Choosing the Right Fitness Path
Updated: Mar 28, 2019
Exercise is an important aspect of any healthy individuals life and is essential for us as humans to live our best lives. There are an extraordinary amount of benefits to exercise, but most of them revolve around preventing our bodies from degrading and contracting diseases or improving our bodies functional capacity, mental health, and longevity. Exercise has a lot of stereotypes, when most people think of exercise they think of either running on a treadmill or lifting really heavy weights. Exercise and fitness are not limited to those two options, I believe there is a type of exercise or a "fitness path" for everybody, regardless of what stage of life you are in. I'm going to go over the aspects of finding your fitness path and show you what options there are and how to find which one is right for you.
Find Your Motivations
When you are beginning your fitness journey and trying to figure out which fitness path is right for you it is important to understand what your motivations are. When you understand your motivations you can use that to determine what you want your goals to be, this is vital because goal setting is one of the most important factors related to fitness success.
Everybody has different motives for beginning a fitness journey and it is important for you to figure out yours. Take a moment to think deeply about why you have decided to take the first step towards a healthier lifestyle and what you want to achieve from exercising.
Determine Your Desired Outcome
After you have found your motivations you need to determine what your desired outcome is. What is the one main thing that you want to achieve through exercise? A lot of people will have a similar answer to this question: gain muscle, look better, lose weight, be healthier, etc... It is important to not fall prey to these normal answers, If one of those common answers is truly your desired outcome that is completely fine, but you want to be sure.
A very simple way to determine your desired outcome is to write down your initial thought on what you believe your desired outcome is and then ask yourself why and why and why... for a total of 4-6 times.
Answer: I would like to lose weight
Why? I want to lose weight because I would like to be healthier.
Why? I would like to be healthier because I don't want to have health issues when I am older.
Why? I don't want to have health issues when I am older because I want to be able to focus on building a family and supporting them when I am older.
Why? I want to be able to focus on building a family and supporting them when I am older because having a strong close-knit family that can spend time together doing fun activities and is financially stable is something that I want to have in my future.
After you go through that process you will arrive at your true desired outcome and it will be unique to you and true to who you are. Once you understand what your desired outcome is, you need to understand the different options that you have in order to reach your desired outcome.
Know the Different Types of Exercise
When it comes to exercise your possibilities are endless, there are so many options that revolve around exercise. Powerlifting, bodybuilding, running, jogging, swimming, hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, paddle boarding, basketball, or yoga. I wouldn't be able to even come close to listing every option possible related to exercise, you can turn almost anything into a form of exercise if you get creative enough. It's important to understand the different types of exercise and what the benefits are from each so that you can effectively reach your desired outcome in way that is fun to you. There are five main types of exercise modalities: (resistance training), (Cardio training), (Flexibility training), (SAQ training), and (physical activities).
Resistance training involves moving weight with your body in a controlled fashion with the goal of altering your muscles in one way or another. This type of training can be achieved through bodyweight exercises, weighted exercises, and resistance bands. Majority of people seek 3 different outcomes through resistance training; increased strength, increased muscle size, and increased power. It is also a very effective form of weight loss when paired with a small amount of cardio training.
Cardio training involves increasing the heart rate to an elevated level to train your body to circulate oxygenated blood throughout the body for an extended period of time. Types of exercise that can fit into this category are swimming, running, jogging, walking, or any exercise that increases your heart rate for a period of time. This is the most common type of exercise that people new to exercise chose and it is commonly used in the attempt to lose weight. Cardio exercise is great for your body and your heart but it is not the most effective method for weight loss when used alone, although it can have a huge impact on weightless when paired with resistance training and a proper diet.
Flexibility training is primarily focused on increasing the length to which a muscle can be stretched and is commonly done before and after an exercise session. Before attempting any major stretching, I advise that you find a certified personal trainer near you or online who can perform a postural assessment and a movement assessment so that you know which muscles are over-active and need to be stretched and which muscles are under-active and need to be strengthened. When you perform the right exercises and stretch the right muscles it can improve your posture and reduce daily pain in your body.
SAQ stands for Speed, Agility, and Quickness, this type of training is pretty much summed up in the name, it focusses on speed, agility, and quickness. This type of exercise is most common for athletes because it is necessary for them to have all three of the factors involved in SAQ training, but it can be beneficial for nearly anybody because it can increase your ability to move away from dangerous situations. SAQ training is normally high intensity and focusses on functional fitness, which is translatable to real-world situations.
This is where you get to be creative... If the idea of going to a gym and working out five days a week doesn't sound appealing to you but you still want to invest in your body, your future, and your health you can start incorporating more daily physical activities to help you stay active. These activities can range from going hiking, to getting off of your subway a stop or two early and walking the rest of the way, to playing pickup basketball. The most important aspect of this type of exercise is that it is something that you will enjoy. A great way to keep track of your amount of daily physical activity is to invest in a smart fitness watch such as a Fitbit.
Make a Decision
Now that you know your motivations, know your goals and have a basic understanding of the different choices when it comes to exercise options it is time for you to chose an exercise method to try. In my opinion I strongly believe that everyone who is new to fitness should go to an in-person personal trainer for at least three months, but if you do not have the ability to see an in-person trainer due to either a traveling job or a financial reason I recommend you check out the Travel-Fit Program by Shogun Athletics. (A one-on-one online personal trainer to take with you on the go, at a fraction of the cost of an in-person trainer. Regardless of which path you chose you will be working on renovating your body, which you will be living in for the rest of your life.