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Spicing Up Exercise

By KIMBERLY PRENDERGAST THE PRESS-ENTERPRISE   

Front page of the Your Life Section

Yoga. Pilates. Martial Arts. old disciplines, yet they continue to grow in popularity, spawning copycat routines and endless merchandise.

Classes and DVDs offer routines based on everything from ballet and hula to Navy SEAL training.

“Medicine balls, elastic bands and fitness balls are popular because they add an element of play to workouts,” said Riverside trainer Karla Adams. Again, they are just another option.

“Whenever I bring a toy in, they love it,” said Adams, whose stability-ball class will soon start at the City Gym in Riverside. “It’s fun. It’s different. Everybody knows what weight equipment is, but when you do it on a ball it’s fun.”

The equipment – and the fact that children and parents can work out at the same time – is what draws a lot of people to the United States Karate Organization in Riverside.

Practice self-defense techniques and get a workout at the same time. Or take out frustrations by working up a sweat in the fitness kickboxing classes.

TOO AGGRESSIVE?

Many places in the Inland area offer more relaxing options, such as yoga and pilates. And even then, there are several variations on those disciplines, including one geared toward pregnant and postnatal women, which Yoga Solution in Riverside offers. And unlike most fitness classes, babies are welcome.

“Yoga can help stretch and tone muscles and improve the delivery experience,” said Tammy Gingerella, an instructor at Yoga Solution. “And it gives them a way to stay fit without putting themselves or the baby at risk.”

Belly dancing might not be the most strenuous exercise, but it does offer at least one benefit: It keeps people moving.

“I think it’s more of a fun thing,” said Alexandra Chandler, a pilates and belly-dance instructor who teaches at Yoga Solution and UC Riverside. “For most people, the reason they fail is they take something they don’t have an interest in and don’t find much fun.”

True, agrees Shirley Archer, author of “Pilates Fusion,” “The Strength and Toning Deck” and other fitness materials.

“There are no perfect workouts for every person on the planet. It’s finding what works for an individual,” Archer said.

And for many women, 30-minute circuit training at female-only gyms, such as Curves for Women or Body Shapers for Women in Murrieta, is what works. In half an hour, members reportedly get a strength-training and cardio workout.

SOMETHING DIFFERENT

Variety, it is said, is the spice of life. So trying something other than the treadmill and the free weights might keep people working out, fitness experts said.

“I believe the more options you have, the more you will probably stick with the program,” said Mike Iasparro, owner of Fitness United with Nutrition in Riverside. “People get bored very easily.”

Terrific, fitness experts said.

“As long as you’re following the routine and it’s motivating you; it’s great tool,” Adams said.

Of course it’s not always easy to stick to a regime. But there’s help: Boot camp. The Rialto Racquet & Fitness Center offers a six-week program for members and nonmembers.

Participants report to class five days a week and on the weekends they are assigned workout homework.

“The goal is success in fitness,” said Deborah Forthun Kitchen, a supervisor at the gym. “Just finding fitness in your life and putting it in where it fits.”

Motivation and a positive attitude are key ingredients to getting fit. And don’t forget enjoyment. Whether you like working out in your living room, the gym or outdoors, it doesn’t really matter as long as it’s fun, and more diverse workouts spark interest.

“What’s appealing to people is when it doesn’t feel like work,” Adams said.

NO PERFECT PROGRAM

When choosing a workout regimen, whatever it might be, it’s important to incorporate endurance training, cardio and stretching, said Dr. David Duffner, an orthopedic surgeon at the Orthopedic Institute of Desert Regional Medical Center. The last element often gets overlooked. But it’s important, especially for people in their late 30s and older.

“When you’re younger, you’re more limber and flexible like a rubber band,” Duffner said. “And when you’re older, you’re tight like a rope.”

And ropes can snap. Also, important is strength training, which is instrumental for maintaining and improving bone density

“Your bones respond to weight-bearing exercises by increasing density,” Duffner said. “Your bones don’t get weak as much . . . and they will be more resistant to bone fractures.”

Most fitness products and classes incorporate all of the necessary components. It’s just finding one you like – and then in a few months finding another one.

Changing routines every so often is paramount, Iasparro said.

“Muscles get used to the program you’re doing, and you’re body becomes adapted to that level,” he said. “If someone has been working out for years and hasn’t lost weight, often they’ve been doing the same routines.”

“Yes, they’re active and exercising, but they need to switch up,” Iasparro said.

Changing regimens forces the body to work different muscles. Sometimes working out longer or stepping up the difficulty level will do the trick.

“Participating in an activity at least five days a week is the goal,” said Archer, also a health educator and fitness leader at Stanford University. “And the first step to achieving that goal is to think about it.”

The next step, of course, is doing it.

“If DVDs work best for you, that’s great,” she said. “For most people the combination of things work. Whatever works, that’s what it boils down to.”