By Jim Krencik
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — At 10 a.m. on New Year’s Day, as hangovers raged across the nation and most activity was confined to parade-and-football watching, a small group of exercisers kicked off a bootcamp-style fitness campaign at The Whole Approach in Holley.
“We had 12 people running cardio circuits in two big studios,” said certified personal trainer Karen Blank, who directed one group while Rosie Patronski led the other. “It was a high-intensity workout, people were really sweating — the holidays caught up to them.”
Fitness and wellness centers across Western New York are bracing for a rush of activity, as locals put their new year’s resolutions into action.
At the Orleans YMCA in Medina, a combination of nightly leagues, available space and the Y’s much-brighter and drier facility (following phase I of a capital improvement project) is leading to increasing membership, but the surest cause of the jump is the turning of the calendar.
“This is one of our big times of the year for sure,” said YMCA Executive Director Jeff Winters, who noted getting more people on a healthy track is one of the Y’s main goals. “Our focus is youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.”
Blank, who has run the Public Square studio for nine years, said that the influx of new year resolutioneers is usually delayed by a few weeks, but by mid-January “it explodes” as new faces join those getting back into routines.
“We will see more people coming in for the next month and a half,” said Blank, whose studio offers spinning, pilates, yoga, body conditioning and zumba classes as well as small group personal training. “We’re seeing a lot of our regulars that fell off during the holidays.”
There many ways that the new exercisers are being enticed, even beyond reduced fees (the Y is waiving it’s membership fee, as are many local fitness studios). Winters said that the incentives provided by Medicare and many private insurers are driving participation.
“We’re seeing more adults and senior citizens using our wellness center,” Winters said. “There are significant insurance benefits, it really helps out.”
There are also the inherent health benefits.
“If you do something for three weeks straight, whether it’s exercise, diet or even taking care of your diabetes, it’s much more likely to be a significant behavioral change,” said Cindy Perry, the Director of Health Education, Wellness and Outreach at Orleans Community Health Community Partners, which has support groups, classes and referral services. “That’s the hardest part, starting the change.”
There were only small groups of exercisers at the Y Wednesday afternoon — a crowd of more than 200 was expected that night — with Rick Culver among those taking advantage of the quieter hours. Culver, who has worked out at the Y’s facilities a few times each week for 20 years, said he’s seen many faces come in and out of the workout rooms.
“It’s always good to see people, you want to welcome them,” Culver said. “I always try to encourage people, most are timid when they first come in.”
YMCA Membership Director Jessica Leno said the Y is holding open houses for the timid to try out their services as part of a wellness orientation that introduces new members to the machines and workouts schedules.
“Come in ready to try a class or play racquetball; see what we have to offer,” Leno said.
While the grunt-and-grin workouts are aplenty, Blank said that adding nutritional components to her offerings has added, for lack of a better term, to the whole approach needed to reaching new year’s goals.
”It was the real missing link, there were people who would work out and work out but not see changes,” Blank said.
In other words — accomplishing that new year’s resolution isn’t a once-a-week task.Contact reporter Jim Krencik at 585-798-1400, ext. 6327.