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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.

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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…

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

Odds, Bits, Ends and Bites

Ohwow, there is some good venting happening over on my last post. So happy I opened up the floor to let you guys get some of your marketing pet peeves off your chest! Elizabeth mentioned food companies telling women they can “indulge” without the “guilt.” Ohyes, that makes my blood boil! We should never-ever feel guilty about the food we eat. We eat it, and move on!

Speaking of which, I’m moving on ;) Har har.

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I “slept in” this morning because I had plans on going to spin class after work.

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But I still had to work hard this morning at clearing out the four kinds of hot cereal in my cupboard.

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Today’s poison was cream of wheat cooked with 1/2 cup egg whites and topped with PB&J. That’s only 1/3 cup of the dry stuff. It cooks up HUGE. Me likey.

Then I put my new $20 outfit on! I hate getting dressed in the morning, but today it was fun :) I wore pink!!

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Having spent most of my working life in coffee shops, I’ve always complained about not being able to dress up for work. Well now I have to, and I can’t stand it! Sometimes I manage to sneak yoga pants in, or today’s comfy/casual new shirt :)

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Dressed it up with the new $2.99 necklace. All my necklaces are big and chunky, needed something a little more simple and classic. The pants are a little big around the hips, but hey, they were $12 ;)

Today I attempted to do the impossible – exercise after work. People are always so impressed that I get up at 5am to workout. But honestly, I am more impressed by people who can put in a full work day then drag themselves to the gym. All before dinner!! For me, with each minute that passes, there is another reason for me not to work out. So jumping out of bed and doing it first thing gives me absolutely no opportunity to put it off.

I was worried about this. I knew my chance of success was low. As per usual, I shared my concerns on Twitter.

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This worked pretty well. I didn’t want to have to tell them tomorrow that I didn’t go.

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This is usually a pretty good technique for me. I feel like I need to follow through with a workout after that sugary snack.

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I raced home to let the dog out and got into my spin outfit asap. Once I’m in my workout clothes, the chances of me getting there are pretty high. Especially when I’m wearing cycling shorts, as the padding is really awkward to hang out in.

And I made it!! Albeit, my glutes are furious with me right now, but they’ll just have to deal ;) It was a regular spin class, not one of the Les Mills RPM ones, so it was nice to change it up that way. Lots of sitting sprints to some decent music.

Of course, I was ravenous when I walked in the door. Don’t ask me why, but in my hungry state I thought it would be a good idea to cook every vegetable in my fridge.

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The left side is roasted broccoli, butternut squash, sweet potato and brussels sprouts in garam masala spice.

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The right side is sauteed onions, mushrooms, zucchini and tofu in butter, garlic, salt and pepper. Topped with a healthy dose of parmesan cheese.

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So. Many. Vegetables. I will have leftovers for days :)

Finally, after many taste tests, I’ve decided to share the recipe for my newest homemade protein bar.

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Homemade Apple Oatbran Protein Bars

  • 2 cups oatbran (I like Quaker best)
  • 1 cup unflavoured soy protein powder
  • 4 packets stevia
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp almond butter
  • 2 packaged cups of applesauce (I think they’re 1/3 cup each)
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup raisins

Mix all the ingredients, minus the water, together. Add water only as needed (it takes a while for the protein powder to dissolve, so mix it for a while first). Flatten in a 9×9 pan and bake at 350F for 15 minutes.

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The texture of these bars is just what I’ve been going for! Dense and crumbly. I thank the soy protein powder for that. However, they’re still a touch on the bland side. Likely because the protein powder is unflavoured and oatbran is well, bland. But definitely a step in the right direction!

Now if you don’t mind, I have to do my taxes. I have put them off to the last possible minute. Whoops.

 

Question of the Day: When do you work out? When would you prefer to work out? My energy is highest mid-morning after a hearty breakfast and mug of coffee. Even when I’m not working out – it’s when I’m most productive.

