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.
Your health is essential
Dear reader, it is 11:26 pm Wednesday night and my wife and I just finished our work day. My deadline for this article was today and I don’t even know if this article will make it to the publication. It is not like me to miss a deadline, but with the long hours, I can’t even remember if the word is deadline or dateline.
Just about every day for the last two months has been exhausting. I am sure that your life is also a version of ours. My wife and I did not dare to stop with the improvements for the business for two reasons; (1) if the place is empty it is the best way to make sure our clients are thrilled when they return, and (2) we had to keep busy to distract ourselves from the crazy and confusing news about people dying, people that could die, and the devastating damage our economy and our business is experiencing. Without keeping busy, we would join the panic and suffer the mental consequences.
In order to be strong and healthy, our bodies require regular exercises, proper nutrition, and sleep. To avoid crowds, we have been purchasing foods that can be stored longer, hence, not fresh. So our fuel is not helping. Since health clubs were considered non-essential, most people defaulted to lazy mode at home, so most people are now deconditioned. Finally, since watching the news is stressful and completely drain any hope you may have, people are defensive and stressed. This combination is just not conducive of any lifestyle that will end well.
Now, it might not be the end of the tunnel, but we can see some light; at least to allow us to have some tools to take care of our health. Health clubs are opening, with restrictions, but they are opening. Many people will take the necessary precautions and begin the journey to get strong again. Many others can’t afford to take a chance because of their age or a condition outside of their control. Many others simply are too scared to make any decisions. Keep this in mind; health clubs will work hard to meet the guidelines to keep you as safe as they can. If you believe that they can do something more, ask for it. Most likely, they will appreciate the input.
This is a fitness article, so let me wrap it up for you. Taking care of your health is essential. For a large majority of people, this will not happen at home. You are important and the healthier you are, the better chances you have to face anything in your life- including this pandemic. You will have strong and better functioning lungs, heart, muscles and bones. You will be less stressed and your immune system will be better prepared for anything. So, if you can’t make it to the health club, do everything in your power to begin your journey for a lifestyle that will help you improve your health. Don’t give up on the only activity that can truly safe your life. Because after all, regardless of what you are told, the place that helps you achieve all the benefits mentioned before – has to be essential.
Listen! Listen! Listen! No matter what I write here, there will be many people that find my logic and reasoning sound and many that will fully disagree. It is not only natural and normal to have your own opinion, but nowadays we are misguided with so much misinformation and then encouraged and actually framed to disagree with each other. This is one of the oldest conquering war strategies; it is called “Divide and Conquer”. The best way to achieve this is by brining Fear and Confusion into the equation. When the facts are not clear and fear is high, historyhas demonstrated that intelligent people will agree to do things that they normally would not agree too. In this article I will not take sides at all. You can do your own research and come up with your own conclusions, but I do like to encourage you to wear the shoes of those that you disagree with.
Over the last few weeks, we have turned our way-of-life inside-out. The conversation has been framed around survival. If you fall under the at-risk population, you are fighting for everyone to stay home to give you a chance not to die. If you are a small-business owner, you heart breaks as you see the massive retailers stay open generating four times their normal profits and servicing thousands of people daily, while you are not allowed to service one person at the time. Most entrepreneurs are seeing their entire dreams flashed down the toilet. If you are young, you are asked to sacrifice your interactions with friends, the experience of school, and your valuable time to experience those glorious moments; moments that will never be recovered.
We used to show love with kisses and hugs. Now we show our love by staying distant from each other. All of these sacrifices are in the name of staying healthy. We are willing to sacrifice interaction with our grandparents, our teachers, our family, our friends, our neighbors, our small restaurants, our gyms, our and hair dressers, in order to stay healthy and not die. We have been successfully divided and now we can easily be conquered. As you can see, our survival instincts are stronger than our reasoning and logic. This is not new knowledge. This is basic psychology. Regardless, which dream you must shutter or basic right you are willing to sacrifice; taking care of your health can give you the immune system to fight this and any other future viruses. This should be everyone’s main objective.
Now that punch line; if you are home -to stay alive- and continue to struggle between French fries or salad, fruit or candy, vegetables or cake, exercising or the coach. You’re allowing your pleasure instincts to be stronger than your survival, and that is just plain crazy. Let’s get real my fellow humans; this is not a war against a virus, this is a war against not being healthy. One thing is for sure, you will not see our media embark in a massive campaign to get our nation healthy- there is very little money in health. Ah, for those about to send me to hell, yes, many people have no choice and they have debilitating conditions to no fault of their own – you are exceptions to my logic, but for most of us, this isn’t the case. Take a good look in the mirror and tell yourself the truth about yourself.
I am not writing this article with the intentions of making you feel guilty. I am writing this article with the intention to have you take action and make your health a priority. You have the time now, start exercising and make a greater effort to consume the best fuel for your body.
Whether you agree that we should all stay at home or we should not, it is totally irrelevant. But I truly hope you agree with me; it is your time to take control of your health. You should be that important!
Anytime Fitness 611 – 56th Street 3 rd floor – Kenosha, WI 53140 – 262-612-3155
(This article first appeared in the May 7th 2020 issue of the Smart Reader) ___________________________________________________________________
Oh boy- is there a silver lining
Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy! The world works in amazing and cruel ways. Mother Nature has sent us to our rooms. We hear that since so many people are staying home; pollution is reducing and the oceans are getting cleaner. Perhaps there is a silver lining in this huge lockdown mess. I know I am over simplifying the effects of a deadly Pandemic and potentially the greatest economic downturn in history, but hey, we have to find a positive angle to move forward. After all, if we were sent to our rooms, there had to be something expected of us worth doing there. Reflection, self-improvement, relationship building, organizing, cleaning, I don’t know. But I am certain we were not sent to our rooms just to watch Game of Thrones.
