Exercise boosts weight-loss resolutions

Ron Szopa is like a lot of Americans. He has a demanding job, a long commute, and not enough leftover minutes in the day to spend schlepping to the gym.

That explains the more than $500 he's wasted in gymmembership fees.

Szopa and his wife, Jamie, joined Wolff Fitness in Elgin over a year ago. They never went, not once.

So in early April, when Szopa finally met owner and trainer Mike Wolff for a workout, it was new territory. And he learned it won't take that much time to get fit, after all. Ron Szopa

Wolff designed a workout Szopa can complete in 30 minutes, twice a week.

Szopa does eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise, but he performs them slowly-that way hismuscles, not momentum, are doing all the work.

"It's perfect for me," Szopa said. "After half an hour, I'm wiped."

Szopa is one of five people the Daily Herald is following this year as they try to make good on their NewYear's resolutions. As they try to lose weight, they're all finding exercise is a key component.

Before he started his gym workouts, Szopa was working out on his treadmill at home several days a week. The cardio is great, but it's not enough,Wolff said.

At 52, Szopa is in the age bracket where he'll start losing muscle, so strengthtraining is critical to reverse the trend.

"Every year it just gets harder to maintain muscle mass," Wolff said. "He's doing calorie-burning stuff, which is fine, but if he isn't strength-training he's losing muscle along the way."

As he loses fat and builds muscle, Szopa's body composition will improve even if the scale doesn't budge. That new muscle also burns more calories than fat, which boosts weight loss.

Susan Stevens