Was "getting in better shape" atop your list of New Year's resolutions again this season? Then we've got the workout to keep you on the fitness fast track. The exclusive eight-week program, designed by Michelle and Phil Dozois of Breakthru Fitness Studio in Pasadena, Calif., is loaded with the key ingredients for creating an exercise habit. Easy-to-follow moves eliminate the intimidation factor and set you up for workout success. Quick results keep you coming back. After four weeks, when your body and mind are ready to up the ante, you'll progress to more challenging variations on the moves you've been doing; by keeping boredom at bay and fostering progress, you'll see more tone and definition and feel more energetic. Consider this your New Year's secret for staying on track. In just eight weeks, your body and mind will practically crave the feeling that exercise can give you and it's something you'll want to stick with for good.
The get-on-track plan of attack
How it works This program provides a solid foundation of strength, balance and flexibility. Phase I's machine-based strength moves help you learn proper form and allow you to lift more weight sooner for rapid results. Phase II's strength moves require more balance, coordination and concentration for an added challenge. The balance and stretch exercises train your muscles to work in concert and aid in injury prevention, so your new exercise streak won't wane.
The schedule Do the Phase I moves 3 times a week for the first 4 weeks. Then, perform the Phase II moves 3 times a week for the next 4 weeks.
Warm-up Ease into each workout with 5-10 minutes of any movement, such as a brisk walk or short bike ride -- anything you really enjoy that slightly elevates your heart rate.
Cool-down To make things easy, we've included the all-important stretching component as part of your workout; just follow the directions on Balance & Stretch Workout Chart.
Cardio You should gradually build up to 30- to 45-minute blocks of cardio activity 3-5 times per week. Sound daunting? Break it up into smaller chunks. For instance, a 10-minute walk to the bus,10-minute walk to lunch and10-minute after-dinner walk will total 30 minutes. Soon, you can string together 20 minutes at a time, then 30, then 45. Keep track of everyday activities. Vacuuming, dog walking, snow shoveling, nature walks, dancing, gardening and inline skating -- among many other possibilities -- all count. As long as you're raising your heart rate and working your major muscles, you're burning significant calories and getting fit.