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If You're Social

Group activities may be your best way to get in shape. Groups allow social butterflies to be around lots of people and enjoy camaraderie while also getting fit. Dancing is one of the most popular group activities.

If you like the gym, consider Zumba, the newest group exercise craze. That will get you moving and burning calories to Latin dance rhythms. Other choices include country line dancing, swing, salsa, hip hop, or ballroom dancing. If you have two left feet -- and no intention of reforming -- consider a running, walking, cycling, or hiking club. You'll share a common theme for your exercise, and you'll also enjoy the social networking that takes place outside the workouts.

If You Need Some Pointers

Consider hiring a certified professional. Walter Thompson, PhD, of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), says you should do the homework and find someone who's educated, experienced, and certified by a reputable organization such as the ACSM.

Many personal trainers are highly educated and experienced and have nationally recognized degrees and certifications. They tailor workouts to individual needs and frequently work with health care professionals to make special programs, like for people who are pregnant, elderly, on the mend, or physically challenged.

If you can't afford private sessions, consider teaming up with a friend or two -- or taking a group exercise class conducted by a trainer. Many group exercise instructors -- and even some experienced gym employees -- can be very knowledgeable about fitness.

If You Need Some Tough Love

Boot camps are another option that might suit you, especially if you're motivated by someone yelling at you. Named after the basic training that military troops undergo, boot camps are becoming increasingly popular around the country. They range from the mild to the maniacal, but all offer coaching and direction in a group setting.

In addition to a quasi-personal coach, you'll have the added benefit of peer pressure and competition in a boot camp. Everyone will be pushing to perform at maximum capacity, which will maximize your workouts and keep you motivated.

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