A new year often means a fresh start for those looking to improve their health and fitness.
The Orillia Recreation Centre has been busy since the calendar flipped to 2023.
“We’ve definitely seen an increase in visitors throughout the whole fitness centre, group fitness classes, and in the building in general,” says Thomas Bialas, fitness co-ordinator at the Orillia Recreation Centre. “We’ve had a lot of people new to the facility getting themselves into a constant exercise routine.”
Bialas has enjoyed seeing members of the community prioritize their health and fitness in the new year. His advice to newcomers is to not set unrealistic goals and expectations.
“Find an enjoyable way to be physically active and to move consistently throughout the day,” he said. “Whether it’s walking with a friend, playing a sport they love, joining a group fitness class, or lifting weights, having fun while exercising is the best way to stay consistent.”
Staying active has “incredible” physical and mental health benefits, he says.
“Moving well and moving often is not only going to increase strength but also our aerobic endurance, balance, and flexibility,” he said. “These things will help contribute to a long and healthy life where we can continue to do the things we enjoy.”
CrossFit Orillia owner and trainer Matt Spencer says there has been a lot more interest in his gym over the past week, as there is every January.
“People do use this time to align a new year with a fresh start,” he said. “Even in our gym, we find people are refocused and recommitted to their goals and setting the tone for the year.”
For people looking to be more fit and healthy in 2023, Spencer encourages them to not drastically change everything they are doing immediately to achieve those goals.
“A lot of times, an increase in activity and decrease in calories is a recipe for success, but if it’s such a drastic change, people will often feel tired and run down,” he said. “I would recommend just changing one thing first. Whether it’s diet or exercise, do one thing first consistently and then, later on, the next piece.”
He also says people shouldn’t always use a scale to measure the success of their exercise and diets.
“Ask yourself: How are your clothes fitting, how (are) your energy and stress levels, and how do you look in the mirror?” he said. “Weight is very subjective, so use those other things versus the number on the scale.”
Jim Waine, 73, started working out in the gym at the rec centre last October. He had the goal of getting into better shape.
“I got myself a personal trainer when I came here because I hadn’t worked out in 50 years,” he said. “I wanted to get stronger in my core, and my trainer, Marie, has been fabulous with helping me with that.”
Waine now goes to the gym five or six times a week.
“I’m amazed by what is happening to my core. My quads are now a lot stronger, and I’ve begun working on my calfs a bit,” he said. “I didn’t come here for weight loss because I’m not heavy; I came here to firm up and not lose my strength as quickly as I would if I was just sitting on the couch doing nothing.”
Waine expects he will be a member of the rec centre for the rest of his life.
“I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep up with what I do now, but I’ll continue to really enjoy it,” he said.
Elizabeth Le Sarge, 36, has been going to CrossFit Orillia for about 10 months.
“I enjoy the group atmosphere,” she said. “I prefer going into a fitness routine and not having to think about what I’m doing for that day. I just show up to a routine that is already set with new challenges every day.”
Le Sarge says exercising, health and fitness are important to her for her job as a welder at Kubota.
“My job is physically demanding, and I have been injured twice,” she said. “Some of that can be contributed to poor fitness.”
To prevent further injury, she says she needed to do something to strengthen her core and back.
“It also makes me feel really good,” she said. “It did take me probably four months to really get into it, and there are days you wake up and feel like you don’t want to go, but I forced myself to stick with it.”
Now, she says she can’t wait to go to CrossFit three times a week.
“After you’ve got out of the slump feeling, you actually change your diet, find what works for you, and start achieving even small goals in the gym, it really makes you feel good about yourself,” she said.
“I feel so much better at the end of the day and like I accomplished something after going to the gym.”