So this is the year you’re going to get fit. But what’s your plan of attack? What exactly are you going to do? What’s realistic? How much is too much? And, most importantly, what’s the secret to sticking with it?

Every New Year, thousands of enthusiastic individuals will join gyms and fitness facilities with their resolutions at the ready. By the end of 30 days, almost will end up back at square one, defeated, discouraged and no closer to a healthier life.

It turns out that fitness is just like any addiction – it only takes a small dose to get hooked. “Too many people make the mistake of leaping into exercise when baby steps are what’s needed,” says Bryce Hastings, Les Mills Head of Research. He suggests any newbie exerciser keeps these three things firmly front of mind:

Start slow – Don’t push your body too soon and stop your workout when you begin to struggle

Build graduallyWork towards completing a full workout as your fitness builds

Mix it up – Include a mix of strength, cardio and flexibility training in your weekly training regime

A slow start, building gradually and incorporating variety is an approach that’s scientifically proven to work.

Get Fit Together, a study conducted by Penn State, followed 25 sedentary adults through a 30-week program of LES MILLSTM classes including a mix of cardio, strength and flexibility.

The group saw awesome results – so awesome that they extended their life spans by an average of 3.6 years. You can read more about the results here.

But the really interesting news was that over the 30-week study, 20 out of 25 study participants never missed a workout – a compliance rate of 98.8 percent – almost unheard of in studies of this type.

Despite each of these programs being highly engaging, the real key was the gradual way in which the exercisers adapted to their new routine. An initial six week period encouraged them to “dip their toes” into fitness before ramping up the intensity with a full six-day-a-week exercise schedule.

So instead of being overwhelmed by it all, feeling sore from overworking unfit muscles and giving up, they actually enjoyed it.

Using these research insights (and a wealth of wider fitness and motivation expertise) Les Mills has developed the SMART START program – a six-week guide to successfully taking your fitness to the next level.

Get the SMART START workout schedule here.

Remember, the first step to fitness isn’t a leap. The key is to start slow, keep it fresh but most importantly, have fun and the results should follow!

Ready to get started? Find a workout near you or start working out at home.

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