Tag Archives: fitness


Does a new condo ‘fit’ your lifestyle?

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Does a new condo ‘fit’ your lifestyle?

If you are shopping for a new condominium and fitness plays an important role in your life, congratulations! By definition, condos inspire active living, from their locations in the midst of amenities, to the wonderful amenities such as fitness facilities right in the buildings.

With Ontario’s Places to Grow Act having dictated that condo developers build “up” rather than “out” and locate buildings close to public transportation and amenities, condo residents can walk or ride their bikes to run errands or even travel to work. Walking is the first level of fitness, so strolling to shop, dine out, meet friends for coffee, post letters, attend concerts and the like is good for the body. Of course, cycling is also great for the heart, and in Toronto, new condos must include bike parking spots to encourage their use. What a fun way to burn off calories.

Context Condominiums

Next, let’s talk building amenities, which today are as beautiful as they are practical. For most buyers, fitness rooms are ranked in the first few must-haves on your list. What a pleasure it is to simply throw on workout clothes or a swimsuit and access exercise options without leaving the building. Plus, condo residents can leave gym membership fees behind. Unlike the dank swimming pools and collections of weights housed in the basements of the condos from decades ago, modern buildings feature state-of-the-art fitness rooms with high ceilings, massive windows and elaborate equipment.

Occasionally, you will find a condo that has an activities director or recreational coordinator who organizes group sports and outings. Some condos have climbing walls, golf simulators, yoga/Pilates studios, gardening plots and other inventive niceties. The fitness facilities themselves are much like commercial clubs with change rooms, saunas, steam rooms, whirlpools, plunge pools or swimming pools to vary the experience. Rooftop pools surrounded by sundecks and lounge chairs are common and well used in the summer.

Gardening plots are part of a growing trend toward eating close to home, and it’s catching on in condominiums. Condo gardening is becoming popular with residents to grow herbs, flowers and even vegetables. In addition to gardening being one of North America’s favourite pastimes, the activity burns off calories. Gardening in a condo can also take place on balconies lined with colourful containers. What a luxury it is to step out onto the terrace and snip fresh herbs, pluck tomatoes or pick fragrant flowers to liven up a dinner party. Unless you want to grow giant pumpkins or watermelons, gardening’s not just for lowrise anymore!

Nowadays, fitness is more than a craze; it is a way of life for people of all ages. Whether you prefer a leisurely swim, an inspiring yoga session, a vigorous weight workout, an invigorating aerobics class or even just a brisk walk, life in a condominium can fulfill all of your exercise needs and wants. As I love to say, go condo!

Barbara Lawlor is President and CEO of Baker Real Estate Inc. A member of the Baker team since 1993, she oversees the marketing and sales of condominium developments in the GTA, Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal, and internationally in Shanghai. Having received numerous awards and accolades, she is an indemand columnist and speaker well respected for her impactful industry voice.


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Boost your immune system through exercise

Boost your immune system through exercise

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Boost your immune system through exercise

We are living in a new world where terms such as social distancing, lockdown, shelter in place and flattening the curve are all part of our lexicon. COVID-19 is global, effecting all races, socioeconomic status and mostly all ages. However, the aging population is at higher risk for developing serious complications.

Photo: bigstockphoto.com
Photo: bigstockphoto.com

Your first line of defense

The immune system is an intricate response system that even science is continually studying, as it is not fully understood. Your first line of defense is to follow a healthy lifestyle.

  • Do not smoke
  • Diet high in fruits and vegetables
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Wash hands frequently
  • Minimize stress

We are living in a stressful time where many of our most common de-stressors have been removed – time with family and community, traditional forms of exercise and spiritual venues. Stay connected through technology or your phone. Schedule regular calls or video chats with loved ones. If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, please go to camh.ca for great advice and resources.

Current challenges at the time of writing are that gyms and some outdoor spaces are closed. Even when they reopen, some of us may be understandably nervous to go back to the social life we lived before.

