What is the biggest limiting factor when it comes to enjoying old age? I guess some would say money but they would be missing the obvious – which of course is our health. As a professional in the field of fitness and behaviour change, I see it all the time. People who have for a long time ignored the one big thing that influences every part of their life. “I don’t have time for it now”, “I’ll get to it, but I know it is important”, “It’s not a priority at the moment but I am getting there”. Sobering fact number 1: most people NEVER get there. This is the primary reason I say, “act and act now” whenever someone takes time out of their busy day to ‘enquire’ about starting a fitness program. I never tire of seeing the joy it brings to someone, who has perhaps for the first time in their life started to experience how good it feels to be strong, healthy and fit. But as with all things worthwhile in this life, the path to it is not always easy. Make no mistake, it is simple but this is a very different thing.

The key factor to change is identifying the need and then connecting with the reason for wanting to change it. Our best clients, the ones most likely to achieve real and lasting change, are the ones who have experienced some major emotional upheaval, usually as a result of having lead a profoundly unhealthy existence. The reason they do so well is that ‘emotional’ connection with their ‘why’. When this happens, willpower is no longer necessary because a ‘reason’ builds an energy of it’s own.

So what is the biggest priority when it comes to ‘doing’ fitness? Is it huffing and puffing cardio style on a treadmill or pumping iron in the gym to build muscle with the mirror boys? Or is it rolling around on a ball to improve core stability whilst wearing lycra with the Pilates set or getting an eating plan based on the latest celeb diet to ensure fat loss? You know each of those could be important (at least in some way) to a great result but the priority will be different depending on your starting point and your needs.

But there is one surprising thing I will tell you that you should find out more about before starting. Strength training to build or in most cases just hold onto real muscle (both men and women, ahhhh did you say MUSCLE!) is the most important factor assuming a normally functioning body (i.e. no major corrective exercise required for postural deviation etc.) when it comes to long term functional health. Yes, muscle is the fountain of youth for many reasons that space restricts me from expanding on this post. But know this: muscle building and strategic protein intake should be the cornerstone of any exercise program you do. Controversial? It may be in the lay persons mind but believe me, the experts all agree on this one. Look out for more detail on this factor in posts to come. In the mean time, if you aren’t already training, find yourself a good trainer/coach who knows his or her stuff because it truly is the fast path in a world of confusion and half truths around fitness and health. You just have to watch any number of late night infomercials to know how suspect the world is of fitness solutions.