Cookie Monster

Okay. Before I even start things, I must tell you, Holly’s no-bake protein cookies were awesome.

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I mixed up:

  • 2 tbsp unflavoured soy protein powder
  • 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 stevia packet
  • 1 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
  • sprinkle mini chocolate chips
  • splash water

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I thought the mix looked really small, but I got three cookies out of it! Balled them up, rolled in coconut, and flattened them a little bit. I popped them in the freezer for a couple minutes, but it really wasn’t necessary. The puuuurfect dessert!

Despite my bad spin class last Monday, I braved it again today. Didn’t feel sick, but didn’t push it as hard. I think I may be tiring of it a little – I can’t wait until I can bike outside!

Breakfast today was another cookie ;)

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  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • chocolate chips
  • dried cherries
  • splash soy milk

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Mixed up and flattened on a plate to harden in the fridge overnight. I always scrape it off the plate, flip it over, and stick it in the freezer for 10 minutes before eating. Or today, while I took the puppy dog outside.

Not only did I have enough time to eat breakfast at home after spin class, but I also came home at lunch!

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I’d pre-packed some salmon & quinoa w/ tomatoes on top of a spinach salad. 

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I LOVE cold quinoa salads. Even more than as a heated grain seed.

Oh! And my coworkers inhaled the fruit pizza. They all enjoyed the cinnamon roll crust. I had a piece that had not been contaminated by pineapple. Cream cheese “sauce” still the best part. I could eat that stuff with a spoon.

Wait. I think I did while I was making it ;)

Hey look! I drink stuff too!

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Out of tacky whale glasses apparently. I actually don’t care for carbonated drinks, but I drink club soda all the time to help my digestion. And by help my digestion, I mean make me burp, because people don’t like to pat the backs of 24-year-olds.

In other news, it’s been raining for three days straight and there’s a poodle in my apartment who is going stir crazy.

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I bought him a treat to chew on to keep him entertained – and he cut his nose on it!! Poor pup. Tomorrow should hopefully be dry enough for a prance walk on the trail.

He also started doing this thing where he lays on the end of the couch, and rests his head on the coffee table.

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There’s no food on there, he sleeps like that! Strange. So fun to watch all these quirks develop while he’s staying at my place. Definitely making my last couple weeks here a lot more entertaining :)

Speaking of my last couple weeks here…

I finally found a subtenant!! She signed a sublease today and gave me post-dated checks and bought my cheap-o furniture so I don’t have to worry about throwing it out. I like her much better than the first guy and have a good feeling about this. Funny how the pieces just fall into place eventually. Made me think of Sophia and her current housing debacle as well!

 

So, remember when I made a list of Goals for April 19 days ago?? Yeah, neither did. I totally forgot to check in every week! Better late than never I guess!

Goals for April 2010

Continue the spirit of the sleep challenge, aiming to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. I’d say I’m on average getting an extra 15-30 minutes sleep a night. Not as much as I’d like, but it really has been hard. Especially when I was studying all last week.

Get rid of as many of my belongings as possible. Does selling my furniture count? Otherwise I am seriously lagging on this. Would like to clean out my closet ASAP.

Get my bike on the road. Pffft. It’s been like 8 C everyday and raining. As if.

Pass my personal training exam. Eeee… still checking my e-mail obsessively for the results. Hopefully I’ll get my mark in the next couple days!

Chill the eff out. I’m getting much better at this one. Stress is starting to turn into excitement. I have SO many exciting things on the horizon. Not only am I moving to Toronto and getting a new job there, but I also have plans to travel to Banff, Ottawa, Chicago and New York this summer!!

 

Well, that’s all she wrote! I was off dining with the ladies this evening and it’s time I hit the hay. Going to change things up tomorrow and go to a different gym before work. Little things like that make me excited to work out!

 

Question of the Day: Do you find yourself dreaming of summer travels yet? Got any planned? Mine are above!

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