Machines VS. Free Weights

Any workout program you choose, any training style you choose, resistance training (weight lifting) is beneficial to you.  There are two ways to accomplish resistance training, Machines vs. Free Weights.  Machines are stationary, usually plate loaded or have a weight stack and pin system for choosing the amount of weight you wish to lift.  “Free weights” is a broader term, and refers to things like dumbbells, barbells, kettle bells, body bars, and body weight resistance tools such as a BOSU, stability ball or TRX.

Which is better?

Well that depends.  Both have a role in training, and it really depends on what you are looking to accomplish.  Stationary machines are a wonderful tool for beginners, and they help to teach the body about postural awareness, what an exercise should feel like and where exactly you should be feeling it.  Machines are also useful for intermediate and advanced lifters, as they work to isolate specific muscles or muscle groups.    Machines may also facilitate the ability to lift more weight, as you are more stable and controlled.  Stationary machines hold your posture, thus they take out the necessity to have an advanced body awareness, and it can be easy to forget to activate your core muscles. Because a weight machine keeps the body in a stable position, it usually only works the muscle in one plane of motion at a time.

Free weights generally require heightened body awareness, as proper posture and core activation will reduce the risk of injury.  When beginning to lift with free weights, you can start by doing many of the exercises seated as opposed to standing which keep a greater amount of control.  Seated vs standing free weight exercises also allows for heavier weights to be lifted safely.   Moving to dynamic equipment such as a TRX suspension system, a greater awareness of proper posture and core activation is recommended. Free weights also train the body in more than one plane of motion at a time.  The body moves dynamically, and free weight training is more functional in terms of movements in every day life.

There are definitive benefits and drawbacks to both – mix it up and try something new.  Remember that if you need help with any of the topics discussed, spotting, or an idea for a different exercise, please ask us!

The Lamer Family: Strong Kids Donor’s making a difference


“It means so much to our family… I want them [Strong Kids Campaign donors] to know that they’re helping a family that really, really needed it and it’s making a big difference in our life.”

After announcing the upcoming arrival of their third child, Jason and Shelley Lamer anticipated the natural challenge of being outnumbered by their kids and planned for the extra commitment. What they never could have planned for was Shelley’s stage three cancer diagnosis, just two weeks after the birth of their youngest child.

“Things started moving quickly because I have Stage 3 breast cancer, an aggressive form of cancer. I did about 6 weeks of radiation every single day and all this time, I had a baby and two other kids”

Parenthood comes with its fair share of challenges, but combined with the cancer, it made the task nearly impossible. “It was very difficult for us and Jason had to handle a lot. I couldn’t help, I couldn’t do anything and I would struggle daily”

They soon realized that a YMCA membership with options for fitness programs and quality child care was necessary for Shelley’s recovery as well as their kids’ health, growth and well-being.

“My oncologist tells me that I need to do 40 minutes a day of physical activity and of course we had money problems because of my illness and the YMCA gave us a membership for a very low fee”

“In the summer, my six-year-old did two camps and swimming lessons so I was able to get some rest this summer after undergoing radiation. I was having trouble being able to take care of the kids and the YMCA also offered to watch my children in child care. I don’t want them on an iPad or watching TV and this way they are learning”

Shelley is now on the road to recovery, successfully battling her cancer every single day with a little help from YMCA Calgary and the Strong Kids Campaign donors.

“I still have breast cancer, but I’m recovering from the heavy stuff, the chemo, the radiation and the kids are doing great. I get to use the [YMCA] programs, both of my daughters are in swimming lessons and I just want to express my gratitude for it all.”

Do you want to help a family in need? Donate to the Strong Kids campaign today!


Water For Wellness

The overall picture of wellness can be daunting, but don’t let that stop you.  Your wellness can be tackled one small change at a time, and a big change for your health that really takes little effort is drinking more water.

Don’t underestimate the wonders that water can do for your health.  Water cleans your dishes, car, and your clothes, and who out there doesn’t appreciate how good you feel after a shower?  When you drink water, you’re doing that for your insides.  Water is a key component in your overall health.  It aids the body by flushing out toxins, regulating body temperature, assisting in  digestion and relieving constipation, as well as aiding in weight loss.

