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The Normal Person’s Guide to New Year’s Resolutions: Finally Getting in Shape

Advice from a celebrity trainer, a sports psychologist and more

Here’s the least surprising thing you’ll hear over the next few weeks: “I’m on a diet.” Or: “I joined a gym.” Or: “I’m trying to lose some weight.” And for good reason: We’re a seriously out-of-shape species these days. In fact, less than 5 percent of adults are physically active every day, and it’s literally killing us. Even at the less dramatic end of the scale, many of us are simply miserable in our own skin.

The problem is, even though many of us wholeheartedly believe that with just a little extra physical effort we could change our physique and our psyche, we somehow don’t end up changing either. The diet’s too hard to stick to; the gym’s too far; the exhaustion too great. And so, sticking to a fitness regimen is, for many, tougher than the workout itself. With that in mind, we asked a locker room’s worth of fitness experts how they stay focused (and shredded) all year long.

Danny Musico, celebrity trainer: Normally I find out what a client’s goals are, what they’ve done in the past, any injuries to work around, then build a customized workout plan based on what their goals are. A Victoria’s Secret model might need a flat stomach, while Thor might need the biggest legs and arms. That’s why they call me the Picasso of trainers: You tell me what you want to look like and I’ll paint the picture.

But if people simply want to get in better shape and lose, say, 20 pounds, the object is to work fast, quick and hard. Keep your heart rate up so you’re burning fat while you’re putting on lean muscle. If you want quick results, and to burn fat, interval training is your answer, which I’ve been doing for over 20 years. And get a trainer, because a trainer isn’t gonna make excuses for you. Everybody is built around time, and we’ll give the best workout for you as well as make the corrections at every single rep. That’s why some people who go to the gym five days a week don’t see results: Because practice doesn’t make perfect — perfect practice makes perfect.

Kate Allgood, sports psychologist: Create a routine around getting fit that will become habit with time. Obviously that includes going to the gym (or whatever you’re planning on doing), but there’s also a nutritional aspect.

Usually with New Year’s resolutions, people are great in January, but they haven’t really created good routines or put in the process of making them habits, so then when January becomes February, they stop. They’re having to use a lot of willpower in order to maintain the things they need to do to stick with their resolution, but willpower only goes so far: It’s very tiring, and you definitely need that at the very beginning, but you’re not gonna be able to make it last more than a month, or month and a half, which is why you need those routines and habits that will hopefully become more lifestyle, rather than willpower.

The second part is that you’ve got to make it fun so that you want to go. Everyone’s different, and for some people, going to the gym and running on the treadmill works. If that’s not for you, find a class or a workout buddy. There’s so many classes these days — even the big gyms like 24 Hour Fitness have classes. You really have to find what works for you and makes you want to go work out.

Ricky Casillas, Sales Manager, LA Fitness: Honestly, every person that comes in has a different goal. You can do cardio or you can do weights, but the main thing I say to everyone is to work out for at least one hour a day. That keeps you alert — and keeps you alive.

Jordan Tainer Yarter, a man who just got into the best shape of his life at 39 (and my cousin): Each person needs to find a workout that motivates them to try harder and pushes them to be uncomfortable. I’m a big fan of group training: I shrugged it off for a long time and thought it was more of a cult, but after years of trying to motivate and push myself at the gym, I wasn’t getting the results I wanted, and I certainly wasn’t in the best shape of my life. So why I was continuing to go? That’s the definition of insanity, right?

I tried some group fitness classes at my previous gym, but they were hit or miss and the workouts were mostly the same week after week. I saw some results, but again, I felt like I’d plateaued. I was 38 and while I was looking forward to 40 (and still am) it was the motivation I needed to get the beach body that you hear people talk about. A couple of friends recommended Orangetheory Fitness and I finally decided to try it. It’s small group training, led by an instructor and with great music and playlists, and it’s made all the difference.

The other side of the equation is nutrition. I’d heard many fit people say you can’t work out a bad diet, and it’s true: Over the last six months, I’ve made adjustments to my eating habits and that’s helped to start getting the results I want.