Abdominals are on the line

FITNESS PROFILE

Exercise: Denise Rider helps co-workers stay in shape at the GM plant on Broening Highway.

February 07, 1999|By Nancy Menefee Jackson | Nancy Menefee Jackson,Special to the Sun

Denise Rider, a replacement operator at General Motor's Broening Highway plant, not only works the assembly line, she also works her co-workers' flab.

During lunch breaks, the 38-year-old leads a half-hour class in abdominal work, with stretching and push-ups thrown in, too. Because the Baltimore plant is so huge, workers jog or ride a bike to the classroom, "so we get a little bit of cardiovascular work," says Rider.

Rider was once an instructor for Spa Lady, and no matter where she has worked since, co-workers invariably have sought her advice. At GM, as she told one man how to strengthen his abs, other workers drifted over "and before you know it, we had a nice group."

That group took an empty room and furnished it themselves to create a gym. They do isometric exercises that involve tensing the muscles as they breathe, and crunches, reverse curls and oblique curls. "It's very advanced ab work," Rider says.

They also do 40 or 50 push-ups, which Rider says is tough for women, who have less upper-body strength then men. "If I don't do them every day, I lose a few."

The conditioning of abdominal muscles helps prevent stiffness and back injury and keeps the workers fit and flexible for what can be physically demanding jobs.

In her off hours, Rider visits one of the two gyms to which she belongs. She likes to swing by after work and just sit quietly for 20 minutes with her eyes closed, "almost like meditating," to recharge. Then she'll take two aerobic classes, preferably step aerobics.

She also likes kick boxing and PowerFlex classes, which combine weights and aerobics, and she works with both free weights and Nautilus equipment, but if the gym is really packed, she'll run instead. Now that her two children are teen-agers, she can get to the gym a little more easily, but even when they were small, she worked out at home and ran.

"You can always squeeze in that time if you try," she says. "It's my outlet and my relief."

Pub Date: 02/07/99

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