How do I choose a fitness program?

Starting by making a list of your most important health and fitness goals. This information will help you chose a fitness program that will best fit your needs and help you achieve your goals. In addition, try to identify compelling emotional reasons to get started with a fitness program. This emotional buy-in will improve your chances of choosing the best starting point for yourself and sticking with the program.

When choosing a fitness program you want to find one that specifically matches the goals you have. There are many types of programs and it is important you find one that has been tested, proven and is a valid, evidence-based system. It is also important to find a program that that synchs up with your schedule so that you can realistically implement the entire program.  The program should also include both exercise and nutrition to be a complete solution. Dependent on what type of person you are select a program that will keep you accountable. You can get the services of a fitness coach/trainer or if you have the self-discipline of holding yourself accountable there are programs you can get that are more self-serve. To best identify what will be best for your contact a Sharecare Certified Trainer via the Sharecare Trainer Network.

Mr. Donovan Green
Athletic Training
When you decide to start a fitness program it should always be something that matches your life style and your specific goals and most of all it should be fun. For example: if you are looking to lose weight you should become familiar with a basic strength and cardio program. If you are looking to build muscle you should get involved in a base strength program which consist of mostly weight training. Make sure the program you choose is right for you, do not do what someone else is doing.
Choose a fitness program that includes elements you enjoy. Think about other things in your life that you enjoy. You probably continue to do the things you enjoy because they are fun. The same holds true for fitness. You will have a tendency to continue to exercise if you are having fun. 

Another important element of choosing a fitness program is being a part of the process. For example, if you are working with a personal trainer don't let the trainer write your program for you, work with the trainer to put your program together.

Lastly, try participating in some activities that look appealing to you. For example, step class, cycling, etc. If you don't want to go alone find a partner. Finding new, fun activities can help build self esteem, confidence and add an element of fun. 

When choosing a fitness program you want to first decide what your specific goals are and what type of activities you like. Then look for programs that meet those specifications. Choosing an activity you are already interested in will keep you motivated and looking forward to your fitness class. If you are interested in weight training a body sculpting class might be the place to start, if you want a more intense workout that combines both weight training and cardio components a boot camp class could be your ticket. Love riding your bike, look for a spinning or cycling class.
There are a few key points in choosing a program:

1) What are your goals?  Determining this will help steer you in the right direction.
2) Do you want to work with others or alone?  Do you want to work with a professional (i.e. a personal trainer)?  This will help you pick a program designed for a group or to do with the assistance of a professional.  Additionally, if you don't already have a gym membership, this decision will help steer you in that direction.
3) If you have done things in the past, what do you like to do?  Make it fun - that will ensure you stick too it better.
4) Is there research on the effectiveness of the program?  This is a tougher one to consider, but doing research online, asking professionals, etc. will help ensure you are doing something that works functionally for your body.

Don't forget to check your progress, as that is important in ensuring what you have selected is working for you and if there are any adjustments you need to make. 

Although there is no one right way to pursue fitness, there are definitely methods which are much more effective and efficient than others.
A fitness program will work best when it is fun and tailored to you based on your:
- Health history
- Current state of fitness
- Bodies needs (postural deviations and muscle imbalances)
- Goals you want to achieve

The most effective programs will be comprehensive and will focus on multiple aspects of health and fitness such as: flexibility, rehabilitation, cardiorespiratory health, muscle strength and endurance, body composition, injury prevention, proprioception, balance and joint stability. A program that is limited in its focus isn't suffice and will result in slower progress, quicker plateaus and possible injury.

I recommend reaching out to a professional that can work with you to design you a program that suits your wants and needs. This way you are going to be armed with the tools you need to reach your goals safely and efficiently.

