The new year is the time when many flock to the gym resolving to improve their health and fitness through exercise. While I welcome any catalyst that helps foster personal improvement, it's no secret that the majority of these new year-fueled-enthusiasts will abandon their goal within a month or two. The two major culprits contributing to most failed fitness makeovers are injury and lack of results.
Injury prevention and quantifiable results are of special importance to the mature adult population. It is no accident that this group disproportionately represents my proudest achievements. There are certain physical challenges associated with training those over age 40, however there are also many benefits. One such benefit is an acquired wisdom that realizes that there is no magical formula to success and that real change is the result of the consistent application of a well-designed plan.
Success in fitness is best achieved with the help of a qualified professional. While it is certainly possible to achieve results on one's own, I liken the process to representing oneself in a court of law without an attorney. When choosing to exercise, older adults are generally more receptive to enlisting the services of a professional to learn how to perform exercises properly. Performing exercises improperly will diminish results, and in many cases lead to injury; the two culprits previously noted as demotivators.
I have yet to meet the person young or old who joins a gym with the intention to squander their time and financial resources. As a culture, we are ignorant to proper exercise techniques and fitness. This ignorance isn't based on lack of intelligence, it's simply the lack of knowledge on a particular subject. Those of us who are not chemists, if left up to our own devices in a chemistry lab would probably blow up something. This doesn't mean we are unintelligent. It simply means we are ignorant to chemistry.
Early adulthood was once described as 'the age of infinite wisdom' and the gym is a testament to the assertion. I routinely encounter many youthful gym enthusiasts who forego proper instruction, performing ineffective and often potentially dangerous activities, obtained from friends or internet videos. I'll often introduce the subject of haircare to them, inquiring as to whether they perform their own styling and maintenance. The typical response is a quizzical look that suggest the absurdity of such a question. Their reply is that an important activity that dramatically affects their appearance 'a haircut', should be left up to a trusted professional. Yet while the negative ramifications of a bad haircut are short-lived, the negative consequences associated with improper exercise practises can be life altering.
The belief system that we have is called our paradigm. This paradigm is our filter system. Unfortunately paradigms are based on feelings and the past. Acting on incorrect information, no matter how deeply held, can be catastrophic or at the very least; painful. My fitness challenge to you in the new year is to keep an open mind. Allow your paradigm, your belief system, to drop and be receptive to new learning. Subscribe to exercise as a lifetime commitment and seek professional help to achieve maximum results and minimize the risk of injury. Adopt a personal fitness program that is sustainable over the long-term and commit to it year-round.