Greeks huff and puff to shape up in time for summer at gyms and slimming centers

The desire for a trim, taut body that looks great on the beach boosts enrollment in gyms and slimming centers at this time of year. April and May are the busiest months for businesses that help get flabby, unexercised bodies into shape. The mission can be accomplished in two or three months, depending partly on the case but mostly on will power. Greeks in general are not known for their athletic will power, as four in 10 lead purely sedentary existences, while the majority of the rest only occasionally visit a gym. Just 3 percent of the Greek population takes regular exercise, putting us at the bottom of the ladder in Europe, behind the Portuguese (4.8 percent). «We want to be realistic and honest. We can’t promise someone who wants to lose 30 kilos that they’re going to lose that weight in two months,» Gilli Diet marketing director Dimitris Athanasos told Kathimerini. «Usually, if someone sticks to our program and doesn’t break the rules, they lose 5 kilos a month. «Women make up 80 percent of our clientele, most of them aged 35-45, and the majority want to lose 10-15 kilos. Our aim is to introduce people to proper dietary habits, from the time they eat to the quality and quantity. Every client has their own dietitian and each case is treated on an individual basis.» Most clients sign up after Easter, and most of them are women, according to Irini Kanellopoulou, marketing manager for Silhouette. The company offers slimming treatment and beauty care to its clients, mainly workers and a few housewives, whose ages range from 25 to 50. Most want to lose 8-10 kilos, and many are concerned about localized fat in the form of cellulite. The company has doctors, dietitians, passive exercise machines and ergometric equipment at the service of those who wish to lose weight. Angeliki Trambakoglou, a registration adviser for the Universal Studios chain, told Kathimerini that client numbers double at this time and most people stay on till after summer. «Not many drop out at once,» she said. «At one time most clients were young men. Now the number of women has risen greatly and the age range has broadened a lot. Lately in particularly we’ve had enrollments from elderly people who don’t come here so much to get a great physique as to feel more healthy. «What we advise everyone, from the youngest to the oldest, when they have not exercised at all, is to start with a mild form of exercise and to realize that they won’t get better results if they work out all day long,» said Trambakoglou. Although Greeks exercise less than other Europeans, the trend toward a healthy lifestyle is evident in the growing number of gyms in Attica, now at more than 1,500. And there are more than 30 chains of large organized gyms. Their programs usually include a wide range of activities, from classic aerobics classes and weights to kick boxing and tae-bo. Bodybuilding is also extremely popular. A gym that helps clients build strong and healthy bodies while relaxing and enjoying themselves is bound to attract people of all ages and both sexes. Besides, as a representative of the recently opened Prive gym in Piraeus told Kathimerini: «That’s what gyms offer – recreation and relaxation. That’s why we’ve added lots more amenities, from Thai massage to a hairdressing salon and stores.»

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