The Shape of Your Life: Month Five

The final installment of our five-month fitness plan fine-tunes your balance and agility. But that doesn't mean your work is done. After all, you've got a lifetime of adventure ahead of you.

Laird Hamilton SUP

Heading home: Shape of Your Life adviser Laird Hamilton demonstrates stand-up paddle-surfing, an old-school Hawaiian wave-riding technique.     Photo: Kurt Markus

The Plan

Improve your balance and agility with the fifth installment in our interactive training plan.

BY NOW YOU'RE PROBABLY WONDERING: Are we there yet?

We are. But the journey to total fitness consciousness never really ends—and the road to follow-through is fraught with peril. To maintain the Shape of Your Life and reach athletic nirvana, you must make stamina, flexibility, and reinvention your repeated mantras.

I know what you're thinking: The guy has lost it. Quite the contrary, and you will soon see why. To explain, permit me to briefly rehash my own fitness sob story.

It all began over a year ago, after a botched attempt to get chiseled on the cheap six weeks before surf season left me burnt out and chronically irritable. When Outside decided to mark its 25th anniversary with a fitness plan promoting the performance breakthroughs of the last two and a half decades, I jumped at the chance to learn from my own mistakes. And as I pored over the fitness flotsam of the American media landscape—glossy magazines with six-pack cover models and stale self-help books in permanent residence on the best-seller lists—it became clear that fitness had been boiled down to one uninspiring goal: looking good. Which isn't good enough. Getting fit shouldn't require choosing between advice designed to make you feel guilty or to pander to the vanity of chest waxers. So we decided to create a new kind of plan—one that promised not only to get you primed for inspiring outdoor adventure, but also to sustain you for the rest of your days.

Well, if you've been ghosting me on this odyssey, consider the first promise fulfilled. By now you've rebuilt your endurance engine through periodized heart-rate training; and by lifting weights to develop your core you've acquired strength that translates to real-world sports. You've embraced granola-free flexibility through Ashtanga yoga and, with your fitness foundation built, unlocked your speed and power with plyometrics. Now, in the final installment of the Shape of Your Life plan, we'll explore the secrets of balance and agility. And then? After 20 periodized weeks, you'll be ready for the whole point of this endeavor: to meet the challenge of that autumn triathlon, paddling trip, ten-kilometer run, five-day trek through the mountains—anything, really—in the best shape of your life.

That was the easy part. To deliver our second promise—keeping you there—this month we've done some heavy lifting of our own. On the following pages, we'll show you the only eight items you'll ever need in a home gym, share sage advice from the country's most innovative fitness advisers, and provide the essential principles you'll need to be your own personal trainer. Then we'll explain exactly how to take this five-month plan and turn it into an endlessly renewable blueprint for the Shape of Your Life. Congratulations. You've finished the journey—but the end is really just the beginning.

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