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mature-senior-woman-home-exercise-yoga

Menopause Exercise: The Depression or Well-being Determinant?

Wonder if your menopause exercise prescription makes a difference? It turns out your hormone ride during menopause deems exercise more necessary than ever. Your hormones reveal more than your likelihood to store belly fat or hot flash.

Brand new research published in the Menopause Journal says your likelihood of being depressed or feeling positive lies in your physical activity level. The study addressed menopause, movement, and mental well-being.

One of 7 levels of physical activity was assigned to each subject:

  1. I do not move more than is necessary in my daily routines;
  2. I go for casual walks and engage in light outdoor recreation 1 to 2 times a week;
  3. I go for casual walks and engage in light outdoor recreation several times a week;
  4. Once or twice a week, I engage in brisk physical activity(eg, yard work, walking, cycling) that causes some shortness of breath and sweating;
  5. Several times a week (3-5), I engage in brisk physical activity(eg, yard work, walking, cycling) that causes some shortness of breath and sweating;
  6. I exercise several times a week in a way that causes rather strong shortness of breath and sweating during the activity;
  7. I do competitive sports and maintain my fitness through regular training.

Which level describes you?

Based on that you fall into one of these categories:

  • Low (1 to 3)
  • Medium (4 and 5)
  • High activity (6 to 7)

Subjects in the study with the highest level of activity had the lowest incidence of depression and the greatest sense of well-being.

That’s the bottom line.

What’s most interesting is that researchers measured not only self-reports of depression but hormone levels. So the study was both objective and subjective.

Given we’re in a time when positive mood, attitude, optimism are so important to how we get from day to day, this is just one more message to get moving.

There’s More

Menopause has historically been associated with negative feelings about aging and with greater incidence of depression than in younger women or same age men. The proper menopause exercise prescription, however clearly has the ability to change your well-being.

In fact, many women report that this is a time of great life satisfaction.

Menopause Exercise Rx

The high activity level word descriptions used in this study are exact descriptions of the High Intensity Interval Training and strength training to fatigue that are a necessity for women who want to flip 50 feeling not just well, but outright full of energy and vitality during and beyond COVID19.

Often when I talk about the After 50 Fitness Formula for Women, and a critical part of it — “Less Exercise, More Food” — inevitably an audience member will comment. She may say something like, “I’m so glad you said women over 50 need less exercise.”

I get nervous with that simple statement. Because like a recent podcast I created about “Moderate Exercise,” that is too open to interpretation.

So let me take some real estate in this post to get clear:

  • You are not a flower.
  • You are not delicate.

You absolutely need to push limits in your workouts – for seconds at a time. That’s true when you’re in good times and when you’re in COVID19.

You need moderate amounts of:

  1. High Intensity exercise that gets you breathless
  2. High Intensity strength training that takes you to muscular fatigue
  3. Fill in with low to moderate exercise that you love

It is #1 and #2 above that have the best opportunity to change your hormones for the better, and in doing so changes your mental well-being, your visceral belly fat, your hot flashes and night sweats, and reverses the effects of 179 genes associated with aging.

Careful Clarification

Advice to do less exercise is often interpreted as advice to do “light” exercise or following a doctor’s vague advice to “walk.” It’s not enough. And walking 3 or 4 miles a day as many women do in an effort to overcome weight or fat gains in menopause only makes matters worse. Greater volume of the same ineffective exercise will not get you better results.

Yes, you want less exercise. Less than you think, and of the right type (of intense exercise).

It’s true that if you’re just beginning you start with habits. We get you hooked and regular first. Yet, yes, you can do interval training when you start. COPD patients and asthma sufferers often do best with intervals. If they can you can. We simply apply a progressive plan for you.

Before you start intervals it may be appropriate for you to “restore before more.” If you’re already exhausted, suffering from mood swings, your first step is to restore yourself with rest, sleep, nutrients and movement, NOT exercise.

Menopause exercise is not a generic prescription for all women in menopause. It should be based on your unique condition now, your current hormone status (assessed by a fitness specialist by your signs & symptoms), and your personal preferences and schedule.

