The beginning of the new year means that resolutions to shape up and lose weight have started.  Being successful with a fitness program will depend on your ability to find a routine or program that is effective and that you can stick with.  In this article we will review three effective ways to shape up in the new year: personal training, group exercise, and home exercise programs

Personal Training

Credit: Lucille Roberts
Whether you're new to fitness or have some experience with working out, getting a personal trainer can be great choice for getting your fitness goals kick-started.  A good trainer can give you a structured program, teach you technique and provide the accountability necessary keep you on track.  
Many people are hesitant to enlist the help of trainer due to the cost, which can be $50 or more per hour.   Long-term, if your not "gym rat" getting a trainer makes a lot of sense, otherwise you run the risk of wandering around the gym wasting time or, even worse, getting injured. You can easily spend several hundred dollars a year on a gym membership, wouldn't it make sense to invest a little more to make sure that you know how to use it?
A smart way to approach your training would be to get have one session per week for 4-6 weeks to get yourself started.  That will allow you to get some quality guided workouts and learn basic technique.  After that, you should be in something of a routine, you'll have a few workouts under your belt and you'll know good technique on a few exercises. 

Group Exercise

Man and Woman Doing Crossfit
Credit: David Costillo Dominici
If getting one on one attention during your workouts isn't attractive to you, then the next best thing is to participate in a group fitness program.  Group fitness programs will often have one or two instructors for a class of 20 or more directing you through a workout.  You'll get guidance on how to perform the workout, but don't expect much individual attention if you have a question.  Classes are designed for you to plug-in and get going.  
Group classes often make sense if you have a distinct style of fitness program that you enjoy, instead of having the variety and options of using a full gym.  Most large gyms have group classes like Spin, Zumba, Body Pump or Yoga.  These usually come free of charge with the membership, but you'll often have to fight for a spot in the class if its popular, and the schedule may be limited to only certain times.  Alternatively you could go to a studio or gym that specializes in a particular type of exercise like Yoga, Pilates, and Crossfit.  
Fees to participate will vary widely depending on how the owners structure them, but be prepared to pay at least $100 per month for more than 3 days per week, or $20-$30 per session if you want to take just one class.  Most studios have free or discounted trial offers if its your first time there.  Take advantage of these deals to determine if this place will work for you before making a financial commitment. 

Home Exercise Programs and Blogs

The last option to explore is home exercise programs.  These programs are best for the person who has a do it yourself mentality, doesn't need the accountability of a partner, and prefers working out at home.  Home programs also tend to be the most cost effective over time as most of your costs go into buying the program and any equipment needed.  Beachbody produces several different home exercise programs via DVD. The most popular being the P90X series and Insanity.  Each set costs about  $120-$150 along with the cost of equipment.  
Another approach you can take is following fitness blogs.  Fitness blogs can offer free programs that update regularly.  Here are some different blogs you can follow:
  • FitJoes - workouts for the average Joe and Jane
  • - body weight and gymnastics workouts
  • - varied high intensity workouts
With blogs you get a lot of cost effectiveness, but it will require you to take the most responsibility for learning proper technique and motivation to workout on your own.  You will also have to be willing to invest in the equipment necessary to complete the program or be creative with modifying the workouts.
As you can see there a lot of different ways you can approach your fitness goals in the new year.  Be willing to try a lot of different things and find out what you like and keeps you exercising regularly.  The most important key to getting fit is consistency, so give all these options a try and see what works.