By Vicky Hallett and Lenny Bernstein
New Year’s resolutions are like butterflies. They’re both such wonderful things ... that have a tendency to die within a few weeks. But we figured that by profiling four Washingtonians’ fitness goals for 2010, we could help strengthen their resolve. Three months later, we checked in with them to find out if they were still flying high.
Some guys turn 40 and want a sports car. George Arfken, of Germantown, Md, wanted a sports body. Specifically, the kind one gets from parkour, a form of acrobatic running that incorporates rolling, climbing and jumping. Primal Fitness in DC welcomed him into its Level 1 parkour boot camp: three classes a week for six weeks.
When I paid a visit halfway through to check out a vaulting session, Arfken’s transformation was well under way. He was still lacking a certain grace, but he managed to haul himself up and over without looking too miserable. “I’m getting used to feeling sore every day,” he joked. He was even training at home with a pull-up bar and a few planks of wood he’d jump between while watching TV.
But then came the snow. Then came a nasty cold. Then came a vacation. And his plans to follow up with the Level 2 boot camp never happened. But spring has inspired Arfken to start up again. He’s prepping with upper-body conditioning and plans to sign up for that Level 1 series again in May.
“I know I can do it,” Arfken says. He’d better! This time, he won’t have snow as an excuse.
Slow but Steady
A two-hour-plus commute to her Rockville, Md, office was seriously cutting into Martha Souder’s exercise time. But the real problem was her diet. No breakfast, a big lunch and practically no calories at night kept her dragging all day, so even when she had time to work out, it wouldn’t happen.
I set her up with instructions to eat differently, stroll whenever she had a break at work and try to do strength training at home before dinner. Within a week, I got an excited e-mail saying that she’d managed to squeeze in a full hour of walking that day. In another week, the news was that she’d lost three pounds and signed up for an
These days, she’s down 10 pounds and counting, with no plans to break from the new routine. “Breakfast is such an eye-opener,” says Souder, who’s now a cereal nut. “It’s made a huge difference in my energy.”
There have been a few setbacks, such as overindulgence on her birthday (happy 44, Martha!) and Easter. “A lot of chocolate bunnies got hurt,” she admits. And in that 8K, she came in last place.
But that doesn’t mean she’s not still a winner. “I’m built for endurance, not speed,” Souder says.
I had to lie down after DC resident Camilo Ramirez detailed the workout schedule he’s following as he prepares for his first half-Ironman-distance triathlon in September. Before work, he runs twice a week, swims twice a week and plays tennis once a week. After work, he has gruelling one-hour sessions with a physical trainer twice a week, followed by a half-hour on the bike or treadmill. On two other days he does core strengthening and weightlifting by himself. On Friday nights he plays volleyball.
On Saturdays he goes for long bike rides. On Sundays he rests.
“I really have gained a lot of muscle and lost body fat,” said the 26-year-old communications specialist for the World Resources Institute. Thanks to the core and agility training, “my balance has increased. My lunges are a lot better. My running is better. Even my swim
The 20-hours-per-week triathlon training, on top of a full-time job, has completely changed Ramirez’s outlook on fitness and what he is capable
“One, I didn’t think I could ever do it, that my body could sustain it. And two ... I really want to do it. My co-workers think I’m insane. But I love working out. I really do.”
Listening to Her Body
When I spoke with Betsy Lowrey about her new year’s resolution, her fitness routine had ground to a halt. She was doing absolutely no exercise, and she suffered from asthma, heart problems and high blood pressure.
Once a dedicated outdoor walker, she was seeking the motivation to get started on some kind of programme again. “I need a swift kick,” she told me.
She found her mojo in the gym at the Pentagon, where she works, assisted by a supportive supervisor who helps her get there twice a week for lengthy lunchtime sessions of weightlifting and walking on an indoor track.
“I discovered something wonderful the second time I went,” she said. “My body told me, ‘I’ve been missing this. This is good.’ “
Lowrey, 66, said she has lost 10 pounds and an inch off her waistline, even though heart problems set her back for a while. “I’m happy. My clothing feels better on me,” the Springfield, Va, resident said. Her husband bought her a pedometer, she has downloaded a bunch of vegetarian recipes and she has cut back on the size of her meals.
Lowrey’s next goal is to lose another five or 10 pounds by the time of her granddaughter’s baptism in late May. And then 10 more after that.
“I’m going to take my gym bag starting next week,” she said.