People love to make New Year's fitness resolutions. But though many may work hard for two or three weeks, maybe even a month, most are back to their old sedentary routine by Valentine's Day. "That's because they try to do too much too fast," said Tampa Bay area personal trainer Andre Hudson. "Fitness is a marathon, not a sprint."
Hudson built his business by helping elite high school and college football players shave tenths of seconds off their 40-yard-dash times. Small, incremental improvements over the long haul are the keys to good health. "You have got to take baby steps," said the 40-year-old owner of Pro Builder Fitness. (Check out his work at probuilderfitness.com.) "And you have got to take them every day."
Here are his five top tips to help you get the jump on 2015:
1. Take the stairs.
It is not as expensive as joining a gym or as time consuming as training for a triathlon, but over time, this little life change could pay big dividends. For many people, the biggest challenge will be finding stairs to climb. Hudson likes to run bleachers, but not everyone has access to a football stadium. "If you work on the upper floor of an office building, you might start with one trip up and one trip down your first day," he said. "Make sure you go up and down to work different sets of muscles." Keep track of how many flights you climb so you can add more every day. Quicken the pace if you want to increase your heart rate. "And if you want to work those glutes, skip a step," he added. "You will feel the burn."
2. Run a 5K.
Most elite athletes are goal oriented. While you may not strive to run a 4.4-second 40-yard dash, you might dream of finishing a 3.1-mile race in 30 minutes or less. Having a goal will keep you on the path to total fitness. "I try to run a race every three months or so," Hudson said. "I'm not looking to win. It just gives me something to look forward to." If you are starting from scratch, just walk. Then, as your fitness level progresses, alternate walking and fast walking, then running. "Give yourself something to shoot for," he added. "You will be glad you did after you cross that finish line."
3. Learn to jump rope.
There's a reason why every boxing movie ever made shows an aspiring champion jumping rope. "You won't find a better total body workout," Hudson said. "It works your heart, upper body and legs ... it's old school." Jump ropes are inexpensive — $10 to $20 — and portable. "All you need is a small space and you're set to go." An added plus: the cool factor. "Learn to do it well and people will want to watch," Hudson said.
4. Get outside.
Open the door and go for a walk. "The first step is always the hardest," Hudson said. "You have to get off the couch and get the blood pumping." Start off walking a mile. When you master that distance, walk faster, then longer. "The great thing is that you are outdoors," Hudson said. "While you are out there you will see friends, neighbors and people doing all sorts of things." Maybe you'll decide to try inline skating, standup paddleboarding or tai chi.
5. Pump iron.
Muscle burns more calories than fat. The best way to build muscle is to pump iron — and you may not need much of it to help you tone and build muscle. While some people like to lift weights while watching television, Hudson recommends finding a quiet place where you can focus on form. "It pays to hire a trainer and learn the basics," he said. "Once you know the basic technique, you can lift on your own." But don't get hung up on how much you're lifting. Just be consistent. "Something is always better than nothing," he added.
Contact Terry Tomalin at [email protected]