Need Help Choosing the Right Fitness Program?

Keeping the promise I had made in my post about ditching the New Year’s resolutions, I have decided to dedicate this one to the topic of exercise.

Choosing a fitness program can be challenging for some.

Now I don’t know about you – but I’ve certainly noticed just how many fitness classes, trends, and home workout programs there are. They seem to multiply by the month..with some withstanding the test of time while others make their way to the neighbor’s garage sales or local flea markets (thigh master anyone?).

However, diversity in and of itself makes sense considering that we’re all unique in our tastes, preferences and abilities.

The downside to this though is that sometimes, what appears to be an abundance of choices can create confusion – especially for those who aren’t sure about how to incorporate healthy living into their agenda.

So to help clarify things and point you in the right direction, I’m going to offer a few simple tips to help make this process easier for you.

Choosing the Right Fitness Program

Tip # 1 – Keep it Safe

There are a few things you can do to make sure your quest for healthy living goes as smoothly as possible…and one of the ways to go about this is to make sure you’re doing things the right way.

Exercise safety includes things like warming up and cooling down properly, exercising like a beginner if you ARE a beginner and making sure you stay properly hydrated.

Just to name a few.

The simple act of being mindful when it comes to your fitness program offers endless rewards while helping you to stay consistent and challenged.

Tip # 2 – Keep it Realistic

While it’s understandable that you may want to see results as quickly as possible, keeping your program realistic may help you avoid unnecessary injury while working at a pace that encourages safe and proper progression.

For example – if you aren’t much of a dancer, but have a desire to give it a try… then the advanced Zumba class or DVD won’t be the right choice for you.

However, this doesn’t mean it’s out of your range of possibilities.

It just means that in order for you to successfully make this a part of your life – you’ll benefit from starting with the beginner’s version and being kind and forgiving with yourself as you learn to master the movements.

Then – feel free to go ahead and go to a more advanced level.

This applies to any type of workout.

Whether it’s something you have a natural ability toward, or something you feel curious about – keeping your pace and progression realistic will not only help you stay safe in an activity that stresses the body (as exercise does), but it’ll encourage you to keep going since you won’t feel the need to give up on something you can’t keep up with.

Tip # 3 – Keep it Enjoyable

The best way to stick with anything is to love the process. Take some time to discover the ways in which movement in and of itself makes you feel most aligned with joy and have this be your primary form of fitness.

  • If you love to ride a bike, do so. Start with some leisure riding and build up your strength and stamina. If this becomes something you are passionate about, then consider either taking a spinning class or try some long distance riding (preferably away from traffic).
  • If walking is your thing, go for it. Grab a loved one and take a stroll. Work your way up to fitness walking either outdoors or in the privacy of your own home using one of Leslie Sansone’s Walk at Home programs.
  • If you enjoy swimming – then swim my friend. Just make sure you know how to first (you’re thinking thank you Captain Obvious) and start to increase the intensity as you go along. Kicking, treading water, swimming laps and water aerobics are all effective and challenging forms of exercise. Make sure the weather is co-operating…and don’t be afraid to inquire about how well the pool is taken care of if it isn’t your own (as I’ve read some disturbing facts about public pools).

The key to success is the combination of work and pleasure – always in perfect balance.

Over to you…

Have you found yourself confused about how to choose an appropriate fitness program? If so, did the tips I’ve shared here help?

Image credit – Skeeze

Dana Gore

Author of the books "A Simple Guide to Exercise Safety (What You Don't Know CAN Hurt You)" and "Streetwise Philosophy (A Bullshit-Free Approach to Spiritual Maturity)", Dana Gore is a health and fitness professional, wellness coach, and freelance writer. Dana brings guidance to the public about how to achieve optimal health in a safe and structured manner while inspiring her readers to seek self-awareness and inner peace as a means to well-being in all areas of life.

17 thoughts on “Need Help Choosing the Right Fitness Program?

  • Pingback: Start off small to continue big. An exercise routine that sticks. - Health Fundaa

  • at 1:52 am
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    Hey Dana,

    There are a lot of people out there who are confused about what fitness program they should get involved in. There are a lot of good ones here, but I have to agree with #3 wholeheartedly. You definitely want to find something you enjoy because you can burn out real quick if you’re doing a program that you detest lol.

