Blog Archives

Fitness Friday – Five Fitness Classes You Need to Try

In my experience, there are two kinds of exercisers:

1. The kind who are only motivated to workout by going to fitness classes

2. The kind that stick to their own thing in the cardio and weights area

Neither is wrong or right, you gotta do whatever gets you up and moving every day. But I do think it is important that everyone try a class at least once. Why?

  • It’s a great way to shake up your workout routine
  • It challenges you in ways you won’t when left to your own devices
  • It’s something you have to fit into your schedule and feel obligated to go to
  • It’s social! The people, the music, the energy. Working out for “me time” is fabulous, but it’s great to have some buddies there for support sometimes too.

There are tons of exercise classes out there to choose from. These are my top 5 picks.  

Most of these classes are offered by regular gyms, however you sometimes have to get creative when wanting to try out new classes. If you’re not a member of a gym, or can’t afford certain studios, see if you can pay per visit. Check into free classes in your area, such as at Lululemon and community centres. Some places will offer cheap 1-2 week trials or give you your first class free. Keep your eyes peeled! Even if you can’t attend long-term, trying it once is enough to keep things fun :)

 

1. Spin

Of all the fitness classes out there, I think spin class may be feared the most. The above scene from Run Fatboy Run definitely did not help matters. To be honest, the first class is a little tough. But the great thing about spin is that you get what you put into it! Take it easy if you want to! Keep your resistance and cadence low. Take a few extra seated breaks and breathers between songs. Make sure you arrive early so the instructor can help you adjust your bike. An incorrect bike fit will make the experience more painful than it has to be. Your butt will survive!

Some people are also afraid of spin because it’s a leg focused. It’s not going to give you thunder thighs. It’s mostly a cardio endurance workout with high intensity intervals, which are proven to burn fat more than moderate cardio workouts. Even though you may stay in the same spot the whole class, I assure you the pumping tunes and fast pace won’t bore you!

 

2. Step

There are a lot of 1980s fads best left in that decade – step aerobics is not one of them! Step is a lot like a dance class, but with the addition of height to make the moves harder. It is a much better cardio workout than more popular dance-inspired workouts, and most classes will include an upper body and core strengthening component as well.

step3
Again, don’t be scared that this one is too hard! Let the instructor know you’re new and they will help you set up your step. It will take a few classes until you get the step patterns down, but once you do, it’s a blast. If you ever get lost, just do a “basic step” to keep your heart pumping until you can jump back in, and don’t be embarrassed!

Just… be prepared to wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care ;)

 

3. Kettlebell

Kettlebells are badass. An iron weight with a handle used to swing in all sorts of directions. Be careful believing the hype that it burns up to 1000 calories in one hour. A newbie definitely won’t be able to push that hard. But there’s no doubt you get a great weight training and cardio workout out of this one. Two birds with one stone. (pun slightly intended)

 

The reason why I suggest doing this in a class format, is because it’s important to get proper instruction on how to use kettlebells. Your form has to be spot on or you risk injuring yourself. Swinging that kind of weight around without knowing what you’re doing can be dangerous! Not to mention, it’s hard to find the motivation to do 50 kettlebell swings on your own. Different story when you have an instructor barking in your ear.

 

4. Kickboxing/Boxing

Okay, so you won’t be fighting your classmates like in the above picture. Kickboxing and boxing are technically two different classes (my gym offers boxing with gloves and bags, most just offer kickboxing in an empty studio). This is another class where you get what you put in. Some people say it’s the best workout they’ve had, while others complain it’s too easy. Put some power behind those punches! These classes feature some great functional training (ie strengthening your body for every day movements). However, again, it’s important to pay attention to that form so you don’t pull anything!

Even if you’re a laid back gal such as myself, I truly believe we all have a little something in us that just wants to beat the sh*t out of things ;)

 

5. YOGA!

If you go to just one of the classes I’ve mentioned here today, I want it to be this one. Flexibility is SO important to health and well-being, and yet it’s the part that most frequently gets ignored by fitness minded folk. I can usually tell 10 minutes into that first session with a client whether or not they do or have done yoga. Their form and balance are better, their movements are more intentional and focused. Do yoga my friends. And do it in a class where an instructor can teach you. It is light-years ahead of the experience you will get on your living room floor.

