Start a new year's fitness plan and stick to it

Happy New Year to you and yours!

Hopefully, you have had a wonderful time of friends, family and good food.

Now, it is time to turn our attention to a new year and, with it, a fresh start.

We all like a clean slate, a place to start over, hopefully to avoid the pitfalls from the past.

Let's start this new year with an exercise program that has you moving everyday for 20 to 30 minutes, throw in some strength training and finish up with flexibility and balance improvement.

Here is a sample plan:

1. Warm-up on your favorite piece of cardio equipment for three to five minutes.

Next, bump up the speed or resistance a few levels for two to three minutes. Now you are ready for your first interval.

Increase the speed or resistance up several levels for one minute. Reduce for three minutes then repeat for a total of three to five cycles of intervals.

Cool down for 10 minutes at your warm-up speed.

2. On nonconsecutive days, lift weights or do body weight exercises that hit all the major muscle groups including:

*Arms (biceps, triceps, deltoids); try pushups and pull-ups for this group of muscles.

* Legs (quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, gluteus, inner and outer thighs); squats and lunges are very effective.

*Chest/trunk (pecs, abs, hip flexors); planks, crunches, hanging knee raises will cover the trunk. You can do bench press and flys for the chest.

* Back (trapezius, rhomboids, lats, and erector spinae); for the upper back, try reverse flys and shoulder presses. For the lower back, superman and reverse crunches are effective.

3. On your non-weight-lifting days, try a yoga or pilates class. These classes will teach you moves that will improve strength, balance and flexibility.

Add a variety of classes to keep you motivated and learning new moves and techniques.

For some, preparing for competition keeps them focused and moving forward. Invite others to join you on your healthy adventure.

Make this the year that you follow through with that New Year's resolution.

Don't just talk about it. Take the steps necessary to make it a reality. Find ways to ditch the excuses.

By Christmas of 2012, you could be looking at a completely different person: A healthier person, one who has more energy and enthusiasm for all that life has to offer.

See you at the gym.

Melissa Bagnall is a certified personal trainer with a Bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University in physical education and the owner of Fitness Solutions. You can reach her at : fitnesolutions@gmail.com or www.fitnesolutions.com.