My name is Louie Arecco and I have been in the industry of Health and Fitness for 14 years.
My education and professional experience has served me well for the amazing career of fitness. I hold an Economics Degree from University of Illinois in Champaign Urbana, a Master in Business Administration from Loyola University of Chicago, and spent most of my professional life working with Fortune 500 companies. By no means I know everything about fitness, but I do have an amazing team and collectively we help people change their lives effectively. My passion and challenge is helping my clients stay in a fitness lifestyle.
Don’t Give Up!
This story originally appeared in the February 13th, 2020 edition of The Smart Reader.
How is that New Year’s Resolution? We are entering the time when you realize that you are started to find a reason why you could not deliver this year. I am here to ask you not to give up yet. I know it is tough, and many factors are involved in your ability to stick with a fitness lifestyle. Whatever is holding you back; food addiction, procrastination, lack of family support, lack of commitment, or simply you choose the wrong health club. Let me give you some guidance to get you back on the right track. We are lucky that in Kenosha, there is a health club to match just about everyone. There are alternatives and it is up to us to know which club offers the best chances for our own success. Every health club has a specific target market- and everyone is not the right match. Specialization always works best. If you are a jack of all trades, then you can’t be a master of one. The burden is on the user to select the right match and that is where the problem is. Again, it isn’t the club faults you did not know what they are all about. Clubs are clear to advertise their prefer target market. If they advertise strong man competitions, why would you go there if you need to just lose a couple pounds? If you are looking to develop a strong habit of fitness, why would you go where no commitment is required? it is just the wrong match; like taking a vegetarian to the best stake house in town, it isn’t the stakes that are bad, it is just the wrong match.
CNN Money breaks down the health club industry in three main categories. You can watch the report by searching the report’s title online. This is a quick summary of it; “Lux, 24-hour, and dirt cheap: Inside America’s gyms”; The Luxury Gym, Middle Class Gym, and Dirt-Cheap Gyms. The Luxury category leader brand is The Equinox. Memberships range between $160 to $300 per month. In each location they have an average of 6,000 members. Although Wikipedia claims they have about 300 locations and there isn’t one in Wisconsin, there are five of them in Illinois between Highland Park and Downtown Chicago. I am sure the experience there must be incredible- if you want to pay $300 per month. The Middle-Class category leader is Anytime Fitness and it caters to the working adult. Their offer is accessibility, convenience, guidance, and environment only for adults. Memberships range from $30 to $70 per month depending on what they offer, the experience of the operator, and where they are located. The Kenosha Downtown location is about $50 per month. The average Anytime Fitness club has about 800 members. There are bout 4,500 clubs in 50 countries, 127 in Wisconsin, and they have worldwide reciprocity. The final category for the CNN Money report is the Dirt Cheap Club. This category leader is Planet Fitness. According to Business Insider “Planet Fitness has created a successful business by catering to a very real, but specific, demographic: casual exercisers who know they have to work out, but don’t necessarily want to”. I am not going to go into detail about their target market, but their advertisements are clever, engaging, and draw a lot of teens and first timers. There are about 38 Planet Fitness locations in Wisconsin and each average 6,600 members. They membership price is between $10 and $20 per month.
The CNN Money categories paint three distinctive worlds, but I believe that your personal lifecycle adds another dimension to the club you should choose. For instance, if you want to keep your children active you will need a family center instead of one of the above CNN categories. The Kenosha Young Men’s Christian association (YMCA) charges $56 for an adult membership. Family add-ons are inexpensive for children. The YMCA or Y (for short) is a religious non-profit and its main purpose is to “strengthen communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.” This organization is necessary in our community. If you have a difficult time paying the membership, the Y has Financial Hardships scholarships- if you have a financial hardship, you can get assistance. Again, they are a non-profit Christian organization and they do fund raisers to help the less fortunate. The RecPlex is the largest municipally owned recreational facility in North America and it is owned by the Villa of Pleasant Prairie. It charges $61 for an adult membership. If you have children, these family centers are great since they offer everything from pools, water parks, beauty pageants, ballet lessons, etc. They are both excellent places and they both have different offerings. Another great club we have in Kenosha is Atlas 2. Their membership is $20 per month. Although they have a variety of clients, this great club is well known for their powerlifters & bodybuilders. Note that neither the YMCA, RecPlex, nor Atlas-2 have 24-hour access or reciprocity nationwide.
It is important to note that there are many specialized health clubs like kickboxing, cross-fit, etc. These types of venues are much more expensive than the mentioned health clubs and have classes on specific times of the day. If you do well in groups and have the time to meet at specific hours, and want a pretty intense workout you will find value on clubs like Harbor Park Cross-Fit or I love Kickboxing. I have personally tried Cross-Fit and enjoyed it. It is very intense and I would personally recommend it to young athletes.
