Hello to Fit’s Fitness Commandments

The term “fitness commandments” can be daunting, especially if someone is new to exercise and the ever-evolving fitness world. The media is saturated with rules about when to workout, how often we should exercise, and movements we should avoid at all costs. Eye-catching magazine article titles can be catchy, but they don’t always contribute to our long-term health and fitness goals.

As a fitness enthusiast and personal trainer, I’ve learned a lot in the past ten years: how to manage/recover from injury, how to set people up for success in goal setting, and how to push the limits safely and effectively.

I’m not going to say I know it all when it comes to success in health and fitness. That would be 100% false. I won’t tell you that this post is basically the secret juice you need to make it big in 2016. I’m DEFINITELY not saying that my fitness commandments are YOUR fitness commandments. But I’m willing to share five commandments that I’ve grown to cherish during my journey as a trainer – rules that I share with my clients and try to uphold on my own.

Real talk right here, you guys.

Hello to Fit’s Fitness Commandments

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Hello to Fit's Fitness Commandments | Hello to Fit

I dare you to try this wall plank (click here to read my guest post on Cass’s site)!

One of the most challenging things to do if when working out by my lonesome is to get out of my comfort zone. It’s easy and comforting to lift the same dumbbells, do the same exercises, and work at a lower intensity than I would if someone were coaching me. And I’ll just go out on a limb and say that the majority of gym-goers are the same. My clients are routinely told that they’re stronger than they think! It’s rare (but it happens) to see someone pushing him/herself to the limit – safely but effectively.

By doing our best to stick to this rule of thumb, we can be sure that our bodies will progress and improve the way we want them to. The result? A healthier, fitter you!

Know When to Modify

Hello to Fit's Fitness Commandments | Hello to Fit

By the same token, we must learn to listen to our bodies and know when to modify. These first two commandments sound like opposites, but your body will thank you when you start to realize the threshold – when to push and when to either back off or stop.

It was a close call for me a couple of months ago when I strained my hamstring. Not long after writing up this post about proximal hamstring tears in yoga, my right hamstring started to feel touchy and irritated. If I hadn’t known any better, I would have most likely pushed through it in yoga and actually tear it! *Whew*

As we practice not only getting out of our comfort zones but know when to modify, we’ll begin to find that sweet spot of workout intensity. Basically striving for that Goldilocks life.

Become BFFs with Planks

Hello to Fit's Fitness Commandments | Hello to Fit

You knew I was going to include this as a commandment, didn’t you? One of the big things about this blog is my emphasis on core strength and gettin’ real close to those planks. We do them to not only FEEL stronger, but BE stronger. Stronger core muscles (abs, back, chest, shoulders, hips) contribute to more stable bodies and more aligned spines. Planks can also help to set up the foundation for multi-joint exercises like squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, etc.

Related: Strengthen Your Core with This 3-limb Plank

Know Basic Lifting Form

Hello to Fit's Fitness Commandments | Hello to Fit

Hello to Fit's Fitness Commandments | Hello to Fit

Quick question: did anyone else cringe after seeing the first photo of a very incorrect deadlift?

Every trainer’s pet peeve is seeing poor form on the fitness floor. I do my best to coach correct form with my clients, and wouldn’t be able to live with myself if this wasn’t a fitness commandment. If you guessed that poor form can lead to injury, ding! you are right!

Performing an exercise correctly is easier on the eyes AND the body Smile with tongue out. If we can take the time to learn basic form cues for common exercises (squats, deadlifts, push-ups), we will not only avoid injury but lift more efficiently.

Related: Back to the Basics: Romanian deadlift

Commit to this as a LIFESTYLE, not as a Quick-Fix

Hello to Fit's Fitness Commandments | Hello to Fit

But you already knew that, too. Otherwise, you wouldn’t visit this blog so often, right? If planks and core strength are one of the defining topics of Hello to Fit, “quick fixes” are most certainly NOT.

As soon as we realize that “fitness” is not looking like a Victoria’s Secret model, we can commit to fitness as a lifestyle. When we realize that being “healthy” can include eating real, creamy, sugary ice cream, we can live without guilt and a rollercoaster relationship with food. We we acknowledge that improved fitness is not gained overnight – or possibly even six weeks – we can sleep at night, knowing that it’s a journey, not a destination.

Sorry, but I’m not sorry for that corny statement.

