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New Year's Workout

Bolster Fitness Resolutions

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New Year's Workout

Change can mean different things to different people, but come New Year's, the number one change that most strive for are exercise and fitness resolutions.

Change is one of those words that often evokes powerful emotions, both scary and exciting, all at once. Change can mean different things to different people, but come New Year’s, the number-one change that most people try to implement in their lives is better health and fitness.

Some of us will be more successful at maintaining a regular fitness program throughout January and into the months that follow. Many will struggle to keep the new program going, while others will simply quit after the fanfare and enthusiasm has died down. Knowing yourself and what motivates you can help ensure you are one of the successful ones.

Gender [in]equality

If you are female, chances are you will fall off the wagon faster than a man. Why? Physiologically speaking, women are built with a distinct disadvantage. Our lungs are smaller, making it feel like we are working harder even though we are working at the same intensity as a man, and making it harder to work out in the heat and in higher humidity weather.

Women’s bodies are also predisposed to hold onto and store fat, and a woman going through menopause will find it more uncomfortable getting sweaty. Add the fact that men have more muscle mass than women (making their bodies better calorie-burning machines), and you have a gender population that literally wants to give up before even beginning. I mean, who really wants to work their tail off and see little or no improvements right away?
But it isn’t all roses and good news for men. If you are male, odds are that you will injure yourself at the start of your program, sidelining your efforts and making it harder for you to turn fitness from a resolution into a habit.

As a trainer, I have seen this happen first-hand again and again. Some men charge out of the gates gung-ho, remembering their glory days and what they used to be able to do, and women occasionally get frustrated about the lack of results and wonder, “Why bother?” In the end, both groups lose faith and hit the couch.

Tips to Bolster Fitness Resolutions

Keeping a consistent fitness program and changing your habits and lifestyle are definitely a challenge, but that challenge can be overcome. Some keys to success include not falling into the trap of comparing yourself to others and allowing room to make mistakes, while learning from them instead of giving up.

As far as staying motivated and in motion goes, implement these tips and make your fitness resolutions a success this year.

1. Hire a professional

Hiring a personal trainer will hold you accountable for your weekly fitness program, but hiring the right personal trainer will keep you moving well after your session is finished. How do you find the personal trainer who is right for you? Ask for referrals from friends, family, doctors, or local physiotherapists. Once you have narrowed the choice, set up a meeting to review each trainer’s credentials and past work experience, and to discuss your goals and your health history.

If the trainer isn’t interested in your history of disease or injury, run away! You want to work with someone who knows about your past experiences, who demonstrates a sincere awareness of any underlying medical needs, and who is truly committed to seeing you achieve your goals. In other words, hire a professional and not some dude who is there just to kick your butt once or twice a week.

2. Join a gym

Workouts need to be convenient and fit easily into your schedule, so join a gym that is located either on the way home from work or less than 15 minutes from your front door. Both places enable you to schedule workouts either before or right after work–the best times of day to exercise.

At the gym, ask for an orientation to get you started. This will help you learn about all the different machines, so you don’t get bored and use the same treadmill on every visit. An orientation will also teach you how to use each piece of equipment effectively.

See if you can get some buddy passes so that you can work out at the gym with a friend or family member. Partner training is great for keeping people accountable to their workout. Really, who wants to stand up their sister at the gym?

3. Go to a fitness class

Vary your fitness routine to keep your mind interested and your body challenged. The human body is a wonderful machine that adapts to any stress that is applied to it continuously. This is wonderful news when you’re perfecting your tennis backhand or golf swing–the more you perform the movement, the more the body trains itself to become very good at that movement pattern.

However, when the body becomes very efficient at a movement, it teaches itself to burn fewer calories, use fewer muscles, and generally become more efficient. Efficient is not a good thing for the weekly exerciser who is trying to improve general fitness or lose weight.
Keep the body confused by trying different activities. Classes can provide ways to keep the body confused. I also recommend that you attend classes taught by different instructors each week–this way you are bound to keep your body challenged.

4. Bring the gym home with you

A wide range of choices in home exercise equipment are available for today’s consumer. The most popular pieces are treadmills, dumbbells, stability balls, and exercise tubing. You can spend as little or as much as you like when setting up your home gym.

Some points to consider:

  • How much space do you have? Some machines require extra room to allow you to mount and dismount.
  • Purchase your equipment from a reputable retailer that specializes in fitness equipment. If purchasing second-hand, try out the piece before you buy.
  • If you are purchasing a treadmill, make sure you select one that has a “continuous duty” motor with a rating of at least 2.0 horsepower.
  • If you are on a tight budget (and who isn’t in January?), for under $75 you can buy a stability ball, exercise tubing, and a leather skipping rope–all you really need to begin.

5. Challenge yourself

Every month, pick a new activity to try. It could be a new machine at the gym or a new outdoor activity, such as snowshoeing. The choice doesn’t matter, so long as you challenge yourself and move outside your comfort levels.

Defy your expectations and try something totally new every few weeks. You’ll stay interested and counteract your body’s ability to adapt to exercise. What’s important is that you constantly test your limits.

With every New Year’s resolution comes an associated adjustment to lifestyle that must be made. These ideas should help you make changes that allow you to reach and maintain your fitness goals in January and throughout the year.

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