Year after year, Americans’ most common New Years resolutions are exercise, healthy eating and weight loss. The new year promises new beginnings, following a holiday period of boozy parties and heavy food. 

Unfortunately, research shows that less than 10 percent of people who set New Year’s resolutions actually stick to them. This question that begs to be answered is how does one become part of the 10 percent? 

The Forest Park Review sat down with local fitness-club owners to ask what it takes to get healthy and stay healthy in 2019. 

Regan Hoerster, Village Pilates 

Regan Hoerster likes the spirit of a fresh start. However, she hopes to help people see health from a holistic perspective. “I want my clients to approach that desire to change and get better in a healthy, sustainable way,” she said.

According to Hoerster, the studio focuses on mental health and diet, offering a 30-day clean eating program twice per year, which emphasizes mindfulness and taking care of the self instead of restriction.

“Exercise can’t fix a bad diet,” she said. “When you eat foods that fuel you, you are not going to have inflammation or weight gain.”

Mindfulness, Hoerster points out, is a major resolution for many. It can be developed with Pilates, which is a type of moving meditation.

Hoerster tries to harness the initial motivation: “The energy of the new year has people coming to the higher-intensity classes. People are bolder and wanting to try new things.”

However, Hoerster warns against placing too much pressure on the new year as the time to start over.

“Give yourself the grace all the time to start again,” she tells them. “That is what gives people resilience: always being able to start again at any time.”

Hoerster has one piece of advice: “Just do it. Make the phone call, schedule the appointment, don’t delay.” She believes there is a pervasive, incorrect myth that fit people are motivated all the time. Rather, fit people exercise even when they aren’t motivated; they just show up.

“You can’t wait to be motivated.”

She recommends signing up for classes in a studio, which provides community and accountability. 

John Hayley’s Unbreakable Fitness

According to John Hayley, the trend in the fitness industry the past few decades has been deprivation. He approaches fitness from a different angle. He asks, “What can we add?”

Unbreakable Fitness held a holiday fitness challenge from Dec. 15 to Jan. 15, where participants received points for making healthy lifestyle choices, such as shutting off electronics in the evening, cooking at home, and getting enough sleep. Hayley trains his clients to create a healthy lifestyle, noting, “What they’re doing outside of the gym is what matters. They’re only here for an hour.”

He does not recommend “weight-loss” challenges. “It encourages people not to eat, and people feel discouraged when they have to remove things.”

His fitness philosophy revolves around adding quality. “When you add quality, you eventually feel better, and those behaviors become habit,” he explains. Many of his challenge participants lost weight without weight loss being the central goal.

Like Hoerster, Hayley finds what you eat to be as important as how you exercise, emphasizing the importance of paying attention to food. 

“It is a more powerful exercise than any workout.”

Another trend is burnout. He incorporates “rest days” into his programs to communicate the importance of recovery in a sustainable exercise routine. The workouts at Unbreakable Fitness vary in intensity depending on the day and class, and offerings include strength training, cardio-conditioning, flexibility and nutrition coaching.

Unlike most gyms, which accept drop-ins at any time, Hayley operates on a 12-week membership model with a progressive program that increases intensity each week. 

Hayley’s biggest piece of advice for anyone starting a fitness program is to focus on what you can do: “Don’t let what you can’t do get in the way of what you can do. Just choose exercise that is most important for you.”

John Tutaj, Tutaj Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

John Tutaj doesn’t pay much attention to New Year’s resolutions. 

“A lot of people who make New Year’s resolutions don’t stick with them,” he said, explaining that Jiu Jitsu requires more than a short spurt of motivation. 

“Jiu Jitsu is tough. People who are looking for Jiu Jitsu find it.”

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a form of martial arts for people who are unafraid of close contact. “You submit to your opponent using locks.” Jiu Jitsu requires little equipment, and is practiced barefoot on thick mats. Beginners can wear a gi, the cotton uniform usually associated with martial arts.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has been made popular on a national level due to its connection to MMA fighters such as Rhonda Rousey (Mixed Martial Arts). However, while the sports are similar, they are not the same.

“In MMA there is a lot of punching. Not in Jiu Jitsu. The lack of striking keeps it safe,” explains Tutaj.

The workout generally consists of a 15 minute warm-up, followed by 45 minutes of technique and situational sparring, all of which work up a heavy sweat. Tutaj also offers self-defense classes on Saturday.

Like Hoerster and Hayley, he places heavy emphasis on eating a healthy diet, believing in the importance of investing the extra time necessary for nutrition. His advice is simple: “Cook your own food.” If it comes in a box and is packaged with preservatives, he doesn’t eat it.

Tutaj believes there is a connection between the high incidence of diabetes today and the modern diet.

“You need to dedicate adequate time to your health. It’s not always easy to take care of yourself, but you are either going to pay now or later.”