Get Fitter Improve Your Life By Mary Jaksch By Mary Jaksch Everyone agrees that fitness is good. It boosts your health, brightens your soul, calms your mind, and allows you to do more with your life. How can we go from flab to fit, or from fit to ultra-fit? Most people who set out to exercise fail miserably. Because it’s hard to motivate yourself when you feel the discomfort – or even pain – of pushing the boundary of your fitness. Here’s what can keep you motivated: join a group that shares an aspiration for better fitness. In this post I propose that we conduct a group challenge in order to lift our fitness markedly within 2 months. Are you keen? How’s your fitness? Imagine 10 stages of fitness. Stage 1 means lying flat in bed with no strength at all. Stage 2 is where you get seriously tired just walking a short stretch on the flat. Stages 5 to 7 means you’re medium – to cracking- fit. And Stages 8 to 10 mean that you are ultra-fit. So where are you at? Remember that it doesn’t how your body is right now – as long as you work towards more fitness. From flab to medium-fit Going from flab to medium-fit means moving up from stages 2 or 3 toward stage 4. If you are really unfit and overweight, it’s difficult to start – and sustain – a fitness program. Here are some important tips that make it easier: Choose a form of exercise that you enjoy. If exercise isn’t pleasurable, it turns into a grind. If you enjoy dancing, try something like Zumba classes. If you enjoy a challenge, try martial arts. Or try tennis, rowing, hiking, or the many other forms of physical exercise. Exercise with others It’s much more fun, and much easier to sustain a regular practice, if you exercise with others. Join classes, or club together with neighbors or friends. Build up your fitness step by step It’s a mistake to rush into heavy exercise. Your fitness practice needs to be sustainable – after all, you are building a new habit. From medium-fit to cracking-fit If your fitness is somewhere in the middle range, you might want to step up to what I call ‘cracking fit’, which would be somewhere between stages 6 and 7. That’s what I’ve done since February. I went back to martial art training which I had put on hold for 6 years because of health issues. You can read about this in How to Fight Your Way Back to Health After a Bad Diagnosis Karate training has given me a good general fitness and I’m now maybe a stage of about 6,5. Now I want to step up to becoming ultra-fit. From cracking-fit to ultra-fit My neighbor, Eddy Saxon, is truly ultra-fit. For years he’s been asking me to join his own private training routine – but I’ve always declined. I’m plain terrified of training with Eddy! In the past, he got me fit for each of my four Blackbelt promotions in karate, but his sessions were a living nightmare. He made me do sprints, pushups, situps, and on and on, until I collapsed. Then he’d shout, “Jaksch, what’s the problem? Get to it!” Oh, my… (It worked though: Eddy got me ultra-fit on each occasion) Eddy Saxon used to be a professional light-weight boxer. Two days ago I happened to stop by and Eddie immediately took me down into his basement to do ‘a bit of work on the punch bag’. After a few minutes I was puffing like a steam train! Eddy looked at me pensively. “That was quite good,” he said. “But I’d like to see you step up to the routine I do, which is to do the same workout you just did – but to repeat it 25 times, with just 15 seconds rest in between.” Yeah, right… Eddy said that he’d like to teach me to box (which would stand me in good stead for karate sparring), and said that he’d be delighted if I would join him for his own work-outs in order lift my fitness. I said ‘yes’. Tell me, am I crazy, or what?! Oh, did I happen to mention that Eddy Saxon is 83 years old? Yes, you can be ultra-fit at any age. But you need to keep on working at your fitness over the years, like Eddy’s done.