The benefits of exercise

One of the best ways to combat stress is through exercise, as it:

  • Lowers your body’s stress hormones and blood pressure
  • Improves sleep quality, mood, and feelings of well being
  • Increases strength to perform tasks of daily life, thereby increasing confidence and safety
  • Studies support increasing circulation through exercise the immune system functions more readily

When exercising at home, motivation is a challenge:

  • Set a schedule, same time every day
  • List your goals and follow up
  • Have a workout calendar
  • Play upbeat music, no TV
  • Vary between cardiovascular and resistance training
  • Download an app specifically for a mature population or explore YouTube for follow-along videos such as Pocket Yoga, Pilates-Lumowell, Tai Chi for Seniors or Workout Trainer.

Exercise routine

All exercises should be reviewed online for proper form. Never start a new workout routine against your doctor’s advice.

DAY ONE: Cardiovascular focus (go at a pace that gets the heart rate up but allows for you to speak): 20 repetitions x 4 cycles through:

  • Alternating side reaches with squat between
  • Alternating knee to elbow
  • Squat floor-to-ceiling reach
  • High knee standing march
  • Air boxing

DAY TWO: Resistance training focus: Series of the following, 8 to 12 repetitions x 4 cycles

  • Chair squat
  • Wall pushup or floor knee pushup
  • Crunches (not full sit up)
  • Lying hip bridges
  • Side plank
  • Bird dogs
Agnes Ramsay is a Registered Nurse, Personal Trainer and Wellness Coach who specializes in Electric Muscle Stimulation Training.



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Back in the saddle - e-bike style

Back in the saddle – E-bike style

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Back in the saddle – E-bike style

There’s an old adage that goes something like: “It’s like riding a bike,” meaning, once you learn, you never forget.

But maybe it’s been years since you’ve used your pedal power, and you’re a little hesitant to climb back in the saddle.

Park those doubts right now, and jump on board with the biggest trend in cycling these days – E-bikes.

Among the 45-plus crowd, especially, these high-tech whips are surging in popularity.

Indeed, E-bikes are becoming so popular that The Toronto International Bicycle Show, a biannual consumer exhibition running for 34 years, this year rebranded to become The Toronto Bicycle Show and E-Bike Expo. E-bike exhibitors have multiplied every year – from five in 2016 to 24 in 2019.

“Things are growing very quickly, with double digit growth year-over-year for the past several seasons,” says Pete Lilly, owner of Sweet Pete’s Bicycle Shop, a Toronto retailer with three locations. “At Sweet Pete’s in downtown Toronto, we’ve seen our year-over-year E-bike sales double the past four years.”

Major manufacturer Trek Bicycle says E-bikes are the company’s fastest growing category in terms of sales and product development.

“We are seeing consistent growth both in volume and in ways an E-bike can change someone’s life,” Taylor Cook, Canadian marketing manager for Trek, told Active Life Magazine.

The 45-plus age group is dominating E-bike growth at Sweet Pete’s. “It’s a good way to get back into cycling if someone has parked their bike for a few years,” says Lilly.

“They’re the great equalizer,” adds Cook. “If your partner is an avid cyclist and you aren’t, E-bikes allow you to ride together.”

E-bikes 101

By now, you may be wondering exactly what an E-bike is. Basically, they fall into three classifications:

  • Class 1, pedal assist, with a top assisted speed of 32 km/h
  • Class 2, pedal assist with a throttle, also running up to 32km/h
  • Class 3, pedal assist, with a top assisted speed of 45 km/h. These are currently not allowed in Canada.

Trek, for example, makes only Class 1 E-bikes.

“Our approach is that it is, first and foremost, a bicycle, amplified with electronics,” says Cook. “This means that as soon as you stop pedalling, the motor stops assisting. Thirty-two km/h is the maximum amount the motor will assist you to. However, you can ride faster than that under your own power. It also means it is a normal riding experience for people who are new to E-bikes, and you can ride the bike with the motor completely off – which is great if you run out of battery.”

The anatomy of an E-bike involves three major components

  • Motor, usually located in the crank area near the pedals
  • Display or controller, usually up on the handlebars, showing your E-bike’s settings, battery power, speed and distance
  • Battery, usually integrated into the downtube (the angled part of the frame connecting the handlebars and front forks to the pedal area); the more watt hour (Wh) in the battery, the more power at your disposal

E-bikes initially made their way into the market sort of as a fringe category, often with large, clunky models that were more of a novelty. Now, you can find E-bikes in virtually every category – mountain, hybrid, road and even cargo bikes – and most large manufacturers are along for the ride.

