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Rideau Lakes Tour

15 Jun

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Last weekend marked my second time doing the Rideau Lakes Bike Ride. My mom and I rode from Perth to Kingston Saturday and then Kingston to Perth Sunday. It was such as amazing weekend so I thought I would share it with you all!

The weekend started with me getting up bright and early on Saturday morning- 5:30 am, which amusingly enough is actually sleeping in for me! Because I am an organizational freak, all my stuff was ready to go, so all I had to do was put on my cycling gear and eat breakfast. I knew I needed to have fuel in my tank, but I didn’t want to eat so much that I felt weight down. I had a grapefruit and whole grain toast with natural peanut butter – it was delish! My parents were picking me up and of course my father was running behind, but they made it to me eventually! Once the car was loaded and ready to go we headed off to the Ottawa check in spot to drop off my dad, then my mom and I headed off to Perth.

It was kind of a gloomy day, but luckily we missed the rain. My father and his friends on the other hand were not so lucky! It wasn’t long before we were on our bikes and ready to hit the open road! Last year was my first time doing the ride so I had no idea what to expect. There were more hills than I was expecting, so this year I made sure to train harder on the hills prior to the ride.

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Scott and I hit up Gatineau park Sunday mornings and climbed up to Champlain lookout and then back down to the bottom. I must say, that extra hill training really made a difference- this year I felt like I was flying! I was definitely a lot stronger than last year – it is crazy what you can train your body to do. We made a couple stops on our way to Kingston to fuel and use the facilities ;).

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We rolled into Kingston at about 1:30. I had been thinking we still had another 20 minutes or so to go, so when I came over a hill and saw Kingston below I was so happy and slightly relieved! As soon as we got off our bikes we gave each other a huge hug. It’s such an amazing feeling to arrive there and know that you got yourself there on your own strength and will power. It was even more special to share that moment with my momma! We then of coursed stretched, which after 4+ hours on a bike felt incredible. My dad and his buddies arrived shortly after and then it was time to pass out! Except for his crazy Iron Man friends who decided that going for a run after an 188km bike ride would be fun!!

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After we arose from our comas, we all feasted together. Although I had just burned a crap ton of calories and worked my butt off for the better part of the day – I still tried to make healthy, smart choices. My plate was loaded with lean protein, carbs, veggies and good fat. For dessert, a ton of fruit and a bite of a brownie 😉 – yum! And after the feast, it was time to go for a walk and go out for a second dinner! I was still full from the first dinner, so I just went along for the walk and the company J. It’s always so nice to sit around with like-minded people who all share the same passion and enthusiasm for living a healthy and active life. And to hear all their crazy stories from the day! After dinner we all retreated to our rooms and hit the hay for the night.

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The next morning we all met up again for breakfast and made sure to fuel up for the ride. It’s always funny to see all the cyclists walking out of breakfast with a handful of bananas and whatever else they can sneak out and snack on during the ride. It’s even funnier on the ride home to see those bananas sticking out of their cycling shirt pockets! It’s crazy what you can fit in those things! The weather on Sunday was a much nicer than Saturday- Mr. Sun was with us the whole way home J. I am always cold though, so I started with warmer riding clothes and stripped off a layer at every stop. We had a great ride home and actually made better time than the first day!

All in all it was an amazing weekend. Training was extremely time consuming (probably didnt’t help that I am also training for my sprint –tri!), but it’s so worth it! Like I said, there is no better feeling that finishing the ride and knowing that you got yourself there with your own body. It may seem long, but time flies. I put my self-motivation tools to use which definitely made a difference. Any time I was on a tough hill (there is one going into Westport that I swear goes straight up!), I would talk to myself and tell myself I could do it. If I was starting to feel like I had so much farther to go, I would think about my checkpoints and just focus on making it to the next one. When I knew I was getting close to the finish, I visualized the end of the ride and that drove me to it. A little self-motivation sure goes a long way!

So that is how I spent my Saturday and Sunday last week-riding 200km, feasting, and spending time with my two amazing (and super fit!) parents.

