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Home    For Our Community    HealthSense    Podcasts    How to establish a fitness program
How to establish a fitness program

Many people struggle with committing to a fitness program. Year after year, the most popular New Year’s resolution is losing weight and getting in better physical shape. Is this the year that you stick to your resolution to create a new you, and how do you start?

1 Talk to the experts. A new gym, unfamiliar equipment and fear of the unknown can be daunting. Meet with an exercise specialist to set a course that’s right for you.
2 Find an activity you enjoy. Whether it’s a dance class or cycling, you will be more motivated if you do something that’s fun for you.
3 Get a workout partner. The camaraderie will boost your spirits – and keep you accountable.

Set long-term goals. Fitness is a lifestyle that you choose, not a means to a short-term end. Commit to it for its lifetime benefits.

The fitness experts at CoxHealth can plan a program that keeps you motivated and helps you reach your goals. CoxHealth Fitness Centers also have a medical component that offers members extras such as screenings and assessments, specialized programming and personal services to further assist your pursuit for a healthy lifestyle.

Yvette Williams: Ashly Stelling is the manager of member services at CoxHealth Fitness Centers. She’s here with some advice. Thank you for joining us, Ashly.

Ashly Stelling: Thank you for having me.

YW: Fitness centers across the country are very busy places at the beginning of each year, but Ashly, why is it so difficult for some of us to stick to an exercise routine throughout the year?

AS: People have a lot of different priorities in their life. They have a lot of things going on. They have kids to take care of, spouses, moms and dads, jobs, and exercise sometimes is placed on the back burner. People need to make exercise a priority and realize that it’s not just about the benefits of tomorrow or the benefit of looking better in your bathing suit this summer. There are long-term benefits. It is a lifetime commitment that’s going to help you guard against cardiovascular disease and diabetes and live a longer, more active life.

YW: What is it about those people who do come in week after week, month after month? Can we learn anything from their motivation?

AS: I think there are a lot of people who either go through certain life events or maybe have loved ones who suffer from different things that help with their motivation for getting healthier and having a stronger heart. But then there’s also people that just know the benefits of exercise and realize how they can live a lot more active, longer life if they keep exercise in their routine each week.

YW: So is the key then really to look at getting fit and exercising, not so much the short term of losing 10 pounds versus reducing our risk for chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease? Is that the real key?

AS: Definitely. People that are working towards weight loss goals are also going to get all of the benefits of the lower risk of cardiovascular disease. You also have diabetes, which is an ever-growing population of people, and any type of exercise can also help with that disease as well. There are a lot of things that exercise can help besides just losing weight.

YW: We know about the obesity epidemic in the Ozarks and across the nation. Is the mission of the fitness centers at CoxHealth part of that to address that issue?

AS: Very much so. We hope that on a daily basis we’re trying to help with that epidemic. It is ever growing. The numbers come out every week it seems like and it’s growing by leaps and bounds. Also with children, that’s a big thing right now with childhood obesity. We do have some children’s programming that also helps with that. For exercise in general, we have nutrition services that can help. People just need to do something. They need to start getting educated and knowing what’s causing obesity so they can try to overcome it.

YW: That’s why it is good and it’s easy for us to start fresh each year, and to look at what we’re doing for our own health. So it is a good time to think again about our physical fitness, right?

AS: Oh gosh, yes. First of the year is always a good time, as well as anytime during the year. If somebody doesn’t get started right in January, don’t think it’s too late.

YW: Each day is a new day for getting fit. So, we’re ready to begin, we’re motivated. What do we do?

AS: The first thing would be to come to the fitness center and see what all is offered, see what all the different things are that you can be involved with, so you can find the thing that’s going to help motivate you and help you stick with it. You can also meet with exercise specialists that can help you understand the route to go and start a safe and effective workout program, not start out too vigorous to where you hurt yourself or you don’t want to come back because you’re so sore. So, talking to the experts is probably one of the first things to help you get started. They can set up a program for you that will keep you motivated.

YW: Does it matter if you’re in your 20s or 30s, or if you’re physically fit for the most part now or if you are overweight, or if you have a chronic disease? Do people start in different places depending on where they are now?

AS: Oh gosh yes. That doesn’t matter at all. We service anybody of any age with any kind of ailments they have, any health history. If you haven’t ever worked out, this is a great place to start. If you’re an avid athlete, you need to keep up your routine and keep exercising as well. Any level, any age is welcome.

YW: We should mention that the CoxHealth Fitness Centers are medically based because we have such a vast variety of experts at our disposal to help people, especially at The Meyer Center where the orthopedic facilities are.

AS: We are medically based. We have registered nurses on staff. We do have medically based programs that are geared toward somebody that has had a certain event, like maybe a cardiac event or have gone through rehab in the hospital and they need a transition program to help get them back into exercising and a daily routine set up. So yes, we do have the experts on hand to help with that as well.

YW: Let’s talk about some of the classes that are fun with lots of music. Does that help, and what are some of those programs and classes?

AS: The camaraderie and accountability of classes is also a great motivator for people. Anything from dance classes – our Zumba dance class is very popular – to spinning, where you have the loud music that helps keep you motivated and working hard. We have regular dance aerobics to aquatics classes that are great for helping with anything from weight loss to balance. Lots of classes.

YW: There are people who come by themselves or with a friend and walk around the track or on a treadmill. How does it help being involved in a fitness center atmosphere?

AS: I think if you have the camaraderie of people, if you have somebody to meet at the gym, it helps with the accountability. If you are doing something such as personal training, where you’re meeting a trainer each time and you have an appointment scheduled, then that creates motivation within itself because you have that accountability. If you’re meeting a friend, it’s the same accountability. Getting a workout partner or finding one once you get to the gym is always a great motivator for people.

YW: And you will feel better at the end when you’re done. You’ll be tired, but you will feel better. What is some of the research? You mentioned diabetes and cardiovascular disease. What do we know about the benefits today of exercise and getting fit?

AS: Just overall, a lot the research shows that exercising three to five times a week for at least 30 minutes is going to lower your risk for all the diseases. Anything from cardiovascular to diabetes, and anything that comes along with obesity and weight loss concerns, are in the statistics.

YW: We know it’s important and we know what to do. Thank you so much, Ashly Stelling, it’s always good to hear and be reminded why it’s so important to be fit.

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