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Getting fit by shaking my booty

I am not athletic, but I am trying to branch out. So I decided to try a fitness class and found myself at the Danforth Booty Camp Fitness.

“Working out should never be boring,” states Susan Chung, an Elite Drill Instructor at the fitness centre. Her workout approach is to have fun. “Without fun, there is no motivation or drive to keep moving.”

“For the most part, it’s all about having fun at camp and working towards similar fitness goals.  The recruits love getting their kick-booty sessions – a mix of cardio, high or low intensity muscle conditioning work with options for all levels of fitness, and HIIT (high intensity interval training). We get our sweat on,” says Chung.

Chung started the class with a light jog. I struggled with the rock climbing leg movement. They did leg lunges, which I really enjoyed, followed by burpies, which are sort of similar to jumping. In addition, we did the traditional sit ups, crunches and push-ups. The class also did Booty Camp Wars, which was really fun, and a series of leg exercises followed by ‘The Britney’, a leg and arm movement which is very hard to describe. Chung ended with some stretching to ease the muscle tension.

Chung was searching the Internet one day and was attracted to the website with the pink colours. “I thought that having an all women’s boot camp around the city was incredibly empowering. I’ve never seen that before,” she says. “To share the love of fitness and to share it with so many amazing women each day is gratifying. I am blessed.”

Overall, I found the class to be very supportive and personal. If you were slacking or doing something wrong, Chung or a peer would correct you, which was nice and a motivator. The workout itself was fun but intense and there were water breaks. Chung is also very flexible with the class times for her recruits.

One of the perks includes a healthy cookbook called Eat Right Made Simple, which the recruits adore. Kennedy has a blog with delicious recipes on her website, and she shares them on a weekly basis via social media. I tried the Banana Mousse, Barbecue Chicken, and Sunshine Rice, all of which were simple, tasty and guilt-free.

If you’re looking for a medium to high intensity workout with supportive women and a cookbook, Booty Camp Fitness may be right for you.

4 ways to beat Jack Frost and stay active this winter

At this time of year, the chilly embrace of Jack Frost can feel as unwelcome as a wet blanket, eating snow cones on a frozen pond or a long hug from your great aunt that you haven’t seen since you were five. It goes against human nature to deliberately turn off the fireplace, get out of your comfy clothes and into layers of moisture wicking, water proof gear so you can venture outside to the bone-chilling tundra, of which only polar bears and ice sculptors are acclimatized.

Perhaps I exaggerate just a smidgen but no one should minimize how biting Canadian winters can be.  The trick is to take what Mother Nature offers and make the best of it by staying fit.

How do you break this cycle of not feeling motivated when winter has settled in across our Great White North with sub zero temperatures, and less sunlight? For some lucky mammals, they just hibernate.  For the rest of us, we need compelling reasons to push ourselves out the door to go for that run or walk, hike or skate.

Living in Canada winter can be, however, an enjoyable experience with the number of activities we participate in like tobogganing, building a snow man, igloo or ice cave. Take advantage of a winter sport or activity like hockey and this will help you stay in shape during the cold months.  Curling is another Canadian winter pastime which can lead you all the way to the Olympics if you’re good enough.

Winters are much more enjoyable when you’re dressed properly, which may be obvious to most but the ones who get sick or frost bite are still there to remind us. If you happen to be a fair weather runner like so many who love the summer sun, you may be pleasantly surprised to discover just how invigorating it feels to run on a crisp, cold winter day while getting your healthy dose of vitamin D in the process.

To help inspire you to get off your comfy couch and into the spirit of exercising outdoors, here are the top four ways to stay active during winter:

After each activity reward yourself by having a cup of hot chocolate or eggnog and then cozy up by the fireplace – the feeling being much more gratifying after a workout.

1. Build a snowman

Two women with a snowman

Building a snowman can be fun for the whole family. All you need is your imagination. The bigger the snowman the bigger the workout you get. According to sources, every hour you will burn 285 calories. This is based on a 150 pound person.

2. Shovel the snow

Mother and Daughter with Snow Shovels

Shoveling snow is a good workout activity and sometimes can be a chore. You can make it fun by having the family take part in the activity and having music play in the background. You will burn 273 calories per hour based on a woman who is 120 pounds.

3. Go snowshoeing

Woman Snowshoeing Past Forest

Snowshoeing – like cross country skiing – is a good cross trainer for running and an enjoyable outing for the whole family.  Hit the trails or slopes and enjoy Mother Nature at her best. You can burn 380-plus calories based on a woman who weighs 120 pounds. Cross country skiing can help you burn over 400 calories. Ice skating can be fun for the whole family and is great for your core and upper body. Many community centers have ice rinks while some families enjoy the convenience of having their own backyard rink, depending of course on regional climate.

4. Play some hockey!

Family playing hockey

Ice hockey is Canada’s sport and what better way than to participate in it and burn calories while having fun?

