Any fitness program worth undertaking is able to align your ability, devotion, goals and resources with proper training, motivation, diversity and effectiveness. In short, a good fitness routine is as active and responsive towards you as you are towards it. Accordingly, there are many things to consider when choosing fitness programs.
What is the Intent of the Program?
Although most programs generally specialize on a targeted element of fitness – e.g., weight loss, general conditioning, gain speed and flexibility, increase aerobic capacity, build muscle or maintain current physical condition – few work in complete isolation. Because of this, most programs have added benefits beyond their initial target purpose. It is important to understand these cross-benefits in relation to your present state of conditioning, as well as your overall goals. Additionally, it is particularly advantageous when planning and undertaking longer-term fitness – i.e., does the program I’m doing now stage me for the next program?
Are there Alternate Programs that I can rotate into My Fitness Plan?
Maintaining your fitness is a continuing situation that will require a number of different programs. In short, after you become reasonably fit (by targeting one or two components of fitness), the object becomes maintenance. One of the best ways of doing this is to use “cross-fit” approaches, which are scaled-down hybrids of the targeted programs. Such routines can be designed as specific programs, or constructed “ala cart” from a library of other routines. An added benefit of having access to multiple programs is that of avoiding boredom from repeatedly doing the same workout.
Will I be Engaged Mentally?
Being engaged mentally is as important as the actual physical exercise. A most obvious reason is that you must take your mind off of other concerns to focus on working out. Additionally, there is a sense of reward as you progressively get better at exercises that involve learning curves. Lastly, routines that involve concentrated or repetitive moves (“muscle memory”) have been found to sharpen mental acuity1,2.
How much Equipment is needed?
The use of equipment in fitness programs ranges from minimal (e.g., yoga mat) to the piece of equipment itself being the program (e.g., home gym). A valid concern for anyone initiating fitness is whether they have access to such equipment. Is there room for it at home; is it a close drive away; is it affordable? A subsequent question is whether the required equipment is versatile enough to be used in the long-term as part of multiple programs? In general, when starting a fitness program it is best to make small capital investments in equipment that can be re-used (as part of different programs), rather than single large investments devoted to a single program (when it is uncertain whether the program is right for you).
Does it fit into My Time and Dollar Budget?
The two most frequent reasons for not undertaking fitness programs are lack of time and money. On the surface these are valid reasons. But drilling down, they may not be as restrictive as they are first thought to be. Regarding time, it is important to acknowledge that the shortest amount of time you can spend on working out is, in fact, the workout itself. Everything else – e.g., time spent on getting ready to work out, traveling to/from the facility, waiting for access to equipment, etc. – adds to this time and becomes progressively more restrictive. So, the best time-utilization scenario is to have fitness programs at your immediate disposal and do them without any of the associated peripheral clutter. Money is another commodity that is often misunderstood regarding fitness. The action of working out usually does not cost anything (think about jogging), but instead, the costs lie in gym memberships, instructors and equipment. Here it is important to evaluate what it is, in fact, that you are buying – renting time in a gym, hiring an instructor for an hour, purchasing a piece of equipment – and apply your money in the most effective manner. Equally important is to remember that in the longer-term you will likely perform a program several times, so invest in products that can be re-used into the future without having to pay for them again.
Is it Road Worthy?
Put differently, “Does my fitness program travel with me, or do I travel to it?” Many fitness programs require you to be at a certain place at a certain time. Consequently, one of the easiest ways to miss a workout is to not show up – by being out of town, for instance. An alternative is to engage in exercises that are “portable” – i.e., they can be performed almost anywhere with little equipment and no instructor. Calisthenics and isometrics (static) are good examples of such exercises, and can be used almost anywhere to stir up your body. However, is advantageous to have full “portable programs” that can be used at home or on the road with equal effectiveness. Such programs can be in book, video or download/streaming formats, or tailored so that they can be performed from memory.
Is it Instructed, Supported and Proven?
These questions are similar to those we ask of almost everything else we invest in, and are equally legitimate for fitness programs. Of particular concern is whether the program is “unified” in that it is organized, instructed and supported by a single source, as opposed to you putting them together from disjointed sources. Other questions are whether the program has demonstrated success, how long it has been around and whether it is still being used? Along these lines is the question of whether there are second- or third-generation programs that expand upon an initial program in terms of efficiency and diversity? Lastly, but far from final, is the question of whether the source of the program will be here in the future?
Can We Help?
For the past twenty years, while occupied with high-level careers, individuals at ExecLevel Wellness participated in various levels of exercise programs as a means of maintaining their fitness. Only recently, when crossing into “middle age”, have they realized that this fitness played a central role in their personal and professional well-being. Now they are able to share their insight into starting fitness programs in association with your busy career and maintaining them as a basis for ongoing wellness into the future. Please feel free to contact us to learn more.