For anyone interested in cycling, I highly recommend doing the Rideau Lakes Tour!

L

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Our Top 5 Must Haves for Building a Home Gym

14 Jun

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As we have mentioned, we have created our own home gym and that’s where we do most of our indoor workouts. Our home gym wasn’t born overnight – over the years we have slowly added more and more to it. We love the convenience of being able to workout in the comfort of our own home. And if you are committed, you can get just as good of a workout at home as you would in a gym – and save some money in the process!

If you are looking to start working out at home – don’t be overwhelmed. You don’t need to go out and buy tons of fancy and expensive equipment. At least not to start 😉 . And you don’t need to have a huge area to set your gym up in.

Here is a list of our top 5 “must haves” when creating your own home gym!

Exercise Video

2 P90X Extreme Home Fitness Workout Program - 13 DVDs, Nutrition Guide, Exercise Planner

If you are working out at home, chances are you are going to be doing some exercise videos. So, of course you will need to have them in your gym! It may be a program like P90X or Insanity, or you may have an assortment that you rotate through. We have done many of the BeachBody programs, so we have all the DVDs but we also have kickboxing, yoga, Pilates, bosu ball and core videos. If you like doing videos but don’t want to follow a pre-selected program – you can make your own! You can build your collection slowly, a lot of times we find great videos on sale. Having a nice variety is always a good idea because that way you won’t get bored always doing them same videos.

DVD Player and TV

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If you are going to be working out to videos, it only makes sense to have a DVD player to put them in and a TV to watch them on right?! It doesn’t need to be a huge flat screen, plasma, HD TV mounted on the wall…any old TV will do. You know that huge box TV you have been wanting to get rid of? Well, it would be perfect as your gym TV! And DVD players are pretty reasonably priced these days so you won’t have to break the bank on that either.

Free Weights/Bands

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There is a lot you can do with your own body weight, but there is even more you can do with free weights! We recommend going out and getting some dumbbells for your home gym. Consider your current fitness level and select them accordingly. As your fitness level and strength increases, you can go out and add heavier dumbbells to your collection. There are so many options out there, and they are pretty reasonable priced. If you are looking for more bang for your buck or don’t have room for a ton of dumbbells, we recommend buying bars and weight plates so that you can adjust your weights.

Red Resistance Band and Blue Weights on Gym Floor

If you aren’t a fan of dumbbells, bands are a great alternative. The color of the band correlates to the difficulty, so keep that in mind when picking them up. There are lots of great moves you can do with bands and there are so many different kinds out there. You can buy ones with handles on the end so you can grip them easily, you can buy straight flat bands and you can buy circled bands that you can wrap around your ankles to make certain moves more challenging. Not only are they good for resistance training, they are also great for flexibility training and stretching.

Yoga Mat

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Mats aren’t just for yoga, but of course if you are doing yoga you need a mat! They are also good for stretching and flexibility training and ab work. If your gym floor is carpeted, doing what you can on a mat is a good idea because it means your sweat isn’t falling all over the carpet! Yoga mats can be rolled up and neatly tucked away. You can also use them to lay your weights or other equipment down on so your carpets/floors are protected.

Stability Ball

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The reason a stability ball made our list is because it is so versatile. You can use them for core moves, they help with balance and they are great for stretching. You can even use it as a chair and work on your posture! They do take up a bit more room, so if you are in a tight space you may want to leave this one out, but if you have the space – we highly recommend including one in your home gym setup.

So there you have it, our top 5 list of “must haves” when creating a home gym. With these 5 things, you should be able to open for business! Just don’t forget the Febreeze 😉

S & L

Kettlebells

5 Jun

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Pencils.

Coffee mugs.

Scissors.

These are essential tools that we use every day.  These tools don’t need to be advanced by technology because they get the job done just the way they are. In the world of fitness, kettle bells are the same – they are simple, they have been around forever… and they get the job done! With all the fads that have come and gone in the fitness industry, kettle bells have stuck around, and seem to be increasing in popularity!

