Archive for the ‘Fitness Tips’ Category

Are They Working Hard or Hardly Working?

A personal trainer should be very easy to talk to, smiling, dressed well and appear to be organized and prepared. The personal trainer should be paying attention to the client, what they are saying, what they are doing and how they are doing it. They should be providing feedback and motivating the client. The personal trainer should be inspiring and engaged with the client at all times. Their tone of voice and body language should be motivating and attractive. They should be putting the “personal” in personal training. That is what you are paying for!

A personal trainer should be very easy to talk to, smiling, dressed well and appear to be organized and prepared. The personal trainer should be paying attention to the client, what they are saying, what they are doing and how they are doing it. They should be providing feedback and motivating the client. The personal trainer should be inspiring and engaged with the client at all times. Their tone of voice and body language should be motivating and attractive. They should be putting the “personal” in personal training. That is what you are paying for!

It has been some time since I have put my thoughts into writing but today I saw something that inspired me to write this short article about the things you should be looking for in a personal trainer. 

For the past ten years I have had the opportunity to work with, manage and teach many aspiring health and fitness professionals. In this time, I have also been a witness to many practices that I will never understand and today was one of them. When I exercise I tend to keep to myself and observe everyone else. I do this for a couple of reasons; one of them being that I am a lifelong student and I am always watching people to learn from them and their successes and mistakes. The other is that I have had the pleasure of observing some of the best and some of the worst fitness professionals in the industry.  

Today, I witnessed something that I still cannot wrap my head around. When I am teaching aspiring fitness professionals the one thing I spend a fair bit of time on is safety. Today I witnessed a complete disregard for safety by a certified personal trainer. While working with his client and spotting her on a dumbbell flat chest press, he spotted from the elbows (which is the first mistake). When spotting his client, she failed and the dumbbell fell on her face. The part that I am still struggling with is that within a minute, he attempted to spot her again from the elbows, and again, the weight fell on her face. First things first, when spotting any dumbbell press, you should always spot from the wrists or hands so that when your client does fatigue, you do not push the weight into their body or face like I witnessed today. This is one of the most commonly made mistakes in a fitness facility but any educated fitness professional should know this. Secondly, he did it twice!  

There are an increasingly large number of people seeking personal trainers in North America. With this demand, the industry has been exploding with new theories of training, new certifications, new styles of training, new corporate fitness facilities and more and more boutique style training facilities. Before you sign up and purchase personal training, there are some things you might want to consider.  

  1. Age, Maturity, Engagement, Body Language, Appearance and Attire 

Something that is not always easy to determine prior to purchasing personal training is the age and maturity level of the fitness professional. But if you have the opportunity, it is always a good idea to observe the personal trainers while they are exercising in the facility and while they are engaged with a client. This will reveal very important information regarding the personal trainer’s perspective on exercise and their approach to personal training. Look for things like whether the personal trainer has their shoes tied up, are they leaning on equipment or sitting down when their client is exercising, are they observing their client’s performance from all angles and viewpoints, are they smiling and making eye contact with their client, are they carrying a coffee while they are training their client, do they look like they just rolled out of bed and were late getting to the client’s session, are they carrying their client’s file and are they writing down information, are they actually watching their client’s technique or are they looking at other gym-goers, are they motivating and talking with their client? In between sets are they being personable or are they staring off into the distance, are they offering feedback to their client? Does the client look like they are enjoying themselves? Are they working hard or hardly working?  

The answers to these questions will tell you the quality of the personal trainer you are going to get. The personal trainer should be very easy to talk to, smiling, dressed well and appear to be organized and prepared. The personal trainer should be paying attention to the client, what they are saying, what they are doing and how they are doing it. They should be providing feedback and motivating the client. The personal trainer should be inspiring and engaged with the client at all times. Their tone of voice and body language should be motivating and attractive. They should be putting the “personal” in personal training. That is what you are paying for! 

  1. Education/Certifications 

Aside from the personal side of personal training, you want a personal trainer who knows what they are doing. In the industry today there are more certifications than we know what to do with. There are certifications that you can achieve by attending a weekend course, certifications that require a minimum of two years of post secondary education before you can achieve them, certifications that you can achieve online, certifications that are one day workshops and certifications that specific to a type of equipment. What you want to look for in a personal trainer are certifications that are theory based because the theory-based certifications typically require formal education prior to attempting the certification. Some of the more common theory based certifications are CSEP – CPT, NSCA – CPT, NSCA – CSCS and the YMCA Fitness Education certification. These are certifications that require education and mentorship hours to achieve. This means that they have formal education in health and fitness in addition to their personal training certification. Keep in mind that just because someone is wearing a shirt that says “Personal Trainer” does not mean they are certified. I was a “Personal Trainer” for a year at a well renowned fitness facility without any certifications 

Most fitness facilities will post their personal trainer’s credentials for you to see. Google what the certifications are or the requirements to obtain them to see just how qualified your personal trainer is! 

Ideally, your personal trainer should have formal education (post secondary) in health and fitness as well as a theory-based certification. I am not saying that any personal trainer who does not have this is not high quality (I currently do not have a theory based certification but I do have 10 years of post secondary education in exercise science and 16 years of work experience in the field) but it is something to consider!  