Have you signed up for my weekly newsletter yet? Join the tribe here to learn tips and tricks (outside of the regular blog posts), as well as a FREE workout checklist printable!

Let’s hear it:

  • Tell me your fitness commandments!
  • Do you strive for any of the above commandments?
  • How do you like to plank?
  • Do you have any goals for 2016?

By Jess

Jess is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and yoga teacher. She enjoys sharing her passion and enthusiasm for health and fitness with friends, family, clients, and readers.

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  • Annmarie

    December 29, 2015 at 7:47 am

    I think knowing when to modify is SO important! There are times when my ego gets in the way and it has bitten me in the butt 😛
    Annmarie recently posted…Win an iHerb.com Shopping Spree!My Profile

    1. Jess

      December 29, 2015 at 12:43 pm

      Same! Hehe *oh yeah I can totally forward fold all the way down with straight legs in yoga* >> strained HS

  • Sarah @ Sarah’s on the Run

    December 29, 2015 at 8:07 am

    This is great list–love it! And you’re so right, fitness definitely isn’t about looking like a Victoria Secret model.. it’s about feeling good about yourself and finding something you love!
    Sarah @ Sarah’s on the Run recently posted…TOTR: Running Survey!My Profile

    1. Jess

      December 29, 2015 at 12:42 pm

      Thanks, Sarah!! Getting past the aesthetics is where we’ll be able to find the lifestyle, right?

  • Susie @ SuzLyfe

    December 29, 2015 at 8:48 am


    1. Jess

      December 29, 2015 at 12:41 pm

      Emoji with the hands up ^^ ^^

  • Julie @ Running in a Skirt

    December 29, 2015 at 9:05 am

    I’d def say plank it out is one of my commandments. Such a powerful exercise!
    Julie @ Running in a Skirt recently posted…The Ultimate Healthy Sam’s Club Shopping ListMy Profile

    1. Jess

      December 29, 2015 at 12:39 pm

      Awesome!! They really are powerful 🙂

  • Jen @ Pretty Little Grub

    December 29, 2015 at 9:36 am

    These are great rules to live by. I need to remember that plank one more often!
    Jen @ Pretty Little Grub recently posted…2015 Goals ReviewedMy Profile

    1. Jess

      December 29, 2015 at 12:39 pm

      Thanks, Jen!! We can all get by with a little help from our friend, planks 😉 haha

  • Brittany

    December 29, 2015 at 10:00 am

    Excuse me, I have to go plank now. K BYEE!

    Love these.
    Brittany recently posted…Simplify, Minimize, BalanceMy Profile

    1. Jess

      December 29, 2015 at 12:38 pm

      LOL! It can’t be escaped!

  • Jen

    December 29, 2015 at 10:01 am

    I am alllll about these commandments! The form commandment is my BIGGEST one. It pains be so much to see improper form. And I totally agree that fitness is a lifestyle, not a quick fix!
    Jen recently posted…NEW YEAR’S GOALS 2016 + BLOG UPDATES!My Profile

    1. Jess

      December 29, 2015 at 12:37 pm

      Woohoo!! Glad we’re on the same page, Jen 🙂 although I figured as much <3

  • Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious

    December 29, 2015 at 10:21 am

    Oh my goodness I nearly died when I saw that picture! BUT you know the visual is good for people to see to know what NOT to do.
    Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious recently posted…Why You Should Stop Waiting To Get HealthyMy Profile

    1. Jess

      December 29, 2015 at 12:36 pm

      Hahaha sorry!! But yes, I think it can be helpful to show both 🙂

  • Daisy @ Fit Wanderlust Runner

    December 29, 2015 at 10:29 am

    It is definitely a lifestyle change! Going out of my comfort zone has been a big part of my training the past few years. From doing my first triathlon, to starting to to lift weights, to even proper stretching, I’ve grown so much on my training.
    Daisy @ Fit Wanderlust Runner recently posted…Current Life Update: Review of 2015 Resolutions/GoalsMy Profile

    1. Jess

      December 29, 2015 at 12:36 pm

      It’s cool how when all of those are used together, we can be well-rounded and feelin’ pretty good 🙂 Hope you have a great day!

  • Bri

    December 29, 2015 at 10:41 am

    These are great Jess! And I totally went “Nnooooooo!” when I saw that first deadlifting picture, haha!
    Bri recently posted…My three goals for 2016My Profile

    1. Jess

      December 29, 2015 at 12:25 pm

      HAHA it looks so painful, and I was almost worried that I was going to pull a muscle or something!

  • Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine

    December 29, 2015 at 11:44 am

    Getting out of that comfort zone is key! Something I always have to remind myself of too! It’s so easy to just keep the same routine and not continually challenge yourself!
    Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine recently posted…Top 10 Posts From 2015My Profile

    1. Jess

      December 29, 2015 at 12:24 pm

      You’re exactly right! It’s darn hard to get out of our comfort zones, sometimes 🙂

  • Brie @ Lean, Clean, & Brie

    December 29, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Ooh I love this! These are so great for beginners and more advanced alike, especially that it is a lifestyle and certainly not a quick fix!
    Brie @ Lean, Clean, & Brie recently posted…Peanut Butter Cranberry Blondies + Hamilton Beach GIVEAWAYMy Profile

    1. Jess

      January 1, 2016 at 4:47 pm

      Definitely!! Now, how to educate everyone about it? hehe. Happy new year!

  • John

    December 29, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    Awesome Moves! I just stumbled across your blog and can’t begin to imagine how much my girlfriend is going to love it. Cant wait to share it with her 🙂 Thanks and hope you have a great new year!
    John recently posted…Build Mass Gain MuscleMy Profile

    1. Jess

      January 1, 2016 at 4:45 pm

      Thanks, John! Happy new year, and thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • Jenn – a traveling Wife

    December 29, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    YES!! Also, that lifting form – I can’t stop cringing.
    Jenn – a traveling Wife recently posted…FITNESS 2015My Profile

    1. Jess

      January 1, 2016 at 4:44 pm

      Hahaha it’s not pretty, I know 😉

  • Farrah

    December 29, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    Completely agreed with all of these, but especiallyyyy the last one! <3 That was our motto for one of my undergrad majors too ("exercise biology–it's not just a major; it's a lifestyle"). :]!
    Farrah recently posted…Best of Fairyburger 2015My Profile

    1. Jess

      January 1, 2016 at 4:44 pm

      Haha love it! Exercise biology is a cool name for a major!

  • Sarah @ BucketListTummy

    December 29, 2015 at 9:34 pm

    I’m an avid runner slowly working to incorporate more strength training into my routine..I definitely think the form point is so important. I need to work on my form!

    1. Jess

      January 1, 2016 at 4:44 pm

      That’s great, Sarah! The strength trainer can definitely improve your running, too!

  • Kristen

    December 30, 2015 at 12:07 am

    I love these commandments! As a seasoned runner, I’m guilty of these sometimes! And for the newbies, it’s overwhelming the first time you try something new in the gym so these are great tips for people who might be new to exercise or a certain class/activity. Great post!
    Kristen recently posted…Home For Christmas!My Profile

    1. Jess

      January 1, 2016 at 4:43 pm

      Thanks for the feedback, Kristen! I hope that these commandments can apply to everyone on the fitness spectrum 🙂

  • Angela @ Happy Fit Mama

    December 30, 2015 at 6:15 am

    Cringing at the deadlift posture! That just looks painful but sadly it’s done all the time. And I love that you planking is a commandment. Well, because, it’s kind of a big deal.

    1. Jess

      January 1, 2016 at 4:42 pm

      Hahah it’s bad 😛
      Happy new year, Angela!

  • Christina

    December 30, 2015 at 6:54 am

    I love this, Jess! Especially the last one 🙂 that’s one of my ‘commandments’, too. You are such a badass!!
    Christina recently posted…The Blissful Balance 2015 Blog BreakdownMy Profile

    1. Jess

      January 1, 2016 at 4:42 pm

      Hehe thanks, Christina!

  • jill conyers

    December 30, 2015 at 7:53 am

    Great commandments Jess and I agree with absolutely all of them. I’m going to see if I can get my husband to try that partner plank in your photo 🙂

    I have blogging goals and an action plan set. Now to do the same for fitness. Any and all planks!

    1. Jess

      January 1, 2016 at 4:40 pm

      Ooo fun! Take a pic if you guys get the partner plan k:)

  • Rachel

    December 30, 2015 at 8:09 am

    I LOVE this!! And yes I totally cringed in your first form picture 😉 These are so important, especially knowing when to modify and knowing proper form. It’s so easy to get hurt or over do it if these are compromised!
    Rachel recently posted…Chocolate Porter Whole Wheat Banana BreadMy Profile

    1. Jess

      January 1, 2016 at 4:40 pm

      Hahah it looks terrible, I know!
      And yes, you are so right – modifications and form are crucial!

