Monday, August 4, 2008

Fit or Active?

Now that the Labor day long weekend is over many people start to talk about getting involved in “getting back into shape”

- Did you know that 2/3 of Canadians are inactive?… and it’s getting worse.
- There are more women (67%) than men (58%) that are inactive.
- To top it off, physical inactivity increases with age.

Not promising statistics. Althought 85% of Canadians value physical activity – the majority do not add up.

Are you Fit or Active?
Do you train or exercise?
Do you know the difference?

Many people fool themselves that “being active” is exercise. Playing baseball, going for long walks or curling in the winter are all physical activity. Unfortunately this sort of exercise does not make you fit.

Most people involved in active sports have trouble doing 10 regular pushups, can’t do one pull-up or even touch their toes.

One of the tests that I do when performing a fitness assessment for a client is push-ups. Generally (depending on age) males should be able to do at least 15 push-ups while females should be able to do 10. And that’s not on your knees either.

To become “fit” and maintain a level of fitness you must have a consistent exercise program. True fitness is when your body can do whatever you ask it. This involves strength, endurance and flexibility.

One of the main focuses of my fitness bootcamp is to simulate all of the functional demands of life. Participants are adequately challenged to work the body focusing on multi-muscle group exercises.

I see many of the parents just contempt in sitting and watching their children play at the playground. There is no better time to either join in or start doing a simple bodyweight routine. There are endless possibilities to do a quick 20 minute work-out at the skateboard park. Your body was meant to move so just don’t sit there. “Use it or Lose It” is my motto that I regularly preach.

One of the most common errors I see regularly is someone focusing too much on one type of exercise. With women it’s usually the endless time spent running. Guy’s it’s the hour after hour doing the same weight-training routine.

Ladies, if you want the hourglass figure forget the long distance running. Unless you are properly training, expect to be either a toothpick or maintain your overweight figure with added knee/joint problems. Focus on High Intensity Interval Training. Emphasize circuit training. These are areas I touch on with my fitness bootcamps.

A fitness bootcamp is a great way to get the best out of your time spent exercising. Not only do you work-out in less time but you get better results than other programs. Although the majority of my clientele are woman, most men and women that participate see the benefits attained from some of the sport specific drills (reaction time, speed, coordination, etc). If you are involved in sports this is a great way to complement your training.

For those whom exercise regularly you should see progression. Be it fat loss, strength gains, etc. the main variable to focus on is intensity. This, along with the frequency of your workouts, time involvement and type are the most important to ensure “fit” success.

I can’t stress the importance of intensity enough. If you can chew gum and not be out of breath then you are not working hard enough. You must fatigue the body. BUT – know your limits.

Models in the magazines doing exercises with 5 lb dumbbells just won’t cut it. These models are hired for their looks. You can’t get their figure without pushing yourself.

Here’s another problem I see regularly…Someone who jumps off the treadmill and then spends all of his/her time doing Bicep Curls and Tricep Kickbacks. Come On! You have to focus on major multi-muscle group exercises. Plus, the key to effective training results include; Intensity, proper Mechanics and Movement speed.

And girls, stop spending all your time on the abductor/adductor machine. Save the isolated exercises when you are fit and need a change. Focus on Squats, Lunges, Deadlifts if you are doing legs.

As I explained earlier, to become “fit” you must have a consistent exercise program. But are you exercising or training? Do you know the difference?

Exercising is physical movement. Using the body but not necessarily focused. A lot of people do cardio this way. Going through the motions. Not much more than being “active”.

Training on the other hand is goal-oriented. It’s a consistent exercise program that requires a purpose - which creates results. For cardio, try an Aerobics class or High Intensity Interval training.

Here is an ideal training plan for someone who is just starting out or works out regularly;

1) Cardio/Aerobic exercise – twice a week (30 minutes of HIIT)
2) Circuit Training / Fitness Boot Camp – twice a week (1 hour of Cardio, Resistance Training, Core & Flexibility).
3) Weight Training/Resistance Training (1 hour) (once/twice a week)
4) Sports / Family fun activity (one day a week)
5) Day of Rest (one day of the week)

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that being “active” or a “weekend warrior” will cut-it.
It’s been proven that you need to spend at least 50 minutes a day 5 days of the week!

If you want a program that will make you fit – feel free to contact me. If you want to know how “fit” you are, a fitness assessment is a great way to know where you stand. And, as I’ve explained earlier, a fitness bootcamp is an ideal way to get and stay in shape. A new session of the Dynabody Fitness Bootcamp is starting soon. For more information check it out at or visit the St. James School Division Continuing Education program at www/ Phone 832-9637 to register. Classes start September 23rd.

If you are just starting to become active, want to lose some extra pounds or just need a change in your routine, make the decision to take action today.

Exercise in a Pill

It's been around for a while now - talk about a pill replacing exercise.

It hit the headlines back on July 31st, 2008.  Dr. Ronald Evans a molecular biologist/scientist with the Salk Institute have been doing tests with mice that “genetically reprogram” cells mimicking the effects of exercise.
Even when the mice are not active, the chemicals GW1516 and AICAR activate the same fat-burning process that occurs during exercise.

The pill boosts endurance. It stimulates a protein that produces an enzyme that provides energy to muscle cells making the cells act like they belong to marathon runners. Treated mice ran 44% longer than untreated mice.

That may be great for those with joint problems but it sure doesn’t help the heart or lungs – so much for any cardiovascular benefits. Such a medication may even add stress or other ill effects to the body.

The drugs genetically reprogram muscle fibres to burn fat and contract repeatedly without fatigue. Great for all those coach potatoes – right?

Maybe if you are the size of the couch…..

If a so-called drug can give unused muscles more endurance – it’s not the “be all to end all.” Don’t get this mixed up with actually strengthening your muscles. Muscles need more than endurance – it requires strength and power training also. Simply put, muscles require resistance under load and with intensity to see improvements. Intensity of effort is the key training variable for optimizing training results.

Ignoring the controversial abuse by athletes - similar to that from steroids, this exercise pill may have therapeutic potential – to those with illnesses that may be bedridden, have certain muscle diseases, or are frail or obese. Mind you, I’m sure there will be side effects.

Even if there was a magic pill – and you could afford it…there are much more benefits to exercise. Besides adding strength and tone to the muscles, exercise works your heart and lungs. An exercise pill won’t build your self-esteem and confidence you get from a good work-out. Resistance and Aerobic exercise can improve your mood, add brain power, help your sex life, and change your body for the better.

One of my favorite sayings is “Use it or Lose it.” The human body was meant to move.
There are no magic pills, no short-cuts, no special diets, machines or routines that will result in “getting into shape” Strive for an overall plan to increase your health, fitness, well-being and quality of life. And most importantly – have fun!