  1. Walking the Walk 

Another questions to ask is, does your personal trainer practice what they preach? Are they coaching you to do something that they cannot do themselves? If this is the case they might not be best suited for you. Think about your stockbroker. If they were encouraging you to purchase a specific stock, but they would not purchase it themselves, would you buy it? If your doctor prescribed a medication for you but they would never take it themselves, would you be confident in taking it? Find out what your personal trainer does in their spare time, their hobbies and interests. This will tell you a lot about whether they will be able to inspire you and motivate you to health and wellness.

In closing, a real fitness professional will be professional. They will treat their job as a profession. They will design workouts and programs specific to your needs and your abilities. They will contact you on your off days and see how you are feeling. They will ask you questions about you and listen to your answers and offer advice when needed. They will be YOUR personal trainer and make you feel that way. They will inspire you to be better, to do more, to achieve goals that you have never thought possible. They will educate you and teach you why you are doing what they are telling you to do. And lastly, they will encourage you and guide you to the results you want to see while making sure you are getting there safely. 

If you have any questions or comments I would be happy to hear from you. Check out my website at www.mohawkcollege.ca/corefusion, follow me on twitter @nickjpetrella and @corfusion1, add me to facebook or email me at nicholas.petrella@mohawkcollege.ca. I would be happy to hear from you! 

The Way of Kaizen

Kaizen

The Japanese culture is based on respect, honor, and innovation. They focus on being better and getting better all of the time. You may have seen the Japanese word “Kaizen” frequently used in the business world.

According to Wikipedia, Kaizen is:

“Japanese for ‘improvement’, or ‘change for the better’ refers to philosophy or practices that focus upon continuous improvement of processes in manufacturing, engineering, and business management.”

Notice the word ‘improvement’ … it describes my journey to become Strong By Choice.

The Beginning

Growing up in Ohio, I certainly wasn’t the biggest or strongest kid. My body type is an ectomorph. Small wrists. Broad shoulders. Lanky legs. I remember how I used to look at those who played sports at our high school particularly one named “Larry” who was built like WWE Ryback at the young age of 16!

I knew that I wanted to look the same so I begged the football coach to train me to look like Larry. He chuckled and brushed me off. His dismissal hurt and only fueled my fire more. So I did what any skinny boy in America would do, I asked my parents for a weight set! After enough pleading with my parents, they finally decided to give in and shell out money for me to buy a Sears weight-lifting set complete with grey plastic sand weights and black steel bar. I would now show the coach and Larry what’s up!

Wrong.

After a few months, the weights became home to spider webs and boredom. Larry went on to muscle bound glory I’m sure while I stayed trapped in my thin frame.

Fast forward to my time in the military in the 1990’s through 2000’s. If one is not able to get in shape in the military, then there is no hope for them! Totally by God’s grace, I passed boot camp and military school to be assigned at a horrible place of blue waters, good weather, and clean air: Hawaii.

Since I would go on deployments, we have nothing better to do than to get in shape. So we would work out in scouring hot weather using the facility’s rusted equipment while downing the latest supplements in hopes of creating the Atlas physique. In fact, I think I could have been a shareholder for GNC’s supplement store because of all the money I was spending on potions, powders and promises (e.g. Bill Phillips & Body For Life, EAS supplements, Cybergenics).

During my time with the military, I was able to make some gains by ballooning to 170 lbs of muscle  and fat by eating Burger King and McDonald’s to put on size. My dress uniform pants for the military would scream every time I plunged my girth into them. Eventually I got out of the military and went into the Reserves. My access to the gym now meant I had to buy my membership and so I did. My wife and I joined the local gym in the neighborhood where some of the customers would walk barefooted while lifting heavy weights (no joke). That’s not all. The facility didn’t have a sanitation bottle to spray the benches. After a few weeks, we decided to cancel our membership and my training fizzled to nothing. We moved to Ohio and later moved to Kentucky. After years of inactivity, there was a spark that started an inferno of activity. The spark was a co-worker of mine named Jeremy Corder.

The Spark

In 2011, Jeremy had various health problems including Fibromyalgia. I recall one time when Jeremy showed me how many bottles of mediation he had to take for his ailments. I remember clearly that he pulled out so many bottles of meds that he shook his head in disbelief.

Over the months following, I was able to work from home for the company that we worked for. Since I was in Kentucky, I could instant message those at work to keep in touch. One day I was chatting with Jeremy and he shared with me how he had changed his life. He stated that he was off his meds, found natural solutions and was getting in shape! He shared with me that he was even starting to get buff. I could hardly believe what I was reading. To be frank, I was jealous because he took control of his life while I was stuck in my own mediocrity.

So one day, I was looking in the mirror and I knew that I had to change. Then a spark of inspiration touched me. I could see…wait a minute…I could see small definitions in my abs. I had eaten traditional foods and organic foods for a while and there must have been some fat burning on some level. I was determined to find the workout program that would work for me. The spark had been lit. I knew I had to change.

The Inferno

With new determination, I went to the local library. There had to be some program I could do that was time friendly since my #1 excuse was the #1 excuse of everyone else – Lack of time.

Enter Sean Foy – the author of the book “The 10-Minute Total Body Breakthrough.”

In the book, Sean proposes an exercise program that can be done in 10 minutes yet offer the same benefits of a traditional 1-2 hour program.

Skeptical yet? Good.

Why?

Because I don’t want you to believe what I say yet to encourage you to check out the book yourself.

I can say that with this program, I had successfully worked out consistently. Every time I try to weasel out of doing the workouts, I reminded myself, “It’s only 10 minutes. Anyone can do ten minutes.”

