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Fitness: Readiness Assessment & Setting Priorities

My biggest concern as a personal trainer was always the safety of my clients – both physically and medically. Over the years a common theme emerged with each new client relationship that I developed and that was how unprepared people were to really engage in a significant training program and what skills and knowledge they would be required to develop for success. Physicians were often unprepared to advise their patients on what to do, how to proceed, or what limitations and issues needed to be acknowledged by their patients before engaging a trainer to help them “get to the next level”.

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Healthy Aging and You: The Power of Strength Training

I recently thought about why we exercise and what we choose to do first – and it isn’t generally strength training. Why is that? I believe it’s because we feel we CAN’T do something about becoming stronger unless we join a gym – and then we always seem to gravitate to cardio exclusively as if that is all we can do. We want to lose weight, feel better about ourselves, burn stored fat or just increase our energy level, but what if there was a better way?

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Living With Purpose: A Challenge Fear Can Sabotage

I find the holiday season to be challenging mentally, emotionally and physically. I am sure many of you who are reading these words feel a similar pressure of the current year ending – and the uncertainty of the new one to come. During this time of the year I have found myself being repeatedly burdened by entertaining old, worn out, negative thinking which leaves me exhausted and prone to getting sick, frustrated and fearful of the unknown time ahead.

The mind-body connection

This year it has been no different for me as I seem to be facing a past challenge regarding my belief in myself, my self-worth – and my purpose. For the better part of the last week and a half I have been struggling with a bad case of what I believe is the flu. With this latest (rare) bout of illness I have been blessed with a large dose of coughing, sneezing, general weakness and a very substantial lethargy. I believe in the power of the mind to bring us health and well-being but I also believe our thoughts (and beliefs) can – and do – deliver to us the other side of life which includes illness, unease, a genuine lack of self-confidence, and a sense of what I will call “hopelessness” – a feeling of living without purpose.

This is how I have started to feel in December – that regardless of what I have done, written or spoken about in terms of my passion for healthy aging, that it matters little and that I am wasting my time. This thought has occurred to me many times before and I am sharing it with you now because I am going through this challenge in this moment in time. ALL of us at some point in our life (and in my case it has been more than once) have felt empty inside and afraid – fearful of the unknown, of not being enough, of having chosen our path in life badly – and much more “baggage” that we carry around with us every day! It is a burden we decide to carry. It is up to each of us to decide to stop carrying this extra weight – or it will remain a “drag” on our life well into the future! We don’t need negative thought patterns ruining our lives, do we?

Fighting negative thoughts

The point is that it takes courage and discipline to “fight” this negative “wave” of feelings and thoughts. The first step that we can take to address this important issue is to become AWARE that it is happening – and to STOP and THINK in order to increase the possibility of changing your mind in order to “reassert” your power over your training – but your life as well. I am grateful for these reminders as they spur me to make the choice again that I AM valuable and worthy of success. Even at 70 I am dealing with this very issue as Christmas approaches – again. I had a terrible Thanksgiving because I could not be with my daughter and grandson and tonight had a harsh exchange of words with her over the phone (frustration, anger, fear – whatever it may be.)

What this matter basically comes down to is a FIRM belief in ourselves – and our own unique purpose – that we are alive for a reason. It is incumbent upon each of us to maintain a vigilant and forceful awareness that CAN prevent negative thoughts from derailing our dreams from becoming fully realized. If we allow these negative thought patterns to remain in our subconscious minds over time they WILL harm us emotionally, mentally and physically. ALL life – and reality – begins with thought, so guard your thoughts well! I am sorry to report that we are never done with these challenges of the mind and they can – and DO repeat (sometimes – not always) for a reason: To REMIND us of who we are – and are becoming. The ego wants to regain control of our thought patterns and return us to an earlier status quo that never worked for us – and never will.

The antidote for this negative “cycle of thought” is an examination of what we are doing and how well we are doing it. Can we improve our behavior? Our discipline? Our planning? Our listening? What is it that we are seeing again – and why? My conversation (argument) with my daughter showed me I am still capable of entertaining past negative thinking with poor results showing up again in my life. What a DRAG! Low self-worth and self-esteem can raise doubt and fear in all of us. What I am experiencing right now is a reminder of the road I have travelled – and the miles I have to go. It is always incumbent upon each of us to be “self aware” and allow this awareness to guide us to take personal responsibility for our behavior – and thoughts – (all that any of us can control  and then, and only then, will we make it successfully to our goal and accomplish our mission.

