SYDNEY, N.S. —
A new year brings new goals, with health usually at the top of the list.
But this year, Cape Bretoners’ efforts to lead healthier lifestyles kicked off earlier than usual.
Janice Curnew, manager of programming at the YMCA of Cape Breton in Sydney, said January is usually when they see a spike in people joining their fitness-oriented programs.
“This year it began early — throughout December — in anticipation of starting their New Year’s resolutions in January,” she added.
People don’t always keep their resolutions and sometimes get discouraged because of that.
Curnew said they believe a new program they launched — Y Thrive — will help as it’s geared towards helping anyone regardless of where they are with fitness and working out. It’s especially beneficial for those wanting to live a well-rounded lifestyle but aren’t sure what to do when they get to the YMCA and, in the past, might have just been overwhelmed, she said. Y Thrive is a free program for members that provides a fitness plan along with the support to get started and stay motivated.
The program offers five different streams, whether you’re looking to improve flexibility or cardio endurance, or you are a child or someone who has never set foot in a gym before.
A person would come in and meet with one of their coaches who would then help them figure out which stream they’d fit in with.
“They will give you a workout every 30 days for the rest of your life,” Curnew said.
She said the program is a good motivator to keep people on track.
“It’s an amazing program, a great way for people coming in with their New Year’s resolutions and not sure where to start, from beginners to seasoned athletes. We’ve seen a lot of people coming in specifically for this program.”
The YMCA offers everything from weights, to cardio, the pool, basketball courts, group fitness classes, yoga, high-powered indoor bikes and so much more.
Julia Peck, 18, of Louisbourg, a student at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, was found working out at the Cape Breton YMCA gym. She said a New Year’s goal brought her there.
“I want to get stronger,” she said,. “(I want) to be a healthier version of myself.”
Peck was accompanied by her cousin, Jamie Hunt, also of Louisbourg. Hunt has been working out the past six years, particularly at the YMCA of Cape Breton. The inspiration began when he first got involved in sports and he’s stayed with it since. Hunt was introducing his cousin to some of the equipment.
“I just want to be healthier in general, to feel better,” Peck said.
Michael Alagbe, formerly from Nigeria and now living in Sydney, has been working out regularly — sometimes at the YMCA of Cape Breton — for the past two years.
“I’ve been trying to cut down on my weight, to be healthier too.”
Alagbe visits the gym four to five times a week. It has paid off, he said. The gym makes him feel better and feel happy.
“It’s a stress reliever,” he said. “You can come to the gym and work out, it relaxes the stress and helps you have a better day. I like coming in the morning before I start my day.”
Tobias Mntu, from Chapel Island and currently living in Sydney, was also found working out at the YMCA of Cape Breton gym. Mntu said he had tried to work out in the past but kept putting it off and hadn’t been inside a gym since September.
“The days turn into weeks and the weeks become months,” he said.
The YMCA had a 12-day free trial over the holidays, so Mntu said he was trying it out, getting used to the schedule and hitting the high-powered indoor bike classes and the pool.
“My goal is to get on a normal schedule, so I can keep working out on a more regular basis.”
Susan Sifnakis, owner/manager of Platinum Fitness in Sydney River, said without question they get an influx of new members in January as people strive to begin the new year on a healthier note.
“Then as it goes through February, March, April and so on, it continues to get busier and busier.”
However, this year was a bit different. Like the YMCA of Cape Breton, Platinum Fitness also saw a huge spike in members in December.
“I don’t know what it was,” she said. “I actually haven’t seen it this busy since we opened our doors three years ago.”
Sifnakis said they feel it might be the personal trainers and support Platinum Fitness offers to its members help them stay on the path to meet their goals.
“We have lots of personal trainers so everyone knows if they need help they can come and ask.”
As well, she said, they have a fitness challenge, which their members enjoy, but is also a good kick-starter at a gym for new members. The challenge provides a workout plan tailored to the member’s needs as well as support.
There’s nutrition included, and the facilitator will offer a one-day workout with her each week at each of the three Platinum Fitness locations in Sydney River, North Sydney and Glace Bay.
“It’s a great way to get started as you always have that support. It’s all done on their own time but there’s 24-hour support as well. It’s like a three-month challenge and more people are rejoining it, to keep it going.”
Donat Arsenault of Sydney, was found working out at Platinum Fitness in Sydney River. Although Arsenault, employed with the Department of Justice in Sydney, has been working out most of his life, he stepped it up two years ago, moving up five to six sessions a week.
“I had put on extra weight and wanted to start playing hockey again,” he said, adding now he’s back playing twice a week.
“I also find it good for the mental health.”
This new year has also inspired Arsenault to enhance his progress by starting to eat better.
Through the holidays you tend to eat more and don’t feel as good, so Arsenault said now he’s trying to improve his diet as well as continuing to attend the gym.
“I’ve been trying to eat healthier for a couple years but I’m trying to make a bigger effort this year.”
Arsenault says the gym is also fun and he has met a lot of new people.
“It’s also the social aspect of coming to the gym that’s beneficial to me and my mental health as well.”
DOS AND DON’TS
. . . of joining a fitness facility as offered by Janice Curnew, manager of programming at the YMCA of Cape Breton.
- DO have a plan. It will help you to make the most of your time and you will spend less time feeling like a fish out of water! If you don’t have a plan, coaches at the YMCA will devise one tailored to your goals every single month, absolutely free!
- DO start wherever you are. Five minutes of walking has you winded and sore? Start with four minutes and work up to five! Set small, achievable goals for yourself and you’re more likely to keep going!
- DO sit down at the beginning of every week and schedule your workouts in. Treat your scheduled workout as important as a meeting with your boss!
- DO share your health and wellness goals with your friends and family. You will have people to cheer you on and help hold you accountable.
- DO keep a record of what you’ve done. Writing down the weight you lifted or how fast you went on the cardio equipment will help you progress and reach your goals!
- DON’T skip the gym because you’re tired. Working out gives you energy, so you will feel less tired by exercising and it has the added bonus of helping you sleep better at night.
- DON’T continue doing the workout you’re doing if you hate it and dread doing it. If you’ve tried a thousand times to run because your brother-in-law is a runner but you hate it, find your passion whether lifting weights, group fitness classes, yoga, etc. At the YMCA it’s almost impossible not to find something you love!
- DON’T feel guilty for taking this time for yourself. Taking a half-hour or an hour out of your day might seem selfish at first but when you have more energy and strength you will be a better parent, grandparent, friend, boss or employee the other 23 hours of the day!
- DON’T give up! If you miss a workout, or two, or more…congratulations, you’re normal! Don’t think of it as a setback. Every day is a new opportunity.
- DON’T leave your equipment lying around when you’re done your workout, put your weights away, and clean the machines.