I do the workout and boom. . .done.

Through eating real food and working out for 10 minutes (M,W,F), I began to slowly see changes in my body. Yes, the spark had ignited into a flame.

You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have -  @strongbychoice

Find what works for you and stick to it ~ @strongbychoice

The Future

From that point I had moved from body-weight exercises to being able to afford a gym membership and getting in the best shape of my life in 2011-2012. I started the Twitter handle @StrongByChoice because being strong is always a choice.

In early 2013, I dead-lifted 205 lbs and 210 lbs at 165 lbs which you can view here: bit.ly/19wh055 it’s my personal best to date.

My twitter account remains active and my core supporters are a group of committed individuals called #TheStrongNation. For the time being I’ve cancelled my gym membership in order to save money and focus on new ventures. My training is at a stand still however I realize that fitness is a journey and the choice to be strong is indeed a daily choice. Eventually, I’ll get back on track. My training is all about Kaizen.

Besides, 10 minutes is a good place to start again, right?

Christian, husband, daddy and the assassin of average. Creator of ™  @StrongByChoice

 I’m living the GoodLife!

Aspire to be a better version of yourself always ~ Amanda Gray

Aspire to be a better version of yourself always ~ Amanda Gray

I’m currently a certified personal trainer and fitness manager at GoodLife Fitness!

I just recently made the transition into corporate and commercial training. When I began my journey as a manager I worked at Variety Village, a Charity and fitness community centre for all abilities. I had the opportunity to work with all kinds of great people looking to better their lives both physically and mentally through fitness and wellbeing. Fitness is my passion. I’m also currently hooked on Zumba and running. Outside of the fitness realm, I’m learning to speak Spanish.

I remember being 4 years old when my parents decided it was a good idea to enroll me in T-Ball for summer; needless to say I hated it! I told my mother I would never play again. 3 years later I thought I would give T-ball another chance. My older brother played baseball and hockey. I idolized him and figured I would follow in his footsteps.  So at age seven I began playing ice hockey and baseball. I ended up playing these two sports competitively. As I grew into my teenage years I began to focus mainly on fast pitch. I represented my city and province for many years. As an athlete it was easy to get into fitness to help me focus on being a better athlete and it helped me to perform at a high standard.

Even though I was an athlete, I was never a runner.

I played sports that didn’t require long distance running. Baseball and Hockey are both anaerobic dominant sports. As a child I was also asthmatic and over exerting my cardiovascular system was a not a good idea. I had to be careful. After I graduated from college, knowing I had grown out of my asthma, I decided I was going to challenge myself and take up running. My body always felt better when I was moving it. My college life, although an exciting time of parties and socializing, I had neglected my physicality and my body. So I began to run. Oh man, I was horrible. My stamina was pretty much non-existent. I started off with intervals of running and walking.  I wanted to give up but then I started seeing changes. I could run longer intervals. It was working. 3 years later I have completed my first half marathon! When I began running I never thought I would be able to complete a 5k let alone a half marathon. Aside from the obvious physical changes in my body, being active is an outlet for me. It’s the time in my life where I can just take a moment to really think things through clearly and fairly. We all have that self-doubt but fitness has allowed me to empower myself and be the best friend to myself that I can be. I keep my negative thinking limited, when I get into that negativity zone I remind myself how far I have come and how strong I really am.

My parents have been amazing source of inspiration and support. My mom recently had a rough time health wise and family wise. She lost her mother and went through a bout of depression, in addition to menopause. She let herself go and in the past 6 months decided it was time for change. She said that seeing me as a personal trainer and what I do to keep myself healthy inspired her to lose 64lbs in 6 months! She came to me for my knowledge and advice but she did all the work to get there and I am so proud! It’s nice to have a partner in fitness! We go to the gym and shop for organic food together!

Getting injured is part of being a competitive baseball player, yet you’re never really prepared when it happens. At 21 I tore my rotator cuff and labrum in my shoulder, throwing a ball from second to first base. My surgeon couldn’t understand how I could still throw a ball with all the scar tissue in my shoulder from years of overuse and not listening to my body. He suggested surgery but that was NOT an option for me. So I opted out and I began rehab instead. The rehabilitation was brutal, excruciating and exhausting but it was worth every sweat and tear. Over time I had strengthened my shoulder and got back into baseball with no shoulder pain, issues or surgery! It’s been about seven years since then but I’m still doing the things I love the most.

To date I have lost a total of 15 lbs on my 5’2 frame. Before I started running I was 132 lbs, I now weigh 117 lbs. My body fat percentage was 28%, it is now 19%! I feel great! I ran my first half marathon, without stopping to walk. I’m the happiest with myself I have ever been all my life. For me this was a huge accomplishment. Ever since I can remember I was always unhappy about something, somewhere on my body and I thought that I would never be good enough for me. That has all changed. I currently do interval cardio training 4 times a week and one endurance cardio training a week. I complete a resistance training program 4 times a week, including all muscle groups.  The supplements I take are CLA, Raspberry Ketone for fat burning, multi-vitamin, vitamin B12 sub-lingual, for a healthy body and Chromium Picolinate for blood sugar regulation as diabetes runs in my family. My brother was diagnosed Type 1 diabetic on his 28th birthday and my 28th birthday is just around the corner!

What a day of eating looks like for me:

Breakfast – One cup of wholy tea, one boiled egg and one piece of whole grain toast. One piece of fruit. I really enjoy watermelon and take advantage of it in the summer.

