Start 2023 on a strong note

Maintaining your News Year’s fitness resolution.

Deborah Lister does exercises in the water aerobics class at the YMCA. — Gabrielle Mannino

The top New Year’s resolution is exercise, with 52 percent choosing to hit the gym more often. Gyms fill up in January, but the dropout rate is high, with 43 percent of exercisers expecting to fail before February, and almost one out of four quitting within the first week of setting their resolution. Most people quit before the end of January, and only 9 percent see their resolutions through. 

It doesn’t have to be that way. Joining an exercise class will improve your chances of sticking with your gym regime, according to group fitness instructor and senior specialist Denise Guy at the YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard. “Joining a fitness class is a great way to stay motivated. Group exercise brings fun, that ‘feel good’ factor, so finding a form of exercise you love is something you look forward to instead of it feeling like a chore,” Guy said. “Maintaining strong social ties to a group can help you show up regularly.”

Exercise opportunities at the Y of Martha’s Vineyard

In-person exercise opportunities are back. Whatever your level of fitness — whether you are wheelchair bound or can hop up and down to a yoga mat like a gazelle, the Y’s constellation of Healthy Agers classes has a place for you, in the gym and in the pool, according to Y director of operations Nina Kiendzior, who listed for The Times her choices of Healthy Agers exercises:

“Y-Cycle is a great cardio-health workout option. Check out Halley’s class Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9:30 am. An excellent workout focusing on endurance, strength, intervals, intensity, and recovery to simulate a ride in real terrain. For all skill levels, an all-terrain adventure.”

Better for You is geared toward those transitioning from physical therapy or a cardiac rehab program. Or maybe you’re looking to ease your way back into exercise? Join the YMCA for Better for You on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 10:15 to 11:15 am. Better for You helps participants safely transition to the YMCA facility, under the guidance of qualified staff, and introduces them to safe and healthy exercise options.

Sit 2 Be Fit is a workout primarily in the seated position to offer safety and success for participants at lower levels of physical function. This includes strength-building exercises, and promotes balance and mobility.

For active older adults who can get down on a mat easily, classical Pilates is a total-body workout emphasizing core strength, muscular length, strength, and flexibility. A challenging class across the spectrum from athlete to novice. 

Yoga for Elders

The Y offers a half-dozen yoga classes. Silva Yoga instructor Stephanie Mashek explained to The Times how one of them could benefit you. “The benefits of yoga address issues basic to the aging process. Yoga practice can increase and maintain flexibility, balance, strength, and mobility; improve respiration and energy; help to manage anxiety and depression; and cultivate mindfulness and body awareness.”

If someone is looking to start, find a class that allows you to move at a safe pace and offers modifications to allow access to poses; it may take a few tries to find a teacher and group in which you feel comfortable, and also a few classes to start to understand basic poses and movements. Approach yoga with curiosity and awareness. Know that there is no right way, only a right way for you. Recognize that your yoga may look different from everyone else’s; the person on the mat next to you may be doing a pose quite differently, but never better than you, and hopefully good for them.

Missing from the Y’s yoga lineup at the moment is chair yoga, the perfect place for seniors with limited mobility and those recovering from surgery. For that entry-level yoga class, check out Kat’s chair yoga at the Vineyard Haven library on Monday mornings at 11:15. It’s free and fun.

The pool

Water Aerobics, offered five days a week, is for both swimmers and non-swimmers. This low-impact workout is easy on joints and geared toward increasing cardiovascular output and muscle tone. One of the best perks of this class is the loyal community it has grown at the Y, where friendship and socialization are also great health benefits.

The pool is also a great place to rehab from orthopedic surgery — those new knees that can be a part of the aging process, according to swim instructor Leslie Craven.“Once your surgical wounds heal, water should be the first arena for the post-surgery person,” Craven told The Times. “Water is the safest place to rehab. With almost zero impact, reinjury is unlikely. Water reduces pain. Due to hydrostatic pressure, water reduces edema or swelling. Water enables a person to have greater range of mobility because it supports the limb. Most physical therapy exercises can be done in the water.” 

Don’t let finances keep you away from the Y. Scholarships and generous sliding-scale memberships are available. Opportunities for in-person exercise can also be found at Island Councils on Aging: Fitness with Catie, in person Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 am at the Tisbury COA, has been drawing rave reviews. On Wednesdays, the Y’s Margarita Kelly travels up to Howes House for a fitness class — weekly at 10 am at the Up-Island COA.