Crush Post Holiday Cravings

What a weekend!

:: Lighthouse photo thanks to @cronin35 + Part of the vegetable garden at Jardins de Metis ::

We spent Canada Day / Christie Day (my 27th birthday) up at a friend's cottage in Eastern Quebec along the Gaspe shore. We kayaked beside seals, ate poutine every single day, had the best meal of my life at iX Pour Bistro in Quebec City, snoozed on hammocks, strolled through the Jardins de Metis. It was a perfect weekend. 

:: via ::

I ate my way through Quebec and loved every minute of it. 

Now I am totally feeling the effects!

A few years ago I started to notice that getting back into the swing of things wasn't quite what it used to be. I had HUGE cravings for sugar post long weekend holidays.

After watching the movie Fed Up I learned that this was totally normal. Our brains are wired to crave sugar - in fact, it is 9x more addictive than cocaine! Crazy! No wonder I was suddenly seeking sugar in all forms.

What I do now to try to combat my chocolate, cheese, croissant post holiday cravings is I really ramp up the H20. Sounds boring, and it is but I find it works. I trick myself into thinking I'm slightly full and I am less likely to reach for more sugar. Also I GET RID OF IT. I give bad stuff away - usually to our concierge or ask Matt to bring it to school when he's working. Out of reach usually means out of stomach!

If you, like me are struggling with getting back on track today do not worry! In three - four days we will be back to a healthy routine and ready for another weekend!

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Let's Make Our Day Harder

Dr. Mike Evans is back at it again. His first video 23 1/2 hours was an AWESOME inspirational video about the importance of exercise. One of my all time favourites to share with clients and friends! If you haven't seen it you can find it right here.

Today he launched a new campaign I heard about on CBC radio called: Let's Make our Day Harder. I love it.

Here's the video:

There has been a lot of research in the health medical field lately that suggests we have a severe generational case of sitting disease. That yes, exercise is still extremely important but what might be even more important is the movement throughout our daily lives. 

We watch phones, tablets, tvs - 90% of the average day is spent looking at a screen. We don't walk to friend's houses - we text them! The other day I was driving in my car on the way to a client and I noticed that I had the AC on 19 degrees and it WAS 19 degrees outside! I quickly turned it off and pushed the power button to open the windows! The bottom line is we have all gotten way to used to the "easy" button - myself included. It's time to start living like the good old days again and actually walk places. 

Just think about the last time you went on vacation and how much you walked everywhere! When I was with my family in Paris a few summers ago we ate croissants s s s for breakfast and steak frites for lunch plus a five course meal for dinner! The crazy thing was I did not gain any weight on the trip - the activity helped offset the caloric intake and the lack of mindless snacking and eating between meals also helped too!

When I first met my husband Matt he was absolutely convinced that he would never in the land of ever live in the city. Luckily somehow I wooed him in and now he kinda loves it. As great as the country is one thing I have noticed is that unless you involve yourself in lots of activities it can easily be a very sedentary lifestyle. We just purchased our first house earlier on this year. Our number one priority was location location location. City living is way more conducive to walking, the idea of being in a suburb or driving more than 20 minutes to work for me doesn't work. I'd trade a big TV room for a smaller home with access to a city ravine or path any day. I find it funny whenever I hear people say they wouldn't dream of raising kids in the city - so they drive home for two hours to their big backyards that never get used because it's dark out when they get there. It's called a park and you can actually meet other people there too!

It is time we started living like we did in the good old days again, make dates with friends to go for walks instead of lunches, actually buy a vacuum that you need to manually operate. Or really up your exercise frequency! 

Our single best treatment for good health is simply moving! Let's redesign our days to do more of it.

Thank you for all that you do Dr. Mike Evans! Keep up the great work!! You can find him here.

"Instead of driving around a parking lot for 10 minutes trying to find a spot that's 10 feet closer, just park further away in the spot reserved for people who want to live longer and have a higher quality of life!!"

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Cool as a Cucumber

I try to look at my "diet" not in terms of what I should NOT have but instead focus on geting the good stuff in. 

When I first started considering my vegetable intake I was barely getting more than 2-3 servings a day (8-10 is ideal). If you're wondering I roughly think of servings as 1/2 cup portions. After a few weeks of focusing just on eating my veggies I felt so much healthier.

I try to focus my snacks now on getting in the good stuff. Instead of reaching for a granola or a packaged bar I'm now reaching for an entire cucumber!

