Getting fit is a popular New Year’s resolution — usually because it’s one that a person makes repeatedly.
To help Wichitans make getting fit a habit and not a recurring resolution, two area health club systems have introduced incentive programs to reward people for their physical activity.
“We’re encouraging people who make that resolution to keep that resolution,” said Preston Petersen, corporate personal training trainer with Genesis Health Clubs, which is starting a program called 16 in 60 that will reward people who complete 16 workouts in 60 days. “Plus, we’re trying to help people make that fitness resolution for the last time.”
Studies have shown that it usually takes 60 days to turn a certain behavior into a habit, said Angie Kendell, Genesis’ corporate group fitness director. That’s why the program will encourage twice-a-week workouts for 60 days and then reward participants with prizes such as a free group personal training session.
The Lifechanging Challenge incentive program, offered since November by the Greater YMCA, is a yearlong program that incorporates fitness, goal-setting and nutrition. The program also has an online component, called MobileFit, for logging activities — including exercising on your own — and providing nutrition information.
Participants, who pay $20 to join the program, earn points for doing activities and are rewarded for reaching certain point levels with incentives, including a blood lipid profile and personal training sessions.
“The more points you earn, the more bonuses you get,” said Jennifer Keen, the Y’s metro corporate service director. The program also includes three one-hour sessions with a trainer.
The Y also is rolling out a new program for those diagnosed with prediabetic conditions to help prevent diabetes, a growing health concern in America, said Shelly Conrady, communications director for the Greater YMCA.
Behavior modification programs like the ones being offered by the YMCA and Genesis are among the top fitness trends for 2012, according to the American Council on Exercise.
Other top trends identified by ACE and the American Council of Sports Medicine include specialized youth classes and group personal training sessions, both of which will get greater emphasis at the Y and Genesis, respectively.
The Y also is starting new programs that address both the special physical fitness needs and emotional support of cancer treatment patients and survivors and adaptive classes for those with limited physical functions because of certain health conditions.
According to the American Diabetes Association, about 79 million American adults are prediabetic. Often, increasing exercise and learning to eat healthier will help prevent someone from getting the more serious diabetic condition.
Through the yearlong Diabetes Prevention Program at the Y, 11 specially trained lifestyle coaches will offer classes that cover ways to eat, ways to get moving, balancing calories and staying committed and motivated to prevent diabetes.
The Y will pilot the program, with special funding from the Kansas Health Foundation. It plans to have about a dozen participants in January, start a second pilot group in February and then start offering it community-wide in March, Keen said.
“This program can be offered anywhere and everywhere — churches, schools — since it’s based on group coaching,” Keen said. “It will help participants get control of their life and get back on track, maybe lose some weight and get moving.”
Fun with fusion
Within its recent expansion at the Northwest YMCA, the Y opened a new 1,200-square-foot Youth Wellness Center, with the goal of getting kids moving and helping address another growing concern — childhood obesity.
The new 25-minute classes offered through the center focus on kids ages 8-13 and often are game- or play-based games, said Kelli Parson, the Northwest Y youth and family coordinator.
During a recent cardio fusion class, about 20 kids — off from school during the holiday break — played a game of Ships and Sailors, running across the room to avoid a shark attack.
The center soon will offer family fusion classes so that parents and kids can have fun together — “and establish a healthy habit together,” said Conrady — with scooters, badminton and floor hockey games in the new workout space. A special girls-only class also will be offered.
Later in the year, nutrition classes, including how to make healthy after-school snacks, will be offered, said Parson.
Making a group effort
One of the more popular trends in health clubs is to offer group personal training. A 1,100-square-foot studio at the Genesis-Rock Road location is used almost exclusively now for group personal training, said Petersen, the Genesis trainer.
“It’s a great alternative to personal training and for getting more individual attention than in a group fitness class,” he said. It’s also a more affordable option than a personal training session that can cost about $70-80 a session.
Petersen, who has offered group personal training to his clients for the past year, said he’s been amazed to see friendships form and how the participants keep one another accountable for not missing a session.
Group fitness classes continue to be popular as well, with zumba — the hot fitness trend of 2011 — still going strong at both Genesis and the Y.
The Y also is introducing a new take on yoga, called YogaBall, during which a fitness ball is used to either assist in or increase the intensity of a pose.
Meeting special needs
For cancer treatment patients, incorporating physical fitness can be a challenge. The removal of a breast can cause stiffness in an arm. A treatment port or a colostomy bag can create an obstacle.
The Live Strong at the Y program, also available to cancer survivors and those in remission, is a 12-week program that will meet twice a week, for about 60-90 minutes each session, to provide both a workout — taking into account special needs — and emotional and educational support through guest speakers on topics, said the Y’s Keen. The six certified instructors have gone through specific training with physical fitness and medical professionals to address working with a cancer patient.
Since September, the YMCA has been offering adaptive classes, aimed at those 13 and older, who have special physical needs that prevent them from getting on the floor and back up. That often includes those suffering from multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, or those using wheelchairs or walkers, said Shalen Scheltgen, the Y’s metro group exercise coordinator.
The seven instructors have shared stories from the participants about how the classes have helped with balance issues and reduced pain, Scheltgen said.