The New Year is approaching and once again, thousands of Americans are stepping on scales or looking in mirrors wondering what happened to last year’s resolution. We are experiencing yet another fitness failure and become frustrated, discouraged and in some severe cases, depressed. We have so many rational excuses such as family, career, time or even injuries that we can point to but at the end of it all, we are stuck in the cycle.
As a wellness professional for nearly two decades, I have learned several realities about fitness and how to break past the cycle of fitness failure. The foundational truth is to simply make a true lifestyle change, commit to it and take action. Also, fitness failure is our inability to manage personal expectation as it relates to effort vs results. The answer is true lifestyle change, not workout fads or the latest diet propaganda. So, avoid resolutions, crash-diets or falling into the fitness trend trap of fad-food plans, pills or gimmicks. These things do not provide a basis for a life change and are all part of what creates perpetual fitness failure. Here are 5 specific actions you can take to make the health and physique transformation you seek attainable and permanent:
- Select and Hire a Professional Personal Trainer. Without question, the ideal track to sustainable success is investing in a personal trainer. And yes, you can afford it if you truly want to make a permanent lifestyle change. Money is important but not as critical as your health and safety. Not to mention, online personal training has become a fantastic alternative to live-personal training, It is very affordable by comparison and there are some excellent advantages to virtual training. In any case, a good personal trainer will design a comprehensive program based on your current condition and goal. They will structure workouts in a progressive manner and evaluate progress periodically to measure results. All you must do is show up two or three times each week and execute the workout under their guidance. You must also perform any other exercise or programs they prescribe to complete on your own. Training in-person with a real professional may cost you between $200 – $1,000 each month and is usually worth it if you find the right trainer.
- Join a Small Group Training Program. Aside from private personal training, working in a group is an excellent way to get involved with a community of others seeking the same change as yourself. This gives you a network of supporters and a strong degree of positive accountability. Not to mention, small group training can be very affordable and allow you to maximize your budget and time. Keep in mind, small group training should have less than 10 participants in order to be optimal. Too often, fitness clubs try and cram as many people into a “small” group as possible to drive revenue. I find this unacceptable as a fitness professional and encourage you to seek out programs with integrity and solid programming. In a small group setting, a professional trainer will be able to give you a good deal of attention and keep you working safely and effectively. Again, a worthwhile trainer or fitness facility will charge a fair price and you get what you pay for. Don’t be cheap with your health and fitness because it just adds to discouragement, poor results and lost cash. Find a company offering groups of 3-5 participants that run classes two or three times per week and be prepared to spend between $15- $30 per session.
- Get Involved with Group Exercise Classes: Not to be confused with small group training, a Group Exercise class is a regularly scheduled and pre-formatted fitness class led by an instructor. Classes like these are a great way to get connected into the fitness community, make acquaintances and enhance your enjoyment of working out. Group classes are a fantastic way to supplement a workout program or personal training session by adding variety and some social components. Fitness is a journey and having others around you sharing positive energy and enthusiasm goes a long way toward sustainability. Most national brand gyms offer these classes yet I am inclined to seek out smaller or boutique programs as they tend to have a very high level of quality control and instructor oversight. Not to mention, large chain gyms tend to pack members in by the dozens and the program can be diminished by overcrowding or become uncomfortable. A good fitness company that offers quality group classes will likely charge anywhere from $30 – $130 per month but again, it tends to be worth the extra investment when compared to the environment and results.
- Hiking, Walking and Outdoors: By far my favorite form of exercise and most cities provide access to parks, trails and outdoor activities. There are dozens of options for the outdoor enthusiast or a person looking to add this component to their lifestyle. Moreover, the cost of enjoying a long hike is negligible and aside from time and transportation, there is little cost associated with getting outside and exploring the beauty of our world. Hikes and long walks can be enjoyed with partners, family and pets so plan some time outdoors and make a day of it. Camping is also another great way to get moving and can serve as a base for some longer day or destination hikes to really get your body moving. While getting outdoors may seem overly simple, it is about creating a sustainable life change. In my experience, most people who start connecting with the outdoors this way tend to stick to their nutrition and workout plans during the week so they are ready for the weekend hike, boat trip or hitting the mountain side.
- Get Involved with Team or Individual Sports: Organized team sports or adult leagues are a fantastic way to bring fun and focus to a workout program. Not only are some sports inherently active, they all require some kind of fitness training or conditioning. If you have a team sport that you enjoy, most cities have dozens of leagues available for you to explore. Personally, I enjoy individual challenge sports like the difficult mud and obstacle runs or extended back-country kayaking, snowboarding or mountaineering. These passions fuel my personal fitness programs and keep me focused on more than just sets, reps and meal planning. Again, your sport or physical activity should be woven into the fabric of your life to be more than just something you do. Because you are making a lifestyle change toward a fit body and strong discipline, adding these athletic options are all part of the structure that fortify your resolve and results.
Remember, there is no magic pill for fitness.
Remember, there is no magic pill for fitness. Instead it is a combination of components like the five items listed above and managing your food intake. Plain and simple, you have to get your nutrition under control and ensure your energy expenditure and food consumption is appropriate for your goal. I hope you take these suggestions seriously and move your mindset to programs and activities that enhance the quality of your life and bring long-lasting health and wellness!