Sure people might look at me strangely when I chomp down on my whole cucumber... but I'm used to that! Here's the thing. There are 30 calories in a cucumber and two servings of veggies + a ton of water! They are super healthy and I think they are very satisfying. After finishing a cucumber I'm 10x more full than I would be if I had a granola bar - and it is way better for you. 

Want to trim down a tad this summer? Try switching your snacks to veggies only, it made a big difference for me!

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Embracing the HOT while we've got it!

Oh Canada!

This is the time of year that I REALLY love you. And completely understand why Toronto is the greatest city in the world!

This summer will mark my forth Bod Squad outdoor season! YIKES! Truthfully it's my favourite time of year to run Bod Squad! In my first summer of Bod Squad one of the things I noticed I loved so much about my job was that my office was a picnic bench ... that I would later have people jump all over! And getting that extra hour of outdoor time did a lot to make me feel like I was really getting the most of the best weather we have to offer. 

Last year a great article was written by Dr. Greg Wells from the Globe and Mail about Why exercising outside is way better for your health. Exercising outside FAR outweighs the benefits of working out in a stuffy gym. And I know a lot of people who feel like they don't get the same BURN outside that they do inside but this just isn't true. A workout, is a workout! Outside often feels easier because there's a breeze and you have fun things to look at other than your shaking body in a mirror!

Exercising in nature has benefits that go above and beyond the benefits you gain by exercising indoors. Research has shown improvements in mental well-being, self-esteem and can even help with depression. These studies are really interesting because we often think of exercise as only being good for our bodies. It turns out that exercise can be just as good for our brains and our minds, and that getting outside and exercising in nature might amplify the benefits.

So there you have it! Straight from the Doctor's desk! 

AND here's some more great news!! Bod Squad outdoors starts MONDAY!! WAhoo!! Grab your spot right here! Can't wait to de-stress and hit the grass jump lunging with you soon!

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Is it Bad to Workout Everyday?

Here's the thing.

There is a huge difference between a workout planed and a workout completed.

During the week I think of at least 30 different workouts I could possibly do. And I am lucky if I actually get 5-6 of them in. What I have learned over my YEARS of fitness is that if I only plan to do 4 workouts a week, and miss one of them then I'm down to three. If I plan to get 7 in and miss one then I've done great.

Workouts are like brushing your teeth, you can't go two weeks without brushing and expect to be in the same place you were when you brushed regularly! You're WAY better off to over plan than you are to not plan at all. Life gets busy. Book your workouts.

Not all workouts are equal. Sometimes I'll go to the gym and just stretch. Other times I end up really needing a big burn and I'll do a circuit with intervals. The point here is that I do try my best to move every single day and ideally so should you.

Sitting is the new smoking.

Move, it feels great, you will feel great and soon enough you'll look great!

So is it bad to workout everyday - no way! Just be sure to mix it up, grab a friend, go to a class OR come to run club tonight with me at lululemon 153 Cumberland Street Toronto!! 

Checkout my facebook page for information on how to sign up! Hope to see you there!!

  

Workout Buddies are the Best

When I first started working out I was a lone wolf. 

:: Two of my favourites - Eddie and Jill, I LOVE her classes ::

I would run alone, do abs in my room alone and thought that the only way I would ever enjoy a workout was to be alone.

I have been lucky enough to have had awesome workout buddies that have changed my mind completely. Now I almost never workout completely on my own. I LOVE the social aspect of a great class or a run with a friend. It is nice to push and be pushed by friends in fitness.

1. You will be more motivated.

Let's be honest ... the hardest part about the gym is often just getting there! Having a plan with someone is a great way to overcome gym-fear! The number ONE thing that makes a great workout buddy is integrity. I'd rather workout with a slow person than a no-show person! One of the worst things you can do to me is cancel a workout we had planned. Do not be this person! I will admit, I'm far from perfect ... I've cancelled my fair share of workouts too! But I really try not to let my buddies down. 

2. You will have more fun.

Newsflash - sometimes working out can be BORING. Having a friend there makes it SO much better! Instead of a dinner or drinks after work plan a workout with a friend you haven't seen in awhile. You'll have way more fun together and kill two birds with one running shoe!

3. You will get more done.

The amount I accomplish with a buddy vs on my own is incredible. I usually get twice the workout in and also get to see a friend. 