No matter what your interest may be – from just wanting to get back into cycling, to tackling some rough terrain, running errands without the car or getting out for long journeys – E-bikes can help make it all happen.

“From a commuting standpoint, E-bikes are great tools to get to work consistently, without dripping in sweat, and are way more fun than sitting in traffic,” says Cook. “We just launched the Domane LT+, which is our first E-road bike in Canada, and our e-MTB category continues to evolve and see consistent growth.”

Expect the E-bike market to continue to grow.

“The technology changes fast, so there is a constant flow of new products, and product lines are getting more robust,” says Cook. “We doubled our E-bike business in each of the last two years, and expect to again in 2020. In three years, the technology is only going to get smaller, more integrated, more connected and offer more possibilities for people everywhere. It’s extremely exciting.”

With an E-bike, no ride is too long, no load too heavy and no place your legs can’t carry you.

As the saying goes, “It’s just like riding a bike.”

And it really is. Only easier.

E-bike shopping essentials

Pricing: Like anything – a car, for example – you can spend as much as you want on an E-bike. You can find some around the $1,000 mark, but an inexpensive motor in a low-quality bike can mean ongoing service needs and limited options.

The lowest price E-bike Sweet Pete’s offers is about $2,000, but most of the bikes in the category in the store are in the $3,000 to $5,000 range.

“The value of E-bikes depends on perspective,” says Lilly. “Looking at it as a bicycle, it seems expensive. Looking at it as an alternative to a car, the price seems extremely low.”

Safety: Laws in Canada say the motors must stop providing assistance when the bike reaches 32 km/hr (you can easily go a lot faster than that, downhill on a regular bike). This restriction keeps the overall speed of E-bikes at a manageable level that most riders will find safe.

“The better-quality E-bikes are designed with more safety features to prevent the bikes from feeling ‘jerky’ when power is applied to the pedals,” Lilly says. “Torque sensors allow the bikes to get up to speed in a predictable way so the bike doesn’t pull away from the rider.”

Concerns over safety are lessened when dealing with a more mature customer, he adds. “A rider who respects the fact that an E-bike has the potential for more power and speed than a traditional bike is ahead of the game, and will be safe aboard an E-bike.”

Use: What do you want to do with an E-bike? There are models designed for efficient commuting, some for carrying kids or cargo, and some for just simple comfort and fun.

Different brands will use different motors and batteries, which determine performance. “What, in the end, will be the most telling is a test ride,” Lilly says. “Giant and Trek bikes ride differently, and a test ride will speak to a rider about which one is the ‘right’ one.”

Photos: Trek Canada


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Cubii Jr. is an easy workout

Cubii Jr. is an easy workout – anywhere, anytime – while you sit

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Cubii Jr. is an easy workout – anywhere, anytime – while you sit

It’s always a smart health-conscious choice to inject a little more physical activity into our lives, regardless as to where we may be on our fitness journey, but we sometimes lack the time or energy or have limited ability to get out for that much needed workout. The good news is the solution, Cubii Jr., can be sitting literally right under your feet.

Cubii Jr. is a compact seated elliptical trainer you can use anytime, anywhere. Unlike massive ellipticals you might find in an exercise room or at a typical gym, Cubii Jr. is designed small enough to fit under most desks. It weighs only 25 pounds and measures a mere 23 by 17.5 by 10 in. It’s also whisper-quiet, so not only can you unobtrusively grab a quick workout at your computer while you’re on the clock, you can also get your steps in sitting on your sofa binging Netflix or even gathered around your kitchen table chatting with family during a lockdown.

The beauty of Cubii Jr. is its simplicity. There is a carrying handle conveniently located on the top to help with portability. Place it comfortably in front of your chair under your desk. Select one of the eight resistance levels, place your feet on the pedals and start pedalling. It’s that simple. It has a built-in LCD monitor, so you can, at a quick glance, track your workouts in real time to see how far you’ve pedalled, how many calories you’ve burned and more. When you’re done, you can leave it in place or easily move it to a corner or closet for easy access. Even better, share it with family members.

