Do You REALLY Need a Personal Trainer?

Things are so complicated  these days.  You hear it all the time.  Why can’t things be simple?  …like they “used to be”.


The world is connected, automated and integrated.  Life just isn’t simple anymore.  If someone could come to 2013 from 1913, they would barely recognize the place.  Is it better?  … or is it worse?  I would venture that it’s neither.  It’s just different, that’s all.

The thing is, that while technology has changed tremendously, human beings and their physiology have not.  We are still made up of the same flesh and bones.  We have the same muscle, blood, amino acids etc… as we did in 1913.  So, while we sometimes yearn for simpler times, we still need to navigate within our new reality.


As the world has changed technologically, so have everyday things; like how we live, how we work and how we feed ourselves.  The overwhelming majority of people are no longer physical during their days.  Forget about hunting and gathering, we can’t even be bothered to walk across the room to turn the TV on or change channels!  Our populations have exploded, increasing the need for more food at lower prices.  For the most part, while we have more and more food available, the quality has gone down and our consumption has gone up.  Commerce, along with mass media and advertising, has become the driver as to what most people consume and what they buy.

When you think about it, it’s a pretty lethal combination.  Less movement, more low quality, cheap food.  Add to this mix, the fact that we now sleep less because of all of the options available to us for entertainment 24 hours a day and we’re all “connected” all the time… to everyone!  Including our office and boss!

Remember, when cartoons ONLY came on Saturday mornings, hockey ONLY came on Saturday nights and grocery stores closed on Sundays?  Seems quaint.  Was that “better”?  Who knows?  It sure was different.


As a personal trainer, I see clients all the time that exhibit the symptoms of this modern lifestyle.  They usually have bad backs and necks from sitting all day in front of a computer.  They’ve usually got extra fat around their middle from lack of exercise and over-consuming high calorie, low nutrient food.  They drink too much coffee, sleep too little, work too much, stress too much about work and don’t drink enough water.  You’d think we’d know better with all of the information about food and exercise available to us everywhere we turn.

The Personal Training Professional of today is perfectly positioned to help everyday people navigate through this new reality.  Forget about simply counting repetitions, a trainer will teach you how to strengthen your core, sit up straighter, hit a ball farther and feel less stressed.  Today’s fitness professional will also teach you how to spot the marketing “double talk” that you’ll find on food labels and will show you how to skyrocket your energy levels by stabilizing your blood sugar levels.  Along with this, a personal trainer will guide you to develop a plan that fits your lifestyle, that is sustainable AND that will let you experience real world “peaking moments” throughout the entire year.

Most of all, today’s Certified Personal Trainer will help you to meet the challenges of today’s world.  We don’t live in 1913.  The reality of 2103 is that the world is not a simple place.

Here is a list of things that I came up with that pose unique challenges to us human beings living, on earth, in 2013.

1-  Our lives are run by computers.  We sit (or stand) in un-natural positions for hours and hours every day, ruining our posture.  This affects pain levels, breathing and even energy levels.

2- Because of the above, everything we have is automated.  We can navigate our lives and do lots of stuff without actually doing anything!  We hardly burn any calories going through our daily lives.

3- The way that we buy and consume food is different.  Below are 4 major differences in our food reality vs. the year 1913.

a- High Fructose Corn Syrup.  It’s sweet and it’s cheap.  It’s also in everything.  We don’t need it and it’s making us fat and diabetic.

b- Drive- Thrus.  When did we get so busy that we couldn’t stop to eat?  Drive- Thrus, for the most part, didn’t exist a generation ago.  Now you don’t even have to walk into the restaurant to get your order of fat, salt and grease.

c- Packaged foods.  It was UNTHINKABLE that my mother (let alone my grandmother) would have bought and served canned soup or prepared mac and cheese.  Today, it’s the norm.  And we’ve got the hypertension levels that go along with it.  Package foods are absolutely loaded with sodium.

d- Supersized or “value” meals.  Does anyone really need to eat that many deep fried potatoes with their lunch while they drink their 20 teaspoons of sugar in their “biggie” drink?

