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You want to get fit in 2017, but how? The ultimate squat challenge, or perhaps a mud race? Maybe Crossfit, or, on the other hand, mindful yoga practice sounds nice, too.

The fitness industry is ever-evolving, making it more difficult, and often overwhelming, to find what works for you. But local health and fitness gurus say that if you set goals and find an exercise routine that is fun and enjoyable to do, you'll succeed in whatever fitness trend you decide to try.

Set a goal

When deciding on a new exercise routine, you might wonder if one-on-one training will work best, or if a group setting is what you need. Either can work, but, according to Sandy Stevens, certified personal trainer with a bachelor's degree in exercise science, the only way to stay healthy and active is to take part in an activity that's enjoyable.

"When you enjoy it, you are more likely to stay with it," she said.

It's also important to set a goal for yourself. Some people, like the "Mud Warriors" she worked with for the Spartan Race at Killington, Vt., choose to compete in mud runs or obstacle courses.

"We had over 20 people on our team that completed their first Spartan Race at Killington, Vt.," she said. "They set the goal, knew they had the support of the team and conquered the mountain. Mud Warriors continues to grow and will be doing several obstacle course races in 2017. Set a SMART Goal."

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timed. Stevens helps her clients achieve their goals in a team setting at her facility, Time for Yourself in Bennington, Vt.

By setting the goal to complete an obstacle course race, you can build confidence, get in amazing shape with a training program and build a relationship with teammates that might not have been established before, according to

"If you set a clear intention and we help you to stay on track with that intention, the research shows that 80 percent of people are going to stick with that intention," said Robin Dufour, owner and physical therapist at Berkshire Fitness Company (BeFitCo) in Williamstown, Mass.

BeFITCO offers high-intensity interval training, group exercise, full body and senior classes. Some of the classes offered help fulfill a social need, while others motivate an individual to stay true to their fitness goal.

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Find what works for you

Sometimes it's hard to figure out what fitness routine works best for an individual. We're all different, so our exercises can't all be the same. At BeFitCo, the trainers help people at all fitness levels — those who need to lose weight, recover from an injury, increase flexibility or improve athletic performance.

You're not going to find dumbbells and exercise machines at BeFitCo. Instead, the studio is filled with Stroops resistance bands for multiplanar rotation and stability, ViPR — weighted tubes (similar to PVC pipes) that target loaded movement training — and silk bands that hang from the ceiling, used for stretching, yoga and other strengthening exercises.

"The fitness industry can have a policy of 'all or nothing' or 'hard as possible' and that's what steers people away," said BeFitCo personal trainer Amanda Bayliss. "You're coming in here because you want to workout, but you don't really love to workout, so let's not make it easy, but comfortable and enjoyable because you're going to keep coming back and you're going to keep doing it and get more out of it."

Be more mindful in 2017

"I think mind over matter may be 2017's greatest growing health care trend," said Lisa Laramy, Wellness at Work program manager at Berkshire Health Systems, Inc., in Pittsfield, Mass. "Most of us have heard about the benefits of meditation and mindfulness, but with all the mounting evidence of the benefits of this practice, I think many will finally make it a priority in 2017 and make time to press the pause button."

By slowing down and becoming aware of living in the moment, Laramy said a person's level of stress hormones are reduced, the mind can function better and the immune system can fight off illnesses more efficiently.

If you want to be more mindful, perhaps give yoga a try. A major component of yoga is meditation, breathing and being in the moment. This workout has evolved in terms of location and demographic. Stratton Mountain Resort in South Londonderry, Vt., now offers a ski and yoga class taught by Heart of the Village Yoga to emphasize the connection of strength and flexibility that skiing and snowboarding require. Other styles of yoga include hot yoga, laughter yoga, classes with animals, acroyoga, power yoga and yoga festivals.

"Countless studies show how meditation affects mood and symptoms in people with conditions such as cancer, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and pain, to name a few," Laramy said. "It also improves overall quality of life, supports the body's own ability to heal itself and brings a positive change in mental and emotional states. For example, stress related to anger and fear can put you at greater risk for heart disease, obesity, insulin resistance (which can lead to diabetes), and high triglycerides and low levels of high density lipoprotein or HDL (the good kind of cholesterol)."

Reach staff writer Makayla-Courtney McGeeney at 802-490-6471 or @MC_McGeeney.


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