I’ve been involved in fitness for many years. Over the last 5 years I have been following a group exercise program designed to improve my overall fitness. Being 40 when I started the program (yes, I’m 45 now) I thought I knew a lot about what fitness was and what it took to be “in shape”.

I really didn’t.

Here are some things I’ve learned over the last 5 years.

Very rarely can you do it by yourself – I spent many years going to the gym by myself. I’d walk in do my thing and walk out. I also didn’t really push myself as hard as I could have, got bored easily, and wasn’t consistent in when I went.

There were some productive phases when there were a couple guys there and we’d all show up together, but that never really lasted.

Now, I anticipate getting to the gym. It’s the best part of my day. I know people will be there that will be fun to hang out with and the interaction is positive and challenging. I work harder in my workouts, I help push others to work harder in theirs.

Having a tribe, a group of people that helps me stay accountable and motivated, has made me more consistent, more focused, and more successful than any other program I’ve been in.

It’s not about how hard you go – “No Pain, No Gain”, … wrong. It doesn’t have to be that way. I learned the hard way that going hard doesn’t translate into better fitness.

Don’t get me wrong, intensity is needed and going hard has its place. The problem was when I went hard for the sake of going hard and not with a plan, or technique in place first.

Following the program the past 5 years has gotten me more fitness than I could imagine. I’m 45 years old and I can keep up with people half my age. With the coaching I’ve received, I know how to perform exercises to get the most out of the training. I now know when to apply the right levels of intensity to get the right effect from each workout.

When I go hard now, it’s because I’m supposed to, because that’s what the plan says to do. It’s been 5 years and it still works.

Eat like you mean it – I hear it everyday, “I want to lose weight!”. I always thought that if I worked out enough, I could pretty much eat whatever I wanted. Boy was I wrong….

When I got to be 40 lbs. overweight I realized I needed to change something. Mind you, I was going to the gym and working out 4-5 days a week. I was still getting overweight.

The single biggest change I made was changing my bad eating habits. I still eat pizza sometimes, I love ice cream, and bourbon. I don’t live off them. I started eating whole food, not processed foods, no sugar, less carbs, and more protein. I eat real full, hearty, good tasting food everyday.

Whatever you do, remember, fitness starts in the kitchen. You CANNOT out work a crappy diet.

Rest is the best – The hardest thing I learned was that resting doesn’t mean, don’t do anything,…huh?

Two things.

  1. Rest doesn’t mean “sit on your butt”. It does mean do something that will help you feel better and be ready for the next workout. Take action to feel better, move better, and perform better. Stretch, move around, keep your body fluid and ready to perform. Sitting on your butt only gets you ready to sit on your butt.
  2. Rest should be part of your program. It needs to be scheduled and followed religiously. Rest = Growth. Your body recovers and gets stronger from your workouts during the time you are resting. If you never rest, you never get better.

There are more things I could probably write about but these are some of the main things I’ve learned that have helped keep me going. How often do you find someone who’s found a fitness program they’ve followed for 5 years and still see results?

I’m 45 years old. What are you doing for your fitness? What has it taught you and is it keeping you young and active?