Flushing out Toxins – Water allows the body to remove toxins through sweat and urine.  Water also allows for greater function of the kidneys and even helps to reduce the chance of kidney stones by diluting those toxins.

Regulation of Body Temperature – When you get hot, you sweat.  The sweat evaporates off your skin and leaves you with a more balanced body temperature.

Digestion – Water aids the breakdown of food and promotes regular bowel movements. Allowing our body to become dehydrated forces the body to extract water from the colon, leaving stool harder to pass.  Adequate water consumption stops this process, thus relieving constipation.

Weight Loss – Drinking water in between and before meals makes the stomach feel full, reduces the urge to snack, and limits the amount of food we eat at meal times.  Water is also has no calories in it, and replacing soda and other sugar filled drinks reduces our caloric intake.

Defining Your Wellness

There are a lot of words and phrases in the fitness world that can be confusing to even a seasoned gym-goer. I’m hoping to take some of the mystery out of your workout, and define some terms and equipment that can trip us up.

Sets – The number of cycles of repetitions of an exercise performed.

Repetitions (reps) – the number or times an exercise is executed in one set.

BOSU – Blue half ball with a rubber dome and hard black bottom.  BOSU means BOth Sides Up, meaning you can exercise and do balance work on it dome up and dome down.

TRX – A portable suspension training system that leverages gravity and body weight.  Traditionally black and yellow.

Fusion – Fusion Fitness refers to a blend of two forms of exercise.  Most commonly we see it as a blend of Yoga and Pilates.

Plyometric – also known as “jump training” or “plyos”, are exercises in which muscles exert maximum force in short intervals of time, with the goal of increasing power (speed-strength).

HIIT Training – High Intensity Interval Training.  HIIT mixes traditional strength exercise with high intensity cardiovascular intervals and plyometric exercises

The Calgary Flames Foundation is helping create a healthy, positive youth culture.

Calgary Flames Grade 6 YMCA Program – FREE for all Calgary grade 6 students.

YMCA Calgary is proud to be partnering with the Calgary Flames Foundation with a shared vision of creating positive and healthy change for children in Calgary. This partnership allows all Grade 6 students in the city of Calgary to have a free membership and active YMCA youth programming at all YMCA Calgary locations.

The Calgary Flames Grade 6 Membership Program has provided 5, 180 children the chance to learn and grow in a positive and healthy environment over the past two years. Through increasing opportunities for physical activity and engaging in new connections during this critical stage of growth and development, positive behavioral changes can occur for these Grade 6 students that will impact the rest of their lives.

Last year through survey results we heard from our Calgary Flames Grade 6 members, here is what they said: 

  • 94% of participants report they get along well with peers and staff at YMCA
  • 80% of participants feel they know more about healthy living
  • 87% of participants feel more positive about themselves because they can do better than they expected in sports/group activities
  • 84% of participants report feeling more confident in achieving goals they set for themselves
  • 87% of participants report having a better opportunity to get involved in sports/activities they like
  • 86% of participants feel they have become more active

 “Going to the YMCA has taught me lifelong skills about the importance of exercise, which I will use in my life because I know that exercise is more important than computer/video games and exercising with your family, that’s even better.”   ~Calgary Flames Grade 6 Member

 We are gratefule to the Calgary Flames Foundation for continuing to make such an important impact in the community.  We appreciate our partnership as we both work towards the goal of improving the health and wellness of children and youth in Calgary.

To learn more about the Calgary Flames Grade 6 YMCA Program, click here.


FRIEND BENEFITS. Get the benefits of working out with a friend.

Reap the benefits of a workout buddy this fall. Along with the social benefits, you’ll get so much more. A friend helps you:

Embrace Commitment Scheduling a workout with a friend helps hold you accountable to your scheduled gym time. Meeting a buddy at the gym not only motivates you to show up, it forces you to complete the intended workout and intensity while you are there.

Brave new things A friend can help take the intimidation factor away from trying something new. You’ll get the support and confidence you need while navigating your way through new skills, new found muscle groups or getting comfortable in unfamiliar parts of the gym.