 

No matter which activity you choose, you can be sure to feel more alive afterwards. Whether it be from having a snowball fight to finding a good hill for spending the afternoon sledding, your fun will keep you fit. If you’re a runner, mix up your routine by doing some snowshoeing or winter hiking.

 

Follow Christine on Twitter at @ChristineRuns and YouTube at RunWithItCB1.

Check her out on the web at RunWithIt.ca

 

10 ways to stay fit and active in the fall

No matter where you live in Canada the fall is a picturesque season with the multi-coloured leaves that cover our trails and pathways. As you walk or run you hear the leaves crunch beneath your feet, however, ‘tis the season for cooler temperatures and less daylight hours. It is the time to wear your sweater for that walk in the trails, or to dress warm to do your favourite activity. The cool crisp air in the early morning is so invigorating – you feel so alive, but there may be times you may feel less energy or motivated to working out and getting that vitamin D.

To get a jumpstart into your autumn workout routine – here are the top 10 ways to staying active.

1. Raking leaves

Raking leaves can be a good workout and the bonus is that your yard work gets done too. It helps build upper-body strength, as well as core strength or strength in your back and stomach according to Barbara Ainsworth, an exercise epidemiologist at San DiegoStateUniversity. Before you start raking, dress in layers, and water bottle with you. Perhaps wear a hat to keep your head warm or if it rains. There are many other outdoor chores such as cleaning your windows.

2. Hiking

Hiking  is a good way to keeping fit and exploring some beautiful trails right in your own back yard. Spend the day with family or friends and make sure to bring some snacks and water with you. If you are beginner, start with an easy terrain. Bring a map or know your route and figure out how long the hike will be. Dress warmly or bring an extra change of clothes. Wear hiking or trail running shoes to avoid slipping or falling.

 3. Outdoor yoga

Try yoga outdoors and enjoy the beautiful scenery around you. Bring a mat or blanket and dress for the weather conditions. It is recommended to dress in layers. Bring some music with you and water.

 4. Washing the car

Consider washing your car once a week. This will help keep you in shape and plus you will a clean car. All you need is a pail, wash cloth and soap. Don’t forget to wash the tires — it can be the most difficult part, but you will work those muscles. Waxing your car afterwards can be a good workout too!

5. Golf

Golfing can be a good workout. Consider walking the course instead of using the cart. Autumn can be a good time to practice your golf game as well as invest in some gear. Dress in layers and keep hydrated on the course.

6. Running

Trail running in the fall is more enjoyable because of the cooler temperatures and the beautiful scenery. It is recommended to wear trail running shoes, dress in layers and bring water with you. If you are new to trail running start with an easy trail until your fitness improves. Know the route so you will not get lost. Watch your footing to avoid tripping over roots.

 7. Picking fruit

Fruit picking can be a great outdoor activity because it is low-impact and is a great family outing. Look in your community calendar for some great places to do some fruit picking or go to the pumpkin patch. Dress for the weather!

8. Walk the dog

It’s a win situation for you and Rex to getting in a good workout. Dogs are good walking companions and also your dog provides safety. If you are a new dog owner start your dog with shorter walks. Walk your dog everyday and try different routes.

9. Biking

Biking or mountain biking can be a great workout and a good cross trainer. Dress for the weather, wear a helmet. Know your route and safety procedures. Bring water with you.

10. Circuit train

Circuit training in the park can be a good cross trainer for the runner who doesn’t go to the gym and to get that total overall fitness. Find a park that has circuit training. Start easy if you have never done it before. Start with a 5min warm-up. Do two sets of 10-12 repetitions of all moves with little rest.

 

 

 

 

You can follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

 

It’s getting old

Aches and pains. People get them. I train an older demographic: ladies of “a certain age,” as I like to say. When first starting out in the gym, I often hear things like, “Well, I have back pain. But that’s to be expected. It’s just old age.” Is it?

Many seem to think that putting up with a growing assortment of aches and pains is part and parcel of getting older. But other cultures throughout the world demonstrate better aging than in North America. (I’m thinking of Japanese centenarians who can still pop a squat, for example.) I won’t presume that these folks feel just as sprightly as they ever did but it’s fair to say that they feel good enough to keep (surprisingly) active.

There are a couple of problems with using “getting older” to account for feeling crummy. The first is that it can obscure the real reason why people feel that way. If I’ve got one bad hip, let’s say, then why doesn’t the other one feel just as bad? If it’s all about aging then both hips should have gone bust because they’ve got the same number of miles on them. It’s quite possible that there’s a specific mechanical issue that can be addressed with proper exercise (and as a matter of fact, a good trainer *ahem* should make it her business to look out for those issues).

