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Getting Fit in the New Year
12.05.12 |

James O'Brien '07 serves as head coach of the Lebanon Valley College cross country teams and as an assistant to its track & field teams. Read on for a few of his favorite tips to help you get fit in the new year.


You’ve heard it all before. Take this pill and in just one week you’ll lose those extra pounds. Get fit in just four and a half minutes a day with this exercise video. Try this crazy diet that seems just too good to be true. It goes on and on. With 2013 and your fitness resolutions right around the corner, avoid the gimmicks and commit yourself to a practical plan that will help you reach your goals in a smart, safe, and enjoyable manner.

1) Set realistic and reachable goals. Goal setting is a very important piece of the puzzle when it comes to your fitness. Everyone has their Mount Everest goal, which is where they’d ultimately like to end up. However, it is just as important to have building-block goals along the way. They should be short-term, realistic, and designed to serve as fitness checkpoints as you aim to scale higher peaks in the future.

2) Be smart, build up. You wouldn’t go skiing for the first time in 10 years and hop on a double black diamond your first time down the slope, would you? Of course not! Well, the same concept applies to your fitness goals. If you are getting back into an exercise routine after an extended break, make sure that you aren’t overdoing it when you first start out. “Too much, too soon” is an easy recipe for getting mentally burned out, sick, or injured, and that will put you right back at square one.

3) Confused? Let an expert make a plan for you. Walking into a gym can be daunting if you don’t have a plan. When and how much should I stretch? How long should I exercise? How much weight is the right amount? If you are relatively new or just looking to try something different, a personal trainer may be just what you need to design your fitness blueprint. The LVC Sports Center offers weekly fitness center orientations to show you how to safely use our equipment, and you have the option to purchase additional, personalized sessions tailored to meet your specific needs. Bring a buddy and split the cost!

4) Take a fitness class to help you reach the next level. Join the fun by hopping in one of our many fitness classes, each designed to challenge you in a different way by our certified fitness instructors. Most classes are one hour of sweat-inducing, calorie-blasting exercise to the latest music. Our offerings include the popular LesMills certified classes including Body Pump, Body Step, Body Flow, Body Combat; the Latin-inspired, dance fitness party that is Zumba; as well as a few of our own creations in Power Hour, Circuit, and Core & More. Doing things together is always better!

5) Accountability is key. Finding a way to keep yourself accountable is critical to the overall success of your workout plan. Having a workout partner is one of the best ways to make working out both social and successful. Knowing that someone will be at the gym to meet you at a certain time is an effective way to motivate you to get out the door. If you can’t get someone to work out with you, the next best thing is to keep a workout log. The simple act of writing your workout down each day can be incredibly motivating and will keep you on track.

6) Sneak fitness into your daily routine. This is a fun one and allows you to be creative. Try parking in the back of the parking lot when you go to the mall or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. You can do some core or flexibility work while watching TV or perform a wall sit while your lunch is heating up in the microwave. The more creative you get the less it will feel like exercise. Just try not to look too crazy to your friends or co-workers in the process!

7) Having your cake and eating it too. Losing weight is a very simple equation: calories ingested versus calories burned. Exercising and maintaining an active lifestyle is only half of the battle; just because you are hitting the gym doesn’t give you free range of the fridge. One of the best ways to enjoy your favorite foods without overindulging is to schedule a cheat day each week where you can “pig out” because you didn’t the rest of the week. Eating healthy six days out of seven is still pretty good.

8) There's an ocean of benefits with water exercise. From toddlers to seniors and all in the middle, using water as a way to get in shape is both effective and enjoyable. At the LVC Sports Center we have two pools to cover everyone’s needs: a warm-water wellness pool and a six-lane, 25-meter lap pool. We offer learn to swim programs, ranging from introductory toddler classes to competitive age group swimming teams to masters swimming sessions. Dive into our water fitness classes, led by a certified instructor, to fully realize your aquatic potential. We offer H20 Aerobics in our main pool and Arthritis Aquatics and Water Wellness in our wellness pool.

9) Explore your neighborhood. One of the best ways to really learn about your community is to explore it on foot. Fully enjoy a beautiful day by going out for a run or walk. This type of exercise requires very little equipment (just a good pair of shoes) and offer numerous health benefits, including reducing the risk of diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. You can do this anywhere and at any time that fits your schedule. For those looking for a challenge, try a fartlek run, which means “speedplay” in Swedish. This is any type of run where you vary your pace based on time intervals (for instance, running hard for 2 minutes followed by 3 minutes of easy running for a set period of time). Whatever your pace, get out and get moving!

10) Know what’s under your hood. You take your car in for oil changes and regular maintenance work, right? Well, the human body needs this type of attention as well. Assuming you aren’t a doctor, scheduling regular screenings is essential in maintaining a sound body and mind. The best way to get started is to check in with your regular doctor to see what they might recommend. Scheduling a physical is also very important before you embark on any exercise routine. Also, keep your eyes open for dates when the LVC Physical Therapy department offers free clinics, which include gait assessments, balance tests, blood pressure screenings, and more.

Taking the time to invest in your health is something that is worthwhile each and every day. Combining an exercise routine with social interaction is an easy way to keep you motivated. By joining a fitness community, such as the LVC Sports Center, you’ll get the camaraderie of spending time with others while enjoying the amenities of a first class facility. Membership is free for full-time faculty and staff and students.

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