.

Garvey said she has tried gyms in the past, but they were not for her.

"It wasn’t an environment that was much fun for me," she said. "I kind of like the camaraderie of the class, people are very supportive here and I kind of like that."

It is that sense of community that fitness instructor and personal trainer Russell Rowe said is key for longterm results. He also said it should not feel like a chore.

"If you can make it enjoyable — like bring music with you, talk to friends, go on a nice hike where the scenery is beautiful," Rowe said. "And do something that doesn’t require you to drive too far — like convenience is a huge thing too — it’s something that allows people to stick with their exercise."

Rowe said this time of year is especially busy for his personal training business.

"Because of new years resolutions of course," he said. "People eat a little bit too much over Christmas — don't exercise as much — they’re more socializing, having fun and then they’re like, 'Oh I gained a few pounds so it’s time to get back in shape.'"

Rowe says pairing a New Year's resolution to get fit with a long-term goal helps people stay motivated. He also said people should not expect results overnight.

"As a personal trainer you try to not get people to focus on the weight so much as the behavioral changes that will bring the weight off gradually, naturally — so you’re looking more at lifestyle changes," he said. "As opposed to trying doing some quick-fix thing cause then mentally it discourages you if you get on the scale and the scale isn't moving yet."

The new year is also when local gyms see a lot of new members.

"January is definitely the busiest time of the year for us — we typically start the year with an incentive or a promotion to make it even easier to come," said Teri Maass, senior director of the Y experience at the YCMA of San Diego County.

The YMCA does much more than fitness, but their 14 locations across the county all have gyms and pools. Less than two weeks into the new year, they have had 2,600 new members sign up.

"I just think it’s just the year of hope," Maass said. "People are hopeful for new things this year in 2023 — maybe habits they haven’t had a chance to get to in the last couple of years."

Maass said over the next nine months they expect about half of new members to drop off. They ran a promotion in January for new members and are holding a challenge next month to help people stick with their fitness goals. At the Y, it is also about creating that sense of community.

"We want to build a relationship with you so you want to stay," Maass said. "We want to help you find a connection with your group exercise instructor, your swim instructor, other people in the class — so the reason you stay isn’t because you have to, but because you want to."

Fitness instructors maintain people do not need to be part of a class or gym to start get fit, changing diet habits and taking small steps like going on a regular walk or hike can also help.