Sunday, November 14, 2010

Five Years of Personal Training

Wow -- I just realised that I've been a personal trainer and had my own studio for FIVE YEARS! I'm not sure how I didn't realize that until now (I just filed my re-certification papers)... but... wow!

I suppose it's gone by quickly because I LOVE what I do! I love helping people realize fitness goals and I love inspiring people to be active. If I can continue to do that on a daily basis I'm a happy camper. I also love being active, and teaching so many classes over the last few years has definitely kept me in shape!

Here's to the next five!

Friday, August 06, 2010

The New You Program – It’s all about changing people’s perspective on health and fitness!

Personal Trainer Verna Chan, of The Garage Private Personal Training Studio in Gibsons, Naturopathic Physician Jane Gartshore and Carole Carlton of Carole Cares Mobile Massage, are teaming up to offer a program unique on the Sunshine Coast starting this September.

The New You Fitness & Lifestyle Challenge combines a 6-week program of fitness (including personal training, fitness classes and yoga) with nutritional counselling and massage to help clients ease back into a fitness program while gradually changing their diet in a healthy manner with one-on-one nutritional counselling sessions and classes.

Chan says the fitness portion of the program will be geared to all fitness levels and incorporate a variety of activities aimed at starting participants off with a good overall program but also working toward finding something each participant will adopt as routine long after the program is over. “My goal is to help each person foster healthy fitness habits that will become a natural part of their lives—and, to me, that means working with them individually to help them find things they really like to do—whether that’s re-starting a sport, getting into running, biking, weight training at the gym, swimming, skiing, skating or playing Frisbee with the kids!”

Dr. Jane Gartshore, of Unbounded Naturopathic Clinic in Gibsons, will further help participants with this Lifestyle Change by helping them with nutritional guidance through the whole program. Participants will attend a nutrition class to help them determine their individual dietary requirements and advice on such things as how to eat to maximize the benefits of their workouts.

Participants will be asked to keep a diet and exercise log for the first couple of weeks of the program and will have an opportunity to go over their logs privately with Dr. Gartshore to discuss any challenges they might be facing. In the last week of the program, participants will again meet with Dr. Gartshore to discuss their goals and progress and ways they can continue their new healthy eating habits.

Rounding out this program, Carole Carleton, of Carole Cares Mobile Massage, will be offering a little soothing relief to participants with massages in the first and last weeks of the program. The program will also conclude with a group dinner at Chaster House Restaurant where draw prizes will be awarded. Additionally, the participant showing the best overall progress will be awarded a package including additional Personal Training Sessions at The Garage, a hair makeover from Hair We Are in Gibsons, a photo shoot with Christina Symons, a reiki treatment with Dr. Gartshore, and more.

The first New You Fitness & Lifestyle Challenge is set to start September 7th with a maximum of 6 participants. To find out how to register for this exciting program, please call Verna Chan at 604-886-3114 or email

Friday, April 23, 2010

The secret to losing weight..., and will always be, ESSENTIALLY, calories in and calories out.

Yes, that's right. To lose weight you need to burn more calories than you consume. And, unless you're in the extreme minority who has some medical condition that causes you to hold onto weight; or you're using some medication that has that effect, it's a math game.

I'm not a fan of "diets". I would rather people focus on eating a healthy, reasonable amount of food and well-balanced meals. And, rather than exercising to burn calories to lose weight, I would rather they focus on cardio to improve their cardiovascular system to feel more energetic and improve lung capacity and strengthen the heart; building core strength to help posture and balance; and increasing overall strength to improve bone density, protect joints, increase blood flow and support organs--exercising also naturally improves your mood and overall body image. I have a bioimpedence scale in my gym (and, really, this can only be used as rough measure--but it's still a decent benchmark) and I encourage clients to focus on decreasing their overall percentage of body fat. Having been active my whole life, dieting to lose weight is something I have never done. That's right. Never.

