Category Archives: Fitness Friday

Fitness Friday – Building Your Own Spin Workout

Happy Fitness Friday Friends! This week’s topic comes from my old friend Matty Danger (hi!) who asked how to get in a good spinning workout without the class.

These tips are best used on a spin bike or indoor trainer. I’m going to go over some of the “moves” you can do on the spin bike, then ways to put them together. I’m assuming those of you rocking out to your own spin class are “intermediates.” But if bike set-up and basic technique is something you want me to go over in a future post, let me know and I will!

Okay… let’s review our options.


Easy Seated Spin
This is your recovery. On a scale of 1-10 you’re at about a 3 or 4. Your butt is planted in the seat, your hands holding wide, and just enough resistance to feel it under your feet. But you could probably do this all day.

Seated Sprint
You’re in the seat and spinning your legs as fast as they will take you. A little bit of resistance is needed so as not to hurt your knees and to keep your butt from bouncing in the seat. On a scale of 1-10 you’re around an 8 or 9.

Seated Climb
You’re still in the seat, but the resistance is cranked waaaaay high. It feels like you’re biking through mud or… up a really big hill! You’ve got to work on pushing down and pulling up with your feet. This can be anywhere from a 7 to a 9 on that scale.


Standing Climb
There are sub-categories for this one!

Basic Climb
You’re out of the seat and the resistance is high to counter your bodyweight. Your butt is above and in front of the seat a little, your hands at the top of the handlebars. You sway back and forth as you push up and down. Depending on the resistance and speed, this can be anywhere from easy to extremely hard.

The Hover
The resistance is high and you’re out of the seat – but just barely. Stick your butt back to slightly hover over the seat. Your  butt and thighs will need to work hard to keep this position. Try not to sway and keep it as steady as possible. Usually at a slower pace.

The Jog
The resistance is still high and you’re out of the seat, except this time your torso is upright and almost against the handlebars. Hands are close together on the handlebars right in front of you. Speed is a little faster. Engage your legs more by trying not to move your upper body.

Standing Sprint
Essentially a standing climb…. just reallyreally fast ;) Lower the tension a little for this one so you can get the speed, but not too low so you don’t throw your knees out.

You’re going along at your seated pace and – quick! Jump up a few revolutions in standing! Now back down for a few seconds in the seat. And back up to standing! These are really fast-paced, turning your legs no more that 6 times in each positions. You have to keep the resistance high for these so it’s enough to counterbalance your weight in the standing jumps. And on a scale of 1-10 it should be at least a 7.


Alright, so now it’s time to put these moves together!

Spinning is an interval workout. Meaning you work hard for an interval, and recover for another. The level of work and recovery can vary anywhere on that scale of 1 to 10. Meaning you can vary how much you exert yourself.

I personally prefer intervals that at most have twice the recovery time than work time. For example: 1 minute work + 2 minutes recovery. But if your looking to push yourself you can do equal work and recovery intervals. Meaning sprinting for 30 seconds, then an easy spin for the next 30 seconds, repeat.

In spinning there are really only two kinds of recovery:
1) Easy seated spin
2) Low resistance hill climb

Knowing those are your two options for recovery, you can choose any of the above moves for your work intervals! Examples:

  • Hover for 30 sec, easy climb for 30 sec
  • Seated sprint for 30 sec, easy spin for 1 min
  • Hard climb for 1 min, seated spin for for 1 min
  • Standing sprint for 30 sec, “jog” for 30 sec, easy climb for 1 min

You can always break up the intervals by doing 5 minutes of steady increase. Pretend that you’re climbing an increasingly large hill, turning up the resistance every minute until your legs feel like they’re going to burn off. Then come back down the hill and decrease the resistance every one minute for another five minutes.

If you’re listening to music, you can always coordinate your intervals to the verses and choruses. Especially make sure you choose upbeat music to listen to!

Rather than give you a list of moves and intervals to do, I hope you can take the info provided in this post and design your own spin workout. I honestly make my workouts up as I go along, doing a mix of short work/recovery intervals with longer work/recovery intervals and a few increasing resistance hills for good measure.

If anything, just remember to work hard. Without the instructor to yell in your ear, it’s up to you to make sure you push yourself hard enough. If you find that the 1:1 intervals are too easy, then work harder so you need that full recovery.

Good luck! Hit me up with any questions below :)

Fitness Friday – 8 Most Common Running Mistakes

Hello and happy Fitness Friday! It feels like it’s been a while, no?

Seeing as it’s the new year, I know it’s a time when a lot of people are setting race goals for 2011, or even just getting back into exercise! I’ve already gone over the 5 Most Common Weight Lifting Mistakes, but today I’m addressing the most popular form of cardio. Everyone wants to be a runner, but many of us are doing it wrong. Here are the most common running mistakes to ensure you don’t get sidelined this year.


1. You’re running too fast.

A lot of newbie runners tend to sprint right off the bat. After three minutes they feel like they’re dying and determine that running is either too hard, or they’re just not cut out for it. Fact is, it takes a looooong time to figure out what a comfortable pace is for yourself. Chances are it’s waaaaay slower than what you wish it was. If you can’t muster up a sentence, or if you’re frequently getting side stitches, try taking it down a notch. We’re not shooting for the Olympics here, there’ ain’t nothin’ wrong with a slow and steady jog.


