Re-thinking resolutions: Keeping fit in 2014

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO | Getting it all worked out at Shelter Island Yoga and Fitness.
BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO | Getting it all worked out at Shelter Island Yoga and Fitness.

Was it really only a few weeks ago that you made that promise to get fit in 2014? How’s that working for you?

Is the newly acquired home fitness equipment now a handy clothes hanger? Did you forget that you invested in a gym membership promising yourself that the outlay of money would inspire you to use it?

Those in the fitness business want you to know it’s not too late to recommit to your New Year’s resolutions and offer a host of reasons to do so — and not just to line their pockets or provide you with a more attractive physique. It’s all about health — both physical and mental — and about socializing with others during what could otherwise be a dreary and lonely time of year on the Island.

“It’s hard to fight the urge to hibernate in the winter,” said Maggie Davis, who runs exercise classes for the Shelter Island Recreation Department at the American Legion. She sees an increase in participation in January and then it “fades out with each passing month,” Ms. Davis said. “It’s a struggle for me like everyone else. You don’t find time, you make time. Replace your bad habits with good habits.”

Exercising at home might be fine for some, but most will benefit from getting out of the house and away from distractions and interacting at a gym with other people, she added.

Suzette Smith of Shelter Island Pilates said joining an exercise program and interacting with others “helps you keep the blues away,” SIP has a lot of small group classes where friends join together and motivate one another. And for those who prefer private sessions, that’s available too.

“Pilates is very personal and I create a relationship with my clients,” Ms. Smith said. If you start a program with her, don’t be surprised to get a telephone call if you don’t show up for a session.

Those enrolled at SIP run the gamut in age and ability. Ms. Smith’s oldest client is 87 and has been doing pilates for 14 years.

To get people started, Julie Bliss at

offers single day passes. You don’t have to sign up for a year’s membership, she said. What’s nice about the day passes for some is that when the weather allows, they may prefer outdoor exercise. But when it’s icy and they can’t get out and walk or run, instead of taking the day off, they can move inside for yoga or other fitness activities. Ms. Bliss also has Zumba classes, spinning and strength training.

And for those who want it, appointments can be set up with a personal trainer.

To keep some motivated, there’s a two-month challenge program that requires participants to come to the center at least twice a week and to take a minimum of 10 fitness classes over a two-month period. If they meet the challenge, they’ll be given a two-month extension without further charge.

This year, Ms. Bliss saw a surge in participation between the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. She speculates it might have been the result of those who thought they would be eating more and wanted to avoid weight gain.

As for January, there’s been the usual uptick in participation and it’s “not just the gym rats,” but others who come in with personal goals, she said.

At a time when a lot of organized activities are unavailable on Shelter Island, Ms Bliss’s customers tell her they’re grateful there’s a place to socialize and do something positive for themselves.

At the town FIT Center, Garth Griffin reports two annual seasons when activity picks up. In January, right after the New Year’s resolutions have been made, Mr. Griffin sees people coming in five days a week. Then activity at the gym slacks off. But with the first sign of warm weather and visions of bathing suits time, it’s like a second New Year’s resolution, Mr. Griffin said. That’s especially true for women.

The FIT Center program has a wide scope of activities with all a variety exercise equipment.

Jean Lawless, who teaches yoga groups at the town’s Senior Activity Center, said she doesn’t experience the seasonal swings as much as some of the others do. On Wednesdays, Ms. Lawless has pretty much the same group who come to the Silver Circle Social Club that includes yoga sessions, lunch and companionship. But even the Monday and Friday morning yoga groups tend to attract a steady group of participants, Ms. Lawless said.

“Anybody who does any kind of physical exercise, it’s going to help you mentally,” she said about the importance of getting up off the couch.