Fitness Programs Designed For You, By You

Editor’s Note: Please consult your physician before starting an exercise program.

alive-low-impactDo you feel like you’ve spent quite a bit of time over the years “restarting” your fitness program? Are you discouraged with a lack of results? Have you repeatedly told yourself you will work out more, only to continue with the same habits? This article will require a little doing on your part but, in the end, you will design a program that fits your schedule, gives you options, and builds opportunities for a lifetime of health.

The biggest struggles with physical activity in our society come from the idea of movement for weight loss and many people view it as a negative. Before starting your routine, be clear with your “why?” Why is exercising important to you (not why scientific research says!) and what do you want to accomplish or be able to do? Be very honest with what makes this important. Think through all the reasons way beyond losing weight. Is it more travel, kids, grandkids, chronic pain, preventing illness, etc. Also, what stopped you in the past? Was it an injury or vacation or frustration? What do you see as you take this journey? How do you visualize your life changing? These answers guide your journey.

lift-to-get-leanNow the action steps. Write down the days of the week, starting with Sunday (or whatever day begins your “week”). Then, fill in activities that you do regularly such as work, school, meetings, kids practices, date night, Church, etc. Using this as a framework, figure out your unscheduled time where you can fit in exercise. Busy days where you know exercise would be pretty much unrealistic and don’t schedule a workout! Be realistic in how many days you will actually exercise and for how long each day. For example, 4 days per week for 30-45 minutes total.

step-and-dance-beginnersNow you know your personal “why?” for exercising, your schedule for availability and the frequency and duration. Now, what physical activities do you enjoy? It can be anything such as aerobics, walking, square dancing, swimming, lifting weights, biking, etc. Look at your schedule and see where specific activities fit. Is there a class you can take, a friend you can do things with, or an available fitness center. Start plugging in specifics and leave room for flexibility.

method-for-beginnersAs with any well laid out plan, things happen – LIFE as we call it! Two big things that derail fitness programs are vacation/missed week and injury. How do you work around these? Starting with vacation, plan unstructured, planned active movement time while you’re away and schedule your workouts for when you return before you leave. Sometimes life gets super busy and we miss a week – it’s okay, pick right back up and revisit your WHY? from earlier. Use friends and family to help you stay accountable.

Injuries prove to be more challenging. Differentiate between injury and hurt. If something just hurts, move your body anyway. Try something less intense or change things around for what feels best. If you end up with a real true injury, many times you can work around it. For instance, if your knee hurts, switch to exercises that strengthen the upper body and work from the floor. Make changes and seek a professional to help you figure this out.

Exercise is something you will do for the rest of your life. Ultimately you only answer to yourself, make it a priority. Don’t accept excuses. Take responsibility for your actions. Seek help from positive influences in your life throughout your journey. Positive encouragement helps! Find your formula and realize that it is a continuous process that constantly changes. Start now!


Lisa Martin founded the Girls on the Run program in Howard County in 2009. Lisa is AFAA & NSCA certified, has more than 15 years of personal training experience, and practices a multidimensional wellness approach at her studio, Salvere Health & Fitness. Lisa says that one of the best things about being in the health and fitness industry is watching people accomplish things they never thought possible.