2. You’re running too much.

Running is fantastic for releasing those feel-good endorphins. Problem is, some people get hooked. As soon as you can run, you want to do it all the time. Keep the 5-day-a-week schedules for the marathoners. If you’re a recreational runner/racer, try to take a few days off once in a while. Remember the 10% rule – never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10%. Jumping from 15 miles one week, to 25 miles the next is setting yourself up for injury. Shin splints for example, are usually caused by running too much too soon.


3. You’re running route sucks.


This point means two things:

a) You need to find a route that suits you. I hated running outdoors when I first started because I was doing all city routes. But then I discovered trail running and fell in love. Some people on the other hand love the noise of a city, the pavement, or even prefer a treadmill! Experiment with different settings until you find one you like best.

b) You’re doing the same route over and over. As with anything in fitness, you should be changing it up. Some streets and sidewalks are tilted, which can cause pain in one leg and not the other. Running too many hills can do a number on your achilles tendon, but not running enough won’t challenge you as a runner. It’s okay to have a favourite route, but changing it up is sometimes motivation enough to get you out the door.


4. You’re in the wrong shoes.


And I’m not just saying that because I sell running shoes for a living. I see so many people frustrated with aches and pains that are all the result of a stupid cheap shoe. Splurge the extra hundred bucks for the proper shoe, it’s worth the pain and injuries it will prevent. I know, I was off my feet for two months once thanks to a long run in old ratty shoes.


5. You’re not eating right.


If you’re cramping up, feeling lightheaded, pukey, burpey, or feeling like you gotta go youknowwhat, take another look at what you’re eating before a run. I can’t counsel you in what’s perfect for your body. It’s something that is best discovered through personal trial and error. Personally, I like a quick digesting carb (bread, banana, apple) with a little bit of nut butter about an hour before. If you’re running in the morning, make sure you’re eating a decent snack the night before so you don’t run out of energy first thing.

For me, I have to stay away from anything salty before a workout because I get so thirsty after. Worst bike ride of my life was the day I ate a bag of popcorn before setting out for 40k.


6. You’re not stretching


Runners by nature are “go-go-go” type people, which means they typically don’t have the patience for static stretching after a sweaty run. Or morning runners neglect to make time for stretching before they jet off to work. Well too bad. Just do it.

You have no idea how many injuries I see as a personal trainer because people ignored their flexibility. Back injuries that put you out of commission, plantar fasciitis that makes simple walking hard, hip injuries that make it near impossible to put pants on. If you’re running for your health, then you can stretch for your health too. Otherwise, you may just be doing more harm than good.

Click here for a list of running stretches.


7. You’re not icing.

Running causes inflammation, sometimes to the point of pain. If you’re running long distances, get into the habit of icing any trouble areas you may have for 10-15 minutes once you get in. This will help bring down the inflammation and prevent any future pain or hobbling. I still have a cranky hip from an old hip injury that I know to ice even if it doesn’t hurt right away. If I don’t, chances are I’ll get a little pain walking around for the rest of the day. Without ice, I would have given up on running a long time ago.


8. You’re not cross training.

Now that you’re following point #2, you’re finding yourself with lots of spare time. Instead of running every single day – cross train! Ride a bike, do yoga, go swimming, hop on the elliptical, take a kickboxing class. Other activities will actually improve your cardiovascular and muscular condition for running.

But most importantly, weight train. Because it’s a repetitive motion, running only uses certain muscles over and over, while others are neglected. This causes muscular imbalance in your body, which in my opinion is one of the main reasons for injury. You can hurt yourself when one part of your body is trying to compensate for a weakness in another part of your body. Runners especially need to work on their glutes, hamstrings and calves. But moreso, focus on every muscle group in the body to create equal strength overall.


Question of the Day: Runners, help me out with this list! What are some running mistakes you’d advise against?

Fitness Friday: Christmas Eve Edition

Merry Christmas Eve!! Today we are talking about fitness. Christmas style.

Thankfully, my family understands that fitness is a huge part of my life. I mean, it is my job after all.

Even more, I have people who are willing to workout out with me! Such as…

  • Going to spin class with my dad
  • Long walks with my mom
  • Hot yoga with my best friend
  • Running with my sister

It’s hard to stay on top of exercise when travelling with family, so that’s why I like to rope my loved ones into it with me ;) It’s a great way to get them motivated and moving, but also a wonderful bonding experience.

Of course, we are all on vacation here too. Perhaps a some “lighter” activity is required as well. Such as…

Walking the dog.


Making meat pies with your mom.



Baking cookies, like these snickerdoodles.



Wrapping gifts.



Protecting your food from ravenous canines.



Cooking a turkey.



Picking people up from the airport.



Cautiously rolling desserts up in towels.



Hugging your family.


Decorating the house.



Making the rounds to all of your Nana’s snack trays and dishes.



And laughing. A lot. Especially at the ridiculous flowered hankerchief my mother put on this MALE poodle. He thinks he’s so pretty ;)