How to choose a fitness program


Shake weights, 6 minute abs, and Prancercise.

As the weather begins to get chilly, I get really excited to squat in sweatpants. I also cringe at all the asinine workout trends that are lurking behind the New Year. Since 2015 was the year of positivity, I’ll save you a tirade and give you a definitive guide to choosing a workout plan or gym.

Please please please … before you part ways with any money for fitness or diet advice, check all of these off the list. A sound program includes the following:

Progressive Strength Training

I’m not talking only barbells here (although I’d like to make a strong case for it at another time). As we age, it becomes increasingly more important that we develop strength about a full range of motion. This can be done through bodyweight exercises, gymnastics, or moving around stacks of lumber.

Here’s the kicker: it must be progressive. Meaning, you increase your ability to move more of either your own bodyweight or an external load. Or, move the same load faster & longer. But, the same moves at the same weight at the same intensity won’t cut it long-term.

Skill Acquisition

Your motivation to start something new will last 6 or 8 weeks. Seriously. I know you think this is the year, but it isn’t. UNLESS you find something that carries you beyond that initial motivational bias.

Chasing skills is a key aspect of continued motivation. I love the 8 Limb Yoga principle – chasing mastery as one builds a pyramid, but never achieving it. Having small benchmarks – a yoga position, your 1st pull-up, or a backflip – will carry your new fitness practice well beyond that initial motivational hump.


Not trying to get too hippy-dippy here, but your journey is primarily one of behavior modification – not physical fitness. I’ll hit that again: the biggest hurdle between people and health is behavior modification. NOT the right workout, diet, or product. 

Behavior change and the understanding of the self is realized through interpersonal connection. This can be reinforced by a coach, co-workers, a therapist, a yogi, or a personal trainer. Here’s a good test: if you’re going it alone, it’ll last about as long as your motivational bias – 6-8 weeks.

There it is; your 3 absolutes for a fitness program that sticks. Take a few test drives and let us know what you learn!


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