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Time to get fit
December 31, 2012, 05:00 AM By Ashley Hansen Daily Journal correspondent
Getting in shape is a recurring New Year’s resolution made by many year after year — with mixed success.

"In general, people need a starting line,” said Jeannie Solomon, nutrition and wellness coach at the Peninsula Jewish Community Center in Foster City, "and New Year’s (Day) is a beginning.”

"We do get an influx (of customers),” said Vicki McGrath, PJCC health and wellness manager who holds a certification from the American College of Sports Medicine. "It’s interesting because I do think that this year we’ve had an influx through December as opposed to just coming in January. So I think we’re starting to see people who are starting to get ahead of the curve and maybe pre-New Year’s resolution.”

As part of its Wellness Your Way initiative, the PJCC is aiming to help people define what wellness means for them by focusing on three different areas: to move, to engage and to nourish.

"We’re trying to help people define it for themselves,” McGrath said. "So it’s more of an ownership for them, and not dictated by us.”

The PJCC offers outside services both members and non-members can use for free. However, the majority of people who come to the PJCC join to utilize the fitness side, McGrath said.

Solomon works with McGrath to ensure the community receives a balanced education.

Available through appointment, Solomon offers personal and small group cooking classes, farmers’ market and grocery store tours and wellness coaching that looks at the whole body, and everything that nourishes a person.

"It could be food, first and foremost,” Solomon said. "Anything you come into touch with, or encounter, can nourish you and if one of those things is out of balance then it’s hard to have a proper diet and stick to it and lose or maintain the weight you want to have.”

Solomon’s program works by incorporating small incremental changes, adding the good without taking away the bad. She believes that if you add a lot of good first eventually the bad takes a back seat.

"It’s a process,” Solomon said, "instead of having a radical diet, losing weight and then gaining it all back. It’s a lifestyle change.”

So what makes one program work where others fail?

"You have to mentally prepare them,” said John Fernandez, a personal trainer in San Mateo. "Change their psyche, make them understand why they’re doing what they’re doing and how it applies to, say, their golf swing.”

Involved in fitness for more than 20 years, Fernandez uses a cross fit program designed for universal scalability.

"Everyone has a degree,” Fernandez said, "I can scale it down to make it easy or more demanding.”

An influx of people wanting to tone down and lose inches around the holidays is common, according to Fernandez, and easier to stick with when working one-on-one with a trainer.

"The experience working out at a gym or working out with weights is better with a trainer (who) will expose strengths and workout weaknesses,” Fernandez said.

"I have a great retention with my clients,” Fernandez said. "(My customers) enjoy training with me because I don’t present the same training program to them over and over again. They like doing different movements that challenge them.”

Solomon believes the buddy system is an amazing tool for getting into shape and being healthy.

"If you have someone who is meeting you, you’re going to do it,” Solomon said. "Unfortunately it’s almost human nature to trick yourself, but if you’re meeting a coach and paying a coach you’re going to go forward a little more.”

For more information on health and wellness programs offered at the PJCC visit  For more information on John Fernandez visit

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