Category Archives: Fitness

Topics on strength training, endurance training, nutrition, etc.


Lose 10 in Four

Anya has been going to a fitness class in the past four weeks.  The class is called Lose 10 in Four.  The participant(s) who lose(s) 10 pounds in four weeks (duration of the class) win(s) a one-month free pass to Crystal Pool.  Today is the last day of the class.  Anya has been doing very well exercising and eating properly during this time.  She’s very close to winning the prize.

It was almost three o’clock.  Kids were napping.  Anya called and said she won the prize.  I wanted to scream, instead I calmly acknowledged her success.  After we hung up the phone, the house was back to quiet again.  I felt a sense of pride.  I love it when people achieve their goals.  “Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement.”

Today, I am very proud of my wife.

Day 1 in the Gym

Brian and I threw some weights around in the gym at lunch today.  It was chest, shoulders, and triceps day.  A couple of chest exercises, one shoulders exercise, one triceps exercise, and finished off with a tri-set of chest, shoulders, and triceps.  My body took it pretty well.  An hour of basketball in the evening was a good way to wrap the day up with cardio.  I think it was a successful start of a fit 2016.

What is Tough Mudder?

June 21, 2014, marked the third Tough Mudder challenge I’ve completed with awesome teammates.

This video says it all about what to expect at a TM challenge:

How can you not get pumped from watching it?

My favourite quote from TM 2014: “When was the last time you did something for the first time?”

Enough said.

Get inspired.  Get out.  Get shit done!


23 and 1/2 hours

Now that I’m out of the fitness teaching industry, I find myself craving for fitness even more.  I’m working out every day to improve my health.  In the past, I would work out every day so that I would have new tricks to teach my clients/students.  I just absolutely love fitness!

Came across this video on CBC this morning and thought I should share it here.  Nothing new; no break through scientific methods for losing weight or anything.  But it does illustrate a straightforward point: exercise daily to maintain your health.  People always complain about how expensive it is to get fit, how ridiculous it is for the government to have to spend so much tax payers’ dollars on health, and how difficult it is to stay healthy and look good.  I say, quit your bitching and get out walking.  The accountability is on us to maintain our health.  Not the walk-in clinics.  Not your family doctor.  Not the hospital.  And certainly not the government.  The health care system offers a framework of accountability to help us to achieve our individual fitness goals.  It is up to us to keep ourselves healthy and stay out of the hospitals so that less money will be pumped into acute care and less waiting time will be talked about in the papers.  Frail patients with chronic conditions who need to rely on the health system is a different story.  I’m sure our system is doing its best to help people out.  But when I see a 20-year-old watching TV and playing video games all day at home and yakking about how it’s too much work to go to the gym, I just get pure, freaking angry.

Tough Mudder, again!

Just registered!  Team name: Mudder Huckers!  Tough Mudder 2013!  This shit pumps me up!

TRX Power Workout

Felix Gallego’s got some challenging moves.

Because I Got It Like That

During my spin class this afternoon, I used this song by Jungle Brothers called Because I Got It Like That.  It’s a perfect 4-beat jump set to do on a spin bike.  I could tell that students liked the song and the drill.  One girl was even nodding her head with the beat.  It was pretty awesome!  Now I absolutely love this song!

The TRX Superhero Workout

For the past couple of weeks, I have been trying out some exercises from Jonathan Ross’s TRX Superhero Workout.  He was showing this workout at the 2011 IDEA World fitness convention.  Jonathan’s got some cheesy superhero names for these exercises, but I thought they were quite appropriate and funny.  It sure makes a TRX workout more interesting when you associate the exercises with the superheros.  The ones I really like are: Neo Row, Superman Flyer, and Flash Sprints.  The video is below.  Try them out.  Have fun!

Stairway to eating well, One day at a time.

Day 1: Balance your meal by following the Healthy Plate: fill 1/2 of your plate veggies, 1/4 protein and 1/4 grains.

Day 2: At snack time, try to have foods from at least 2 of the 4 food groups.

Day 3: Be sensible about how much you eat and how often!

Day 4: Try a new whole grain: whole wheat pasta, couscous, or brown rice to increase the intake of fiber in your diet.

Day 5: Avoid trans fats by reading the Nutrition Facts table and choosing foods with low or no trans fat.

Day 6: Make extra food batches and freeze it, in order to reduce cooking time, and decrease the reliability on fast foods during busy times.

Day 7: Include your family, especially children, in food preparation and clean-up; it’s an active lesson about cooperation and responsibility.

Day 8: Make ahead muffins and breakfast cookies or try a quick smoothie if you struggle to find time for breakfast.

Day 9: Judge the juice.  Only reach for fruit juices that are labeled 100% fruit juice to minimize the intake of sugar.

Day 10: Try to incorporate more fish in your diet.  Tool: Canada’s Food Guide recommends 2-3 servings of fish a week!

Day 11: Practice mindful eating.  Eat slowly to savor your food.  It takes 20 minutes for your brain to receive signals of satiety.

Day 12: Buy and support local producers by shopping at farmer’s markets.

Day 13: Take the HALT challenge when you think about eating: Hunger, Anger, Lonely, or Tired.  If Hunger is not the reason, food is not the solution.

Day 14: Take the Eat Together Challenge.  If you don’t routinely have meals with family, try to bring everyone together as often as possible.

Day 15: Add a special flavor to your recipes without adding fat or salt using dried herbs, spices, garlic, ginger and even lemon juice.

