Ask Stephie: Exercise for beginners: How do I begin?

Starting a fitness program can be a very intimidating endeavor, especially if you have little or no knowledge about exercise and fitness. This article will give you some solid, fundamental information about how to begin exercising so you can feel comfortable starting out. There are some important steps to take before engaging in exercise, so let’s get to it.

First, and most importantly, it is advisable to see your doctor and get a full physical with blood work to determine your current level of health. This is also a great starting point to look back on after being retested down the road. Improved blood pressure and cholesterol numbers can be quite motivating feedback! After you get clearance from your doctor to begin exercising, you can now set out to find some enjoyable activities.

One of the best ways to start, and stick with, an exercise program is to begin by setting some realistic goals and revisiting them daily, weekly and monthly. Whether you want lose to weight, get stronger, feel better, etc., it is important to determine your own specific goals.

Next, finding a workout partner can significantly help you stay focused and motivated. Get together with a neighbor, friend, family member or hire a qualified personal trainer. If you are interested in activities such as walking, riding your bike or joining a yoga class, then finding a partner would suffice. However, if you are looking to go a step further and work with exercise equipment at home or at a gym, I highly recommend finding a personal trainer to at least get you started.

Understanding correct technique and exercise form is critical for safety and achieving optimal results. In addition, getting proper guidance on how to set up a workout program/schedule for positive results, recovery, etc., should be put in the hands of a qualified fitness professional.

If you decide to work with a fitness professional, here are some things to look for prior to hiring them. It is important for them to have a degree in an exercise science or athletic training field. In addition, they should have at least one nationally accredited certification by organizations such as the American Council on Exercise or the National Strength and Conditioning Association. These organizations have very high standards for education as well as keeping their members on the cutting edge in the fitness field.

Following the above recommendations should arm you with the appropriate information to begin a fun and safe exercise journey. Now, get started, and take your first step toward better health!

Stephie Steele is owner of Symmetry Fitness, LLC. She has been featured in IDEA Health & Fitness Source magazine and specializes in weight loss, sports performance, total body fitness, strength training, core conditioning, cardiovascular and flexibility training. Readers can send their questions to Stephie via e-mail to

From the Aug. 23-29, 2006, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!