EVERYONE'S approach to fitness varies but have you ever wondered why some people can't wait to work out at the gym, while others announce proudly their aversion to activity?

We're all very different and those differences can also reflect in our approach to exercise. Below are some of my top tips on how you can improve your attitude to fitness in a day - no matter who you are.

The gym phobe

The gym phobe's aversion to exercise means she would rather miss a bus than catch it with a sprint.

Even when "fat, unfit and proud of it" friends started swapping their power suits and heels for tracksuits and trainers, the couch potato refuses to jog with the masses.

My advice: Try to incorporate more exercise into your everyday life, even if it is just involves walking to the shops instead of driving.

A successful and cheap way of motivating you to become active is to make a gym pact with a friend. But make sure it's the sort of programme you both enjoy and vary it to maintain interest levels.

Another good hint is to hire a personal trainer. Many people still think that they're the preserve of the rich and famous but they're actually more affordable than ever at about £25 a session.

If you're tempted to skive a session - don't. Leave a note on your fridge or TV reminding you why you must make the effort to get off the couch and go. It helps to set achievable goals - such as a holiday.

The time-starved

The spirit is willing to go running but unfortunately you have the ironing to do, the kids' tea to prepare and a million and one other chores to complete before you crash out.

My advice: If you enjoy exercise and want to incorporate it into your weekly schedule, you can always make time. It's just a matter of looking at how your day is structured and finding a free slot.

Remember, exercise doesn't have to be in a gym. Even daily activities such as general housework or playing with your kids can be a good opportunity to boost your fitness levels. Also, why not incorporate your family into an exercise programme? Long family walks in the countryside or rollerblading can keep you and your brood toned and feeling fantastic.

If you have children under five years old, you don't have to miss out on a gym session because many centres have crches. Also, a number of fitness centres hold specifically designed classes.

Little Miss Perfect

It's not hard to spot Little Miss Perfect across a crowded gym. Toned and enthusiastic, she sets an exercise programme of about three times a week or just keeps active daily because she enjoys the energy buzz she gets from it.

My advice: Well done for being committed to your fitness programme but beware of becoming obsessive about diet and work-outs.

Things can move quickly from taking a healthy interest in exercise to becoming an all consuming passion. Just as we all need to achieve a balance of work and play, it's also important to incorporate other social activities into your life.

So treat yourself once a week to some food you wouldn't normally eat and don't get upset if you miss a work out.

The fitness enthusiast

Your life revolves around a strict training schedule, boosting your self-esteem and energy levels. But while you think you are doing well, others believe you're body obsessed.

My advice: If you find yourself going to the gym five or more times a week, you could be doing yourself more damage than good.

Talk to an instructor or hire a personal trainer to work out a balanced programme - it's still possible to go to the gym daily, just make sure the work-outs are effective.

One day you could be working on your lower body and the next on the upper - that way you won't be putting too much strain on the same area's of the body. Plus, you are likely to see more positive results from your workouts.

Contact Nigel Davies at Fitness First, York on 01904 693322 with any of your fitness queries.

Exercise of the week - Single-leg squat


Stand 3-4ft in front of either an exercise ball (more challenging) or a flat bench placed behind you.


Extend one leg back and place that foot on top of the bench/ball while keeping your other foot firmly planted on the floor.

With your hands on your hips and your torso erect, lower your body into a deep knee bend by bending both knees until your front thigh is parallel to the floor.

Focusing on your glutes, press back up to the starting position and repeat for reps, then switch legs.

Training tip - don't allow your front knee to move over your toes, which places unwanted stress on the knee. Hold a pair of dumbbells to increase intensity.

Updated: 09:14 Monday, May 19, 2003