Are fitness programs worth it?

I guess it depends on what you mean by "worth it." There are a few different ways of looking at that.

Do fitness programs work? Yes, usually, but there are some caveats. First, the fitness program in question has to be physically challenging for you, but still do-able. Second, you have to actually try hard and apply yourself to every minute of the program. Third, you have to have realistic expectations. In other words, if your body isn't shaped the same way the trainer's body is shaped, it's unlikely that you'll finish the program and end up looking exactly like the trainer. In fact, fitness programs are often much easier for the trainer than for you. So as long as your results expectations are reasonable, yes, these programs tend to work.

Are fitness programs worth the time and energy? Obviously, this is a personal preference, but the data is pretty clear when it comes to the value of vigorous daily exercise: It extends human lifespan, reduces risk for age-related and lifestyle-related chronic illnesses, improves energy levels and libido, regulates sleep, and reduces stress. It may improve cognitive ability, and it usually results in a person looking and feeling their best. How much time and energy are these things worth to you? Only you can say. But most people who develop an interest in fitness never look back.

Are fitness programs worth the money? This, too, is a personal preference, but there are a few things worth considering. First, how much disposable income do you have access to? Becoming physically fit is important, but not if you have to compromise your quality of life in other areas due to a financial burden. Second, to what extent are free programs available to you? The internet contains a wealth of fitness resources at your fingertips, if you only take the initiative to become a self-directed learner. Some people would rather avoid the hassle of learning exercise physiology themselves, and so they prefer to buy exercise "packages" like fitness programs so that they can have others do the research and thinking for them. Third, what is the likelihood that the fitness program you're interested in is going to expose you to information or exercise ideas you wouldn't ordinarily encounter? Sometimes trying out a new fitness program is a great way to give your daily workouts a breath of fresh air.

In general, I believe fitness programs are a great way for beginners to learn how to exercise, and also a good way for veterans to learn new exercises and new ways of constructing a workout regimen. I think people should try out one program, learn from it, and then exercise by themselves for a while. Then, repeat with a new program when you start to feel your workouts getting stale again. I personally prefer free resources, but there are many great fitness programs available for money - Beachbody's programs tend to be excellent and highly effective, for example.

After that, it's up to you!


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