Tag Archives: healthy living

10 Ways to Exercise as a Family

family fitness_43973329

Your kids have energy. Lots of it. Kids take up your time. Lot of it. You want to get in some exercise too. How do you fit it in?  Whether your goal is to build fitness, tone muscle, lose weight, or just get moving to loosen up the kinks in your back and neck from sitting all day – fitting that exercise in when you have kids can be a little challenging at times.

But what if you could exercise as a family? Your kids can burn off their excess energy before bed. You can work toward your fitness goals. And you get the added bonus of spending quality time together, laughing and making memories.

Try these 10 ways to exercise as a family and make healthy living a fun habit:

Go Outside

It may sound simple, but just heading out to the backyard or a nearby park with a soccer ball, a frisbee, or just the intention to have some fun can give you and the kids a great workout. Playing tag, throwing and catching balls or Frisbees, somersaults, swings and slides can all give a great cardio workout while also giving kids opportunities for important physical literacy development.

Family Walk-a-thon

Go for an after-dinner walk and see what you can discover. This can be fun for even the youngest of toddlers. Check out some ways to make a family walk fun here.


Hit the trails on a family bike ride. Convoy around your city’s bike paths and take rest stops at newly discovered playgrounds for games of tag or even monkey bar pull-ups. Find tips on bicycle safety here.

Obstacle Courses

Create obstacle courses inside or outside with tasks that each family member must complete before moving on. Hopscotch, 2 basketball baskets, 5 push ups, 10 burpees, 20 jumping jacks, 15 seconds balancing on one foot – a lot of exercises can be incorporated into a fun game that everyone can play.

Child Free-Weights

Turn your kids into free weights like this dad. It’s fun for them and an even tougher workout for you –real weights don’t giggle and squirm.

Race Training

If your kids are older and interested, why not train together for a 5K or 10K race? Lots of charities plan fundraising funs and this can turn into a great bonding time for parent and child while also being a positive learning opportunity about hard work and helping others.

Fitness Challenges

Allow each family member to pick an exercise such as 10 jumping jacks, 20 crunches, or 6 flights of stairs that each person will try to do every day for the competition timeframe. You can create a fun chart to track everyone’s totals. Don’t forget to agree on a prize beforehand!

Birthday Activities

Turn birthdays into activity-focused adventures instead of stuff. Go to the zoo, go skiing or tobogganing, try a new sport, go for a hike or a canoe ride. The gift will last a lot longer as – and the adventure will include everyone.

Get Your Groove On

Crank up your favourite tunes and take turns teaching each other your best (or craziest) dance moves.

TV Workouts

Have a favourite family TV show? Make it into a workout with jumping jacks, push-ups or running in place during the commercial breaks. Or, if you record or watch on Netflix, make the show your workout guide. Every time character A cooks or character B laughs, do 10 push-ups. Every time the theme song plays, do 20 jumping jacks. You can find lots of guides online for various TV shows, or make up your own.


How do you exercise with your family?

6 Tasty & Healthy Snacks for Kids


Forget cookies, granola bars and regular chips. Here are some fun, tasty, and healthy snacks your kids will love.

Frozen yogurt strawberries

For the sweet tooth, dip strawberries in vanilla-flavoured greek yogurt and lay them on a tray lined with wax paper. Place in the freezer for a few hours so the yogurt hardens. You can coat and freeze them once or twice. It’s pretty, it’s fun, and it’s packed with flavour!

Frozen Peanut Butter Banana Sandwiches

As long as there are no nut (or banana) allergies, slice a few bananas into medium-sized coins. Lay them out in pairs and add a ½ teaspoon of peanut butter on one row. Stack the remaining slices on top to create little sandwiched. Place in a wax paper lined container and freeze. Pop them out for a bite-sized sweet snack.

Apples and Cheese

Slice up some apples. Slice up some cheese. Simple. Tasty.

Fruit Kabobs

One of my favourite snacks when I was a kid. Mom would slice up fruit and my brothers and I got to slide the slices onto wooden skewers in as many different patterns as we liked. Apple slices, banana slices, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, orange slices, watermelon cubes. Tasty, all natural, and fun! Draw some patterns for your kids to follow and make it a contest to see who can follow the pattern.

Homemade Popsicles

Make your own flavours without the added sugar. Again, another great one for kids to get involved in. Allow children to pick their favourite fruits, puree them in the blender and pour into molds purchased from the dollar or grocery store. Add some coconut water if the mixtures are a little too thick. Then place in the freezer and wait a few hours. If you know the day will be scorching, make popsicles in the morning just after breakfast and they should be ready by mid-afternoon!

