Park Ridge Park District programs push New Year’s resolutioners’ pace
The elliptical trainers were all being used at the Park Ridge Community Center on Saturday. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 11, 2013 6:34AM
PARK RIDGE — The Park Ridge Recreation and Park District’s fitness facility always has a jam-packed parking lot come January, when exercise and weight loss spring to the top of to-do lists.
“There is definitely a fitness calendar, and January is the busiest time in the year for us,” Community Center Manager Amy Murrin said.
Yet, unfortunately, the desire to get fit usually loses steam by mid-month. Week three tends to make or break New Year’s resolutions, said Park Ridge resident Laura Devaney.
“You cheer for the ones that stay,” she said.
Devaney isn’t personally one to make new goals for the new year since the “decision to tweak your life” can happen whenever, she said.
That time for her came three years ago, when she started taking the park district’s spinning and strength-training classes. A regular fitness regimen helps Devaney keep up with life’s demands, she said.
“What I find is that, when I start my day off with exercise, the rest of the day falls into place,” she said.
Wellness is also a year-round priority at the Community Center, 1515 W. Touhy Ave. The park district is offering membership specials and free events to help residents start off 2013 on a healthy foot.
College students, for example, could purchase one-month passes while home during holiday break. A three-class fitness package of group exercise, yoga/Pilates and personal training gives new members a taste of different workouts at a reduced price.
The park district aims to widen its appeal by providing a range of activities and keeping up with trends in fitness. Currently the Community Center has 38 fitness instructors who teach more than 100 classes a week, from gentle Tai Chi instruction to water dancing workouts in Aqua Zumba.
Group exercise classes are designed to be both fun and challenging, said Diane Murphy, the park district’s fitness program manager.
Weighted hula hoops, for example, are popular waist-trimming props in strength-training classes.
“Every time you give someone a hula hoop, they have a smile on their face,” Murphy said.
On Jan. 12 the Community Center hosts “Take Time for ‘Me’ in 2013,” featuring complimentary fitness classes, glucose testing, blood pressure and body fat screenings, therapeutic massages, and personal training demonstrations.
Other wellness-themed community events are also in the works this spring. American Heart Month is celebrated in February. The Park District promotes “Metabolic Madness” in March and the Harry O’Brien Multi-Community Run/Walk in April.
May represents Employee Health and Fitness Month, as well as National Senior Health and Fitness Day on the 29th.
Murrin said the first step for anyone looking to get fit is to walk through the fitness facility’s doors. Scheduling a date and time to hit the gym is an effective way to establishing a routine, she said.
“You have to put it in your planner or you won’t do it,” she said. “I get that people are busy and everyone is trying so hard to get everything in — like friends and family — but your health should be a priority now.
“The goal is to find a plan that is efficient for you and work with your time frame and budget.”
Though she has a stair-climbing machine at home, Katie Rathslag, a stay-at-home mom of two, enjoys the camaraderie of working out at a fitness club.
“I think it’s more fun when you’re with people,” she said.
She has regularly participated in two to five fitness classes a week at the Community Center for the past decade, and credits a fitness routine with allowing her to keep up with the kids.
“I can do fun stuff on vacation because I work out during the year,” she said.
Plus, she added, “You don’t feel as guilty eating all the Christmas cookies.”
Murrin hopes encouraging other residents to try park district activities leads to long-lasting healthy habits with positive ripple effects.
“When you take care of yourself you’re (better) able to take care of those you love,” she said.