Figuring it out: Ten Things to Look for in a Fitness Program
We all want to make changes but often we don’t know where to start. If you are considering a new gym or a work-out program, here are a few things to ponder:
1. What is your goal? Are you looking to change your body? Do you want to improve cardio-vascular function? Do you need to relieve stress? All three?
2. What does your budget look like?
3. How do you prefer to work-out? Do you like a social setting in a small group? Are you comfortable in a large facility with lots of peers, or even strangers? Do you need one-on-one attention? Do you like to work out alone? Are you looking for something to do at home? (But be honest with yourself. Closets across America are stuffed with DVDs and gadgets…)
4. When can you fit your workout time into your schedule? This is an important question. Get out your calendar. Get out your family’s calendar. Look for the clear slots. And then schedule it. Commit to these times.
5. Check out any facility you are considering. Visit unannounced. Is it clean? Is the equipment in good condition–even if you don’t plan to use it? Are people smiling?
6. Check out the instructor’s credentials. Unfortunately, you can now buy credentials on-line. That means at first glance, you cannot tell a trainer like me, someone who has years of education and experience, from a newbie “trained” by someone at the Big Box gym. Never accept an on-line certification if it is the instructor’s primary certification. No one has actually witnessed–or corrected–this instructor’s teaching methodology, nor their safety knowledge. Look for the “Big Three” certs: NASM, ACE, and AFAA.
7. What is the class structure? Are you going to be comfortable in the class if you’re a beginner? If you’re advanced?
8. Do you need any special equipment or clothing? For example, a yoga class may ask you to bring a sticky mat. A running workshop requires running shoes. Do you need help making these purchases?
9. Does the class progression make sense to you? Does it inspire you? Does it sound overwhelming? If it sounds overwhelming, it probably is. Look for something easier if it’s your first foray into the field.
10. Will you have fun? If you don’t enjoy your workout, it will quickly become a chore, and then, a bore. One person may enjoy running because the scenery is always changing. Another may find it boring because the activity never varies.
It’s up to you. Know yourself. And get to it!