You know you’re a fitness nut when you choose an apartment based on how close it is to a jogging path. That’s how it went during my years in New York, when I managed to land rent-stabilized apartments on Riverside Drive (steps from Riverside Park), on West 11th Street (near a path to Battersea Park) and on South Portland Avenue (a block from Fort Greene Park, and close enough to Prospect Park that I circled the greens even in the rain).

After leaving New York for LA, I began hiking and biking, and then became addicted to walking—a tidbit I shared recently with the dynamo kneading my back during a much-needed massage.  I was feeling all virtuous, telling the masseuse about my 30-minute walks taken at least five days a week, when she added, “That’s good for cardio, but you should also do some strength training.  Because as we age our bones become more fragile, and building up muscle strength and bone density is a good way to fight decomposition.”

I knew she was right.  I had a birthday coming up, so I decided to give my body a gift: I’d buy a set of weights, and start a strength training program.


My new best friends, purchased just in time for Healthy Aging Month.

I started my regimen yesterday.  Mind you, I’m going slowly so as not to overdo it.  I’m over fifty, and I don’t want to pass out.  But I’m excited about challenging myself, and look forward to feeling stronger.

Whatever form of exercise you choose, here are five ways to stay motivated:

1 – Consider working out with a pal.  It’s easier to stick with a workout routine if you’re not doing it alone. Besides feeding off each others’ energy, you’ll be accountable to someone other than yourself.  But make sure your fitness buddy is reliable and has similar goals.

2 – Try a Temporary Personal Trainer.  This is a great option if you want to work out alone but don’t know where to begin and which exercises are best for you. Most personal trainers, and many gyms, offer 3 – 6 session package deals that enable you to learn from a professional for a modest fee. Once you’ve got a game plan, you can go off on your own.

3 – Switch things up.  Tired of the same old routine? Explore the options at your local community center. Often they’re inexpensive. Take a tango class, try yoga or find a MeetUp group for a sport you like. Even creating a new music playlist to accompany your current routine will freshen things up.

4 – Set realistic goals and chart your progress.   Whether you want to lose weight, get ripped or just make healthier food choices, before you start on any sort of program ask yourself exactly what you want to achieve. Write it down, be realistic about many hours per week you’re willing and able to sacrifice toward achieving your goal, and decide how you’ll reward yourself once you hit your target. Keep a log and place it where you can see it; charting your progress visually will help you stay focused on the end goal.  Above all, be patient.  You’ll get there.

5 – Share your successes.  Have you just nailed down the first week of your exercise regimen?  Lost 4 pounds in fourteen days, or avoided alcohol for an entire week?  Tell a friend or two.  You’ve earned it—and they’ll be even more impressed with the already fabulous you.

Need more inspiration?  Read the story of Ada Gibson: “I Learned to Swim at 75”