There are quite a few variables to consider when choosing your fitness program:
1. Should be an activity that you ENJOY doing- if you like to be outdoors, then pick something like running, hiking, biking etc.. If you like exercising with others, then a group fitness class. If you like what you are doing, you will be more likely to stick with it.
2. Time: have a game plan for the amount of time you can and will dedicate to your workout. Remember, you can get a great workout in 30mins, if you do it right.
3. Supportive environment: surround yourself with friends and family that are supportive of your goals. This will help you stay motivated.
4. Be flexible- be willing to change things up if your current plan isn't working for you.
A different activity might give your the kick start you need! 
5. Seek advice- ask personal trainers, healthcare professionals, etc (like the ones here on Sharecare ) for help with choosing your exercise plan. They will help guide you in the right direction.
It makes sense that people stick to programs they feel challenged by that but don't feel like torture. It can be worth considering challenges you face in life as well as your fitness goals. Some people who often feel anxious or nervous find that running at a moderate pace helps create a peace of mind through repetitive motion. If they are able to slip into the groove they can get a great workout in while using the time as an active meditation.  Other people find that a higher intensity workout helps get them into motion and spurs them to tackle tougher challenges in their lives outside the gym.  

When choosing a fitness program, give careful consideration to, and list out the following:

What do you want to accomplish?
Why do you truly want to accomplish it?
How much time can you consistently commit to it?
How much money have you set aside for it?
Who will likely support and who will likely sabbatoge your efforts?

JC Pinzon
It has to be personalized and based on your specific needs and goals. An assessment is a must if you want to know your weaknesses. An educated trainer can help you achieve results safer and faster.
Think of how excited you will be at the start of your fitness program.  Set realistic goals for what you wish to achieve. Find a reason for your motivation to get fit and get out there and move!
Choosing a program should be something you enjoy and will stick with for at least 12 weeks. If the initial investment concerns you, there are many low cost programs at local YWCA or YMCA's which provide camaraderie and fellowship among members and non members as well.  The main focus is to start.  Your health is a precious gift you have control over giving!

Start by thinking about what you want to achieve with your program. Are you doing this to lose weight, build muscle, be able to participate in a sport or specific activity, etc.? Goals are great for keeping on track and staying motivated long term. The next would be find activities that you enjoy and are aligned with the goal you want to achieve. There are lots of resources out there, especially now with today’s technology. 

If you are completely new to fitness it is recommended you speak with a fitness professional (trainer/coach) to go over an initial assessment to ensure you do not injury yourself and to make sure you are cleared for physical activity. A good trainer is also a great way start a program as they are the experts in the field and should have proven results in helping people at all levels. 

You first have to find out how much time you can realistically dedicate to your workout. If you don't plan correctly, you'll find it easy to make excuses. Make sure you don't have to plan on a partner to workout. It may be fun to workout with a partner but, if they are not as determined as you are they may hold you back. Get into a program that challenges you and that is fun at the same time. A good fitness program has progression and constantly evolves as you do. Good fitness programs are also results driven like the NASM's Optimum Performance Training. Personal Trainers can personalize programs that fit your needs, wants and Lifestyle.
Great question! You should choose a fitness program you enjoy and what your needs and goals are. Choose one that fits into your busy lifestyle. Make exercise part of your day and look forward to the great benefits it has to offer. Choose a well rounded program where stabilization,strength endurance and cardiorespitory all play a role and you will achieve your goals.Stay consitent in your exercise program and make sure you're on track with healthy eating .

The best way to choose a program is one that is based on one’s individual limitations, and goals. Once an individual gets clearance from a physician; it will be in ones best interest to have a HFPN Fitness Expert put together a program that will get you the results that you want in a safe effective way.

