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Resolving to get fit: For many, New Year means new reason to start exercising

A year ago, Joe Caid of rural Moorhead weighed 238 pounds. He says he let himself go during 27 years in a stressful job that involved a lot of travel. "I wanted to become fit and I had a real health situation with my high cholesterol and bloo...

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A year ago, Joe Caid of rural Moorhead weighed 238 pounds.

He says he let himself go during 27 years in a stressful job that involved a lot of travel.

"I wanted to become fit and I had a real health situation with my high cholesterol and blood pressure," says Caid, who is in his 50s. "I was in pretty bad shape when I came here."

Here is Courts Plus Fitness Center in Fargo, which Caid joined last December. He makes the 20-mile drive to the health club six times a week.

In the first six months, Caid lost 60 pounds, his cholesterol level dropped 100 points to 165 and his doctor took him off high blood pressure medication.

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"He attributes it to the weight loss, cardio and weights," Caid says.

Caid has lowered his body fat level by 85 percent and gained six pounds of muscle. He says his doctor told him he could gain 10 pounds.

"Tell you what, I never heard that before," says Caid, who now weighs in at 184.

"If it wasn't for Courts Plus, I would have never done it," he adds.

Many New Year's resolution lists are led with "exercise more," and Caid encourages these people to join a gym.

"It's really tough," Caid says. "People say, 'I can do this at home,' but there's so many distractions. Once you get here, it's no problem."

Caid also suggests taking part in circuit training, a cardio and strength workout in which several people exercise at rotating stations.

"It's almost like you have a bunch of friends here and that's what keeps you going," Caid says.

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Kim Ray, a personal trainer with Feel Good Fitness, suggests the buddy system.

"Having a partner to work out with is very effective to stay motivated," she says.

Ray, who is an independent contractor with Success Health and Fitness Center, gives discounts to clients who team train. She says the accountability to one another helps them to not cop out.

"Anybody at any ability level can do it if they have a little determination," Ray says.

Ray says mixing up your workout can help you keep at it.

"Never doing the same activity is fun, shocking to that muscle," she says.

Doug Duran, general manager at Sports Center, says every New Year's he sees people start exercise programs and fail.

"And almost every year it's for the same reason," Duran says. "You can't go from zero exercise to five days a week."

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Duran, who has been in the health club business for 18 years and hold a master's degree in exercise physiology, stresses the minimum.

"You need to exercise, when you're starting out, once every three or four days," he says. "Too much change at one time ... it ain't happening."

But you have to persistently exercise once every three or four days. Duran suggests 20 minutes of continuous cardiovascular exercise and two or three strength training exercises for the upper body.

"If in three to four weeks, they've been there an average of two times a week ... those are the people who make it," he says.

An accurate measuring system, such as body fat assessment, can make sure that what the person is doing is worthwhile. Duran says this assessment should be done frequently when first starting.

Caid says finding out his basal metabolic rate was an important step.

"Once I found out this rate I knew how many calories I was burning," he says.

Caid also cut sweets and fatty foods out of his diet.

"I haven't eaten a doughnut in a year and I'm not going to start now," he says.

Deb Paulson, program director at Courts Plus, says that starting an exercise program is a lifestyle change. And it's a personal change; your fitness goals should not be compared to or in competition with somebody else.

Paulson suggests scheduling exercise times.

"I think once you get into that routine ... if you miss your workout, you feel it," she says.

Paulson said the center gives away goodies and T-shirts as rewards for attendance.

"Our incentives are just to keep people coming in the door," she says. "We really try here to make working out fun. Nobody's going to do something miserable."

Duran says exercise provides its own rewards, such as self-esteem and more energy.

"We all know exercise is good," Duran says. "There's so many reasons to exercise."

Ray says she doesn't need any motivation to exercise.

"It's in your blood," Ray says. "You get it in your blood and it's just there. I see that in my clients."

And Caid sees it, too.

"This is the first addiction I've had that's a good one," he says.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5525

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