But I digress. Back to calories in and calories out. I have had many clients come to me wanting to lose weight. Many are not aware how much they are consuming or how much they need to consume to lose the pounds they want to lose or how much is safe to lose. Here are a few figures to work with; a few things to think about:
  • You need to burn 3500 calories to lose 1 pound - losing 2 1/2 lbs a week is a safe amount to target.
  • By creating a 500 calorie deficit per day, you should lose 1 lb/week.
  • The calories you need to consume is different for everyone depending on your current weight, height, bone density, and level of activitiy. It also differs if you are breast-feeding, etc. There are many on-line resources you can use to quickly figure it out... Here's one! (click)
  • If you are exercising a lot, you will need to consume more calories to have the energy to exercise--having many small meals a day to regulate blood sugar is a good way to stave off hunger and binging and keep your energy through the day.
  • If you are strength training (heavily) you will gain muscle--having muscle helps you burn more calories naturally--fat does not turn into muscle... and, if you stop exercising, muscle will not turn into fat.
  • Muscle does weigh more than fat but you would have to be exercising like a competitive body builder to have this be a significant factor in any weight gain you experience when you start exercising--it's also almost impossible to, at the same time, gain muscle and lose a significant amount of weight--bodybuilders recognize this by going through cutting and gaining cycles--it's a fine balance.
  • Watch portions -- a serving of meat, for example, should be, roughly, the size of your palm!
  • Drink 8 cups of water a day, cut white sugar, white flour, and highly processed foods.
  • Eat breakfast!
One of the most important things you can do for yourself if you're wanting to get healthy and lose weight is to find activities you really like and do them!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Balance Training

In the past couple of years I've worked with personal training clients who vary in age and condition from 18 year old track & field athletes to 80+ year old people who are trying to make better use of walkers. The central theme that runs through training for all ages and activities is balance. And where does balance come from? It's not from having highly developed muscles on any particular part of your body; it's developing the stabilizing muscles around the spine and joints.... and that highly misused sports word of the moment - "core".

But think about it. What keeps you upright? What keeps your spine straight and your posture erect? Muscles around the spine... abdominals and lower back... What keeps you from falling when you are losing your balance? (I've been observing a lot of this recently with rollerskating as we attempt to build a roller derby team!) A myriad of muscles around your knees,  ankles and hips. An amazing and seemly innate ability to "right" ourselves?

Balance can actually be learned and/or improved by putting ourselves in positions of instability and "dealing" with these situations as much as possible. This is why running on a treadmill will never replace running outside (especially on uneven terrain such as trails); and why using weight machines in the gym will never be as good for getting us ready for "real world" activities as using free weights--especially combined with stability challenges. We don't often lift something through a single isolated plane of motion with every other muscle completely stationary.

So, for today, let's all stand on one foot at a time periodically throughout the day and repeat this mantra: Balance.....

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Why Bootcamp?

I started teaching bootcamp classes a couple of years ago (wow, it doesn't seem that long!) for a couple of reasons:

1 - I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world with spaces that are ideal for outdoor activity--quiet beaches minutes from my house with beautiful views, lovely running trails, gentle breezes, mild weather...

2 - Classes are an affordable way to stay motivated to get in shape with a group of people!

People hear the words "boot camp" and images come to mind of a relentless slave driver of an instructor in camo garb barking orders in your face... "whimp!" and "drop and give me 20!"... or some such. And I suppose there are instructors like that. I'm just not one of them.

To me it's just great to utilize the natural outdoor beauty and weather of the coast and be able to get out of the gym and do something fun and help people at the same time. I really do love the results people get--and the loyal bootcampers who keep coming back month after month (it's really quite addictive!) telling me how great they feel; how much more energy they have; their pride at being able to do push-ups or not feel winded going up stairs; and yes, losing weight... And having a group of motivated people around you can also help keep you motivated. They keep me motivated to keep looking for new things to keep them motivated. I'm also probably in the best shape I've been in in my life.

Another reason I love it is it allows me to show people how little equipment they really need to get/stay in shape! Honestly, you can do a class with nothing more than a decent pair of runners (a mat is nice to have though). There are endless possibilities of challenging body weight exercises -- you could stay in decent shape doing a selection of a few of them--isn't that a great thing to know when you're short on space, time, and/or money?

I'm excited to be starting bootcamps again in the next month (we've started an early morning indoor/outdoor one for the time being)--the beach, the invigorating sea air... have I mentioned the wildlife? Last year, in addition to the eagles and cranes, we saw bears, otters, and seals!

Hello Spring! Welcome back beach and bootcampers!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Happy February! (Where did January go?!)
It’s been a busy January with new classes starting and everyone anxious to shed those winter pounds and start getting in shape for spring! Exercise is also a great way to beat those winter blues so I encourage you all to get out and enjoy the spring-like weather (especially when it’s not raining) and take a walk along the beach or hike a trail!

I have a few classes to let you know about:

Body Sculpt – Through February and March Body Sculpt will continue at The Garage on Monday Evenings at 7:30 pm. This class is great for those who want a full-body workout with some cardio intervals—go at your own pace this class is suitable for all fitness levels! $50/month. There are still a couple of spots available this month—I will pro-rate those who join late!

