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A Class of Your Own

Meet Ed, age 66. He is our Life Begins at 50 Person of The Month, for September 2018! Ed is a Personal Trainer, a husband, father and grandfather. Obviously he is in excellent shape, and this is attributed to the fact that he has always been into fitness and sports. His philosophy is take advantage of simple opportunities and make them special. Ed trains people in various conditions of fitness, from the extremely de-conditioned, to athletes who want to increase power to take their game to the next level. So I asked this seasoned veteran trainer, where does a person start, if they are just beginning their journey into fitness? You might be surprised at his answer.

Marital Status: Married

Occupation: Certified Personal Trainer

How many days a week she

works out: 6

Favorite types of exercise:

Weight lifting, aerobics, calisthenics/body weight, and Running.

"Where do I begin?"

It's the afternoon of May 15th 2018, and I'm working with a client at the JCC Rockland Gym, when I spot fellow personal trainer Ed Gonera. He's not training a client right now, but instead, he's working out. This is not the usual "sneak in a quick one between clients" type of workout that most of us trainers often do. You see, this day was Ed's 66th birthday, and he's doing something he's done on many birthdays in the past, which is a specially themed workout. For this special workout he does 66 repetitions of each strength exercise, and cap it off with 66 minutes of cardio. It is a rigorous testament to the great shape that this man, who is over the age of retirement, is in. One could speculate that he has probably been a fitness buff all of his life, and one would be right!

I asked my fellow trainer who not only has been training longer than I have, but is also 14 years my senior, a question that I imagine many of my readers have. Because there are many folks who either have never engaged in a regular routine of exercise, I often get the question "where does someone who hasn't been exercising all of their life and may be extremely out of shape begin?" Without missing a beat, he responds, "well hopefully they would [first] link up with a professional who knows what they're doing". As a personal trainer, I had to snicker a little when he began his answer with that statement, because we are always "selling" folks on the value of what we do. He went on to suggest that someone in this particular position, begin with simple body weight exercises such as push ups, sit ups, etc. He goes on to say, "another thing is eating healthier...that's 85% of getting into shape, and the other 15% is what you do in the gym".

In a Class of your own

From Orange Theory to Soul Cycle, Zumba to Pilates, there are multitudes of fitness classes. As gimicky as they can seem, they all have the potential to achieve positive results, but all of them are not necessarily right for everyone. As Ed mentioned, body weight exercises are the best place to start when first starting to get into shape. Unfortunately, the majority of people will get bored with simply doing calisthenics, and even when they begin incorporating weights into the workout, they might crave something fun to break the monotony. Fitness classes, CrossFit, indoor cycling, and the like, can be exciting additions to your fitness regimen. However, choosing the one that isn't right for the stage that you're in could do more harm than good.

Ed leads a H.I.I.T (High Intensity Interval Training) class at JCC Rockland. It is part of a program called Fitness 450. It uses much of the same concepts, and modalities as Orange Theory Fitness. High Intensity Interval Training is a form of interval training, a cardiovascular exercise strategy alternating short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods, until too exhausted to continue. They are designed to increase the metabolism and burn fat. These workouts are effective in that your body may continue to burn fat for as long as two hours after the workout, in some cases. This is referred to as E.P.O.C. (Excess Post Oxygen Consumption). They don't call these workouts "high intensity" for nothing, and in Ed's class, he expects "all out effort". In other words, you keep going until you can't go anymore. "It's my job [when doing 450 classes] to push you outside of your comfort zone, and I don't feel bad for pushing hard. If it's not for you, it's not for you." Ed says. He's definitely correct, while classes can be great, you have to pick the right one(s) for your level at the time. CrossFit or H.I.I.T. classes, for the most part, are for those who have been on their fitness regiment a while and are ready to take it to the next level. However, things like Zumba, and certain Yoga classes can be suitable no matter what level of fitness you're in.

Summing it all up...You really need to figure out what your goal is. Do you want to lose weight? Get stronger, or become more flexible? Do your research, and/or get a professional to come up with a customized training plan that is right for you. When you are ready to add classes, it may seem like a fun challenge, but you should also be certain that it supports the plan. As Ed puts it, "There's a lot of classes and everyday there's a new piece of equipment out there, you really need to start with the basics, controlling your own body weight, and moving efficiently through all three planes of motion...everything else can wait."

Do you take exercise classes? Which ones? And how do you feel they fit in with your fitness goals? Share your experience in the comments!

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