The second problem I see is that this kind of thinking winds up stopping older folks from doing stuff that will keep them healthy and well. If you think “getting older” is the only explanation for your aches and pains then you’re much less inclined to do anything about it. You do less. And the less you do, the less you can do. I’m not suggesting that age isn’t a factor in how our bodies feel and function but I do think that using it as a catch-all is getting old. (See what I did there?)

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Running with allergies

For some runners it may be challenging enough running in perfect conditions, let alone having to cope with allergies, which can make breathing difficult and turn a routine run into a tortuous test of will.

There is good news, however, for allergy sufferers: their condition may now be controlled and prevented if necessary steps are taken. After suffering for long enough I decided to visit my doctor to learn which medications would be most suitable. I was diagnosed with Rhinitis (Hay fever) and was prescribed Flonase (nasal spray) and told to take an antihistamine before the workout, which certainly helped to make my running experience more enjoyable.

A recent survey commissioned by Johnson & Johnson suggests up to 10 million Canadians may suffer from allergy symptoms. The survey found that more than a quarter say they’ll limit their outdoor time to prevent the onset of symptoms. Allergy season may start early in spring but can last into fall as the combination of climate change and pollen counts leads to expanded sneezing, wheezing, and gasping.

The main culprits tend to be pollen, ragweed and grass. Sometimes not knowing we have allergies can affect our work and personal lives, as well as our best intentions of getting fit and staying healthy. Often mistaken for a common cold, it is treatable if one knows the symptoms, which may include nasal congestion, itchy and watery eyes.

Speaking with Dr. Jack Taunton, who was Chief Medical Officer for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, he mentions certain regions across North America are harsher than others when it comes to allergies. “Did you know,” he asks, “that Eugene, Oregon isn’t the best place to run for people with allergies?” Dr. Taunton also includes the west coast of British Columbia as a particularly troublesome place for allergy sufferers because of vast forested areas and voluminous species of plants and grasses.

Dr. Taunton suggests various foods, such as strawberries, some vegetables, dust and pet dander, may trigger an allergic reaction, adding, “Some triathletes are even allergic to certain types of chlorine in the pool,” also showing that for some unlucky people there is no escape. He suggests seeing an allergist when symptoms become difficult to manage.

To summarize, your allergies are caused by the environment or certain foods and the best we can do is try to manage the situation.

So what can you do to enjoy your workouts more? “Try breathing more through your mouth,” says Dr. Taunton. Try running when the pollen counts are lowest (check the weather report) and wear sunglasses to prevent itchy watery eyes. Avoid running in trails or parks at the most dangerous times (for your allergies). Before your workout, take an antihistamine. Allergy shots may be the answer and I’ve heard green tea may help provide relief. If unsure, pay a visit your doctor first to find out if you do suffer from an allergy condition.

 

Spring is here – time to get you ready for your first 5k or 10k run

If you made a commitment to start a running program, lose weight and keep the pounds off permanently, you deserve a pat on the back. Running five or 10 kilometres is an attainable goal for many.

A friend related her story of how she looked in the mirror one morning and almost began to panic. A decade ago she’d been fairly athletic but was now 50 pounds overweight and, worse, she smoked a pack of cigarettes per day. On this fateful spring day she chose the Stanley Park seawall route in Vancouver, planning to run slowly for 15 minutes, turning back in the same time. Her goal was to run 30 minutes every day.

She didn’t cover much ground but kept moving the whole time even when her body was begging to stop. She eventually developed shin splints, forcing her onto the bike for six weeks, but soon was back running, improving ever so slowly. A year later she was a non-smoker, 50 pounds lighter and racing every distance from 10km to the marathon. She still claims that first run on the seawall was the hardest workout ever. Following a proper program might have eased a lot of her pain and perhaps prevented training injuries too.

It’s suggested that once you’re able to run 5k distance, continuing on to running 10k is well within reach. Always check with your doctor before embarking on any exercise program.

In a phone chat with Jacques Chapdelaine, offensive coordinator of the 2011 Grey Cup champion B.C. Lions, he recommends drinking plenty of water during workouts. “The biggest thing for me is hydration at my size (over 190lbs),” Chapdelaine, who carries a water belt with him and drinks every 15 minutes, says. “This has helped me not feel so tired and want to continue running.” He adds, “I run three to four times per week – 40 minutes at a time.” His longer run is 90 minutes.

Here are some other helpful tips to make your running journey less painful.

Visit a running specialty store before choosing the right shoe. Bring in your old pair to check the wear pattern.

Avoid wearing cotton. Choose synthetic fabrics, such as CoolMax or Dri-Fit that wick away moisture.

Invest in an athletic watch to time your workouts.

Record your workouts in a log book to track your improvement.

Proper Fuel and hydration – consult the Canadian Food Guide or speak with a registered dietician.

Do all of the proper stretches after your workout, holding each stretch for 20-30 seconds.  Remember, no matter how tough it gets out there, if you stay with the program you’ll be amazed at the results.