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Ease into fitness the SMART way

By Don Fennell

Published 10:22 PST, Wed January 17, 2018

Sporting a few extra pounds from the holiday turkey fest, and determined to make good on another New Year’s resolution, the weekend warrior strolls into the neighbourhood community centre with the best of intentions.

“I want to be healthier,” they declare.

Seldom, however, does the resolve meet with success. Not long-term anyway.

There are a myriad reasons for giving up going to the gym, none of which are related to being too busy.

But South Arm Community Centre fitness co-ordinator Sharon Taylor has some simple advice for those people who are truly motivated to start a fitness program—and stick to it.

First, keep it simple.

“Use the SMART approach, which means Simple, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timeline,” Taylor says.

If, for example, you want your legs to be strong so you can walk longer in the park, and up and down stairs without getting tired and sore, set specific times for walking or strength training “with increased, but small, increments over a six-week time period.”

“Also, choose only one goal for January to March,” Taylor advises. “A person is more likely to be successful, especially if the goal is new or it is a goal that has been difficult to attain in the past.”

Foremost in any exercise challenge is ensuring you enjoy the activity. In other words, it’s fun. You won’t stick to a routine or a goal if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, she says.

Taylor says having a calendar to check off the days and times you accomplish your activity or daily goal is a good idea. And tell a friend, or do the goal-setting with a friend.

“Also, be kind to yourself if you miss a day or don’t accomplish your daily activity,” she says. “This is why SMART goal setting is a good start, and it may need to be revised after six or eight weeks if it’s not working.”

Taylor suggests caution if you’re using an app or getting ideas from outside sources like YouTube to guide your fitness routine. Check first with a professional to make sure what is best for you.

And be careful if you’ve had a recent injury or medical concerns. Starting up a fitness program without discussing it with your doctor is not a good idea and can create more health problems later, she says.

“There are many ways to check in with fitness professionals, even on a limited budget,” Taylor says.

All Richmond community centres offer free fitness orientations. They also offer group drop-in classes. These are led by certified fitness leaders who will ensure that proper technique and specific exercises are done properly.

There are various packages for personal training that can suit different budgets, such as training with a friend or two, or training for 30 minutes only.

The free fitness orientations include demonstrations of the training equipment.

For those who may be thinking of setting up a home gym, Taylor recommends first trying a similar machine or equipment at your local community centre. There they can test it out to make sure it’s a fit “and can be instructed how to utilize the machine or equipment specifically for your needs and fitness level.”

But now while you might think you’re ready to tackle the exercise part of your New Year’s resolution, there’s still another important aspect to your fitness plan to consider. Eating healthy.

“It’s very important,” Taylor says. “First, drink more water.”

Taylor also recommends adding more vegetables and or fruit to meals.

“Perhaps a SMART goal would be only have sugar treats once a week, or cut down the sugary treats gradually over a two-month period to ensure success and to avoid those downfalls,” she says. “My resolution is to always have a glass of water following each of my cups of coffee. This will probably cut down my coffee drinking too.”

Those who live nearby South Arm Community Centre, or who decide to work out there, will be able to enjoy the results of a recent $1.5-million renovation at the facility.

South Arm is holding a Fitness Appreciation Week, with free fitness giveaways Jan. 17 to 24.

South Arm fitness pass holders will be able to bring a friend for free, with free demonstrations of new equipment, free fitness classes, and fitness orientations with free basic fitness programs on tap.

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