Three reasons people are UNSUCCESSFUL in an exercise program are:

  1. Lack of time/ too high of expectations
  2. Lack of interest/no results
  3. Lack of knowledge/boredom

 Four reasons people SUCCEED in their fitness program:

  1. They set Goals: Goal setting is the foundation of a successful fitness program. Successful people plan for success. Before starting an exercise program, a great practice is to sit down by yourself, with a partner, or with a fitness professional and dig deep in to why you want to improve your fitness and health. Set short term goals such as: making it to gym 3 times per week, cutting down on your soda intake, or taking a walk before turning on the TV at night along with long term goals such as: losing 50 lbs, running a 5K, or dropping 4 dress sizes.
  2. They are honest with themselves:  Often times, people get so excited about their decisions to get in shape, they set themselves up for failure by forcing expectations on themselves that are too lofty right out of the gates. You need to be realistic about how much time you can commit so exercise does not become a chore.
  3. They own their program: You need to discover the WHY behind your fitness goals. If you set goals that have value to you, are FOR you, and not for other people including friends, family, doctor, or trainer, you will be more successful because you have ownership in your program.
  4. They get a teammate: It is wise to seek out a trusted informational resource such as a fitness professional or Sharecare to assist you in setting goals appropriate to you. There are thousands of fitness programs and theories out there, but the one that will be the right fit for you may not be easy to find. A qualified fitness trainer or online coach can help to decrease the confusion, frustration, and disappointment of picking a fitness program that is a bad fit. With this, a teammate will help you stay accountable to your goals and act as a sounding board for your victories and obstacles.

Choosing a health and fitness program should first and foremost depend on your personal health and fitness goals. Are you looking to lose weight after pregnancies? Are you seeking a more balanced lifestyle? Do you need stress relief? Are you wanting to improve your quality of life? Write down your personal goals and seek out programs that will provide you with what you need. Keep an open mind and be aware that your program will alter as your goals are met and changed. Remember that a balanced lifestyle program will consist of nutrition, flexibility, cardiorespiratory fitness, resistance training, and balance. All of these tie into a healthy lifestyle and can all be altered within your specific stage.

Before starting any fitness program always consult your doctor first. Once your doctor makes some recommendations take a moment to ask yourself some of the following questions...

What do you want to accomplish? Are you trying to lose weight? Gain strength? Run a marathon…ok, that’s a lot, how bout a 5k? 3k??? What do you want the end result to be? Once you know that, your fitness program and activities therein may choose you. To lose weight you have to engage in certain actions, likewise for gaining strength, or endurance running, or any goal for that matter. To reach a specific goal you have to have a specific program.

What do you enjoy doing? If you have not exercised in a long time what did you used to enjoy doing? Even if it was when you were a kid, what did you enjoy?  If you are experienced or starting over again go with what you enjoy and eliminate what you did not. Sounds simple but you would be surprised how many people engage in activities they hate and then quit because they are not enjoying themselves.  Do not discount the enjoyment factor!

Why are you starting a fitness program? This may not help you to pick a fitness program but it will help keep you motivated during your fitness program. Let’s face you it, you will be sweating, you will be tired, you will have to eat less and move more but when you keep your reason "WHY" you are exercising firmly in your mind, you will be much more likely to succeed.

Do you need educational or professional assistance? Make sure you get information from a reputable source, a good book from a fitness expert,  or  professional personal trainer may be a good educational option.. A less expensive option can be to work with a trainer here on Sharecare. Our Sharecare fitness experts will put together fitness programs for you at a fraction the cost of an in-gym personal trainer. Think of the investment as lifelong lessons in fitness.

Functional Fitness is about training your body to handle real life situations.  It focuses on building a body capable of doing real life activities, such as picking up 15 lb box of Kitty litter from the bottom shelf at the grocery store and lifting it into your cart.  Functional Fitness trains one to exercise in different directions and planes, and helps to strenthen the core muscles of the body, particulary the core muscles surrounding the spine.  This is the type of training you will not get from utilizing excercise machines such as a Chest Press or seated Back Row, which help guide a individual with the range of motion and help to support proper posture with a front or back support which is ok for begginers, however eventually one will want to focus on performing these movements in more of a "unstable" environment to recruit and strengthen the core muscles.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.