Where (and How) to Get Fit

Make it a healthy 2020 with exercise that fits your requirements

So, you made the mistake of stepping on the scale New Year’s Day and the results are alarming: All that stuffing, eggnog and apple pie you inhaled over the holidays took its toll on your waistline and now you want to look svelte—the sooner the better. So, where to start?

Turns out there are plenty of gyms offering classes and workouts for all kinds of fitness levels and interests, so pick one you think you can stick with. (Be sure to consult your doctor before beginning a fitness regimen of any kind.)

GROUP CLASSES

1. Aquatic Fitness
The health benefits of aquatic fitness should outweigh any bathing suit-averseness you may be suffering at this time of year. And if you’re searching for a pain-free workout or are new to exercise, the pool might be the place for you.

The Hockessin Athletic Club (HAC) has an aquatics complex that includes an indoor lap pool, heated therapy pool, whirlpool, leisure pool and a six-lane heated outdoor lap pool. Members have access to several classes at no extra charge, including Aqua Tude—a high-energy workout with stretching, warm up, abs work, strength training, cardio work and deep-water work—and Aqua Zumba.

Lisa Maguire, the HAC’s marketing manager, says that exercising in the pool is a great way to achieve overall health. “The pool is low-resistance and is the complete opposite of weight training or running, but you still get a full body workout,” she says.

Classes typically include up to 20 participants and are taught by certified instructors. Looking for something more intimate? The HAC offers small group personal training classes in the pool at $25 per class or $264 for 12 classes. These are limited to a dozen participants and are taught by certified personal trainers.
100 Fitness Way, Hockessin
766-7482; hachealthclub.com

2. Ballet
When your mother dragged you to ballet class, you probably never realized the health benefits you were reaping. Now you’re much older and wiser, but also a bit rounder. Step into FIT, a boutique fitness studio that has been in business for 26 years.

“A lot of people who come in here have never been in a gym before,” says Manager Al Russell.

The class selection is varied at FIT, ranging from ballet, to tai chi, to boxing. “We really try to accommodate people and give them what they need and what they want,” says Russell.

Marsha Borin, an attorney by trade and the former director of The Russian Ballet Theater of Delaware, brought ballet to FIT less than a year ago. The hour-long class is held every Tuesday at 10 a.m. and is limited to eight people. “It has a lot to do with coordination, flexibility and agility,” says Russell. “It’s slower-paced, but also has a calming effect.”

You do not need to be a member to take classes at FIT, and the first class is always free. After that, you can take eight ballet classes for $104.
62 Rockford Rd., Wilmington
777-4348; fitdelaware.com

3. CrossFit
Looking for an intense, full-body workout that will make you sweat? Here it is: CrossFit, which involves constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement.

Matt DiStefano runs CoreTen Fitness in downtown Wilmington and encourages anyone to at least try CrossFit. “The workout is designed for all levels, and all movements can be scaled. It’s much more accessible than people realize,” he says.

Class sizes at CoreTen Fitness are capped at 10, so newbies won’t get lost in the shuffle.

“Our classes are smaller and offer more hands-on attention,” says DiStefano. “This helps people improve faster and prevent injury. Doing any exercise without the right supervision can get you injured.”

There are four CrossFit classes offered each day and DiStefano says that if you stick with it, you should notice a change in your body within the first month. “You will be feeling a little bit better. The scale might not change that much, but the composition of your body will,” he says.

You don’t need to be a member to take classes at CoreTen; you can pay per class or purchase a package of classes. One CrossFit class is $18, or purchase a package of 10 for $15. A membership is $139 a month but includes unlimited CrossFit classes and access to CoreTen’s full fitness facility.
1007 N. Orange St., Wilmington
777-7539; coretenfitness.com

4. Yoga
If it’s been a long time since you’ve seen the inside of a gym, consider easing back into it with yoga. Meredith McFadden, who runs Pure Yoga Pilates Studio in Trolley Square, says the discipline involves much more than just breathing and meditating.

“People don’t realize how active it is,” she says. “I have weightlifters come and they’re surprised how hard it is. It’s a great complement to cycling and weights.”

The studio, which just celebrated 12 years in business, offers 35 classes a week, plus Pilates and Barre. Classes include beginner yoga, gentle flow and Vinyasa, which is suitable for those who are more advanced.

And while yoga will burn calories and help tone your muscles, McFadden believes an underlying benefit is that it helps with mindfulness. “Yoga helps connect your mind and body. It helps with mindful eating and how you are going to treat yourself,” she says.

McFadden says evening classes tend to be the most crowded, ranging from 10-25 people. The early morning classes typically draw half a dozen people, while the 9 and 10 a.m. classes entice about 10.

“Pretty much anyone can do some form of yoga; I have people who are 75 years old who do it,” she says.

