Fitness goal: Improve flexibility
Pro: Yoga instructor
How they can help: "Many people think that they need to be flexible to practice yoga," says Tara Blake, yoga teacher and co-owner of Yogaroots Mindfulness Centre in Fort Langley, B.C. "But the point is to practice when you are not flexible and yoga will help you get there."
Workout prescription: The best way to reap the benefits of this ancient practice is to make it an integral part of your life. "Flexibility is always a slow process. To make dramatic change in the body's flexibility after many years of tension, repetitive moment and stiffness takes patience." While Blake admits that many students come to the hour and a half classes only once a week, she maintains that two or three classes a week can have double or triple the benefit.
Results: "By keeping body awareness between classes and attending two to three times a week, students often feel a change in their posture, energy level and ease of moment in their regular activities within four to six weeks."
Added benefits: According to Blake, yoga students also experience fewer tension headaches, decreased back pain, better concentration skills and a general sense of well-being.
Fitness goal: Build some muscle
Pro: Personal trainer
How they can help: It's harder to skip a gym visit when there's someone waiting for you. "A personal trainer can help you to be patient and can provide the motivation needed to get you out the door when you would rather sit on the couch and watch TV," says Anjeanette Krip, certified fitness trainer and owner of Jump Start Fitness & Personal Training in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. They can also make sure that you see results by pushing you to give your all during the workout.
Workout prescription: "Ideally they should meet with their trainer two to three times per week, for 30 to 60 minutes, depending on their goal." Krip also recommends that clients aim for four to five days of activity per week, so if you're only meeting with you trainer twice, you should squeeze in at least two more sessions on your own.
Page 1 of 2Fitness goal: Learn to run
Pro: Running group leader
How they can help: Every group needs a strong leader. "They provide a motivating training environment with proper instruction, guidance and group camaraderie," says Stanley Chaisson, certified kinesiologist and owner of P.E.I. in Motion in Charlottetown, P.E.I. But he's quick to sing the praises of not only the person leading the pack, but all the other newbies. "It's inspiring to train with others that share a common goal."
Workout prescription: Chaisson's groups meet twice a week for an hour each time, plus they're provided with a training plan that involves two more running workouts as well as stretching and strengthening exercises to do on their own.
Results: "Starting from scratch, I would suggest taking 18 weeks to prepare for your first 5km event."
Added benefits: In addition to enjoying the outdoors and the opportunity to meet new people, Chaisson highlights the best reason – the runner's high - in his own words: "Have you ever met an angry runner?"
Fitness goal: Ignite your competitive spirit
Pro: A team coach
How they can help: "Organized team sports offer a great support mechanism," says John Miller, coach of a Sistas in Soccer team in London, Ontario. "It also provides a social aspect to being fit."
Workout prescription: In Miller's league they play once a week for an hour and also have a one hour training session, where they focus on basic soccer skills.
Results: After the third game or so, Miller says that the competitive edge starts to show. "The desire to improve and win is quite evident."
Added benefits: In addition to meeting some new people, you're also improving your fitness level and building self-confidence.
Fitness goal: Complete a triathlon
Pro: A coach
How they can help: When it comes to tackling something like a triathlon, the key is safe, sensible progression. "Coaches provide a personalized, tailored program based on the athlete's needs, current fitness levels, lifestyle constraints and goals," explains Deborah Moore, associate coach with NRG Performance Training in Toronto, Ontario. But it’s more than just external help. "Moral support is crucial during training, especially close to race time. This is a large part of our job."
Workout prescription: NRG Performance Training presents clients with workout schedules via email, using an online software program. "Athletes will train once, sometimes twice a day, three to five days a week, and from 30 to 60 minutes per session." After each workout, the athlete logs the results online and the coach provides feedback.
Results: If you're already relatively active and know how to swim, Moore estimates that training for a beginner distance triathlon takes about eight weeks.
Added benefits: "The cross-training benefits from non-impact sports such as cycling and swimming are significant," says Moore. She also points out that you can be competitive in a triathlon at any age, since they are scored in age groups. "The record holder for the 75-79 female age group is a nun!"
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