Consistency, workout groups or buddies, not getting hung up on the scale and being realistic about losing weight are all tips one exercise instructor and women who work out at the McCreary Community Building give on how to be successful at exercising and weight loss.
“When people are trying to lose weight or get in shape, I think the biggest hang-up I see is a hang-up on the scale,” says Mary Laborde says, fitness instructor at the McCreary Community Building in Perry. “You can’t look like the people in the magazines. Their weight, the way they look, isn’t normal. But you can strive to improve yourself.”
Mary Laborde teaches a spin cycle class and an exercise class that incorporates aerobics, palates and more. She’s been teaching fitness classes for more than 20 years at the McCreary Building, in addition to working full time at Farm Credit Services.
“You need to start by finding a fitness program that works for you, and then be consistent with that program,” she says.
From there, gradually add lifestyle choices. Start by making one healthy choice. Then, each month, make one more healthy choice. It may seem like a slow process, but just doing one small thing can add up to a big change down the road, Laborde advises.
“You would be surprised at how successful you can be giving up one thing a month. It is more about being fit than begin skinny,” she says.
Spin class helps people reach fitness goals
Laborde particularly likes spin cycling for people of all levels of fitness and ability.
“One misconception is that cycling is hard on the knees,” she says. “It is only hard on the knees if you don’t ride correctly. I have people who have been runners for years and have had knee replacements or knee problems. They have taken up spin cycling, and they do fine.”
Spin class focuses on working and strengthening the lower body.
“But you would be amazed how it strengthens the core,” Laborde says.
“I use music, visualization and enthusiastic coaching to motivate my students. I am sure they would use a different description! Most indoor cycling classes are coached with music,” she says. “Riders may synchronize their pedaling to be in time with the rhythm of the music. This tends to help motivate participants to work harder than they might otherwise. I choose specific songs for sprints, climbs and jumps.”
Besides burning between 600 and 750 calories in 60 minutes, indoor cycling also strengthens the muscles of the lower body. It tones the quadriceps and hamstrings, along with working the back and hips.
Laborde’s favorite thing about indoor cycling (spin class) is that it is a great class for all ages.
“The most important part of your workout should be a four- to six-minute cool down stretch,” she says.
She is religious about including a good cool-down stretch in all her classes.
“Some of my students say that is their favorite part,” she says.
Laborde teaches a spin class three mornings a week — Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:15 a.m. and Saturdays at 7 a.m.
One of the major advantages of indoor cycling is that each participant can control his or her level of intensity to suit a specific ability or fitness level, yet still participate as a member of the group.
Indoor cycling, particularly spinning, is a great class for all ages, she says. The age of participants currently enrolled in her classes range from 10 to 66 years old.
Laborde encourages people to work in groups, or if not in groups, to at least have a workout buddy.
“That way you are accountable to someone else and more motivated to work out regularly,” she says. “With a class, you know what time the class is and that people will be expecting you. When you have a workout buddy, it also helps, because again, there is someone else there to make you accountable.”
Spin class gives people the ability to work in a group so that there is accountability but also to work at his or her own speed.
Laborde does interval drills, having the class do fast spurts, followed by a recovery period before another spurt is done.
“We go fast and recover, go fast and recover through most of the ride, but, but it is not predictable. I pick music to help create the atmosphere and I use visualization. For example, I have them visualize riding on rolling hills, racing Lance Armstrong,” she says.
The basic drills she uses are seated road, seated climb, standing climb, jumps with hovers and seated speed-spring with a mix of all of the above in each class.
People also may use the spin bikes on their own, even if they don’t take the class. Laborde advises that if people aren’t interested in working with a group, they should stop at the McCreary Building front desk to get quick-start directions written on a card.
Reaching fitness, weight-loss goals
Teresa Dowd’s journey started almost seven years ago, says Laborde. Her first grandson had been born, and she wanted to be able to get down on the floor and play with him comfortably. She had not exercised on a regular basis and wanted to get in better physical condition. She would easily become out of breath when going up stairs or even bending down to tie her shoes.
She also struggled with back pain.
Dowd signed up for Laborde’s 6:15 a.m. fitness classes, which are interval workouts that combine cardio and strength training. Shortly after starting classes, Teresa had back surgery. After six weeks of recovery, she returned to class and not only worked up to a high-intensity workout, but started working out with weights and doing the indoor cycling classes. She has rarely missed a class in almost seven years, and Laborde says she has enjoyed working with her and watching her fitness level improve.
Sherry Jones went from not having a regular workout plan to exercising five to six mornings a week. She started out walking in the gym at the McCreary building, then stepped up her program by joining three-day-a week fitness classes.
She also does water exercises on Tuesdays and Thursdays and sometimes on Saturdays. Jones has rarely missed a day in almost three years, has lost more than 40 pounds and has made a vast improvement in her overall fitness.
Two friends support each other’s goals
Deb VanGundy and Judy Peoples know what it’s like to begin the daunting task of getting in shape and losing weight.
VanGundy has done both. She lost about 145 pounds and has maintained that weight loss.
VanGundy found additional rewards for her success — being able to go off the insulin she used to take, and going off high blood pressure medicine.
She says although she opted for gastric by-pass surgery to start her weight-loss and fitness journey, she does not want anyone to think the weight-loss was easy.
“After a year, you are going to get the maximum weight-loss benefit of having surgery. To go beyond that and to lose more or maintain weight loss takes work. It takes thinking about everything you eat, and adding in exercise,” she says. “You have to eat a very balanced diet with that surgery. I had tried every diet imaginable before I had the weight-loss surgery.”
Her workouts include swimming laps, water walking, water aerobics, adult longevity classes at the McCreary Community Building and a stationary bicycle in her home.
It took her more than a year to lose the weight.
“I think exercise is key for me. Also sleep plays a huge role in keeping weight off. It helps with the stress level and makes you feel better. I drink a lot of water, at least eight, 8-ounce glasses a day,” Van Gundy says.
“I don’t think I could have done it if I was still working then. I admire people who work full time and have kids and still find time to work out,” she says.
VanGundy says her best advice for other people trying to lose weight is to not get discouraged. The secret is that people basically have to eat healthy.
“One of the things I do when I go out to eat or eat somewhere else is to divide the food on my plate in half. I set that aside to take home and eat later,” she says.
Judy Peoples lost 30 pounds using Weight Watchers and hit her goal last June.
“That program just fit me well,” she says. “It emphasizes eating healthy and eating fruits and vegetables. My hardest thing was getting away from eating a lot of cheese.”
She started stalling out on her weight loss until she started writing down everything she ate and began exercising.
“My main reason for losing weight was to get more healthy. I was really encouraged by Deb,” Peoples says, noting that she works out at home with DVDs.
“I have three: one aerobics, one toning and one on weight lifting,” she says.
Peoples has no special formula, but she is “scared to death I’m going to gain it all back.”
That is enough motivation for her.
Laborde says one common theme she has noticed in all the success is that not only do people feel better physically because they exercise, but emotionally as well.
“Making the decision to improve your overall wellness involves mind, body and spirit,” she says.