Get Fitter Personal Growth By Mary Jaksch By Mary Jaksch Do you want to go from flab to fit? Do you want to lose weight, increase strength, and become more flexible? Do you want to improve your health? If so, here’s your chance. This post is the start of the Great Fitness Challenge 2011. I’ve found that what really helps on the journey of fitness is to join a group of supportive people who hold the same aspiration. Three months ago I called for readers to join me in an 8-Week Fitness Challenge. Over 120 readers joined the Challenge. One of most active participants, Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, suggested creating a forum. The forum has turned out to be a wonderful place where we all encourage each other. And where we can share what exercise we do. We’ve all had a fun time during the eight-week Challenge. We’ve increased our fitness, and made new friends. When I asked participants what they wanted me to do with the forum after the eight weeks, everyone was keen to continue for a whole year. So we’re now going to launch the Great Fitness Challenge 2011. More about joining at the end of this post. Since February 2010, I’ve conducted a self-experiment. As some of you know, I suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis. During the last 8 months I stopped all medication. You can check out more about this in my article How to Fight Your Way Back From a Bad Diagnosis. The central question of the experiment was: Can exercise help heal the body? I kept weekly records and tracked the intensity of exercise and the joint-pain and swelling that I experience from RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis). The results are mind-bending! When I saw at the final stats, I had to sit down. Seeing the stats changed everything. Watch my video to check out the amazing outcome of my fitness experiment. If you’re reading this in an email, click here to watch the video. Here’s how to join the Great Fitness Challenge in 2 simple steps (it’s free). Step 1: Leave a comment below and let us know why you want to join the Challenge. Step 2: Register for the Forum. The daily exercise thread is a great place to introduce yourself. It doesn’t matter at all where your fitness is at right now. Maybe you are severely overweight and can hardly walk. Or you haven’t exercised for years and want to start now. Or maybe you are already exercising and want to increase your fitness – everyone is welcome to join the Great Fitness Challenge 2011! I’ll write one post on fitness each month, and plan to put together an eBook on Fitness in the course of this year. The focus this January is on creating a regular exercise routine. Start with a routine that seems too easy. Here are some tips that will make creating an exercise routine 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 othersIt’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 stepIt’s a mistake to rush into heavy exercise. Your fitness practice needs to be sustainable – after all, you are building a new habit.