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Getting physical.

How and where to work your body

SWEAT POURING DOWN THEIR BROWS, HEARTS THUMPING and muscles gyrating, they bounce relentlessly in the mirrored workout rooms of fitness facilities. They lift weights and slam racquets, fighting the effects of aging. They try to get fit fast and then they give up or worse yet, they hurt themselves.

Dr. Gordon Cummings, director of Great West Life's fitness facility has seen it all. "The problem is people chasing little black balls tend not to know when to stop," says Cummings, a world-renowned exercise physiologist. "In Great Britain there are 100 deaths on the squash courts every year. I'm not sure that anyone over 50 (years old) should do more than walk briskly a couple of miles every day." He stresses, "There's been too much emphasis placed in making senior executives into jocks."

Murray Kravetsky's personal fitness program began five years ago when he decided to shed at least 100 pounds. A corporate lawyer with McJannet Rich, Kravetsky, with the blessing of his physician, lumbered out onto the sidewalk for a five-mile hike each evening. "I'd come home from work hyper and hit the pavement. It brings you down. It's wonderful," he remembers.

The adrenalin high of a brisk walk became addictive. The pace quickened as his mood improved and 80 pounds melted away. Three years after he started the program, Kravetsky was running every second night. Just past his 40th birthday and still 30 pounds overweight, he did what a lot of over-enthusiastic runners do. He injured his knee and now bikes. He still wants to lose those last 30 pounds.

Judy Paterson, a private fitness consultant who used to work for Dr. Cummings, says Kravetsky's story is not uncommon. "You think you know what you should do, so you set up a program for yourself based on the experiences of 20 years ago," she explains. "What you don't realize is that you are not as young as you were."

Paterson helps clients select a facility and a realistic target. "I assess your needs and help you set a goal so you are not injured," she says.

She's on contract for the Winnipeg Winter Club, a consultant to the Pan Am Sports Clinic and a private consultant to the corporate sector. Her list includes Cargill Grain, The Canadian Wheat Board and a handful of other companies including Great West Life.

About 25 per cent of Great West Life's employees use the company's new 3,000-square-foot fitness facility on a regular basis. Most of them pack the aerobics floor after 4 p.m. or at noon when instructors lead them through aerobics routines and teach them martial arts or dancing.

"It's really something to see the mirrors all the way around reflecting bodies jam-packed into the room as the music blares," says Marlene Klassen, the company's manager of corporate communications.

Before she became senior investment analyst, Natalie Laden used to teach a 45-minute aerobic class there every week. "It motivates me, gives me more energy and makes me feel better about myself," she explains.

A colleague, Bruce McBeth, was at the very first aerobics class held at Great West nearly 12 years ago. "We pushed back the chairs, tables and couches in the old staff lounge and used a portable tape deck," recalls the 45-year-old director of Investment Systems."

Tim Kist, marketing executive for the new downtown YM-YWCA, can cite study after study which proves that executives have to stay physically fit to maintain their health and mental alertness. There's less fatigue, less absenteeism, greater productivity and more co-operation among co-workers in offices where the executives are fit," he says.

The Y assesses you based on what you want to do -- weight loss, increasing your strength, increasing cardio-vascular endurance. Two swimming pools, steam rooms, weight-training, a large track, racquetball and short courts and two gyms are among the facilities offered.

At the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza's Inn Motion Fitness Club, Dorothy Ross, club manager and professional fitness instructor, says the club has 400 members.

There is a full-sized swimming pool, sauna, whirlpool and weight-training, aerobic and fitness-building equipment. Winnipeg's top executives swim while lunch-hour classes attract others. "The Holiday Inn is a daily thing for me," says Wendy Daza, executive secretary for the Manitoba Folk Arts Council. "I saw their sign one noon-hour and checked it out on impulse. "The classes," she adds, "have become a regular habit, something I do just for me." They not only made her feel better, the group activity became an important networking tool.

Says Maureen Grace, Kinsmen Reh-Fit Centre program manager; "Some people need the support of a group class." But whether a person works out with a group or alone, exercise is important. "The best thing you can do is go out for a brisk, 20-minute walk," says Grace. "A lot of people think they have to go out and run a mile to stay fit and then they say they hate it and they quit. That's when it's good to consult a professional. You don't have to be a jock to be fit."

Grace advises her clients to do aerobic exercises three to five times a week for 30 minutes each time. She defines aerobics as anything you do for a substantial period of time that uses large muscle groups.

Sports such as hockey or baseball are not aerobic activities, stress the experts. They involve too much stopping and starting and will injure the unfit. Executives who want to join the company team should have good exercise strategies to stretch and train the muscles that they will need during the game.

Sue Boroskie, director of Target Fitness at the University of Manitoba, helps plan such strategies. She sets up programs for individuals, school division employees, corporations, apartment blocks and other groups across the city. "We're getting more calls from companies this year than ever before," she says. How fit are the executives she encounters? "That varies tremendously," she says. "That's why I think more and more people are looking at the

individualized approach. In the past most people joined group activities." Time is another crucial element. Busy executives need help scheduling activity around the needs of their careers and their families.

Georgine Cook, an award-winning runner and business owner, logs between 2,500 and 3,000 running miles a year. She skis cross-country during the winter, putting in 17 to 20 hours some months. "It's like glue for my psyche," she says. Training with a professional coach, she plans to never give up running. "I hope to run forever and then drop in my tracks."
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Title Annotation:includes list; Manitoba fitness centers
Author:Arnold, Cheryl
Publication:Manitoba Business
Date:Dec 1, 1992
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