The drop-in rate for yoga is $16, or you can purchase a five-class package for $75 or a 10-class package for $135. Mats are available to rent for $1 or you can purchase an eco-friendly one at the studio. Discounts are offered to seniors, students, educators and members of the military.
14A Trolley Square, Wilmington
225-YOGA; pureyogapilatesstudio.com

Spinning is a popular group exercise at area YMCAs. Photo courtesy of The YMCA

5. Spinning
Spinning has been around since the early 1990s and has remained popular because it’s low-impact and not complicated. The YMCA offers a number of these indoor stationary cycling classes each day (schedules vary by branch), and despite what many people think, it isn’t just a lower-body workout.

“You do work your entire body. It’s a cardiovascular and muscle endurance workout,” says Megin Hewes, wellness director at the Central Y in downtown Wilmington. “You will burn a lot of calories and fat, build lean muscle and muscular endurance.”

The Y recently began offering Myzone technology, a heart rate system that projects participants’ heart rates on a TV screen. The monitor is available for $79 and is a great way to gage how hard you’re working during a 45-minute class.

“You can see what color zone you’re in. If I am in the yellow zone, I know I can push a little bit harder,” says Hewes.

Class sizes typically top out around 35 at the Central Y and classes are included in your membership.
501 W. 11th St., Wilmington
254-9622; ymcade.org

RACQUETBALL

Racquetball hit its stride in the ‘70s and ‘80s and has experienced a resurgence in the last few years. The indoor racquet sport draws players of all ages who often play for hours at Kirkwood Fitness and Racquetball Club and the Central Y in Wilmington.

“People come from down south on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and will play from 9 a.m.-noon,” says Kirkwood Fitness Manager Doug Cooper.

Kirkwood Fitness has four courts onsite and players can book a court up to two days in advance. The Central Y also offers racquetball to its members. It’s best to reserve one of the five courts ahead of time, but members can show up and use the court if no one has reserved it.

“Prime time here is from 4-7 or 8 p.m.,” Cooper says. “We do have a challenge court for beginners. Someone may see them and offer to teach them. We do try and situate beginners with other beginners.”

You must bring your own racquet, ball and eyewear. And Cooper recommends a court shoe—like a basketball shoe—which offers more ankle support.

“It’s a great alternative to tennis. It’s a real active game and you get a real great workout. It’s a fun game, that’s the main thing,” promises Cooper.

Kirkwood Fitness is a membership-based facility but does offer complimentary guest passes.
1800 Naamans Rd., Wilmington
529-1865; kirkwoodfitness.com

Scott McCarthy, owner of at Balance Strength & Fitness Center. Photo Jim Coarse

WEIGHTLIFTING

Studies have shown that weightlifting helps control your weight, keeps your muscles strong and can even decrease your risk of getting dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. What’s more, muscle uses more calories than fat. So why do so many people still avoid this exercise?

“People think that you will instantaneously look like Arnold Schwarzenegger or that you will get insanely muscular,” says Scott McCarthy, who owns Balance Strength & Fitness Center.

McCarthy advises anyone who wants to start lifting weights to start slow.

“Start with two to three days a week. You’re going to be sore in the beginning, but you should start to see change in your body in three to four weeks,” he says.

Balance Strength & Fitness Center has equipment to suit everyone from cardio junkies, to athletes, to boxers and more. A standard membership runs $29 a month; personal training sessions are available at an additional cost. McCarthy is a certified personal trainer who trains everyone from older women to young athletes.

“Middle-aged women who lift weights have a lower risk of osteoporosis,” he says. “It also helps lower the severity of injury if you fall and helps maintain the musculature in your legs and hips. Many people have weakened hips and backs from sitting all day.”
2801 Lancaster Ave., Suite H, Wilmington
658-5077; balancefitnesstraining.com

NUTRITION

Do you constantly feel tired, bloated and uncomfortable? Perhaps your diet needs a makeover. Don’t jump on the fad diet bandwagon; Arianne Missimer, who holds a doctorate in physical therapy, recommends following a practical and sustainable method.

Missimer runs The Movement Paradigm in Downingtown, Pa. She is a registered dietician and says many of her patients are referred to her due to their chronic pain, digestive issues and autoimmune issues.

“I focus on finding the root of the problem,” she says.

She typically starts her patients on an elimination diet, which helps her determine what foods they are sensitive to or intolerant of.

“I follow the 5 R Approach to help them reboot, which includes removing any irritants, replacing any deficiencies, repopulating/reintroducing foods, repairing the digestive tract and rebalancing their lifestyle.”

She says patients will typically see her for three to six months and will often lose weight just by eating a more balanced diet.

“I try to educate people and help them find the right nutritional plan,” she says. “Everyone is different and everyone needs something different. Just because something worked for your neighbor doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you.”

The initial consultation runs $175 and one-hour follow up appointments cost $145.
101 Manor Ave., Downingtown
(302) 373-2394; themovementparadigm.com

So, what do you think? Please comment below.