As a trainer, I take exercise very seriously. As a business owner, I put a great deal of energy and effort into providing professional and valuable services to my clients. As a woman who considers her body her temple, I make it a priority to keep myself healthy. So, would you believe that fitness became an integral part of my life pretty much by accident?
When I was 20 years old, I took a year off from college to live in Hawaii. My boyfriend at the time dragged me to the gym almost daily. Although I was often thinking only of the pizza that we would eat afterwards, I eventually picked up a wide variety of strength-training exercises as well as the proper technique and form for each and the ability to train my entire body over the course of a week. Yet I do not remember enjoying our visits to the gym, not even once! It was hard! And it hurt!
When it was time to continue my higher education, my strength workouts also continued—solo. I added running and biking to my routine and found myself eating better than I ever had in my life. I had accidentally engaged myself in a balanced training program from which I developed a deep love of and respect for the benefits of exercise in my life that has helped to maintain my dedication to it.
The moral of this story is that if I can start and stick with an exercise program, anyone can. However, most of us will not fall into exercising accidentally. Starting a fitness program, for the first time ever or after taking some time off (months? years?) is a conscious decision.
A balanced fitness program ideally consists of these elements: cardiovascular exercise, strength training, flexibility, and nutrition. But more importantly, the main question to ask yourself is why you want to exercise? Working towards something that you really want to achieve is what will get you into the gym, or on your bike, or away from that third donut. (Note: we all need to indulge occasionally. The key word is “occasionally.”)
Beyond that, you can start with as much or as little as you want. I always recommend starting small and focusing on consistency, then adding on to that as you make it a habit. Daily for ten minutes is preferable to one hour once a week. Hiring a trainer even just once or twice is a great way to set up a routine. There are endless apps out there as well as resources on the internet. Searching for “beginning exercise program” returned 352 million results in .49 seconds!!
Think of it as laying a foundation that you can build upon. Keep in mind that doing too much too soon can lead to burnout, injury and ultimately failure, so be patient and kind to yourself as you make this a part of your lifestyle. And check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. Otherwise, go forth and get fit!
Pritam Potts, owner of Advanced Athlete LLC, is a NSCA-certified trainer and strength coach with 12+ years of experience working with athletes and clients of all ages. Her specialty is in functional strength applications, developing core and overall strength and coordination specifically for the purpose of enhancing the body’s ability to function optimally and safely in athletic movement. You can contact her online at www.facebook.com/mrsathlete and www.twitter.com/mrsathlete.