Push the limits Exercising with a partner pushes you to work the best of your ability. And when you work out with a partner who is stronger or faster than you, it can motivate you to test your limits.

Work out longer Time flies when you’re having fun… and distracted. Having someone to chat with helps focus on your conversation instead of the workout and makes the time go by quickly.

Go back for more If you loved your social time during your work out, you are likely to set up your next work out session before you leave the gym!

Be your friends best motivation, and they’ll be yours.


Did you know members get free and discounted admission rates for your friends.  Click here for YMCA member benefits.

Want your friend to come more often? Click here for details on our waive the joining fee promotion (a savings of $75!).

A YMCA Global Partner creates global awareness, builds peace and discovers the true YMCA spirit.

Yana, a volunteer with one of our global partners, YMCA Ukraine, participated in the three-month YMCA Youth Peace Network program this summer. Now in Calgary on the last part of her journey, we’ve learned about Yana’s incredible experience.  Here biggest take-away from her time in the program?  “The caring, giving, and dedicated YMCA Spirit was as prevalent in the people from Canada and participating countries as it is in the Ukraine”

The YMCA Youth Peace network program brings youth (ages 19 – 30) together from all corners of the globe to help create global awareness, understanding of other cultures, and to build peace.   Successful YMCA applicants (both volunteers and employees) converge in Vancouver for a summer dedicated to developing leadership, intercultural communication and conflict resolution skills.

As part of the program, participants work as camp counsellors at the local camp. One of Yana’s roles was to teach campers about her country, its traditions, and guide discussions and learning on the differences and challenges in both communities. The goal is to help Canadian youth and families better understand the world and become more effective global citizens.

As part of the program, participants work as camp counsellors at the local camp. One of Yana’s roles was to teach campers about her country, its traditions, and guide discussions and learning on the differences and challenges in both communities. The goal is to help Canadian youth and families better understand the world and become more effective global citizens.

“I was scared when I first arrived at camp. My English was not where I wanted it to be and I didn’t know how the kids would react to me or if they would understand or accept me.”  Yana was surprised to find the opposite reaction.  “The kids were curious, interested, accepting, compassionate and caring.”  “They took care of me and took a leadership role by helping me learn, communicate and feel comfortable at camp.”  Their cultural and language differences only added to the interest and depth of the experience.

After two weeks spent at camp, the balance of Yana’s time was spent in Vancouver at Global Week. A week of participant-lead sessions brought youth together to learn how other YMCA organizations operate, to learn about other cultures, and to promote respect and peace.

Youth Peace Network participants are expected to apply their learning within their own YMCA and home communities by developing a concrete action plan for use upon return to their respective countries.

Yana is already shown that she is a dedicated citizen responding to the needs of the global community –we know she will continue to make a difference in her community when she returns.

Our biggest takeaway from Yana’s visit?  Yana too embodies the true YMCA Spirit.


With the help of PrarieSky Royalty Ltd., YMCA summer camps were fun and beneficial.

With generous support from PrarieSky Royalty Ltd., our summer student helped YMCA campers build fundamental physical literacy skills.

My name is Seann Mahon. I was hired this summer to help facilitate and promote Physical Literacy in YMCA Calgary summer day camps. I have a degree from the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta and am going into my final year of my Elementary Education degree, with a specialization in Physical Education, at the University of Calgary.

The implementation of Physical Literacy during YMCA summer day camps was met with tremendous success. Through the support of our leadership team we were able to facilitate opportunities to support our counsellors’ growth in their understanding and implementation of Physical Literacy programming. Children participated in fun games that helped them develop fundamental movement skills. These skills, akin to the alphabet of movement, are necessary to help kids build the confidence to participate in a variety of different sports and activities.



We began the summer attending the Super Hero Physical Literacy Training at the University of Calgary. This set us up with a framework and understanding of how we wanted to implement Physical Literacy training for our camp teams. Subsequently our counsellors all received a similar training at YMCA’s Camp Riveredge thanks to the support and expertise of our Youth Director Team. This training helped them to understand the importance of Physical Literacy in child development as well as ways to implement these skills into summer camps in a fun and engaging way.