Lunch – Mixed greens salad. Tuna.

Dinner – Skinless boneless chicken, half a baked sweet potato, steamed broccoli and asparagus, one cup of wholy tea.

I drink lots of water daily. I also enjoy the odd cookie. I live life by the 80/20 rule. I’m currently on a 1200 cal/day diet. 80% of those calories are healthy whole foods. 20% of those calories are my treat. Right now I’m in my cutting phase. I’m looking to lose 5 lbs and 2% body fat. I am also training for a full marathon.

If you’re looking to start your own fitness journey start today- not tomorrow, or next Monday. TODAY. You are worth it, and why not feel good about yourself and comfortable in your own skin? Feeling good about yourself reflects in every aspect of your life. Fitness does so much more than just make you sweat. It gives you the strength and the confidence you need to be the best version of yourself.

I can be reached on twitter @GraytBody and by email graytbodyfitness@gmail.com

Mutant

For those people who don’t know my background and how I got to where I am today, I started my journey  two years ago at 267 lbs and completely out of shape. Three short months later I had dropped 6 inches off my waist and lost 90 lbs.

Since going through such an incredible transformation I’ve dedicated my life to training. The way you feel when you are in a gym lifting weights is like nothing else. Only people who are passionate about training know how it feels when you get a crazy pump going!

So many people who take working out seriously are always looking to supplements to help them achieve better definition and bigger, fuller muscles. I’m the exact same way. Obviously the harder you train, the better your results. The more you eat, the more size you will put on. Whether it be a pre or post workout supplement, protein powder or even amino acid drink, if you’re working hard enough,  supplementation can undeniably help you get to your goal faster.

When I first started lifting I was clueless as to which supplement product I needed to gain size. I used all the big name brand products when I started out. Gaspari,  MuslePharm, MuscleTech, BSN, SixStar and even the GNC brand. I was training hard but not happy with the results I was seeing. I was trying brand after brand and still not finding one that was doing exactly what I felt it should be doing and to be honest, I was wasting a lot of money on products that tasted awful. I was using pre workouts, recovery drinks, protein powders and creatine. Nothing seemed to be getting me the results I was looking for.

Last year at the Toronto Pro Super Show I was walking around the expo when I passed a booth that had the largest men I had ever seen! I stopped to check it out, it was the Mutant booth. These guys looked massive, so I wanted to check out their products. They had a massive 15 lb bag of mass gainer. I talked to the guys and they explained to me exactly how the product worked and what kind of results I could expect to see from using it. I had already tried everything else so I gave this Mutant Mass a shot. I went home and worked out and made a shake immediately after and was actually surprised how awesome it tasted and how thick it was.  I trained hard for about 6 weeks and kept taking my mass gainer and one day after a workout I looked in the mirror and actually noticed my body changing for the first time. Even the people I see everyday started noticing that I was getting bigger and stronger. I was hooked!! I went to their website and ordered more Mutant Mass as well as a pre workout drink and a whey protein powder. The next few months of training I kept noticing more and more muscle gain. When you’re training that’s all you really want to see. You want to see all your hard work and sacrifice paying off. Since that first bag of Mutant Mass over a year ago, I have not used any other brand and I have been more than impressed with the results.

#MutantNation - Go heavy or go home! Finally feeling the pump!

#MutantNation – Go heavy or go home! Finally feeling the pump!

My training has gotten a lot more serious this past year and I’m currently taking several Mutant products. I take Mutant Test in the morning which is a testosterone booster it has definitely increased my strength over the past few months. I have Mutant Whey mixed in my oats, as well as a shake with lunch. Before I workout I combine Mutant Mayhem and Mutant Pump. The Mayhem is a pre workout drink that really increases my focus and energy during my workout and the Pump makes me extremely vascular and makes my muscles rock hard while I’m training them. Now I feel like an animal during my workouts! I also have 2 scoops of Mutant Whey (44 grams of protein) with the Mutant CreaKong which is their creatine supplement. During my workout I drink the Mutant BCAA 9.7 which is a blend of critical amino acids that help increase protein synthesis leading to increased muscle gains. After each workout I use the Mutant Rehab because its perfect for aiding in recovery after a crazy workout. It has the carbs, protein, glutamine and amino’s that help you recover after destroying your muscle fibres during a super intense lifting session. Finally I will have one more Mutant Whey shake to help me reach my protein required intake for maximum growth.

Everywhere I go whether its a family function or a new job site, it feels great when people tell me how big I’m getting. I know for a fact that my eating and hard work in the gym is responsible for a lot of this size I’m gaining. However I know that  it’s no coincidence that my gains increased after using the Mutant brand products. I’m not here trying to tell you that you need to use these products. I’m just sharing how they have affected my body and aided in my transformation since I began using them.

No matter which supplement or brand you choose to go with, remember that it only enhances the hard work that you do at the gym.

Written by Michael Green for Socially Fit #TeamMutant #MutantNation @Mutant_Freak_

1, 2, 3 Lift!

For many women, and some men, targeting the butt during exercise is priority. From an anatomical standpoint, the butt consists of three muscles known as the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. When you want to create a fuller, rounder butt, you need to work these muscles with weight training exercises. You can use free weights and the weight of your body to achieve this goal.

