Tag Archives: program

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.



Active Exercise Recovery

You train hard and recovery is an important part of that program.  Recovery is important for many reasons.  Recovery allows the body time to adapt to a workout program.  It allows time for the body to repair tissue that has been damaged working out as well as replenishing depleted energy stores.  It also allows the body the rest required to keep from over training and eventually burning out.

Active recovery really means a day off – from your program.  That means that you take a day to live your life actively or doing a workout that is less intense.  This could be walking the dog, enjoying a yoga class, going for a swim or bike ride, hiking, stretching, or even grabbing a foam roller for some much needed self-myofascial release (SMR).

Rest and relaxation refers to the down time away from training altogether, allowing the body the needed time to do those tissue repairs, strengthen, and replenish.


Setting SMART Goals

Setting a SMART goal is more than just something you think is manageable, a SMART goal has defined parameters.  Goal setting is a major piece to the fitness puzzle,  It provides you with direction, motivation, and a vision of what you want to achieve.

SPECIFIC – Set a specific goal, for example instead of saying you want to “run better”, focus on a specific piece of the puzzle.  For example, running for a longer amount of time (45 minutes instead of 30), or running at a quicker pace (move from 5.0 to 6.5 on the treadmill).

MEASURABLE – by setting a specific goal, you have unknowingly set a goal that is measureable.  Staying with the running example, running faster, longer or at an incline are all things that you can track and watch your progress.

ATTAINABLE – Choose a goal that is something you can physically achieve.  I have severe arthritis in my knee, I’d love to be able to do higher box jumps, however I know that this isn’t the goal for me.  Keeping my quads as strong as possible without high impact is something that is attainable for me.

REALISTIC – Realistic and attainable sound like the same thing, I like to look at “attainable” as big picture. Realistic can be a breakdown of mini goals within that large goal.  Small realistic goals are stepping stones to reach that finish line.  For example, adding five minutes to your run every two weeks.

TIMELY – give yourself a realistic timeline to accomplish your goal; setting too quick of a time line can set you up for failure.

Remember that the pieces to this puzzle can be adjusted at any time.  You can add to your goal, adjust your timeline.  Making sure that whatever you adjust is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and can be completed in a timely manner will ultimately lead you to success.

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!


We’ve all heard of the dreaded workout “plateau” but do we know how to avoid it?  There are many different variables in every workout program that you can change to help avoid hitting that plateau and help your body continue to see the benefits of physical activity.  The four basic areas in which you can change your workout come from the acronym F.I.T.T. – Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type.

The body reacts differently to the different stimuli that you provide it. By changing that stimuli, you help the body avoid adaptation, thus continuing to achieve results.

Frequency – Changing the days you workout or how often

Intensity – Increasing weight when lifting, adding cardio intervals into your program, change your sets and reps to challenge your muscles in different ways and different energy systems

Time – Length of workouts; can work in conjunction with Frequency, try working out more days for less time, or less days for longer

Type – Change the style of cardio you choose (treadmill vs. bike), try a new fitness class, or learn a new piece of equipment


Remember, change is a good thing

Eau Claire YMCA’s S.T.A.R.S. Program

Grade 6 is a great time for exploring and learning about your community. Often times, however, we find that youth around the grade 6 age become apathetic towards physical activity and community engagement. The Grade 6 Memberships were created to help combat this apathy. But what else can we do to keep active and stay involved over the summer?

The Eau Claire Y has decided to create a program that gets our Grade 6 Members out into the community once a week to learn more about what it has to offer! We will be meeting every Wednesday to explore our community and get involved in new and interesting ways. From community art projects to capture the flag, Eau Claire’s STARS program will have it all! In STARS, Students Thrive and Reach for Success!

This program is free for all of our Grade 6 Members and will be registered by the week. Program is scheduled to run every Wednesday from 9:00am-2:00pm. A schedule for the summer is being created and will be posted on the website once it has been finalized.

If you are interested in participating in this fantastic opportunity, please download a registration form by clicking here! Please fill out the forms and return the to the branch as soon as possible. Spots for the program are limited and are on a first come first serve basis.

For more information or with help registering, please contact Sarah Thornton, Eau Claire Youth Coordinator at 403-781-1685 or e-mail her at sarah.thornton@calgary.ymca.ca

Come S.H.I.N.E. at the YMCA

SHINE (Students for Health Initiation and Education) is a new program that is being offered exclusively through the Eau Claire YMCA. In it, our grade 6’s are offered the opportunity to learn about exercise and nutrition in an engaging and positive manner. Our program boasts participation with kinesiology and medical students through our partnership with the University of Calgary. Each class focuses on a new type of activity as well as a new topic on nutrition. Together, the YMCA and SHINE help participants to better understand their bodies and what they are capable of. They also learn how to better take care of themselves in a safe environment.


One participant, Winston*, had a particularly invigorating experience with us. During the second SHINE class, Winston came in to program looking upset. He was asked if everything was alright and his response was “Not really. I had a terrible time in gym class today!” Winston was prompted to expand more on the situation. His response was “I can’t do a push up. Everyone made fun of me and said that I wasn’t strong”.