Homemade Potato Chips

For those who prefer a saltier flavour, try four ingredient homemade chips. Ingredients: potato, salt, garlic powder, onion powder. Microwave thin potato slices for 6 minutes between sheets of parchment paper. It can take some time to make a good size batch, but the fun of making your own potato chips can definitely make it worth it.


What are your kids’ favourite snacks? Tweet them to us or share them on our Facebook page.

50 Reasons to Get Active

Inspired by Neila Rey’s 50 Reasons to Exercise list and Participaction’s 52 Reasons to be Active in 2014, I’ve challenged myself to a new project.

Why not try to inspire people to develop healthy habits by creating appealing images displaying different reasons to get active and exercise?

So, for the next few months, a new inspiring Reason to Get Active will be released via our social media every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Follow  YMCA_Calgary on Twitter to follow along.

Let’s begin!

Here is our very first of 50 Reasons to Get Active:


Feel free to share on your own Facebook and Twitter accounts.
#moreplayeveryday #movemore #getactive

Tabata for Weight Loss

Dance Fitness Group_98284244

Tabata Bootcamp is a 9-week program designed to help you achieve your goals of weight-loss, toning, fitness & increased energy through 4 components:

  • Exercise Program
  • Nutritional Guidance
  • Social Support & Motivation
  • Assessment &  Results Tracking

Exercise Program

Attend 3 group classes each week and do daily 7-minute workouts at home using the Tabata Bootcamp website.

Nutritional Guidance

Attend 4 group sessions with a Registered Nutritionist to learn how to:

  • complete a food journal
  • make healthy choices and understand why they are healthy
  • track your calorie intake
  • manage your portion control

Social Support & Motivation

Motivation and support from others is a key part of reaching your health goals. Connect daily with your coach and your peer group. Get to know other participants who have similar health and lifestyle goals.

Assessment &  Results Tracking

Get help assessing and tracking your progress so you can really see the difference your hard work is making.

Space is Limited. Register Today!

9 Week Program begins Monday, September 15, 2014
Crowfoot YMCA- 403-547-6576

Cost: $300 for YMCA Members $399 for General Public

Members can register online (Course Code# 96028)

Contact Bogi for more information.

Reach for your goals today!

Richard – Why the ‘Y’

Why I like the ‘Y’

I became a senior member of the YMCA in April 2013. I was sixty-nine. My wife persuaded me to join because she thought that I needed more physical activity and social interaction. Or did she just want me out of the house? Regardless of her motives, it was great advice.

A staff trainer, Laura Byford-Richardson, got me started. She balanced my goals with my age, physical abilities and state of health. Three years earlier I had a deadly form of cancer that went into remission after a blood stem cell transplant. So my main goal was to remain healthy and avoid other problems that occur with aging like heart disease and diabetes. She designed an initial program for me and showed me how to use the equipment. And so it began. By last July I was hooked. My body now craved exercise. And then I discovered FitLinxx. It goaded me to do better. It got my dormant, competitive juices flowing again. I actually wanted to beat the monthly performance of other members. And I did occasionally earning words of encouragement and praise from Laura.

It is now fifteen months later. My physical goals have been met. I have lost substantial weight. I have lowered my blood pressure and cholesterol to safe levels. I can sustain long, strenuous workouts. I feel more alive. I have no new health issues and my cancer is still at bay.

But how have I done socially? The staff and the community atmosphere of the gym gave me the confidence to meet other members. After all, we shared a common interest, the pursuit of physical fitness and we saw each other frequently. Our brief hellos have led to conversations and in time, to friendships.

And that is how I met Fran. We ran into each other when we were both headed to the same weight machine. Somehow this encounter led to war stories about shoulder injuries and the beginning of a new friendship. We wound up doing our cardio together in a corner of the gym with Fran on the Cross Trainer and me, beside her, on the Stationary Bicycle. Like a typical male, I thought she was going to slow me down. Then I found out that she was a former Masters competitive swimmer, still swims two miles per week and spends hours at the gym using most of the weight machines. It was I who was going to be the laggard. But Fran is gracious and she always makes time for our cardio workouts.

