By James Riley

The two most common resolutions are to improve one’s fitness and to lose weight.  Those two popular goals show that people do want to improve their health, but the fact that they are the most common resolutions almost every year clearly indicates the lack of success in accomplishing either resolution.

Here are some proven strategies to help you be successful in reaching your fitness goals.

  • Move more throughout the day:  The workout that has the greatest impact on fitness levels is the amount of movement you perform as you journey through your day.

Stand up, move, bend, squat, lunge and reach as you do things on your feet.  Pick stuff up, garden, vacuum or walk instead of ride.

Moving throughout the day while doing everyday tasks will improve cardiovascular health, mobility, stability, strength and probably mental fitness.  Improving fitness requires an increase in activity.

  • Join a local gym:  Take the time to visit local gyms to determine which one best meets your needs and interests and seems welcoming.  Most gyms offer a free “tryout” visit to their facilities and classes.

Consider carefully how you would fit in. Are the classes welcoming and do they fit your needs and interests?  Many gyms offer a free personal training assessment and session as an incentive to join.  This helps you become familiar with your needs, the gym equipment and the quality of the personal training.

Caution: Avoid long-term contracts, as you may quickly change your mind about the gym or about your desire to improve your fitness.

  • Join a group that’s active: There are local groups or clubs for hiking, biking, bird watching, tennis, softball, and other activities.  Joining a group indicates you are committed, not only to improving your fitness levels but also to a social obligation to the group.

Being in an active group with common interests helps you move more and also allows you to have fun and meet new friends. You can also sign up for a group to learn something new while you are becoming more fit.  We all need to expand our horizons.

  • Join a small private fitness facility: Many studios provide small group and private sessions for yoga, Pilates, dance, martial arts and general fitness.  These small group or private classes generally provide more personal instruction or coaching, but they are usually more expensive.

Like most gyms, these private facilities often offer a free sample session or allow you to observe a class.  Again, caution: Avoid long-term financial commitments.

  • Show up: Regardless of how you decide to put more movement into your life, to improve your fitness levels you must follow through on your commitment to show up and do the work.

What’s the reason most employees are fired?  It’s because they don’t show up regularly.  If you wish to become more fit you have to show up and do the work.  Show up and you’ll be half-way there.


James Riley of Solvang is a certified strength and conditioning coach and a level-one Olympic Lifting Coach. He holds a B.A in physical education, M.A. in psychology and a doctorate in education. Contact him at