Fitness goals that make sense

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Being fit, or at least very active, brings so many benefits overall that it’s hard to imagine what it must be like to be on the other end of the scale. Simple things like better quality sleep, more energy, happy mood-boosting endorphins swimming around, leaner body with bigger appetite, glowing skin and clear sparkling eyes, the list goes on….

I used to hate sport. Maybe it was the PT teacher doing knicker inspection, or making us hang from those H-shaped rugby posts – or that time I cycled into a parked car while checking out a good looking boy when I was younger, I don’t know… But with things like familial high cholesterol, I knew it was good for me, and a way to avoid taking meds, so in later years I made more of an effort – and now I can’t imagine not feeling fit, fabulous and energetic (and hungry) all of the time. I even miss exercise if I don’t get to keep to my routine for a bit.

If you’re not at that stage, and still thinking of school PT memories, it’s hard to know where to start, and may sound impossible to even try, so here’s some great goals that will hopefully help.

Get stronger – Muscles are not only the support-structure to our skeleton (strong muscles = supported joints = less injuries and aches and pain), but they are also our internal powerhouse or engine, meaning that the more muscle you have, the more energy you’ll burn, which will help make you leaner and able to perform better. Start small, with a little routine that’s easy to do at home if you feel like a regular gym session is too much commitment in the beginning. Getting some wrist or ankle weight bands for when you go out walking is a great way to pump some iron without even noticing. Even using some household items as weights while you wait for the kettle to boil is a start! Count each lift, and try and beat that count each day to build up on this routine. You don’t need to worry about turning into a veiny-muscled bodybuilder, you just need to focus on getting stronger, as this strength will support you when you exercise more intensely. Top tip: Try Yoga, it’s a great way to build strength!

Some focus – Decide what it is you want to focus on to begin, be it by choosing one activity or sport to practice, or whether it’s a particular goal (stronger arms, longer cardio sessions, more laps in the pool, Yoga at least once a week, etc). It really helps to have some focus when there are so many options and goals which can be so overwhelming that you may feel too intimidated to begin (or start as a fad, and then gather dust).

Make it a habit – Once you have a focus, work out a routine that is realistic within your existing schedule. You may want to go jogging before work every single day, but realistically you are not a morning person, and a once a week Park Run is all you can manage. That’s fine. That’s more than fine actually. It’ll be easier for it to become a habit if it’s realistic and regular. Set yourself calendar reminders in the beginning. Eventually it will become second nature, and you won’t let anything else fill the gaps you have dedicated to your fitness plans.

Master a skill – Mastering a skill really helps you to make you feel like you’re making progress and will motivate you. Once you have your area of focus decided, think of the top thing you’d like to focus on mastering within your area of focus. You may want to be able to hold Bakasana for 10 counts, improve your tennis serve, or do a 5km in less than 30 mins. Whatever it may be, practice mastering this during your sessions.

Sign up for events – Doing an event is a great way to benchmark your progress, set yourself new goals, and also just enjoy the vibe and friendly people you’ll meet along the way. It’s great to have little events or races in your diary to aim for, train for – and of course if they are booked and paid for, it’s a great way to make sure you actually do them!

Buy some cool gear – Treat yourself to some new training gear. You’ll definitely want to get up and start working out if you have some awesome new gear to get into. Not only will it motivate you to train regularly, but you’ll look great – and feel great doing it, which will spur you on for more. Reward yourself at each milestone with a new piece of kit, and don’t forget to invest in proper gear where it matters most. You can scrimp on the actual clothing, but don’t compromise when it comes to the hardest-working items that cushion your joints / reduce impact, etc (like getting a good quality Yoga mat, or getting an expert foot and stride assessment for your next set of running shoes).

Know when to stop – Most importantly, listen to your body and your mind. Do not overdo it. Slow down if something feels uncomfortable, or stop when you feel like you are no longer enjoying your session. There’s nothing wrong with doing this. You have a better chance of trying again, if you stop while you feel good.

Good luck with your routines, and go out and be fit, fabulous – and most of all enjoy!

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