Our fitness programming follows this same logic and if we believe we cannot make it – we won’t. Our thoughts determine our results and our belief systems determine everything else of importance in our lives. DON’T LET FEAR AND SELF DOUBT control your future destiny. DO NOT entertain thoughts that in and of themselves are self destructive. I don’t know how the distance with my daughter will be bridged before Christmas but it will probably include compromise and some serious mutual listening.

Conflict in itself solves NOTHING but it CAN promote growth and understanding so I am not shy about engaging in a good argument – if it leads to greater mutual understanding – and peace. It is in HOW we disagree that matters. I argue with my feelings leading the way sometimes and that CAN be hurtful, but in this hurting we may get the opportunity to expand our definition of ourselves – and expand our consciousness as well. This is what I would call a “win – win”. This potential outcome CAN help us grow into a new definition of ourselves and create new opportunities with those we love – and with those others we value in our lives. It is about taking some risk and exposing ourselves to being uncomfortable for a while. I feel it is worth the effort – just be smart about how you go about implementing this idea!

I am convinced this time of year is challenging for all of us because there is much we need to learn – not only about ourselves – but about each other as well. After 45 years of being a father I am still learning about what that means and tonight I found out I am still NOT as patient or compassionate as I thought I was and so some “soul searching” will be required to bring me back to my best path of growth and understanding with those I love.

Take time today to reflect not only on your relationship with yourself but also with those you love and care about and see what emerges. You might be in for some amazing surprises and only YOU can do this work. Becoming a thoughtful listener is really the key to effective communication so practice that skill a lot! We have TWO ears and ONE mouth for a reason. I really find the holiday season to be about buying “STUFF” and not about appreciating our many blessings. This thought drives me crazy! However, this is the life we are living today so I either learn to live with it creatively or I will continue to hit the same “brick wall” as I have in the past – and I CHOOSE NOT DO THAT. All of this is to say that becoming unsettled, confused – or even angry – is probably a sign that we ARE ready for positive change to enter our lives and I TRULY BELIEVE that is a VERY good thing! Travel well.

Originally printed on HealthyNewAge.com. Reprinted with permission from Nicholas Prukop.


Nicholas Prukop is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer & a Health Coach, a fitness professional with over 25 years of experience whose passion for health and fitness comes from his boyhood in Hawaii where he grew up a swimmer on Maui. He found his calling in writing his first book “Healthy Aging & You: Your Journey to Becoming Happy, Healthy & Fit” and since then he has dedicated himself to empowering, inspiring and enabling people of all ages to reach for the best that is within them and become who they are meant to be – happy, healthy and fit – and be a part of a world where each person can contribute their own unique gifts to life.

If you need help in designing a fitness plan, you can contact Nicholas Prukop via email at runningnick@sbcglobal.net or read his inspiring book Healthy Aging & YOU.

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10 Keys to Planning for Your Health and Fitness Needs

Being proactive beats reacting every time. With our nation’s level of fitness deteriorating with each passing year, I thought it important to highlight these 10 keys. I am evaluating what it is that I may want to change in my own world and by sharing these thoughts with you hopefully move you to such a review as well.

1.  Get a physical

As a nation we are not being proactive when it comes to our health and as a result we are over medicating ourselves and creating other significant health related problems as a result. Being on drugs is not an effective way to maintain our health – making healthy choices instead is a far better strategy for preventing illness and disease in the long run.

2.  Get “real”

Being “real” with yourself starts with an honest evaluation of where you ARE in your physical and mental – and emotional life. Dumping old behaviors – and attitudes – that are no longer serving you is a place to start. Another step we can take is to get moving – doing whatever you can to positively move in the direction of what I call “your highest good”. We all have something we are here to do in life so get going and don’t waste a single day. Writing these articles is part of what I am to do so I am writing them!

3.  Get moving

By way of reminder – we are meant to be active beings – not sitting beings. Find out what it is you enjoy doing and get moving. Your body will thank you every day you do this. I know how I feel after I run and lift weights and it is in one word “happy”.