4- Techno stress.  Being connected was supposed to make life easier and give us more leisure time.  Wow… that didn’t happen!  Your job is now literally in the palm of your hand (along with your customers, co-workers and even your boss).  It’s as if we decided to all get paid the same as before while agreeing to work 24 hours a day.  Just because we CAN do it, doesn’t mean we should.

5- We’re living longer and doing more.  The crazy thing is that, while we are getting less and less healthy, we’re managing to live longer and we’re doing more with our time.  A whole new term called “boomeritis” has cropped up.  Adults are wearing out their bodies by snowboarding, mountain biking and doing marathons instead of fading away.  Our arthritic joints are the price we pay.

6- Finally… we want it all.  And we want it now!  When our email slows down, we get PISSED.  It’s hard to really appreciate anything if everything is available to us.  All the time.  This keeps us in a stressed out state of feeling that it is our right to have it all.


At this point, you may be wondering what exactly all this has to do with personal training!  Well, life is pretty complicated these days.  Humans are having a hard time keeping up.  As a result, we’re stressed, fat, in pain and “managing” some kind of condition with medication.  The value of a personal trainer is to bring things back to simple.  It isn’t enough to simply “move more”.  That’s just not reality.  More isn’t what we need.  We need to understand specific needs and make small, manageable changes day to day, week to week to bring us back to health.

We also need to  understand just what eating “better” means.  The reality is that our food source has changed and is driven by marketing as much as anything.  Again… we don’t need “more”, we need to make things simple.

So, do you REALLY need a personal trainer?  If you’ve got a body and a mind and you’re confused….

….you just might.

Crazy Hockey Parents and Amazing Kids

As the hockey season winds down this weekend for the 9 year olds that I coach, it got me thinking…

What exactly are we doing this for?  …what do we want for our kids?  …what are we trying to teach them?

I’ve seen some pretty disgusting behaviour in hockey arenas over the last 9 months.  There have been some amazing, uplifting, thrilling moments too, but, there has been some ugliness.

The kids that I’m coaching are amazing.  They absolutely LOVE hockey!  If they aren’t on the ice, they’re playing mini-sticks in the basement, NHL Slapshot on the X-Box, playing ball hockey outside or watching Hockey Night in Canada on TV.  It’s a pure, unadaulterated kind of love.  It’s refreshing and inspiring.

The amazing thing is that as much as the kids love it and work like crazy for a positive outcome (a win… or a goal), in the end they don’t really care if they win or lose.  20 minutes after the game is over, they’re on to the next thing and can’t wait to play again.  THAT part of the game is beautiful.  They’ve got the right perspective and act with a level of maturity that is wonderful to see.

The parents of these 9 year olds, however, can be an entirely different story.

For some of them, it’s ALL about the win.  That and “development”.  “Fun” comes in a distant third.   Living vicariously through their kids, they push them, pay a small fortune for training and dwell on every single “bad play” or loss.  These parents are the ones that sit in the stands with stop watches to time their kids, count their shifts and demand answers as to why their kid isn’t the full time centre, or goalie or how could someone DARE put their kid on defence.  That part of the game is ugly and not so nice to see.

To me, the sad thing is the missed opportunity to make this such a positive experience for our children.  99.9% of them will never make it to the pro level.  So why exactly do we treat them like they ARE part of the 0.1%?  After all, we’re talking about children playing a game.  A GAME.

When did playing games go from being something to have fun with to a tool for measuring achievement?  I was a Division 1 College athlete and a professional, so believe me, I understand what it takes to get to the “show”.  The point is that it’s perfectly fine to play for entertainment, for exercise, for character building and for social reasons.

Teach your kids how to work as a team.  Teach them about commitment.  Teach them how to follow through on achieving a goal.  Teach them about mental and physical toughness.  But, above all, teach them that this is THEIR time to be with their friends and to have fun.