Yet, menopause exercise has the power to make this second half better than the first.

For Fitness Professionals: Offer Your Female Clients a “Hormone Balancing Exercise Prescription”

Gain the information, tools and resources needed to coach and train this steadily growing population with Debra’s online course with MedFit Classroom, Menopause Fitness Specialist.

Given the number of women who have not exercised previously, and the current void in proper hormone balancing exercise prescription, there exists numerous, lucrative opportunities for fitness professionals to positively impact the lives and health spans of a great many women still seeking answers.


Reprinted from flipping50.com with permission from Debra Atkinson.

Debra Atkinson is the #youstillgotitgirl who is flipping 50 and changing the way thousands of women think about their second half. She’s the host of the Flipping 50 TV Show and the Flipping 50 podcast. As a master personal trainer, strength and wellness coach with over 30 years fitness industry experience, she works with women who are pro-aging with vitality and energy. She is an international fitness presenter, author of hundreds of articles and multiple books. Visit her website, flippingfifty.com

 

Reference:

https://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/fulltext/2020/04000/the_role_of_physical_activity_in_the_link_between.6.aspx

Oats Oatmeal

Oatmeal and Athletes

As you may recall from nursery songs, Mares eat oats and Does eat oats—and so do many athletes. (FYI, the song is actually Mairzy Doats.) Questions arise about oatmeal:

  • Is oatmeal beneficial for athletes? 
  • Are steel-cut oats better than quick-cooking oats?
  • Does oatmeal really “stick to your ribs”?
  • And for some, “Why would any athlete even want to eat oatmeal?? It’s so gluey … yuck! 

Let’s take a look at what you might want to know about this popular sports food.

Oatmeal (aka porridge in parts of the world) refers to de-husked oats (groats) that have been cut into small bits (steel-cut) or steamed (to soften the groats), then flattened with rollers (rolled oats). Regardless of the way the groat is processed, all types of oatmeal are 100% whole grain and offer similar amounts of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. What differs is the cooking time, shape (rolled or steel-cut), texture (chewy or smooth), and whether or not they are all natural or fortified with B-vitamins and iron.

Which type is best? The answer depends on your taste preference and available cooking time.

Steel-cut oats take 20 to 30 minutes to cook. They have a chewier texture than rolled oats. Some athletes use a crockpot to cook them overnight. Despite popular belief, steel-cut oats are nutritionally similar (not superior) to rolled oats.

Old-fashioned oats (rolled oats) cook in 5 to 10 minutes and have a firm texture. They can be eaten uncooked with milk, like any dry cereal, or in the form of muesli or overnight oats.

Quick-cooking oats are ready in a minute on the stovetop. Because they are rolled thinner than old-fashioned oats, they cook quicker and have a smoother texture.

Instant oats cook quickly in the microwave. They are pre-cooked, rolled thin, dried, and then rehydrated to be eaten.  They can be fortified (or not) with B-vitamins & iron. Some flavors are sugar-laden and perhaps best saved for dessert.