The advantage of a seated elliptical is that, regardless of your age, abilities or lifestyle, you can benefit from a low-impact workout. You can, exercise parts of your body like your abs and core, glute muscles, quads and calves without the joint-jarring and possible pain inflicting impact of other exercises like aerobics. It’s also great for rehab, building up mobility and leg strength. This, I’m sure is a welcomed change especially for those of us who are already feeling the aches and pains as our bodies age.

The Cubii Jr. is a great little gadget for those who are active or not so active, whether you’re targeting specific muscles or simply want to burn calories, lose weight and boost energy. It can easily become part of your daily routine, where you can get in a little workout at your own place at your own pace without worrying about being able to get to a gym – all while you sit.

For those who prefer to be “connected,” you may want to opt for Cubii Pro. In lieu of an LCD monitor, the pro version adds Bluetooth connectivity and smart features. This allows you to wirelessly connect to the Android or Apple iOS Cubii App to monitor your progress and automatically track your progress, set fitness goals as well as sync with your Fitbit.

The Cubii Jr. retails in Canada for about $350. It’s available directly from cubii.com as well as amazon.ca. The Cubii Pro sells for about $150 more.

With COVID-19 presenting an unprecedented challenge for senior care communities, the company announced as a way a way to give back to the community and helping them stay active, that it has donated more than 500 of its seated compact elliptical products to more than 100 communities in need across across the U.S. and Canada.

Greg Gazin is a syndicated tech columnist, blogger, podcaster, and contributes to canoe.com, Troy Media and Active Life magazine.

Check out Greg’s first book Corey OutSMARTs the Butterflies.



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6 hot design ideas for your next home renovation

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6 hot design ideas for your next home renovation

Renovating and regenerating a space, any space, can be incredibly fun and exciting. It can also involve a great deal of challenges, as well as the pressure that comes with managing a project and changing a space that others will use.

If you take some extra time to plan, and use a few simple ideas, getting the right look in a home doesn’t have to be too challenging or expensive. Here is a quick guide to some of the best home design ideas we’ve found to make things a little easier.

Expose materials and structure to add depth and texture to space

You can achieve a fantastic look and give your space an interesting atmosphere and feel by taking things away, rather than adding them.

Exposing a beam or the brickwork along one wall or in an alcove is a great way to add character, depth and texture to a space that may be bland and boxy otherwise.

Integrate fitness and wellbeing into your home’s design

Health, fitness and wellbeing are becoming very popular pastimes that often benefit from having their own space. Fitness equipment in particular often needs a place to “live” in the home.

By using equipment that can be folded away to store, you can have a small home gym that can double as a yoga studio or relaxation centre when the exercise machines have been stowed away.

Use timber cladding and concrete for a modern yet earthy look and feel

A great look for the exterior of a home can be achieved with timber cladding and smooth concrete footings.

Exterior changes can be a lot of work for the home renovator, so you should always consult a professional design service like The Home Design Group, who can help you plan and execute work safely and in accordance with local planning and safety regulations.

Build a large and practical pantry for your kitchen

Kitchen cupboard space is always difficult to arrange, and will often take up a lot of space in a kitchen that could be put to better use.

More and more families are turning to dedicated pantry spaces, giving them plenty of space to store and arrange food, and will often put the fridge there too; making extra space in the kitchen.

Bring the inside out and the outside in

A popular way to add colour to your home is to bring outdoor materials inside, or to make usable living spaces outside.

Some people have used high quality plastic grass, or “astro-turf,” on interior spaces like dining rooms and children’s play areas. To take the inside out, why not have an area outside for cooking and dining when the weather lets you?

Use pivot doors to make a special entrance

Frameless doors that pivot to open, rather than swing on a hinge, make an impressive first impression on anyone entering a home that has one.

Doors that open this way can be very large and heavy, but will pivot effortlessly on their vertical axel to create a huge and welcoming entryway.

Hopefully this quick guide has given you some design ideas for your next home renovation, and you can make a space that is unique, stylish and welcoming for all.


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Body & Soul - Side-to-side lateral movements matter

Side-to-side lateral movements matter

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Side-to-side lateral movements matter

Photography, bigstockphoto.com

Most workout moves have us moving forward and backward, and up and down. Rarely do we move from side-to-side, or in a diagonal direction. Abby Johnson-Bertan, from GoodLife Fitness, says that we tend to focus our eyes in front of us when we exercise, especially with running and walking. Lateral moves can help us to adapt to unexpected movements, which could possibly save us from falling when walking the dog or hiking on uneven ground.