4. You will have good looking friends.

Researchers at Harvard University found that you can "catch" obesity (along with smoking and happiness) because it spreads like a disease! The experts found that a person's risk of becoming obese rises by 2% for every five obese social contacts they have. Isn't that CRAZY?! But when I think about it this is true. The way we eat and move is so often linked to the social world around us. Be the leader - your friends will thank you for it!

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The Waiting Game

The number one heartbreaking email I get is people telling me that they want to "wait to get in better shape before they come try my class."

Spoiler alert - you ARE ready!

Stop making the excuse that you need to get fit before you go to a fitness class. When you think about it how backwards is that?! That's like trying to become fluent in french before you step foot in a french class! We trainers are here and want to help you learn how to workout correctly! We are going to push you, but 99% of the time you can do it and the 1% that you can't is really no big deal, you'll get it next time! 

And here's the thing. If you're the strongest, fittest person in your workout class then it's probably time you start finding another class that is right for you. Bod Squad especially never gets easier but it will get better! Workouts are HARD WORK. If you're doing them right they should be super super super tough but the beauty really lies within that.

If you're trying double unders for the first time ever chances are it's just not going to happen. It took me about six classes to get the hang of them myself! Do NOT get down on yourself after one or two failed attempts! That's just cray-cray! 

Stop waiting to get fit enough to join a workout class. Get over yourself! You can do this!! You're batman, believe it. 

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For My Girls ... a Note about the Girls

If there's one comment from my female clients that I could erase for EVER it would absolutely be: I don't want to get bulky.

push-ups.jpg

 Let me tell you why I HATE this idea of getting bulky from basic bodyweight work and light, <25 lbs weights ... yes, that's light, weights. 

I will focus mostly on upper body concerns here because I get that most often ... but this is true for your lower body and bum too!!

If you actually did want to get bulky arms it would take a LOT of work as a woman to accomplish this. Our hormones just aren't set up for hypertrophy, we don't have nearly as much testosterone as our male friends. And even if you did make it a goal to get bulky arms it would take weeks of daily dedicated effort to even come close to what a man could do in half the time. At the end of the day I think of it like this -  how many men in the gym are trying to get big arms (all of them), now how many of them actually have them (maybe 10%)?!

If you don't want bulky arms stop eating bulky food in bulky portions!

The real truth about women and upper body strength is this: if you can't do a full proper push-up, chest to the floor with hips off the ground top to bottom then expect your boobs to drop below your belly button by the time you're 40. Seriously! Flappy pectoral muscles lead right into flabby boobs. Without getting too graphic here one of the biggest changes to my own body once I started getting more serious with weights and resistance training was I gave myself a mini breast lift. Seriously. It works. 

Adding muscle means adding metabolism boosters. 

So stop worrying about push-ups adding "bulk". Learn to LOVE them. You're not going to get bulky. Get your push-ups in gear and burn those bras because you won't need them anymore!! Don't be scared of adding muscle mass to your body. Strong IS sexy. Own it.

Now drop and give me 30!

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My #1 Diet Rule

In my lifetime I've been on my fair share of diets. 

:: Via ::

I struggled with emotional eating a lot in my teenage years. I was a total binge eater. I'd be "good" one day and "bad" the next. I was always on a plan - eat paleo, eat clean, no red apple diet but green ones are ok, no nightshades, no nuts, no broccoli - no fun and absolutely miserable. I would have probably been 20-30 lbs bigger if I hadn't also been obsessed with exercise - cardio every single day + usually another workout on top of that. If I missed a day, even Christmas, I'd get down on myself. I was not anorexic or bulimic but it definitely was like a disorder because it was a complete obsession. It was completely shackling.  

I remember the first time a thin friend came over after school and I asked her to look at my food diary and critique it for me, I was probably 14-15. She told me that I was crazy and that I needed to just love myself more and not be so obsessed with food. I thought she was totally patronizing me, easy for you to say you can eat whatever you want, you're skinny! It took several more years and cycles of diet binges "good" "bad" for me to realize she was right all along. I know now that the food I put into my body is a direct indication of my self respect and self love. 

I've learned that my number one health check point is this: I do not binge. Ever. If I'm bingeing it's has nothing to do with the food.

Check yourself before you wreck yourself.

To clarify this rule let me define a binge - it's purely emotional. A binge isn't going out for ice cream, eating an extra serving of pasta ... it kicks in around the 4-5th extra serving. Also usually binge eating is done in private places, at least that was the case for me, indulging usually has people around. 