Benefits from eating oatmeal

  • Oatmeal is one of the most affordable whole grains, perfect for hungry athletes on a budget. At least half your daily grains should be whole grains. Oats for breakfast give you a good start to reaching that whole grain goal for the day.
  • Oats are a “safe” choice for a pre-event meal. They are low in certain fibers (referred to as FODMAPS) that send some athletes to the porta-toilets.
  • Oats contain a type of soluble fiber (beta-glucan) that makes cooked oats gluey—but can be beneficial for endurance athletes. Beta-glucan slows the absorption of carbs over 2 to 3 hours, helping you feel satiated for a long time. Hence, oatmeal sticks to your ribs; it’s a good pre-exercise choice for sustained energy.
  • Beta-glucan helps reduce the risk of heart disease if you eat oats in the context of a heart-healthy diet. To achieve this benefit, the daily target is 1 cup dry rolled oats or ½ cup dry steel-cut oats most days of the week.
  • Oats have about 5 grams of protein per ½ cup dry serving. A good protein target for breakfast is at least 20 grams, so cook the oats in 1 cup milk (dairy milk, 8 g protein, or soy milk, 7g protein) and stir in 2 tablespoons of peanut butter or ¼ cup of nuts (8 g pro), and you’ll have a super sports breakfast!
  • Fortified oats offer extra iron, a mineral important for athletes who do not eat red meat. A packet of plain Quaker Instant Oatmeal offers 40% of the DV for iron; regular oats offer only 6%. Read the Nutrition Facts label for information on iron in the oats you buy.
  • Oats have some fiber, but only about 4 grams per serving (1/2 cup dry rolled oats, 1/4 c dry steel-cut oats). Given the daily fiber target is 25 to 38 grams (achieved by only 10% of women and 3% of men), oats make a small contribution—but more fiber than if you were to have just eggs for breakfast.
  • Oats contain an antioxidant called avenanthramide (AVA). AVA can reduce the oxidative stress created by vigorous exercise. New research hints pre-exercise oatmeal might have a protective effect that could potentially reduce inflammation and muscle damage. Stay tuned.
  • While naturally gluten-free, oats are often processed in a factory that also processes (gluten-containing) wheat. If you have celiac disease, you want to make sure you buy gluten-free oats (Bob’s Red Mill Oats, Quaker Gluten-Free Oats).

How to boost your oat intake

  • Oats are versatile. You can cook them in water —or preferably in milk— to add protein, calcium, and creaminess. The suggested ratio is 1 cup (8 oz) of liquid for each half-cup rolled oats or ¼ cup steel-cut oats.
  • For a savory option, cook oats in broth, season with soy sauce, or top with sriracha. Or add some cheese and spinach when cooking, then top the oatmeal with a poached egg.
  • As an athlete, you lose sodium in your sweat, so don’t be afraid to make oatmeal tasty by sprinkling on some salt. A quarter teaspoon salt per ½ cup dry oats really helps change the bowl of glue into a yummier breakfast.
  • Add sweetener, if desired, to make the oatmeal taste even better—honey, maple syrup, raisins, chopped dates. These extra carbs offer fuel for your muscles. According to the US Dietary Guidelines, 10% of daily calories can come from added sugar. That’s perhaps 200 calories (50 grams) of added sugar for an athlete—guilt‑free!
  • Don’t have time to cook oats in the morning? Make overnight oats the night before! There’s no wrong way to make overnight oats. In a 16-ounce glass jar (such as a peanut butter jar), combine ½ cup old-fashioned oats, ½ cup milk, ¼ cup Greek yogurt, fruit-of-your choice (banana, berries), and optional add-ins, such as chia seeds and maple syrup. Refrigerate at least 2 hours for the oats to soften, if not overnight.
  • Add rolled oats to a recovery shake or fruit smoothie for a thicker texture, as well as for more carbs to refuel your muscles.
  • Bake with oat flour (blenderized oats). The Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe from my Sports Nutrition Guidebook is a good pre-exercise energy booster and fun way to boost your oat intake. Enjoy!

Sports Nutritionist Nancy Clark, MS, RD counsels both casual and competitive athletes in the Boston-area. Her best selling Sports Nutrition Guidebook can help you eat for health and high energy. For more information about her books and online workshop, visit NancyClarkRD.com.

joint-replacement-xray

The Role of the SAID Principle in Joint Replacement Fitness

The SAID Principle, Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand, is a fundamental law of human physiology. The classic definition of this principle is “the body adapts to what it does”.  A more precise, neuro-centric definition would be “the body ALWAYS adapts to EXACTLY what it does”. The takeaway is this: if you want a certain result, you must train with precision.

Joint replacements are an incredible medical innovation, but they are also incredibly traumatic events to the dermal, fascial, musculoskeletal, and nervous systems. Of specific concern for joint replacement clients are the mechanoreceptors that provide input to the brain about the joint and surrounding area through touch, pressure, stretch (skin and muscles/tendons), temperature, vibration, and movement.

Some studies have shown, depending on the type of replacement performed, joint capsule mechanoreceptors are no longer present and do not regenerate. The injuries to tissues or joints, whether acute or chronic, can result in dysfunctional proprioceptive feedback, and that is not automatically regained after joint replacement. So, we will need to train with precision to maximize and improve proprioceptive input and joint position sense.

