Together In Fitness

Most people join a fitness club because they want to lose weight, get in shape, improve their health, etc. They have a specific desired outcome or results they’d like to see from their exercise program. They also realize the benefits of having professional instruction, structure and accountability in their own fitness programs. One-on-one and partner training programs are very effective and can produce a good return on your investment, but in all fairness the cost factor can be limiting factor for many individuals.

One of the hottest trends in the fitness industry right now is small group personal training. Small group personal training offers a unique opportunity to explore a new dimension of fitness by merging group fitness with personal training. It also offers classes that focus on a specialized format, individual progression and skill development.

Whether you’re trying to lose weight, get in good shape, maintain your form or figure or achieve another goal, one of the keys to any exercise plan is consistency. However, the challenges of exercising can be daunting for many people, and it’s common for people to give up after only a short period of time. Fortunately, a small group with the supervision of a personal trainer can help you to track your progress, maintain your efforts toward your ultimate goals, and have a lot more fun as you train than you would if you exercised by yourself. The group may be made up of a group of friends, work colleagues or even people with similar training goals or interests.

Keep Motivated

Most people find that it’s much easier to stay motivated if you do it with other people and not just by yourself. If you’re interested in getting in better shape, find a group of three to five other friends who are interested in achieving similar goals. All is needed is to establish a set of group policies that can help you to stay focused and on track.

Peer Support

When you’ve entered into a difficult stage of your fitness program, having people there alongside you to share in your experience and encourage you along the way is oftentimes the difference between a successful exercise plan and one that tends to fizzle out over time. Share in your challenges and your successes with your fellow group members, and be supportive of their efforts as well.

Fun Times

Most anyone will agree that exercising alone can become boring and tedious. When your exercising is boring or tedious, you’re that much more likely to give it up before you have had the chance to reap the full benefit of the training program. To keep yourself going, make use of your fellow group members. Having other people to talk to, encourage you and share experiences with while you work out can help you to have a good time while you exercise.

Research shows that members that are involved in group programs are more likely stick with it. With all of the previously mentioned benefits, how could you not want to keep coming back? When you stick with a well-constructed program, you will get the results. Small group personal training is the missing link that may be the answer to helping you reach your fitness goals. Give it a try!

From Sept. 4th to Sept. 16th, we are offering FREE small group personal training to members and guests. For session schedule and more info, or to reserve your spot please contact Princess Labrador at or call the club at 604-682-5213.

Getting the best workout – Mind AND Matter

Have you ever had one of those days where you get to the gym and feel lackluster about the prospect of working out, let alone working hard?  Don’t lie – of course you have.  Everyone does, even professional athletes and trainers.  So what can you do to enhance the mental component of your workout when you just aren’t really “into” it?

They always say “dream big” but in this case start small.  If a 90-minute gut bustin’ heart-pounding workout seems like a daunting prospect, shelve that expectation and pick something more manageable.  20 minutes of moderate cardio on your favourite piece of equipment watching your favourite TV channel.  Or a submaximal circuit of weights.  Or perhaps just 10 minutes of stretching.

Once you have chosen your workout mission, set your intention. (we do this all the time at the beginning of a yoga practice).  Sit with your eyes closed for a minute, be aware of your breathing, and focus your thoughts on the modest workout goal you selected.  Give yourself a sweet positive affirmation and get started.  To avoid getting distracted, pick a focal point for each exercise.  If you are doing weights, perhaps count the reps for your sets, or time them with your breathing.  Mentally put your energy into the muscle being targeted.  If you are doing cardio breathe deeply to bring nourishing oxygen into your lungs.

You will be surprised at how quickly time passes and how easy it is to do the mini workout for which you set your intention.  Often you will feel like doing more!  Give yourself a mental high-five and train a little bit longer.  You will feel GREAT afterwards for your accomplishment, both physically and mentally.

It is said that wherever the mind can go, the body can follow.  Lead with your belief and intention, and you will impress yourself and others.

– written by Personal Trainer Laurie Smith, recently certified Hot Yoga instructor

Staying fit while cruising

Taking a cruise holiday can be one of the best vacation experiences ever, for a number of reasons.  The convenience of only unpacking once and not having to worry about transportation between different cities, the variety of activities and facilities on board, the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, and – of course – the food.

Many people complain about gaining weight on a cruise but this doesn’t have to happen.   A few simple recommendations for eating and staying active can make all the difference.

Many of the shore excursions offered while the ship is in port are physically moderate to vigorous, not to mention fun.  Being able to zipline, snorkel, swim with dolphins, or hike up a glacier – are not activities that one nomally does!  I recommend taking full advantage of these unique outings, to create memorable experiences and burn calories.

Onboard the ship one can exercise in the fitness centre, either solo or as part of a class (spinning, Pilates, bootcamp and yoga for example).  If you want a break from the gym then there are pool games to join, a walking/running track on the upper deck, and dance clubs for shakin’ and groovin’ in the evening hours.