Conclusion, there are many important variables to be successful in developing and keeping a fitness lifestyle. Having good guidance, good equipment, realistic goals are important, but also finding the best club for you. Although different brands have different target markets, it is up to you to find the correct match. It is impossible to compare health clubs just by the monthly amount they charge. Determine what you need and learn if they offer it. Visit the facility to see if you like the colors, smells, bathrooms, equipment, energy, and price. However, when it comes to staying healthy, price truly is the least important of the variables. Your health is worth a lot more than any health club monthly price in Kenosha. No matter how you see it, either you will pay to stay healthy or you will have to spend on your medical bills down the line.
Reclaim your health!
This story originally appeared in the January 16, 2020 edition of The Smart Reader.
The year just ended and many of us are looking forward to learning from our mistakes to guarantee a better future. The New Year brings hope, specially when it comes to our health and fitness. It is no secret that most New Year Resolutions end by mid-February. What are the factors that make most of the population fail at such an important decision? Don’t feel bad, the game is rigged! What you need to feel bad about is that you keep falling for it!
Remember the 2008 Pixar movie WALL-E? If you didn’t see this movie, I highly recommend it. It is not only entertaining, but it also shows an amazing parallel to our current path of evolution. The movie was about a polluted earth due to human trash to the point that life was impossible on earth. As a result, the main corporation that controlled all commerce created a spaceship where all humanity lived. For 700 years, WALL-E, short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-class attempts to clean earth in hopes that someday humans can return to earth. Although making our planet into a wasteland is a topic worth discussing, it isn’t my intent in this article. The movie shows what life had become at the spaceship. Technology had created so much comfort that walking was unnecessary. Over time humans had forgotten how to walk and their bodies were damaged making it even more difficult. Is this a crazy idea that can only exist in fictional children movies? – Not anymore, as there are many examples in Western Culture of similar cases. The interesting part of this movie is not only that a large powerful corporation had built comfort and consumerism to the point of atrophy, but also that once earth was cleaner and was ready to receive humans again, the system fought against giving us back our freedom of choice; attempting to keep humanity in the dark in order to protect it.
The Wisconsin Health Rankings places Kenosha County as the 60th from 72 counties in 2019 (1 healthiest – 72 unhealthiest). There are many factors that go into this ranking and you are welcome to learn more about it. But my point is simple, our regional society does not encourage or support a healthy lifestyle. From the family activities encouraged by the media, to the rewards you receive at school, or the teacher, or nurse, or doctor that is unhealthy, or the predatory advertising about diets, or pills, or damaging ideas that anyone attempting to call your attention about being unhealthy is judging you. Buyer beware does not work when the information you need is polluted by billions of dollars of confusion. I am not here to judge free speech, what I am just simply pointing out is the power of those that benefit from you not being healthy. The game is rigged. Those that took the “Red Pill” (The Matrix Reference- for those not familiar with this term meaning wanting to embrace and live the truth), do not have the marketing dollars and most importantly the necessary resources to clean the information noise. Let’s be real, working out and eating healthy takes effort. It takes time to “learn” to like it by changing your habits. It is a lot easier giving in to the lazy ways. Therefore, it is a lot easier to cling to the information that supports our current state to justify our lack of effort.
For a large majority that won’t take the red pill, this article is just another fitness fanatic rambling without understanding your personal circumstances. If that is the case, there isn’t much anyone can say to change your mind. If you are lucky, perhaps a life changing event will deliver you to the steps of a place that can help you reclaim your health- or perhaps not. After all, we humans get used to anything. However, if you really want to take action, but not just “give-it-a-try”, If you are done being numbed by clever advertisement, overnight solutions, or accepting experts that insult your intelligence with gimmicks and empty promises; I have some advice to give you a real chance to fully live a life as a participant and no longer be an spectator; (1) Make the decision that you will take control of your health. It doesn’t mean it will be easy (in the beginning), but you are worth it. Yes, circumstances might bring adversity and setbacks, but does not mean stopping the journey. Stopping the journey is the only option not acceptable. (2) Write down how will your life change by changing your lifestyle. It is important to know the effects of your decision. Your decision will not only impact you, but it will impact your loved ones. I have seen people make great friends, meet their perfect partners through fitness, and erroneously matched couples split. If someone close to you creates barriers for you to take care of yourself, that relationship needs to be re-evaluated. (3) Make a public pledge. This is a tough proposition to most people. It makes you feel vulnerable because the fear of failing. The difference is that failing does not happen unless you quit. The fist item in this list is to decide to do it, not to try. So, making a public pledge should be a no-brainer. (4) Surround yourself with people that enjoy taking care of themselves. Find a serious health club, one that has qualified professionals and experience to help you. If your mentors set you up on a vicious circle to perpetuate your misery, fire them immediately. As a comparison; if you depend on Alcoholic Anonymous, would you listen to their advice if they served you a drink before they start the meeting? Anything worth doing requires commitment. School, relationships, sports, hobbies, etc. There isn’t anything worth doing that does not require commitment. Look for a place that will not tell you what you want to hear, but instead professionals that will hold you accountable for your actions. Let’s be clear, this does not give them permission to be rude, but you should also be aware of your defense mechanisms because everyone claims to want to hear the truth, until they are told something they don’t want to hear. It is a lot easier to use this moment to feel attacked, blame the messenger, and have a reason to through the towel. Finally, (5) promise yourself that you are worth keeping your word to yourself. Here is a reality check for you; if you can’t keep your word to yourself, is your word worth much? Now, don’t take this final statement as a reason to shy away from committing to this journey, instead, commit to the journey because reclaiming your health will also regain your own trust.