Building variety into fitness training for joint replacement clients

Training with precision means taking our fitness training beyond “strengthening and stretching”. Our joint replacement clients likely got plenty of that during their physical therapy anyway. Another way to think about the SAID Principle is “use it or lose it”. If we want our joint replacement fitness clients to get the most out of their replacement, we need to program a variety of aspects:

  • Motor Control Drills for individual joints (the replaced joint as well as supporting joints) take the targeted joint through full, active, pain-free range of motion. It can be startling how many folks have poor motor control and joint position sense over some joints when asked to focus movement at only one joint.
  • Open & Closed Chain movements around the affected joint are both important and should be included. Barbells are great, but most human movement (walking, running, reaching, throwing, etc.) is open chain, so we need to train it!
  • Loading variations such as isometrics, free weights, and resistance bands require different firing patterns and levels of motor control. Isometrics specifically are a vastly underutilized form of strength training that is very “low threat” neurologically, allowing muscular force production in a very safe manner.
  • Speed of Movement variety can also improve motor control. Going through a movement in slow motion, or to the beat of a metronome, can be incredibly challenging but beneficial. 
  • Multi-Planar / Multi-Directional Movements are one of the most important variations to implement with joint replacement clients to build a large and detailed proprioceptive map of the new joint and surrounding musculature.

Programming for this type of variety is very important for joint replacement clients but also for general fitness, performance, and pain clients! Begin learning a neuro-centric approach to medical fitness and how to work with joint replacement clients with our Joint Replacement Fitness Specialist online course, available through the MedFit Classroom!


Pat Marques is a Z-Health Master Trainer and NSCA-CPT specializing in training the nervous system to improve performance and get out of pain.  After retiring from the Active Duty Army, Pat pursued his education and certifications in exercise science, initially working with wounded, ill, and injured soldiers. During this time that Pat discovered the power of using a neurological approach to training to get out of pain and improve fitness and performance. He currently provides exercise therapy, movement reeducation, and strength and conditioning for all levels of clients at NeuroAthlete, from chronic pain sufferers to Olympic-level and professional athletes.

 

References

  1. Cobb, E. (2020). R-Phase Certification Manual and Presentation. Z-Health Performance Solutions.
  2. Soulat, N., Alistair, P., and Gey, V. (2014). Assessing Regeneration of Mechanoreceptors in Human Hip Pseudocapsule After Primary Total Hip Arthroplasty. Journal of Orthopedics, Trauma and Rehabilitation (18)
  3.  Domoslavska, D. (2011). Restoring proprioception after sports injuries and pathological states of the shoulder complex. Journal of Combat Sports and Martial Arts (Vol. 2).
Senior-and-Trainer

Are You Asking the Right Questions of Your Geriatric Clients?

In the world of medical and mainstream fitness, assessment methods and tools abound.  We like to pre-test and post-test and record our findings to show positive change toward the betterment of our clients’ general health.  But what about their well-being?  Are we asking them how they are really doing on that day and in general?  Should we probe further or would that be invasive and make our older client feel uncomfortable and possibly interrogated?  

Vegan burger

10 Tips for Starting a Plant-Based Diet in 2022

Did you decide to start eating a plant-based diet in 2022? No matter your reason—health, the environment, or animals—you’re making an excellent choice.

But now you may be wondering: How do I get stated? The good news is that eating a plant-based diet is easier than ever, and I’ve got a few tips to help you get started.  

Veganize your favorite foods

Going plant-based doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite foods! Chances are, you’re already eating plenty of foods—like oatmeal, pancakes, burritos, chili, pizza, pasta, and even brownies—that are easily made plant-based by simply leaving out the meat and cheese and swapping dairy milk for plant milk. Prepared plant-based alternatives to burgers, chicken, sausage, cheese, eggs, etc., which you can find in many grocery stores, can also help ease your transition from animal products while you explore the wide world of plant-based meals.