I used to come home from school and attack the pantry. There was one time I ate 7 nature valley crunch bars - the double packs so technically 14. I remember thinking, "I'll be good tomorrow, I need this I had a rough day, I deserve these, I went for a long run I'm nutritionally deprived!" Looking back on that moment (and numerous other binge episodes) all I can see is a girl who doesn't respect and love herself enough to realize that she's got a problem. It's not about the nature valleys! Stop ruining yourself. 

I have a way better relationship with food now. I look at it from a perspective of fuel and flavour - making choices that will make me happy and healthy. 

Food addictions are so difficult because you can't get rid of it. It's not like drugs or alcohol that you can just completely eliminate, you have to live with it and learn how to work with it. 

If you are struggling with your weight right now and you just read this and want to punch me in the face because I didn't give you a better rule, relax - I was absolutely there just a few years ago! Stop searching for the perfect diet plan and start to carve out what works best for you. Think back to the time in your life that you felt the healthiest and you weren't on some crazy plan and start slowly eating like that again. Keep your portions in check and try not to graze - that also gets emotional and can be a form of prolonged binge eating. Love your body, this is the only one we've got and at the end of the day I think we all can agree that we are pretty lucky just to have that gift in the first place.

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Embrace your Awkward

In high school my fittest friend by far was Sarah Tory, come to think of it she's probably still my fittest friend today too! When she told me she was going to join this junior varsity U of T running club I asked if I could tag along too.

:: Sarah Tory, Lorelle Convery, and Yours Truly at Track Camp in Florida 2005 ::

The next day I tagged along and I can remember my outfit perfectly - bright pink lululemon top (my only one at the time) and a pair of Roots sweat pants. Needless to say I was the only person who had sweats on for the entire practice! 

The workout was 8 x 600 m repeats. I got through 2.5 of them and had to walk it off - I remember feeling this weird combination of embarrassed but also excited about what my potential could be if I stuck with it. I got some new pants and showed up for practice the next time with this in mind - if I could just be one better than I was the last practice that would be perfect. Eventually I started to keep up with the full workouts and actually held my own - I was never top dog at running but I really did learn to love it and love running fast!

The point here is if you're the best person in your workout class then you're not in the right class! There is always going to be a certain degree of discomfort - mentally or physically at a workout - that's where the MAGIC happens! It's easier said than done but try to be patient with yourself, you will improve if you trust the process and constantly push yourself to be just a little bit better each time. As a teacher that is everything and the only thing I ask for from my bod squaders. And the other people in the room have most likely been exactly where you are and 99.9% of the time could give to hoots about what is going on beside them!

If you're the most awkward, uncoordinated person in the room then I'm here to tell you - you're in the right spot! Stick with it, recognize and reward even the tiniest bit of progress and keep driving forward!

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Five Ways to Drop the Final Five lbs

So you're kicking ass and taking names with your new years regime and you're ready to take it a step further and drop those last five pounds!

Well step in line... this is by FAR one of the most common goals I hear from my clients and hey I wouldn't be complaining if I happened to wake up a tad lighter too! The last five are absolutely the hardest to take off, and this time of year does not naturally lend itself to weight loss! If you're ready to commit to a few small changes in your lifestyle then it's 100% achievable.  

Here are my top tips to do this:

1. Nutrition and a healthy diet is absolutely #1 #2 #3 .... #66 then exercise drops in somewhere around #67. It takes 1 second to eat a timbit and to burn that off you'd have to jump rope straight for about 8-10 minutes. NOT FAIR! But that's the cold hard truth. I've said it before and I'll say it again - you can't out run a bad diet. Boo.

2. Focus on the GREAT. I have always found that whenever I've made health my main goal I've been the most successful with my weight. And conversely whenever I've prioritized weight loss I can't stop thinking about it and become obsessed with food. Set goals to run a fast 10k, to get a certain number of steps on the fitbit, to make dinner five nights a week, to cook with more vegetables and without making weight the focus you will see change start to take shape.  

3. Eat three homemade meals a day. I used to be a grazer but I noticed that whenever I went on holiday and was forced to contain my calories just to meal time I would usually lose weight! Especially if you work from home or have an awesome snack cupboard at work RESIST it. That old bag of half open chocolate chips adds up fast and really once in a while if that's what you really really want go for it but don't make it a weekly (let's be honest, daily) habit. There is NO reason why you need to eat a chocolate bar every single day. Sugar is stronger than crack - it will be hard to stop the habit but after a few weeks you won't miss your daily fix. Make fruit your treat.  

