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Pull-ups: One Powerful Move for a Strong, Sexy Body They're Not Just For Guys!

IMG_0092So you want to do a pull-up?

Pull-ups have long been used as a measure of fitness and upper-body strength. From those gruelling middle-school gym tests (remember ParticipAction?) to military training, pull-ups are tough enough to humble even the most dedicated gym buff. It doesn’t matter if you bike 80K per day and can hold a plank for ten minutes; pull-ups will still be hard. If the squat is the King of Exercise, as many fitness experts agree, pull-ups rival planks for the title of Queen. Here’s why:Read More »Pull-ups: One Powerful Move for a Strong, Sexy Body They’re Not Just For Guys!

Go Play Outside! The Awesomeness of Outdoor Exercise

image: canstockphoto.com

image: canstockphoto.com

I love gyms. I love the variety of equipment, the communal workout atmosphere, the predictable and familiar environment. Gyms are also guaranteed to get you hot and sweaty when it’s 4 degrees and raining on a dark January night.

But lately, I’ve been taking my clients – and myself – outside to exercise.

Even a 5-minute walk outside can improve your mood and self-esteem

Some of the great things about outdoor workouts are obvious: being in the sun on a nice day; breathing the fresh air. But research suggests people who exercise outside have more energy and positive feelings, feel more revitalized, and have less depression, anger and stress. We tend to exercise longer and harder when we’re outside as well.

Head for a park, a trail in the forest, the beach. Even a small green space with a park bench will do. Step ups, push ups and tricep dips can all be done with a stable chair, bench or step. Playgrounds offer lots of fun ways to get fit while feeling like a kid again! Ask your trainer to take part or all of your workout outside, or join an outdoor boot camp class.

Each spring as the weather gets warmer, I look forward to training my clients in the park near Spartacus Gym. Partner exercises are especially fun as they infuse a sense of play into what can sometimes be a pretty gruelling workout.

Here are some outdoor exercises you can do with a weighted ball, but a single hand weight would work too.Read More »Go Play Outside! The Awesomeness of Outdoor Exercise

Lifting Weights: What’s Right For Me? Light Weights or Heavy Weights - Just Lift

image: canstockphoto

image: canstockphoto

When I was in my early 20s, my friend Jodi announced she was beginning a weight training program. At first I was skeptical. I’d never met any women who lifted weights and I assumed it would make you look bulgy and unfeminine, like the Incredible Hulk. But after a few months, rather than bulking out in all the wrong places, Jodi was looking strong, toned and still very feminine. Intrigued, I joined my first gym and learned how to use the machines, and I’ve been hooked on resistance training since.

Trust me, I’ve been lifting weights for 20 years, and I’ve never once been mistaken for a man.

The benefits of strength training go far beyond aesthetic appeal. The CDC recommends two to three sessions per week for men and women of all ages, to strengthen bones, prevent falls, maintain a healthy body weight, improve sleep, relieve arthritic pain and control diabetes.

image: canstockphoto

image: canstockphoto

So once you’ve made the choice to add resistance training to your workout, where should you begin? Heavy weights or light? The simple answer is, it depends. What are your fitness goals? Do you have experience with strength training? Are you working with any injuries?Read More »Lifting Weights: What’s Right For Me? Light Weights or Heavy Weights – Just Lift

Free Float Giveaway: And The Winner Is… Subscribing Has Its Benefits!

After a particularly tough workout, I love to go for a float. The combination of weightlessness and muscle-relaxing Magnesium Sulfate soothes my tired body and releases any emotional stress. In fact, the Australian Institute of Sport even considers flotation therapy an essential part of training for Olympic athletes! So, Viv Santi‘s next Pilates workout had better be a tough one. Viv is the lucky winner of our Spring draw for a… Read More »Free Float Giveaway: And The Winner Is… Subscribing Has Its Benefits!

Want To Lose Weight? Why It’s More Than Simply Eating Less

Physical fitness can neither be achieved by wishful thinking nor outright purchase.

-Joseph Pilates

image: canstockphoto

image: canstockphoto

If you’ve ever tried to lose a few pounds, you’ll know it can be a real challenge. Why is that? You’d think it would be simple: just eat less and exercise more, right? For a week or two, swap that daily Frappucino for an espresso and won’t the weight just drop off? And if that doesn’t work, there’s always this or that supplement/diet/fat-burning-ab-crunch/juice cleanse to kickstart the scales into action.

Except it’s not that simple.

