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Tri-State residents resolve to get healthy

January 03, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

TRI-STATE -- At age 76, Wayne Weber never had set foot in a gym before Saturday. He never needed to because work always kept him in shape, he said.

Yet as he flipped his calendar to 2009, he felt something new -- for the first time since retiring from farming, he felt his age.

"I want to turn life back a bit," he said as he signed up for a trial membership at Gold's Gym in Hagerstown. "I want muscles and to feel 65 again and feel happy."

Across the Tri-State area, many people such as Weber said hello to 2009 with the resolve to sweat their way to better health.

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For some, 2009 was a corner, rounded on the path to wellness they began many years ago. For others, it was a start of something completely new.

However, three days into the new year, gyms and wellness centers from Martinsburg, W.Va., to Chambersburg, Pa., already have started to see an increase in not just new members, but also in visits from existing members.

Christal Hutton, manager of the Wellness Center at City Hospital in Martinsburg, said the dicey economic climate has not appeared to slow the typical January surge in membership.

"People say they want to get healthy," she said of those who have signed up for the new year. "Most of them want to make fitness part of their lifestyle."

Weber said he knew it was time he did something about his health.

"I feel good, but I can tell I am losing muscle," he said.

Dr. Bob Richards, an orthopedic surgeon in Chambersburg, said most adults older than 55 begin to lose muscle mass.

Richards, a longtime member of the Chambersburg YMCA, said it is critical for older adults to include strength training in their weekly routine.

"It can be hard to set aside time to exercise, I know, but when you don't make exercise part of your routine, it can be a problem to stick with it," he said.

John Schley of Shepherdstown, W.Va., has not had any problem sticking with his exercise plan. A retired Navy captain, Schley has gone to the gym every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for the last eight or nine years. Even at age 90, he sticks to his routine.

Dave Moss, general manager of Gold's Gym in Hagerstown, said it is the aim of his staff to keep members, especially new ones, motivated and dedicated to their goals.

"We work every day to enhance the quality of life for our members and instill in them a value of health and fitness," he said.

Moss said the new year is a great motivator for people to set a new goal.

Beth Gearhart of Chambersburg said she set a new goal for 2009 so her exercise routine does not become stale. This year she said she wants to compete in a triathlon, and already has started training for the mix of swimming, running and bicycling.

"You get addicted to this (working out) because it is a good high and a great hobby," Gearhart said.

Keeping a routine fresh is important for anyone, she said.

Jeff Martin and Joe Flanagan, both of Chambersburg, said they are exercise addicts who keep it fresh by trying new classes.

For the last 45 years, Martin has come to exercise at the Chambersburg YMCA and often sees Flanagan in the many classes such as Spin and Zumba.

"If I don't exercise, I don't feel right," Martin said.

"I'm the same way," Flanagan said.

As Richards kept a swift pace on the elliptical machine, he said that while having a goal is important, having a realistic goal and taking exercise slowly at first is important for beginners.

The American Medical Association recommends 45 minutes of exercise, five days a week, to maintain a healthy weight, Richards said, but some people might need to do more, depending on their goal.

"Start easy and get into it gradually," he said. "There are so many benefits to exercise, it is crazy not to do it, but don't expect to see them all at once. That is not healthy."

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