Health & Medicine

Here’s how one women’s gym chain can help you reach your New Year’s resolutions in 2018

It’s that time of year again when everyone will write a list of resolutions for the new year and cross their fingers that they’ll be able to stick to them.

Gym memberships will skyrocket. Chocolate will be evicted from the house.

But the age-old problem is commitment. Polls show that weight loss, exercise and health-related resolutions top the lists of popular resolutions made each year, but further research suggests that only 8 percent of people actually achieve their resolutions.

So how to keep to those goals? The women of Kaia FIT Sacramento, a chain of women’s gyms that pair nutrition plans with workouts, have some advice.

Kaia FIT has grown from one gym in Minden, Nev., founded in 2010 by Nikki Warren to 47 locations in five states. That includes 19 locations in the Sacramento region.

Many of the women who own the local gyms got their start at Kaia Sacramento and decided to branch out on their own, said Amber Leonti, co-owner of Kaia FIT’s Sacramento, Carmichael and Sunrise locations.

She and business partner Kira Rasmussen met each other through Kaia Sacramento before opening the Sunrise location several years later and then expanding their ownership.

Compared to other cities she’s lived in, Leonti said people in Sacramento are more interested in fitness and the outdoors. She said she thinks the proliferation over the last few years of franchise-based gyms like CrossFit, which gave people a new way to work out, have added to people’s willingness to try new activities.

When it comes to setting resolutions, Leonti said reframing priorities is a good place to start.

What is the goal?

Lots of women come into Kaia for the first time with a weight-loss goal. Leonti said she tries to get them to think deeper about what they want.

Say a potential customer wants to lose 20 pounds.

“OK, well let’s talk about what, in your mind, what is that going to accomplish for you?” she asks them. “Are you going to be more confident? Are you going to be able to play with your kids more? What is the goal?

“Oftentimes we see people lose 20 pounds and they’ve still got all of this going on,” she said, pointing to her temple. “They still feel insecure and still feel worried that people are judging them.”

Less focus on a number on the scale and more focus on how you feel inside, i.e. stronger and healthier, will make it easier to accomplish your goals, she said.

Somewhere you belong

Ellen Byron recommended people find a gym or an exercise group that is comfortable and provides support.

“Find somewhere where you belong,” she said. “This is a good place for women to belong. I haven’t seen very many who don’t feel pretty comfortable.”

Byron, 55, joined Kaia FIT in February because she lives nearby and noticed groups of women jogging, sidestepping and duck-walking around the block and decided to give it a go. As a female engineer and math teacher, seeing women empower other women is thrilling for her.

“Here you’re really coming because you’re taking care of yourself and then you’re spiriting and fueling other people,” she said. “It’s really a family here. You’re not going to the gym with your makeup on; you’re going to the gym to fuel your body.”

She said she makes it to twice as many Kaia FIT classes than she would at another gym because she knows her friends will miss her and she’ll miss out on a fun workout. She said that feeling of community is important to consistency.

Something you like doing

Kaia FIT coach Allison McNamara suggested finding activities you enjoy that get you moving around. If you hate running, resolving to train for a 5K is probably not the way to go.

“If you’re, like, dreading your workout every day, you’re not going to stick with it,” McNamara, 34, said.

Leonti said when she first started working out at Kaia FIT six years ago, there were not nearly as many boutique gym and workout class options offered throughout Sacramento.

“Now it’s like there are so many really good options and it’s just finding what works for you,” she said. “We have a lot of people who will leave for a few months and then come back and say, ‘Oh, I liked their workouts, but it just didn’t feel like that sense of community,’ but some people go places and they love it.”

Know that everyone starts somewhere

Kaia FIT doesn’t tend to reuse workouts, so each class is different, but one key component is that each move has three alternatives: the balance level is the easiest, followed by the strength level and then the Kaia level, the most advanced. Students are encouraged to start slow and ramp up as they are able to. The classes are an hour long, so pacing is important.

Warren said she designed the program to appeal to the mothers she would see sitting on the sidelines in her gymnastics facilities, waiting for their children to finish exercising.

The moms would say things like “athletics are for children” or “it’s not fun to work out,” Warren said. So she modeled her program on gymnastics – start with a basic version of the move and slowly get more complex, and the workout is designed to be fun.

Inclusive rather than restrictive

For those who are considering a diet-related resolution, think about what you will eat rather than what you won’t. Nutrition is a mainstay of the program, and Kaia FIT members get a cookbook, meal plans and shopping lists to help them eat fewer processed foods.

“For me, it was the total change of mindset as far as learning how to fuel your body,” McNamara said. “How to approach food from a what-can-I-eat, what-tastes-good, what-makes-me-feel-good (perspective), instead of trying to cut out and coming at it from a restrictive mindset.”

Warren said the meal plans and recipes are designed around a motto of “keep it simple, sister.” For instance, she wants to redefine how Kaia members think of fast food.

“Fast food is an apple, fast food is an avocado,” she said. “We don’t demonize foods, we just focus on incorporating more foods into our daily life that are just off a tree or a plant ... If you add things to your life that are good, you slowly push out the things that don’t serve you.”

A Kaia FIT membership costs $139 a month, which covers all classes, nutrition plans and some individual coaching. Women interested in trying it get one week free.

Ellen Garrison: 916-321-1920, @EllenGarrison

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