Expand your palate

In addition to veganizing your favorite foods, make sure you have fun trying flavorful plant-based foods that may be new to you. There are countless plant-based cookbooks and online recipes to get you started. How about trying Thai Crunch Salad With Peanut Dressing, Farro with Miso Mushrooms, Kale, and Walnuts, or Lentil and Split Pea Soup with Fennel and Orange?

Stock up

Now it’s time to stock your shelves and refrigerator. Be sure to eliminate sources of temptation. It’s much easier to stay on track when you’re greeted by enticing healthful choices, rather than those you’re trying to leave behind. Use the recipes you’ve picked to make a grocery list of all the ingredients you’ll need. You might even find that you’ll save some money when you check out. Recent research shows that a vegan diet can reduce food costs by up to one third.

Dine out

Finding plant-based options while dining out is easier than ever. Happy Cow is an app and website that lists restaurants around the world with vegan options. You can also explore cuisines from around the world—like Chinese, Ethiopian, Indian, Japanese, Latin American, and Middle Eastern—many of which feature plant-based foods as staples. But if you end up at a restaurant that doesn’t appear to have a plant-based option on the menu, politely explain that you don’t eat meat, dairy products, or eggs, and ask the server if it’s possible to modify a menu item or for the chef to make something. They’re often glad to, depending on the ingredients they have. 

Take B12

Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans provides all the essential nutrients your body needs. It’s also important to include a reliable source of vitamin B12 in your diet. You can easily meet your B12 needs with a daily supplement or fortified foods, such as vitamin B12-fortified breakfast cereals, plant milks, and nutritional yeast.

Talk to your doctor

At your next appointment, let your doctor know that you’re following a plant-based diet. If you’ve made improvements in your health, your doctor may be keen to hear what you’re doing! 

Get support

Dietary changes are more effective when you have consistent support or even a friend making the same changes along with you. Try reaching out to friends and family, meetup groups, social media groups, mentors or allies, or co-workers. 

Stay inspired

Keep learning about the benefits of a vegan diet with books, documentaries, and podcasts. I’ll share a few of my favorites. Book: The Vegan Starter Kit. Documentaries: Forks Over Knives, What the Health, and They’re Trying to Kill Us. Podcasts: Rich Roll and The Exam Room.

Take a class

The Physicians Committee has a wide range of classes. If fact, we’re launching One Healthy World on Jan. 13. The free program—taught in English, French, Spanish, and Mandarin—will revolutionize your health in six sessions, all free and on demand. We also offer in-person and virtual Food for Life classes around the world.

Download an app

The 21-Day Vegan Kickstart, developed by doctors, dietitians, chefs, and experts in vegan cuisine, features meal plans, recipes, and advice from nutrition experts.

Join Dr. Cullimore for his free webinar on this topic, Veganism 101: How to Eat a Plant Based Diet


Josh Cullimore, MD, MPH is director of preventive medicine for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting preventive medicine, especially better nutrition, and higher standards in research.

 

smiley-face

Balance Distorted Thinking – How to Say No to Negativity

Start with these methods to boost your mood naturally and defeat negative thinking.

Some days I feel more anxious than others. Feelings alter the way we think, and thoughts can turn negative feelings like depression, anxiety or anger into a positive experience just as easily if we practice self-help exercises (psychological not physical, in this case) to dissolve the issues. Usually there is a trigger that sets things reeling. Certain exercises can facilitate a shift from negative thinking or illogical thoughts to a happier, more balanced feeling.

Realize that life throws us curve balls just to keep us grounded (pardon the pun). Staying positive is not realistic or easy. For every negative emotion (for instance, sadness over the loss of a loved one or friend), there’s both a healthy and a negative version. Here are some useful tips that can make a difference.

Have a Laugh

Fun is cheap. If you have forgotten how to have fun, don’t wait for the next wedding or family reunion to laugh it up. Research shows that having fun and laughter decreases levels of the damaging stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine. It also helps to laugh because it supports our immune system and protects us from illness. One minute of laughter boosts your immune system for over 24 hours. I am sure my last cold was short-lived because I made it a point, even when I felt terrible, to watch a funny movie or read an entertaining book. Turn off the news at dinner time or before you go to sleep.

