Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Everyone wants these abs! How do you get them?

I wonder if I had abs like these in the days when my life was ALL about sports? In high school (if I wasn't in a class) I was playing basketball, tennis, or volleyball... I did whatever sport I could fit into my schedule that was in season--track and field, table tennis, field hockey, softball... I skipped, ran, swam, skated (roller and ice), hiked, rock-climbed and biked. (I tried skiing as well but, really, I'm not big on snow and cold).

I honestly don't remember in all those years thinking about what I looked like or what I weighed... and I never obsessed about what I ate. 

Probably, though, I never had abs like these. These abs are the result of either: a) genetics, or b) some serious time in the gym focusing on core work and having your diet down to a science (and/or starving.) Neither of those scenarios are me.

I like to have a glass of wine with dinner. I eat carbs (generally whole grains but carbs nevertheless)! I do not eat a lot of sugar (never had a sweet tooth) though I do enjoy chocolate and will have a dessert on occasion. When it comes to food, generally, I eat a variety of foods in season--and I cook simply--steamed, baked, lightly sauteed and no heavy sauces--lots of vegetables, especially dark, leafy greens.

And yes, I spend time in the gym. Between Boot Camp, Body Sculpt and High Intensity Interval Training classes (of which I generally do most of the class WITH the class) I spend 6 to 10 hours a week doing relatively strenuous physical activity that combines passive and active resistance training, agility, core and endurance. And, although I'm passionate about the benefits of resistance training and staying "active", I'm not obsessed with the gym--I've got a full life that includes running a business, pursuing a singing career, working a part-time job, refereeing Roller Derby, playing golf when I have time, spending time with friends when I'm able and a couple of extra hobbies thrown in for good measure--I have no extra time for "working out" for the sake of working out.

More importantly though, I see no real need for these abs. They will not make me more able to do the tasks I need to do on a daily basis. They won't make me run faster, lift more weight or ease back pain; they won't help me garden, golf or do housework better. They won't make me generally healthier. 

To me fitness is about balance. You NEED to be fit to live a long, healthy life. You need to stay active, but how far you go with it depends on what you are doing it for and how much time you have to spend on it. Professional athlete? You'll be spending more time on your fitness than a mother working full-time. 

It's really OK to strive for a better level of "fitness" -- even if you never achieve "six-pack" abs. I think it's much healthier to choose Fitness for life over an ab-session.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Fall Classes at The Garage - Quick Schedule

Current Classes at The Garage - Quick Schedule

Mon/Wed/Fri - 6:15 am -  Boot Camp
Mon - 10 am, 7 pm          Body Sculpt (child care available)
Tues - 5:30/6 pm    High Intensity Interval Training (30 minute class)
Tues - 7 pm                     Yoga with Tania Flynn
Thurs - 5:30/6 pm            High Intensity Interval Training (30 minute class)

Classes at The Garage have a maximum of 6 participants - this means you get lots of individual attention. In the majority of classes moves can be modified to your fitness level.

  1. Cost: Boot Camp, Yoga and Body Sculpt are $10/class (Mon. 10 am class with child care is $4/child extra). HIIT classes are $5/class.
  2. The above schedule will be in effect as long as minimum enrollment is met - if you're interested in dropping into a class please let us know you are coming! 
  3. If you are not able to make a class you are welcome to make up that class with any other class available in the same month -- once again though, please let us know you are coming.
More info on classes on my website: Stay tuned for more updates and call 604-886-3114 for registration and/or additional info.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Increasing Endurance for Derby Girls who need to go the distance!

The dreaded 25 in 5! It's a goal that must be achieved if a prospective derby girl wants to be "bench-marked." Bench-marked = ability to scrimmage in full-contact derby! And, for those that aren't in the derby crowd, 25 in 5 means getting around the derby oval 25 times in 5 minutes--it takes speed and endurance! It means not just agility on skates with the ability to propel yourself with economy of movement around the track, you also need the lung power to be able to maintain the speed for the full 5 minutes.

So, assuming you can now skate, what is the quickest way to increase that lung power?

I have 1 word for you... actually, let's make that 2 words. Interval Training. There are many, many different protocols you can use for your interval training, but the basic idea is you get your heart rate up to an intense level for short periods of time and intersperse that with active rest periods. What we mean by "active" rest is not stopping completely but enough to get your breath back.

Interval training will increase your lung capacity quickly to increase your speed and endurance--it will also keep your metabolism up for an extended period of time (bonus for weight loss).

Ideally you want to get your heart rate up to 70 - 85% of your maximum heart rate for short periods but, if you are starting from an "unconditioned" state I would suggest using a Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) of 6 - 8 and make these periods quite short to start with. The Rate of Perceived Exertion goes from 1 (no exertion) to 10 (you can't catch your breath). Eight would roughly be - you cannot maintain a conversation and continue the activity.

Intervals can go from 20 seconds to multiple minutes, but, when you're starting out, you may want to go with intervals as low as 20 seconds of "work" to 20 seconds of "rest" and gradually increase your "work" intervals.

