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Getting fit with the Flyer

On the Leg Curl

You know what drives me bananas?

When I see an article about someone who lost a lot of weight and they say, “I stopped drinking soda and instantly lost 30 pounds. The weight just melted off!”

That is exactly the kind of easy solution I would love. But I don’t drink soda in the first place. So where is my quick fix?

“I started eating smaller portions of more-balanced, lower-calorie meals, and combined that with a sensible exercise plan!” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

But quick fix or not, something must be done here. Twenty years ago I was a size 6 and today I’m … not.

So I’m going to get healthy. And you’re going to come along to keep me honest. Because I’ve tried this before and apparently I can’t be trusted to do this on my own. I need the threat of public failure and humiliation to keep me motivated.

And if you’re anything like me — busy, not a fan of the gym, tired, wondering who that is in the mirror — my hope is you’ll get something out of it, too.

Step One: I signed up for the p.r.e.p. program at the ACAC gym in Timonium. It stands for “physician referred exercise program” but your doctor doesn’t actually need to refer you as in “Good Lord, woman, get yourself to the gym STAT!” and there’s no insurance money involved.

It simply means your doctor signs piece of paper saying you probably won’t drop dead by doing 10 minutes on the elliptical.

It’s a 60-day program that costs $60 and includes an intake meeting with a specialist who will go over your goals and devise a workout plan for you (and show you how to use all the cardio and weight equipment). You then have group sessions with a trainer several times per week — and you get full access to the club and all of its classes, including aquatics. Because I’m writing about it, I am trying it at no charge.

People in the p.r.e.p. program have their own wing of the club, kind of like a mini gym of their own — although it’s actually not so mini and could stand alone as a club. It’s very low key and the demographic seems to trend to the 50+ set, but I have only been in the mornings and during the day, so the evening crowd could be different.

Although you can use the gym at any time, the program’s formal hours are between 8:30AM and 11:30AM Monday through Friday and from 5PM to 7PM Monday through Thursday. During those times, there is a trainer specifically dedicated to working with the p.r.e.p. clients.

Steve Bonwit

So far I’ve had my intake with Steve Bonwit where we discussed my goals and medical history, and he showed me how to operate all the workout equipment I’ll be using on my plan.

Steve now knows not only my weight but the exact circumference of my belly. Good gawd.

Without getting into the ugly details, let’s just say this info from the CDC applies to me: “Excessive abdominal fat may be serious because it places you at greater risk for developing obesity-related conditions, such as Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease.” Luckily my doctor says I am showing no indications of any of that, even though the tape measure is sending its warning.

Steve wants me to try to come to the gym three times per week. And he likes that I’m trying to be realistic in my approach and not super gung-ho because he said those are the people who burn out quickly.

“It’s better to take a sober approach and keep it real,” he said.

I do feel pretty sober about it. (Especially since I apparently won’t be drinking much calorie-laden alcohol anymore.) I’m not trying to reclaim my youth. I’m not trying to look younger. I just want to feel healthy. I want to have energy. I want to be able to shop for clothes and think, “That’s cute, I might buy it” instead of “Will that sufficiently cover my mid-section?”

After my intake with Steve, I went back the next day and worked out on my own, outside of the p.r.e.p. hours. Then I came back two days later during the formal morning p.r.e.p. session.

It really was like having a personal trainer. Rick, the trainer on duty that day, took my workout plan, set up equipment for me, made sure I was using the correct form, etc. When I mentioned the ab machine was just so-so, he showed me another one that was really killer.

My future “before” photo

I went back again today but my time was cut short by an area-wide power outage that forced the gym to close for a bit. (Oh, darn!) 

Step Two: I made an appointment with a dietitian and will see her again in a few days. I’m also going to get a test done this week that will show my resting metabolic rate. (Prediction: Sloth-like!) More on all of that next time. 

So, my goals.

I want to lose 40 pounds by the end of 2018. Steve said losing 1 to 2 pounds a week is a reasonable goal, so 40 pounds in 15 months is not impossible. I also want to lose at least 7 inches around my middle.

What I have learned, or re-learned, so far: 

  • Watching “VEEP” while on the elliptical makes the time fly by
  • You can break up the cardio time, but each session must be at least 10 minutes in order to get all the benefits (so say Steve and Rick). So if you want to do 30 minutes of cardio, you could do 10, 10 and 10, or 15 and 15, etc, or all 30 minutes at once.
  • You should lay out your workout clothes and accessories (water bottle, headphones and padlock) the night before so you don’t waste time in the morning, or realize too late that everything is in the hamper.
  • It’s OK to not know what you’re doing at the gym or be confused.
  • Make appointments with yourself to work out. This was Steve’s advice, and it paid off the other day when someone asked if I could meet on a certain morning. I couldn’t think of any scheduling conflict but when I double-checked my calendar I saw that I had an “appointment” to go to the gym. Which I actually kept.
  • Getting fit is 20-25 percent exercise and 75-80 percent eating right. I once heard someone say, “You get thin in the kitchen and you get fit in the gym” and based on what I’ve heard from the experts in the past week, I think that’s true.

Progress so far: 

Pounds lost: 0 of 40
Inches lost: 0 of 7

I’ll recap the dietitian’s advice and the results of the metabolic test in the next post.

Do you have any tips or words of wisdom to share? I’d love to hear from you!

-Kris Henry,
The Towson Flyer

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5 Comments on "Getting fit with the Flyer"

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Excellent article on ACAC, Kris! I’ve been a member for over a decade and feel fit, strong, and fantastic. The trainers are terrific, classes are great, and it is easy to make friends there. Crazy as it sounds, I look forward to getting up at 5:30 AM and getting a workout in before heading to my job. The locker rooms are lovely, too! This gym is my candy store, it has truly changed my life. Have fun, I will look for you there!

cleo stamatos

Good luck Kris! If you need a walking partner, I’m available.


I just joined Planet Fitness 2 weeks ago, and I am starting with a small goal of losing 10 pounds and keeping it off. Hopefully, I will accomplish that goal, and then I will set a new one. I figure this is a lifestyle change, so slow and steady wins the race!



Sarah Brennan

I am impressed. I, too, have decided to try to deflate my midsection innertube a bit. Here’s hoping!