Making Fitness A Lifestyle

Although I’ve been a group fitness instructor for 38 years, my fitness journey has taken twists and turns I never could have anticipated. My fitness journey started when I attended an evening low impact cardio class through the YMCA at an extension site near my house. After one and little more years of taking the class, the instructor asked if I’d be interested in teaching as she was moving out of the area. I was shocked as teaching fitness classes wasn’t even on my mind! I got some training and taught that class for a few years through the pregnancy of our first child. After taking a break for a few months, I went back to teaching until the local YMCA cancelled the class.

I stayed active with our daughter and worked part time. Eventually my neighbor who had a young child asked if I’d be interested in joining a local fitness center for the summer as they had childcare. We decided to do that, and I took a variety of fitness classes and loved them. I continued beyond the summer, had another child, took a short break, and then took two children to childcare while I exercised.
The fitness center eventually asked if I’d be interested in teaching a class, and 38 years later, it’s still a passion of mine.

During those years, I took breaks for injuries, surgeries, schedule changes, and Lyme disease which became a chronic illness. I eventually obtained a national certification in group fitness instruction and personal training. Through workshops, I was exposed to Pilates, step, SilverSneakers, Les Mills and obtained certifications in those modalities. Although I took those breaks, fitness has been part of my life in so many ways.

I’ve explored a lot of fitness modalities over the years, as a participant and instructor. Repeatedly, I’ve learned that when it comes to fitness, if you don’t love it, you won’t do it or live it. Building a lifestyle around healthy movement seems to be the only way to guarantee you’ll stick with it.

People exercise for many reasons, but did you know that many people exercise because it makes them feel good? Moving in the way that feels best to your unique body is ultimately the best exercise for you, because you’ll crave it and keep going back for more. Rather than forcing a habit, the habit will develop naturally.

Exercise benefits everyone, no matter their size, race, age, or ability. Fitness is a state of being, not a way of looking. It’s a lifestyle, and when we embrace it as such, we give ourselves permission to take rest days, add exercise whenever and wherever we can, and celebrate our bodies for what they can do. When you’re healthy, you are in a better mood and can physically do more. You can do things like walking your dog, keeping up with your kids’ schedules, playing with your grandchildren, and trying a new physical activity.

The results of fitness as a lifestyle are:
– better relationships
– lower risk of disease
– set an example to family, friends, and children
– better focus at work
– being able to do projects around your house
– better psychological state

Here are a few tips to start making health and fitness a lifestyle today.

1. FIND EXERCISE YOU ENJOY. I can’t emphasize this enough as it helps you stay consistent with your workouts and stick to fitness long term.

2. BE PATIENT when it comes to reaching your physical goals. Results take time, so be easy on yourself. Learn to fall in love with the process and person you become throughout the journey.

3. DON’T GIVE UP THE FOODS YOU LOVE. Find a way to make your favorite food healthier. If pizza is your favorite food, get creative and use vegetable and clean ingredients to make your healthy version.

4. DON’T COMPETE WITH ANYONE. This is your fitness journey. If you wake up every day and try to be better than you were yesterday, you are on the right track.

5. TRY NEW THINGS. Step out of your comfort zone. Try a new fitness class. Grab a buddy and do some training with a personal trainer. Think about meal prepping to avoid decision fatigue.

6. CHANGE YOUR LIFESTYLE TO ENCOURAGE MOVEMENT NATURALLY. Taking a 15-minute walk on a lunch break and feeling the sunshine is part of a mind-body wellness that’s so important.

Other ideas to make fitness a lifestyle:
– Do chair pose for one minute when brushing your teeth which activates the core.
– When getting ready in the morning, put on music and dance around.
– Park far away.
– Do lunges in a grocery store aisle.
– Do laps while grocery shopping.
– Take the steps instead of the elevator, when possible.

No matter your location or budget, there’s a way to move that will make you feel good and make fitness a lifestyle. Discovering that is the key that will unlock all the benefits exercise has to offer. Here’s to finding joy in all our movements!

Letter from the Editor: Feel Good Fitness (
Letter from the Editor: Feel Good Fitness (
Fitness Tips for Life: How to Make Health and Fitness a Lifestyle (

About Jackie Confalone:
Although retired from full-time work, Jackie is a freelance writer and has been a group fitness instructor for more than 35 years, the last 13 at Body Zone. She particularly loves working with seniors and people with chronic illnesses. She is nationally certified as a personal trainer and instructor for group fitness, Les Mills BODYFLOW, Pilates and SilverSneakers.

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