I’ve been in the fitness business as long as I can remember; but if I tell you an exact number, everyone will start doing the math and figuring my age. Then I may as well just tell you how much I weigh, too. So let’s just say, for the sake of a well kept secret… I remember leg warmers.
To explain to people exactly what I do for in a job that I love more than any job I could ever imagine, I tell them simply that I encourage people to lead healthier, stronger lives. While that has many departments, for the most part, it’s all just a sweaty mess by the time I’m done with it.
And y’all, I knew we would be having this conversation sooner or later. The one that comes around every January when the whole world decides that they need to find some health and fitness that they really didn’t care about just days before.
So let’s talk trainer to client, instructor to student, or as I prefer to think of it, me and you, gym friend to gym friend. I just get paid to wear a headset microphone all day and maybe yell at you on occasion. All in a spirit of love.
Each week I work with hundreds of people, of all ages and stages of fitness. Some are repeat customers that I see multiple times a week. Some maybe I see once in a while. But in my book, each are wonderful and important on this journey together to better living. I just love you for showing up and giving me your time, effort, energy, and for trusting me with your fitness goals.
In short, for the new year, I thought we might talk a bit about practical, realistic fitness goals and expectations. Normal ones, y’all… reachable ones that anyone can make happen.
This time of year I see people come and go with high hopes of giant weight-loss and dreams of smaller sized pants – a lovely dream that I’ve had a time or two myself, but in the grand scheme of things, not nearly the most important. If we can change our perspective on this first, we can start off with an attitude that will help make fitness a part of your every day. I want my clients to work on health, not weight and size. I want them to add strength and endurance so the years we are given are a gift to us of health and happiness. The weight-loss and six-pack abs are the icing on the cake that we should only eat in moderation.
And here’s the meat of it all…the latest guidelines by the American College of Sports Medicine, the fitness professional’s go-to guy on all things fitness related:
- Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Exercise recommendations can be met through 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (five days per week) or 20-60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise (three days per week). Walking, water fitness, Zumba, almost anything that gets you moving. You get to choose!
- Adults should train each major muscle group two or three days each week using a variety of exercises and equipment. Very light or light intensity is best for older persons or previously sedentary adults starting exercise. Here is where a good trainer or group exercise class can come in super handy. Kind of a one-stop shopping experience for all your strength needs.
- Adults should do flexibility exercises at least two or three days each week to improve range of motion. This is the stretching portion of classes, or maybe a good yoga class would be more your style.
- Neuromotor exercise (sometimes called “functional fitness training”) is recommended for two or three days per week. Exercises should involve motor skills (balance, agility, coordination and gait), to improve physical function and prevent falls in older adults. But seriously, do it now…way before the fear of falling becomes a real deal. 20-30 minutes per day is appropriate for neuromotor exercise. Once again, much of this taken care of with a good trainer who can get you multitasking. Or how about a good Pump, Barre or Cross Fit style class that kills it all at once?
Notice the guidelines are per week. Each week, just as you would go to work. Because it has to become your job and your joy to take care of your body as it was meant to be cared for. That means we work hard to keep our moving parts moving the way God intended. Then we say a big thank you for all that we are able to accomplish.
I know reading and understanding all those guidelines has you already exhausted. How do you fit all of that in and still go about your business? You find someone who can help. Someone who is skilled at working with people like you. You join a fitness facility of like-minded and goal-oriented people who can lead you and support you on this road. Mostly, you just get up every day with the thankful heart of a person who has the strength of body to move and use those gifts to become a better you. Remember, not necessarily a smaller you or a tighter rear-ended you. But a better you.
Start small, start somewhere. Just start. Just go. Just move. Dance, walk, and pick up something heavy every now and then. Then move a direction you wouldn’t have considered yesterday. My personal theory? Cute workout clothes go a million miles to making it better. Just saying.