In terms of food – the choices are many and the quantities are endless.  Buffets, snack bars, outdoor grills, 24/7 room service and formal dining room seatings – all included in the price of your fare!  The best way to handle this plethora of comestibles is to follow a few basic rules:

1.  Don’t deprive yourself but make smart choices.  If you really want to sample a new dessert then try it;  order it and eat half of it, slowly enjoying each bite.

2.  At the buffet stations load your plate with leafy salads and start with a bowl of clear soup.  Bring a small container of salad dressing to the table so the dressing is on the side;  rather than pouring it over your salad, just dip your fork into the dressing before you use it to pick up some salad.

3.  For every alcoholic or sugary beverage consumed (punch, wine, cola) drink a glass of water.

4.  Use mealtimes as an opportunity to socialize:  eat slowly and focus on the conversation.  It takes 20 minutes for the stomach to feel full and signal that you have eaten a sufficient quantity of food, so give yourself this time – and more.

These are just a few ideas to help you make the most of your cruise from a health and fitness standpoint, so you can maximize your enjoyment of the vacation without broadening your waistline.

Happy travels!

Posted by Trainer Laurie Smith, with greetings from the Caribbean

Zap The Belly Fat

Do you have belly fat you’d like to zap? Men like to know how to get a six pack while women are interested in how to get a flat sexy stomach. Nevertheless, the answer stays the same: strengthen your abdominal muscles and lose your belly fat.

Getting six pack abs is not a joke! Bikini-baring abs don’t come from isolated abdominal exercises either! Surely getting defined abs requires working out. You will have to train your abdominal muscles in order to build up their strength and endurance but in order to actually see them defined you will have to lose all the belly fat that is covering them. And that in fact is the harder part because counting solely on ab exercises will not get you there. The formula for achieving great abs is simple: proper nutrition and a comprehensive full body training program.

It is very important to understand that you cannot have a flat stomach or a well-defined six pack without any of these three steps.

Trainer Phil Wittmer

Step 1: Zone Out

Most people don’t work hard enough during their cardio sessions. You will lose weight if you work in your heart rate zone. To make sure you are sweating enough to burn the fat layer off your abs, wear a heart rate monitor and stay at 70 percent of your max heart rate (MHR) for 30 minutes (take 5 minutes to warm-up). If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, you can figure out your target heart rate with this equation: 220 minus (your age) x 70% = THR. Take your number and divide it by six to know how many heartbeats you need per 10 seconds.

Step 2: Lift Off

Resistance training is a must. When you combine cardio in your zone with resistance training, studies show it’s more effective than just doing cardio alone to get rid of abdominal fat. Work your major muscle groups to maximize calories burned. Stop wasting your time trying to “spot reduce” with abdominal exercises. Focus your workouts on the intensity of your exercises and work the body as a whole. This is the only way to get the best metabolic response and lose the body fat covering your muscles for good.

Step 3: Healthy Diet

Get control of your diet and clean it up. There are certain foods that are much better to eat than others if you are trying to make your abs look fab. In a study, people who ate whole grains (in addition to five servings of fruits and vegetables) lost more belly fat than a group that ate the same diet, but with all white grains. Also, trans fats (in margarine, crackers, cookies or anything made with partially hydrogenated oils) are more likely to send fat right to your belly, so avoid these as much as you can. It is time to realize that no matter how hard you workout, you simply cannot out-train a lousy diet.

Remember that you just can’t get visible 6 pack abs or bikini abs without proper nutrition. A properly designed ab workout program will focus on both full body training and proper nutrition. Happy ab toning!

You can find this article in the September issue of the Vancouver View Magazine


Get Your Kids Out To Exercise

Kids do not always want to exercise. They find it boring and would rather sit in front of the TV or play their video games and not do anything productive. Kids need to adapt an active and healthy lifestyle early on in order for it to permeate throughout their lives. They need to be active and take part in physical activity everyday for their health and development, and to establish healthy habits early on. The easiest way to get your kids to exercise is to exercise with them.  

It can be as easy as giving them a ball and sending them outside to play catch or even going outside and playing with them. Kids are more excited to go outside and play if you play with them. Kids love to laugh and if you make them laugh while playing outside with them, then they will want to play outside and exercise more often. If you have dogs, you can have your kids come with you when you walk them. If they don’t want to walk then tell them they can ride a scooter or a bike. Either way, they get the exercise they need.

As a parent it is your responsibility to instill these values into your children and to make sure that they remain as healthy as possible by having a healthy balanced diet and participating in regular exercise. The health benefits are positive for everyone, and the time spent with your kids is always time well spent. There is always something for your kids to do in order for them to get the exercise they need. All you have to do is find something that they are interested in doing and that they will have fun doing. Have fun with your kids and get them the exercise they need while enjoying the time you have playing with them. You kids will remember your active role in their life and will carry the habits that you teach them into adulthood.

Fit Bride Happy Bride

You’ve looked forward to your wedding walk since you first felt your heart flutter for your 14 year-old-crush. Now that the day is finally on its way, you find yourself fixating on the only thing that you can’t just drop a pretty penny on and make it happen – a perfect body.