The sad fact is, our bodies are hard-wired to store fat and conserve energy, making weight loss difficult. The “calories-in/calories-out” theory so many subscribed to for years has been proven flawed. This study shows that when it comes to fat loss, the type of food we eat has much more impact than the calories it contains. And recent research suggests that while all exercise is better than none, the intensity can matter more than the duration.

Restricting calories may result in weight loss, but if you can’t sustain the diet, the loss will be temporary.

All of these variables can  be confusing for the person who just wants to figure out how to lose a few pounds.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting you put down the dumbbells and retire to the couch. The risks of obesity and the benefits of exercise are pretty clear. What’s more, I know lots of people who’ve lost weight and kept it off. It can happen. So here are a few suggestions to try – and pitfalls to avoid – to help you do just that.Read More »Want To Lose Weight? Why It’s More Than Simply Eating Less

Healthy Recipe: Chickpea Chocolate Chip Gluten Free Cookies Chewy and Delicious!

Who can resist a chewy, delicious chocolate chip cookie? Not me! And we don’t need to anymore, thanks to my friend and subscriber Karen Cattell (who always has the best cookie recipes!) March is National Nutrition Month, and to celebrate I’ll be posting my favourite healthy recipes for you to enjoy. This one has no flour, no gluten and no white sugar — plus it’s completely vegan if you use maple… Read More »Healthy Recipe: Chickpea Chocolate Chip Gluten Free Cookies Chewy and Delicious!

Walk This Way: Three F’s For Better Health Walking to Improve Your Health, Step by Step

Me at Mt. Maxwell, Salt Spring Island

My hike up Mt. Maxwell, Salt Spring Island

“An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.”


My client and friend Annie is an avid walker. She averages 40-60 minutes at a time, strides with a brisk pace and prefers forested areas over city streets. She’s slim and fit, never seems to get sick, and appears to be healthier than many of her peers, even her teenaged children. Annie walks nearly every day, rain or shine, and credits her energy and strong immune system to her daily hike in the woods (and, of course, to the Hatha Yoga class I teach Annie and her friends twice a week!).
Walkers and runners expend roughly the same amount of energy per kilometre; it just takes walkers longer to do it
Annie (right) and her friend Elaine

Annie (right) and her friend Elaine

It might surprise you to learn that walking can be a very effective cardiovascular exercise. In fact, walking provides the same health benefits as running: reduced risk of hypertension, heart disease and diabetes, increased bone density, and weight control. While running appears to be a better bet for those of us looking to shed a few pounds, it tends to put more strain on the body’s muscles, tendons and joints.

 Walking has spiritual, mental and emotional benefits, too. Many of the world’s greatest thinkers walked: Beethoven, Nietzsche, Dickens and Aristotle all walked daily. An outdoor hike in the woods can clear the mind of clutter and increase your attention span. There’s also the very real interaction between the chemicals emitted by trees and plants and our lungs as we breathe them in.

So, what’s the key to effective cardio by walking? Simple — the three F’s!

Read More »Walk This Way: Three F’s For Better Health Walking to Improve Your Health, Step by Step

Quick & Healthy Recipe: Avocado Mango Coconut Smoothie It's Delicious. Trust me.

I know what you’re thinking: avocado in a smoothie? Yuck! Doubters, be assured — this creamy and filling smoothie is absolutely delicious. Great as a light lunch! Scroll down to see how easy it is to prepare. Christie’s Avocado Mango Coconut Smoothie 1 cold, very ripe avocado 1 Ataulfo mango (the small yellow kind) 3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt 1 tablespoon shredded coconut 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup (optional) A… Read More »Quick & Healthy Recipe: Avocado Mango Coconut Smoothie It’s Delicious. Trust me.

Five “Healthy” Foods That Aren’t As Healthy As You Think Sorry, Chocolate Lovers


image: canstockphoto.com

Making healthy food choices can be pretty confusing. For every time we read about some exciting new miracle superfood, it seems another, innocent seeming edible is placed on the Naughty List. Remember when we all thought fat was bad for us, and ate nothing but pasta for a decade? Then came the rise of the low-carb movement, with steak and bacon suddenly deemed healthy breakfast items.

And then there are the often misleading food labels and deceptive marketing campaigns, not to mention the studies that supposedly “prove” the health benefits of this or that food — studies that are sponsored by the food manufacturers themselves! This study, which extols the benefits of cocoa, for example, was publicized by Mars, Inc.

Some of those yummy flavoured yogurts can actually contain more sugar than a Twinkie

Here are 5 foods, widely considered to be healthful, which may not be as healthy as you think.

Read More »Five “Healthy” Foods That Aren’t As Healthy As You Think Sorry, Chocolate Lovers