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Gym dandy

For people who don't like conventional exercise programs. See Page 5E ORLANDO, Fla. - Fitness professionals hear the same excuse many times: "I'd love to get in better shape, but I'm not a gym person." So, for people who don't like conventional e...

For people who

don't like conventional

exercise programs.

See Page 5E

ORLANDO, Fla. - Fitness professionals hear the same excuse many times: "I'd love to get in better shape, but I'm not a gym person."


So, for people who don't like conventional exercise programs, what else is there? The answer is simple: plenty.

At community centers, church gymnasiums, martial arts centers and the YMCA, there are many options for the sort of person who feels overwhelmed by walking into a gym.

"I read over and over about the latest exercise or fitness regimen and how it is the most effective exercise you can do," says Janet Rankin, who has been teaching Jazzercise classes in Orlando for more than 20 years. "But the most effective exercise is the one that you'll do."

The key, say fitness experts, is finding an activity you like and sticking to it.

That's easy to say but sometimes harder to do.

Myke Eggers, for instance, has dabbled in different exercise routines: yoga, weight training, running. He has joined gyms.

"I found some of them boring, or they weren't very structured," says Eggers, 28, of Ocoee. Nothing struck a chord in him.

That is, not until he started a 10-week program at an Orlando martial arts center. The program, called Ultimate Bodyshaping Course, requires commitment. Classes are held six days a week for one hour each day. Three days are devoted to kickboxing. The other three days are focused on strength and conditioning classes, conducted with resistance bands and free weights.


The first week, says Eggers, seemed to stretch forever. But Eggers bonded with the other students in the class. And he quickly noticed the changes in his body. After five weeks, he has lost 11 pounds and six inches from his waistline - and is planning to sign up for a kung-fu class and a tai-chi course when his 10-week UBC program ends.

"Exercise isn't always fun for people," says instructor George Kee, who began teaching the UBC program at his Wah Lum Kung Fu studio in September. "If it was, everybody would be in shape."

To keep students coming back, Kee gently prods and encourages - and tries to make the class members feel like family.

But the best motivation, Kee says, comes from results. And the intensive UBC program, which costs $350 for 10 weeks, provides quick results.

"It's a big kick in the pants for them. It's a big jump start," says Kee.

If your idea of fun isn't kickboxing, look around.

In Janet Rankin's Jazzercise Lite classes at the Renaissance Center for Seniors at Curry Ford Community Park, the students are primarily women - many of whom don't feel comfortable at a traditional gym.

"People who love dance love Jazzercise," says Rankin. "That's why it has traditionally drawn in women."


Dancing has long held appeal for a small group of people. And after "Dancing With the Stars" became a television hit, dance classes - from salsa to ballroom dance classes - are hot.

But the latest buzz revolves around "zumba," a class that combines Latin dances with traditional exercise moves, such as lunges and squats. At the National Training Center, a fitness center in Clermont, zumba instructor Sally Tiley has been astounded by the reaction to the class.

"I've taught step aerobics; I've taught Pilates; I've taught regular floor aerobics, and I've never seen anything like this," says Tiley. "The reaction is unbelievable. The classes are huge - sometimes as many as 50 students in a class."

She warns newcomers who feel clumsy to stick with it for three classes. But hardly anyone, she says, drops out. "That's because it's so much fun," says Tiley. "It feels like a party."

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