Anita Royka

 By Anita Royka

Everyone, everywhere is talking about getting fit . . . so maybe it’s time to jump on the bandwagon.  But what does that mean?  “Do I have to lift weights to be fit?  Do I have to do yoga to be fit?  Do I have to . . . gulp . . . run a marathon to be fit?  Is this getting or being “fit” thing even for me?”

 Yes, yes it is!  And yes, you should do pretty much all of that.  Well, actually, relax . . . you should spend some time on each of those components of fitness to be “fit”. You need some type of strength training, some type of flexibility training and some type of cardiovascular training.  But why are all three of these things important and how are they different?

 Let’s start with weight/strength training. In my opinion, this aspect of fitness will give you the most bang for your buck.  Check out these benefits: Strength training will have the most significant impact on raising your metabolism, and because of that, it is the most important (behind good nutrition) component for weight loss and body fat reduction. Cool, right? Strength training is also the best way to improve bone density, and it positively affects many of the medical issues we deal with today like heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and depression to name only a few!

Yoga or flexibility training . . . why should you care about flexibility if you’re not trying to be a Rockette?  For starters, a lack of flexibility can greatly affect balance and mobility, which is important to us at any age.  Being flexible can also reduce our risk of injury because our muscles are more pliable.  Posture is improved, and stress can be reduced with yoga or flexibility training.  And as you age, your tendons become more fibrous and we lose our flexibility that we had more naturally in our youth. But you CAN improve it!

And lastly, let’s address cardiovascular fitness (aka, running, swimming, biking, etc).  The benefits of cardiovascular training are usually thought of in only the realm of improved heart health. But it is also a powerful agent in the management of diabetes, managing your hormonal profile, and another biggie . . . stress release!!  Regular cardiovascular work will improve your daily energy, get you up stairs and hills easier and spikes your metabolism while you are doing it. Oh, and did I mention stress relief? Yeah, it’s worth stating twice!

So do you have to run a marathon to be fit?  No, not really.  But if you’re toying with the idea of running a 5k, 10k, half marathon or full, you should absolutely work on checking that off your bucket list.  As a personal trainer, I address all the above areas of being “fit”.  But 6 months out of the year, I am also a running coach.  My husband and I coach a team to run the half or full marathon for the Country Music Marathon and it is one of our greatest joys.  We get to lead a group of amazing individuals of different ages, different fitness levels, different motivations for running . . . and all come together to address a common goal, becoming like family in the process . . . and we cross that finish line.  My advice to those who are not sure if it’s for you is to get out there on April 25th and be a cheerleader and spectator.  But beware . . . the inspiration of all you will witness on that day is powerful . . . and don’t be surprised if you are moved enough to make you look for a training group yourself for the 2016 CMM!


Anita Royka is a Certified Personal Trainer and RRCA Certified Running Coach for InnerStrength, a Nashville based Personal Training Company.  She and her husband, Matt Royka, are coaching a team of runners for the half and full Country Music Marathon for the 16th consecutive year. For more information, visit