Parents…. it’s not about you.  Take your kids to the games, cheer for them and then sit down and watch.  Let them have fun.  Let THEM succeed or fail on their own.  They’re watching and listening all the time.  They hear you calling the (teenage) referee an a**hole.  They can see you screaming and banging on the glass like a wild animal.  They can also hear everything that you say about their coach.  The “coach” that is to be respected and appreciated.  If you tear him or her down, you send terrible, mixed messages to your kids.

Fun, commitment, team work, discipline and achievement.  Put things in this order and both the kids and the parents will have a positive experience that will produce memories and lessons for a lifetime.

“Show” or no show.  That’s really what it’s all about.

Ernie Schramayr

(Hockey Coach and Dad/ former Hamilton Tiger- Cat)

Eating Simply

I was really excited this week to receive a package in the mail that contained a newly published book from my friend, Dianne Bailey.  Dianne is a Personal Trainer and studio owner near Denver, Colorado.  I’ve known Dianne for 7 years and she is an inspirational fitness educator and role model.

She also just hit a Home Run with her first  book “Eating Simply“!


If you’ve been in a book store lately and looked down the “Fitness and Nutrition” aisle, you’ll know how confusing it can be to look for some simple guidance into how to exercise and, especially, how to eat.  Low Fat?…  Low Carb?…  Vegan?…  “Paleo?”…  You need a PhD just to understand some of them and others require you to obsess over ever last little detail of what goes into your body until you’re ready to scream.

In my experience, if a plan becomes a burden (or boring) people WILL NOT  stick to it.  As the title of Dianne’s book implies, the eating style that she promotes is “simple” above all else.  It is also very realistic and it WORKS.  The foundation of “Eating Simply” is that it features real food… for real people.


To make it even easier, Dianne created what she calls The 5 Tenets of Eating Simply.  They are as follows;

1-  Eat frequently.  To be able to burn fat effectively and maintain (or gain) a lean body, it requires that you have an efficient metabolism.  Metabolism is the speed which with your body burns fat and uses fuel.  It increases every time that you add muscle AND every time that you eat.  Ideally, you would consume a mix of protein, carbohydrate and healthy fat every 3 to 3 1/2 hours.  Example…  Greek Yogourt, Berries, Pumpkin Seeds.

2-  Eat naturally.  Natural means, closer to how nature or less processed.  Food in it’s natural state requires the body to do great amounts of work in the act of digestion.  This means that your body will actually burn calories digesting a real potato as opposed to potato chips.  More work in digesting also means that you will get energy for longer with no blood sugar spikes, meaning less cravings and more stable energy.

3-  Eat completely.  Some diet fads have you eliminate entire “macro” nutrient food groups.  The fact is that you NEED each of these three types of nutrients.  Protein, carbohydrate… and fat.  When you eat them in the right combination (every 3 to 3 1/2 hours), you will be training your body to be better at NOT storing excess fat and at maintaining stable energy supplies.  Example…  a large salad with tuna, slivered almonds and avocado with an orange for dessert.

4-  Eat less sugar.  Sugar is associated with many health problems from cellular inflammation to diabetes and obesity.  It is also addictive and added to almost everything that we eat.  While Eating Simply encourages you to EAT for health, not to deprive yourself, cutting back on sugar is one thing that can move you quickly in the direction of consistent energy and a leaner, healthier body.  Simply put, the more sugar you eat, the more you crave sugar.  Over consuming sugars will spike your blood sugar levels and force your body to produce more of the hormone, insulin to process it.  When this happens, your body goes into a “storage” mode and you start to store body fat at a higher rate.  Cutting back can be challenging at first, but, you can do it and will notice big changes very soon.

5-  Eat to be stable.  If you follow the 4 previous rules, your blood sugar levels will be much more “stable”.  This means that you won’t have tremendous highs (…ever seen a kid after eating a big bowl of Cap’n Crunch?) or those crashes where you feel nauseous or dizzy and irritable.  Stabilizing your blood sugar levels by eating simply will give you consistent energy throughout the day.  It will also create a hormonal environment where your body does not have to store, or hold onto, energy and it will accelerate the rate that it releases energy (primarily fat).  The importance of stabilizing your blood sugar can’t be overstated for you to be successful!