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Kettle bells kind of look like a cast iron bowling ball or cannon ball attached to a thick cast iron handle. They come in a variety of weights ranging from 2kg to close to 100kg!

Kettle bells are versatile; they can be used for strength and muscle building exercises and can be used in cardio workouts too!

Kettle bells are great because, they work multiple muscles at the same time. Kettle bell exercises usually involve movement – for example, swinging. The swinging of the kettle bell will force multiple muscle groups to work at the same time.

Let’s take a look at the basic Kettle bell swing – The movement of squatting down and swinging the kettle between your legs, which is then followed by an upward swing through the hips so that the kettle bell reaches shoulder level.

This is the proper form for a basic kettle bell swing:

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This movement works a variety of muscles: quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteal, core and shoulders are all working just by doing this simple movement with a kettle bell.

Performing exercises that involve movement also help with coordination and endurance. This makes kettle bells a great tool in full-body circuit workouts-finishing off a 10 station circuit with 15-20 kettle bell swings will definitely empty your tank!

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Because kettle bell exercises are all about movement, they require a certain level of coordination, so proper form is important. It’s best to have a trainer or someone with experience watch your movements to ensure your form is correct – otherwise you could injure yourself.

There are tons of kettle bell classes at different fitness clubs, these are a great way to become familiar with kettle bells and proper form.

Stay tuned for more kettle bell exercises!

S

Hotel Room Workout

31 May

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As promised, here is post #2 of 3 in our vacation series- a hotel room workout. If your hotel doesn’t have a gym, or you just don’t want to use it, have no fear because there are other things you can do in the comfort and privacy of your own hotel room. You can even do this workout in your pyjamas if you want – but please don’t forget the running shoes :).

This is a circuit workout (our fav!), do every move one after the other. After you have done all 6 moves back to back, take a 45 sec – 1 min break and repeat the entire workout 3 more times.

The Warm Up

×          Jogging on the spot

×          On the spot simulated jump rope

×          Shoulder rolls

×          Arm circles

×          Chest huggers (swing your arms across your body like you are giving yourself a hug, then swing them open – repeat)

The Workout

Triceps Dips on Chair (max reps)

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If there isn’t a chair in your room, you can do these on the edge of the bed or bathtub. Sit down on the chair, place your hands on either side of you (fingers facing forward), walk your feet out or put them at a 90 degree angle and dip your body down then up. Do as many repetitions as you can.

Elevated Push Ups (max reps)

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Put your feet on the edge of the bed and place your hands shoulder width apart on the ground in front of you so you are in an elevated plank position. Do as many push ups as you can with good form.

Top Hat Abs (15 reps)

Lay down on your back, extend your arms and legs and raise them off the ground. Bring your hands to your head like you are putting on a top hat, and at the same time bring your knees towards your chest. Now pretend to take off the top hat by extending your hands back over your head and extend your legs at the same rime. Do 15 repetitions.

Side to Side Butt Kick Hops (30 seconds)

Crouch down and place your hands on the floor shoulder width apart. Stick your butt up in the hair and hop your feet from side to side – engaging your core the entire time.

Squat Jumps (30 seconds

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Start standing up with your feet hip width apart. Squat down and jump into the air as you come up. Keep going through movement for 30 seconds. Remember to be light on your feet – you are not a T-Rex!

Superman Towel Exchange (1 minute)

Take a small face towel from the hotel bathroom, and fold it up as tight and as small as you can. Lay down on your stomach and assume the Superman position (arms extended and hovering straight out in front of you, palms down and legs extended and hovering above the floor) and hold the towel in one hand. Circle your arms around to your lower back. As you bring your arms around, turn your palms so they are facing up, and when your hands meet at your lower back, transfer the towel to the opposite hand.  Now circle your arms back to your starting position. Repeat this movement for 30 seconds in one direction, and then 30 seconds in the other. Your mission is to end this move with the towel as small as it was when you started!

The Cool Down

×          Light on the spot jogging

×          Full body stretches

This circuit will have your whole body working, and because it’s a quick yet efficient workout-it won’t eat into too much of your vacation time!