Bulgarian Split Squat

Bulgarian Split Squat

  • REDUCE your hips and thighs, and melt away those stubborn saddlebags
  • SHAPE your gluteal muscles to get you a perfectly round derriere
  • LIFT your bum so it looks great from every angle
Reduce, shape and lift your bum with the following exercises:
1. Lunges – Performed correctly, the lunge is excellent for reshaping the butt. Options include static, dynamic or step-ups.
2. Donkey Kicks (or kickbacks) are an excellent butt isolation movement.
3. Squats (or split squats) are a staple!
4. Butt Lifts – are very effective and work the hamstrings and lower back as well.
Wonderbum Womens Lift

Wonderbum – Women’s Lift

You may also wish to consider undergarments that lift and enhance your derriere! Having never tried one of these before  we decided to try Rounderwear.  Being a bit of a tom boy myself I was drawn to wonderbum women’s lift and couldn’t wait to give it a try. We ordered online and it arrived in a couple of days! Stress free! I am a firm believer in clean eating and exercise to deliver my fitness goals and I didn’t have much faith in the undergarment industry to deliver results BUT wouldn’t you know… it actually works! What a pleasant surprise! It took all of my hard work and lifted it just a little bit higher. Happy days are here again!  I’m no longer a skeptic. We’re still working hard at the gym but it’s nice to know that there’s a little extra support there when I need it!

Thanks Rounderwear your product kicks ass!

Your friends at Socially Fit.

http://www.rounderwear.com

The Misfitstudio

Today I am the owner and creator of MISFITSTUDIO. It’s a unique Pilates, fusion and yoga studio in Toronto. My interests lay in building awareness, love and building a community with like minded healthy individuals. My current projects on the go, beside running a studio, managing a full and amazing staff, creating classes, playlists and running an Art Collective; I am writing a fusion teacher training program.

I am grateful to have been raised in a loving and artistically supportive environment. From an early age I showed a deep interest in art and dance, and that was never questioned. Following both through my childhood and teen years, I continue to this day. It  has always been celebrated. Health has always been a priority in my home; eating well, then rushing off to ballet, rhythmic gymnastics and expressive movement classes were a part of most evenings. I have always been physically active. I actually didn’t think about it, other than I needed to move every day; that was just a beautiful given and amen for it. My life has organically flowed from dance to yoga, to Pilates, to teaching, to studio owner.

Movement as meditation is my mantra.

I believe we could all benefit from a little endorphin kick everyday; a reconnect to yourself; an untangling and a quieting that happens when we focus on just one thing. I value this so much. It is what I encourage every student to attempt to do knowing the positive affects on my body, mind and spirit. I see my physical practice as my faith. I have an innate desire to move, to breathe and to flow with grace.

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I am thankful that I have the most incredibly supportive system around me. My family and friends have been with me on this journey from the very beginning. They constantly remind me of love in the world; of devotion and pure support. I am grateful every day for them and their true belief in me and my vision. Everyday is a lesson; an unknown. The surprise of it keeps me guessing and I have acquired skills that I never would have imagined. I take it all in stride and see it as an opportunity to learn and grow and be a better version of myself. I see each day as an accomplishment and take great pride in what my body can do as opposed to what it can’t.

I wake up and meditate to set my day. Then I practice a little on the floor beside my bed; yoga; stretching and breathing; then I’m good to go for the day! My morning shake is seasonal fruit, a scoop of protein powder and a handful of Bcomplex, omega 369. I take a high performance multivitamin and I drink magnesium before bed. I eat tons of fresh vegetables, delicious salads, quinoa, seeds and nuts. I love me some good dark chocolate!

dagger_1

What if today is it?  What if today was the last day? I would like to learn more about the aging body. It’s my current focus. As my mother grows older I want to know how to offer a positive support for her and her generation so I’ll keep working toward this effort. I learned a very difficult lesson as a young girl and it taught me that you just never know when life will end. So I urge you to make the most of each day. Feel good, smile and glow from the inside. The only way to be inspired is to feel inspired, and moving every day contributes to that in a tremendous way.

Community is a massively important part of my life. I would like to take this time to thank friends, fellow teachers, mentors, students and family for contributing to the endless supply of positive energy in the Pilates, dance and Yoga community in Toronto!

I believe anyone can achieve their dreams! I am living mine and each day I am grateful for the love, lesson and unknown. The journey can be up and down, yet full of beauty and inspiration. Follow your dreams!

We Are What We Lift

Stiff Legged Dead Lifts

Stiff Legged Dead Lifts

There are certain leg exercises which will help you to build muscular thighs and lower body. Thighs are the most powerful muscles of the body, hence they are also capable of great endurance. Therefore, training your legs is also very demanding. It is often observed many people often skip training their legs or do not give sufficient time and attention to it. The leg workouts for mass are those which train both the thigh muscles as well as the hamstring muscles. At the same time, they should also include calf exercises. It is important to understand that leg training is way more demanding than training other parts of the body.

Leg Exercises for building Mass

Before we go to leg workouts for mass, let us see a few leg and thigh exercises, which will help you in your endeavor.

Squats

Basic barbell squats is one of the best leg exercises for mass. However, it is important to perform the exercise properly to get the right results from this exercise. When you do the exercise, your toes need to be duck-toeing out about 20 degrees and your knees should be above your ankles.

Hack Squats

This exercise works the quadriceps. You do not have to do many number of sets, but the ones you do should be done in full controlled repetitions. If you suffer from knee problems,  you should not do this exercise. You should try machine assisted squats instead. The position of your feet should be the same, as mentioned in the previous exercise.

