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December 17, 2010 > A Better Way to Get in Shape

A Better Way to Get in Shape

Washington Women's Center Exercise Programs Offer Privacy, Camaraderie

On the brink of a new year, most of us have the same thing on our minds: New Year's resolutions. In other words, how we can improve ourselves in 2011? And one resolution that almost always makes the list is getting in shape, right?

"There was a research study that showed people only gain weight between November and the end of December, about two or three pounds," according to Kathy Hesser, R.N., clinical coordinator at the Washington Women's Center. "Each year the same thing happens and it can add up before you know it. All of us can relate. You're busy and tired at the end of the day and the last thing you want to do is go out and exercise. But, if you can turn that around and find times and classes that work for you, the biggest step is just getting yourself to do it."

For many women in the community it's simply about finding an environment where they feel comfortable exercising, Hesser says. That's why the Washington Women's Center offers a variety of programs built around the needs of women in the community, particularly women in their 40s, 50s, 60s and even 70s who may have never done regular exercise before.

The programs at the center include:

* Ladies Choice Program
* Gentle Yoga for Health and Healing
* Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program (with women-only, men-only and co-ed sessions)
* Right Weigh Program

"Ladies in their 40s and 50s tend to go for Ladies Choice which takes place in the hospital's cardiac rehab gym on the 2nd floor of Washington West, (2500 Mowry Avenue)," Hesser says. "The fitness program is facilitated by a registered nurse and trainer from 2 to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays. Participants can stay for as long or short as they want, with access to individual cardio exercise equipment and the personal trainer who leads group strengthening exercises using hand weights and weight bars, as well as core strengthening, stretching and relaxation exercises. This program is great because it incorporates an individual and group atmosphere."

Hesser says that the center's exercise programs have been extremely popular, particularly due to the relaxed, nurturing environment the classes foster.

"Many women do not feel comfortable going to the gym with guys sweating next to them on the weight machines," she points out. "And sometimes women who come to the classes have hurt their back or their shoulders at a gym because the equipment was not adjusted correctly. They can come to the center and exercise with licensed professionals who have a good working knowledge of how to exercise properly to avoid injury."

Frequently, women who start out in one class, like the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program, will enjoy it so much that they begin attending other classes, like yoga and Ladies Choice, according to Hesser.

"The ladies who have attended our programs are very, very happy and have a whole new attitude," she explains. "Their health status has improved, including lowered blood pressure, weight loss, more energy, less pain and lower cholesterol, which are all things that can be very depressing to women."

The really good news, Hesser says, is that the old saying "No pain, no gain" really doesn't apply at the Women's Center.

"I think part of why people keep coming back is because they're saying to themselves, 'Without a doubt I feel so much better when I come to these programs.' And that's what you want from an exercise program-to feel happier and better about yourself.

"When you start having fun and getting into it, that's when all the secondary benefits start to show. Ladies will say to me, 'I didn't even realize I was losing weight!' or 'Wow! I lost 12 pounds this year.' I hear these stories all the time. This is what we all want-to lose weight and finally feel like it's part of our lifestyle now and to feel good about it."

In February, the center will host an evening lecture about the different types of exercise for women. The class, which will take place on Monday, Feb. 7, from 7 to 8 p.m., will help give women in the community a better idea about how different types of exercise, like yoga or weight-lifting, can benefit overall their health.

But don't feel like you have to wait until February to get started on your New Year's resolutions, Hesser says.

"They'll be surprised how fun the classes are-they are not intimidating at all," she stresses. "We want to have fun and leave more relaxed than when we came. I think the intimidation thing is what keeps women from taking the step, and you don't have to worry about that here. Come to move and have fun and you'll find you're making positive changes in the process.

"Women who come to our classes look around and they feel like, 'Hey, I'm in my element here.' The ladies in our groups are very inviting and we have a great time together."

Learn More

To find out which exercise programs offered at the Washington Women's Center are right for you, call Hesser at (510) 608-1356. The Women's Center is located at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont on the first floor of the Washington West building in Suite 150. For more information about programs and services at the Washington Women's Center, visit

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