S & L

Foam Rolling 101

30 May

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Go to any gym, and you will most likely see cylindrical-shaped foam objects laying around. No, these aren’t weapons trainers on their clients, rather, they are an amazing tool to help your muscles relax and recover – they are foam rollers!

Foam rollers are pieces of foam that are in the shape of a cylinder. They range from 1 foot to 3 feet in length, and are about 6 inches in diameter.

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Foam rolling is a form of self- myofascial release – kind of like a self-deep tissue massage. You use your own body weight and the foam roller to soften and lengthen the fascia (fascia is connective tissue that surrounds muscles). Softening and releasing the fascia with the foam roller can relieve both joint and muscle pain as well as help your muscles recover – it’s a MUCH cheaper alternative to getting a massage!

Foam rollers can be on pretty much any muscles: shoulders, arms, calves, hips, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and adductors. You can foam roll before or after workouts, or as part of a stretching and flexibility routine.

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The colour of the roller indicates how dense the foam is – the more dense the foam, the more dense the roller, the more it will relax your muscles. White rollers are usually the softest rollers, blue rollers are a little denser, and black rollers are the densest. Someone who is new to foam rolling, or who has very tight muscles should start with the white roller.

When foam rolling, the idea is to roll SLOWLY down the muscle with the roller. When you hit a tight spot or a “knot” in your muscles, you will feel it! Try to maintain pressure on that spot for about 30 seconds, or until the pain goes away, and you feel the release (it’s a great feeling!).

This is a great tutorial on how to foam roll effectively:

Summer outdoor fitness challenge

28 May

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With summer right around the corner, the time has come for outdoor workouts. Yesterday, we wrote about different outdoor activities to try out during the summer (click here if you missed it).

Personally, I love working out under the sun. There’s nothing like being in the sun and pushing your body to its limits.

With this in mind, I’ve created a fitness challenge/circuit for you to try outside in a field (a soccer field would be ideal). All you need is running shoes, water, gravity, a stop watch and, of course, the sun!

Here’s the workout…

Warm-Up

Run a couple of laps around the field, then do a mix of jumping jacks and on the spot butt kicks for 1 minute.

Workout

1)      Side Shuffles and Burpees

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–          Side shuffle from one end of the field to the other, then, WITHOUT taking a break, do 10 burpees

–          Once you’re done the burpees, side shuffle back to the other side (leading with your other foot) and do 10 more burpees

–          Once you’ve done the 10 burpees take a 15 second break and repeat 2 more times

* Time yourself to see how long it takes to complete this part of the workout-the next time you do the workout try and beat your previous time

2)      Push-ups and Plank Mountain Climbers

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–          Do as many push-ups as you can, then without taking a break, do 20 mountain climbers while still in plank position. Take a 15 second break and then repeat the moves 2 more times.

*Record the amount of push ups you do to see if you can improve the next time you do the workout

3)      Lunges and Jump squats

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–          Do walking lunges from one end of the field to the other (make sure your front knee is over your ankle and your back knee drops down to a 90 degree angle!)

–          Once you’ve reached the other side of the field, do 20 – 30 jump squats, then immediately do walking lunges back to the other side and complete 20-30 more jump squats

–          Repeat 2 more times… NO BREAK

4)      Plank and Back and Forth Sprints*

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–          Hold the plank for as long as you can without sacrificing form

–          Do back and forth sprints for a minute

–          After the sprints take a 30 second break and repeat 2 more times.

* Take note of how long you hold the plank and try to improve the next time!

Cool Down

-lightly jog to one end of the field and then jog backwards to your starting point

-stretch!

A great way to track your progress is to take note of how long you can do things or how many reps you can do. It’s also good to write down whether you found moves difficult or easy. Before you do the workout the next time, look at your notes and try and improve on your times/reps. If you continue to write this information down you will be able to look back and see where you have improved!

After completing this workout, you’ll be pretty tired – but don’t worry, I designed it that way J. This workout pushes the entire body to its limits. So challenge yourself and try it out. When you’re done, you can lie in the grass in the sun and catch some rays… you will have earned it!