Stiff Legged Dead Lifts

This exercise is very taxing on your hamstring muscles, hence you will have to make sure you do not use very heavy weights, you may injure yourself. The distance between your feet should be shoulder width distance. When you do the exercise, your back should be straight and legs strong. Keeping your legs strong will protect your lower back. While doing the exercise, if you feel uncomfortable in your knees or your lower back, then you can bend your knees a little. Be mindful of the weight being used.

Calf Raises

If you want to build the most difficult muscles of the body, then you will have to make either sitting calf raises or standing calf raises a part of your leg workouts. It will help you to add inches to your calves and tone them.

Lunges

This exercise is a must for any leg workout be it for weight loss or for mass. It works the front of the thighs and the gluteal muscles. While doing this exercise, you will have to ensure, that the position of the knee (of the leading leg) when bent, is exactly above the ankle. Both your legs should be strong, when you do this exercise.

Leg Workout for building Mass

It is important to note that this is just an example workout. You will have to modify the workout as per your needs. At the same time, do not forget to warm up and stretch before the workout.

Sample Exercise

Barbell Squats (Set/Repetitions)

1/25
2 /12
3 /10
Hack Squats
1 / 12
2/ 10
Leg Press
1/ 15
2/ 12
Stiff Legged Dead Lift
1/ 20
2/ 12
Calf Raises
1/25
2/15
When you start working your legs, you will have to ensure you keep changing your leg workouts every 6 to 7 weeks, as the body gets used to the workout and desired results become a distant dream. Along with these exercises, you can also include some cardiovascular exercises, running and jogging, step aerobic exercises, etc. into your workout. They will also help in strengthening your legs. See you at the gym!

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Fabulous and Fit

Felicity

Hello, my name is Felicity and I’m about to transition out of my “Dirty 30’s” into the big 31. I still feel as vibrant as I was at 21 though. One thing that will never change is my personality and love for life! I am currently working as a Patient Care Coordinator full time setting up fertility orders for women all over the country who are trying to get pregnant. In the past I have worked as a pharmacy tech and my dream job would be to pursue entrepreneurship and have my own business. Something where I can work when I want, where I want, yet fulfill my creative needs. I am married – we have been together 11 years but married 3. I am a doggy mom of two rascals and I have two stepchildren that we never see. I am a socialite. I feel like I am always on the go. My motto is “I’ll rest when I die”. I’m usually bouncing from work, to the gym, to home, to spontaneous fun with friends. I enjoy talking, listening and just being around other people. My current obligation is first to my health, second to my marriage and third to my friends, family and spending as much time with them as possible. You should never take anything or anyone for granted.

I was a very active child. I cannot remember a time that I was stuck indoors being lazy for a long period of time. I was always out roaming the neighborhood and riding my bike with friends. I grew up with a swimming pool too, so I spent a lot of time pretending I was a mermaid! My mother also put me in jazz and gymnastics early on and I did that for many years. I started with somersaults and hand-stands and ended up doing no-handed cartwheels and front hand springs! I was very good at what I did and very flexible. Although I stayed fairly active – I was always “the bigger girl” around friends or in gym class. I didn’t like sports, mainly because I had stage fright and did not like to be “watched” while performing. So I was more active at home than I was in school. I was just not confident enough, so I shied away from “fitness activities” there.  I grew up on family foods, fast foods and there was no real structure as to what we couldn’t eat. My weight was always brought up during doctor visits and they always tried to give me ideas on how to slim down but I just got bigger over the years. Three years ago I lost 18 lbs and ended up getting pregnant. Unfortunately I miscarried 16 weeks in and haven’t been able to get pregnant since.  I really think that the way I changed my eating habits at that time played a major role in my being able to conceive and so I started my journey to fitness. Initially I wanted to get healthy and become pregnant again. It was only 10 months ago that I finally committed 100% and I am determined to stick it out.

I have never admitted that my weight has held me back in life – but now that I have lost some weight, I find that I have more energy and I’m feeling better about myself; I can finally admit to that. It did hold me back from doing things I have never done before; hiking, canoeing and other physical activities. I also find myself being even MORE social with friends/family when I go out. I don’t mind being in the spotlight as much, I get out on the dance floor and I have more confidence in front of strangers. This journey has also brought me and my husband closer together. I was eating better and exercising for about 5 months before he joined. Now that he’s joined (about 6 months ago) he has lost 40+ lbs! We spend more quality time together hitting the gym every day, taking the dogs for longer walks and cooking healthier meals. We share a new common interest which is rare for us because we are complete opposites.

My “before” pictures keep me motivated on a daily basis. I don’t like to say “after” yet because I am not at my goal. I see those pictures and think, “wow – was I really that big?” Cause at the time I still (for the most part) felt fabulous. But today I feel even MORE fabulous! I can pick clothes out from a regular store without having to go to plus size (went from buying a 3X shirt or pants to being able to squeeze on an XL) and when I look in the mirror I am not trying to hide away my muffin top or change my wardrobe three times in order to feel comfortable and confident. Also, I see other people’s transformations and I know that it’s not impossible. Anything I want, I can achieve with just dedication, hard work, and effort.