4. Book your workouts like you would a meeting. I believe in two BIG workouts a week and four smaller staples. My typical week now involves: 2 interval runs, 3 strength training sessions (bod squads), and 1 yoga or Pilates class. Make your schedule balanced - don't drain yourself with too much cardio. I used to run 6 days a week and found that I was just exhausting myself. I would get back from a run and basically rip open the fridge because I was so hungry. Don't kill yourself with two hour cardio sessions at the gym - take it from me, they don't work! Avoid "reward eating" as much as possible.

5. Take it up a notch. Don't just get to the gym and go through the motions. Go to classes and trainers that push you beyond your comfort zone - that's where the magic happens. In your routine can you add just one more class? In class can you push out one extra rep? If you're wondering it's better to add six 30 minute workout sessions a week than do three hour long sessions. Spread your workouts out to improve recovery and keep up your metabolism all week long!

p.s. If I had to pick one favourite thing of all year it's been my fitbit. I love/hate this little thing. It encourages me to move throughout the day and competing with friends has been fun - we keep each other accountable whether we like it or not! 

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So it's FREEZING ...

I feel like every year I forget just how FREAKING FREEZING Toronto can get in the wintertime. This week has been a rude reawakening. 

I still love you Toronto but honestly this madness has to stop!

 :: Via ::

Now more than ever it's SO important to schedule workouts in and stick to them. It is so easy to slip back under the covers and skip a day - or a month but this is when they REALLY count. Overall we are so much less active in the winter. Case and point: today I drove to the grocery store around the corner because I was THAT cold. In the summer I'd walk 6x that easily. 

How To Keep Fitness On Top This Winter:

  • Get to a class - more bodies = more warmth! They are fun and a great way to socialize - don't become a winter hermit. 
  • If you can find a class that offers a little more cardio that would be a great way to make up for the general lack of movement getting to and from places
  • If you do workout at home pre-load your workout videos the day before and don't shut them off your computer until they are done.
  • If you have a gym in your condo building change into your gym outfit before you leave work and that way you can go straight there - DO NOT stop to "drop your bags off" that will only lead to youtube, facebook - one exception would be this blog of course - you can stop and check it!

Overall: be realistic - the chances of you being as active in the winter as you are in the summer are slim to none. Don't beat yourself up about it. Keep your nutrition in check and commit to a minimum of four planned workout sessions a week. You can do it!

Injury Rehab with Peacock

I first met Gavin in a gruelling ... actually it was more like punishing fitness class of his in the west end of the city at Think Fitness. I immediately thought - this guy knows his stuff ... and he's a little crazy, in the best way! SO fit! I peeled myself off the floor and three days later I could finally walk again. 

:: Gavin just being strong + In Gavin's class with my old track coach Jen!! ::

About a year later we reconnected at the Toronto airport. We arrived at the exact same time to head off to one of the greatest weeks of our lives - the ambassador summit. Courtesy of lululemon we were both flown to Whistler with 120 other amazing, beautiful, real, passionate fitness super leaders in their communities from all over the world. It was a game changer week to say the least. A moment to really pause and appreciate that there might actually really be something to this whole "follow your passion thing..." it could actually take us places - like Whistler!!!

I sat with Gavin on the bus from Vancouver to Whistler and he told me a little about his knee injury. At that time I didn't have much of any empathy, I had yet to really know what it would feel like as a fitness professional to go through a period of total immobility. Watching this video really made his story come to life. I have SO much respect for injury recovery now after going through my own experience this summer. It is hard to describe how something that once defined you and your profession totally renders you feeling completely useless!

There are a lot of great lessons here - it's inspiring to see that if you take the proper rest and recovery you can absolutely build yourself back better than ever! Go Gav! And yes I agree no trail running during recovery!! 

In addition to being a fitness fanatic Gavin is an excellent youtuber! Check out his channel flipped society for some crazy cool workouts, snowboarding and really anything extreme! Congratulations on being one tough cookie and getting through this. Can't wait to see what's in store for your next chapter!

Personal vs Group Training

It is very interesting to me how much my perspective on personal training has changed since I've become a trainer and bod squad leader. I would have initially thought that personal training was the best option and fit for everyone - if cost was no concern. But now I've seen first hand that isn't necessarily the case. 

