D id seeing or hearing about the USA Triathlon National Championship in and around Myrtle Beach last weekend or NBC's "Biggest Loser" 5K Run and 1 Mile Walk last month stoke thoughts about an early New Year's resolution to exercise more?
Even if you never fantasize about completing a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bicycle ride and 13.1-mile run, maybe the arrival of autumn weather in the past week, with a chill in the morning, might warm up ambitions to step up into some kind of fitness routine.
News of the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon (www.runmyrtlebeach.com or 800-733-7089), which includes a Coastal 5K at 7:30 a.m. Oct. 23 and half-marathon at 7 a.m. Oct. 24, also could provide a reminder about the masses of individuals who make physical fitness a priority in their everyday lives.
Living in coastal South Carolina affords a lifestyle in which fitness can move forward year round, whether outside or in any of the myriad gyms and clubs.
We talked with six area fitness buffs to find out what they recommend for anyone of any age, especially beginners, who might want to notch up the throttle on their own exercise, for better personal health. Goals might include losing excess weight, increasing endurance to graduate to running or long-distance bicycling, or simply feeling better about oneself.
Role | Pawleys Island police chief. In 1997, this Army veteran established Chief Big Daddy's Boot Camp in 1997, six-week-long fitness academies that meet six days a week before the sun rises (450-7129 or chiefbigdaddysbootcamp.com)
Pointers | A person should consult with a personal physician to ensure he or she is fit enough to exercise.
Start with walking, then consider moving up to running. In the case of knee problems, bicycling could substitute for walking.
At a gym, meet with a trainer, who can monitor progress in a program, whether on equipment or in a pool.
If working out indoors doesn't prove attractive, "the road is always open" for running.
For runners who want to take part in timed events such as a 5K or a half- or full marathon, a race can be found within 25 miles on any given weekend.
What keeps Osborne active? | "I'm 65. I've been doing it forever. I want to share that with other people. That motivates me to help other people."
His outlook | "This community as a whole is getting more active outdoors. I'm happy about that. I'd like to see Myrtle Beach become the fittest place in the nation."
Role | 52-year-old runner, generally seven to 12 miles daily, mother of two grown daughters who also run, and a teacher at Seaside Elementary School in Garden City Beach, for preschoolers with disabilities
Pointers | Running should not cause injuries; if pain emerges, see a doctor, and try another sport.
"Find something you enjoy that's easy and accessible, and something you can share with other people. When you get involved with a group doing the same thing you are, you become accountable."
Educate yourself on the sport chosen, and set reasonable goals appropriately, "so you have success balanced with challenge."
What keeps Welden active? | "I enjoy being fit, and running doesn't take a great deal of planning. You can run pretty much anywhere you go. I enjoy the physical aspect of it and setting goals. I enjoy the camaraderie of it. ... I do most of my running before work, so I start every day pretty energized."
Her outlook | "My family are all athletes. ... It really does work that way. You really do learn from your parents. ... Your attitude and outlook help enhance everything in your life. ... I'm just getting out there and having fun, and appreciating the great place we live in. ... It's really important to be good role models for our children, our youth."
Role | 47-year-old marathon trainer with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program (800-482-8326 or www.teamintraining.org), working locally with individuals training for runs in San Francisco, Chicago or Orlando, Fla., as part of fundraising and awareness.
Pointers | Runningwise, don't try to do "too much, too fast, too soon. Your body needs to gradually tune itself to the stress of the pounding you're putting on your body."
"Try to run a distance, then take a slower pace, then pick up the pace" to avoid the cumulative effect of body parts tiring and general fatigue.
Avoid increasing the distance run by more than 10 percent a week; use increments. "If you don't, you set yourself up for injuries."
If running with others: "If you can't carry on a normal conversation, you're probably going too fast.
"If I run five times a week, one day I'd run harder, and the motivation for that run is to get some kind of speed workout. The other four days are at a much slower pace. You're really just building up your endurance."
He finds bicycling helps his running: "I'm getting an aerobic workout, but without pressure on my legs. When I do both, my running can improve. My legs are fresher."