That’s it.  Simple, easy and very realistic.  Take the foods and meals that you already eat.  Clean them up a bit so that they are “complete” and then adjust your portion sizes so that you are hungry every 3 to 3 1/2 hours.  And then EAT!


You can order “Eating Simply” at

Ernie Schramayr

3 Ways to MAKE Time to Reach Your Fitness Goals

The number one reason people fail to maintain (or improve) their fitness level is due to a perceived lack of time.

The truth is people DO have time, IF they learn to more efficiently manage the rest of their lives. Millions of people with jobs and families exercise and eat right and they have the same 24 hours as the rest of us. Before trying to add more “stuff” to your day to become one of those people, make the rest of your life more efficient. You’ll be amazed at how much time you actually do have.

There are three life skills that will give you freedom to do more with your 24 hours.

1. Batching. Never answer a single e-mail, pay one bill or run just one errand. Always batch similar tasks together. Doing this saves money, energy and, most importantly, time. Efficiency experts will tell you this skill alone can transform a hectic life. Do this with your nutrition and prepare more healthy food than you need (once or twice per week) to freeze and store and you will eat better with less time investment.

2. Multitasking. Get your workout by running to the bank to make a deposit, write a meal plan while your kids are swimming, steam some brown rice while you fold laundry or do a core workout while you watch TV. Figure out how to do more than one thing at a time to “find” more time.

3. Forget the “All or Nothing” mentality. If you think it takes huge effort and time to get great results, you are wrong. Just 10 minutes of focused, efficient exercise is often enough to get you moving in a new direction (and always better than doing nothing). As you get stronger and “find” more time, you can expand on this and continue to improve.

I have found it works to make small changes, on a weekly basis, in your efforts to achieve a goal. In three months, you will have added 12 “things” to your life that will have an effect on your desired outcome. These things can come from your brainstorming activity earlier. If you do this 52 times, you can be an entirely new person in one year.

Along the way, you have to assess whether you are making progress or whether you need to take a step back and make some changes. My favourite way to do this is to answer the question, “How will I know that it’s working and I am getting closer to my goal?”

Here are some actual responses to that question;

“I won’t have to shop in the plus-size section of the store.”

“I’ll look forward to playing with my kids after work.”

“I won’t snap at my husband so much.”

“My jeans will start to get baggy.”

“I won’t be winded when I take the stairs at work.”

“My running times will be faster.”

“I will look forward to having my picture taken.”

Be very specific and think, in real world terms, of how you will know that this is working for you. If it isn’t, you haven’t failed; you just need to do some more planning. If you are not seeing positive results, something has to change. You either need a new goal, a different approach or some other way to evaluate progress. Go back and re-do the steps outlined in this article.

Answer the three questions again.

•  What do you want to do that you can’t do now?

•  What can I do, right now, to start moving toward my dream/goal?

•  How will I know that it’s working and I am getting closer?

Train Like a Rock Star!

Bruce Spingsteen, Pink, Madonna, Dave Grohl, Lady Gaga, Kid Rock…. even Ozzy!

They’re all Rock Stars.  FIT Rock Stars.


The Rock Stars of today have one major difference from the stars of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.  Today, they all work out.  You simply can’t do what the Boss does at 60 without some prep.  And you can’t perform a full show that includes acrobatics and dance, like Pink, without first training your body.  Even someone like Ozzy Osbourne who was the ULTIMATE bad boy back in the 1970’s with Black Sabbath prepares for the rigours of the road with a personal trainer and a workout routine before embarking on a world tour in 2013.

How exactly does a Rock Star train and prepare for endless months of nightly performances?  Is it anything different from what an “average” person would do?

The answers is yes… and no.

While there are some special considerations taken into account to get Dave Grohl ready to attack his guitars and drums every night, while looking great for the photo shoots and interviews during the day… in the end Rock Stars are just human beings.  What works for Madonna on stage, will also work for Madge in accounting!

A training program for a professional, performing Rock Star includes 3 main elements.

1-  Performance.

