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Ester Marsh column: The Hurley YMCA goes high-tech with exercise cloud

The new year is right around the corner, which means our Hurley YMCA has been open 12 years. I have been with the YMCA of Rowan County over 17 1/2 years and in the fitness world over 32 years. I love the progress fitness has made over time. Thirty-two years ago, it was machines and free weights in most fitness centers. If you wanted to do cardio, you needed to attend an aerobics class. Now, I don’t think you can find a fitness center that doesn’t have treadmills, ellipticals and bikes. Fitness is not just for bodybuilders anymore.

There are five components of fitness: 1. Cardio 2. Strength 3.Strength Endurance 4.Flexibility and 5.Body composition. When you look at a workout, you want to include each component. Cardio is an aerobic activity (with oxygen) such as walking, running, swimming, cycling or any aerobic group exercise which is designed to strengthen the heart and lungs. Strength is a type of physical exercise specializing in the use of resistance to contract the muscles. This builds the strength and anaerobic (without oxygen) endurance and size of the muscles. Typically, low repetitions (no more than 10 or 12) with higher weight are best for strength training. Strength endurance is the ability to execute repeated contractions over a period of time. This is aerobic and anaerobic — eventually your muscles will fatigue to a point when you will have to stop. Lower weight with high repetitions such as 20-30 repetitions is best for endurance.

Flexibility speaks for itself. It is a measure of range of motion around a joint or multiple joints. Flexibility is needed in everyday life, such as getting out of bed, getting in your car or tying your shoes, just to name a few. It is good to stretch each main muscle group most days of the week. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, or stretch in sets, such as two 15-second stretches or three 10-second stretches.  It is better to be warm before you work on flexibility, so you could warm up on the treadmill or bike for 10-15 minutes. Stretch to the point that you feel some discomfort but not pain. Quality of life is considerably enhanced by improving and maintaining a good range of motion in the joints.

Body composition is the body’s relative amount of fat to fat-free mass. You are what you eat. You eat too much fat and/or calories, and you will carry too much fat.

Each year, I try to come up with something to get people motivated. As I have mentioned many times before, it’s not easy to start and continue to lead a healthy lifestyle It is especially difficult in this country, where it is cheaper to chose from the dollar menu versus fresh fruits, vegetables and meat products. One of the amazing results of progress is the technology available while working out. It has changed the exercise world. With free or low-cost apps, such as Map My Run, Map My Ride, MyFitnessPal, Map My Fitness and so many more, they help to reach your goals and/or stay accountable. My daughter downloaded free apps for From Couch to 5K, From Couch to 10K and From Couch to Half a Marathon. All of those programs give information on how to start and how to do it safely and effectively. With so many of our YMCA members already using these apps, we felt it was time for us to go high-tech and add the Techno Gym Wellness Cloud. Most of our equipment is by Techno Gym and they have been cutting edge for many years. This “my wellness cloud” was inspired by “wellness on the go” concept. This cloud, which will be free to all of our YMCA members, grants you access to data, content and workout programs wherever you go — either at the YMCA, on your smartphone or at home on your personal computer. It helps to turn your desire to exercise (or helps you get some desire) into a personalized experience. An email address is required to set up this service. and our fitness staff can assist you with this. Here are some other frequently asked questions:

• This service is free, but is not required.

• You do not need a smart key for this feature. The smart key does give you that little personal trainer that helps you get through your workout. You can access your account via smartphone, home computer or at our kiosk at the YMCA.

• You can link your other apps to this cloud so you can have all of your information in one place. Even your gadgets such as the wellness key, Fitbit, The Claw, TomTom and Garmin (and more) can link with the wellness cloud. You do not have to be a techie to use this service.

I love how easy it is to add my classes and  exercises to my “moves” (similar to steps and calories burned). Look at the activities you are doing now — do they have the five fitness components? Are you one that loves technology? Do you need challenges to keep you exercising? These are just a few things that this new technology can assist you with. We are one of the first YMCAs in the state to have this service and we are super excited about it. Have patience because this system is new to us too. And no matter how we move up with technology, you still have to be the one to follow through with your exercise program. No computer system (so far) can do it for you.

Merry Christmas from the Hurley YMCA staff!

Ester H Marsh, Health and Fitness Director JF Hurley YMCA and proud Wellness Cloud operator and participant

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