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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, September 6, 2002

Putting the fun back into fitness

By Casey McGuire-Turcotte
Special to The Advertiser

Women triathletes gather at sunset just before entering the water at Ala Moana Beach.

Tania Jo Ingrahm encourages swimmers as they finish the swim portion and head toward their bikes.

KC Carlberg formed Try Fitness Hawai'i because she felt "exercise should not be drudgery."

Photos by Gregory Yamamoto • The Honolulu Advertiser

KC Carlberg is on a mission to dispel what she said is one of the biggest myths in exercise.

"We seem to think that working out, by definition, must be hard and boring," she said. "But let's face it — you aren't going to do something you hate. Exercise should not be drudgery."

It was this basic philosophy that inspired Carlberg, a California native who moved to O'ahu 12 years ago, to form Try Fitness Hawai'i, a women-only training group, in the spring of 1996.

"Women know women, and it really helps to have that support base around when you're trying to reach a certain fitness goal," Carlberg said.

Try Fitness strives to teach women of all athletic experience and ability levels the benefits of fitness as a part of a healthy lifestyle. Carlberg and her team of six coaches bring different experiences and specialties to the program.

"We try to bring the fun back into fitness," she said. "With physical strength comes emotional strength, and you'll be much happier if you enjoy what you're doing."

Carlberg said that obsessing over losing unwanted pounds should not be the focus of any workout.

"If losing weight is the only reason you are working out, you may not be doing it for yourself to begin with," Carlberg said. "We want women to exercise to feel better about themselves."

Try Fitness offers a range of programs, from personal training sessions to more team-oriented sessions that meet three times a week.

One of the most popular programs is the 12-week Fun and Fitness sessions, which include running, swimming, meditation and nutrition lectures along with some "original" training methods.

"I once had a 40-year-old who had never played dodgeball before," Carlberg said. "So one day, we all played and she loved it. She couldn't believe it was exercise."

Carlberg, a certified personal trainer, wellness counselor, and spin instructor at the Honolulu Club, also holds a more traditional and intense eight week triathlon training program. The sessions focus on the Niketown Na Wahine Sprint Triathlon, which is Sept. 15 at Kapi'olani Park.

The program is largely for beginners to the sport, and costs between $125 to $250. Practices are held three times a week for two hours a day.

"We work on technique, efficiency, and transitions (from swimming to biking to running)," Carlberg said. "Our goal is to give the ladies enough information and motivation to continue the routine on their own once the program ends."

Another large responsibility of the coaching staff is keeping the athletes focused on their individual goals, whether that be to finish a 3-mile race or to simply feel better when they look in the mirror.

"Some of the women do the training but have no desire to race or compete and that is OK," she said. "Just getting out here takes a lot of courage."

The other athletes on the team play a big part in their teammates' successes.

Anne Perry, a realtor from Kahala, joined Try Fitness in March, and said it is accountability that makes this group different from others she has worked with.

"I feel responsible to these women," she said. "I want to be here on time, I want to give it my best. It has really brought the energy back into working out for me."

Kathy Kozak, a doctor at Straub Clinic & Hospital, had never been involved athletics until she joined Try Fitness this year.

"The women here are not only supportive and encouraging, but also make you realize that the emotional and physical limits you thought you had don't exist," she said. "Everybody here wants you to push beyond yourself."

Carlberg said training and working out makes for a better-balanced person overall, and is passionate about exercise in any shape or form.

"Our bodies are made to move and play, so we should do that," Carlberg said. "A lot of people complain about time and being busy, but life is busy. When we make time to have fun, it's good for the soul."

For more information on Try Fitness and its programs, call 531-8573 or visit www.tryfitnesshawaii.com. To volunteer for the Niketown Na Wahine Sprint Triathlon, visit the Running Room in Kapahulu or call 531-8573.