Young professionals are often on the front lines of providing health and wellness opportunities for the citizens in their communities. Many work in recreation facilities with immediate access to fitness equipment. And yet, young professionals, who often work evenings, weekends and odd hours, easily lose sight of their own personal fitness as they are creating opportunities for others. How can we care so much for the health and wellness of others and neglect our own? Shouldn’t park and recreation professionals be a walking billboard for health and wellness?
As young professionals with nontraditional schedules, getting into a normal routine of physical activity is a little more difficult. I personally worked a late evening shift or a very early morning shift for three years and often found myself sleeping in or being tired at about 6 p.m. every night. With these hours, staying at work an extra hour, half hour, or even 15 minutes is the last thing you want to do (even though a free gym is footsteps away). Park and recreation professionals are committed to getting the community active and moving, but, we spend so much time working and helping others be active that we often forget about one person: ourselves!
Finding a balance between work and personal fitness, and helping others find that balance, has become a mission in my own life. In my role as a park and recreation professional and as the owner and head coach at Axle CrossFit in Las Vegas, Nevada, I have the daily job of motivating the everyday worker to stay active and healthy. I am not a fitness expert, and I do not have the secret to getting six-pack abs, but what I have found is a balance between a 15-hour workday and a fitness experience that I enjoy. You should be able to as well. Here are some tips for young professionals to get active and make health and wellness a part of their lives, not just in the lives of those they serve:
Make Fitness a Priority/Routine
One of the biggest mistakes people make is not making fitness a priority. This may not be breaking news to anyone, but if something is not a priority to you, then you will most likely not get it done. A routine can turn fitness from a chore to something you look forward to.
Use Your Park and Recreation Facilities…Seriously
Spending one more minute in the place you work, before or after your workday, might seem like the worst idea in the world. But, with free access to your facilities, how can you not consider this option? The answer might be that you explore other facilities within your system. Does your community have more than one recreation center? How about trails systems, outdoor fitness or sport facilities? Your work, every day, contributes to the success of this system. You have earned the right to participate in this system.
Teach a Class at Your Park and Recreation Facilities
Fitness instructors get their share of fitness! Not only are they exercising, but talking at the same time increases the aerobic intensity of their workout. Why shouldn’t this be you?
Join a Gym or Attend a Group Class with a Co-worker
Do you do things with your co-workers; for example, grab lunch or meet for social activities? Why not exercise together? Studies have shown that duos who join fitness clubs together had a 6.3 percent dropout rate compared to the 43 percent dropout rate of fitness members who joined solo. The benefits of group fitness include having someone to whom you are accountable, and vice versa, as well as making fitness a social experience and becoming more comfortable in a new environment.
Find a Fitness Activity You Enjoy
I know every single person in our field knows how to have fun, so this shouldn’t be an issue for most of you. But going to the gym and walking on a treadmill for an hour can become very mundane and boring. To shake things up, find something that you actually enjoy doing and have fun with it. It doesn’t matter if it is boxing, dancing, rock climbing, swimming, Zumba or even Jazzercise! The bottom line is, if you enjoy doing it, you will be able to sustain it as a fitness activity.
Nathaniel Jaramillo is a Recreation Specialist for Clark County Parks and Recreation in Las Vegas, Nevada, as well as the owner and head coach at Axle CrossFit.