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Published: Sunday, 1/6/2013

Losing weight, eating better key at area fitness centers

St. Julian's Fitness Center owners Tom and Shirley St. Julian in the gym in Perrysburg. St. Julian's Fitness Center owners Tom and Shirley St. Julian in the gym in Perrysburg.
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Lots of folks make New Year's resolutions to exercise and lose weight, as evidenced by the uptick in membership and attendance reported by Perrysburg-area fitness centers.

"Every year we see a big boost," said Tom St. Julian, who co-owns St. Julian's Fitness locations in Perrysburg and Bowling Green with wife Shirley and son Shane.

Becoming a health devotee is just the first step. Not giving up is the real challenge.

"Anybody can lose weight, but to maintain it and keep it off takes motivation," Ms. St. Julian said.

Fitness centers use systems to evaluate members' body measurements, asses metabolism rates, set goals, and track progress. Some also offer nutrition programs that are designed to work in conjunction with exercise routines and help people establish healthy eating habits.

Such tools improve a person's chances for long-term success, said Jennifer Boyles, who owns Curves locations in Perrysburg and Whitehouse.

"It's the encouragement, accountability, and they have the community here," she said.

Dana Mickens is the group exercise manager at Fort Meigs YMCA in Perrysburg. She said group classes have a social component and level of camaraderie that can be helpful when a member isn't there for a while and others will reach out, but noted that beginners may need more individualized attention from a coach.

"It can be very intimidating to walk into a room of Type A exercisers," she said.

It also can be painful. Sore muscles and even injury can derail a person's resolve, said Michael Olmstead, physical therapist at the Performance Over Pain clinic in Perrysburg.

"The key to everything is proper movement," he said.

Mr. Olmstead said people often make the mistake of overtaxing their current levels of flexibility with too many repetitions or improper use of equipment.

The physical therapist, and Perrysburg City Council member, advised people to pick a gym with certified staff and to not be swayed by discount deals.

Fitness center coaches have a responsibility to help members set achievable goals and make sure they are using gym equipment in a safe manner, Mr. St. Julian said.

"A lot of people have expectations about losing a lot of weight," he said, adding that people get discouraged when they focus on a big pound number instead of making incremental lifestyle changes that will yield long-term results.

Ms. Mickens said goals should be "achievable, realistic, and timely."

Finding the right gym with the right atmosphere and amenities can help people stay on track with their fitness goals, Ms. St. Julian said.

Curves accepts only women as members, and the hydraulic resistance equipment is designed for their body types, Ms. Boyles said.

When members reach a goal, fanfare helps them strive for their next ones.

"We all celebrate with them," Ms. Boyles said.

Contact Rebecca Conklin Kleiboemer at 419-356-8786,, or on Twitter @RebeccaConklinK.

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