Keynote Address

Improving Fitness at Any Size

Melissa Taylor

Melissa Taylor, our Keynote Speaker
So, it was Christmas, 1993, and I parked at the local mall and as I walked into the building, I scanned for the closest bench. The walk from the parking lot had my lower back aching and me short of breath. I was never an avid shopper, nor athletic. Shopping had become more and more of a chore. I was 29.

Today I'm going to talk to you about FAT - and for you computer geeks out there, I am not talking about file allocation tables. FAT stands for FRIENDS, ACTIVITY AND TIME, the basic principles to exercising.

If there's anyone here who doesn't already know me, my name is Melissa Taylor. A few things about me…

How many of us go out to eat alone? Exercise is the same way. We are social animals.

Find a friend or family member that likes the same activities and ask them if they want to participate. You also become accountable in a small way. Some of the most conscientious attendees of my class come because they have made friends with other classmates. For example, if you attend a water aerobics class, say hi to someone near you… strike up a conversation, during a break. Before you know it, you will notice someone who works out at the same time… or a neighbor that walks at the same time… just say hi. I met my best friend in exercise class! Exercising and socializing makes the time fly by as you exercise.

Find something you enjoy doing. If you asked me what hobbies I enjoy, I would list lots of sedentary things… and dancing. I love to dance… some of you liked biking when you were younger. Did you know that some bike manufactures make three-wheeled bikes with high weight limits! If a formal exercise program does not appeal to you, find something in your life you already do that you can expound upon. Water exercises are good for people with physical problems. If you can't get in and out of a pool, then get a good sturdy chair and figure out a chair exercise routine.

Then there is physical therapy.

I'm going to pick on Elizabeth for a minute. You all know her; she's the seat belt lady. One morning her knee popped, and she ended up in a wheelchair for a few days. With crutches and a cane for a few weeks… physical therapy helped her get rid of the cane.

The last part of FAT… Making time for exercise is really the hardest part. Finding an activity can be fun… Making time for it is the stressful part. Get people in your life to respect your time. And one of those people is you. There are lots of things you do routinely, like brushing your teeth, washing your clothes, washing your hair. Exercise should be something that is on your schedule. It should not be something that you do when you have time to get to it. I know every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, where I am going to be at 7 p.m. That's my time.

Before I wrap up, I wanted to briefly discuss what certification entails. There is a gamut of certifying organizations with the majority having a physical practical test. I felt VERY intimidated by performing in that environment. I decided to go the academic route. Both of my certifications, ACE (the American Council on Exercise) and AEA (Aquatic Exercise Association) were objective tests, without a physical component. These certifications are considered some of the most respected certifications because the tests are difficult, especially for someone like me, who took geology classes in college. I was a business major!!

What I want you to take away tonight is the reminder that movement is good. Improving your fitness level:

Improving your fitness level is not rocket science. Improving your fitness is as simple as FAT. Friends, Activity, and Time

Find a friend, find an activity, and make time in your life for exercise. It's not easy, but if you make a place in your life for FAT you will improve your fitness level.

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