Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Getting Started

I was recently interviewed for an article about fitness and the reporter's questions prompted me to consider the advice I'd give to someone who is ready to make a lifestyle change but isn't sure where to begin. Here are 4 simple ways to get started with a fitness routine sure to help you achieve your goals:

1. Think of what you enjoyed doing as a kid. If you loved the feeling of freedom and speed you got when you were riding your bike around the neighborhood, then dust off your bike, put on a helmet, and go for it! If you loved being part of a team, join an adult league and start training for your sport (just watch out for the culture of beer and snacks after the game). If you were a dancer or gymnast like me, and loved the way the music made you want to move your body, find an exercise class like Zumba or Boogie Body and start shaking it! When you choose an activity you enjoy, especially one that brings back happy memories, you are much more likely to commit yourself and follow through. When it comes to fitness, the best workout is the one you'll do consistently!

2. Start small. One of the biggest mistakes people make when they embark upon a new fitness routine is going too big, too fast. When people finally reach the action stage in making a change, they are highly motivated and excited to see results. Often, this leads to taking on challenges that are greater than their bodies are ready for. This is especially true for people who have been active and fit in the past. I've dealt with this a lot as a personal trainer. People come to me saying, "well I was an athlete in high school" or "I used to ride my bike 250 miles a week" or "I used to bench press 200 lbs.".  So they begin by working out too frequently, or too intensely, and then burn out. This has many physical, emotional, and psychological consequences. A better approach is to figure out what your fitness level is TODAY and then set modest goals that allow for rest and recovery. Personal trainers are a fantastic resource to assist you in formulating a plan that is reasonable and will still get you the results you seek. 

3. Find a buddy. I finally did this again and it has helped me be more consistent with my own workouts than I have been in a LONG time! My friend comes to my house early in the morning and we work out in my studio. Knowing that she will be at my front door gets me out of bed even on the toughest of mornings. I also push myself much harder when I'm working out with someone else. We've even inspired a few other friends who are now planning to join us. I am a social person and having both the camaraderie and accountability of working out with others keeps me focused and consistent.

4. Think "Functional Fitness". There are a lot of really fantastic ways to exercise. I recently took a series of classes that were clearly effective at body shaping, however, none of the movements matched the way we move in every day life. While I love the idea of looking good, I primarily work out to make life easier. I want my workouts to make it easier for me to carry groceries, lift my kids, move furniture, walk my dog, play with my kids in the backyard, and fight ninjas or zombies. To create a functional fitness routine, think about how your life affects your body and how changing your body can help you live a better life. If you sit all day at a desk, you are going to have a different set of challenges than someone who works at a retail job. Just as athletes train for their sports (specificity), you should train for your life. If you work at a computer all day, your primary needs will probably be to strengthen your back, abdominal, and gluteal muscles, and to stretch your chest and hip flexor muscles. Again, a personal trainer can be a fantastic resource to help you figure out how to get started on an exercise program that will fit your life and be effective for your body's specific needs.

Now it's time for you to grab a friend and get moving!!!

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