2020 is the opportunity to start fresh. It is the year that you take control. It is the year that you stop blaming circumstances for your inability to Make Healthy Happen. It is the year that you reclaim your health. 2020 is your year.
This story originally appeared in the January 2, 2020 edition of The Smart Reader.
If you been hiding behind your excuses, I am about to say some things you might not like to hear. But before that, I want you to know that staying fit can be fun and exciting and the rewards are priceless. I am hoping that you take this piece as a tool to launch your life to find the best version of you. Hopefully, you will seek a team to help you embark in a lifetime enjoyment of the benefits of being fit and healthy.
Now, let’s get on with it. I have come to understand that fitness for the average Kenoshan is as foreign as speaking Latin. In theory, most people understand the importance of fitness; however, the lack of importance given at home, schools, and community organizations contribute into us becoming the sedentary people we are. Working out should be as important as brushing your teeth. So by socially learned behaviors, we struggle with a vital component for our longevity and quality of life. If my brushing-your-teeth example seems silly to you, then here is a question to put it into perspective: If the Grim Reaper asked for either your heart or your teeth, which one you would give him? Okay then, it is time to work on your cardio- because the health of my heart is not negotiable.
It is also clear that the basic principle of exercising is common sense; like the more you move, the better your health. However, the reality is that it takes fitness professionals to identify and correct imbalances created by bad posture, or repetitive movements like gardening or shoveling the snow. We all have movement preferences. If you are a righty, you will carry things with your right arm. These repetitive motions will create a stronger side; which will create imbalances that will turn into pains and aches with time.
A common mistake we find is the person who learned how to work out many years ago believes that this knowledge will carry with them forever. Fitness professionals are constantly continuing their education to incorporate more knowledge with new scientific discoveries. Exercise science is always evolving, just like any other science related to our health, like surgery or pharmaceuticals. Can one learn how to assess what we must do to create an effective workout plan? For sure, but you can also do your taxes on your on- and I guarantee you that a tax professional will do a much better job than you.
As a society we are defensive about our fitness condition. We become guarded and feel attacked when anyone questions our lack of dedication towards our fitness. The truth is that the reason or excuse why you are not working out is a valid reason. Yes, I said it is valid. No one has the time, we can use the money for something else, we are tired, you have a kid or two and don’t have daycare, etc. But, that same reason, which is valid, will never be worth more than your health. So, one must make the time and rearrange their lives around taking care of yourself. Not only this is a principle not shared by our community, but it also is a terrible example for our children.
People get frustrated by not getting immediate results. Our lack of patience will have us start and stop many times. Starting a fitness journey is difficult and we subconsciously look for a good reason to quit. Music too loud or too low, temperature to high or too low, too many people at the gym or too few people, no one helps me, or people are bothering me by trying to help me too much. You pick your reason; they are all good reasons to stop taking care of yourself. Transferring your frustrations in order to find a reason to quit is a defense mechanism to justify your behaviors. Regardless, if you don’t check yourself, you will soon associate fitness as an experience that brings emotional pain.
In my profession, I have helped many people who positively changed their lives through fitness. But I also have lost a few friends. Ultimate taking care of yourself is your responsibility and nobody else will do it for you. Neither your genes, your job, your parents, your kids, your lack of time, and most definitely not your spouse are responsible for your health — you are!
I hope I shined some light on what it takes. I hope you were not offended by my words, but if you are, remember that I don’t know you, but you and only you know what you are about. I will be answering your questions, and providing any guidance to help you reach whatever fitness and health goals you choose to achieve. I can’t wait to hear from you.