A new year means new resolutions, and for those looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle in 2019, some Alliance community organizations are available to help.

The Alliance Family YMCA and the Alliance Senior Center offer programming and advice tailored to people looking to live more healthy and active lifestyles and stick to their resolutions throughout the year.

"(After the New Year) is one of our most popular times, as far as New Year’s resolutions and people kind of trying to turn over a new leaf as the New Year comes in," said Andrea Lee, the health and fitness director for the Alliance Family YMCA.

The YMCA offers group exercise classes for people of all fitness levels. Cardio classes like group cycling, weight lifting classes, and choreography-based classes like Zumba are all available for those looking to be physically active through differing activities.

At the beginning of each year, the YMCA also starts a challenge program specifically meant to help get people started on the path to reaching their New Year’s resolution goals. In 2019, the program began Jan. 7 and will last four weeks.

"This year, what we’re really trying to focus on is just getting people to be consistent," Lee said. "That’s actually what the challenge focuses on."

Rather than emphasizing weight loss in a "Biggest Loser"-style format, the program will require regularity. Participants will pursue goals such as visiting the YMCA at least four times each week, attending new fitness classes, and incorporating other healthy nutritional and social elements into their weeks.

When Lee gives advice on how to make a New Year’s resolution a lasting healthy lifestyle, she emphasizes the importance of gradual change. Fad diets for quick weight loss usually are not effective long-term, and she finds people typically see better results when they implement change gradually. That could mean changing individual habits each week, like cutting down on sugar or drinking more water.

"Not trying to focus on everything at one point in time, because then some people get overwhelmed and burnt out, but doing little steps each week consistently," Lee said. "That’s where I see people be really successful instead of going three or four weeks and then quitting."

Although the New Year provides a clear starting point for some people looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle, Lee encourages those she encounters to start on their healthy journeys as soon as possible, rather than waiting for a new week, season or year.

"I think New Year’s resolutions are good," Lee said. "I think setting realistic, strong goals with a plan are good. But I think that’s the more important piece. Not necessarily the time frame that you set it, but the plan you have behind it."

The Alliance Senior Center also sees a slight increase in attendance in their programs after the first of the year. Helen Miller, senior center director, said many seniors look for new opportunities to get out of their homes, and activities like shuffleboard, corn hole and even card games attract a few more participants looking to find new ways to be active indoors.

The Senior Center also has a few weekly health-centric programs, including an arthritis-friendly exercise class each Monday. Two other programs done in conjunction with the University of Mount Union include an upcoming program called A Matter of Balance, a fall prevention exercise program taught by UMU professor of exercise science Nate Saunders.

Saunders also teaches a Successful Aging Program (SAP) class at the senior center each Wednesday, in which he instructs on both physical activity and general health education. Although the class meets only once a week, Miller said it provides participants with beneficial tips and tricks to practice at home, as well.

"One way I judge how these things go is amount of laughter," Miller said. "Those people have a good time."