Whether you’re looking to eat healthier, start a new exercise program, or make progress in your chosen sport, race, or event, we can sometimes feel stuck or overwhelmed before we even get going — but often it’s a simple tip from someone you trust that can make all the difference.
That’s why we asked Life Time coaches Kemma Cunningham, Mike Thomson, and Christa Mills to provide their singular favorite, top tip for success.
Coach Kemma’s top tip: Choose one thing to begin with.
“That’s it. One thing makes it easy,” says Kemma Cunningham, elite performer and class experience lead at Life Time in Bridgewater, N.J. “You’re already taking a brave step into the unknown, so celebrate that and don’t overwhelm yourself with all the advice out there or things you ultimately want to accomplish down the road. Find that one thing that feels doable to start with.”
Coach Kemma explains that your ‘one thing’ can be as simple as a pledge to take the stairs instead of the elevator or as committed as sessions with a Dynamic Personal Trainer. Select something you can set your focus on that feels achievable for you right now. “The beauty is you will grow from there,” she says. “But choosing that one thing will keep you focused so you not only build a new, healthy habit but also confidence.”
Coach Mike’s top tip: Train smarter, not harder.
“That’s the simple way to explain the outcome that can come from doing an Active Metabolic Assessment,” says Mike Thomson, Dynamic Personal Trainer, CSCS, USATF, and run coach at Life Time in Overland Park, Kan. “I encourage people to do this type of physical test because it reveals your optimal heart-rate training zones. So, whether you’re doing your first inclined treadmill walk, looking for a new personal record in a triathlon — or some other fitness goal in between — you’ll be able to maximize your training results by understanding your zones.”
An Active Metabolic Assessment is typically conducted on a treadmill wearing a breathing mask that physically tracks and evaluates your oxygen use and calorie burn for energy during your workouts. This unique information is collected to provide your personalized target heart-rate zones. If you’re not able to do an Active Metabolic Assessment, there are two other ways to approximate your zones yourself, but know they will not be as accurate.
“When you know your zones, you can put the guess-work aside and better plan your workouts to train in your correct fat-burning and aerobic zones,” says Coach Mike. “It also allows you to increase your calorie burn without triggering stress-hormone responses that can overtax the adrenal glands. So you’re not just making progress on your goals, but the training effort you put in every time will be more efficient.”
Coach Christa’s top tip: Get enough protein.
“Food is fuel, and protein is important for both nutrition and exercise,” says Christa Mills, CPT, Dynamic Personal Trainer at Life Time in Fort Worth, Texas. “Starting small with a goal of simply meeting your daily protein intake needs can be easier than you think.”
Coach Christa recommends a target intake of one gram of protein per pound of ideal body weight. You can consume protein through animal-based whole foods like meat and fish or plant-based sources like beans, nuts, and seeds.
“If you struggle with getting enough protein through whole foods, try supplementing with protein shakes,” says Coach Christa. “Up to two protein shakes per day can help you get up to 50 grams of protein alone. It can make a huge difference in your results and is an easy habit to add.”
For more advice from our experts, see what top Dynamic Personal Trainers have to say about New Year’s resolutions — and sticking to healthy-living goals all year long: “Reassessing New Year’s Resolutions.”