What's The Best Fitness Program For Me?

For lots of us, the end of summer is a time to re-prioritize health after a couple of months spent indulging in BBQ's, bevies, and vacation-time treats. It's a time for turning over a new leaf, starting new activities, and figuring out how to get back into the routine for fall and winter.

If you're looking to bump up your fitness level this fall, what's the best way to do it? How do you choose the right program for you? 

If, like most of us, you want to incorporate more fitness to feel better, lose fat, or to have a little boost in your step, this advice is for you. If, on the other hand, your goal
is to go to the Olympics some day... well... you can disregard pretty much everything I'm about to say. That's a different story.

Start Here

What activities do you enjoy?

On a simple level, exercise and fitness activities can be placed into two major categories.

1. Activities that you enjoy.

2. Activities that you dislike.

If you want to improve your fitness over the long run, you're going to need to stay consistent. So, why set yourself up for failure by signing up for a program that you don't even like? Some of you may be able to stick it out for a few months, but before too long, chances are you'll quit. Then you'll be back to square one. And nobody has got time for that!

There a dozens of different gym programs, and countless other ways to be more active outside the gym. Is there a sport that you like? Hiking? Martial Arts? 

What I know for sure is that no matter how good the program is, if you don't show up and put your all into it, you won't see results. 

It's all About The Intangibles

Whatever form your exercise takes; you don't have to love everything about every training session but it does need to have something that keeps you coming back. That could be your super inspiring coach, the other people you workout with, the actual process of training itself, the results you start seeing in your body, or the way your workout makes you feel afterwards. Just one of these is enough.

In my experience, the intangible aspects - team spirit, making friends, the relationship with your coach, and having plain old fun - are often the most motivating elements for people who don't naturally view themselves as athletes.

Try to find somewhere that feels like home. Take your time, try many different places and be picky. You'll know the right fit when you find it! Just as a great teacher can make any subject interesting, a masterful coach and the right training partners make a world of difference to how engaging that training will be.

Include More Strength Training 

Ideally, most people with general fitness goals (if you want to feel better, lose fat and get fitter) should include some kind of strength training in their fitness activities.

This doesn't mean going full meat-head and becoming a hulking body builder. This is about improving athleticism, becoming more mobile and robust, having more energy, boosting your metabolism, and being more resistant to injury over time. It will let you do the things you enjoy at a higher level and for longer. 

But, before you start a program, I urge you to find someone experienced who can take you through a thorough assessment. That way you can figure out whether your body has any weak areas that could be potential sites for injury or that could lead to early plateaus. Without an assessment, there's no way you or a professional coach can customize a training program to fit your needs. You can either assess or you can guess. For me, I'll always pick "assess." 

This will also give you a chance to get detailed technique coaching to maximize your results and lower your risk of hurting yourself. Every week my team and I see clients at Quantum CrossFit who are shocked at how just a few seemingly small details completely transforms an exercise they thought they'd mastered. 

Finally, your strength training plan should have progressions built into it that continue to challenge you as you improve. If you simply do the exact some kind of workout day in and day out, you'll get stuck on an early plateau. This is an incredibly common problem.

As you get fitter, you'll need more of a challenge to make incremental improvement. There's an art and science to doing this effectively, which is why having a professional coach create your plan is so beneficial.

THE BOTTOM LINE 

Whatever you decide, make sure it's the right fit for you and that you enjoy it. It's got to help you move closer to your goals. This sounds beyond obvious, but it's easy to get caught up finding the thing that's the best vs. what's best for you. 


Peter Roberts is a sought after nutrition consultant and strength and conditioning coach in Toronto. He's been the head coach at Quantum CrossFit since 2010 (East York's most highly rated gym) and consulted with Canada Basketball and Rugby League Canada, among others. He provides free fitness and nutrition resources on his site peterrobertscoaching.com to teach people how to get fitter and feel great without it being a struggle. 

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