Practical strategies for making 2011 your year of fitness

Check your drivers In business, any change to the status quo generally results from environmental drivers that inexorably push us in a certain direction. Or it can result from a catalyst such as the GFC that causes a dramatic, sometimes catastrophic, shift in circumstances. Health works the same way – and it’s far, far better to change in response to a driver such as an expanding waistline than a catalyst like a heart attack. You do need to accept that you are unlikely to regain the body you may have had five or even twenty years ago. But fitness is not about youth; it is about a general physical state where you feel more energetic and enjoy the way your body looks and works. The best news is that with the right mindset, strategy and support you can achieve real improvements surprisingly quickly. Make time for change Finding time to exercise can be a challenge when you have a diary crammed full of appointments and deadlines. To make it easier, you need to afford your health equal priority and schedule time to exercise. When you do this is obviously a matter of personal preference, but many find that appointment-based personal training provides them with the structure and motivation they need. Joining a team or class or setting a regular time to exercise with a friend can have the same effect. It’s just that much harder to find excuses. Remember, time spent on improving your fitness is not time stolen away from work or family. Instead, think of it as an investment that will give you energy, strength, stamina and motivation for both work and play. Goal setting for success Having a clear, realistic goal can help motivate you and provide a mechanism for gauging your progress. So, think about what you want to achieve – for example, getting fit enough for a 10 km fun run or losing ten kilos. Be careful not to set the bar too high. Far better a series of smaller, more realistic goals (that you can celebrate as you achieve them) than one so ambitious that you swiftly become discouraged. Keep your focus narrow too – perhaps concentrate on exercise first, then consider a major diet makeover down the track.  Establish your baseline Although you probably have some idea of your current fitness level, assessing and recording some baseline fitness scores will give you tangible benchmarks against which to measure your progress. You can do this yourself, but having your health assessed professionally by a personal trainer or at the gym will give you a far more accurate picture. Such an assessment is likely to include aerobic and muscular fitness, blood pressure, weight, flexibility and body composition.

Little steps, big results Once you’ve established your goal, a start date and scheduled regular exercise in your diary, it’s time to plan a logical progression of activity. And remember, it is not important how you get fit: only the results matter. So find something that you enjoy – whether it’s boxing, yoga or cycling, or a combination. For best results, a personal trainer can help design a fitness program that’s tailored to your needs and goals, and gradually improves your range of motion, strength and endurance.

Monitor your progress Retake your fitness assessment at regular intervals. You may find that you need to change your program in order to continue improving. Or you may be pleasantly surprised to find that you’re on track to meet your goal. Either way, your health and fitness will be improving by the day and you’ll be looking and feeling better than ever. 7 steps to achieving your fitness resolution 1. Set a start date and block out “Exercise Appointments” in your weekly diary 2.

Enlist support 4. Establish your fitness baseline so you can measure progress 5. Design a program (with help if necessary) 6. Monitor progress against your baseline 7. Reassess your program and adjust as necessary. Mr Dylan Willis is a Director of Fitline Studios, personal trainer and nutrition and lifestyle coach. He combines a passion for improving the health of his clients with qualifications in nutrition, strength and conditioning, bio-signature analysis and corrective exercise.