If you are tired of making and breaking the annual fitness resolutions, experts from Palos Verdes to Manhattan Beach offer clues to sticking with it.
Jerry Spradlin, a personal trainer at the Spectrum Club in Rolling Hills Estates, said a lot of people need the motivation of others to maintain a workout schedule over time, especially if weight loss is an issue.
“I think for most people, the reason they give up on their (fitness) resolutions, is they get bored or they don’t know what to do and they get discouraged and stop,” he said.
For people who can afford it, he said, an appointment with a physical trainer keeps you goal-oriented and accountable. But simply working out with a friend at a gym or changing up exercise routines can provide motivation.
“People get in a rut,” Spradlin, 45, said. “Changing routines every six to eight weeks is key, because your body will plateau.” Changes can include “increasing weights, speeding up movements, speeding up repetitions, or changing the order of how you do things.”
A Major League Baseball player from 1993-2000, who pitched for teams like the Cincinnati Reds, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago Cubs, Spradlin is a 6-foot-8-inch, gentle-voiced giant who weighs in at 280 pounds. Branching into physical fitness “was a natural transition” for him, he said, “because I spent half my career in the gym.”
Known as a “flamethrower righty” during his pitching days, Spradlin, who also plays drums, was once as determined to become a professional musician as he was a baseball player. Music, like exercise, remains a great stress-reducer for him, he said.
Taking a holistic approach to helping people get in shape and stay there, the Fullerton College graduate focuses on cardio, resistance training and diet. He also takes into consideration a client’s activity and lifestyle.
“I have a guy right now that I’m training, and his weakness is being in a situation where he’s on the go and resorts to fast food," he said. "If you can cut that out, or at least make some healthier choices, you’re going to lose weight."
Cutting 500 calories a day translates into losing a pound a week, Spradlin said. Add appropriate workouts and slash an additional pound.
When you eat is also critical. “The two most important meals of the day are breakfast and post workout,” Spradlin said, explaining how the body is better equipped to burn calories if blood sugar levels and metabolism are balanced.
With Einstein-like efficiency, the former major league pitcher does a lot of fancy math to help clients understand what they must do in terms of calories and workouts to lose a certain amount of weight in a certain amount of time. To assist in that goal, he encourages them to wear Polar watches that monitor heart rate, distance covered and calories burned.
In order to burn calories—especially fat calories as opposed to carbs—you need to know your target heart rate, the trainer said. “You can’t just get on a treadmill and walk. To burn fat you have to have your heart rate elevated.”
After three minutes of an elevated heart rate, he said, “your body goes into what they call an oxidative state,” meaning it starts using fat for energy.
Based on a client’s age, height and weight, Spradlin can determine an individual’s target heart rate and provide a detailed guideline as to how to achieve a specific weight loss goal. (According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person's target heart rate can be estimated by subtracting the person's age from 220.)
“Mine’s about 156-160,” Spradlin said. “I did one (workout) yesterday and I was averaging about 158, but I’ve pushed it as high as 175. Being a bigger guy, I have an advantage because I can work out for an hour and 12 minutes and burn 1200 calories.”
The two best workouts for weight loss are circuit training (push-ups, squats) and interval training. An example of the latter, he said, is a spin class “where you are peddling really fast, then slowing it down, then going fast again.” The same goes for a treadmill or elliptical, he said. “That way, your heart rate never really goes down.”
Yoga addresses physical and mental health, says instructor
Romy Phillips, a certified yoga instructor at YogaWorks (on the border of Manhattan Beach in El Segundo), believes yoga is ideal for those who have failed at other fitness routines.
“Yoga is not just about going to class,” said Phillips, who has her own business, Romy Phillips Yoga, and has taught at the Los Angeles Ballet School, Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo, and for teacher-training hopefuls in Tokyo. “You can benefit from it in so many ways in your life that if you make a resolution to lose weight, yoga is so comprehensive you’re more apt to stick with it.”
A former arts administrator at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Phillips, who holds an MFA from Columbia University, got into yoga for therapeutic reasons after moving to Los Angeles in 1999.
“I have scoliosis,” the statuesque instructor said. “I had a lot of back pain. I’d heard it was very good for scoliosis, so I started out with the fundamentals. I learned how align my back, and I just felt better after each class. And then I kept going.”
Three years later, she began teacher training, which involves at least 500 hours of perfecting asana poses (the physical practice of yoga), memorizing the Sanskrit names of each pose and how the muscles and tendons are affected. The study includes the philosophy of yoga, how it started, and the importance of sitting in a quiet place and meditating.
“Yoga does not just address the physical,” Phillips said. “You’re working out your mind as well; (that is) the meditative quality to it. After you finish a yoga class, you should feel much better, physically, emotionally and mentally.”