    You also want to practice safety too. I use to run track and I also use to get hurt every year in college. So one thing I would add with staying hydrated is that before you work out, warm up, stretch and make sure you are breathing correctly from your diaphragm as you stretch. This will help to prevent all the injuries I got from running track for sure LOL… whenever I go to the gym, the majority of my work out is stretching and breathing. It sounds odd, but it does help get you lose and centered.

    Thanks for the share Dana! Have a great day!

    Reply
    • at 6:44 pm
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      Hey Sherman,

      Thanks for sharing your tip here. I know there are many people out there who have found techniques that have worked for them, and I appreciate that.

      It’s great that you found a way to prevent additional injuries. We don’t realize that exercise can be stressful on the body…and we don’t take safety into consideration (until it’s too late).

      Enjoying the activity is so important. Otherwise you avoid it.
      Health and fitness can be pleasant as long as we’re true to ourselves.

      Thanks for your contribution to the conversation Sherman and enjoy your week 🙂

      Reply
  • at 8:45 am
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    Hi Dana,

    Thank you for this sage advice that is so much needed when it comes to choosing an exercise program. The worst thing for people to do is jump into one that their body isn’t ready for. Just like the example you have given about if you want to start dancing…don’t jump into a Zumba class.

    I know so many people that get injuries because they think they have to push themselves all at once. It takes progression when choosing a new class.

    For me, I find that swimming works. I started off doing the dog paddle and only two laps a while ago. Now I can easily glide those laps for twenty minutes straight. But that took a year to do. Patience is a virtue lol.

    To exercise, we do have to choose something we enjoy so we look forward to doing it. Thanks so much for pointing that out.

    -Donna

    Reply
    • at 10:22 am
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      Hi Donna,

      I think it’s great that you swim. Swimming is a wonderful way to increase strength, stamina and flexibility without the harsh impact on the joints that some land based exercises offer – even though every program has its benefits.

      The fact that you allowed yourself time to progress to a more challenging program the right way is so important. If everyone did this, the rate of injuries would surely decrease, and consistent participation would increase.

      It really helps to enjoy the process. We have the freedom to ask ourselves “what type of physical activity do I feel most attracted to today?” This is the way to stick with it.

      Thanks for contributing to the conversation Donna. Happy Thanksgiving 🙂

      Reply
  • at 4:57 pm
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    I totally agree with Tip 3. If we won’t enjoy our workout, then we will lack interest and won’t be consistent. Thanks Dana for sharing wonderful tips.

    Reply
    • at 9:54 pm
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      My pleasure Ana.

      I like tip #3 as well. It’s tough to feel motivated to do something you hate, even if it’s good for you.

      Plenty of options out there, we can always choose the one that sounds most enjoyable.

      Reply
  • at 3:46 am
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    Hi Dana

    All great tips!

    People in present scenario are so desperate to get in shape and lose weight that they ignore the safety level. Safety is the most important thing that one should take care of.

    I liked the third tip the most – do what you enjoy. Personally I enjoy walking and make it a point to walk daily. Thai is my fitness fundaa!

    Thanks for sharing the tips!

    Reply
    • at 9:03 am
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      Hi Sonal,

      Thanks so much 🙂
      Yep, safety is so important. Not a sexy topic though, so people don’t pay as much attention to this as they do about results.

      I especially liked the third tip as well. Healthy living can be an enjoyable experience, and it’s awesome that you have found happiness in walking – which is one of the most functional activities you can do.

      Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your week.

      Reply
  • at 10:43 pm
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    Great tips! It took me a while to get into a fitness routine that I liked, but I’m finally hitting my stride. I love taking Zumba, Barre, and Ballet. It is something that I did when I was younger, and I missed it, so it feels great to do it again.

    Reply
    • at 8:59 am
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      Hey Shann,

      That’s great. I know you’ve lost 30 pounds this year, and the fact that you’re doing this in a way that makes it fun is inspiring – to me and I’m sure others who know of your accomplishments.