Call a Friend

When feeling down, reach out to friends who don’t allow you to dwell on your pain, but also don’t ignore it. Stay away from the “Debbie Downers.” “If we surround ourselves with people who are joyous, hopeful, or make us laugh and live in the moment, that makes us feel much better.” – Helen Grusd, Ph.D, clinical psychologist

Say Thanks

You probably have a lot to be thankful for, despite bouts of pain or an injury that may have slowed you down. Focus on gratitude. Perhaps make a list you read out loud to yourself (it helps to hear yourself say the words) every day, and eventually you can memorize it, as it becomes a part of your consciousness and diverts any negative feelings that keep you stuck.

Do Something – Anything

  • Go out and shop for your favorite bath scent and take the best bubble bath since you were five years old.
  • Start a journal. When you see the words pop from the page it creates a different reality.
  • Agree when people might ask you to join them in an activity. Say yes to more things instead of no. Saying no will isolate you more in life.
  • Play more, be child-like and I can guarantee the benefits will pay off.
  • Don’t cook tonight, have your dinner delivered. Why? Because YOU deserve it!

Get Lost in a Song

It’s hard for negative thoughts to occupy the same space in your brain if you’re listening to happy music. A recent study found listening to upbeat music improves moods short term and boosted overall happiness over a two-week period. It can also reduce your level of pain. You’ll find yourself sitting less as you tap your toes to the rhythm of the song. Then, stand up and dance as if no one is looking.

Mood busters only work, like exercise for our body, if you practice regularly and before your mood sinks too low.

Go Outside

Those who enjoy spending time outdoors are more likely to like themselves. Be a nature lover. Taking a walk or hike, in addition to relieving depression, it helps distract from negative energy you might be carrying. If you would rather be outside and just pull weeds or plant a new exotic plant, that will work too. It also keeps fitness buffs energized.


Reprinted with permission from Lori Michiel. Originally published on Lori’s Fitness Blog For Active Adults and Seniors.

Lori Michiel, NASM, has been assisting seniors in their homes since 2006 with customized exercise programs including those designed to address Parkinson’s, metabolic disorders, arthritis and diabetes. These adaptive programs are specifically designed to improve balance, circulation, flexibility, mobility and promote independence. Lori Michiel Fitness has over 40 certified trainers who are matched with clients in Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange Counties. Connect with Lori at www.LoriMichielFitness.com.

male-trainer-female-client-gym

Fitness Has Become a Luxury Item. It Doesn’t Have To Be…

Something strange is happening to the fitness industry. Or maybe it already happened – years ago – and I’m only just noticing now (having no social media presence can be a mixed blessing). There’s a shift in how fitness is being packaged and sold, a shift that emphasizes an almost slave-like devotion to the self. During my lifetime the act of “working out” was usually presented as democratic in nature, a basic right accessible to all. Now, it’s being rebranded as a sort of mandatory luxury item for this generation of digital nomads.

Hell, even the language has changed. Health is “wellness”; exercising is “training”; getting a massage is “self-care.” Forgive me for coming off as a younger Andy Rooney, but back in my day you’d hit the gym a few times a week, either before or after work, and that was that. Maybe you’d play some ball with buddies on the weekend, maybe run an easy 5K Sunday morning. Food mattered, but it wasn’t something to stress over.

Today the expectation is to be up at 4 a.m. for morning meditation and journaling while riding out the final wave of your 12-hour daily fast. Breakfast – and every morsel that passes your lips thereafter – is posted on Instagram for the approval of the oh-so legitimate dietitians, trainers and food scientists who lurk in the comments section. Your workout is no longer just that, it’s an “experience” to be shared with your tribe/team/pod, one that we must pause and express gratitude for whenever possible (quick, grab your journal!).

By now you’re likely wondering what my point is. Hasn’t the pursuit of physical perfection and ultimate longevity always been just a tad self-indulgent? And what’s wrong with indulging the self anyway? My point – and my problem – is that entry into this cult of wellness comes at a ridiculous cost, in both the literal and metaphorical sense of the word. Forget for a moment the time commitment required; society is being duped into believing you need a Fitbit, compression shorts and a $200 pair of lifting shoes to get in shape, when a notebook, sweatpants and Chuck Taylors will do just fine.

