I once heard that the people who stick to their fitness goals are not the most disciplined, but the best at problem solving. I thought of that today, since I have to take #2 son someplace instead of exercising today. I will simply have to fit my 30 minutes in somewhere else, I suppose — but I also have rehearsal tonight, and there is that job and all.

There has been a smaller bit of grit in the gears of my fitness goals since the new semester began. This is #1 son’s last semester of high school, and he has been able to get a better parking space. I had first begun going to the gym after dropping #2 son off at the junior high, a set appointment that made it easy to get to the gym five days a week. When he started at the high school and rode with his brother, it took me a few weeks to work out a new routine that would get me to the gym regularly. I ended up marking their leavetaking with a quiet cup of tea, after which I left for the gym — arriving reliably at 8:00.  This term, they leave later, and if I stop for a cuppa before leaving, I am too late to get a good workout before I have to come home and get ready for work. So once again I had to readjust.

No matter how well we work it out, there is going to be a need for periodic readjustment.

My fitness goals for this year begin with two simple things: 30 minutes a day, no excuses; and greater variety (and, therefore, intensity). The “no excuses” part still needs work, as we see from the excuse I have today. As for the “greater variety” part, I thought I’d share my experiences on that, in case you have a similar goal yourself.

First option is going to the gym. The great thing about the gym, for me, is that I am not expected to clean it. When I work out at home, I am always feeling as though I ought to dust or load the dishwasher or something, but at the gym, I never feel as though I should be doing anything else but exercising. True, once there, I tend to hop on the treadmill and get engrossed in a magazine, but I can be sure of doing a steady 30 minutes, and I keep the incline high enough to get my heart rate in the target range. There are also all the weights I could ever want. The disadvantages include the time it takes to drive there and the blaring TVs.

The second choice is walking. I have several nice neighborhood routes, I can walk to work once the days get long enough, and our town also has a lovely system of walking trails if I want to drive to another area for variety. I live in a hilly area, and can walk as fast as I want, so here too I can keep my heart rate up.Walking has no flaws, as long as the weather is clement and I mix it up with strength work.

The third choice is exercise DVDs. I get them from Netflix, trade with friends, and occasionally buy one, so I can have good variety here. We have a stability ball and free weights at the house, which gives me more options. Here are a few of my favorites:

On the Ball Pilates Workout with Lizbeth Garcia
3 Day Rotation with Donna Richardson
New York City Ballet Workout I & II
The Lotte Berk Method  — any of the series

The fourth choice that occurred to me was books. This seemed like a good idea, because books always seem like a good idea. In fact, it didn’t turn out that way for me. If you read and memorize the routine, that might do it. I found myself referring back to the book. There I am, balanced on the stability ball, Sam Cooke playing on the computer, and I’m trying to grab the book and see what the next move is without falling — well, let us say it is not the ideal.

The alternative is to stop after every exercise and read the next one, and you can’t keep your heart rate up that way, can you? An assistant who calls out, “Okay, now it’s time for the one-legged plank!” would do the trick. Still, books on the subject can be helpful for getting the correct form for moves clear in your mind so you can do them correctly in the gym,  in class, or with the DVD, so here are some favorite books on the subject:

Strength Training for Women, DK books
The Pilates Body, by Brooke Siler

These are not all the possibilities available to me. I hope to do some hiking once the weather settles. My boys have a hand-me-down Nordic Track machine and a curbside-scrounged mini trampoline which I may put into service. I would like to find a convenient place to swim, though at the moment that would involve more driving than I am willing to do. Overall, I think the idea of increasing variety is a very good one. It is harder to slip into a trancelike state in which you do the same workout every day and stop getting any benefit, it is easier to persuade yourself to put in those thirty minutes every day, and it keeps the whole thing  more fun and surprising.

We all want the occasional surprise, don’t we?