Just like athletes and their sports, musicians and singers have physical demands specific to what they do.  Playing guitar (or drums or keyboards) night after night is hard!  Players have to build up the muscles of the back, the shoulders, the arms and the core to be able to move to meet the demands of playing.


Other aspects of training for “performance” include building muscular and aerobic endurance and increasing flexibilty and dexterity.  A proper workout regimen to prepare someone to perform at the top level should include a “progressive” schedule that changes it’s focus leading up to important events, like leaving for a World Tour.  As the date gets nearer, the training should more closely mimic the activity that you are preparing for.  In other words, you would first “set the table” by building lean muscle and working to increase conditioning levels before working on more specific performance related demands.

2- Protection.

Many young players spend countless hours playing with no thought to proper body alignment or posture.  This invariably results in overuse (or repetitive) strain injuries.  Carpal tunnel syndrome, head forward syndrome, sciatica etc…


A Rocker’s training program should emphasize great posture and proper alignment.  Eric Clapton is an example of a guitarist that displays perfect posture and real ease of playing.

If you sit at a desk all day long, it’s like being bent over a piano… so this also applies to you in everyday life!

A great technique is to use the “warm up” or “cool down” part of each training session to perform core or posture related exercises using stability balls, resistance bands or medicine balls.  This part should become like brushing teeth to a musician.  It should happen every day and it becomes part of their “postural hygiene”.

3- Esthetics.

A Rock Star HAS to look good.  It’s part of the job.  Especially in today’s world.  Image is important and people expect their rockers to look amazing.

Looking amazing for performing artists means two things.  Lean muscle and low bodyfat.


During the build up to the “performance” training, a Rock Star’s program should have them focused on building muscle and learning how to eat to enhance metabolism.  This means heavy, basic bodybuilding moves and frequent meals that are high in lean protein with complex carbohydrates (primarily vegetables along with some whole grains, potatoes or other slow release starches).

As the performance or event gets closer, the training program should shift to higher intensity activities that emphasize full body “functional” movements to develop endurance and burn fat.  Manipulating carbohydrates, by minimizing starchy carb intake, will also help an artist burn body fat at an increased rate.


The progression from heavy muscle building to high intensity “burn” training along with carb manipulation is similar to what a body builder would go through to prepare for a show.


Here is a sample of a Rock Star Training program in the “build up” or muscle building phase.  Follow up each lifting session with 20 minutes of cardio training that includes 3- 5 high speed “bursts” of 20 – 30 seconds.

Perform this routine 3 times per week with one extra day of “cardio only” up to 45 minutes, steady with no bursts.  …after 4 weeks, shift focus to “endurance” training, featuring higher reps and a larger variety of exercises.


Medicine Ball Chopping Movements 3 x 10- 20 of each with a 10lb medicine ball.

Stability Ball Y,T,W,L Moves 279cfig3



Bench Press 3 x 6- 10 repetitions (superset with “air” squats x 20)

Barbell Squats 3 x 6- 10 reps (superset with Exercise Band Rows x 20)

Lat Pulldowns 3 x 6- 10 reps (superset with Exercise Band Rotations x 20 per side)

Overhead Barbell Presses 3 x 6- 10 reps

Barbell Curls 3 x 6- 10 reps

Triceps Pressdowns 3 x 6- 10 reps

Straight Leg Deadlifts 3 x 10- 15 reps



Stability Ball Crunches 3 x 25

Stability Ball Hip Bridges 3 x 15

Stability Ball Side to Side Rotations 3 x 10 each way



Too Sick to Work Out?

In the middle of cold and flu season, I get tons of people asking me if they should bother working out when they’re sick, or if they should put their exercise on hold until they are completely symptom free.

Number one… listen to your body.  If you feel like you’re ready to die, stay in bed, rest, drink fluids etc…   You’ve got to really tune into how you feel and, ultimately, you make the call.

On the other hand, sometimes a bit of activity will help to make you feel better.  If you do choose to exercise, the intensity level and the duration of your workout should be taken down a notch.


Unless you are Michael Jordan trying to win the NBA Championship while sick with the flu… slow down a bit.