Just recently a friend told me, “Felicity you were never the FAT one, you were always the FUNNY one.” Which made me feel good cause I have beautiful friends. Talking drop dead gorgeous, nice bodies, high maintenance ladies and well groomed! And to be honest, I always felt like the “fatter” one among them. Having the same best friends for 15+ years now has helped to keep me going. Not only do I want to prove to myself that I can do this, I want to prove it to them. I wanna be able to walk into my best friend’s house and slip on a pair of her jeans. A few of them have joined along in effort to lose weight and tone up, some of them have been inspired by me to do it and everyone fully supports me! I joined Myfitnesspal.com and have currently logged over 300 days straight, counting calories and losing weight with online friends I’ve met. I also started a fan page on Facebook mostly to inspire others on their journey and to document mine as much as possible. In some ways I feel like a celebrity because I have so many people rooting for me, it’s lovely!

Eating out remains the hardest obstacle for me to overcome! I must say that making healthy choices during spontaneous moments can be hard. Especially after a long, busy day when we’re too tired to cook, so we decide to stop at a sub shop. Or if it’s during a party or cook out. I tend to tell myself “today I am going to make a better choice” then when that moment comes and I’m faced with either a salad or a sub – I choose the sub!! It’s almost like an addiction and making an irrational decision. After all is said and done and that moment passes… I regret it. But unlike before, I keep on moving forward now. I will not allow bad choices or small mistakes to deter me away from reaching my ultimate goal.

So far I have lost 43 lbs in less than a year. I’ve dropped over 20 inches through out my body. I have dropped 2 jeans sizes and 3 shirt sizes. My rings are now too big for my fingers and I have taken part in activities I never thought I would before, one which includes a 5k for Susan G Komen with co-workers! I can jog for at least 5 minutes straight without feeling like I might die and I built up endurance for all the cardio machines at the gym and I have earned a passion for weight training too! I normally hit the gym 3-5x per week. At first it was all cardio. I would do a mile on the treadmill, 3 miles on the bike, and a short time on the elliptical. Now I am in love with strength training. So I will spend 15-30 minutes doing free weights or machines. Then 30-60 minutes doing cardio. I have built up my endurance. So I am now able to not only walk on the treadmill but jog in intervals. I can last almost an hour on the elliptical and have recently built up 45 minutes on the Cybex (which is like the elliptical on the moon). I also try set goals and do one new “fitness” activity each month. Recently completing 8 weeks of an intense Bootcamp and this month doing a 5k. For supplements I just take a multi-vitamin and load up on whey protein.

Most mornings I have an iced coffee with a scoop of whey protein or just a whey protein shake made from almond milk. I’m trying to be better at eating every 2-3 hours to keep my metabolism up but because I work in a call center it can be hard. On the days I am home in the morning I try my best to eat breakfast which usually includes eggs and spinach! For snacks I eat fruit, cottage cheese, and nuts. I also love munching on apples & celery with peanut butter too! Lunch could be left overs from the night before or something small like fruit and yogurt or a garden salad. For dinner I eat a lot of raw veggies with chicken. Zone bars, pria bars, and luna bars are also a great meal replacement or post work out snack. I am very enthusiastic about meal planning for the week so I have a “Food Prep Sunday” where I cook and package my food for the next 4-5 days for easy access, it also helps me stay on track 100%.

Before I started this journey at 278 lbs I promised myself that I would lose 100 lbs and get down to 178 lbs. I started in May of 2012 and by December I had lost 33 lbs so at that time my New Year’s Resolution was to double that for 2013 and lose 66 lbs. Which would bring me down -99 lbs. total. I am currently down 43 lbs and look forward to what the rest of the year will bring me. Sometimes I feel like it’s a slow process, but its a work in progress and I am happy with that. Once I reach 178 I will then work on toning as much as possible and if I lose anymore I will stop when I am most comfortable and happy! It almost seems impossible to CHANGE; to make healthier choices and step outside of your comfort zone and exercise regularly. You just have to commit to and just do it! One of the biggest problems people face is screwing up. I want you to know that one bad choice or one bad day does NOT mean that you failed and you have to give up. Every meal, breakfast, lunch, or dinner and EVERY day is a new chance to make a healthier choice and keep going! Put that bad choice in the past and move forward – if you give up then a year from now you will have to start over and you’ll wish you would of just kept going. Slow progress is better than no progress and eventually you WILL be where you want to be!

The numbers on the scale are not the most important. The non-scale victories (us in the weight loss world call them “NSV”) are what’s most important. When you reach a physical or mental goal; when you fit into an old pair of tight jeans;  you discover that it’s the little successes in life that make you most proud. When you compare your fat pics to your progress pics I promise you will see a difference and THAT will motivate you to continue. I just want every man or woman especially to know that it is NEVER too late to change.

Felicity

In the past year I have been lucky enough to network with people of all different ages and sizes that have been successful no matter what their circumstances, all it takes is just some effort, passion, and dedication!

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5 Common Reasons why you might not be Gaining at the Rate You Want To

struggling with fitness gain

1. What is Your Routine?

Although having a routine is an extremely important ingredient to achieving a goal, a routine can also be one of your biggest enemies. A general rule of thumb is to adjust your training every 4-6 weeks in order to avoid a plateau. This general rule of thumb is also one of the most misunderstood training principles. Try to keep the same routine (exercises, exercise order, sets, repetitions, rest periods) for approximately 4-6 weeks at a time. Adjusting your training following this phase could be as simple as adding in supersets or compound sets, changing the repetition ranges and/or the tempos of the working and relaxation phases of the lift. There are many variables that you can change to alter your workout enough to keep your body guessing and stimulate new adaptations. Here is the best example I can think of to help you understand how your body responds to exercise. Think about a child learning to walk. The child takes a step and falls to his knees, realizing that he fell forward, the child stands up, tries to take another step but falls on his bum. Now realizing he has fallen back, the child stands up, takes a step and stumbles to the left, only to fall on his bum again. The child then stands up, stumbles to the right, catches himself and then takes another step forward. What the child did through this process was learn from his mistakes! Your body does the same thing. As you exercise, your body is being broken down and forced to rebuild. If you continuously challenge the body with the same workouts, it will learn how to avoid breaking down and will not be forced to rebuild, hence why you hit a plateau. Changing your routine every 4-6 weeks can prevent this!