Although that feeling of well-being is part of why devotees tend to stick with it, she said, there are different types of yoga, as well as different levels.
“The common thing I hear from people is that they tried one class and didn’t like it. Maybe that style or that teacher or that situation wasn’t right for them.”
What any student should expect is a well-balanced class that feels right. “It’s not just about being flexible or young or physically fit,” she said, noting that yoga does not discriminate. “You should find something that works for you.”
For those starting yoga for the first time, Phillips recommends going to a yoga studio, as opposed to a gym. At a yoga studio, students can gauge the level appropriate for them, she said, adding that gyms generally don’t offer different levels.
“Yoga accommodates all ages and all abilities,” she said. (When asked for her age, however, the striking teacher flashed her dazzling smile. “Yoga taught me how to stay young,” she said, adding that she saw no reason to destroy her youthful image with a number.)
Most yoga studios offer orientation or introduction to yoga classes for free, Phillips said, including YogaWorks on Sepulveda Boulevard.
Preparing to return to Tokyo to teach those in training to become yoga teachers, Phillips said Japanese students tend to be much more interested in the philosophical and meditative aspects of yoga. “Americans are more fitness oriented,” she said. “Here, most people want the harder classes; it’s about working out.”
Trainer: Poor diet and lack of exercise cause 300,000 deaths a year
According to Redondo Beach personal trainer Jason Terry, health is the primary reason people should seriously consider keeping their fitness resolutions in the 2013.
“I tell my clients that I like to work from the inside-out, not from the outside-in,” Terry said in an interview over the weekend.
While aesthetics are important, the 33-year-old father of two said good health keeps you alive longer and improves the quality of life—and love: “So from a health standpoint, that alone is a reason to stick with it.”
Unhealthy weight gain due to a poor diet and lack of exercise is responsible for 300,000 deaths a year, Terry said. The benefits of good nutrition and challenging workouts, on the other hand, are almost too numerous to count, everything from improved balance, coordination and memory to a more fit appearance.
As people age, he added, high blood pressure, bad cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, dementia, breathing problems and trouble sleeping can all be attributed to a sedentary lifestyle seasoned with too much sugar, sodium and the wrong carbs.
“It’s hard to do, but if you can cut down on your sodium intake and sugar, that alone will help you lose weight,” he said.
Certified in personal training by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, Terry said his best advice to those hoping to upgrade or begin a fitness program is to remember “it never happens overnight. You’re not going to gain overnight, and you’re not going to lose overnight.”
Whether going to school or brushing your teeth or studying, “it takes a lot of repetition and progression,” he said.
Recruited to play football at Grambling State University in Louisiana, the Los Angeles native graduated with a degree in business administration and currently works with college and professional athletes, as well as private clients, often at the Riviera Fit Club in Riviera Village.
But he’s as likely to conduct workouts at the beach, on a track, or in Palos Verdes, where he lived before moving to Redondo in August. Terry, who launched his own personal training business Go Active Workout in 2005, started in the business at the front desk at Spectrum in Rolling Hills, then moved into sales, and finally training. He eventually went over to nearby Equinox, where he was once voted trainer of the year.
Much like Spradlin at Spectrum, Terry assesses each new client in terms of their fitness level: age, blood pressure, weight and body fat, and determines 85 percent of their maximum heart rate via a computer system.
“I put them through an actual physical test,” he said, “and then we go over different goals, what they want to accomplish.”
Tailored to each individual, his program involves four components: nutrition, rest and recovery, cardiovascular, and resistance training, which some people call strength training, he said.
His most effective workouts are “circuits,” which he explained as moving from one exercise to another.
Circuit training has nothing to do with machines (treadmills, ellipticals and such); it refers to four or more exercises. “They can be pushups, bench dips, pull-ups, working the triceps, working the quads and glutes,” he said (A video of Terry’s circuit training can be seen in the Gallery section of his website, www.goactiveworkout.com.)
The objective is to work certain muscles, then “actively rest” those muscles during the next exercise, Terry said. He “uses the body weight as the resistance” rather than machines.
“For me (using machines), that’s not really teaching,” he explained.
For those unable to afford a personal trainer, he suggests working out at least three times a week. “If you can manage only five minutes on a treadmill, gradually work up to 10, then 12, then 20 and so forth,” he said.
He doesn’t advise anyone to randomly lift weights: “As a trainer, I want to be able to monitor that and make sure they aren’t hurting themselves.”
The important thing is putting in the work and eating “what you need to eat as far as your diet is concerned. You need fat, carbs and protein,” he said, but the right carbs. “You definitely need protein within an hour after you wake up to feed the muscles.”