A Case for Groups

I had a great chat with fellow trainers over breakfast last week and we all agreed that almost across the board our clients work harder in classes than they do when we are on them one on one. There's no chance to sit and chat about the weather - we've got to go go go!

You learn how to coach yourself. You've got to listen in a class and really focus on the task at hand. Your teacher will be supporting you in the background but you've got to control the voice in your own head. 

Cost wise you're getting a great deal at a quarter of the price.

Its fun and friendly - I've made a lot of friends at the gym and classes are a perfect way to meet people or spend time with your friends. The competitive booster atmosphere is a huge bonus in a group session! 

A Case for Personal Training

Personal training is absolutely a better fit for people with chronic injury conditions that need constant attention.

When you're just learning about exercise and want to get down the absolute basics properly - or you're trying to bump your workouts up another level and want form correction pointers on how to do that. 

If you have the funds and you're working with an expert trainer that really customizes a workout to your needs then go for it! 

Bottom Line 

In both cases the best results come from two things: dedication and consistency. Take your workouts seriously and they will show you serious results!

If I HAD to choose I would recommend classes to 99% of the population. You're way more likely to work harder and really it all comes down to the trainer leading the class. If the class size is reasonable (less than 15 people) a good trainer will be able to spot any glaring form errors and correct you in that moment. 

p.s. For those of you in Toronto my classes are about to get much more accessible - yayaya ... stay tuned for new years sign up coming soon!! 

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Next Level Fitness

In order to make real progress with your fitness you're going to need to make a decision to be better at every single chance you get in your workouts.

The gym is not a place for autopilot mode! It always amazes me how two people can follow the exact same fitness program and come out with completely different results at the end. As a trainer and group fitness instructor I get a unique bird's eye view perspective on the topic and I can tell you that attitude absolutely determines your altitude in a class. You've got to get a little comfortable with the uncomfortable and TRY.

Every single push-up you do - ask yourself - could I drop just an inch lower? The only way to make real marked improvement is to push yourself - and you are the only person in the whole wide world who is ever going to do it.

:: Outfit thanks to Fabletics ::

This week I've been pushing through some huge personal fitness goals. I've been working on my handstands for about a year now and sprained my wrist by pushing it a little too much back in September. I took about a month off them and slowly have started to build them back into my workouts. This week I absolutely shocked myself by finally getting up from a pike on a stability ball into handstand. I've worked on this against the wall probably 500 times. I just had to go for it and trust myself. There was absolutely a few moments where I could have told myself it was impossible but you've just got to learn to stop those thoughts as soon as they happen. 

No matter what your goal is the main thing is to strive for progress and not perfection. The next time you're in a class or at the gym ask yourself on a scale of 1 - 10 what would you give yourself in terms of effort? And no matter what that number is could you improve by just 1 point. Just 1.

Can you take yourself up a level?

This is the way that I've been approaching my training lately and I've never felt more progress than I have seen in the past few months. It's the small steps that eventually lead to big things. Always keep your mind moving in the gym and take yourself up a level at your next workout! 

Why Spinning is Just Silly

As the weather turns cooler we all start to look inside for fitness classes. Here is my case on why you should consider really anything but spinning this season:

Long before Matt (circa land before time) I had a crush on this guy who was into spinning. So obviously I took the sport up. I religiously went to 60 minute spin classes 4x a week for about 3 months. After all that I didn't get the guy but I did get the WORST leg (IT band) pain I've ever had in my life.

I was in and out of physio appointments because it got to the point that I couldn't even walk properly without feeling like my knees were going to click off. Finally I figured out the problem - it was the freaking spinning. I immediately stopped spinning, took up foam rolling and went back to running - my legs have been great ever since. 

In a nutshell 

Here's my main thing about spinning -  We sit ALL DAY. So then why go to a workout class that just involves more sitting?! If you're like most people you probably spend at least 8 hours of your day at a desk, on a couch, on the subway - sitting. And then finally when you get the chance to break that cycle you go sit AGAIN?! Hello hip flexors!!! 

postures.jpg

Spinning is also just the worst for posture - have you looked around in your spin class - doing it right means you're completely hunched over and completely kyphotic (pictured above). We hunch at our desks over computers like this all day long. Then to go back into a tiny, sweaty dark room and reinforce these patterns is really just asking for a hunchback if you ask me. Spin class is where good posture goes to die a slow and painful death. 

