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New Year's Fitness Resolutions

Starting The New Year The Right Way
Making the Most of Your Workout

Time is a precious commodity, as is fitness.  We want to remain fit, but we also need time to do other things with our lives.  Some people put fitness ahead of everything else, and become "gym rats", spending endless hours pumping iron, running treadmills, doing Nautilus circuits, etc.  But most of us want "real lives" beyond the gym.  Of course, we also want to look and feel good while living those lives.  Here's a plan to give you the best of both worlds...

  • Make your workout part of your life
    • This seems obvious, but to many people, the workout is something you tack onto your life, and "try to find time for".  If you take the attitude that it's just as important as eating and sleeping, however, you'll find yourself automatically scheduling the workouts at times when you can kick back and enjoy them.
  • Don't do things you really hate
    • If looking at the weight rack or the aerobics room just plain turns you off, remember that there are alternatives to both, one or more of which you will probably find to be really fun.  By way of cardio, for example, there's power walking, running, jogging, rowing machines (or real boats!), cycling, any number of other things.  If it's muscle you're after, how about taking on some rock-climbing!  Also, many of the clubs are now getting in the new "Virtual Reality" machines - cycles you can ride through other countries, even machines which let you play a game while you exercise!  Just look around, and you'll see lots of possibilities!
  • Work out with a friend
    • Some of us like to work out alone, but many find the company of a like-minded friend enjoyable.  You both have a spotter for the weights, someone to watch your form, and someone to talk to and trade encouragement and ideas.  And don't forget the possibility of competition, if you enjoy that.  A ready, steady partner for racquetball or whatever tickles your fancy.  The purpose is exercise, but for some, competition adds incentive!
  • To Compete Or Not To Compete...
    • I don't think there's such a thing as exercise without competition, really.  We're always competing with someone, even with ourselves.  Setting and trying to meet fitness goals.  Trying to shave some seconds off our mile time.  Trying to enlarge, reduce, or re-shape, some body part.  Simply getting to a place where it's not a major effort to climb the stairs 3 floors at work.  Well, let's admit it -- it is a competition, and we want to win it!  So there ain't a thing wrong with going into that gym and kicking some serious butt!
  • Set some Real (but realistic) Goals...
    • "If you don't know where you're going, how will you know when you get there?"  A very real question, and one too often overlooked when setting up fitness programs.  Goals can be as simple as dropping a dress or belt size for the summer, or as complex as preparing for a marathon or a BB contest.  But the goals must be there.  If you have no goal, it's likely that sometime, you'll ask yourself what you're doing all this working out for.  And if you don't have a good answer, you may very well choose to quit.  So, spend some time up front, and find the Real Reason you're working out!  It'll help sustain you through periods of burnout, and will provide incentive on those days when you just don't feel like it, but...
  • Get some Professional Help
    • No, not a shrink, silly!  A Certified Personal Trainer.  Why Certified?  Well, while it is entirely possible to find a non-Certified trainer who is competent, those who have taken the time to obtain certification have, in doing so, been required to demonstrate academic knowledge about anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, exercise prescription, special populations, and (some certifications) nutrition.  That academic knowledge is, of course, no guarantee that a Certified Personal Trainer is competent, but it does show that the individual has been able to demonstrate knowledge about the subjects that a Personal Trainer must have a good handle on, if s/he is to be competent.  You wouldn't hire a lawer who had not passed the Bar exams, or a doctor who had no PhD or DO, would you?
    • A Certified Personal Trainer need not be excessively expensive, or even an on-going expense.  If your goals are pretty simple, you can hire a trainer to help you set up a program specifically to meet them, and then only go back when those goals change.  And a trainer who is truly professional, will also provide you with an assessment of your present fitness, so you'll have something to compare with later on.
    • Well, that's all for this week.  Be sure to participate in the discussions in the Fitness Forum.  There are many helpful folks there, as well as here, to answer your questions and to provide that all-important incentive.

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