Mark Kallenbach decided that 2012 would be a year of change.
He had belonged to a gym for quite a while but wasn’t committed to going on a regular basis. And while he packed around extra pounds, his cholesterol and blood pressure had always been good, and he wasn’t limited by most activities because of his size.
But there were times when he couldn’t run around his Norwalk yard with his kids for an extended period of time without getting tired and winded.
“I made a decision at that point in time that I needed to make a change and get fit,” Kallenbach now says. “I didn’t have the level of fitness I wanted. … I thought ‘I’m getting older now, and if I don’t make the decision to do this now, then I won’t.’ ”
He spent all of 2012 focusing on his health and fitness. He started going to Anytime Fitness on a daily basis for at least 45 minutes. At first he was only able to walk on the treadmill at a low incline.
But Kallenbach found the more he walked, the faster he could go and at a higher incline. He also realized his heart was getting stronger with the exercise. At first it would climb into the 150 beats per minute when he hit his maximum exercise point. Now it’s in the 110 beats per minute, and he can work out for much longer periods of time.
“Now I’m even able to jog, where as previously there was no way I would be able to jog,” he says.
Kallenbach also looked at his diet and thought twice before grabbing that extra piece of pizza.
The working out and the food choices he made began to show on the scale.
“It started to build on itself, and watching the scale, I would see improvement week after week,” says Kallenbach, who as of late December had lost 70 pounds.
He says his weight loss has plateaued, but he’s happy with his results. Kallenbach says it’s a big commitment to go to the gym every day for an hour or more, but he’s glad he has the support of his wife and child who hold him accountable.
“Overall I just feel a lot better,” he says.
The key to successful weight loss is to work with a trainer who can help you create a workout program that is fun and realistic, says Joe Nguyen, owner of Anytime Fitness in Norwalk.
“We want to make this fun,” he says. “Honestly, working out for a lot of people is not fun, but you have to do it, so we try to make it fun so you keep coming back.”
Anytime Fitness’ trainers suggest the following for beginners:
A workout program should include both cardiovascular work and strength training. It should be a program that lays the groundwork for an exercise program that can be followed for years.
Beginners should start out slowly.
“A lot of people expect results right away, and they push it, push it, push it, and their body is not ready for that, and they get really sore and turned off by it or scared,” Nguyen says. “They overdo it initially.”
Cardiovascular training should consist of exercises that increase the person’s heart rate.
Beginners need to remember to start out slowly. They might want to run eventually, but they should start by power walking or riding a bicycle.
Remember to work all parts of the body when doing cardiovascular training — swing the arms when walking to engage the upper body.
Start with at least 25 minutes of cardio work at least three times a week.
Strength training will help a person strengthen his or her shoulders, chest, arms, abs, gluteus, hamstrings and calf muscles.
To start, sit on an exercise ball and do 10 arm curls with 5-pound weights. Take a 30-second break and repeat. Do this three times a week.
Beginners should make sure they get good instruction on how to use equipment and perform exercises. If you don’t know, ask questions. This is the key to avoiding injury.
When looking for a gym, make sure the trainers or instructors have been trained and certified by a reputable, national certification agency. They also should hold CPR and first aid certifications so they can take action in case of emergency.
Make sure to tell each trainer and instructor about any limitations or medical conditions.
Anytime Fitness opened June 2005 in Norwalk. It is a 24-hour facility with cardio equipment, weight machines and other training tools that allows members to “get in and get out and get on with life” as a solution for busy people, Nguyen says.
The facility is currently undergoing an expansion, which will be completed in January. The expansion is to accommodate the Fitness On Request system, which will allow members to select from 54 different exercise classes of various levels from spinning to yoga. Those classes are then projected on a screen and taught by certified instructors.
Nguyen says those who are just getting into fitness or looking to get in shape can find what they need at Anytime Fitness. Most of the facility’s members are either beginners or haven’t worked out in a long time.
“Anybody can get started here,” he says. “We’ve helped people in their 80s to get started.”
Initially, new members receive a free fitness consultation with one of three trainers. The consultation includes a body fat assessment and other assessments, plus a discussion of the person’s goals, any exercise or health limits and what type of exercise they’ve done in the past.
“We customize a workout program for them,” Nguyen says. “By the time they’re done (with the initial assessment), they have a good idea and a program laid out for them, so when they walk through the door, they know what they need to do for their workouts.”
The Norwalk Parks and Recreation Department also offers several classes and activities throughout the winter months to keep residents from children to seniors moving and active.
Adults can take set-bench interval, circuit training, boot camp, yoga or sculpting classes. Sometimes the parks department also offers kettle bell classes, zumba and tae kwon do, depending on interest. Last fall, the department offered ballroom and line dancing classes for adults.
Louise Taylor-Seibert with the city parks department says class participation increases each January as a result of New Year’s resolutions and that classes such as boot camp and yoga fill quickly. Those interested should register as soon as possible, she says.
Registration for classes can be done through the city’s website at www.ci.norwalk.ia.us. Those who are interested can also fill out a registration form and turn it in at City Hall. There is a fee associated with most classes.
The parks department does offer a free senior exercise class that meets twice a week at a local church. It is free for those 55 and older.
Other parks’ programs include adult pick-up basketball games on Wednesday nights and family open gym basketball on Sundays. Those programs are supervised by parks and recreation staff, while instructors are hired for each of the exercise classes.
For families and children, there will be ice skating on Feb. 6 at Metro Ice Arena, 5100 N.W. 72nd St. in Urbandale.
There also will be basketball camps and basketball fundamentals clinics for boys and girls in grades one through four during the months of January and February.
Registration also is upcoming for children’s spring soccer sessions.
For a full list of winter activities, visit the parks and recreation page on the city’s website.
Remember, it’s never too late to start working on a new you.