The basic arc of a typical New Year’s Eve for the over-18 set is simple: imbibe thousands of fizzy, alcoholic calories, dance a little silly dance, notice a jiggling upper arm or lower abdomen, and resolve to go to the gym. But few of us make good on those resolutions. So this week, reporter Ariella Cohen (who, by the way, hasn’t been to her gym since the early days of 2006) checked in with Calvin Washington, a personal trainer at Crunch Fitness in Fort Greene about that perennial and typically short-lived post-Jan. 1 gym rush.
Q: What does Jan. 2 at the gym look like?
A: Crowded. It was so jam-packed yesterday that no one could get on the cardio machines the whole time I was there.
Q: How do the new gym converts look? Have they switched over to the Spandex shorts of the fitness-committed yet?
A: Haven’t seen too much Spandex yet.
Q: How long does the fitness frenzy usually last?
A: The peak is New Year’s and then it gets slower and slower until summer. Summer is when people want to be outside. During the winter everyone wants to get in shape. The average gym membership lasts about three months.
Q: Why do people give up?
A: It’s hard work. They aren’t getting the results the want, so they quit after two weeks. People look at it like a chore, but you have to look at it as way of life. You shower, you work out, you brush your teeth, you work out.
Q: Are some people spoiled — like they feel entitled to a great body, but aren’t willing to work to get it? How do you deal with that?
A: All I can do is tell them what I think the best thing for them is. I can’t get on the machine for them.
Q: OK, so if someone really is committed, what do you recommend they do so they don’t get frustrated?
A: Keep it fresh. Keep changing up your workout. There are so many ways to target different muscles.
Q: Is that newfangled cross-country-skiing-simulation machine actually better for a person than an old-fashioned stationary bike or treadmill?
A: I think you mean the elliptical machine and it is actually a piece of equipment I recommend. It’s not as hard on the knees as a treadmill and it makes you work harder than a bike.
Q: Does watching TV while you work out help or hinder?
A: Anything that takes your mind off the workout and makes the time go faster is good. Then again, I don’t recommend any TV while doing free weights. You need to really concentrate because you could injure yourself.
Q: Do you recommend snacking on those “fitness cookies” that gyms have recently started to sell alongside the bottled water?
A: It depends on what you want. If you are a person trying to lose weight, I wouldn’t suggest eating protein bars. They have a lot of calories and carbs that you probably don’t need. If you want to gain body mass and muscle, they can help you do that.
Q: What is the single best advice you would give to a gym newbie trying to make 2007 the year of the ab?
A: It’s all about consistency. Pumping up should be a part of your everyday life.