4.  Get a handle on your stress

We are all stressed at some point during our day so why don’t we start working on strategies for dealing with the stresses – and stressors – in our lives BEFORE they happen. Being proactive in stress management means knowing we are going to have to deal with stress in our lives so why don’t we practice before the event or stress occurs? I have passed on some of my strategies in prior articles: Meditation, prayer, visualization work, focused breathing, running, quiet reflection etc. These and other techniques are readily available and can be learned through classes and other forums.

5.  Get excited

Getting excited about life fuels our imagination and creativity. The more I think about my potential to make a difference in the world the more excited I become about each day of my life. The same experience can happen to you if you are open and receptive to what your subconscious is trying to tell you. The world of technology is taking away our ability to “go into the silence” and discover what life has in store for us. The “noise” we face every day is keeping us from hearing anything that could be of help to us in planning for it is we may want to do – and accomplish. Take a moment and ask yourself “am I living up to my full potential and if not what can I do about it?”

6.  Get clear on your purpose

Purpose driven people are happy people and they are self-actualized – meaning they don’t need someone to tell them what to do, think, feel, say, or do. They approach life from a position of “real power” and at the same time are able to acknowledge the uniqueness of each one of us. I got an email today from a reader telling me I would go to hell if I didn’t believe what he did and my response is – “it’s a free country and we get to live our lives the way we choose”.  I am empowered and energized by this thought. I am free – as are you – to live a purpose driven life or stay on the path you are on. We are ALWAYS “at choice” so CHOOSE YOURSELF TODAY!

7.  Get close to “real” people

This key is important in today’s world. “Friends” are NOT on the internet – they are in our REAL lives. Be aware that we need each other. Make it a point to be kind to others – smile, acknowledge them when you can, call people by their names and look them in the eyes when you speak to them. People are what make life worth living – not the cyber world of “fake” experiences and relationships.

8.  Get close to your family

My daughter is going through a difficult time in her life right now. She is facing challenges that are most uncommon and have her living “on edge” every day. She has a 7 year old son who needs her and a career in business to re-establish and beyond. I spoke with her last night and told her “I am here for you – whatever you need”.  As a father I sometimes feel helpless because she is a grown woman but she is still my daughter and I love her. It is my job now to just be her father and love her – tough as that may be for me. Take this step in your own life in the coming year and see what happens – you might surprise yourself at how your family responds to you.

9.  Get serious about your own health and fitness

Time has a way of marching on and to the degree that you acknowledge the passage of time you begin to appreciate what you have been given – and have in life. I am grateful everyday for my passion for training and running because I know it can be taken from me at any time. I live in the present when I am running or lifting weights and it is a practice I hope to continue until the end. I am serious about my fitness program because it gives me the energy and strength to do my work – teaching, speaking and writing on matters of healthy aging, fitness and exercise. Are your energy levels low? Get moving!

10.  Get to know yourself

This is perhaps the best thing we could do to prepare for the year ahead. Get to know yourself and start appreciating the magnificence that is you. Getting to know your self is a lifelong pursuit. The journey never ends.  I have learned during the course of my 66 years that I DID NOT appreciate myself at all – I had to learn the hard way through difficult and painful experiences that until I could love myself – and appreciate what it is I am here to do – that no one would ever appreciate – or love – me either. I spend time (each day) thinking about my life – and my contribution to life itself – and ask myself “is there more that I can learn or do today?” You should do this too – it will help immeasurably improve the quality of your life now and in the years ahead.

Final Thoughts

Why not take the time between now and the end of the year to see what you might want to work on in the year ahead and see how you can live more fully and completely.  Can you make a more expansive contribution to your own life and the lives of others as well? Of course you can! Isn’t this what the fitness lifestyle enables us to do in the first place? So get moving, be willing, be open, and appreciate who you ARE right now because you have only scratched the surface of your potential!

Reprinted with permission from Nicholas Prukop.


Nicholas Prukop is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer & a Health Coach and fitness professional with over 25 years of experience. His passion for health and fitness comes from his boyhood in Hawaii, where he grew up a swimmer on Maui. He found his calling in writing his first book “Healthy Aging & You: Your Journey to Becoming Happy, Healthy & Fit” and since then he has dedicated himself to empowering, inspiring and enabling people of all ages to reach for the best that is within them and become who they are meant to be – happy, healthy and fit – and be a part of a world where each person can contribute their own unique gifts to life.