You say you want a resolution?

A lot of people set a goal to get healthy after New Year's but it takes the right mindset to actually follow through

Fred McCormick

Every year, as the calendar turns to January, millions of people express their commitment to improve in one or more aspects of their lives.

New Year’s resolutions often center around living a healthier lifestyle, sending flocks of rookies to the gym to get in shape for the first time. Exactly how long those commitments last varies greatly.

Phillip Arnold told himself six years ago that he was going to get in better shape.

“It’s probably the only New Year’s resolution I’ve ever kept,” he said. “When I hit 70 I decided I was going to make my bones and muscles strong.”

Arnold joined Cheshire Fitness Club and began working out as often as three days every week. But the Montreat resident wasn't getting the type of results he envisioned when he decided to begin exercising regularly.

"I decided I wasn't pushing myself hard enough and I needed to be pushed," he said. "I was about to buy a new car but I decided I could keep driving my car around, my body is worth spending the money."

So Arnold met with Bill Millwood, one of the personal trainers at Cheshire. Millwood told Arnold that free weights would produce the results he was seeking.

Personal trainer Bill Millwood's free weight exercises help his clients build strength and balance.

Arnold had the right mindset from the first time the two met, according to Millwood.

"He was ready to improve his health," Millwood said. "He also understood that the process was slow and not immediate. When he made the commitment to get in better shape he made a lifetime commitment."

The two began meeting and it didn't take long for Arnold to feel the results.

"It was tough at first," he said. "Bill tests you and figures out what your base is, which I would not have been able to do on my own."

Arnold's sessions with Millwood typically last an hour, giving Arnold enough time to warm up.

"Then we stretch for about 10 minutes," Arnold said. "Then we do around 45 minutes of the exercises that Bill has. They're aimed at specific muscles, but the actual exercises change from session to session."

Bill Millwood began working with client Richard Rockwell a year ago. Working out has made Rockwell "feel better," which is what motivates him to return to the gym 5-6 times per week.

The results were not instant but Arnold began to feel a noticeable difference within six months. The career certified public accountant had spent much of his life leaning over a desk, leading to poor posture.

"My posture, which I never really knew how to improve, got better," he said. "I guess I strengthened the muscles that helped me hold myself straight up."

Strength training allows Arnold to maintain bone density, according to Millwood.

"Also when using the free weights, as opposed to the machines, you're having to stabilize the weight instead of pushing and pulling," Millwood said. "If you use dumbbells then each arm has to work on its own without help from the other."

Knowing that there is a trainer waiting for his scheduled workout helps keep Arnold on track. But the approach Millwood takes to personal training also keeps clients like Arnold coming back again and again.

Richard Rockwell started working out regularly a year ago and continues to alternate between weight training and cardio exercise at Cheshire Fitness Club.

"Bill also jokes around and tries to make the workout fun," Arnold said. "And from my experience that's critical in a trainer. I don't think I could stick with someone, even if they knew what they were doing, if they weren't enjoyable to be around."

Millwood has also helped Arnold develop a better understanding of how nutrition plays a role in fitness.

"Bill knows about nutrition," Arnold said. "He knows, for example, that you're supposed to get some protein in your body within 45 minutes of your workout because your workout breaks down the muscles and the healing process strengthens them."

Six years after first making the New Year's resolution to get in better shape, Arnold believes he's in the best shape of his life.

"I find I jump out of bed easily now, or stand up faster after sitting down," he said. "I feel like I have more energy and I'm just happier overall. Once you get that momentum you don't want to lose it."