Of course, there’s always been a market that caters to the well-heeled. Peloton presents the most extreme example of this absurdity. Have you seen how much those bikes cost? And then there’s the monthly membership to boot. You could fly first-class to France and tour the countryside on your own damn bike for the same price. The same goes for Equinox – not a gym, but a “temple of well-being” that charges its parishioners thousands of dollars for the privilege of spilling sweat inside its walls.

Pay attention to the way these products are being positioned. Peloton ads feature every day, average folks pedaling away on $3,000 machines in their unspectacular homes. Lululemon ads feature every day, average folks running and bending and lifting in outfits that cost more than most people make in a day. The message is clear, yet entirely incongruent with reality. At least Equinox has the decency to showcase their upper crust offerings in the proper context; in keeping with the tradition of aspirational luxury brands, their ads make no sense at all.

Getting in shape doesn’t require a payment plan or a line of credit. I’ve spent time in posh gyms and I’ve spent time in musty warehouses and I can assure you there is next to no correlation between high fees and quality of service. In Toronto, Hone Fitness offers memberships for as low as $30 a month and you can bring a friend whenever you want. The YMCA has 120 fitness centers across Canada with fully-equipped weight rooms and loads of fitness classes; their membership subsidy program ensures everyone, regardless of income, can cycle their stress away. You may not be able to bathe yourself in eucalyptus-infused steam showers afterwards, but really who needs that anyway?


Paul Landini is a personal trainer, health educator and fitness columnist with The Globe & Mail. He specializes in making fitness fun and accessible to all, regardless of their age, gender or abilities. Paul has been a long-time advocate for plant-based nutrition and loves nothing more than dispelling the many myths surrounding vegan and vegetarian diets.

new year

Fitness New Year’s Resolution Tips

The holidays were here and there was plenty of running around and parties to attend. As we said goodbye to this year, we are ready to take on the new year. Many individuals have decided to make fitness a resolution and made the commitment with themselves to get into better shape.

Many individuals do not plan for this transition and end up stopping within three months. There are some things you can do to be successful if fitness is on your list of resolutions.

The first thing you want to do is to choose a fitness facility where you feel comfortable. By comfortable I mean, do you like the atmosphere? Is the gym to big or small for you? When you look into fitness facilities, make sure they’re not too far from your home. If the gym is too far, you’re less likely to go consistently. Try to plan for when the best time would be to go. Decide if morning, afternoon or evening works better for you and your schedule.

When you find your gym and figure out a time, make an appointment for an assessment and consultation. There are some people who decide to do this after a couple months of joining. Try to see a fitness professional within the first two weeks. We are able to help you figure out a plan for your workout and keep you on track. Some fitness centers call new members after the first week to see how everything is going.

It’s also important to not have an “all or nothing” mentality. If you decide to go to the gym three days a week, but sometimes fall short, it’s OK! Just get back to your schedule the following week. It will take about three months to adapt to your new transition.

Another tip is to have fun! Look at class schedules and try new classes. If you are new to classes, don’t worry about keeping up with everyone else. I always suggest that clients show up to class ten minutes early. This enables you to speak with the instructor about any injuries or concerns you may have. You can also leave class early if you need to. Some new students may only be able to do a warm up and have to leave. Remember that everyone in the class was in the same boat as you at some point.

It may seem tough to add fitness to your life at first, but it will get easier. You will start to feel better overall. Many people are able to sleep much better, bring down their blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce stress, and prevent osteoporosis. The benefits are really endless! The best thing is that you are setting the stage for a healthy lifestyle as you get older. You will be able to do more and live independently longer.

Good luck to everyone this year who has fitness as one of their resolutions. You will be able succeed if you keep positive and plan for success. Have a happy and healthy new year!


Robyn Kade is the Founder of The Stress Management Institute for Health and Fitness Professionals. She has 20 years of experience in medical-based fitness.