Tag Archives: personal training

Starting A New Program

Whether you are new to the gym or a seasoned gym-goer, beginning any new exercise program should start the same way – safely.  There are a few different things you can do to ensure that you are working out in a safe manner.

1. Don’t copy what you see someone else doing.  You don’t know why they’re doing it, You don’t know if they’re doing it correctly, or if they have modified it for any reason.  Just because someone who looks “fit’ is doing it doesn’t mean it’s right for you and your body.  Proper execution of an exercise trains the targeted muscle(s).  Improper execution can create imbalances and lead to injury.

2. Ask us!  Staff in gyms are extroverts, we want to talk to people.  We thrive on sharing our energy and enthusiasm for wellness.  We’re looking for you and want to answer your questions; we want to see you succeed.

3. Work on the basics – posture, body alignment, core engagement.  If you want to do an exercise correctly, these are part of the package that reduces the risk of injury.

4. Get the Sets and Reps right.  The number of repetitions within a set, and the number of sets completed makes a huge difference from one program to another.  Learn what the difference is between low reps heavy weight, and high reps lower weight – dialing in the correct combo will guide you towards your ultimate goal.

5. Stretch!  Most of us are in a rush and want to get as much packed into our workout time, then off we go to the next part of our busy days.  Take the time to cool down and stretch, it increases range of motion, reduces soreness in the day(s) to come, and reduces risk for injury.



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!

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

Healthy Holiday Giving

Family Opening Presents In Front Of Christmas Tree  gift giving_89713597_cropped

Look no further than YMCA Calgary for unique and meaningful gifts this holiday season! See what’s in store for all the people you care about:

New Beginnings & Endeavours
Build health for life with a YMCA Calgary membership pass.

Fun & Adventure
Box up a quality program or day camp.

Learning & Achievement
Provide one-on-one quality instruction with private swim lessons or personal training.

Safe & Secure Helping Hands
Let parents have a worry-free workout with babysitting services.

Blissful Relaxation
Wrap up a massage experience (offered at Eau Claire YMCA only).

Thoughtfulness & Convenience
Give a swipe-and-go card to someone who likes to drop-in once in a while.

Charitable Giving
Can’t find a unique gift for the person who has everything? Donate to the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign on that person’s behalf.

Enjoy treating your family and friends with healthy holiday gifts from YMCA Calgary.

The YMCA Helped Me Change My Life

laughing woman

My family and I were already subsidized members at Shawnessy YMCA when my husband saw a poster. The Alberta Cancer Board was seeking participants for a weight-loss study.

Losing weight was something I had thought about for four years, but always put off. I was obese at 231 pounds and felt it every hour of every day. This time, with the right supports, I decided to give it a try.

My name is Diane, and this is my Y story.

In addition to eating well, I began regular exercise. I started by talking to the Shawnessy weight floor staff. Lex, a staff member, showed me how to use the equipment, and suggested some exercises from the FitLinxx program for me to do regularly.

The staff were so friendly and supportive. If I wondered whether I was doing an exercise right, I just had to ask them. They encouraged me to keep going. After a few months, I realized I had outgrown my routine. That’s when Rob, the fitness director, suggested a personal trainer. I was given a subsidy for training sessions and took my workouts to a new level.

Sixteen weeks later, I had lost over 44 pounds.

It feels wonderful. I have so much more energy, and I feel healthy and strong. My kids have benefitted as well – because they are also Shawnessy members, we can go swimming and use the facility together.

I’ve had to work very, very hard at it, but losing weight has been much easier and quicker than I expected. I don’t think I could have done it without the Shawnessy YMCA. The subsidized fees, the encouraging weight floor staff, my personal trainer Allison, and a facility that my whole family can use together really made a difference in fitting regular exercise into my life.

To anyone struggling with weight, I want to say, “I did it, and so can you!”

To the Shawnessy YMCA, I want to say, “Thanks for changing my life.”

3 Reasons to do Personal Training with a Buddy

Two women lifting weights together

Personal training can be a great tool to reach your fitness goals. The experienced exerciser can get help finding more challenging and unique ways of working out. The inexperienced exerciser can get personal guidance on what to do and how to do it.

Many people don’t realize that personal training doesn’t have to be only one on one.

Here are 3 reasons why you should consider doing personal training with a buddy.

1. Motivation, Encouragement, Accountability

Having someone else to sign up with can make personal training a little less intimidating.

