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Challenge yourself to a healthier future

By Judy Weeks

IMMOKALEE — Work out means what it says: Work or you’re out. Mixing it up with a variety of activities, the Health Department’s Fitness Boot Camp at the Immokalee Gym meets Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 12-1 p.m. In addition, a group fitness schedule and individual classes are available.

Most of the Boot Camp participants arrive at the gym around 11:30 a.m. to warm up on the state-of-the-art equipment in the workout room. A steady 15-minute walk releases the endorphins and conditions the muscles for what lies ahead.

Fitness specialists Joel Garcia and Liz Pickering are tough taskmasters as they put their interns through a rigorous course of diversified activities. They hit the mats for situps, pushups, stretches and lifts. A few jumping-jack exercises and then out comes the jump ropes, followed by weighted-bag and dumbbell squats, kicks, lifts, punches and stretches.

As they run from one course to another, the trainers shout, “Breathe, breathe, breathe!” Background music slowly increases to help build the momentum. Smiles become grimaces and perspiration flows as the participants build stamina. When it appears that they are beginning to falter, they suddenly get their second wind and make another trip around the course.

“The Boot Camp provides a healthy physical workout and stimulates mental productivity,” Garcia said. “A cardiovascular workout builds lung capacity and muscle tone. Our program is pretty intense but brings results. You must remember that no burn, no gain.”

“For me, walking and attending the Fitness Boot Camp is like a personal challenge,” Amy Yzaguirre said. “My whole family is plagued with high blood pressure and diabetes. I love food and can put on weight by just looking at it. You might say that I work out to eat. I’m my biggest challenge and I compete against myself. I’m very pleased that my daughter Larissa feels the same way and often joins me on the road to better health.”

By following an exercise plan, Yzaguirre is able to shed the pounds and help control her blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides. She started participating in organized walks several years ago and then moved up to running. It has become her passion and she has taken part in approximately 80 5Ks.

“We are very proud of Amy Yzaguirre,” Pickering said. “She ran in the Hooters to Hooters Half Marathon in Fort Myers and beat her own personal time by 35 minutes. Remember that it doesn’t matter the state of your body now as long as you determine today to make a change. You can do it!”

A few years ago, Yzaguirre and her cousins Cecilia Pequeno and Juanita Martinez took part in an Alaskan marathon sponsored by ConocoPhillips. The course covered a full 26.2 miles, and the women successfully completed the half marathon of 13.1 miles despite the fact that a good portion of it was uphill and covered some very rough ground.

“I work out in memory of my mother, Diane Yzaguirre,” Pequeno said. “She died young of a cerebral hemorrhage, and heart and diabetic problems run in my family. We are only given one body, and I owe it to myself and my children to take good care of it. It is important to realize that what we do today can have a dramatic effect upon how many tomorrows we will have.”

In May, Amy Dimas, Frankie DeLaRosa, Amy Yzaguirre and Larissa DeLaRosa took part in the Miami Merrell Down & Dirty Mud and Obstacle Series. They had a fabulous time making their way through the 13.1-mile run while tackling 12 obstacles that included crawling and running through mud, climbing slanted walls, crawling through tubes and climbing over hay stacks.

“I’m not intimidated by running, but I feared that my upper body might refuse to change positions for the first few days following the marathon,” Yzaguirre said. “They always say that the first 13 miles are the easiest; it’s the last .1 that takes you down. We each reached our goal and had a lot of fun doing it. Now, we challenge you to start working toward a healthier lifestyle. Every time you exercise or take another step forward, you are heading in the right direction.”

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