While nature is doing whatever it needs to do, we now have lots of time to do whatever we want to do. So this will be another test for humanity. The current Pandemic has proven that being healthy is one of the pillars to fight this virus. Although there are exceptions, the virus is attacking mostly older people and individuals with weak immune systems. These clearly are the most vulnerable segments of our population. So, getting back to all the available time we have, you get the opportunity to reclaim your health and enter the new world – because it will be a new world – with the best version of you.
Reclaiming your health requires effort, discipline, and commitment. But let’s be real, most people don’t like to hear the “C” word, but everything good in life requires commitment. The most used excuse for not exercising is not having time. I guess this time we can’t use that one. So, if you are ready not to reach back in the excuses bag attempting to find one you can justify and believe; II am hoping that you can accept some guidance and take the first few steps towards reclaiming your heath. I know it sounds more painful that a root canal, but I tell you, I can try to make it easy, fun, and with your help, long lasting.
My unknown friends, it takes 15 minutes a day for the first week. 20 minutes for the second week. Finally, 30 minutes per day starting on the third week. After you return to the new world, you can reduce to 30 minutes three times per week. Can we commit to that? Let’s hear it out loud!
If you are not ready, that is okay, the time for you might still come in the future- you will know when the right time is therefor you. But if this sign is massive enough to be the sign from God, hey, this Pandemic is your call to action. I hope that the current events have not only awakened you to the reality and importance of being healthy, but also provided you with the time to commit to the change. If this is the case, you can certainly take the first step towards the best version of you. You are worth the effort – and without a doubt; your body is the greatest gift you will ever receive.
To finally commit and get started- which is the most difficult part of the entire process -I am certain that you can find plenty of YouTube videos. But it takes time to sort and learn who knows what, and if they know what they are doing. So, I am publishing free workout videos on our Facebook page“anytimefitnesskenosha” to shorten your learning curve. As you finish reading this article, still housebound and bored of endless TV series marathons; go find a pair shorts, find our Facebook page, and Make Healthy Happen for you.
Anytime Fitness 611 – 56th Street 3 rd floor – Kenosha, WI 53140 – 262-612-3155
Don’t Be Like Bill
This story originally appeared in the March 12th, 2020 edition of The Smart Reader.
If you have extra undesired pounds, experience any of the following: back pain, knee pain, diabetes type II, sleep apnea, lack of stamina, difficulty breathing, depression, low-self-esteem or any other side-effect of being overweight and not fit, read this article as I might give you a tip to change your life.
Last week, I meet Bill, who was not happy with his big belly, back pain, lack of stamina and strength. He sat across me claiming that he just needed a place to walk on the treadmill. I suggested strength machines and free weights and he looked at me as if I had no idea what I was talking about. He said that at this age he had to take it easy and do minimal exercising. He proceeded to tell me that it would be hard for me to understand since I was young and fit. I asked if he had any medical restrictions or current injuries- but he quickly clarified that he was “just old”. He said this while he was still recovering from the struggled after he had climbed three flights of stairs. I am currently 51 years old, so I had to ask for his age. It turns out he was turning 41. Obviously, he had decided that he was old and no longer able to do much. Can you relate to Bill? Do you know someone like Bill?
Bill represents a large majority of people that are prematurely giving up on physical activity. This decision comes with a huge commitment of not enjoying the many things this world offers. It also brings emotional imbalances and closes the doors to so much. The dominos that led to this kind of thinking started falling in the mid 80’s and we are no living the consequences. We now have a society of no commitment that preaches the illusion that working-out is an option; the delusion that it is too late to get started; the misconception that your boat already left; the perception that it is too expensive; and the worst excuse not to exercise is that we have no time. This article is to unveil that there is a way out of this. Is it a secret medicine? Is it secret exercise routine or secret super-food that only few have the privilege of knowing? Actually, none of those are real, but yes, there truly is a fountain of youth that we will finally share with you.
While at the gym this morning, Alfredo complained that the calf-machine had been left loaded with four 45-lbs and two 25-lbs plates. I offered to unload the weights and he said that he did not need any help. He was just upset that people leave their weights for other people to worry about. He said, “you never know if the next person can carry those heavy weights”. Here is the thing, this concerned man is 86 years old and did not need my help moving several weights amounting to 230lbs. Although I shared the task with him, he had no issue carrying the heavy weights all by himself and enjoyed helping others. As a matter of fact, he loaded them on a leg-press to continue his leg routine. In several occasions I have seen him do hanging leg-raises, assisted pull-ups, and jog – not walk- on the treadmill. Seeing that Alfredo is physically more capable than a 41-years-old old man (more than twice as young as Alfredo); staying fit and keeping your appropriate weight are without a doubt the fountain of youth. The big issue is that the fountain of youth comes with a commitment and effort price.
Here is a challenge for all of you that want to take the first step toward a physically younger and healthier you.
(1) Find a picture of you from a time that you were in better shape- tape it to your bathroom mirror- if you never been fit, find a picture of someone you admire.
(2) Write down everything you eat in one day- if there is one or many things you know you should not be eating, pick one to eliminate, if you can’t, reduce it by 50%.
(3) Everywhere you go, park on the furthers parking spot.
(4) Depending on your current physical capabilities pick three simple exercises like sit-ups, push-ups, air squats- do a set of 10 every day when you wake up.
(5) Every morning and every night promise yourself (out loud) that you will not quit.
(6) at the end of every successful day, send a text to 224-628-8350 with the words “I did it”.
Disclaimer, not every day is perfect. The only way to fail is to quit. Let’s do this for a month and see how it goes. Feel free to text me any questions you may have. Let’s Make Healthy Happen…
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.