By adding lateral movements to your exercise routine, you can correct muscle imbalances, improve stability, strengthen smaller muscle groups, stabilize your pelvis and hips, and reduce injuries. Lateral movements include side lunges, side shuffles, lateral bear crawls and jumping jacks.

Body imbalances

Not only do lateral movements help to reduce injuries, but they also help to improve mobility and even out imbalances as we age. “Forward movements, like running and biking, use the same dominant muscles – stressing your hamstrings, calves and quads,” says Tara Laferrara, founder of the TL Method and co-owner of Compass Fitness. “You stress the dominant muscle groups, causing them to become increasingly stronger as your smaller muscles stay the same. Working the muscles on the inside and outside of your legs, for example, helps to keep you injury-free.”


Include in your regular workout a couple of times per week.

  • SIDE LUNGES 12 repetitions per leg x three sets
  • SIDE SHUFFLES 20 yards per leg x three sets
  • LATERAL BEAR CRAWLS 20 yards in each direction x three sets
  • JUMPING JACKS OR STAR JUMPS 30 seconds x three sets
  • SPEED SKATER 10 repetitions per leg x three sets

Step aside

Laferrara says that she includes lateral exercises in all parts of her workout, including the warm-up, workout, and cool-down, but she finds them especially important when warming up. “You are preparing your body for any movement that will occur in the workout. Even as a trail runner, which is primarily a forward movement, at some point you’ll most likely have to jump to the side to avoid tripping. You have to get your body ready for that.”

There are two ways to perform a lateral movement. When you move a limb away from your body, it’s called abduction. And when you bring it back in, it’s referred to as adduction. “These movements stabilize your joints and your dominant muscles,” says Laferrara.


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BODY & SOUL: Low Intensity - Steady State

BODY & SOUL: Low Intensity – Steady State

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BODY & SOUL: Low Intensity – Steady State

by Agnes Ramsay

Low intensity steady state (LISS) exercises are very effective for those who can’t do high intensity bouts of exercise. It’s low impact, so it’s easy on your joints and it can be done anywhere, at any time. In a previous article, I talked about HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), which has been trending the last few years. With this form of exercise, you combine periods of high intensity exercises, interspersed with low intensity breaks. While HIIT is extremely effective, it’s not for everyone.

You’re probably quite familiar with the LISS type of work out – walking at a steady cadence, light jogging or swimming. Basically, you can do any type of activity that increases your heart rate by approximately 60 to 80 per cent, for a maximum of 35 to 45 minutes.

Photo, bigstockphoto.com
Photo, bigstockphoto.com


Everyone can use LISS training. For those who are new to fitness, LISS can provide a gateway to getting stronger, and is less intimidating. Someone with no restrictions can do a HIIT training one day, then three days of LISS, and then back to HIIT.

However, if you have restrictions, such as back problems, arthritis, and/ or joint issues, stick to LISS. Your body will eventually adapt, and you won’t reap the benefits, if you do the same exercises over and over. Therefore, ensure that you vary your LISS training with different workouts.

Before you head out, do some dynamic stretching and finish off with some static stretching. For the most effective caloric burn, do it first thing in the morning before you eat. To ensure that you stay on track, schedule it into your day, ask a friend to join you, and switch up your exercises to keep it fun. If timing is an issue, break it up into 15 minute increments – two or three times per day.


  • Fast walk
  • Slow jog
  • Moderate swim
  • Bicycle riding on a flat surface
  • Elliptical/rower at a steady state


  • LISS can be done on a daily basis, as opposed to HIIT, which requires three to four days of recovery.
  • LISS takes less energy, therefore if you’re on a calorie reduced diet you won’t be starving after a workout.
  • It helps to increase your aerobic health.
  • It’s easier on the joints, which equals fewer injuries.
  • For some, LISS is more agreeable than HIIT, which helps with compliance.


With LISS, the pace is steady, but constant. You can use a heart-rate monitor to stay in the moderate range or use the talk test. If you can carry on a conversation at the pace you are exercising, then you are in the moderate range.