      All of these activities offer huge benefits, so it’s cool that you love doing them as well 🙂

      Reply
  • at 7:32 pm
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    Hey Captain Obvious, I mean Dana (LOL),

    When I was younger none of what you wrote was obvious at all. This would have been the very post that I should have been reading – truly. I would go to the gym, do a workout like I was Olympian and generally an advanced class after not exercising for months and wonder why I had run out of steam before the first week was over. That was my biggest let down.

    Had I known to start off at beginners level (which is a wonderful place to start especially dancing) I would have stayed with it. What you wrote about was everything I did and how I went about it was what handicapped me.

    Now when I do a dance class in the privacy of my own home, the first week I am a goof ball and I really enjoy that I don’t put any pressure on myself other than to finish the class.

    In the second week I can see some improvement in the steps I have remember. By the third week there are steps I am more inclined to give attention to because I want to master them.

    Excellent post – and I am sticking to calling you Captain, but this time Captain Exercise.

    Rachel.

    Reply
    • at 8:55 am
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      Hey Rachel,

      LOL…Captain Obvious is something my husband says…and I know I’ve heard it elsewhere, so I can’t take credit for it (even though it totally fit with what I was saying).

      Like you, I used to go to the gym or embark on other exercise programs as though I had been doing this all along – because I was trying to lose the weight quickly – and from a place of emotional turmoil.

      It’s no wonder you lost steam after doing this. Most people do and this is why they can’t connect to a healthy living program. They don’t find it enjoyable, nor realistic.

      I think it’s fantastic that you dance at home. You don’t have to care about how you look or about your “performance”, and by you taking it slow, you’re building up a solid foundation in which you seem to be expanding on with each week that you’re doing this. So even if you didn’t know this back then, you do now – and you’re doing it the right way.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post Rachel.
      Have a great week.

      Yours truly,
      Captain Exercise 😉

      Reply
  • at 5:01 pm
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    Hey Dana,

    Glad you wrote this post.

    I think being realistic and enjoying it are the main things people should look into before even starting. They want to get in shape so they just get the program they’ve heard will work and then they dive in and not stick with it.

    I’m guilty too because as you know I do NOT like to exercise and I find none of it enjoyable. Now I do walk and a long time ago I did get Leslie’s walk at home tapes. I didn’t even stick with those because they were boring.

    I do walk though everyday, outside. As you know I have incorporated some exercise into my life that you helped me with but I have not remained consistent. Because I don’t enjoy it it’s easy to make excuses when something comes up like at this very moment my allergies have kicked in and I have to stop before I can finish even typing one sentence to sneeze and blow my nose. Talk about miserable feeling. Oh yeah, I’m going to go exercise. lol…

    It’s important though in order to remain healthy so thanks for sharing what we should be on the lookout for.

    Enjoy your week and Happy Thanksgiving.

    ~Adrienne

    Reply
    • at 8:49 am
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      Hi Adrienne,

      I’m glad you liked the post 🙂
      And I know how you feel about exercise. You aren’t alone in that. There are a lot of people out there who simply don’t enjoy it.

      I still think it’s great though that you walk – and that you do this outside. If nothing else, it’s nice to get out in nature. It can make it feel less like exercise and more like a natural activity. Whatever makes it more enjoyable is the key to sticking with it.

      You’ll decide if/when you incorporate some of the things I’ve taught you into your routine when it feels right to you. You keep your weight down, you take care of yourself and you walk. You’re doing better than many people out there, so just stay with what feels most natural to you.

      I hope you’re having a good week Adrienne – and as always, I appreciate your comment and insights.

      Reply
  • at 11:05 am
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    Tip #2 is totally me! My friends are always like let’s go to Zumba and I am like I’ll just trip over my feet the whole class because I can’t even dance!! 😛

    Reply
    • at 8:42 am
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      Hi Christine,
      I know what you mean. 🙂
      This especially goes for a class setting.

      I think it’s great to try new things, but if it’s an advanced form of exercise, or a highly choreographed one, it’s always best to work at a beginner’s level first.

      Reply

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