My summer involved facilitating Physical Literacy training sessions for our camp coordinators and our leadership camps, modelling effective programming to counselors at the beginning of the camps season.  Over the summer, I observed over 100 YMCA counsellors during programming and provided individual coaching to each of them.

In addition to my work with summer camps, I developed a physical literacy based multi-sport program for children ages 9-12.  And re-wrote the existing YMCA Active Y program plan for children ages 6-9 to include a physical literacy.

This was a tremendous opportunity for me to further develop my skills in a field in which I am very passionate. Physical Literacy plays an instrumental part in providing children with the platform and opportunity to participate in games, sports, and activities that will support them in leading happy and healthy lives.

I thank YMCA Calgary and PrairieSky Royalty Ltd. for the opportunity to assist them in their mission to promote and implement Physical Literacy and look forward to recognizing the positive impact they will continue to have on Calgary’s children and youth for many years to come.

YMCA Calgary opens two new child development centres in Quarry Park

Our two new child care centres come with big backyards!

Portrait of a little boy holding up a large round magnifying glass to his face, making his eye look humourously large, while playing with friends in a summer park

We’ve been in the child care business for over 20 years and we believe that experiences in the early years have life-long impact.  By adding two new child development centres to our early years offerings, we’re giving young Calgarians more opportunities to have a great start in life.  There are now five YMCA licensed child care centres to choose from.

Our new centres offer quality care, bright spaces and access to multiple opportunities for active, play-based learning and to become school-ready.  Read more about our new centres below.


Quarry Park YMCA Child Development Centre – still spaces available.

Located in a stand-alone building right on 18 street in Quarry Park makes for easy and convenient drop-off and pick-up.

Bright, open spaces, a huge outdoor space, and proximity to the Remington YMCA and Calgary Public Library give children plenty of opportunities for active learning in fun and interesting places.

  • 348 licensed spaces for children ages 12 months – 6 years
  • Expansive indoor and outdoor play spaces
  • Bright, age-specific rooms with natural, Canadian-made furniture and toys
  • An Experience Studio (science experiments, baking projects and more!)
  • Use of Remington YMCA and Calgary Public Library (just around the corner!)
  • Follows the national YMCA Playing to Learn Curriculum (aligned with primary school benchmarks and helps children become school-ready)
  • Includes daily physical activity outdoors and regular use of our onsite gym
  • Offers recreational swimming at the Remington YMCA and visits to the Calgary Public Library
  • Offers a healthy morning and afternoon snack program as well as a nutritious lunch
  • Free YMCA Child Membership


Remington YMCA Child Development Centre – almost full!

Located right in the new Remington YMCA, this childcare offers lots of opportunities for active time in fun, easy-to-access spaces.

  • 63 licensed spaces for children ages 12 months – 6 years
  • Bright, age-specific rooms with natural, Canadian-made furniture and toys
  • Dedicated outdoor play area
  • Indoor group activity spaces including use of YMCA facility space for physical activity
  • Recreation time in the Remington YMCA pool (children 19 months – 6 years of age)
  • Visits to the Calgary Public Library (just down the hall!)
  • Follows the national YMCA Playing to Learn Curriculum (aligned with primary school benchmarks and helps children become school-ready)
  • Healthy morning and afternoon snack provided
  • Free YMCA Child Membership

All YMCA child care staff have up-to-date security clearances, as well as First Aid and CPR certification.  In addition, they have post-secondary education in Early Childhood Development, are certified by Alberta Human Services and continue learning through ongoing professional development.

Our licensed child care centres are staffed by professional, qualified and experienced caregivers who apply best practices in healthy child development and play-based learning, making your child’s stay both fun and beneficial.

As a child care registrant, your child will receive a FREE YMCA membership with access to all facilities, great discounts on programs and more.  See our program guide online for a list of independent and parent-attended preschool programs.  And stay tuned! – we’ll be offering some new preschool programs in winter 2017.

Looking for a child care that better meets your needs?  Our other child care centres are located at the following YMCA locations:

Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA

Saddletowne YMCA

Shawnessy YMCA

Learn more or book a tour today!