 

I would also like to add that if you’re doing strength-based classes like Body Pump, it’s important not to rely solely on that class for your weight training. Your muscles are highly adaptable. If the purpose of your weight training is to get muscle definition, then it’s important to keep those muscles guessing. It’s okay to still go to the class once in a while, but make sure you’re doing different exercises on your own or with a trainer too :)

 

And with that, I am off! See ya tomorrow for a recap of this…

IMG_1952

 

Question of the Day: What’s your favourite fitness class? What’s one you still want to try?

Immediate Onset Muscle Soreness

Finally, I did it.

I went to a kettle bell class!!

Few gyms in my old neck of the woods offer kettlebell classes, so when Darryn suggested we try one out here in Ottawa I was all over it!

Now, I may be a personal trainer and fitness enthusiast, but I was still a little scared. I’ve heard this shit (sorry) is tough. Which in some twisted way is also why I was so attracted to it.

We went to an “Intro to Kettlebells” class. Thankfully, it was just me, Darryn and the instructor, which made it feel like our own private session!

Essentially, kettlebell training is a lot like plyo, but with the addition of swinging around one or two of these weights. It requires a lot more balance and fluidity than I was expecting, and perhaps also why they recommend you go barefoot.

 

We did a lot of squats and lunges, some with jumping, a few with presses. I think the sit-ups with the shoulder press killed me the most. Apparently the intro class is mostly easier moves with fewer reps. My heart rate definitely got high towards the end of each circuit and I could really feel my muscles working – the best of both worlds!

With all that said, it is pretty torturous. But some people dig torturous (maybe even this girl?). I’d love to find a beginner class in Toronto where I can learn more moves, and maybe even incorporate into some training plans for advanced clients!

And in case you’re wondering, I am hella sore. Inner thighs mostly, thanks to all those squats. No “delayed” onset muscle soreness here. It’s all immediate ;)

IMG_9130

After, Darryn and I found our way to the Byward Cafe. She had her heart set on a salad, I on a coffee and sandwich. They had all three!

IMG_9133

For the sandwich, I went for chicken and marinated vegetable. Very good actually, for something that sounds so simple.

IMG_9129

For the salad, I got the greek + mixed greens.

IMG_9127

For my coffee, I went for an Americano. Yummmm.

Darryn and I chattered away and had a lovely lunch together!

IMG_9135

Have I said that I love blog friends? I love blog friends. Everyone is so wonderful, one of the main reasons why all the work I put into blogging is worth it!! Not to mention, more people in the world who love to ramble about food and exercise with me ;)

After we said our goodbyes, I continued on my journey to the National Art Gallery. This is the place I was trying to get to when I got lost in Hull.

IMG_9137
Apparently it’s hard to miss because of the large, frightening spider out front. Disgusting egg sack and all. Aragog??

The gallery had a Pop art exhibit on! Including this one:

Lots of Warhols which were pretty neat to see. Some other things from the 80s and early 90s that I actually recognized from my childhood. The most “interesting” thing in the exhibit was a video of Kirsten Dunst singing the song “Turning Japanese.” No joke. I had to do a double take. Watch it here.

My faaaavourite thing from the gallery though were the Canadian works of art!!

The National Gallery has a lot of Group of Seven paintings which I lovelovelove. This one by Tom Thomson is one of my all-time favourites.

This one caught my eye immediately, and I smiled when I read the info card next to it.

“Red Currant Jelly” by Mary Pratt – an artist from Fredericton!! She’s one of the most famous painters to come from New Brunswick :)

Of course, this one also caught my eye…

“A Meeting of the School Trustees” by Robert Harris. Aka the source of the “Both of you know I cannot read a word” Heritage Minute!! It is slightly sad that my knowledge of Canadian history comes mostly from those Heritage Minutes…

I tried to power through the gallery as I still had a 40 minute walk back to my sister’s place and my body was starting to feel worn out. Made up a giant veggie plate the second I burst through the door.

