September is Self-Improvement Month. It says so on a "Creative Calendar" from the American Dietetic Association.
It stands to reason if dieticians are the source, "self-improvement" means improve your diet or, better yet, eat more healthily.
Everybody and their third cousin wants to tell us how to eat a more healthy diet. And, when you get right down to it, we could all probably benefit from eating better -- not more or less, just better.
But self-improvement can mean so much more than dieting or even eating healthy. We are all more than eating machines -- we feel, we move, we think, we dream.
Many of us would like to feel better, move more easily. That's where exercise comes in. And it does not have to be the stuff that makes you groan, moan and ache so much you can hardly move after the fact.
Carol Downes can testify to that, she is also a walking endorsement for Curves of Payson.
Curves is a fitness club for women only, offering a circuit routine of both machine and aerobic work that takes only 30 minutes to complete once a participant is familiar with the machines used.
Downes was 69 years old when she joined the club last summer when it opened.
She had been active in her younger days, but arthritis had caught up with her and she had lived with pain for six years before having three hip replacement surgeries. The most recent was not quite a year before she joined Curves.
"I got tired of not being able to get around and I wanted to feel better -- physically and mentally," Downes said. "I was ready for something. I was doing more at home, but I knew it wasn't enough. This (Curves) came at the right time."
Now 70, Downes enjoys Curves so much she is there every day. Owner Martha Hemphill hired her for the Curves Crew morning shift last fall.
"I felt so good after exercising (when I joined), I just wanted to keep coming," Downes said.
"If I miss a day or two, I can tell," she added.
Downes and her husband had lived here five years before she joined the club, but, she says, she hardly knew anybody. "I meet a lot of nice people," Downes said. "I've made a lot of new friends."
When Downes makes her pitch to people about Curves, it's to invite them to, "Come join the fun. Feel better about yourself.
"If people ask, I tell them I feel better, and I'm sure they will too."
Hemphill always asks new club members why they want to join Curves, "I hear everything, but most people want to feel better and live longer.
"Some will say they saw their daughter's wedding picture or they want to get into a size 12 for a wedding, that sort of thing.
"A lot of our women say they are joining because they want to be there for their grandkids."
Curves of Payson has more than 350 registered members now and it's still growing. The women-only club has seen girls as young a 14 enroll to women in their 80s, Hemphill said.
Curves is a franchise based in Texas, where it started in 1992. There are now more than 6,000 clubs with more than two million members and they are all over the world.
"Part of the neat thing is that it's very simple," Hemphill said. "We have a complete package of exercise, a weight loss program and supplements, if you want them. We call it ‘The Fitness Triangle.'
"Curves is really a good place to start when you're ready to make a move toward self-improvement. We're very low pressure. We're not intimidating. There is someone here to help you all the time. We have a family feeling here."
Hemphill said the first thing she notices in new club members is a change in attitude. She said the women have more energy and stress release.
"It's not a Barbie doll kind of place. Everyone has fun here and works really hard," Hemphill said.
Curves is in the Payson Village Shopping Center, on Highway 260. It is open from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m., and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., Saturday. Call (928) 474-9797 for more information.
Payson has other venues to exercise for self-improvement. The Payson Athletic Club is in the Rim Country Mall, on Highway 260. It's open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday; 5 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday; and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday. Call (928) 474-0916 for more information.
Club U.S.A. is at Sawmill Crossing, on Main Street. It's open from 4:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday; and noon to 4 p.m., Sunday. Call (928) 474-2582 for more information.
If you are the solitary sort, there are miles of pavement and concrete to walk and bike all through town.
For competitive types, there are a variety of adult teams for bowling and fall volleyball. Call Rim Country Lanes at (928) 474-9589 for bowling information. To find out more about the volleyball leagues, which are forming now, call the Payson Parks and Recreation Department at (928) 474-5242, ext. 7.
For self-improvement for the mind -- to learn a new skill or improve some rusty ones you might have picked up in your youth -- opportunities abound:
- Visit Payson's great public library or the Isabelle Hunt Memorial Library in Pine;
- Sign up for a non-credit course at Gila Community College or one of the fine art or craft classes offered by various business throughout the Rim country.
Art and craft classes have a bonus benefit, you can use what you learn to make gifts for the coming holiday season.
The boundaries for self-improvement are really only limited by your imagination. Take a few minutes to explore your heart's desire and then look around, there is probably already a road map out there for you to follow.