Fitness tips to help you get right start

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Apps to help with health goals

Another year, another set of New Year's resolutions. Here are three free smartphone apps that can guide you in your quest for improvement:

• Mynd: If your goal is to become organized, consider this calendar app your very own personal assistant. Mynd helps start each day on the right foot by showing the current weather forecast, your number of commitments and locations for each meeting. It syncs with your GPS, gives you step-by-step directions, tells when you need to leave for each meeting and if you are likely to encounter traffic. For iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

• Yummly: Gyms always see a surge in memberships come January, but losing weight is about more than just exercising. Yummly lets dieters scroll through photos of delectable-looking dishes and cocktails and collect healthful recipes based on their tastes, allergies and other preferences. For instance, you can set filters that will only display vegetarian or gluten-free recipes or dishes that require no more than 20 minutes to prepare. More than 1 million recipes are available. For iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

• Lift: Whether your goal is to drink more water or finally start that novel you've been meaning to write, this daily motivation app will give you just the nudge you need to succeed. Create your own resolution or search through ones created by others, such as "Six weeks to a half-marathon" or "Stop being a workaholic." Long-term goals offer daily instructional tips to help you achieve a little at a time. The app lets you schedule periodic reminders, check off a task once completed and see how many people have joined each plan. For iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Android.

— Chicago Tribune

MIAMI — Want to get into shape but don't know how to begin?

We asked certified fitness instructor and trainer Myriam Charleston and partner Jeff Pierre to start us off with 10 tips for people looking to start a fitness routine:

1. What's the first thing you tell a client who is starting a fitness regimen?

No. 1: Make sure they get clearance from their physician. The next thing is to get a fitness assessment/evaluation in order to know where you're starting from and to set realistic fitness goals.

2. How often should a beginner work out?

A beginner should aim to work out three times a week and have a program that includes at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise (walking, jogging, cycling), 30 minutes of strength training (free weights or machines), and 10 minutes of stretching.

3. What are the critical areas to work out?

My recommendation is to work major muscle groups (legs, back, chest) with minor ones (biceps, triceps, calves) and incorporate push/pull movements to create muscle balance.

4. I'm overweight. What can I do?

Have an assessment done by a fitness instructor. The assessment will give you information about your body composition and help you set realistic goals. Many people want to lose weight but what they really want to do is lose fat. A fitness instructor can personalize a body fat goal for you.

An effective way to lose fat is to incorporate healthy eating habits with frequent, small meals (five to six per day), cardio, strength training and consistency.

5. What about diet? What kinds of food should I be eating? Can I still eat my favorite desserts?

Don't use the word "diet." Instead, focus on healthy eating, which means consuming healthy carbohydrates (whole wheat bread and pasta), fruits, vegetables and lean proteins (chicken or turkey breast, fish, lightly marbled red meats). Eat five or six times a day but eat small portions during each meal. Follow the 80/20 rule: Eat healthy meals 80 percent of the time and indulge 20 percent.

6. I'm older. Can I still work out safely?

Absolutely! As we get older, overall muscle mass tends to decrease and there is an increasing risk of bone diseases. But you can minimize those effects of aging with a consistent fitness routine. Prior to each workout, make sure you warm up with a brisk walk or light jog for 10 to 15 minutes to get the body moving and warm. And don't forget to stretch. Incorporating flexibility, core and strength training will maintain overall body health and minimize the chance of injury.

7. I'm a woman and I don't want build big muscles.

This is a misconception I hear all the time. It is usually difficult for women to build muscle, and it usually takes a long time. Women don't have the same amount of muscle cells that men have, on average. But for women, strength training is very important because it helps burn fat and build bone density to combat osteoporosis.

8. How long will it take before I see results?

It depends on the individual. Usually, people will start to notice changes after two or three months. Remember your results will depend on how consistent you are with your strength training, your cardio and your eating habits. Consistency in those three areas is the key.

9. I don't like going to the gym. What can I do at home?

You can purchase a few items to create a home gym: a stability ball, a mat, a few dumbbells, and resistance bands. There are also body-weight exercises you can do: squats, lunges, biceps curls, dips, crunches, pull-ups and push-ups. However, the benefit of going to a gym lies in the variety of exercises you can do. You are less likely to become bored with your fitness program if you can change up the routine.

10. What can I do to stay motivated?

Many people complain of losing interest with their workouts One of the most important things is find something you enjoy doing. Start with any physical activity that you enjoy doing to keep yourself motivated.

Another option is to hire a personal trainer who can keep you motivated and can customize a workout program to meet your goals. It is important to set realistic goals and track your progress so you don't become discouraged.