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Shaping Up? Or Shipping Out?

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RALEIGH — One of the most popular New Year's resolutions people make is to get in shape. Trouble is, a lot of people who head out to the gym enthusiastically in January give it up before the year is half over. They want to shape up; instead, they ship out.

Fitness experts say the best way to stick to your resolution is to set realistic goals and not overdo it early on. They also say a personal trainer can help you stay motivated.

Half the battle is just making the commitment -- which many people do this time of year.

But exercising is very difficult for most people, which is one reason why it is difficult to stick with it.

The owner of Big Ape Gym in Raleigh says his membership numbers typically soar abut 60 percent at the start of every year. The problem is that lot of those people only last a few months.

"If they just start off kind of slowly and realize it's not just getting in shape so quickly but it's a way of life, most people would probably stay into it a lot more," says Todd Stark. Stark owns Big Ape Gym.

Something that can help you stick with the program is to know what you want to accomplish. Set goals.

That will also help you create your workout.

Personal trainers can help if you are having a little problem getting motivated.

"The client has to meet the trainer. The trainer is there to motivate, to keep the workout interesting, to keep it changing all the time, to keep clients focused on their goals," says Cindy Bross, a personal trainer.

Trainers will also make sure you do not overdo it.

You want to work out hard, but not so you are too sore to come back.

Or worse, injure yourself so trips to the gym will be out of the question for a long time.

A workout partner can also help motivate you the same way a trainer does.

As always, you want to see a doctor before you start any regular fitness schedule.

It is also a good idea to check out several fitness clubs to find one with an atmosphere that works for you.

Many health clubs offer free training so you know the right way to work out and to use the equipment.