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Lift away your fitness phobias with a workout
Experts say starting routine is toughest part
Dana Griffin, left, works out with trainer Donna Ferrara at the J.A. Walters Family YMCA. Local gyms should see an increase in membership as New Year’s resolutions start to kick in. - photo by Erin O. Smith


For individuals

  • Protect yourself from injury or disease by wearing a helmet, sunscreen or insect repellent when necessary.
  • Make an appointment for a checkup, vaccination or screening.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water to prevent the spread of infection and illness. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Make healthy food choices. Grab a healthy snack such a fruit, nuts or low-fat cheese.
  • Be active to improve overall health. Try simple things such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Be active for at least 2½ hours a week. Children and adolescents should get at least one hour of physical activity each day.
  • Be smoke free. If you are ready to quit, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569 for Spanish speakers) for free resources, including free quit coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials, and referrals to other resources where you live.
  • Get enough sleep. Remember sleep is a necessity, not a luxury.
  • If you don’t already have insurance, get coverage.

For family

  • Learn how to be healthy before, during and after pregnancy.
  • Reduce auto-related injuries by using seat belts, child safety seats and booster seats that are appropriate for your child’s age and weight.
  • Learn positive parenting tips to keep teens safe on the road.
  • Develop and enforce rules about acceptable and safe behaviors using electronic media.
  • Lower the risk of foodborne illness as you prepare meals for your family.
  • Gather and share family health history.
  • Get pets vaccinated and keep pets healthy.


Laurie Davidson has been going to the J.A. Walters Family YMCA in Gainesville for almost nine years. In those years, she has seen many new people come just after the beginning of the year only to disappear a couple of months later.

“When you haven’t been in a gym, it takes a lot, and can be overwhelming and emotional,” Davidson said.

Traditionally, many residents make resolutions to exercise or lose weight. They follow through on that promise by joining fitness clubs or family wellness centers such as a local YMCA. However, some break those resolution within months or weeks.

In 2014, the family center gained 100 new members from January to March, said Robby Childers with the J.A. Walters Family YMCA. This year, so far, they have gained seven and look to gain more members in the coming weeks.

YMCA personal trainer and wellness coach Davo Welborn said one reason people stop going to the gym is that they see others there who are fit. But he said even he was 80 pounds overweight when he decided to make his life change and start working out.

“Realize you need to start a new habit, get in the door and stick to it,” is Welborn’s advice.

To help new members stick to their resolutions, the health and wellness center started new member orientations. It allows new members to get an in-depth look at the equipment.

“People come in and see all the machinery and they want to use it, but they don’t know how to,” Welborn said. “Some (new members) are embarrassed to ask how to use the machines and orientation helps with that fear.”

Along with orientation, members have access to FitLinxx, a system that tracks their progress inside and outside the gym. The gym offers sessions with a personal trainer, for an extra fee.

Logging the progress earns members points and with points comes free goodies, such as a lanyard and a towel, Welborn said.

Making sure members have the support they need, the YMCA always has a wellness coach nearby to answer questions and offer encouragement.

Julie Butler Colombini, marketing manager for Frances Meadows Aquatic Center in Gainesville, encourages people to take advantage of the public park system.

“There are so many ways that a family can get out and walk, which is the single best form of exercise,” she said. “Get your kids out on the playground, let them get out of the house away from the video games. And when you go to a park, you have so many options to build memories and to spend time.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, any exercise counts as long as it is done at a moderate or vigorous intensity for at least 10 minutes.

Besides the parks, Frances Meadows Center offers many other ways to get fit. With a family atmosphere, the center offers aquatic zumba, cardio kickboxing, barre and other workout classes.

“With a ton of classes both in the water and out, we reach all ages, skill levels, and all interests,” Colombini said.

Along with current courses, the center is always adding new programs.

“In the spring, we will offer two new activities, lacrosse and volleyball,” Colombini said.

With encouraging staff and members, both places offer great support to help others stick to his or her New Year’s resolution.

“Half the battle for people is to get in the door,” Welborn said.

The reward of working out is a way of life for Dana Griffin.

“I don’t wait on new year’s to get it. I just come in and I want to be here,” she said. “It makes me feel better every day and it makes me feel better to be healthy for me and for my kids.”