IMG_9138
Carrots, bell pepper and cucumber with tofu spread.

IMG_9142

Tofu spread completes me.

Dinner featured a new-to me veggie.

IMG_9144

Artichokes! Okay, I’ve had the bottled artichoke hearts before, but I’ve never dealt with the whole thing before.

IMG_9147

I didn’t really look up a recipe before I spontaneously decided to cook them tonight. I took the hard leaves off, sliced them lengthwise, and let soak in red wine vinegar with shallots before sautéing.

IMG_9148

Eaten on half a pita with a cut up bison burger, mayo, mustard, spinach and tomatoes.

IMG_9155

Honestly, I think I prefer the jarred variety, but it was still a fun food experiment!

IMG_9152

Roasted broccoli and sweet potato on the side. Burnt it a little, which actually made it better! Crispier! Yumyum :)

 

Sara and I had planned on an Ashtanga class tonight, but she can’t make it. I’m secretly glad because I’m pretty sore from kettlebells ;)

Question of the Day: What is your favourite fitness class? One you’re dying to try? My favourite is either spin or step but tomorrow I’m making it to that Gliding class – mark my words! ;)

 

**Angela from Oh She Glows and I are organizing a big Toronto blogger meet-up at Calico Cafe for July 11th to celebrate my moving there! E-mail me at the greatbalancingact@gmail.com asap if you think you can make it – space in the restaurant is limited!

Upper-cuts and Burgers

So while I was blogging and watching Jamie’s Food Revolution last night (in preparation for Jamie and I’s wedding day, of course) I munched on some notable munchables.

IMG_5797

I started doing high-protein snacks at night because it helped me in the belly-pudge department. But after writing that exam, I just wanted to veg and munch away! Behold, kettle popcorn with almond butter, cinnamon and raisins. When you toss hot popcorn in creamy almond butter, it melts and coats everything. Messy to eat but SO worth it. I’m sure some people would be proud ;)

Anyways, it was late by the time I wound down last night, and my body clock didn’t clue in to the fact that it was a Saturday. If I can’t sleep, at least I can eat well.

IMG_5801
Protein pancakes basking in the morning sun.

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup egg whites
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp ground flax
  • cinnamon
  • maple extract
  • 1 stevia packet

All blended up with my immersion blender and cooked on the stovetop.

IMG_5802
Fun fact: most of you said you enjoy your waffles best topped with syrup and butter. So in your honour, that’s how I ate my pancakes today. Okay, butter-ed and syrup-ed is also my fave way to eat pancakes.

IMG_5804

Pancakes were dipped into the syrup. I’m anti-drizzle. The edges must stay crispy at all costs.

Spent my morning in bed reading blogs. I wish every day could start this way!

I decided to go to a noon-hour exercise class, so I split my morning snack into two parts so I wasn’t hungry for lunch by the time I showed up at the gym.

Snack numero uno.

IMG_5814 
Homemade Dark Chocolate S’mores Protein Bar. One of the little end-piece nubbins because I suck at cutting equal sized pieces of anything.

Snack numero dos.

IMG_5818 
Naner with cinnamon and raisins. I’m on a raisins kick! I want them in everything!

This fuelled me up perfectly for my first ever kickboxing class!!! My gym, GoodLife Fitness, does Les Mills exercise classes. Pre-choreographed classes by some guy in New Zealand that gyms use all over the world. At first I didn’t like the concept of doing the same thing every class (they change them every three months or so), but they’re really well done! I thrive on music when I work out, and they’re all very well choreographed to go with the music. Which is surprisingly not that awful.

So far I have done:

So today I tried out the final class they offer, Body Combat. Here’s what a typical class looks like according to the website:

1. WARMUP

This is where you will learn all the moves that will be used throughout the class and warm up your body and mind for the battle ahead.

2. COMBAT 1

Visualise your opponent and unleash into your first fight combination.