Butts & Guts – Continues at the Gibsons Rec. Centre on Monday Evenings at 5:30 pm through April 5 (next session starts February 22nd). Info at SCRD online (Info ) ... register at the Gibsons or Sechelt Rec. Centres or on-line at SCRD Registration.

Yoga (NOW ALSO AVAILABLE TUESDAYS!) – Thursday night yoga with Tanya Flynn continues – please email me to reserve your spot for February (drop-ins may also be available—email me to see if we have room). We are also starting Tuesday night yoga with Siobhan Smith on February 16th – call me at 604-996-3114 or email me to reserve.

Indoor/Outdoor Bootcamp – Morning Bootcamp classes will begin Monday, March 1st with evening classes beginning in April. Please let me know if you are interested in 6a or 7a classes for March – these classes will take place in the studio in rainy weather with a minimum registration of 4 and maximum of 8 – we will move to Bonniebrook Beach in April. All fitness levels are welcome!

Strength Training for Paddling in Sechelt – This class begins Tuesday, February 16th thru April 8th Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7:15 – 8:15. Emphasis on strength for paddling sports (Dragon boats, kayaking, etc.) and stretching, all fitness levels welcome. This class will take place at the Sechelt Indian Band Hall and is just $60 for 18 classes. Please email me if you are interested in attending!

Monday, January 04, 2010

WInter Classes

60-Day Ultimate Fitness Challenge – Jan 11– Mar 5 – Offered through the Gibsons & Area Rec Centre
What's your game? Whether you are training for your sport or just wanting to improve your overall fitness level and health, this class guarantees improvement in strength, endurance, agility and core in 60 days.

Utilizing many body-weight exercises and agility drills in a circuit-style workout 3 mornings per week you will work every muscle group; heart-pumping cardio intervals will ensure you continually challenge your body and are a great way to boost metabolism and improve endurance. Are you ready for the challenge?

Times: M/W/F - 6:30 am

Register online at

2010 Fitness Challenge Bootcamp – From Mar 8 – Oct 1
Increase strength, cardio ability and agility with this no-nonsense 60-minute workout that incorporates many callisthenic movements and bodyweight exercises and ends with relaxing stretches. T

This class will begin with a fitness assessment and weigh-in and measure. There will also be a weigh-in/measure at the completion of the class. Class includes complementary t-shirts and water bottles and prize give-aways at a complementary wrap-up breakfast or tea!

Instructor: Verna Chan
Dates/Times – Mar thru May: 6:30 am & 7 pm. June thru Sept: 6 am, 7 am and 7 pm
Cost: $180/month first-timers/$160 for continuing bootcampers!

Butts & Guts – Offered through the Gibsons & Area Rec Centre
This 60 minute class targets- you guessed it! Butts and guts with core strengthening and butt tightening moves utilizing stability balls, bands and small dumbbells. All moves can be adjusted for skill and fitness levels of individual participants making it suitable for all ages and levels. Please wear clean indoor running shoes.

Time: Mon - 5:30 pm

Register online at

Body Sculpt – Strengthen, stretch and sweat! (Body Sculpt will not be available for this quarter)
This 60-minute class incorporating resistance bands, stability and bosu balls will give you a balanced workout in the comfort of our private studio. Small class sizes mean you get individual attention and instruction!

Instructor: Verna Chan
Dates/Times - Mon - 7:30 pm; Thurs - 5:30 pm
Cost: $50/month

Free Weight Circuit
This weight training circuit is my sponsorship for the fledgling Sunshine Coast Roller Derby League. It is, however, open to anyone who would like to attend. Donations of non-perishable food items or cash to benefit the Gibsons food bank are gratefully accepted!

Instructor: Verna Chan
Dates/Times - Thurs - 8:30 pm

Yoga combines active postures with relaxing static postures for overall increased flexibility, strength, balance and peace of mind. Beginning with breath work to prepare the body and quiet the mind, we will move through classic yoga postures to get energy flowing throughout your body. Then we will move into quieter postures that naturally reach deeper connective tissues, and encourage ease in the body and patience in the mind. Class length – 75 minutes.

Everyone welcome novice and more experienced yogis. All you need is comfortable clothing that allows a full range of body motion.

Instructor: Tanya Flynn
Date/Time: Thurs - 7 pm
Cost: $50 Month

Note: Classes will be held with a minimum registration of 4 – if you would like to attend classes (excludes Bootcamp) on a drop-in basis we will be happy to email you if we have space. Drop in - $13/class. If you are unable to attend your pre-registered class please call or email us – if we are able to fill your spot, you will be credited $10/class on your next months’ registration.
(Monthly registration required for each class – Classes will not be held on statutory holidays)