For example; if you are 60 years of age, your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age (60), which equals 180.

Therefore, your LISS heart rate should be 60 to 80 per cent of that – around 108 to 144.

Don’t underestimate the power of getting outside. With LISS, you can do it anywhere, so take the time to smell the roses.

Agnes Ramsay is a Registered Nurse, Personal Trainer and Wellness Coach specializing in Electric Muscle Stimulation Training.



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BODY & SOUL: Spring K.I.S.S.

BODY & SOUL: Spring K.I.S.S.

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BODY & SOUL: Spring K.I.S.S.

by Agnes Ramsay

Keep It Simple and Safe

The winter season, with its cold, icy days, tends to keep us indoors where its warm and cosy, and away from the gym. Spring is definitely in the air, and it’s time to get outdoors. With a heightened enthusiasm to get moving, be cautious that you don’t overdo it or injure yourself.

When it comes to spring fitness, the K.I.S.S. theory is a good guideline.

Photo, bigstockphoto.com
Photo, bigstockphoto.com


Fitness is all about compliance, so enjoy it. You don’t need to go out and get extra equipment, and it should fit, seamlessly, into your schedule. Start slow with whatever activity you choose. Make a plan, and write it down. Indicate measurable markers for success, whether it’s by inches, weight or milestones. As an example, you might set a goal of walking three kilometres in 20 minutes by the end of the following month. If you stick to your program, you’re more likely to avoid the dreaded – I’ll start next Monday – as there’s nothing to hold you back.


  • For a jogging plan – start with a walk/jog combination
  • If lifting weights – begin with focusing on your form
  • If cycling is your preference – start with a flat trail that is dedicated to bikes.
Prior to physical activity, warm up your muscles with a set of Dynamic Stretching.

  • Arm swings
  • Alternate knees to chest
  • Swing legs front to back, and side to side
  • Long side reaches


Dress for success. From cool mornings, to spring showers or hot afternoons, the weather conditions can vary greatly this time of year. As the saying goes – there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.

On a damp, drizzly day, wear a good rain coat with reflective tape, grab an umbrella, and make sure that you have good tread on your footwear. If the temperature is hovering around freezing, you might want to avoid slippery sidewalks, so opt for walking around the mall. Rainy days can be invigorating, but take precautions to prevent a fall.

On those hot spring days, schedule activities early in the morning, or when the sun starts to set in the evening. And as a gentle reminder, if out and about between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., don’t forget your sunscreen and drink lots of fluids. Your skin will thank you.

If cycling, your bike will need a spring check-up to ensure that it’s safe and operating properly. If you feel a bit unsure, find a safe place to mount your bike so that you’re confident with your balance before going on the road and dealing with traffic. And, of course, don’t forget your helmet.

Agnes Ramsay is a Registered Nurse, Personal Trainer and Wellness Coach specializing in Electric Muscle Stimulation Training.



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Body & Soul: Schedule in Fitness

Body & Soul: Schedule in Fitness …

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Body & Soul: Schedule in Fitness …

… For a more productive day

by Agnes Ramsay

It’s the time of year for celebration, and with that comes parties and get-togethers. As the days and nights get cooler, we long for comfort food and good company. It’s also the time of year when our stress levels rise, as we attempt to fit it all in.

Not only can it put a strain on our schedule and our finances, but also on our waistlines. Keeping health and wellness in mind may prove to be difficult, but it’s especially important during this busy time. Reframe your priorities, instead of stressing out and giving up on your fitness pursuits – give yourself the gift of time to do something that you enjoy.

Photo, bigstockphoto.com
Photo, bigstockphoto.com


Just like scheduling a meeting or an appointment, make a plan as to when you can fit in fitness. On Sunday, take a few minutes to look at the week ahead, and drop in activities at specific times, so that you’ll stick to it.

Devote certain days to a specific exercise, like a walk in the woods, a Zumba or dance class, a visit to the gym, curling – whatever. On those days – no chores allowed. It may be wishful thinking, but having a timetable is very effective. It’s all about the activity and making the commitment to do it.