Together, Winston and his instructor made it his goal to be able to do at least five push ups in a row by the time the SHINE program had reached session end. Over the following weeks, Winston was encouraged to develop his arm muscles through several different activities including free weight training, skipping, Cheering Boyboxing, and push up practices. By the end of the session, Winston was able to do 7 push ups without breaking and 11 push ups with a 10 second break. On the last day of program, Winston told his instructor “I can’t believe I can actually do that! I remember thinking that I would never be able to do a push up and now I can do so many!”

Winston wasn’t the only one who seemed happy about this improvement either; his mother called to inform his instructor of the change she’d seen in her son. “I am so grateful for everything the YMCA is doing with the SHINE program. Winston comes home every day after SHINE and tells us all of the things he’s learned. He’s also beginning to show his more expressive and confident side. Once after class he came home and showed his dad that he could do a push up and they spent the rest of the night working out together. I’ve seen a big change in him”.

In another instance, Carly*, an 11 year old participant, came to SHINE “without knowing a lot about healthy foods”. Carly’s family had recently moved to Canada; her father had enrolled her in the program with the hopes that she would learn more about eating healthy “Canadian food”. After Carly’s first day of nutrition instruction, she told her leader “I didn’t know that all my favourite foods were junk food; nobody ever told me that too much strawberry ice cream wasn’t very good for you.” Carly set her own goal to report back to her family about what she learned in SHINE and to reduce her sugary food intake by 1 portion per day.

Tween Girl with Backpack_12043816About halfway through the session, Carly came into program and said “I haven’t had any of the ‘Foods to Limit’ today! That means that I can have a cupcake for dessert after dinner tonight.” Carly’s father was also impressed with what she had been learning through SHINE. Through a discussion with Carly’s instructor, he had said “She is eating much less sugar these days and seems to have a lot more energy. She encourages her sisters and brother to eat less sugar too. She even started a chart in the kitchen where everybody tracks their surgery foods so we know how much we are all eating. It’s really helped us to understand what we can eat in Canada that’s healthy and what we should avoid”.


SHINE has been a fun experience for all of our participants and is a great way to get informed and stay active. This spring, we will be offering 11 weeks of our SHINE program to all students between the ages of 10 and 12. Program will run on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:15-7:15 PM.

If you are interested in registering, you are able to do so either in person or online. Please note that prior to beginning program, all participants are required to have a completed registration form, which can be filled out and returned to Eau Claire Member Services. To download a Registration Form and Parent Package, click here

Barcode: 102012

For more information, please contact Sarah Thornton, Youth Coordinator at 403-781-1685 or e-mail her at sarah.thornton@calgary.ymca.ca


**Names changed for confidentiality

Lead a Friend to Health

Do you already know the value of your YMCA membership?  Are you ready to share this with a friend and have them start their own wellness journey?

This November, Lead A Friend to Health returns to the YMCA!  Refer a friend or family member to the YMCA and as a thank-you you will receive a credit (dollar amount is based on the membership the referred person signs up for, does not apply to linked memberships) for you to use towards either a future registered program or membership payment.

Download a referral form today and bring to your YMCA.

YMAP Starts Next Week!

YMAP is starting next week where hundreds of immigrant youth will be involved in a year-round program to learn new skills and make friends.

Immigrant youth in Calgary are at greater risk of not finishing high school than other youth. YMAP is a life skills, career exploration and leadership program for high school youth with an immigrant background.

Participants receive the skills they need to succeed at school, work and in their communities. YMAP participants are 20% more likely to graduate from high school than other youth in Alberta. There is no fee to participate in this program.

Find out more about other Immigrant Services at YMCA Calgary.


Fall Fitness Class Etiquette

As the weather gets a little bit cooler this fall, a lot of people are returning to the YMCA gyms, studios, and their favorite fitness classes to keep up their wellness routine.  As our classes begin to thrive, please take a moment to reacquaint yourself with five Fitness Class Etiquette Tips to make the experience smooth for everyone.

1. Arrive on Time – joining a class late* can be both distracting and unsafe.  Please respect your fellow attendees as well as your instructor and arrive to classes a bit early or right on time.  This will also allow you a proper warm-up, reducing your chance of injury.  *If lateness is unavoidable, please go to the back of the class.

2. Choose Proper Footwear – closed toed shoes (running shoes, cross-trainers etc…) will provide a non-slip grip on the floor and any equipment utilized in your class.  Ensure that your footwear is clean of all dirt and debris.  If you wouldn’t wear it in your house, please don’t wear it in our workout areas.

3.  Make your Workout Your Own – The instructor is there to guide you through YOUR workout; listen to your body and modify as you see fit.  If you are going to modify your workout significantly from the instructor’s planned program, please move to the back of the room as to not distract others from the instructor’s guidance.

4. Socializing – should be done either before or after the class.  Talking throughout the class can be viewed as disrespect to not only the other participants, but to the instructor as well.  If you can talk, you’re not working hard enough!

5. Stay for the Whole Class – Flexibility is a large part of your overall wellness!  Be sure to take the time to stretch out the muscles you’re worked.  Not only will it reduce soreness in the day(s) after, but it will reduce risk for injury down the road.