– S

*Back and Forth Sprints: Use rocks or other objects markers. Put the markers about 10m apart from each other (farther if you want more of a challenge!). Start at one end, sprint to the other, bend over and touch your marker, then run back touch the other marker and repeat.

Outdoor Workouts

27 May

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This past week it has been so gloomy here in Ottawa! But I am hoping that Mr. Sun will be coming back soon so that we can all enjoy his rays of light and warmth. One of the things I love about summer is being outside doing something active and being surrounded by other people doing the same thing! Warm weather brings so many great outdoor activities that are fun and get your body moving!

Here are some awesome ways to be active and enjoy the great outdoors this summer. We will even let you know on average how many calories you can burn doing each activity, and what muscles you are working!

**all calories burned are estimated and based on a 140 pound person performing the activity at a moderate intensity for 1 hour **

Running

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This one is obvious – but it is a great workout! I find people either love running or they hate it. The nice thing is you can take it at your own pace.

(Estimated) Calories Burned in an hour: ~731

Muscles being worked: legs

Cycling

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Cycling can be an awesome workout that torches tons of calories depending on your legs speed and power as well as the surface you are riding on, and the distance you are going! If you are looking to get a workout out of biking then a 15 minute leisurely bike ride from your place to your friends house on  a flat road probably won’t cut it – but if you cycle with power and speed for an hour on a trail that has hills you will definitely get a worthwhile workout!

(Estimated) Calories Burned in an hour: ~554

Muscles being worked: quads, calves and glutes

Swimming

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On a hot summers day there is nothing better than cooling off in the water…so why not swim some laps while you are in there?? Swimming is actually a great workout! I have been hitting the pool lately because I am training for a sprint triathlon. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not was not much of a swimmer so figured I should probably learn how to swim properly before the race J. Besides the fact that I am a natural sinker, and I hate getting my hair wet…I have been enjoying it more than I thought I would! And man, do I get a great workout from it!

(Estimated) Calories Burned in an hour: ~386

Muscles being worked: Arms, chest, back and shoulders

Hiking

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Hiking is a great way to be one with nature and get a workout in at the same time. Climbing up hills and navigating your body through trails will sure to have you breaking a sweat and burning calories.

(Estimated) Calories Burned in an hour: ~381

Muscles being worked: legs

Roller Blading

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If you like skating in the winter maybe you will like roller blading in the summer! What a great way to work on your power, speed and agility!

(Estimated) Calories Burned in an hour: ~420

Muscles being worked: core, glutes and legs

Kayaking

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I have never been kayaking, but it is on my list of things to do! It looks like so much fun and propelling yourself forward against resistance looks like a killer upper body workout!

(Estimated) Calories Burned in an hour: ~319

Muscles being worked: shoulders, arms and back

Outdoor Sports

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Getting outside and playing a sport is a great way to hang out with friends and get exercise at the same time. Whether it be as a recreational activity or on a competitive team. Just keep your body moving!

(Estimated) Calories Burned in an hour/ muscles being worked:

Soccer:   ~445 / lower body

Street hockey: /shoulders and arms

Tennis: ~386 / shoulders, chest & back

Beach Volleyball: ~218 /lats

Full Court Basketball: ~697 /shoulders

Skipping

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Remember the good old days skipping in the school playground? Well we have great news – skipping is not just for kids! It’s actually a really great workout! There are surprising amounts of ways to skip, regular skipping, brining your legs together than apart or even skipping while in a squat. It’s actually one of the ways we warm up before certain workouts.

(Estimated) Calories Burned in an hour: ~600

Muscles being worked: shoulders, core, glutes legs

Boot Camp

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Boot camps have become a very popular workout method – especially in the summer when they can be done outside! You will get a good circuit workout from boot camp classes, and get to meet new people! If you are interested in joining a boot camp and live in the East end of Ottawa contact us at:

(Estimated) Calories Burned in an hour: ~533

Muscles being worked: full body

 

Now all we need is some nice weather so we can all get outside and be active! Until then – hit the gym!

L