Though you might not have time for a total body overhaul, you can hone in those wedding dress highlighted spots that you can’t hide under layers of taffeta. Sure you can suck in your thighs with slimming shorts and tighten a girdle to instantly make your stomach seem slim, but follow the tips below to fight armpit pudge, tricep flab and combat fat from rolling over the top of your sweetheart neckline.

Wedding Dress Workout   

Is your gown sleeveless? Backless? Gorgeously snug? Use these moves to whip your shoulders, arms and core into bodice-befitting shape. For best results work multiple muscles at once with compound movements, plus 30 minutes of cardio to work your body from top to bottom and blast fat before the big day.

  • For Sleeveless and Strapless Gowns — work arms, shoulders, chest and core with a dumbbell pullover to crunch, and zero in on your lats, biceps and triceps with this overhead press.
  • For Backless Gowns and Low-cut Necklines — work your chest, back and shoulders with a deadlift flys and rows, and score some leg toning with these too. Add a lifting series to boost your bust.
  • For Fitted Waists — get an all-over workout (shoulders, core, arms, legs and glutes) with the dumbbell squat to overhead press and take this no frills, total core approach to nipping in your waist and defining your stomach.
  • Tropical Honeymoon? Firm your glutes and erase the flab to look flawless in your swimsuit.

Fuel Your Body with the Right Food

More than a combo of cardio and strength training, brides should focus their attention on food choices too. It is important to fuel your body right to feel slim and trim on your big day. It is also good to save indulges like rich desserts, and sweet, high-calorie cocktails for your honeymoon. Get wedding gown-ready by sticking with an array of fresh vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins. Eat your complex carbs – in the form of whole grains – early on in the day.

For an Instant Body Lift

When that big aisle walk arrives, always remember to give your posture a check up! Whether you’re walking, dancing or feeding your groom some wedding cake, sit tall by lengthening your spine upward. Relax your shoulder blades back and down as you lift your heart. You’ll radiate beauty, confidence and grace while looking pounds slimmer instantly!


Fun Ways To Burn Calories This Summer

It’s summer in Vancouver once again! Waking up in the morning is actually a pleasurable and energizing experience, especially if you look out your window and see the sun shining! It automatically puts a smile on your face and tempt you to head outdoors and enjoy your day in the fresh air instead of inside a stuffy house wasting time in front of the television or computer.

The ocean and mountain scenery in Vancouver is astonishing and the temperature is perfect, almost any activity including exercise seems more fun and enjoyable. Here are worthwhile pastimes that can help you get fit, burn calories and enjoy the outdoors this summer!

Rollerblading: 844 calories* per hour

Rollerblading is a favorite activity of many Vancouverites especially along the seawall. Inline skating is not only an aerobic activity, but it strengthens your thighs, your calves and your buttocks, and even your abs get in on the fun as you have to contract them to keep your balance properly. Throw on some shorts, grab your iPod, and skate your way to a trim, toned body.

Beach Volleyball: 563 calories* per hour

Instead of lying on your towel and getting burnt, you can play beach volleyball with your friends. Granted, it can be a bit sweaty during the heat of the day, but sometimes the competitiveness and the camaraderie of playing the sport can make people forget that they are working out. With a bit of volleyball you’ll get fitter and develop a nicer whole body tan.

Tennis: 493 calories* per hour

Even if you’re not a pro, tennis is a fun sport for people of all ability levels. Whether you play with a friend, or significant other, you’ll burn almost 500 calories per hour.

Swimming: 422 calories* per hour

Whether you’re swimming leisurely or in laps, swimming requires the entire body’s participation, making it a “must-do” activity in the summer. It will tone and build muscle to the entire body that will burn excess calories and fat. Other beneficial properties include the strengthening of the heart and lungs, providing vast amounts of fresh oxygen to the brain, as needed for daily health.

Hiking the Trails: 422 calories* per hour

Spending time in the great outdoors is good for the mind, body, and soul. Hiking is a great way to enjoy nature in all of its natural beauty. The uneven terrain and inclines you encounter on the trail force your body to work harder than walking on a flat surface. As you connect with nature, you invite restoration of your body, soul and spirit that you would probably not be able to in any other environment.

Cycling: 422 calories* per hour

Nobody particularly enjoys going for a bike ride when it’s raining and windy, but when the sun is beaming down you can go out for the day with friends and family and have fun at the same time as getting fitter. A great low-impact alternative to walking, biking is a great way to return to the outdoors this summer. Whether you bike for transportation (to work or while running errands) or fun, you’ll burn 270 calories per hour (at a 10 mph pace) and strengthen your legs and lungs at the same time! Don’t forget to make sure to follow the rules of the road and take safety precautions such as wearing a helmet.

Kayaking: 352 calories* per hour

Some of the best water workouts take place without even getting in the water. That’s not to say you won’t get wet, though. Paddling takes tremendous upper body strength that works muscles in your arms and shoulders. You’ll feel the burn when you get home, but while you’re on the water you’ll be focused on the scenery and the sunshine.

* Calorie burn based on a person weighing 150 pounds.

Find the article at the Vancouver View Magazine July/August issue