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A New You Getting in Shape!

By Shea Cooper, P.T.

Gym Membership
To get into good physical shape, it is necessary to participate in a comprehensive exercise program consisting of strength/resistance training and cardiovascular and flexibility/stretching exercises. The first obstacle to overcome is to decide what types of these exercises you want to do, and where you will do them. Most of us do not have a home gym full of expensive exercise equipment. Fortunately, most fitness centers offer good deals and incentives in January to help new members get started on their quest for physical fitness. However, research shows that 60 percent of those memberships go unused.

Many people quit going to the gym because they don’t know where to begin. Let’s face it, gyms can be intimidating. There is so much equipment — what does it all do and how in the world does it work?

Luckily, most fitness centers have trainers who will give you a tour of

the gym and set you up with a general fitness program. Most centers offer this service free of charge, so take advantage of it. If that one meeting with a trainer is not enough, you also may hire a personal trainer for repeated one-on-one sessions. Of course, this will cost you extra, but the trainer will assess your current level of fitness, track your progress, help motivate you and offer dietary advice as well.

Most fitness centers also offer specialty classes that are led by certified instructors, such as: Spin/Cycling, Zumba, Yoga, Pilates, Toning/Sculpting, Kickboxing and Step/Basic Aerobics. They also may offer monthly challenges/contests to help motivate their members. Participating in these classes or challenges will help add variety to your workout and prevent boredom!

DVD Fitness Programs
While fitness centers are a great way to help someone get into shape, not all of us have the time and/or money to join one. Don’t lose hope — there are other options!

Many fitness programs are on DVD and can be done in the privacy and comfort of your own home using little to no equipment. Some of the DVDs are similar to the specialty classes taught in fitness centers. Most of them will have options for you to choose your ability level. This allows you to start at the beginner level and progress to the more advanced workouts. Workout DVDs can be found in local stores, or they can be ordered online.

“P90x” and “Insanity” are two popular home fitness programs that can be ordered online. These programs include multiple workout DVDs that incorporate all of the components of a comprehensive workout program. They also include a nutrition plan, tracking worksheets and a calendar to help you stick with your fitness plan.
However, “P90x” and “Insanity” are known for their high level of intensity and may not be right for everyone. The best way to choose a DVD fitness program is to get educated — go online and research them, or talk to people who have done them!

Other Options
If gym memberships and DVDs are just not for you, another option is a walking or jogging program. All you need is a good pair of shoes and a safe place to walk/jog. You should begin with short distances and slowly progress as you are able. Don’t forget to do some stretching before and after you walk/jog. Keep a log of your sessions and include your distance/time to track your progress.

One final option is going to a personal trainer who trains people out of their home (not in a gym setting), or finding a trainer online that gives you instruction in home workouts. Do an internet search for “home personal trainer” if you are interested in this option.

Tips for Success
No matter how you decide to go about it, staying the course on your journey to physical fitness can be tough, but here are a few ideas that may help…
• Find a friend or family member who can work out with you.
• Make time for your workout — set up a weekly or monthly schedule of workout times or classes that you want to attend.
• Vary your workouts; doing the same thing everyday will lead to boredom!
• Set yourself some realistic, obtainable goals.
• Find some sort of nutrition plan and stick with it.
• Most importantly, don’t be discouraged by muscle soreness or slow progress — it can be a long, difficult journey. Hang in there, and you will be glad you did!

Health Concerns?
For those of you who have had health problems and/or surgeries, it is extremely important to get medical clearance before beginning an exercise program. In these cases, it is a good idea to talk to a physical therapist or work with a personal trainer.

Once you begin your workout program, you need to listen to your body. If you feel pain or dizziness, stop and consult your physician.

The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that getting into shape requires lifestyle changes. You must make sacrifices in order to see the results. A well rounded fitness program has many benefits!

Exercise can help you lose weight and reduce body fat, increase your endurance and strength, improve your cardiovascular/ heart health and your flexibility. It also can help improve your energy level, your athletic performance and your mental health and help to reduce risk of injury!