Also, consider cross training once or twice a week, with swimming or cycling.
What keeps Melko active | "I'm more of a competitive person. This is just a way for me to stay in a fitness thing - a fitness and lifestyle thing is my take on it."
His outlook | "Pace: It's something you have to be able to build up to. ... It's more of staying fit, staying competitive, and bringing home the lifestyle benefits. Although it sounds like fun, it really should be a gradual process."
Role | Coastal Carolina University's senior associate athletic director for internal operations, who at age 50 also runs marathons and is helping daughter, Megan, 21, train for a half-marathon as part of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training led by Randy Melko.
Pointers | Gregory learned a few things especially from helping his daughter, who wanted to immerse herself in running:
Use a "run/walk interval type training session. Instead of going out every day and running three miles, she would run for three minutes, her watch would beep, and she would walk for a minute, then run again." With that pacing, "it kind of keeps you going; it keeps you motivated.
"Look at a lot of race results, broken down by age group: The large majority are in that 40-55 age range."
He started his own running with milelong jaunts, then gradually increasing to two miles, three, and so on, for consistency.
A long run every weekend "is the key to distance running. You do a lot of running during the week, but those long runs are the key components to running."
What keeps Gregory active | "A lot of times, you feel much better after a run. You're more alert, you're ready to go, you're refreshed. You set a goal, and once you've achieved that, you're pushing yourself, you're dedicating yourself."
His outlook | "I've always been an athlete and coached. Being around that is helpful; it's more of a lifestyle for many of us. It's motivational to do it. ... A lot of athletes see me at my age, still out there, running. exercising. They see me staying in shape. It's also being a role model."
Role | 51-year-old aerobics and zumba instructor at Myrtle Beach's Crabtree Memorial Gymnasium (918-2355, or www.cityofmyrtlebeach.com/recreation.html), and a skin cancer survivor
Pointers | Look for an alternative to walking, to get the heart rate up more. But not into running? Think about taking a fitness class somewhere. "You form a community, and your peers look for you. Accountability is very important."
"Find the things you really like to do and enjoy, or you won't come back. Attitude is everything."
Her reminders given when teaching classes: "There is no such thing as perfect. If you need to be in control of things, it's not to going to start here. Do not believe everything somebody has told you about yourself that's negative."
"You have to be adventurous and put yourself out there a bit."
"Take a willingness to stand up, and if you fall down, get back up again."
With zumba, for example, an exercise of learning new dances, rhythms and movements, the brain stays stimulated.
What keeps Kelly active | "I get such tremendous joy and satisfaction from the smiles on the faces and the sense of accomplishment I see in my classes. So many of them keep coming back and have made this a priority. ... I have had so many women tell me that 'I've told my family I'm going to zumba. This is my me time.'"
Her outlook | "Remember we have to creep, before we creak, and we walk before we run. ... We should constantly learn new things, physically and mentally; the two are combined."
Role | Heart and wellness director at the Claire Chapin Epps Family YMCA in Myrtle Beach (449-9822, www.coastalcarolinaymca.org)
Pointers | See a trainer about setting up a fitness program based on individual health needs and issues - something the Y stresses with all new members.
Use a comfortable pace based on fitness level, and avoid overdoing any activity.
"Not every exercise is for everybody. ... Try to pick out exercise classes, whether land or aqua. Try step aerobics or zumba or spinning or body sculpting. ... Some people do a little of everything."
"Do what you like to do. Take it at your own pace and have fun with it. Don't make it a chore."
"Zumba has branched out in the last two years" going from older adults and seniors even into elementary school ages. "It teaches children movement and dance and is great for balance and coordination." (The Y's third annual "After Turkey Day Zumbathon" is 1-3 p.m. Nov. 26, and has been a hit with vacationers, too.)
"Aquafitness classes are a great way to work out, especially if you have health issues."
What keeps Vinson active | "The reward is as much physical as it its mental. ... I teach an exercise class for the love of it. It's a great stress reliever, too."
Her outlook | "Fitness should be fun; it should not be a chore."