Another way to decide whether to train or not is the location of your symptoms.  If you’re sick “above the neck” (sore throat, mild headache, stuffy nose), as long as you aren’t “dying”, a bit of mild exercise might make you feel better.  You probably won’t make things worse.  Just keep in mind that your recovery ability is compromised, so don’t push too hard.


If your symptoms are “below the neck” (chest congestion, stomach ache, diarrhea etc…), do NOT work out.  These are signals from your body to take a break.  Chances are that doing a workout will slow recovery and make you more sick.  The “tincture of time” is what is needed here.  Treat your symptoms, rest and let your body heal itself.


If you have a fever, do NOT workout.  An elevated temperature is already putting you at risk for dehydration.  It simply doesn’t make any sense to push yourself in this state.

So, I guess the best advice is to err on the side of good judgement.  Don’t wimp out every time you have a tickle in your throat, but, don’t try to be a hero when you can barely stand without the room spinning.

Unless you are Michael Jordan and it’s game 7.

Your Attitude Determines Your Destiny

The Student Creed at my daughter’s Karate Dojo is as follows….

“I keep my thoughts positive… because my thoughts become words.

I keep my words positive… because my words become my actions.

I keep my actions positive… because my actions become my values.

I keep my values positive… because my values become my DESTINY!”


Strong stuff, eh?  Hearing it for the 1000th time the other night made me think of how valuable the words actually are.  Everything in our lives is influenced by the ATTITUDE that we adopt.  Positive people do more and enjoy more.  Here is a list of 10 things that having a positive attitude can bring you….

1-  More happiness.

2-  You feel less stress and are happier because of it.

3-  “Problems” are no longer problems, but become opportunities to grow.

4-  You see opportunities where others see dead ends.

5-  Your immune system is stonger.

6-  You achieve more and are more satisfied with what you do achieve.

7-  You expect positive outcomes and results and you usually get them.

8-  You have more energy (negativity can be very draining).

9-  You bounce back from setbacks faster.

10-  You have more perseverance since you expect things to turn out well in the end.  Because of that, they usually do.


If you just aren’t a very positive person, but you recognize the value of being one, here are 3 Attitude Adjustment Strategies you can use to change your state immediately.


1-  Smile and stand up straight!  Just as your emotions can change your physical body (ie:  when you are depressed you slouch, move slower and breathe more shallow), your physical body can change your emotions.  In other words, Fake It.  It is very hard to be sad and depressed when you’re smiling and standing tall.



2-  Use Questions to guide your thoughts.  Ask yourself these questions…. What is GREAT about this situation?  What am I happy about?  What am I grateful for? …and what EXCITES me?

Your mind will send you the answers in the form of thoughts.  Remember the creed…. your thoughts become ultimately become your destiny!



3-  Assume an, almost child-like, trust in the goodness of people and things around you.  If your waitress brings you the wrong order…. smile.  She might have a sick child in the hospital or might have just gotten an eviction notice.  If somebody cuts you off in traffic, breathe…. they might be rushing to the ER to be with their spouse.  If your customer service person is hard to understand, speak more slowly and think of them as your friend…. they are just another human being trying to make a living and this is your opportunity to help them and to make a difference!

In other words, don’t take on more burdens then you already have.  Remember the big picture and what is really important to you.  In the end, everything else is just small stuff.



Attitude Adjustment Strategy BONUS No. 4….   Imagine that you are Indiana Jones!  EVERYTHING in your life is simply “part of the Adventure”.  I am the child of immigrant parents whose childhood years were lived through World War 2.  By night, they were bombed by the allies and by day, their lives were dominated by the Nazis.  After that, NOTHING seems so bad.  They’ve taught us to live our lives with extreme gratitude.  Be thankful, be respectful, treat others how you want to be treated and enjoy the adventure.

Ernie Schramayr 

Pain for Gain?

If you’ve followed fitness trends over the last several years you will have noticed an interesting shift.  From the 1960’s into the 80’s, you heard about No Pain, No Gain.  Gym Rats talked about “feeling the burn” and how you HAD to be hurting if you wanted to get stronger.  From the 90’s until the early 2000’s, the No Pain, No Gain crowd has slowly been replaced by the more reasonable Gain Without Strain group.


