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A New Approach to Fitness Coaching

Gyms focus on building better habits

Overcoming Obstacles continued...

His coach worked with him to find the ideal time to exercise, so he would be less likely to find excuses. That meant Bovos took an early lunch at his desk and went to the Y or out for a run about 1:30 each afternoon.

A year later, he runs eight miles, three days a week. He has lost 30 pounds and inspired many of his colleagues to exercise.

"At work, people have seen a huge difference," says Bovos. "My personality is better, my production has gone up, my mental clarity has improved, and my energy level has increased dramatically."

"Coach Approach goes right at the heat of the ability to self-manage," says Annesi. "I simply do not believe in humans making changes because they are good for them. Unless you deal with self-management difficulties head-on, the failure rate will continue."

It worked for Brooks. Just past her one-year anniversary of joining the Y again, she's lost 65 pounds. She is no longer a borderline diabetic. Her knees don't ache like they used to, and she's much less tired and depressed.

"I knew I was 50 years old and I was facing a whole slew of problems if I didn't get control over it," says Brooks, who runs an Internet store.

When Brooks joined, she received a promotional one-year free membership that would be canceled if she didn't come to the Y enough. "Being tied in for a year was long enough that it helped me establish some habits," she says.

The coach was a huge motivator for Brooks.

"Each time I met with the coach, she had a topic to talk about," she says. "She gave you tools to deal with when you didn't feel like exercising or you got off track."

Brooks goes to the Y faithfully three days a week and walks with a friend another day. When she travels, she makes sure exercise is part of her trip, whether it's taking a walk or doing water aerobics.

A More Personalized Approach

The YMCA's program is the only one of its kind right now, but some other fitness facilities are also trying a more personalized approach.

24 Hour Fitness facilities across the country sell workout and nutrition packages based on short- and long-term goals, ranging from five sessions for $289 to 20 sessions for $999. Computers measure body fat and circumference, test metabolic rates, and design workouts and meal plans to help clients meet their goals.

"I've seen unbelievable changes in people," says Sandy DeBarbieri, fitness manager of a 24 Hour Fitness center in Austin, Texas. "I've seen people that go from zero knowledge to [being able to] train themselves."

Curves International, with its famed 30-minute workout, has based its business on a friendly, personal coaching style.

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