A friend working out with you at your sessions is able provide encouraging conversation because they really know you.

It never hurts to have one other person around to ask you how your workouts are going and make sure you’re sticking to the track you said you wanted to be on.

2. Save some Money

Personal Training can be expensive. But there are options to still get that personal attention from a trainer without paying the extra cost of being one on one.

Semi-private personal training is offered for groups of 2 people who want to train with a personal trainer. You can sign up with a friend or buddy, or you can sign up solo and ask to be placed with another person who is open to a semi-private session.

Small group personal training is for groups of 3-5 people. You’ll still get lots of personal attention, but you’ll have the added fun of being with a group of people with similar goals.

3. Opportunities to Learn More

Training with other people as well as your trainer will give you the opportunity to hear their questions and learn from their experiences. You’ll have the chance to learn by hearing answers to questions you might not have thought of and seeing exercise regimens created for people with other goals.


Contact Member Services to sign up for personal training.

The Functional Movement Screen

In the interest of serving our members better, and at the same time remaining in line with the best practices in our industry, the Eau Claire YMCA recently sponsored the four full time staff members of the strength and conditioning department to attend a 3-day certification course on delivering and programming the Functional Movement Screen (FMS).

What is the FMS?

The FMS is a quick and easy tool comprised of 7 movement patterns which identify deficiencies, asymmetries (left/right imbalances) and indicators of pain across multiple joints and planes of movement e.g. shoulder issues that may be causing low back pain or vice-versa. It was developed in the late 90s by Gray Cook and Lee Burton, both physical therapists, and has since been adopted by professional sports teams, the military, police and fire services, EMS, and a growing number of commercial fitness facilities.

What does this mean for my training?

Primarily, it empowers your trainer to identify and work towards correcting deficient patterns in your everyday movement that if unaddressed may lead to injury, or most likely re-injury, since we typically develop asymmetries during injury recovery. Overall, it means that your trainer is better equipped to make you stronger, leaner and more fit to keep you running, swimming, biking and hiking for many years to come.

Where do I go from here? How do I get involved?

To get screened, register your interest with one of our member services staff*. You can also contact Geoff Starling (see below) or speak to one of the weight floor staff.

For more information on the FMS, check out: www.functionalmovement.com

*Please be aware that as a pilot program only full time staff of the Eau Claire Strength & Conditioning department are presently capable of delivering the FMS. Other branches will likely complete the necessary training as demand grows.


Geoff Starling
Strength & Conditioning Director
Eau Claire YMCA

Shake It Up!

2014 is a great time to switch up your workout or wellness routine.  Whether you are a beginner, or are seasoned to your workout routine, a simple change of how you’re working out can really make a difference.

A routine is just that; the same thing every day, every week.  When working the same muscle groups in the same order and in the same way your body will learn this pattern and adapt to it; expecting it.  By changing the modality of training, you can shock your muscles and body systems which can once again achieving a higher rate of results, like you once did when you began your current routine.

At the YMCA, we try to offer a variety of options for all levels of fitness and experience. Programming, classes, and other wellness options are available to both members and non-members alike.

Getting Started

New to the Y?  Consider registering at Membership Services for a wellness appointment. Available to YMCA Members, a wellness appointment gives you an hour of personalized time with one of our certified wellness coaches.  The coach will help determine which course of activity is right for you, Coach Approach©, Fitlinxx, or Personal Training, as well as recommend any fitness classes that suit your interests and wellness goals.  Some group fitness classes that are geared towards beginner/intermediate level are:

Group Cycle*, Turn & Burn*, Step Fit*, YBO*, Muscle Works*, Barbell Blast*, Karma*, Cardio & Core*, Hi/Lo*, First Ascents Climbing, Shallow H2O Aqua-Fit*, Gentle H2O Aqua-Fit*, Yoga Passive – Stress Reduction & Meditation, Fusion, Zumba, Social Dance Level One (partner required), Belly Dance Level One, Triathlon Training, Individual Conditioning Level One, and Pilates Level One

The Fitness Veteran

As noted above, changing what, how and when you work out will definitely enhance results and help get you out of that workout rut.  Getting past that plateau and changing your routine will invigorate your workouts and reenergize you in a whole new way!  Try a group fitness class that interests you, climb out of that box you’re in and experience a whole new world!  Some fitness classes that are geared more towards intermediate/advanced level are:

Performance Cycle*, HEAT*, The Worx*, Cardio & Core, YBO Plus*, Cardio & Sculpt*, Hi/Lo*, Turn & Burn*, Yoga-Active, Yoga Level Two, Zumba, TRX, Metabolic Conditioning, Triathlon Training, Deep H2O Aqua-Fit*, Shallow H2O Aqua-Fit*, Appalachians Climbing, Individual Conditioning Level Two, Boxer’s Workout, and Pilates Level Two

Not a Member?

