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Focus on Short-term Goals for Long-term Fitness

Okay, it’s that time of the year again. You know the time when fitness clubs are jammed as most everyone pledges to get healthier. Within a month, most will have left their treadmills and rejoined the ranks of coach potatoes.

One area fitness experts suggests that the key to achieving long-term success may be focusing on realistic, short-term realistic goals.

Kevin Mancini, a certified personal trainer at the Hospital for Special Care has seen the season cycle play itself out time and time again.

“Lifestyle changes are hard, they’re difficult. A good game place with realistic goals and timeframes are very important,” he said.

Getting a physical examination is always a good idea for starting or resuming a fitness plan.

Mancini says the key may be “setting weekly goals rather than long-term goals. Achieving weekly goals can keep people motivated,” said Mancini a graduate of Southern Connecticut State University and a certified personal trainer.

Ultimately, “consistency is very important. For beginners or those resuming a fitness program working out three to four times a week is a good idea. Often times, people mean well and start off six or seven days a week. They don’t have the fitness level to handle that activity. They tend to get very sore and will soon taper off altogether,” said Mancini.

We all want to see instant results, but striving to lose a pound and a half to two pounds a week is a sound approach. Larger individuals are likely to lose more weight – especially in the initial phases.

“Nutrition is important,” said Mancini. “Setbacks and programs are to be expected, but losing weight comes down to burning more calories than we consume,” he added.

A sound fitness program should include cardio workouts as well as strength training with work on flexibility and balance. “Maintaining flexibility and balance are especially important as we age,” Mancini said.

Proper technique especially in strength can minimize injuries and foster better results.

“Not using machines properly can limit results and lead to injuries,” said Mancini. “Gaining lean muscle is important, but improper technique like lifting to fast or not extending properly can limit results,” he added.

“A personal trainer can help establish good habits. “We can explain how to use the machines and demonstrate proper technique. We can establish a program that is based on a sound approach.

“The types of things we want to prevent are overtraining the same body part. A balanced approach is what we strive for.”

One way to avoid plateaus is to alter routines, especially as conditioning improves. Focusing on exercises that work on multiple muscles and Core training also facilitate results.

Open since 1999, the hospital’s fitness center offers a variety of treadmills, elliptical machines, recumbent bikes, weight achiness and dumb bells. Fitness center members include clients rehabbing from injuries and illnesses, to those trying to lose their “Coach Potato” status and advanced athletes.

New members receive an orientation on the fitness center equipment and additional sessions with a trainer can be arranged. The center is offering a New Year’s special of three one-hour or six half-hour sessions for $99.

“I work people with a wide range of fitness levels and goals. Ultimately, they are all working to improve their fitness and overall health,” said Mancini.

The hospital’s aquatic center is another option for healthy activities such as lane swimming and water aerobics classes.

Regardless of the activity, setting and meeting realistic short-term nutrition and fitness goals can lead to a healthier you in 2013.