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Group exercise helps in Battle of the Bulge
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The holiday season is officially here.

From now to New Year’s Day, we can expect to see the occasional box of See’s Candies and other inviting snacks around the office. I know for me it’s difficult to pass up on the sweets.

It’s bad enough that we’re still trying to digest the plentiful helpings from the Thanksgiving table of a few days ago. That’s the kickoff to the holidays.

A year ago, I suffered a losing battle to the waistline, discovering – much to my surprise – after weeks of nibbling here and there and perhaps lack of exercise that I was carrying extra weight. It’s never a good sign when your shopping list includes the purchase of a new and longer belt.

After Christmas 2008, I had become disgusted with myself. I knew I had packed on some pounds when my belt buckle was pinching the old gut while sitting down behind the wheel of the car.

Needless to say, my New Year’s resolution was to lose that weight. But as we know, it’s easier said than done, and even tougher as we get older.

I could recall cutting weight in my younger years with a simple workout routine of jogging and, say, full-court hoops.

At some point, I amended my resolution from losing weight to working towards getting into the best shape of my life. And that’s when I began to notice a difference.

But first, I had to change my approach at the gym.

I turned to Jesse, who is one of the trainers at my fitness club. He encouraged me to join any of the group exercise classes.

“For some reason, most guys are reluctant to do the classes,” he said.

I, too, was reluctant. This was new ground in the world of fitness for me. It’s tough enough being a newcomer to any routine.

One morning, I ran into Javier, who is regular racquetball player at the gym, coming out of a spin class. He was drenched with sweat after 45 minutes on a stationary bicycle. “You should try it,” Javier said.

It was about a week later that I literally got reeled into that very class.

Angela, the instructor of the cycling class, not only welcomes all newcomers but will go as far as to pull in any bystander peering into her fitness class.

Nearly six months have passed since that day and I’m forever thankful for Angela introducing me to the world of group exercise classes.

I’m still a regular in her cycling class, doing it three times a week, but have added boot camp and Pilates to my workout schedule.

This regiment has crossed over nicely into my other fitness activities such as hoops and those daily runs on the treadmill. As a result, my stamina is much improved.

But more importantly, I’m not overly concerned about losing weight. Entering this holiday season, I have positive approach, particularly on the physically side.

My motivation now – and I say that on the day after Thanksgiving – is to continue the goal of staying in tiptop shape.

To reach reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail