Shaping Up Nicely
Your Workout Plan
When formulating your workout plan, getting professional help is the easiest course of action. “A trainer can give you a safe, manageable, personalized routine that fits into your lifestyle, goals and preferences,” explains Carol Espel, national director for group fitness programming at New York’s Equinox Fitness Clubs.
If you opt to not use a trainer, start with a baseline assessment of your physical ability. Try timing yourself while you run a mile or do as many sit-ups as you can in one minute and vow to improve your abilities.
Once you know your starting point, you can set a fitness goal for yourself. Clearly articulate this goal—this will keep you going on days when you feel like giving up.
The American Council on Exercise and the American College of Sport Medicine suggest that novice exercisers begin getting in shape with three, one-hour exercise sessions per week. These should combine 20 minutes of aerobic exercise, 30 minutes of strength training and ten minutes of balance and flexibility.
To ensure your body is performing at its peak, monitor your heart rate while you exercise. The American Heart Association has a chart that describes where your heart rate should be for optimal physical conditioning.
You should also try to incorporate fitness into every aspect of your life. Madeline Brenner, who works at a law office and has little time for the gym, realized that her co-workers’ fitness levels were deteriorating. She called Donna, her gym instructor, to hold weekly classes in the firm’s conference room. Donna also encouraged them to take staircase-walking breaks instead of coffee breaks and to stretch regularly. Soon enough, everyone in the office noticed an increase in personal fitness levels.