People on Cardio Machines
When we exercise together we have conversations on a wide range of subjects: life, family, health, etc. These conversations inevitably descend into moments of breathless laughter. Fran is very funny. We also encourage and advise each other. And so the time passes quickly and the physical exertion seems less demanding. Exercising with a partner like Fran adds fun to an experience that sometimes can feel like work.

And that is why I like the ‘Y’.

Richard Cross
South Health Campus YMCA
July 2014

Skip the Line and Register Online!

It’s time for Fall Program Registration!

YMCA members can register starting Monday, July 28. Non-member registration begins Monday, August 18.

 Enjoy great programs like:

  • children’s & adult swimming classes
  • wall climbing
  • deep water running
  • basketball
  • outdoor bootcamp
  • floor hockey
  • belly dancing
  • fitness instructor training
  • sport conditioning
  • martial arts like capoeira and hap ki do
  • yoga
  • pre and post-natal fitness classes
  • power lifting
  • and more!

Check out our Program Guides for descriptions, dates, and times.

3 Ways to Register

You can register by phone, in person, or online on Member Zone (YMCA Members only).

Member Zone is your online hub to register online, print receipts, and view or change YMCA account information.

Online Registration Tips:

        • As a YMCA member, you already have a Login account.
        • You need to know your Login ID and Family PIN.

Get your Login Information

Call your YMCA Calgary location to get your LogIn information OR:

1.  Visit www.ymcacalgary.org/memberzone. Click on Login.


2.  Click on Forgot Login Information?


3.  Enter your email address and your Login info will be sent to you. If you do not know the email address you signed up with, contact your YMCA location and they will be happy to send you your Login ID and Family PIN.


A Waterfall


When was the last time you went for a walk in nature? Just walked for the sake of walking? of observing the leaves and the rocks? the light and the sky?

The other day I did just that. Went for a walk in nature. My husband and I were on Vancouver Island and were exploring. We went to Goldstream Provincial Park to walk to a waterfall.

We walked along the trail.

We didn’t talk very much.

We just looked.

We looked at the rocks at our feet.

We looked at the trees and leaves around us.

We looked at the moss.

We looked at the light filtering through the forest.

We looked at the waterfall.

When we arrived at its base, I sat on a rock and just observed. Just listened to the sounds of the water,  the wind, the leaves.

It was peaceful.

It was relaxing.

It was refreshing.


5 Golden Rules of Sunshine


Summer fun and sunshine just seem to go together.

We need sunshine – our skin absorbs Vitamin D. This vitamin is important for strong bones and teeth. But sunshine can also pose some risks, especially for children. Too much sun can cause sunburns, damage to the eyes, dehydration and sunstroke.

Protect yourself and your family from the sun by following some simple tips.


Seek Shade

Find shady spots whenever possible, or bring a sun shade or umbrella with you. You’ll still get the benefits of being outside, but you’ll avoid potentially harmful direct rays. Babies under 12 months old should always be kept out of direct sunlight.


Drink Water

Heat and sweat can cause you to become dehydrated faster than normal. Check out our tips on avoiding dehydration and making water more exciting here.



Wear sunscreen. Even if you’ll only be outside for 15 minutes. The higher the SPF the better. Reapply at least every two hours or more often if you’ve been sweating or playing in water. Do not put sunscreen on babies younger than 6 months old, keep them in shade instead.


Cover Up

Hats and light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants made of breathable fabric provide protection from harmful rays and will keep you surprisingly cool. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.


Limit Sun Time

Don’t spend prolonged time out in the sun. Take breaks to go indoors and cool off. Sunscreen is not meant to prolong time in the sun but to provide protection from it.


*Photos via Flickr: Ralph Daily & David Smith

A Ballet Inspired Workout

Have you been to the ballet recently? Ballet dancers are fit. They have muscle, endurance, and the artistic quality to make what they do look both easy and beautiful. I trained in ballet for almost 20 years. Basic ballet movements are still my go-to exercise. It leans, tones, and lengthens, builds strength and posture. While in the kitchen doing dishes or hanging out watching TV, I like to get in a short ballet-inspired work out. I use a sturdy chair or my kitchen counter as a ballet barre to hold on to with one hand for balance.

A Basic Ballet Movement Workout

Pliés & Rises

Pliés in first position are one of foundational steps of ballet. To plié means “to bend”.

1. Place your feet together and slowly rotate your legs from the hip so your feet form a small V shape, feet flat, toes out and heels together. This is first position.

2. Bend your legs, keep your knees over your toes and don’t let them fall inward toward each other. Your tailbone should point straight to the floor and your torso should remain upright.