3. POWER 1

Enter an aerobic training zone with a focus on speed, power and endurance.

4. COMBAT 2

Fight for your life! Inject all your power and energy into every combination as you again challenge your imaginary opponent.

5. POWER 2

You’re halfway through the fight. Use punches only to drill the upper body for a second time.

6. COMBAT 3

Time to recover as we lower the intensity to prepare for the final phase.

7. MUAY THAI

Explode into a Muay Thai encounter, push yourself to a higher fitness level and leave your opponent for dust!

8. POWER 3

Go hard out and don’t look back until you complete this upper body power blast and seal the deal on your fitness objectives.

9. CONDITIONING

Take to the floor and cap off the workout with some strength training.

10. COOLDOWN

Payback time – stretch out and lengthen all those hard-worked muscles.

The main reason why I ended up doing this one last is because I thought I wouldn’t like it. I’m the least aggressive person you’ll ever meet. I figured I’d injure myself through some horribly executed roundhouse kick. I was going to blow my rotator cuff punching the air for sure.

And you know what? I absolutely loved it. For realz!!! It reminded me a lot of Body Attack, but with more upper body movements. It kept me interested, worked me hard, but didn’t kill me. I got a pretty good workout out of it, burning 400 calories. Which is a typical workout burn for me. We had one of the gym’s best instructors teaching it today too – which always helps!!

It’s also worth mentioning that the fittest people I have ever seen in my gym were all in this class. I don’t know where they came from, but I was suddenly surrounded by perfectly sculpted, gorgeous women, who all had some aggression to take out. If there are any Fredericton men out there reading, Saturdays at GoodLife is where you can find them :P

My body felt great during the class too – three days of consecutive rest did it good!

Aaaaanyways! Came home and had 30 minutes before I had to show my apartment to a prospective subletter. I had time to shower or eat, but not both. You know which won.

IMG_5821

Turkey salad pita with carrots. I’m back on the pita wagon and it feels good. But typing this out, I realize I forgot to explain to the potential subletter why I was stinky and wearing tight shorts.

Was going to take the boy out for a walk, but it started raining. So I had to put up with him looking up at me expectantly all day. Whyyy are dogs so good at guilt trips!?

IMG_5827 
Fun fact: Archie likes to squeeze himself into tight spaces. Much like in this picture where he’s in the side of the couch. He also has the habit of taking his doggie kibbles and hiding them around my apartment. So if there’s not a poodle between my couch cushions, there’s definitely a few pieces of dog food.

Boring snack, pretty bowl.

IMG_5833

Yogurt with strawberries and Grape Nuts. I just wanted to take a picture of it :)

For dinner, I went out to a new burger joint in town called Relish. I was here a few weeks ago, but it went unphotodocumented, didn’t want it to happen again! 

IMG_5838

Let’s hope dude at the counter has a bike outside.

And why yes, that would be half of Chris’ face in that photo! We were catching up. T’was nice to hear what my former best friend’s been up to since the great divide. He broke a rib snowboarding!! And hasn’t been out biking yet, which makes me feel slightly better about having ole’ Scottie (my road bike) still cooped up.

I asked all my Twitter friends what I should get,  and the consensus was the L.A. is my Lady: sliced avocado, roasted peppers, basil pesto, creamy goat`s cheese.

IMG_5836 
My Twitter friends are so smart :) You can’t see the toppings in this pic because the turkey patty was so huge, but they were delicious!! And there were beets mixed with caramelized onions on there too! For the side I ordered the sundried basil bean salad that was on special. It was okay. I think it was actually green beans, mango and walnuts. I polished off the burger and loved every single bite!!!

Now I am back home cozied up with my poodle. Thinking of…

a) Finishing up some work I didn’t get to Friday afternoon

b) Catching up on America’s Next Top Model

Guess which one will win? :P

 

Question of the Day: What’s your favourite burger topping? Mine is RELISH! (oddly, I didn’t get any at the place called “Relish”)

Bonus question: Have you tried kickboxing? Like? Dislike? I think I might actually go again next week :)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 485 other followers