May 24, 2024

How to Choose an Exercise Program by Justin Ross

According to the Physical Activity Guidelines published by the US Department of Health and Human Services, adults need to exercise for at least 150 minutes at moderate intensity during a week in order to gain health benefits. Exercise is crucial for good mental and physical health. Exercise can help to control weight, improve strength and endurance, and keep chronic illnesses such as diabetes and metabolic syndrome at bay.*

Know Your Fitness Goal

Before you decide which exercise routine to follow, you should have a clear idea of your fitness goal. If you are just starting out because you got an earful the last time you visited the doctor, then your immediate goal may be to reduce weight, or manage your diabetes. You may be one of those who already follow a healthy lifestyle, but now want to dial up the fitness part and train for a marathon or a 5K. You might have some body-building goal in mind, or want to improve your flexibility. You may want to become serious about playing a sport, rather than just going for a weekend game now and then.

Choose an exercise routine specifically to achieve your goal.

For example, if you are just starting out, you may want to start with a low-impact or non-impact aerobic activity and aim for at least 30 minutes five days a week. If its body building you are after, you will need a strength training routine that targets specific muscles, with different sets of muscles coming into play in each session. You also need to figure out if you want to work out at home, outdoors, or at a gym. You may want a full-service health club offering amenities such as a swimming pool, sports options, a sauna and a massage service.

Different Types of Exercise

1. Cardio

Cardio is physical exercise of low to high intensity that causes you to breathe harder, gets your heart beating faster than at rest, and makes you sweat. Walking, running, cycling, swimming and dancing are all examples of aerobic exercise. Start with a moderate routine, and then dial up the intensity. Popular aerobics exercise classes offered by health clubs include spinning, high intensity interval training, dancing, aqua aerobics, and so on. Exercise classes also help you to meet new people and can be more motivating than exercising solo. Remember, if you are a beginner to exercise, or have any health condition, you should always talk to a doctor before beginning any exercise routine.

2. Strength Training

This is a form of exercise designed to strengthen the muscles, either by using weights such as free weights, kettlebells, or resistance bands, or by using the body’s own weight. A strength training routine should target different sets of muscles on successive days. There are many exercise routines that combine cardio and strength training; this combination has the dual benefit of increasing your fitness and enhancing your strength. Since strength training can lead to injury if not done correctly, it is a good idea to use a personal trainer, at least in the initial days, so as to learn the correct form. Confirm your trainer is certified by the American Council on Exercise. You can then be rest assured that your trainer knows what she is doing.

3. Sports

Whether a team sport or an individual effort, sports can be a great way of building exercise into your daily schedule. Choose your sport based on your fitness level, familiarity with the sport, access to the proper facilities; don’t forget to consult your doctor.

Justin Ross is a marketing manager at New York Health & Racquet Club. With 20 years of experience in health and fitness, Justin loves to write and talk about different aspects of healthy living. For more info go to, Facebook and follow along via Twitter.


*Disclaimer: Result may vary from person to person.


Gym Common Sense by Nicole Bryan

Are you a liability to fellow exercisers?

Shoulders back! Abs in! Chin up! Hips back! You hear constantly about proper body mechanics during your workouts. You can read about the proper progression of a squat and about how to make sure you’re doing this correctly and that effectively. However, if you’re a danger to yourself or others in your workout area, proper spinal alignment is a mute point.

Are you guilty? Using equipment incorrectly is a waste of time and energy. The danger and threat of injury (sometimes serious injury) should be obvious, but yet walk into almost any fitness center and you’ll see it. Don’t be caught doing these serious misjudgments.

Not using collars on plate and bar racks. So you’re doing an overhead shoulder press and your right arm gives out. Over goes the bar with the plates sliding off, and you are pulled sideways in tow. Anyone else in the vicinity may lose a toe or foot!  Use the weight collars provided and lock up the weight. If they aren’t visible on the floor or stacked on top of a weight tree, ask the staff.

Lifting heavy without a spotter. Accidents happen. Sometimes you’ll reach fatigue faster than we expected. If you get stuck, the spotter is there to help. Line up a spotter before the sets begins. You’ll save your body from an unexpected slip, and your ego from having to shriek for help.

Uncontrolled free weights. Bouncing the free weights around uses momentum, not muscle. It increases your chance of injury and defeats the purpose of your workout. Ever been standing next to someone facing the mirror and without warning they swing the dumbbell up and out to the side of their body? It’s unsafe for you with the possibility of getting knocked in the head and ineffective for them as their deltoids are screaming in agony!

Being unaware of your space. For example, you pick up a kettlebell and begin your exercise, without noticing the person who is stretching on the floor a few feet to your right. She has her eyes closed to focus on her stretch and now you’re swinging the kettlebell over her. If your grip should slip, or if she gets up quickly she could be seriously injured. Simply asking a fellow exerciser to share space will eliminate any confusion.

Not knowing how certain equipment should be used. For example, using a bosu ball flat side up when it’s clearly marked on the base of the piece that it is not intended for using that way. Another common example is using a stability disk that’s inflated to the max when you’ve never done balance work before. Loading up with dumbbells, the first few reps may go off without a hitch, but what happens when your friend walks by and distracts you. Over you go, landing on whomever is nearby.

