Choosing The Right Fitness/Wellness Program

Find Your Fitness…

Here we are again. Another new year. More than likely, the holidays passed in a series of food, family and frantic fun. Alliteration aside, it’s time to lose the five or so pounds we put on during such festivities and focus on our health and well being.

But many people wonder: How do I choose a fitness plan that I will actually stick with? Here are some ideas to help you take control of your health in 2020.

Ask yourself a series of questions and get real with yourself. The most important thing to remember is to choose an activity you’re likely to enjoy. Do you prefer to spend time indoors or outdoors? Alone or with people? You are more likely to abandon a healthy lifestyle change if your chosen activity doesn’t suit your lifestyle.

• Choose an indoor activity if you’re bothered by weather extremes such as heat or cold.

• Keep your budget in mind; for example, skiing can be pricey, especially if you need all the gear. 

• Be realistic about your current health and level of fitness. If you are a beginner, the physical demands of certain activities (such as running) may be too much at first. Choose a gentler alternative and work your way up.

Cycling is a great form of exercise, and can even double as transportation. It is gentle on the joints, burns plenty of kilojoules and improves your cardiovascular system. A good quality bicycle can be expensive, although you don’t have to spend a ton of money if you are just starting out. Protective equipment (including a helmet) is essential, and always be traffic conscious. The North State is home to several indoor cycling studios, and rides are available for all fitness levels, the group motivation is unmatched and no equipment is necessary.

Yoga and Pilates offers lengthening and strengthening of muscles and increased flexibility. There are numerous studios in the area, so check out Yelp or ask a friend to tag along next time. All you generally need is a yoga mat and comfy clothing.

Home fitness is a great option for people who need to work out on their own schedule or are housebound, such as parents of small children; however, the equipment is bulky and can take up a lot of space. Be sure you are truly motivated to regularly run/walk/cycle in one spot; many people tend to stop using their home fitness equipment within five months of purchasing it.

Try working out at home with online streaming or DVDs. This way, you can work out on your own time and enjoy a variety of workouts. Just be sure the instructors you are watching are qualified.

Swimming is a low-impact activity. The buoyancy of the water supports your body so the risk of musculoskeletal injury is small. Swimming exercises the entire body, but particularly the chest, back and arms. Swimming is an ideal form of exercise for most people, especially the elderly or obese. Swimming is a learned skill, so consider lessons if you are a beginner. 

You can buy an online program or go to a specialized studio where they focus on one type of exercise, but a full-service gym is where you get the most bang for your buck.

Tonja Donoho, general manager of EveryDay Fitness in Redding, says there are several things you should look for in a gym. “Not only should you be looking for a wide range of equipment, classes, trainers and child care if you need it, but also find an environment that will motivate you, challenge you and welcome you,” Donoho says. 

Things to consider: Gyms can be busy at peak times, such as after work. If you think you might be uncomfortable working out in front of a lot people, go when the gym is less busy.

Whatever your fitness level, there is an activity that will fit your needs

and goals. Everybody has to start somewhere, so don’t let embarrassment or uncertainty get in your way. 2020 is a fresh start for fitness and with a little research, soon you can be on your way to a healthier you. •

About Melissa Mendonca

Melissa is a graduate of San Francisco State and Tulane universities. She’s a lover of airports and road trips and believes in mentoring and service to create communities everyone can enjoy. Her favorite words are rebar, wanderlust and change.

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