Day 16: Make a veggie pita pizza: whole wheat pita, variety of veggies, and mozzarella cheese.  You can even freeze it for later!

Day 17: Control your food portions by leaving the serving bowls in the kitchen during a meal: Out of sight, Out of mind!

Day 18: Reduce intake of saturated fats by choosing lean cuts of meat.  Search for the words: loin, skinless, round, extra-lean, and lean.

Day 19: Follow the 80/20 rule: eat healthy nutritiously 80% of the time, and indulge in your favorite snack 20% of the time.

Day 20: Take the variety challenge to explore different ingredients and maximize your nutrient intake.  Tool: Dietitians of Canada Simply Great Food cookbook.

Day 21: Get your family to help organize the kitchen, meals, recipes and even the grocery shopping list.

Day 22: Discover “Let’s Make a Meal” at

Day 23: Make it your own!  Adapt different recipes and make them your own.  A personal touch makes your meals more enviable.

Day 24: Reduce sugar in any recipe by 1/3 without affecting the end product.

Day 25: Stock up on season specials!  Watch out for discounts and sales on foods, and buy in big batches to cook and store.

Day 26: Scramble up some eggs + chopped veggies + cheese to serve on a whole grain bun and a glass of milk, on lazy or busy nights.

Day 27: Bake with healthier fats.  Instead of butter or margarine, use canola oil; and use 75% as much.

Day 28: Keep your food safe.  Use a thermometer to ensure food is prepared at optimal temperature.

Day 29: Reduce the sodium in your diet, but cutting down on processed foods, and preparing healthy, tasty meals at home.

Day 30: Grow your own veggies and fruits.  If no space, seek sharing backyards or join a community garden.

Day 31: Shop wisely!  Avoid grocery shopping on an empty stomach to make healthier choices.

Will I get a better workout if I hire a personal trainer?

My co-worker, Karthik Narayan, sent me a link to this article from The Globe and Mail.  It’s a great article, and I’m not only supporting it because it talked highly about personal trainers.  I would recommend anyone to setup appointments with trainers from their own gyms.  Some trainers will give you a workout routine based on your goals, and some of them will look at you performing a few exercises and give you feedback on how to improve techniques.  Take advantages of your gym and see a trainer.  Personally, I ask for advice from my trainer friends all the time.  Sometimes, we just don’t see what we are doing wrong, and having that professional opinion makes a huge difference.

Here is the article from The Globe and Mail:


The question

Will I get a better workout if I hire a personal trainer?

The answer

In a famous study at Ball State University in Indiana, researchers put two groups of 10 men through identical 12-week strength-training programs. The groups were evenly matched when they started, and they did the same combination of exercises, the same number of times, with the same amount of rest.

At the end of the experiment, one group had gained 32 per cent more upper-body strength and 47 per cent more lower-body strength than the other. No performance-enhancing pills were involved – the only difference was that the more successful group had a personal trainer watching over their workouts.

There are between 10,000 and 15,000 personal trainers in Canada, according to Can-Fit-Pro, an organization of fitness professionals that certifies 8,000 of them. Others are certified by groups such as the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology and the U.S. National Strength and Conditioning Association.

A good trainer will help you assess your fitness goals, design a safe and effective program to meet those goals and motivate you to put in the necessary work.

 But, as the Ball State study shows, there are other, less obvious ingredients that successful trainers provide – and a series of recent studies offer some hints about how we can tap into these benefits.

The crucial difference between the training of the two groups at Ball State was very simple: By the halfway point of the program, the supervised group was choosing to lift heavier weights. Since both groups started with the same motivation level, it was likely the trainer’s presence leading that group to set more ambitious targets.

Other studies have consistently found that, left to their own devices, novice weightlifters tend to work out with weights that are less than 50 per cent of their one-repetition maximum, which is too low to stimulate significant gains in strength and muscle size.

Even more experienced strength trainers often fall into this trap, according to a 2008 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Researchers at the College of New Jersey found that women used to training alone chose on average to use just 42 per cent of their one-rep max for a 10-repetition set. In contrast, women who had experience with trainers chose weights averaging 51 per cent of their one-rep max.

“Many times, there is initial fear,” says Nicholas Ratamess, the study’s lead author. “We also found that some women who did not have a personal trainer underestimated their own abilities because they did not routinely push themselves too far.”

The latest attempt to address this question comes from researchers at the University of Brasilia in Brazil. They compared two groups of 100 volunteers who undertook a 12-week strength-training program, supervised either by one trainer for every five athletes, or one trainer for every 25 athletes.

The results, which will appear later this year in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, display a familiar pattern. The highly supervised group improved their bench press by 16 per cent, while the less supervised group chose lighter weights and improved by only 10 per cent.

In one sense, this is yet another argument for getting a personal trainer if you can afford one. But the differences here are more subtle, since both groups had access to a trainer who could provide guidance on proper form and choosing appropriate weights. Instead, motivation and the willingness to tackle ambitious goals seem to be the differentiating factors.

As Dr. Ratamess points out, these are the kinds of benefits that an enthusiastic training partner can also provide. For less experienced exercisers, the educational role of the personal trainer takes on greater importance, he says. But beyond that, simply having someone there watching you – whether it’s a personal trainer or a workout partner – seems to confer an additional benefit.

Certainly, he says, “both have advantages compared to training independently.”


I looked up Alex Hutchinson, who published his response to the question.  Alex is a Toronto-based journalist, and he writes for The Globe and Mail, Canadian Running, Runner’s World, and The Walrus.  He seems like a creditable guy, and these are his websites:

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