Then something happened.  Namely… Crossfit happened!  In 2000, a new exercise style (and company) was founded that encouraged members to get back to basics, to get off of exercise machines and to work VERY hard.  Crossfit workouts are short and very intense.  While their popularity has skyrocketed, there are many critics that point to the inappropriate nature of the workouts for some and the high injury rate among participants.


Besides Crossfit, home exercise programs like P90X and “Insanity” also exploded in popularity on late night infomercials.


Based on basic, functional movements using minimal equipment, both of these programs are extremely high in intensity and not lacking in their critics.  Insanity, in particular has been criticized for it’s high risk vs. reward potential for many participants.  Simply put, if you have any joint problems, Insanity’s high impact, plyometric workouts will most likely inujure you at some point.

So, as an observer you might ask…. “Is THIS what I need to do to get in shape?”.

To that, I would answer… “It depends”.

In my daily work, I have had many, many people come to see me because they were injured doing Crossfit, or Insanity or some other high intensity boot camp style class.  The bottom line is, some exercise programs (and some exercises) have a higher risk associated with them.  Because of this, lots of people will get hurt doing them.  You’ve got to weigh the potential reward against the risk and determine whether it’s worth it for you.  If you’re training to become a linebacker, or a cage fighter, it’s probably worth the risk.  If you’re a stay at home mom looking after a couple of kids, the risk of herniating a disc in your back or tearing a rotator cuff in your shoulder probably isn’t worth it.

I believe that all types of training have their place and can bring about positive results.  The problem that I have with some of the super-high intensity programs is that they are NOT appropriate (or necessary) for most, average people.  You simply do not have to push super hard all the time, every time that you exercise.


In the end, Crossfit or Boot Camp or Insanity… or Zumba for that matter are simply tools that you can use to bring you to a desired physical outcome.  The key to long term success is to have a strategy that allows for you to make changes in your daily life and that you actually enjoy and will stick to.  All programs (intense or otherwise) are simply ways to add a “stimulus” to your body that will force you to adapt in positive ways, by adding lean muscle tissue, burning fat and improving strength and endurance.  If your exercise program pushes you past your body’s ability to recover, then progress will stop and you will backslide.

Do your homework and never believe the hype.  Consider your own exercise history, your injury profile and your experience with exercise programs.  Balance the risks involved with the possible payoff.  Is it worth it?  Are you going to actually follow through?  …and are you going to be safe doing it?

Any program that you do decide to get involved with MUST be appropriate for you.  It has to involve an initial conditioning period and then must change in a progressive way as your body changes.

Choose your “tools” wisely and then commit to do your best.


Getting Started….. Again


As I sit here writing this Blog, I’m thinking of the week ahead of me.  Tomorrow starts my first full week back at work.  …And a return to my regular workout routine.  For the past two weeks, over the Christmas Holidays, I went sledding with my kids, did some skating, a bit of walking and even threw in a couple of quickie, “blaster”, workouts.  I’ve been able to maintain my fitness level somewhat, but, I’ve got some real goals for 2013 that won’t happen with the kind of schedule that I had over the last two weeks.

So… I’ll do what I do every year at this point.  I am not a big believer in “Resolutions”.  To me, resolutions are usually boring, uninspiring things that don’t really get you excited enough when the days get cold and dark and you just don’t want to stick with it.  In fact, most people give up on their resolutions well before the end of January.


Instead of picking a resolution, I create a road map to take me to places I want to go.  This is exactly what I do with every single client that I work with personally.  Take a sheet of paper with the months of the year laid out on it and write in “peaking moments” that you’d like to achieve this year.  Keep it simple. Start with the destination and then the plan to get there will take care of itself.

I am starting off the year with 5 main “peaks” to work towards.

St. Patrick’s Day 5K Race (March).  My personal best in the 5K is 20:30.  That was 18 years ago and before knee surgery!  This past year, I ran a 5K race in 23:45.  This year I would like to break 23 minutes.

