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Body for Life gives new life to old body

My old friend the Rev. Richard Ryan came in my office the other day, and I knew something was up. Whenever he appears at my office door, he’s usually got a plan, and he’s usually super-enthusiastic. He wanted to make me an offer I couldn’t refuse.
He had participated in an intense, three-month weight-loss program. Actually, it was a national physical and mental strength improvement program called ‘Body for Life,’ and he was excited about it. It works. Richard, 48, is looking good these days. His waist has gone from 40 to 32 inches, and he’s got muscles.
Richard was about to start teaching Body for Life at the YMCA of Harrison County Fitness Center in Corydon, and he made me a deal. If I wrote about the exercise and nutrition program, I could take it for free.
Hmm, I thought. That sounds pretty good, especially since I’m a sedentary, overweight slob, and the only way I’ll lose weight and get somewhat healthy is if a good instructor like Richard makes me. I agreed to do it.
I joined 16 others June 12 at Richard’s church for our first get-together, an introductory meeting and ‘weigh-in.’ Nathan Crosier, a certified fitness trainer at the Fitness Center, said, ‘take off your shoes.’ He weighed us on a sophisticated set of scales. He measured our weight, body fat, fat mass (that’s not a typo), and gave us some other esoteric numbers that didn’t mean anything to me. Maybe they would later. The bottom line was that I was overweight and pathetic. Nathan said I weighed 181. The week before, a nurse at Dr. Burton’s office said I weighed 187, with my shoes on. A conspiracy, no doubt.
One really effective motivator with Body for Life is the PHOTOGRAPHS! YMCA program manager Lisa Fisher took Polaroid pictures of the women in bathing suits in the women’s rest room, and Richard photographed the men. I’ll have to admit that I felt kind of funny taking my clothes off (down to running shorts, that is) in the men’s room so a man of the cloth could photograph my body, front and back. It was funny; we laughed a lot. I photographed him, too. Over the years, Richard and I have shared a lot!
The tell-tale ‘before and after’ photographs are confidential and go into our notebooks.
Richard explained the program to our group in great detail. You have to exercise 25 to 45 minutes each day, six days a week for 12 weeks, and eat sensibly for nutrition. The great thing is that on the seventh day, you can eat whatever you want, in whatever quantity you want. Some people, after fantasizing about hot fudge sundaes all week, pig out. After they get sick a couple of times, they usually cut back on the gorging the seventh day. (This system works!)
Our notebooks contain 12 weeks of workout schedules. A typical week goes like this: Monday: upper body exercises to ‘develop’ the chest, shoulders, back, triceps and biceps. On Tuesday, aerobics (cardiovascular), which means lots of walking, running or both on the treadmill. Wednesday, lower body workout to develop your quads, hamstrings, calves, lower back and abdominal muscles. Thursday, aerobics. Friday, back to the upper body. Saturday, aerobics. The next week, you reverse the upper and lower body emphasis.
Everyone who stayed with the program showed improvements the first four weeks, although no one reported huge weight loss. But that’s not the immediate goal. At first, you’re just learning how to exercise, firm up and burn off fat. Men and women tend to build muscle mass, not lose weight. That comes later.
After the first week or so, I felt better. I had pretty much given up Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and buttered popcorn. I lost four pounds, had more energy, and no one was kicking sand in my face at the beach. I was eating better (chicken, thank you, no beef), and eating less, thanks to a ton of advice from Richard on what and what not to eat. (You can also buy a narcissistic videotape and inspirational book, both called ‘Body for Life,’ by Bill Phillips, the body builder/entrepreneur who developed this program.) Occasionally, when no one’s looking at Wal-Mart or the Jay C Food Store, I look at … muscle magazines.
None of this would have happened to me without the new YMCA Fitness Center on North Capitol Avenue in Corydon. It’s loaded with $85,000 worth of new top-of-the-line Cybex physical fitness machines and free weights (and mirrors!).
You can join the Fitness Center for an initial fee of $60 for an adult membership plus $25 a month (households are higher, senior citizens lower). It now has 560 members. Fortunately, not all of them show up at the same time.
The Fitness Center has a big staff of trained instructors to help you and give advice, and you meet the nicest people there. My wife, Diane, has joined the Y, and now we can work out together, which is fun. My son, John, has joined the Y and now shows up regularly. I wonder how much he can bench press.
We’ll be through with our 12 weeks in mid-September, and then Richard will start a new class, for $36. You may want to sign up. However, you can do all this on your own at the Y.
About the time you read this, I’ll be in California for a family reunion, but I’m thinking I may have to break away from memory lane to take a stroll along Venice Beach in my new Speedos.