Be proud you’re doing something healthy, but let’s face it sometimes space is tight during peak exercise hours. When you’re sharing workout space, be safe and smart. Pay attention to nearby working-outers; if you see them cringe and reach for their cell phone to prepare to dial emergency for you as you’re heading toward a certain piece of equipment, better ask for some assistance.

Attention Gym Members! By Brett Klika

If the public exercise forum of the gym is something new to you, it can be intimidating.  All that equipment, all those people, and “where can I put my keys?”  Have no fear, it’s pretty simple to get in and get out with a smile (and a good amount of sweat) on your face without a hitch.

Just like in any organization, the gym has both spoken and unspoken rules or “codes of conduct.”  Familiarize yourself with these simple etiquette guidelines to guarantee that you’ll have a positive and productive workout experience, while empowering others to do the same.

Below are some basic gym tips to help you navigate the world of working out!

Lock away cell phones.
Spending your (and others) workout time walking around talking on your phone takes away from not only yours, but everyone else’s workout. Leave the cell phone in your locker or keep it with you in silent or vibrate-mode for absolute emergencies.

Don’t leave a sweat “autograph.”
A good lather of sweat is great, and means you’re working hard to forge a new body of steel. However, a sweaty machine is not a pleasant welcome for the next exerciser. After you’re done with a piece of equipment, wipe it off for the next person.

Choose the right gym.
There are now many different types of gyms offering many different types of exercise experiences.  Make sure when you go to a gym to sign up, you feel comfortable and welcome.

If you like to lift heavy weights with loud music, the local mom and pop “Fun Fit” might not be a place for you.  If you’re just getting started going to a gym, the local bodybuilding/powerlifting mecca might not  provide the experience for which you are looking.

Luckily, there are now options for everyone to find a place they feel at home!

You may be a better door than a window.
Narcissistic or not, gyms are surrounded with mirrors for a reason.  Gym-goers not only like to see their progress, but mirrors provide feedback on form and technique.

If someone is looking in the mirror while doing an exercise, it’s rude to walk in between him or her and the mirror.  It can be distracting and take away from their focus.  Either walk around them, or wait until they are done with their exercise.

Put away weights, plates, or any other equipment when finished.
This is the cardinal rule of using a public gym, yet it is probably the most frequently broken one.  It’s a concept we are introduced to in kindergarten. When you’re done, put it away.

Make sure to put everything you use back where it came from. That way,someone else doesn’t have to spend half their workout time cleaning up a mess they didn’t make.

Brett Klika C.S.C.S., author of “The Underground Workout Manual- Exercise and Fat Loss in the Real World” ( is a world- renowned human performance specialist, motivational speaker, author, and educator. In his 15-year career, Brett has accrued more than 20,000 hours of training with youth, athletes, executives, and everyday people. He uses this knowledge and experience to motivate individuals and audiences around the world through his writing, speaking and DVD’s. For his free blog or to try the Underground Workout Manual for FREE, visit

5 Must-Try Exercises at the Gym by Gen Levrant

One of the biggest challenges with a gym workout is not having a plan. Wandering around aimlessly between machines, doing a few reps here and there, resting for a bit and then maybe spending remaining time on whatever cardio machine is available is not an effective workout!

What’s the solution?
Here are my five must-try exercises to try at your next visit to the gym. They require little or no equipment, recruit every major muscle group and will give you a short, sharp effective workout without having to wait for any machine! (As always, be sure to obtain clearance from your physician before beginning this or any exercise regime.)

1: Pivot Clock Lunge
Alternative to: regular cardio warm up
Good for: warming up entire body three-dimensionally
Keeping one foot static, pivot the other foot forwards and backwards into a lunge. Repeat in every direction (as if you were lunging to each opposite number on a clock face) before swapping feet.

2: 3D Press Ups
Alternative to: regular press ups/chest press machine
Good for: core, chest, arms
Perform a regular press up (either full or on knees) but keep changing your hand position on each rep: wide, narrow, one hand forward, one hand behind…

3: Wide to Narrow Squats (with/without dumbbells)
Alternative to: leg press, squat rack
Good for: lower body, core, cardio
Perform a regular squat and jump your feet together as you straighten up. Squat again before jumping your feet to wide again.

4: One-legged shoulder press (with/without dumbbells)
Alternative to: shoulder press machine, sit ups
Good for: shoulders, core, balance/proprioception
Set your core and balance on one foot. Reach one arm at a time up. To hit all muscles of your shoulder and challenge your core further, keep changing the direction in which you are reaching: out to the side, across the body…

5: Air Jack Burpees
Alternative to: a long time on any cardio machine!
Good for: fat-burning cardio
Perform a regular burpee but once your feet have jumped towards your chest, perform an air jack: a star jump but off the ground. If this is too intense, try a regular star jump!

You are now armed with a new gym plan that means: no waiting around for machines, every minute spent in the gym will be effective, a fat-burning workout that can be done in minute intervals or a circuit (try 3 rounds of 15 reps of exercises 2-4), and a happier and less frustrated you!

Gen Levrant is a Faster Health and Fitness certified Personal Trainer and Advanced Functional Training Specialist. She operates out of a private studio in Southampton, UK. For more info please visit You can reach Gen via email at visit her Facebook page or follow her on Twitter @PTGen