Paris to Ancaster 60KM Bike Race (April).  I’ve been looking at this for about 20 years!  THIS is the year that I will finally take part along with a client or two of mine.


Warrior Dash (July).  This will be my third time doing the dash.  It’s just too much fun to miss out on.  I’ll make a goal, again, of not walking once throughout the course!

Hockey Season (October).  I haven’t played in a couple of years after a back injury (not hockey related) and a torn rotator cuff (from a hockey fall).  I’ll prepare myself to be ready to play in October.

Christmas 2013 (December).  I love going INTO the holidays in great shape to avoid all of the stress that comes from holiday eating, partying, relaxing etc…


There you have it, my whole training can be broken down into 5 “phases”.  Each phase gets broken down into 4 to 12 week training cycles where I will tweak and change how I train and how I eat to help achieve each peaking moment.

You’ll notice that I’ve picked activities to move TOWARDS.  I am very goal- driven, so it works well for me.  To focus on “getting lean” or losing weight does not motivate me at all.  It works for others, just not for my personality.  However, doing the training for each event will definitely keep me lean and keep my weight where it should be, so in the end it works just the same.

Some non- athletic peaking moments could be…

-Look great at a wedding or reunion

-Fitting back into a favourite pair of jeans

-A Doctor’s appointment where you are taken off of blood pressure meds….

Peaking moment No. 1 for me is 9 weeks away and I am not in “peak” shape or anywhere near it, so tomorrow I start 2 weeks of General Conditioning to get my body ready to start building towards the end goal.  After “conditioning”, I’ll move onto muscle building… then endurance and finally metabolic (performance) training.  Depending on the end goal and the time available, each phase length will be between 1 and 4 weeks.

The point is not to try to do everything right away.  Too many people start the year off by going way to fast, way to soon.  They burn out quickly and never really achieve anything, other than getting angry and depressed that they’ve failed AGAIN.

Start slowly.  Be consistent …and build over time.

Thumbs Up

That’s the way to do it!

The 5 Minute Holiday Blaster Workout

So… you’ve got NO time to workout this holiday season?  Well, how about 5 minutes?  Have you got 5 minutes?

Recently, I was playing around with different training modalities and was trying to come up with something that took practically no time, while still making a difference in your strength, muscle tone and in your health.  I came up with something that I call “blasters”.  A blaster lasts 5 minutes and, like blocks, you can stack more than one together based on your available time.

To perform a blaster, decide on 2 exercises.  For example, pushups and  squats.  Perform 10 pushups and then with no rest, do 10 squats.  Repeat for 5 minutes.  That’s it!  You’ll end up doing 5 sets of each (or more).  Choose the style of pushup that is appropriate for your fitness level (from the knees, or toes or with feet elevated or clap pushups or with one hand etc…).  Same goes for the squat (barbell, dumbbell, front squat, jump squat etc…)  Challenge yourself for the 5 minutes.

If you have more than 5 minutes, then add additional blasters based on the time you have available.  Got 20 minutes?  … do 4 blasters.  Do 6 if you’ve got a half hour.  Again, work at the level of YOUR fitness.  Push if you’re experienced and go easy if you’re new.  Do the best you can with the time you have.

It’s really a great, low pressure, way to keep things going over the holidays if you are out of your normal routine.  If you don’t have any equipment, do things like pushups, chair dips, rear lunges, crunches, squat jumps etc… You are only limited by your imagination.  If you do have equipment, you can still do the same type of workout.  Use exercises like curls, presses, squats, triceps extensions etc…

Try to mix up pushing and pulling movements, upper vs. lower body and strength vs. endurance exercises.

Here are a few examples of blasters that you might try.

1-  Elevated Pushups/ Squat Jumps

2-  Squat- Curl- Press/ Burpees

3-  Dumbbell Squats/ Overhead Presses

4-  Alternating Rear Lunges/ Bent over Rows

5-  Bicycle Crunches/ Close Grip Pushups



Give it a shot over the holidays, you’re body will be glad that you did!