That’s OK, we’re happy to welcome you.  Options for non-members include any of our registered and drop-in programming, as well as Personal Training services.  If interested in a drop-in fitness class or open gym, badminton etc… simply pay the drop-in fee at Membership Services and come on in!

Good luck shaking it up, and please don’t be shy; ask us any questions you might have to ensure you’ve found the right fit for you!  It is important to note that everyone is welcome in any fitness class.  However, you will find you need to take advantage of modifications offered by the instructor and listen to your body.

*Denotes a drop-in fitness class, registration is required in all others.  The Fitness Flex Pass is available for most registered programs.  The Fitness Flex  Pass allows attendance to a registered class to try it out before committing to a full session, to ensure it’s right for you.


With a Little Help from your Y Friends

Are you like me? Do you have a new membership at the Y and aren’t really sure where to start with this whole exercise thing?

Have you tried to exercise but aren’t sure what to do? Have you started going to the gym only to have your motivation fizzle out after a few weeks or a few months? Or is the idea of going to the gym just a little too intimidating?

Research shows only 15 to 20% of exercisers typically maintain an exercise plan long enough to reap any benefits. People tend to lose interest and drop out. That’s why the YMCA offers the Coach Approach FREE to all our adult members.

That’s right – it’s free.

What is Coach Approach exactly?

It’s our way at YMCA Calgary to help you discover and stick to an exercise plan that will help you achieve your goals. The key component – creating a plan you’ll actually enjoy doing!

Coach Approach is designed to help you figure out your short and long term goals, create realistic fitness expectations and increase your mood and energy by helping you find tailored workouts so you will like exercising. If we can make it fun wouldn’t we do it more often?

Coach Approach & Personal Training

In a series of one-on-one meetings with a certified YMCA Wellness Coach you’ll learn how to use the fitness equipment and develop a manageable plan that will fit your needs. Your coach will stick with you in up to 6 sessions over about 6 months to answer your questions, encourage you, and help you become comfortable and productive in the gym. Read about one Y member’s experience with her Wellness Coach and then book your first Coach Approach appointment at Member Services.

Coach Approach is all about establishing and learning how to maintain a habit of exercise.

What if you already have a habit of exercise?

If you’ve already created the habit of exercise and work out a regular 2-3 times a week – good for you!

Is it time to bump it up a notch and get that little bit of help to reach your fitness goals?

Improve your body awareness and technique and get that extra push of motivation by signing up for a Personal Training Program.

Our YMCA Strength and Conditioning staff would love to help you develop or mold your exercise program. Members and non-members who have had a habit of consistent exercise for 6 months or more can sign up for this service at Member Services at any YMCA Calgary branch.

Where to start?

For me, I’ve had the idea that going to the gym could be both fun and beneficial for a while. But it’s intimidating. I don’t know what equipment to use or how much weight to lift or how many reps to do. I have a vague idea of my goals – but I don’t know how to achieve them.

My new membership at YMCA Calgary means I have access to a gym just about anytime I want. My new year’s resolution is to use it. My first step – signing up for Coach Approach.

What are your goals this new year and how are you going to achieve them? If we can, YMCA Calgary wants to help.

Health for the Holidays

Looking for a unique and meaningful gift this holiday season? It’s a great time to open a world of possibilities. Let YMCA Calgary help with these great gift ideas:

New Beginnings & Endeavours
Build health for life with a YMCA Calgary membership pass.

Fun & Adventure
Box up a quality program or day camp.

Learning & Achievement
Provide one-on-one quality instruction with private swim lessons or personal training.

Safe & Secure Helping Hands
Let parents have a worry-free workout with babysitting services.

Blissful Relaxation
Wrap up a massage experience (offered at Eau Claire YMCA only).

Thoughtfulness & Convenience
Give a swipe-and-go card to someone who likes to drop-in once in a while.

Charitable Giving
Can’t find a unique gift for the person who has everything? Donate to the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign on their behalf.