On chore and work days, or when at the mall or the grocery store, be conscious of parking further away so that you can add more steps to your day, and, of course, take the stairs when you can. Raking the leaves, and taking your dog for a brisk walk, most definitely count as chore-related activities.

If you find that your energy level has tanked by the end of the day, opt for a stroll around the mall, instead of a workout at the gym. It may be necessary to rework your schedule, if you think that starting your day at the gym (rather than ending it there) would prove to be more beneficial, and something that you’ll commit to.

Be realistic, keep yourself organized, stick to your schedule – and constantly remind yourself that you’re worth it.


Fitness compliance is substantially increased when you enjoy what you are doing. Get rid of the ‘shoulds’. If you think that you should go to the gym, because you have a membership, you’re putting more pressure on yourself. Perhaps the gym has other programs, like a dance or yoga class, that you’d like better than the treadmill. Look at other alternatives, and, supplement the ‘shoulds’ with ‘I’d rather.’ To up the fun factor, invite friends and family to join you – they’ll also help you to stick to that schedule.


Setting goals, and then rewarding yourself, might be just the motivation that you need. Perhaps you want to lose five pounds by December and fit into that party dress. In order to accomplish goals, write them down, and then have a pre-determined reward in mind, like getting a new pair of shoes to go with that dress. Now shape your schedule in order to achieve your goal. It may require planning an additional fitness date, or changing the three-kilometre walk to a jog.

Of course, the biggest reward of all is how you feel, so give yourself the gift of health and wellness this holiday season.

Agnes Ramsay is a Registered Nurse, Personal Trainer and Wellness Coach specializing in Electric Muscle Stimulation Training.



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Body & Soul: A Healthy Pleasure - Stay fit while travelling

Body & Soul: A Healthy Pleasure

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Body & Soul: A Healthy Pleasure

by Agnes Ramsay

Photo, (top) bigstock.com

Stay fit while travelling

Virtual Reality Technology is very realistic. I was amazed by its capabilities as it looked, and felt, like I was wandering around a beautiful vineyard in France. However, as good as the technology is, it still isn’t anywhere close to the real deal. Even when interacting with business colleagues, nothing, yet, has truly replaced real face time. And while the virtual vineyard looked lovely, I’d prefer to actually experience it, so that all my senses are stimulated.


I’m a big fan of travelling, but it can wreak havoc on your daily fitness routine. If you are traveling for pleasure, try to build your holiday around activities. For the more active, this may include hiking excursions, or simply walking around the cities that you’re visiting. Exploring different cultures is always best on foot. I’m never concerned when my clients go on this type of vacation as they don’t need to make an additional effort to exercise – it’s built into the trip by seeing the sights.

Pack your pedometer of choice and delight in all the steps that you’re taking. Make sure that you pack good walking shoes – heels are never your friend on cobblestone streets. And don’t forget the walking poles.

If you are going south for a much-needed R&R holiday, ensure that walking becomes part of your daily routine. Get up early for a brisk walk on the beach before it gets too hot. Don’t forget to take a bottle of water, and wear a hat and sunblock. Most resorts offer other activities like kayaking, beach volleyball and swimming. And many are so large that simply walking everywhere will give you a daily workout.

Personally, I tend to avoid the gyms when travelling south, because I’d prefer to be outdoors. However, if the heat is a concern, a short gym visit is a great option – you are on holidays, after all.


HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is another possibilty. Dr. Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University, has done many studies on HIIT. She’s found that short bursts of high intensity exercise, followed by periods of moderate intensity, is remarkably effective – 10 to 15 minutes is enough.

When on business, HIIT training is highly recommended. Time is often at a premium, and you may not be booked into a hotel with a gym. Nor may you be in an area that’s conducive to walking. HIIT training can be done in your room.


  • Two- to three-minute warm up (light jogging on the spot).
  • High intensity activity for 20 seconds, then stepping on the spot for 40 seconds. Repeat circuit four to eight times.
  • Two- to three-minute cool down (stepping on the spot).


  • Jumping jacks
  • Mountain climbers
  • Squat jumps
  • Running man
  • Spider man
  • Burpees
  • Reverse lunges
  • High knee raise

*Check online videos for proper form.

Agnes Ramsay is a Registered Nurse, Personal Trainer and Wellness Coach specializing in Electric Muscle Stimulation Training.



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