Local trainer offers tips for getting, staying in shape


Today is Jan. 20, and that means more than half of the millions of Americans who vowed 2023 is their year to get fit have already given up. 

Fitness can be daunting, perhaps that’s why a report last week from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention said Americans aren’t getting enough exercise. In fact, the CDC claims less than 23 percent of the population is meeting federal standards set in 2008 for time spent exercising.

So what does it take to start an exercise plan and stick with it? Let’s ask an expert.

“If you’ve been inactive for a long time, or if this is your first time to workout, visit your doctor for a checkup,” said Terri Carter, a certified personal trainer in Temple with more than 40 years of experience.

“Be sure the physician looks at things such as blood pressure and heart rate,” she said. “Have a blood panel done that includes blood sugar levels, cholesterol and hormone levels. Discuss any aches and pains that have persisted to rule out underlying health conditions.”

Once given the green light from your doctor, the next step is to formulate a game plan. Workout design can be a challenging task, especially for a newcomer. Carter recommends turning to a fitness pro for assistance.

“Hire a professional — an experienced trainer who can design a program, and demonstrate and teach proper form so you do not injure yourself right out of the gate,” she said. “They can help you set realistic goals. Make sure the trainer has an extensive background in nutrition since 80 percent of your goals are tied to proper nutrition. Even if you just purchase two or three training sessions, working with a professional will give you a safe foundation to build on. Plan on scheduling accountability appointments at least once a month to keep you on track and to have realistic, sustainable adjustments made.”

“Exercise is a lifestyle, not a diet or quick fix,” Carter said. “Best exercises are ones that address your specific needs and incorporate core strength and balance. They should be manageable, and you should be able to complete full range of motion without sacrificing form. Thirty minutes is really all it takes, as long as it’s done four or five days a week. For seasoned athletes, 60 minutes is usually the magic number.”

According to Carter, weight training is essential. It’s the only way to build muscle, strengthen bones and change body composition.

“I have been a trainer, a gym owner and group exercise instructor for more than 40 years, and the most successful people I’ve seen have several things in common. First, all have accountability, either from a trainer, another person or a group of people that hold them to a schedule.”

“Early morning exercisers get it done before something gets in their way, like work,” said Carter, who owns and operates Refine Personal Training. “Meal prepping is essential, and be sure to set realistic goals — small bite-size achievable goals stacked on top of each other equal long-term success.”

“Successful people also view working out as a lifestyle,” she said. “They have a long-term plan. Instead of thinking: ‘I just need to lose these 50 pounds,’ they think: ‘I need to live a healthy life so I have quality in my older years and energy now.”

Carter said nutrition plays a major role in a person getting and staying fit.

“Between 70 and 80 percent of success is contingent on proper nutrition,” she said. “I don’t mean the latest fad diet, either. Portion control, moderation and good consistent habits are key. It’s simple: You need to burn more calories than you consume to lose weight, but you can’t be so calorie restrictive that you sacrifice muscle in order to do it.”

“Proper protein intake coupled with sufficient carbs and fat will yield long-term results. It’s worth every dime to meet with a nutritionist to find out what your particular nutritional needs are. Exercise is definitely not one-size-fits-all. The keyword is ‘sustainable.’”

Carter said a person doesn’t have to join a gym to get in shape. A little equipment such as dumbbells, a kettlebell, bands, a yoga ball and a mat will get you started.

“The key is to just get started,” she said. “The first few months are the toughest, but the reward is so worth it.”

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