Dive into a Fitness Lifestyle
How do you do it? What is your secret? I need to lose weight quickly! Fitness enthusiasts and certified trainers hear these words frequently. Pardon the cliché, but there are no quick fixes. Former Olympic skater and super trainer, Jonathan DePaz recommends total dedication to a “fitness lifestyle”. As a recent convert and certified ACE professional, I can explain the simplicity of this mindset.
Prioritization, commitment, consistency and community are the prerequisites for the mind shift. The first obstacles for many are the excuses caused by life’s overwhelming demands. The good news today is that virtual communication can allow us more control of our schedules and that fitness centers are providing more programs catering to traditional office workers. According to ACE, American Council on Exercise, lunchtime fitness classes have the highest attendance rate in gyms that are convenient for working folk. In addition, many gyms are incorporating kid’s club programs for those moms who need the energy boost and interaction with other grown-ups.
My best recommendation for people who are ready to get more physical is to find an activity they really like. Old school activities include tennis, swimming, basketball, skating, skiing, hiking, running and cycling. Group fitness programs at the gym have become so creative and diverse, serving many exercise levels and interests. Cardio-kickboxing, yoga, hip-hop, Pilates, Zumba, indoor cycling, strength training classes and cross-pollinated hybrids mixing all of the above cater to a multitude of preferences. Once you find a program and participate regularly, find workout comrades who will motivate your attendance. Cardio-kickboxing classes are addictive, particularly when the super enthusiastic instructors provide beat heavy playlists that complement creative choreography. This high impact program produces a good maximum heart rate and makes you sweat resulting in accelerated weight loss, particularly when coupled with a healthy diet. Step 1 is now accomplished and you are hooked on healthy.
You are feeling energized from the endorphin high and after 4-6 weeks of high impact aerobics (at least 4 days a week) and you lose weight. You exchange contact information with your group exercise buddies—and you feel accountability to them and to yourself. Many people do not realize that there is indeed a Step 2.
Cardio addicts often suffer from injury because they forget to incorporate strength training and a generous cool down routine (at least ten minutes of stretching and an additional ten minutes of rolling with an exercise roller) into their workout program. When we are constantly pounding on our ankles, knees and backs, physiological balance and muscle strength are required to accommodate the wear and tear. Think of it this way: the newest eight-cylinder vehicle isn’t going to accomplish maximum speed and efficiency with flat tires, right? If you are kickboxing or running 4 days a week, consider strength training one of those times if you are unable to add an additional day to your workout schedule.
Now you are ready for Step 3—thinking about nutrition. Notice that I use the word “nutrition” rather than diet. If you have bought in to the consistent workout program outlined above, it is time to think about your nutritional needs. A well-balanced eating plan will complement the fitness lifestyle. We all have different metabolic makeups and have unique dietary requirements. Become familiar with the USDA’s food guidelines www.usda.gov and search MyPyramid to become familiar with basic food groups and nutrition. Most certified fitness professionals will recommend smaller meals, five or six times a day over the traditional three big meal ritual. Additionally when engaging in an active lifestyle, it is mandatory to hydrate often. Think two 8 ounce water bottles before a workout, one 8 ounce during exercise and two 8 ounce following exercise.
Congratulations—you are now ready to practice the fitness lifestyle. There are programs and modifications for diverse special populations including senior fitness. It might be wise to work with a certified personal trainer at least once a month to ensure programs that are right for your individual needs. Make sure that your personal trainers and group fitness instructors have legitimate, current certification. American Council on Exercise (ACE) and National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) are top notch in anatomical education, safety and overall scope of practice.
Cindy Rakowitz is an ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor who began practicing the fitness lifestyle in 2006. She regrets that she didn’t get hooked sooner, claiming that time allocation was impossible. She enjoys affiliation with DePaz Energie and Stevenson Fitness while developing corporate fitness programs. She is the CEO of BR Public Relations.