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Ready, Set, Fit: A New Year's Resolution

San Leandro gyms brace themselves for New Year's influx

Even the most disciplined eaters find it easy to overindulge during the holidays. Between the treats in the office break room and the parties each weekend, most of us manage to pack on the pounds this time of year.

Just as predictably, many of us will make the same New Year's resolution -- to start an exercise program and lose weight.

Fortunately, many gyms, fitness clubs and classes stand ready to assist those who have the resolve. Whether you choose weights, Jazzercise or spinning you can find it in San Leandro. 

Here is what some some local fitness outfits have to say about getting in shape.

Walt's Health Club

A true neighborhood gym, has been in San Leandro 32 years, first on Davis Street and for the past decade on Washington Avenue. Its owner, Walt Fernandez has taken the gym from a men's-only weight-lifting club in the 1970's to a full-service fitness center for men, women, teens and seniors today. It offers a variety of conditioning programs and classes.

Carmen Davis who has been with Walt's for two years but has 15 years of experience in the industry, said while they see some increase in new members each January, what is most noticable is the number of people who already have memberships who start coming more frequently after the first of each year.

The club offers 30 minute group classes now for people on the go and a 15 minute morning conditioning and stability class for seniors. In the evenings a younger crowd descends upon the gym and teens and families work out together.

Davis said the club's size works to its advantage. "It is laid back and casual, a real neighborhood gym. People are friendly. You don't have to be afraid to come here or feel overwhelmed by crowds." She said there is always someone on the floor to help members and even if you haven't been to a gym in a long time  you will feel comfortable.

You can visit Walt's website here.


Gloria Vasconcellos has owned the San Leandro Curves franchise n Parrott Street for nine years. Curves, a circuit training center for women, sees a definite spike in membership the first of each year.

"People think about weight loss in January," Vasconcellos said, "and overwhelmingly we are seeing people come here because they are concerned about their health, not their looks."

High cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension and other chronic ailments are driving people to exercise programs, she said.

Vasconcellos stresses the importance of taking small steps when you are engaging in exercise for the first time or after a long time away from it.  She tries to keep clients goals realistic. "I tell them they can lose 100 pounds," she said, " but it will take them a year to do it. They have to understand it takes time to see results."

In January curves will introduce a 90-day on-line weight loss and gym combination program. They will provide participants with a shopping list, menu each week, workout program, motivational exercise and nutrition videos and a weekly meeting with an in-house counselor in addition to access to circuit classes.

You can visit Curves website here.

Bally Fitness

A Bally's operations manager with 19 years of experience in the fitness industry said those who impulsively join a health club at the first of the year would be wise to view their new interest in fitness as a lifestyle change and not expect instant weight loss.

"Unfortunately, if someone 5 foot 2 comes in wanting to lose 50 pounds in the first two months they will be disappointed," said the manager, who did not want to be named. "They need to shift their thinking and realize that this needs to be a permanent lifestyle change and that while coming to the gym is great, they need to be active outside as well."

The manager estimated that 75 percent of people joining gyms in January are overweight and most come at the advice of their doctor. 

Many, he said, buy home gyms, video tapes, treadmills and other equipment that later becomes nothing more than  clothes racks. They come to gyms because they were unable to motivate themselves to exercise alone. Most people need to be around others also exercising  to stick with a plan, he said.

Those who don't drop out by March and stick it out revel in their improved health.

"Many tell me they never thought they would walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded or play with their kid or run a marathon," the manager said. "To see people accomplish things they thought they would never be able to do, to see them lose weight and improve their health, that's very gratifying."

You can visit Bally's website here.

Payne Fitness Health & Wellness

This center offers nutrition coaching, personal training, group classes and off-site corporate wellness programs. Bryan Payne has owned the business for eight years, six of them in San Leandro.

He said people are coming to him to age gracefully, prevent avoidable disease and learn how to exercise without injuring themselves.

Payne thinks people who head to the gym after making a New Year's resolution may be setting themselves up for failure.  "They really need to consider this a complete lifestyle shift," he said, "not something to do just because it is the New Year."