3. Only go as far down as is comfortable.

4. Slowly straighten your legs and continue rising up onto the balls of your feet. Balance for a moment.

5. Slowly lower down until your feet are once again flat on the floor.

Do 2 sets of 10 reps.

You can make this more difficult by doing a plié while balancing on the balls of your feet.


Wide Pliés & Rises

Second position is a wider stance than first position.

1. Place your feet hip to shoulder width apart, with your toes still turned out like in first position.

2. Plié by bending your legs. Keep your knees over your toes and don’t let them fall inward toward each other. Your tailbone should point straight to the floor and your torso should remain upright. Only go as far down as is comfortable. You will probably be able to go lower than in first position.

3. Slowly straighten your legs and continue rising up onto the balls of your feet. Balance for a moment.

4. Slowly lower down until your feet are once again flat on the floor.

Do 2 sets of 10 reps.

You can make this more difficult by doing a plié while balancing on the balls of your feet.



A movement of the arms in ballet is called a port de bras. Look at the below sketch of ballet arm positions.


1. Hold your arms in front of your thighs, with a slight curve in the elbows to make fifth position en bas.

2. Slowly bring your arms up above your head to fifth position en haut. Stop once your hands are just in front of your forehead, as if shading your eyes from the sun.

3. Slowly open your arms to the sides, to second position of the arms. There should be a smooth slope from your shoulder down to your hands.

4. Slowly lower your arms further to return to fifth position en bas.

Do 2 sets of 10 reps.

You can do this port de bras with one arm or two. You can do it by itself, or combine it with the plié movements.



1. Lie face-up on the floor, legs extended, feet pointed.

2. Pull your abs in. Lift one leg up so your toes point to the ceiling. Keep your other leg straight, toes pointed.

3. Curl your back and shoulder blade and grasp your ankle or calf with your hands. Hold for 15-30 seconds.

4. Slowly lower your leg and repeat on the other side.

Do 5 reps on each leg.

Leg Lift Front

A leg lift is called a grand battement.

1. In first position, extend one leg forward, straight in front of your hip. Toes pointed, and leg turned out so your knee faces slightly to the side.

2. Lift your leg as high as you can, keeping your supporting leg and torso straight. Hold for 10 seconds.

4. Lower your leg and slide your foot back to first position.

5. Repeat with the other leg.

Do 5 sets of 5 lifts on each leg.


Leg Lift Behind

In first position, extend one leg backward, right behind your hip. Toes pointed, and leg turned out so your knee faces slightly to the side.

1. Lift your leg as high as you can, keeping your supporting leg and torso straight. Do not bend forward. Hold for 10 seconds.

2. Lower your leg and slide your foot back to first position.

3. Repeat with the other leg.

Do 5 sets of 5 lifts on each leg.



You’ve worked your muscled hard. Stretch out your quads, your calves, your groin, and your arms.


*Photo: yakovlev.alexey via flickr

The 5 Things Runners Are Scared Of

runners starting a race

Runners at the Starting Line during the 2014 Eau Claire YMCA Strong Kids Family Fun Run and 10Km 

1 Clouds

Mid-run unpredictable weather is the worst. Every runner mentally shouts at the sky, “WHAT SORCERY DO YOU HOLD WITHIN YOUR PUFF!?”

2. Lack of signal to the GPS wrist watch

If you see a man or a woman wildly waving their arm in the air while going for a run, DO NOT PANIC! There is no bear chasing them nor are they inventing a dance move called the jelly elbow. It is a runner simply trying to get a signal back to the GPS wrist watch. Just feel pity for the poor soul, nothing more, nothing less.

3. Clipping your toenails before a race

Nobody knows fear like this. Toe nail too long? Enjoy the self-loathing and sock snagging for 42 k! Toe nail to short? It will feel like a muskrat is gnawing at your foot for the entire duration of your run.

4. Not having consistent access to the weather network at all times of the day.

If you cannot access live updates of the humidex, temperature, and precipitation forecasts on your TV, tablet, cell phone, a family member’s cell phone as a back-up, computer and an emergency dial-up connection…THIS will send every runner into a fit of panic.

5.  The shoe-shopping vortex

Do I pronate or supinate? Which brand do I choose? How do these support my feet? How do these ones look? Are my feet wonky? Etc.. Etc… By the time you walk out of the store, your car is the only one in the parking lot, it’s nighttime and you don’t know what year it is.