2. Are You Training for a Goal?

Probably one of the biggest mistakes that is made in training is that people do not train for a goal. Typically when we teach ourselves how to exercise we learn from those around us who “look” like they know what they are doing. What I encourage you to remember; what works for someone else will likely not work for you. You are very unique and different than almost every human being in this world. Do not fall into the trap of following a workout you see in a magazine or online. Yes, that workout might provide you what you need to make some gains, BUT you will be limited because a generic workout is not designed for your unique needs. In this case, you have two options, 1) seek the help of a professional or 2) educate yourself and learn about exercise prescription. Do not follow 90% of the gym population and let the weight determine how many repetitions and sets you do. Your training goal should determine the weight you lift. That is one piece of advice that is consistent for everyone!

3. How do you layout your week and your workout?

Most people (including me some weeks) take part in international chest day, which occurs on Monday of every week. Do not follow the same routine as everyone else. Design your weeks to train the largest muscle groups earlier in the week (Legs and Back) and then as the week goes on work towards the smaller muscle groups (Chest, Shoulders, Arms). Your workouts should be designed in the same fashion. Perform your most difficult lifts (Squats, Deadlifts, Lunges, Bent Over Rows, Pull-Ups, Overhead Presses, Bench Presses) earlier in your workouts and then the less complex movements (Leg Curls/Extensions, Chest Flys, Lateral and Front Shoulder Raises, Biceps Curls, Triceps Extensions) later in the workouts. This will allow you to focus on having more energy for your larger muscle groups and better technique while performing your more difficult movements at the start of the week and the beginning of the workout. You do not have to train one muscle group a day, be creative! You can group muscle areas together on one day or have full body days. In my experience I always like to start the week with Chest and Back, followed by Legs and Shoulders and then Core and Arms and then I cycle through this again in a 7-day period. Keep in mind that this is a very advanced week for an advanced lifter but it allows them to meet the guidelines for an advanced program. They are able to hit each muscle area 2-3 times in a 7-day cycle, it allows them 48-72 hours of rest before the same muscle group is exercised again and it allows for one rest day in the 7-day cycle. Again, I cannot stress enough that everyone is unique. Principles of training need to be adapted for every unique individual!

4. Are you performing the Exercises with Proper Technique?

One of my biggest pet peeves in any fitness facility is seeing people exercising just because they know it is the healthy thing to do. Not performing exercise with proper technique can be equally as dangerous in some cases as not exercising at all! You need to become a student of exercise, as there is a proper technique to all exercises. Some general reminders when performing all exercises are, 1) Keep the core tight. Pull your belly button in towards your spine. 2) Keep your chest up and make sure your shoulders are pulled down and back (emphasizing proper posture). 3) Work through a full range of motion and control the weight. You control the resistance; do not let the resistance control you. 4) Always try to avoid exercising with a flexed spine. Performing exercise with a flexed spine can be dangerous. 5) Breathe. Exhale on the working phase of the exercise and inhale on the relaxation phase. Lastly, ALWAYS remember that what you do to one side of your body, you must do to the other side of your body. Just because you cannot see your back, does not mean it should not be trained. Train all muscles of the body, not just the ones you see in the mirror. In fact, with the back muscles being some of the largest in the body, I recommend spending more time training your back muscles than most other muscles because they require a larger stimulus to grow and adapt.

5. Did you Consider All of The Dimensions of Fitness

Lastly, but not least, there are multiple dimensions of fitness. Resistance training is only one of them. The dimensions of fitness are strength, speed, agility, endurance and flexibility. Many people tend to ignore the heart and only spend time moving resistance however the heart is more important than the rest of the body because it is the main muscle that will feed the rest of your muscles. If your heart is not strong enough, the rest of your body will suffer. The other most underappreciated dimension of fitness is flexibility. Poor flexibility could be the reason you suffer from low back pain, headaches, sore neck and shoulders, sore knees or even sore feet. All of these things are directly related to your flexibility. Three days of your week should be spent working on your flexibility as it has a large impact on your quality of life. But remember; never stretch a cold muscle, as a cold muscle is susceptible to injury. Always warm-up and work through a comfortable range of motion. Yoga is an excellent method of improving your flexibility. If you are stretching on your own, to increase the length of a muscle, you generally need to hold a stretch for 30 seconds.

I know there is a lot to remember and a lot to learn. When I started out in health and fitness I felt the same way. Take things in stride. Do not look for overnight quick fixes. Make the commitment to a lifelong lifestyle change and you will not be disappointed. And lastly, never hesitate to ask questions. There are people like myself who have dedicated their life to helping others so please ask questions.

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I am here to help and I love meeting new people.

Remember – “If you do not make time for exercise now, be prepared to make time for illness later” ~ Jim Rohn