And then if that's not bad enough there's your joints. The repetitive rapid leg turn over is so bad for you. Sure spinning is "low impact" but when ever in nature do you turn your feet in circles 130 times a minute?! It is just SO unnatural. Seriously! Even on a normal bike ride you would never ever pedal that fast even if you were being chased by a pack of wild monkeys. It is impossible, you just can't move the bike chain that fast. This rapid cadence from spinning is ultimately caused my IT bands to flare up. The friction caused by my legs spinning at 100 revolutions per minute + left me unable to walk properly for months. It just isn't worth it. 

Then there's the whole no tracking thing. There is absolutely no way to tell if you've actually worked hard in a classic spin class. As a trainer I find this extremely difficult - I like data. I bet if you stick 40 people in a small enclosed space and have them breathe heavily for 45 minutes it's going to get hot and sweaty no matter what they are doing. Plus that many people are sucking up oxygen which makes it feel like you're working harder than you actually are. It is easy to trick yourself into believing you're having a better spin workout than you actually are. Whenever the instructor says, "turn it up 3 notches, I'm always like - 'I thought I was already at the top!!". Find an activity you can actually track, it's WAY more motivating to watch progress! 

Don't even get me started on the numb private bits. As a female it's so bad... I can't even imagine what it's like for the guys. Even in my spinning prime it still happened to me every time. And they say it gets better ... but then I wonder what has to happen to allow for that to happen?! I'd rather not find out. 

So why is it still popular in studios? Well I know from the owner's perspective spinning is cheap and cheerful. There's no other class that you can pack 60 people into a room and charge $30+ for. It's also good for insurance purposes because there is very limited risk factors of an acute injury happening during the class. It's easy to train people how to do and for some strange reason people still pretend to like it. 

So what should you do instead?! Well if you ask me nothing beats the treadmill mixed with interval sprints like this workout.

Try this workout: Warm up at your typical run pace (5.5 - 7.0 mph) then try 2 minutes on at a 8.0 mph, rest for 1 minute at a 3.0 mph and repeat the 2 minute intervals for 5 times total. Then complete 5 sets of 10 push-ups with 30 seconds off between each set. BOOM! Now there's a workout! In 20 minutes you can accomplish what you would in a 60 minute spin class hands down.

Try a new indoor class - some of the HIIT classes I've heard are excellent now, maybe go to a boxing class or a dance class and if you're in Toronto well there's always bod squad :o).

 If you're into the biking try airdyne bike sprints - I know Fuel Training Club in Toronto loves this torture chamber of a bicycle. 30 seconds on the airdyne will make you wish you never asked about it in the first place!

If you must then spin your heart out. Just make sure you foam roll after every single ride and counter your time on the bike sitting with at least another hour of non-sitting!

Forced Festive Partner Workouts

When I first met Mr. Beauty and the Bod he was a total gym rat. In university we had two hour gaps between classes and labs so in that time Matt would usually go workout. Needless to say he was in amazing shape. Meanwhile, I would go to the odd campus rec class and sometimes triathlon club workouts but I wasn't nearly as dedicated or consistent as he was back then. Since becoming a trainer for a living I've absolutely caught up! We both have a healthy balance of workouts in the week that works out great for us. We did our own thing in university with the exception of a few random workouts together.

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:: Workout Buddies! We Match! ::

Nowadays Matt and I love working out together and alone. He comes to my Bod Squad classes twice a week, plays hockey and does his own gym workouts about three times a week on top of that. On the weekend we might go to a class together or go to the gym and do a countdown challenge or piece of a workout together but very rarely do we do the exact same workout.

When it comes to couples workout partners I believe that a workout regime is a really personal thing. You've got to do what feels right for you. It can be a total bonus and a win if you and your partner happen to love the same workout ... and doing it at the exact same time. But just because you don't want to hold hands during a sweat session does not at all mean you're in a bad relationship! I love going to the gym together but just because I go doesn't mean Matt needs to follow me there.

There was this one time that I thought it would be a fun idea to give Matt a personal training session. No. About 5 minutes in we decided it would be best for our relationship if I didn't do that ... it just doesn't work for us! The same thing went for me. Whenever Matt used to film me doing workouts or even just take my picture for Instagram I would get so stressed out. Imagine this: you're doing a really tough workout meanwhile your boyfriend is standing over you taking your picture and at the same time you are trying to smile and look great. Just not the funnest.

We love leading active lives but a big part of that for us is encouraging the other person to do what feels right for them. Working out together from time to time is a lot of fun but every day would feel way too forced. 

