Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Advice when starting a new fitness program

For those you beginning our boot camp, or anyone beginning a new fitness program, I wanted to take a moment to provide some encouragement.

Everyone has a fitness story, but it’s our stories that shape our identities. I was always a martial arts guy, but I was not always in shape. In fact, after years of teaching martial arts, I was heavier, about 20 pounds more than I am now.  I realized the error of my ways: I was not incorporating variety into my fitness. I was doing the same thing all of the time, and eventually we plateau, or even get worse.

So I made a change and did two things. First, I started taking group fitness classes because I wanted to be motivated, and I knew having people around me would provide that motivation. Second, I invested in home fitness, so even on my busiest work days, I would have no excuse to not do something.

I loved one exercise class more than the others and became certified to teach it. I now teach Turbo Kick, a high energy cardio kickboxing class with a variety of athletic moves all done to music, three times a week at ICC’s CougarPlex in East Peoria. Teaching, I find, helps keep me accountable.

Additionally, I found a chain of home fitness programs that I fell in love with so much that I now “coach” home fitness programs, which means that for people unable to go to a gym (or simply not interested), I provide a format to motivate them at home. It’s simple: we create an online group, like this Facebook page, and we post our daily workouts and encourage one another. It’s another way to stay motivated and accountable when you can’t always get to a class.

During the journey, I’ve learned a few things, and I hope to always be learning. Although I said some of the following in tonight’s class, I really want to emphasize it. This is my advice—and my compliments—to all of you.

1. Take risks. Never be afraid to try something new (as long as it is safe), such as a boot camp, a fitness class, or a home fitness program. The people who play it safe are not the people who achieve the best results. And of course you are taking a risk in signing up for the boot camp, so congrats to you!

2. Incorporate variety. I’ve even known people who run daily and have run for 20 years suddenly pack on a bunch of weight. The reason is that the body gets used to doing certain things. Many people tell me they do not work out because they are always “on the move” at work. Same problem. We need variety, and you will get it in this boot camp, but when the boot camp finishes, think about goals for the future and be sure they include variety in fitness.

3. Eat smart. I do not like the concept of a diet. I’m sure some of you have been on a diet, but frankly, I do not like it. The problem with diets is that we will eventually go off them and get right back to where we were. So we eat smart instead. Generally, always eat breakfast, eat several small meals instead of 2-3 large meals, and take it easy on desserts and fried food (I do not cut them out from my “diet,” but I limit them to absolutely no more than once a week).

4. Be patient. Results do not happen overnight. Many people get frustrated if they are not seeing weight loss in a week or two. That’s not the way smart fitness works. Do, however, take your measurements, at least waist size and weight. Measure every month, but no more than that.  You will see progress, but be patient. It’s easy to get frustrated and then give up, but the one guarantee I can provide is that if you give up and do nothing, then you will definitely not see any results. 

So that’s a brief intro to me and some of my advice. 

In the meantime, show up and keep moving. The results will be there, but be patient and enjoy the journey.

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