2009-09-03 / News

Island offers plenty of ways to get into shape

Get fit! Now is the time to shed weight
By Dara Chadwick

Jamestown Fitness offers cardio machines – and more – to help islanders stay in shape. Photo by Jeff McDonough Jamestown Fitness offers cardio machines – and more – to help islanders stay in shape. Photo by Jeff McDonough Head out for a walk or run just about anywhere in Jamestown and chances are you’ll soon discover that you’re not alone.

Jamestown is a fitness-minded community and it shows in the streets. But if pounding the pavement isn’t an appealing exercise choice for you, there are plenty of other options for getting fit right on the island.

At Jamestown Fitness on Southwest Avenue, exercisers of all ability levels will find plenty of help with kicking off a new fitness program or taking their workout to the next level. The facility includes cardio equipment, circuit and strength training machines, along with a variety of equipment such as medicine balls, body bars, stability balls, bands and more.

According to owner Barbara Lundy, Jamestown Fitness also offers personal training services from four island trainers: Dennis Silva, Andrea Brayman, Bill House and Will Fish.

“Trainers are a great help,” Lundy said. “They can encourage and motivate you. I know for me, when somebody’s there and I’m accountable, I’ll work out harder.”

Another great motivator is group exercise, which Jamestown Fitness offers in the form of classes such as pilates, kickboxing, sports conditioning, circuit based strength and cardio, and Zumba – a Latin-inspired dance exercise class.

“I love my Zumba class,” said islander Beverly Rudman. “I’m not a morning person, but I get up on Saturday mornings to go to Zumba. It’s fun and it’s not boring. The moves are basic and it’s easy to follow. I like the music and I like the change in the routine.”

Find your motivation

Staying motivated is an important component of successfully adding fitness into your life, according to Jason Vieira, who owns Balance Sport and Fitness with his cousin, Patrick Vieira. Their facility, located in an old rope factory behind the Jamestown library, offers personal training services, as well as “boot camp” classes that focus on circuit training and metabolic training.

“We do jumping jacks, sprints and jogging, but we also incorporate games,” he said. “We play tag games and follow the leader. Six a.m. is a tough hour to be working out so we try to lighten it up as much as we can.”

Just as Jamestown Fitness does, Balance Sport and Fitness offers classes at a variety of times – all designed to make it easy for exercisers to find a time that works for them.

That’s important, said Lizanne Barnaba, manager of Curves in Newport, adding that her facility has quite a few Jamestown members.

“You have to find something you enjoy and something that fits into your schedule,” she said. “Our half-hour workouts are designed to be done three times a week. Lots of women pay lots of money for gyms that they never go to.”

When it comes to starting a fitness program, experts agreed on the number-one step that all new exercisers should take: Start with small changes.

“Get out and walk,” Lundy said. “It’s a good way to start, it’s easy and it’s cheap.”

Vieira agreed, adding, “I get people who want to come in and turn their life upside down.”

That doesn’t work, he said.

“You have to create a support system,” he said. “Have a plan when you start and create a way to monitor your progress.”

Group exercise classes offer built-in support for regular attendees. The Jamestown Parks and Recreation Department runs several classes at the Jamestown Golf Course, including pilates classes taught by Mary Beth Murphy, tai chi classes taught by Shahin Barzin and yoga classes taught by Kim Chandler and other instructors from Chandler’s Innerlight Yoga studio in Middletown.

Classes are a great way to stay motivated to exercise, Murphy said.

“I love the collective energy of a group,” she said. “It pushes you along.”

Murphy said she has everyone from teenagers to women in their ’80s in her pilates classes, which focus on strengthening the body’s core muscles through a variety of strengthening and stretching exercises.

“It’s important not to judge yourself based on who else is in the class,” she said. “Make it personal and make it your own.”

‘You just feel better’

The mind-body connection is an important component of tai chi, said Shahin Barzin.

“It’s a form of meditation,” he said. “To the viewer, it appears pretty simple, but when you’re doing it, it’s hard work. Tai chi is the grandfather of all martial arts.”

New exercisers sometimes make a surprising discovery when they begin a yoga program, Chandler said.

“There’s an overall sense of well-being that happens right away,” she said. “Many people feel increased energy, more focus and concentration, and more relaxed.”

Chandler and other instructors from her studio teach gentle yoga, which is perfect for beginners, she said. Other yoga classes taught in Jamestown include mellow vinyasa yoga, which is a continuously moving, moderately paced class, and open yoga, which is generally designed for people who have had some yoga experience.

Bruce Keiser, Jamestown’s town administrator, said his yoga practice has transformed his body – and his view of exercise.

“I’ve been a runner and a bicyclist,” he said, adding that he practices hatha yoga, which includes lots of movement and has a cardiovascular element. “Yoga is a great form of exercise. It works every single part of your body. And you certainly just feel a whole lot better day in and day out,” he said.

A listing of the town recreation department’s fall yoga and pilates classes will be in next week’s Press.

Just getting started?

If you’re kicking off a new fitness program, keep these expert tips in mind:

• See your doctor before starting any exercise program.

• Pace yourself. Start slowly, and build up to longer, more strenuous exercise sessions.

• Focus on small changes. Add steps into your day by parking further away, using the stairs or taking the dog for an extra walk.

• Find a buddy. Keep yourself accountable by working out with a partner.

• Change it up. Don’t let your routine become too routine. Schedule a session with a personal trainer for new ideas, or try a completely new type of exercise.

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