If your partner isn't so much into the whole workout thing then honestly that's really up to them to figure out. As tempting as it might be to sneak in a "super fun" spin class on date night just let it be. The best motivation is to lead by example. Chances are if you super energized and happy and your bod is starting to look rockin' AND you are excited about going to the gym your partner will see that as some motivation to get on the gym wagon! 

 

Can't We All Just Get Along?

Last week I invited my friend and client and fitness superstar trainer Jill to come try her first Bod Squad class!

Today at her first personal training session since the class she told me how awesome of a time she had AND loved how friendly and nice everyone was. 

I realized then and there how much I really do take it for granted just how awesome our Bod Squad community is. I don't mean to brag but I'll just come right out and say it – Bod Squaders are the nicest people ever. Everyone is just supportive and friendly and sweet … and if they aren't then I MAKE THEM BE THAT WAY. Kidding! … But not really. I have a zero tolerance policy for meanness mixed with sweatiness.  

When I first started my classes I knew that I wanted to create a space where people felt welcome, challenged and safe. Everyone knows everyones name, if someone does something great I always point them out and everyone cheers them on. It's awesome. We are all in this together!

I can't tell you how many fitness classes I've been to in my 26 years and been just blown away at how bitchy/rude some the atmosphere can be. Listen: there is no such thing as a reserved spot in an aerobics class. And if you're 25 minutes late you really have no business coming in and running to the front of the room. I've seen someone try to turn the heat up in a hot yoga class! I saw a lady yelled at a young girl once who tried to open a window in Pilates – how dare she want fresh air! Can't we all just get along?! I do absolutely see it as my job to set the tone as the teacher but ultimately it's up to everyone. 

The next time you're in a fitness class try putting away someone else's weights – you're going back to the rack anyway what's two more things to carry? Maybe offering them a towel if you're going to get one. If they are super strong – tell them that you're impressed with them! A little goes a long way. After all we are all just humans here with the same goal: to look great naked and be younger next year. 

Handy Issue

Ever wonder why you hate burpees and push-ups so much?

:: Don't turn your back on burpees – they really are fun! ::

Well, based on what I've seen and done over the years there is a good chance you are doing them alllllllllllllll wrong.

If you have ever come to a Bod Squad or trained with me then you've certainly heard me say – "FLAT HANDS" at least once. To me this is absolutely the #1 problem with burpees. Cheating hands!

The reason why I know this so well is because I used to do it to! I just checked out this ancient youtube video and actually taught burpees with this absolutely terrible form!

Incorrect:

Here's the problem. When your hands look like this you are transfering all the work into your joints and away from your arms! The only thing you're going to build here is future wrist trouble. DO NOT do this! Stop cheating, you're already 95% in at this point you might as well give that extra 5% and really commit.

Correct:

Here is the correct way to have your hands in a plank, push-up, burpee. Push into all five fingers and get a great quality full push off the ground. This will build a lot more strength in your upper body and save your joints!

If you have wrist stuff – which unfortunately I do from time to time. You can make a fist with the affected wrist and press your knuckles into the mat. Looking at this picture my elbows aren't perfect, ideally they should have a softer bend! I am hyperextending here! But that's just me being critical!!

So now go bang out ten great quality flat handed burpees!! Aren't they SOOO much better now?!

Workout Guilt

Now more than ever there is SO much pressure to have the "perfect" workout.

Every time I turn on instagram I see people running, doing yoga, Pilates, back bending, Crossfit and then I think that I should be doing yoga, Pilates, trail running through the perfect trail, going to try Crossfit, then maybe back for more yoga. There is so much out there it can get overwhelming very quickly!

Sometimes too much choice is not productive – especially when it comes to your workout!

Breathe. Plan and do what feels right for you. Book your workouts and commit to them. Bosses don't cancel.

I get a lot of flak from my running friends because I actually love running on treadmills. Some say it's not a pure form of running and you're not training your muscles exactly the same way pushing the road forward … but you know what – I am ok with that! For me the condo treadmill is a simple sure way to get a great 20 minute MAX burst in and not spend a second longer than I need to at my workout. It doesn't look the prettiest on instagram but it's not for that it's for me.

My advice is to book your workouts in and stick with YOUR schedule. I always write classes into my calendar so I know when they're happening and I book them in just like I book in clients. Don't worry what pinterest is doing today. Commit to your plan and your body will start to commit back to you.