  • Charlotte

    December 30, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    Great reminders. Especially getting reacquainted with proper form. I sometimes see the bad hunched over position from people at the gym, and I do cringe.

    1. Jess

      January 1, 2016 at 4:35 pm

      Thanks, Charlotte!

  • Erin @ Erin’s Inside Job

    December 30, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    Good list! And I did cringe when I saw that deadlift picture. I was like NOOOO YOUR POOR SPINE!
    Erin @ Erin’s Inside Job recently posted…6 Parallels Between Healthy Living and RecoveryMy Profile

    1. Jess

      January 1, 2016 at 4:22 pm

      Haha and to some people deadlift like that! Gahh

  • lindsay

    December 31, 2015 at 7:34 am

    i feel like i need this taped to my friend. Great reminders friend. I will OBEY your commands any day
    lindsay recently posted…Rainbow Power Greens Salad with Black Eyed Peas {Vegan, Gluten Free}My Profile

    1. Jess

      January 1, 2016 at 4:21 pm

      Haha I knew I could count on you to agree with the commandments 😉

  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More

    December 31, 2015 at 11:05 am

    OMG, I totally cringed when I first saw your Deadlift photo…I was so relieved to see the photo below! 🙂

    Also…testing 1, 2… 😉

    1. Jess

      December 31, 2015 at 11:11 am

      Hahah I was afraid it would cause me back pain 😛

      Testing 123! 😉

  • Julie @ Running in a Skirt

    January 1, 2016 at 8:19 am

    Love this post! I could not agree more! Thanks for linking up! #BestofBlogs
    Julie @ Running in a Skirt recently posted…December’s Best of the Blogs LinkupMy Profile

  • Julie @ Running in a Skirt

    January 1, 2016 at 8:23 am

    Sharing in twitter for you too 🙂
    Julie @ Running in a Skirt recently posted…December’s Best of the Blogs LinkupMy Profile

    1. Jess

      January 1, 2016 at 4:18 pm

      Thanks so much!

  • Cayanne Marcus

    January 1, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    I am sooo feeling these commandments! There was definitely a time when I thought modifying exercises on a workout was a sign of weakness..now I view it as a sign of building up my strength. And that wall plank reminds me of the Blogilates off the wall mashup workout! One of my faves I have a feeeling you’d love, Jess 🙂
    Cayanne Marcus recently posted…Project “Bikini Body” Break Up (Part 2)My Profile

    1. Jess

      January 1, 2016 at 4:15 pm

      YES – love that you have discovered the power of modifying, Cayanne 🙂
      I need to check out that Blogilates off the wall workout…sounds intense 😉

  • Chrissa – Physical Kitchness

    January 1, 2016 at 9:51 pm

    Seriously fantastic post Jess! The modification point – so key. This is by far the hardest thing for me. I used be able to bust out ANYTHING but since having my son and having major ab separation and an umbilical hernia, I have to modify a lot of ab work. And I am finally realizing, IT’S OK!
    Chrissa – Physical Kitchness recently posted…Quick and Dirty 7 Minute HIITMy Profile

  • Sarah Grace

    January 2, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    Love this Jess! Knowing when to modify is SO important. And I’m not going to lie, my arms have gotten a leedle weak and and I’m back to knee push ups : P

    Sarah Grace recently posted…1 Week Sugar Detox to start 2016!My Profile

    1. Jess

      January 10, 2016 at 9:22 pm

      Haha no worries about that!! You an always improve, right?? XOXO

  • Julia @ Lord Still Loves Me

    January 2, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    Love all of this Jess! I especially like that you’re not insinuating anyone force themselves to do anything. It’s all about finding that balance but still improving. Thank you for spreading such a healthy mindset!
    Julia @ Lord Still Loves Me recently posted…2016 New Year’s ResolutionsMy Profile

    1. Jess

      January 10, 2016 at 9:21 pm

      Aw, thanks for the kind words, Julia!!

  • Tommy

    January 11, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    You’re right. Committing to a healthy lifestyle is not easy but it is definitely worth it! Your fitness commandments will definitely help people in achieving their fitness goals for the new year! 🙂

    1. Jess

      January 23, 2016 at 10:33 am

      Thanks, Tommy!! It’s all about balance, right?

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