Fitness facilities prepare for post-New Year’s rush

Photo by Chris Jackett

Dearborn resident Ryan Mardeusz (right) works on his upper body at the Dearborn Racquet & Health Club as father John Mardeusz watches.

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – Local gyms and health clubs once again are expecting a new group of goal-oriented patrons in pursuit of popular New Year’s resolutions.

People who want to lose weight, get in shape and improve overall health and fitness create an annual two-month boost in business that comprises several aspeccts, said Mark Wisneski, Dearborn Racquet & Health Club general manager.

“Like anyplace else, we have the same upswing in business,” he said. “We try like crazy to keep that upswing year-round. One of the things we do that is to get them integrated with one of our trainers early on. Everybody feels they’re looking at everybody, and it gives them that comfortable face they know.”

Wisneski said the first 30 days are the most important to keeping customers for the year, but it also helps if members work out with friends so they have some accountability to show up regularly.

“Even members who fell off because of the holidays kick-start their routines again in January, February,” Wisneski said.

12-month training
Although some DRHC members let the holidays interrupt their workouts, many find ways to keep going all year.

Dearborn Heights resident Charlie Hadous, 70, a retired Dearborn Public Schools teacher, who spends more than four hours at the club seven days a week. He said the workouts help him with his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which affects his lungs.

“With the COPD I have, my doctor knows I come here religiously,” Hadous said. “He says, ‘That club is doing you more good than any medication I’ve ever given you.’ ”

For the past 32 years, he has been a regular at the DRHC, which opened just four years before he joined. He frequents the golf room upstairs, Stairmaster and gliding elliptical machine that gives him a full-body workout.
haven’t touched,” Hadous said. “Aside from the club itself and the conveniences, I don’t think there’s an employee here in 35 years I’ve had a crossed word with. It’s nice to hear your name.

“It’s like ‘Cheers.’ Everyone knows my name, and in a nice way. They take personal to a higher level, and I like that.”

The club’s atmosphere is one reason Dearborn resident John Mardeusz, 50, and 20-year-old son Ryan Mardeusz like the club.

“I love the gym,” John Mardeusz said. “This is nice because it’s more wide open.”

John said he switched to the DRHC two years ago, and that he enjoys that it is more spacious than the national chain gym he previously belonged to.

Packing it in
The extra space at DRHC will be a big factor this month, as those with fitness-minded resolutions hit the iron and rubber hard in hopes of developing a more ideal body.

“Until Jan. 2, everyone puts off working out and then comes in and thinks their life is going to change,” said Justin Rada, one of six full-time DRHC personal trainers. “They’ll join a couple classes and think their bodies are going to change in a few weeks, when it takes a few months.

“If you’re looking to see your body change, it has to be a lifestyle change, and that starts with the diet.”

Wisneski, Hadous and John Mardeusz all echoed Rada in citing the importance of nutrition to achieving optimal results.

“I often joke that if people exercise or clean up their diet and can do only one, you’d get more results from cleaning up your diet, but most people can’t do that,” Wisneski said. “Information is so readily available that a lot of it is wrong. Women are always afraid to touch weights because they’ll bulk up. Not true.

“There’s an education process that goes on with new people.”

Wisneski said the club offers handouts listing the top 10 health and fitness myths, but many members — even those who have been around for years — still don’t connect the dots or put the necessary emphasis on a healthy diet.

“If you’re looking to see your body change, it has to be a lifestyle change, and that starts with the diet,” Rada said.

John Mardeusz had high cholesterol a few years ago, but he said he now consumes egg whites, skim milk, turkey and roast beef instead of fattier meats, while also cutting out cheese from his diet. In addition to helping his health, it’s given him better results with his workout.

“It’s key,” he said. “That’s one thing. I’ve been working out a long time, but it’s only the past eight years when I realized how important it was eating right to getting results.”

Hadous said his specific diet has helped improve his health over the past few decades. He is “almost a vegetarian,” except that he eats fish and a Lebanese dish called kibbeh, which consists of raw lamb, wheat and no fat. He said he eats primarily fruits and vegetables, with no fried food at all.

“I always laugh at people who say they’re going on a diet,” Hadous said. “To me, that means a temporary thing. For me, this is a lifestyle.”

Wisneski said people should consider how many years it took them to gain an extra 50 pounds before they consider a timetable for how quickly they expect to lose the same amount of weight. He and Rada both said it isn’t uncommon for new members to come in after New Year’s with lofty weight-loss goals.

Television shows such as “The Biggest Loser” may give some people the idea that they can lose large amounts of weight quickly, but most are not under the same stipulations and possessing the same extra pounds as the contestants on that show.

“That show has put some grossly overweight people on there, but it shows that you can accomplish results no matter where you start from,” Wisneski said. “I think it’s impacted our industry in a positive (way).”

Shows like that are why Wisneski and Rada urge residents hitting the gym to think and make realistic goals. Rada said personal trainers are available for 30- or 60-minute sessions, but also run group training and boot camps.

“It’s going to be militant to the point of making you want to finish your workout without hating the trainer,” Rada said of the boot camps.

Additionally, not everyone can start out at the same level. For those who haven’t worked out in years, playing a pickup game of a preferred sport, playing outside with the kids, taking the family dog for a walk, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking further from an entrance to add to a walk are all simple ways to start small.

“The biggest thing we focus on is to get off the couch,” Wisneski said. “We always tell people to make your last New Year’s resolution ‘do it in moderation.’”

To help people ease into the gym experience, Wisneski said the DRHC is offering free one-week trial memberships so new members can get a feel for the club.

For those who don’t think they can find a baby sitter, the DRHC offers a free Kids Club to members, where children as young as 6 months old can stay while their parents work out. The kids are kept active and play a variety of sports and activities. Even the latest addition of a Nintendo Wii only offers video games that require body movement, primarily via sports-based gaming.

“We have a Wii now, so you actually have to move to play games,” Wisneski said. “We introduce them to the world of fitness. If mom and dad exercise, the kids are more likely to exercise.”

The Kids Club was part of the club’s major renovation four years ago, but Wisneski said $150,000 in renovations are completed each year, including new weight and cardiovascular equipment.

(Contact Chris Jackett at