One protocol I like to use is the Tabata protocol which uses 8 intervals of 20 seconds of work to 10 seconds of rest for a 4 minute period. As one of my boot camp clients says "you can do anything for 20 seconds!" This protocol may be particularly useful for derby when you are aiming for an eventual 5 minutes of work. So, go hard for 20 seconds, slow down for 10 -- repeat 8 times. Done!

To use this protocol you need a timer--you can generally purchase interval timers from your local sports store or on-line--you need something that will let you use at least 2 different intervals and cycle between them. I have used the Gymboss timer in the past. It costs around $20 and clips onto your clothes--very handy! There are also many interval applications for iPhone and Smart Phones -- not so handy to hang onto if you're running or skating -- ok if you can put it down somewhere and crank the volume enough to be able to hear it (like maybe the center of your derby oval).

Also, you do not need to limit your endurance training to on-skates. Try this protocol with running, skipping (a plyometric exercise that's intense and doesn't require much space or equipment), biking, etc. Cross-training is the best way to keep your training fresh -- you can also do it when you don't have access to a skating surface.

Soon that 25 in 5 will be a walk in the park!

There are many, many articles on-line about the benefits of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). I encourage you to explore for yourself but a couple of good links:

Friday, June 01, 2012

License to ?

The Advice Doctor is "In"

Clients ask for all kinds of advice on exercise and health issues. And, although I'm a certified personal trainer (through courses valid in my country and province) I remind clients that my certification covers exercise mechanics and programs--it does not qualify me to diagnose injuries or give anything more than elementary advice on diet--I'm not a doctor or a dietitian. Few personal trainers are! 

Personally, I am keenly interested in all things related to health including food, supplements, natural remedies, sports injuries, etc. and so read as much as possible and take workshops on these subjects as time allows. Still, I would not profess to be an expert in any of these areas and am somewhat disturbed when I hear of people offering advice on subjects outside their expertise such as personal trainers who peddle diet plans, promote pharmaceutical (even natural product) cleanses and supplements even though those things seem complementary. 

I recently read this story: (North Carolina Tells Blogger That Providing Dietary Advice Is Illegal, Blogger Tells NC To Read The 1st Amendment). And it's a reminder that there are all kinds of people with all manner of qualifications or lack thereof... handing out advice about all manner of things. 

Don't get me wrong, I don't believe in the regulation of everything--there is currently much debate over the regulation of natural remedies and supplements for instance--but people seem fairly ignorant about the effects some of the ingredients in these can have on their bodies and how they may react with medications they may be taking or conditions they may have. Also, just because a product is labelled "natural", doesn't mean it is good for you. There are many poisons that are found in common plants. 
Nightshade berries
My advice ;0 to you is this: 
  1. Before you take anyone's advice about anything regarding your health go to the most reputable source you can find on the subject or product. If you have an injury or health issue--ask a doctor and let them direct you to possible alternate care providers such as chiropractors, massage therapists, acupuncturists or physiotherapists; if wondering about diet and food issues--consult a licensed nutritionist or ask your doctor--especially before diving into a radical cleanse or starting supplements that may be contra-indicated to your medications.
  2. As when you start an exercise program when you have not been previously exercising, introduce new things into your diet slowly. They may or may not work for you--I, for instance, have had unpleasant reactions to hemp hearts. I have tried introducing them slowly a number of times but, as much as I would like to experience their body-altering goodness, they do not agree with me. Some things will work for you; others won't.
Most importantly though, there is not yet a silver bullet to any fitness, health or weight loss issue. Slow and steady still wins the race and tends to be the healthier path.

Feel free to comment ;0

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Being Happy with What We Have

These Bodies are Beautiful at Every Size Group Shot

I love the above photo. These are women with real, average size, bodies. That's right. They are the norm. 

Fit and Fat?

You cannot tell how fit someone is by what they look like or how much they weigh. Marketing, media and society have taught us to worship at the alter of "thin". The majority of fashion design is still directed at a pre-pubescent, near-anorexic and near-impossible body size. We need to throw out our expectations of what we should look like and focus on our health and fitness.

Can you walk up the stairs without getting winded? Is your blood pressure normal? Are you at risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer? Do you have the energy to play with your kids/bike to the store/garden all day... perform the tasks or sports you want to... at the level you would like? These are the important things. It is not important that you can fit into your size ___ thing that you wore when you were in high school  and before you had kids, or look like _____ in a bikini. IT'S NOT IMPORTANT! (Sorry for yelling.)

As a fitness instructor it actually saddens me to meet with people whose sole purpose in exercising is to lose weight. I also find it sad and interesting that on a local buy and sell site (where people post about items and services for sale in my community) someone will post about a new "cleanse" or "diet pill" product and receive tons of responses--whatever the cost or actual usefulness or safety of the product; while posts about fitness classes (some offered for little or no fee) get no attention whatsoever. This tells me that they want the body--it doesn't matter about health, and they don't want to do any work. 
Olympic Athletes
Your body size and shape is determined by so many things, the first being genetics. Yes, you can alter things with diet and exercise, but, in the grand scheme of things, you need to be happy with the way you look at this moment as you strive for a healthier, more fit, you.