By James Fell

It's time to proactively synergize your core competencies toward an optimized fitness paradigm! Or something. Welcome to James Fell's Strategic Fitness series.

Much of the focus on fitness is on micro details of sets, reps, nutrient timing, blasting bigger biceps and shredding that last gram of fat from your midsection. I don't play there but rise above it. I'm a certified strength and conditioning specialist with an MBA, and strategic fitness is about the big picture of fitness, health and physical performance. We'll work on making you pretty from the neck down in a way that takes your entire life into account. First up? Your fitness bucket list.

Stay active forever by creating an exercise bucket list
OK, so the movie The Bucket List was a bit of a downer, but it can still teach us a thing or two about establishing goals and then setting out to achieve them. There is an adage in business that says, "What gets measured gets done," so setting a goal that you'll measure yourself against is a great way to prompt you to action.

Have you ever heard about the "Yale Study of Goals"? It's a fascinating story about how the 1953 graduating class was interviewed and only 3 percent of them had written specific goals for their futures. Twenty years later, those 3% were worth more financially than the other 97 percent combined.

Amazing! And a total crock.

It never happened.
No such study ever took place. I also find it amusing that Bill Phillips mentioned it in his bestselling book Body for Life -- along with a lot of other myths -- yet he couldn't even get the name of the fake study correct. He used the exact same details but called it "The Harvard Study." Oops and double oops.

Guys like Tony Robbins and Zig Ziglar have been all over this mythical study, touting it as more motivational pablum to go along with redesigning your mental blueprint whilst walking on hot coals, or something.

Anyway, if you’re going to try and motivate people, perhaps you should make sure the study you reference actually took place. Does writing goals down mean they’re more likely to be achieved? Maybe. I don't know. I've never written a goal down in my life. Moving right along, let's talk about this bucket list that is stored either on a hard drive, your neurons or the back of a napkin.

I've got exercise things I want to do. These are things that I am not currently capable of doing. I need to train harder to achieve them, and I'm 44 for crap’s sake. I still want to get in ever better shape. It's probably going to hurt to achieve most of these. I might puke. My wife thinks I'm crazy. Hell, I think I'm crazy.

I'm still going to do them, though. Barring some type of debilitating injury or illness, here is what I plan to do before I die:

-Run 10K in under 40 minutes. I don't know if this one is ever going to happen. I tried a year ago; the training was brutal and the race damn near killed me. I think that, had I chosen a flat and straight course, I would have made it, but I’m still thinking of giving it another go. I'll have to do it soon, though, because age is rapidly making this goal less and less achievable.

-I had on my list to run a marathon in under four hours, and I actually managed to do that on my first try with a time of 3:52. Now I'm starting to think about a Boston Marathon qualification, which when I turn 45 next year, will be a time of 3:25 (It used to be 3:30, but buggers made it harder two years ago).

-Complete an Ironman. If you don't know, this is a 2.4-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile cycle, followed by a full marathon (26.2 miles). In order to "finish" this race, you need to do it in under 17 hours. I'm shooting for under 14 hours, maybe even under 13. However, I'll consider just completing it in the required time a major accomplishment. As long as I finish it, I swear on a case of expensive beer that I only ever do one Ironman in my life. Oh, and did I mention that I suck at swimming? Yeah, there's that.

-Learn to surf, and at the same time hopefully overcome my fear of sharks, which developed when my parents dumped me at a movie theater when I was only 7 to see Jaws.

-Learn to snowboard. I fancy myself an accomplished skier, which I understand matters for diddly squat when you first strap on a snowboard.

-Do a 360 off a jump on skis. This one scares me more than anything else on this list.

-Do the Delirium Dive ski run at Sunshine Village. This is a ski run that requires you take a partner, an avalanche transceiver and a shovel. Don't tell my wife.

I've crossed a few other things off my bucket list, like doing a 20-foot cliff jump on skis, jumping off the “big one” -- which is about 50 feet high -- at Seebe cliffs into the Bow River in Alberta (this video says 90 feet, but it's not that high) and benching 315 pounds for one repetition.

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Doing those other seven -- making sure they get crossed off my mental list -- is going to take some work. It's going to keep me active and working hard for many years to come. This is why I think you should have your own exercise bucket list, because it's motivating.

It doesn't have to be as ambitious or downright stupidly dangerous as mine (or maybe it will be even scarier), but it's just got to be something you can’t do now. Something you need to reach for and train hard to achieve.

That way, when you finally do kick the bucket, you can look back on a life well lived -- as long as you don't die in the process doing one of the items on your list, that is. Yeah, be careful, OK?

Read more from James Fell: Mission Motivation: A Realistic Guide To Staying Fit