Sault YMCA’s Cassie Guy encourages public to get in shape in 2024 by starting slow then building up at a gym, fitness class, swimming pool or walking track

Cassie Guy is serious about physical fitness.

“I love HIIT circuit workouts,” Guy told SooToday after working out at the Sault Ste. Marie YMCA’s gym.

HIIT is an acronym for ‘high-intensity interval training.’

“It’s about working out in the gym as hard as you can for a short amount of time and sending your body into EPOC, which means ‘excess post oxygen consumption.’ That means you’re burning so many calories and using so much oxygen at a time that you will continually burn fat for up to 36 hours. That’s my preferred style. I’m all about efficiency. I want to get in as effective a workout as I can in the shortest amount of time.”

There’s another reason why Guy likes high intensity workouts in the gym.

“I just don’t enjoy running,” she laughed.

“I love to work with medicine balls, kettlebells, battle ropes, TRX suspension trainers, anything that’s going to challenge my stabilizer muscles and use as much muscle fibre as possible. I work out during lunch. I’m all about efficiency.”

Guy’s passion for staying in shape makes her well suited for her position as the Sault Ste. Marie YMCA health, fitness and aquatics manager.

While not everyone is at Guy’s level of physical strength and stamina, she is encouraging others to get in shape in this new year of 2024 by joining a health club – perhaps for the first time – or returning to a gym after years of working behind a desk. 

“For me, I find it’s very, very important in this day and age, when we’re more sedentary than ever, for people to make an effort in order to get out and engage in activity. Promoting that in the community in any way with all age groups, just knowing that I’m bettering the community and creating a more healthy and mentally positive community is most important to me,” Guy said.

“My advice would be to start slowly and build up as you get comfortable again. Our bodies tend to lose muscle so start smart and set a small goal for yourself and then increase that as you go along,” Guy said as advice for those joining a gym.

Patience and persistence are key points.

“Take your time and don’t think that results are going to come right away. Fitness is a journey. It is not a destination.”

“I always suggest utilizing whatever is given in the gym so here at our Sault YMCA for example we offer three different orientations that are included with a membership.”

Those orientations involve addressing body weight, resistance training for building up muscles and cardio machines. 

The orientations last for an hour, are in-depth and overseen by a certified personal trainer.

“Whatever gym you do get a membership at, see what they have to offer and look into getting a personal trainer,” Guy said.

“I do suggest getting a personal trainer for four to six sessions and just get an idea of proper technique, proper breathing technique and an idea of how your body is supposed to feel. A lot of people think that you have to stay with a trainer long term but really that depends on whatever goal you have. It can be for a short amount of time or an extended time but trainers create a tailored program for you that is safe, modified and works around your needs.”

Guy said that there is always at least one physical fitness trainer on hand at the Sault YMCA to answer questions and provide help.

She said it’s best to start off with exercise machines then go on to include free weights in regular workouts.

“The machines will guide you through the movements. They really help prevent injury and prevent you from doing movements that are not the best for the body. Always look at the machines because they will each have a description of what muscles you are going to be using, what the exercises look like and what you should be feeling from them. A lot of them will actually have a QR code that you scan that will show you a demonstration video.”

Guy said that a person using free weights must begin with smaller weights and a high number of reps and then build up.

“A typical beginner rep set would be from eight to 12 reps using weight that feels medium to you.”

Guy said it is important for anyone – especially a beginner – to avoid injury while working out.

“One of the biggest dangers is overwork and that’s when you’re challenging yourself too much and you actually tear too many muscle fibres. It is about starting slowly, making sure you’re doing form correctly and that you’re breathing properly. If you’re ever unsure about form there are a lot of fantastic videos online that show, in depth, someone working out who knows what they’re doing and what it’s supposed to look like. I do suggest doing the exercises in front of a mirror as well so you’re able to see what your body’s doing.”

Guy said fitness classes are a good alternative for those who aren’t attracted to gyms.

“Absolutely. In fact if you’re a beginner and you’re a little bit nervous and you don’t have a connection with anyone I highly suggest going into a group fitness class.”   

“Look over the schedule at the YMCA and find something that looks interesting to you. Look at the description of the class and then see what fitness level it is for. I know that in most gyms, including ours, we list what specific fitness level our classes are tailored to. That’s going to help people head in with the right mindset and not feel like they’re being thrown into the exercises that they’re not comfortable with. Start with the beginner-friendly class, move up to intermediate and then maybe advanced after that,” Guy said.

Gyms will almost always have a walking track and, in the case of the Sault YMCA, the swimming pool is available.

“We have an open swim. You’re welcome to come and do lanes which is more of an individual style workout but we do also have two different aquatic classes,” Guy said.

“One of them is an aquafit and it uses the resistance of the water to challenge the muscles in different ways. It can be done in our shallow end or the deep end, again catering to the beginner level at first. We also have an aqua range in motion class that is a lot more gentle for individuals who need a gentle style of movement that takes place in our smaller pool and it’s a lot warmer, to help with things like arthritis.”

Guy emphasized that getting fit should not only involve feeling healthy but also be safe and enjoyable.

“It’s about starting small. It doesn’t matter where you are in your life, in your fitness journey. Pick a point. Start that battle. Remember that it is a journey. It is not a destination. It’s a lifestyle. Choose things that you are going to enjoy doing and it will keep you going longer.”

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