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Pacing, passion key to keeping new fitness goals

Kalin Thomas Contributing Writer | 1/11/2013, 1:28 p.m.

ATLANTA – It’s 5:30 p.m. on a recent Tuesday evening and while thousands of metro Atlantans are stuck in rush-hour traffic, 41-year-old Natosha Reid-Rice is sweating through push-ups at H.E.A.T. gym near Atlantic Station in Midtown.

“Get it right, get it tight,” yells her personal trainer, Rod Johnson.

Reid-Rice, a Habitat for Humanity attorney and associate pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, is one of the millions of Americans who pledge each New Year’s Day to get fit in the upcoming year. But unlike some Americans, she seems committed to making it happen.

“I have three kids so family, church and work commitments can get in the way,” said Reid-Rice. “So my New Year’s resolution is to be more consistent with my fitness plan.”

Experts say Reid-Rice may be more than exception than the rule. They say many so-called “January Joiners” join a gym at the start of each new year only to fall off their plan long before March.

It’s a problem that Johnson said he’s seen many times over the years.

“Many who haven’t worked out in years, want to jump right into it – especially guys,” said Johnson, a corporate fitness consultant through his company, Seal of Fitness. “But it’s hard to stay consistent that way, so it’s better to start slowly.”

Reid-Rice said she keeps from falling off her game plan by working out with a friend and fellow attorney, Christina Rogers, who keeps her accountable.

“I was working out with Rod previously and needed a new partner. So I convinced Natasha to join me,” said Rogers 45. “Now we get our workout done and we get to catch up with each other.”

“Christina is in great shape, so she’s like the teacher’s pet,” Reid-Rice said jokingly. “But she keeps me motivated.”

The “buddy system” has been working for the women since they started with Johnson more than three years ago.

“Christina is at a higher level than Natasha, so she really helps motivate her,” Johnson said. “And Natasha has the challenge of finding time to work out, so sometimes she’ll take breaks. But she always gets back on track, and I think the buddy system helps her do that.”

Another challenge of sticking to a fitness routine is boredom, Johnson said.

“Many people get bored with cardio, so I suggest Natasha vary her routine or even just run around with her kids,” he said.

“I do a lot of walking, some jogging and spin class. And I just got a bike for Christmas so I’m going to start bike riding with my husband,” Reid-Rice said.

Johnson said sticking to your fitness goals will be easier each year if people follow a few simple fit rules, including: Start slow, keep it fun, take an occasional break, eat sensibly, get plenty of rest and integrate your fitness plan into your life – not the other way around.

Johnson said identifying a trainer to help you reach your goals also is a good idea. In fact, he says more African Americans are working out with personal trainers than ever before.

“I’m also seeing more blacks joining group training, like boot camps,” he said. “But with diseases in the black community like hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol, it’s important to get checked out by your doctor before starting any fitness plan.”

For her part, Reid-Rice said her fitness goals go well beyond just weight loss. It’s about living a more fulfilling, more holistic life, she said.

“It’s about enjoying this time of my life, taking care of my body temple and having the energy to run with my boys,” she said. Because if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t help anyone else.

“And when I’m 80, I want people to say ‘I thought you were 40!’”

Stick to your goals

Sticking to your New Year’s fitness goals will be easier if you follow these 5 simple steps, experts say:

• If you haven’t worked out in a while, start walking first.

• Keep it fun, so you’ll want to be consistent.

• Take a day off, but not a week off.

• Include in your plan cardio, weights, good nutrition and plenty of rest.

• Prioritize your fitness routine around your work, your family and your daily obligations.