He suggests people out of shape actually should go to the gym 6 times a week to get back in the habit and start to see some results and he escews fads. "There is no replacement for hard work," he said, "you just have to do it."

Payne is troubled by statistics that show two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. "We can't go on like this as a society," he said, "and people trying to exercise on their own is just not working. People do best with personal help and someone to motivate them."

While he encourages his clients, Payne said he doesn't sugar-coat his advice and he has heard every excuse that exists why people don't have time to exercise.

"People just should not fall prey to those get skinny quick ads," he said, "the fact is you have to work at it to succeed."

You can view Payne's website here.

Hot Body Fitness

Tucked behind the coffee shop, Hot Body Fitness has been in operation for three years and run by Zack and Kyoung Miller, a husband and wife team.

Weight loss is the number one reason people come to their business, according to Zack Miller. He said people want to get stronger and healtheir.

Hot Body Fitness will offer an 8-week $199 program at the beginning of the year that will focus on weight loss to meet the demand of people resolving to trim down in January.

The center has state-of-the art Nautilus equipment and specializies in customized individual training programs by appointment. It also has spinning classes at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m on weekdays and at 9 a.m. on weekends.

You can visit Hot Body's website here.


Celeste Cook has owned a Jazzercise franchise for over 15 years. She currently teaches classes at the Castro Valley Community Center and the Marina Community Center on Wicks Boulevard in San Leandro.  

Her classes which combine pilates, kick-boxing, yoga and dancing all choreographed to current music, attracts participants of all ages. Her students currently range in age from 21 to 73.

She offers an intense 30 minute compressed work-out, a 40 minute body sculpting class and a one hour regular class that includes a warm-up, cardio-dance and strength training.

From January 7 through 9 Jazzercise will offer a special 3-day sale called "Start for $0", waiving their joining fee entirely.  Members will still pay a monthly fee. They will also receive five friend passes during the promotional event.

Cook said Jazzercise is a great choice for someone just getting back into exercising after being away from it for awhile. What is her advice to people thinking about following through on their New Year's resolution to move more?

"I would say you just have to get over the edge," she said, "You have to start somewhere. Just come on in and do it. Nobody is going to stare at you. People really are friendly."

"It's really wonderful how accepting my students are of new class members," she said. "I introduce brand new people to the class and afterwards I see the other students swarming around them, talking to them and making them feel so welcome."

You can e-mail Celeste if you would like more information about her Jazzercise classes at cjazzprincess@aol.com or call 510-733-1201.

(Follow us on Twitter @sanleandropatch or like us at Facebook.com/sanleandropatch)


Ed Hernandez December 29, 2011 at 07:21 PM
The Inner Athlete in San Leandro is also a great place to work out!
Leah Hall December 29, 2011 at 07:38 PM
It's fun to go to the Y-M-C-A, Oakland! Lot's of programs for kids and teens. Easy access to public transportation and other community amenities. Girls, Inc., headquartered in San Leandro, has purchased a building nearby and will be relocating to the neighborhood when the space is ready.
Tom Abate December 29, 2011 at 08:23 PM
Does the Y teach swimming? I thrash and need to learn the breathing technique. Also, different topic but the redevelopment ruling is in and bad for cities. I have the beginning of a story on Patch. Where is Fran when you need her???
Leah Hall December 29, 2011 at 08:44 PM
There are about one hundred different aquatics options for all ages and abilities, Tom. My normal workout is early in the morning weekdays. At that time of day they have an aqua fitness program for seniors that looks to be about 95% female and about 75% non-white. Think Bill Murray in "Lost in Translation" in the water with all the Tokyo women. If that's not to one's liking then check the Y's aquatics fitness schedule here for all their class offerings: http://oakland.ymcaeastbay.org/programs/aquatics
Leah Hall January 04, 2012 at 05:52 AM
Free 3 day trial pass - any Bay Area YMCA Hi Tom, I saw this coupon on a banner ad when reading the NYTimes. Thought you and other readers might be interested if you haven't checked out a Y for a while. http://www.ymcasv.org/yfreepass/yfreepass.pdf


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