A New You for the New Year

It is here – the time of year when you’re guaranteed that someone will ask the question, “What’s your New Year’s resolution?” While resolutions are a dime a dozen, the vast majority seem to center around health and fitness, which raises the question, why don’t we just ask, “What’s your weight loss strategy this year?” Resolution or not, we all have to acknowledge that getting fit and maintaining a healthy weight should be a priority, and fortunately New Orleans is full of individuals and businesses looking to help us achieve good health and internal balance.

A variety of options await both exercise newcomers and seasoned professionals all around the metro area. No matter your style, there’s a workout routine you’re bound to enjoy.

“Don’t be intimidated by the fitness industry,” says Jennifer Thomas, owner of Pure Barre New Orleans (3923 Magazine St., 342-2208, PureBarre.com) and Pure Barre Mandeville. “The best thing to do is seek professionals and ask questions.” Different workout routines provide different results, so you should start by knowing what you want to achieve. Do you simply want to lose weight, or are you trying to find internal and external balance, strengthen your core or buff up?

Pure Barre is a fast-growing technique that helps you burn fat and tone muscles in your abs, thighs, arms and other areas. Each 55-minute workout is set to motivating music and exercises the entire body with small, isometric movements that incorporate a ballet barre. According to Thomas, the classes are effective for women and men, and results are guaranteed in 10 classes.

Pilates and Xtend Barre are the expertise of Kim Munoz, owner of Nola Pilates & Xtend Barre New Orleans (6268 Vicksburg St., 483-8880, NolaPilates.com), located in Lakeview. The low-impact nature of Pilates is great for people of all ages.

“I was driven to Pilates because of repetitive knee injuries from running. I thought I was in shape but quickly learned that I hadn’t been training my core,” says Munoz. “No matter your athletic regimen, if you’re not using your core, you’re not reaching your full potential. Pilates focuses on the center of your body and creates equilibrium in your movements while strengthening and toning.” Nola Pilates & Xtend Barre New Orleans also offers cardio-centered classes such as Barre (Pilates and ballet), Piloxing (Pilates and boxing), Zumba, spin and yoga.

The holiday season puts a lot of pressure on the body both in terms of additional food intake and in terms of stress. It is a busy time of year during which normal routines often take a back seat. Geoffrey Roniger, owner of Freret Street Yoga (4608 Freret St., 899-1142, FreretStreetYoga.com) invites you “back to balance.”

“The trend in American yoga right now is toward high-paced, choreographed classes that give people a workout but unfortunately lack the foundation of healthy alignment,” says Roniger. “The integrity of the practice lies in cultivating balance – harmony of mind, body and spirit. They are still challenging exercises that help you feel ease in your body, freedom in your joints and space to breathe.” Providing high-level instruction in a down-to-earth setting, Freret Street Yoga offers private and group classes for beginners on up.

The calm quiet of a yoga studio works well for many, while others crave a more action-oriented, lively atmosphere. Recently, fitness boot camps have become a hot trend in whipping locals into shape. Nolan Ferraro, owner of Salire Fitness (4209 Magazine St., 821-4896, SalireFitness.com) offers multiple outdoor boot camps as a way to make fitness affordable for those not looking to join a gym and who crave the camaraderie that comes with a group workout.

Ferraro also offers private personal training, Pilates and life coaching based out of his Magazine Street location. He refers to his personal training style as a form of metabolic resistance training: up-tempo training that raises the heart rate, utilizes all planes of motion and uses body weight and calisthenics instead of weight lifting only.

“I use traditional weights, TRX suspension training, functional training, human movement, Pilates reformists, cardio, calisthenics – all different types of training at once,” says Ferraro. A licensed life coach, he also works to help clients discover what hinders their success and attempts to break those patterns.

Eduardo Yibrin ((225) 588-0045, EduardoYibrin.com), another local trainer, suggests that those looking for a personal trainer conduct several interviews. While some offer free consultations and others don’t, the price of finding the right trainer is invaluable, as it can make a difference in a person’s motivation to succeed.

For Yibrin, fitness is more than just exercise; your nutrition and rest factor into the equation and are part of your overall fitness plan. “You have to be honest, “ says Yibrin, “and have a conversation with the trainer before you begin training. They will need to know your medical history and current condition.” Yibrin makes himself available to clients 24/7 and even takes phone calls from clients asking, “Can I eat this and that?”

Nutrition is also the concern of national smoothie giant Smoothie King (multiple locations, including 1905 and 201 St. Charles Ave., SmoothieKing.com). The franchise continues its mission of influencing people to live healthier lifestyles through nutrition. Through an exclusive partnership with Nutrition53, Smoothie King now offers Lean1 smoothies in chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. The healthy meal replacement provides 14 organic fruits and vegetables and 27 vitamins and minerals while helping burn body fat up to 68 percent faster, fight hunger cravings, tone and define lean muscle and speed recovery from workouts.

According to Cindy Kuhnau, co-founder of Smoothie King, “Lean1 is a delicious option that provides a program that can be easily incorporated into the busy, active lifestyles of our fans.”

Speaking of active lifestyles, yet another faction of the public enjoys the convenience and flexibility of fitness centers. The ability to come and go and to choose from an abundance of group exercise options appeals to many locals.

Rusty Roussel, owner of Salvation Studio (2917 Magazine St., 896-2200, SalvationStudio.com), likes to keep things new at his Magazine Street studio, despite the fact that it’s been around for over 15 years. “We’re constantly reinventing ourselves, offering new programs and classes,” says Roussel. “We’re the old dog on the block, but we keep barking, so to speak.”

Salvation Studio doesn’t offer a swimming pool, sauna or spa services. An otherwise complete fitness center, they pride themselves on dedicating every square foot of space to fitness. With a variety of classes and training, Salvation welcomes new customers to check out the studio with a friend and receive $50 off the joining fee plus 50 percent off the first month’s membership. “Joining with a ‘training partner,’ a friend or spouse, can help keep you accountable and motivated to work out,” says Roussel.

An Uptown fitness club popular with locals is Uptown Athletic Club (4834 Pitt St., 304-3614, UACNola.com), the creation of Kurt Weiser and Martin LaRocca.

Highly skilled personal trainers, Weiser and LaRocca opened this upscale, private gym on Pitt Street for more efficient and very involved personal training in biometrics, speed training, weight training and agility. They also offer a wide range of classes, including a yoga/Pilates class and a boxing cardio class, as well as one-on-one boxing instruction.

Once you’ve designed your resolution plan of attack, don’t forget to gear up. Priorities (5523 Magazine St., 899-2212, PrioritiesNola.com) is an activewear boutique for the woman on the go. Whether participating in yoga, Pilates, tennis or golf, you’ll feel comfortable moving around in the perfectly flattering pant.

New clothes can be motivators to keep you going, and even if that particular workout doesn’t cut it for you, clothes from Priorities are perfect for your morning carpool or for walking the dog.

 Even as their services differ, there are two things these trainers and fitness gurus recommend for a successful fitness resolution. Number one, don’t give up! If you don’t like one thing, try another. Number two, set realistic goals and be consistent. Miracles don’t happen overnight. As soon as you see even the slightest results, you’ll be hooked.

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