Tag Archives: weights

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!


Fill ‘er Up!

You wouldn’t attempt to drive your car when it has no fuel.  You know better, and would make sure to put something in the tank before heading out even for a short trip around town, let along a long trip.

Food is our fuel, it’s our energy source that runs all of our body’s systems.  So why do we continually see people trying to workout without enough fuel in the tank? It’s important to make sure that you have a little something to eat before your workout – always.

Round It Out – Plan a pre-workout snack to have a protein, carb, and a fruit or vegetable.  Of course whatever you choose is going to depend on personal preferences, and any dietary restrictions you might have, but some of my favorite pre-workout dining includes milk, eggs, nut butters, cottage cheese, yogurt & granola.  All items high in protein that will help you to feel more satisfied yet keeping it light.  Morning-glory or Bran muffins, oatmeal with fruit or nuts, or high fiber cereals are all carbs that have whole or fuller grains to help you feel fuller without eating a large amount.  Bananas and apples are my favorite go-to fruits to round it out.  They are easy to take on the go, relatively mess-free and provide a decent amount of nutrients and fiber.  Mixed melon, cucumber, and mixed berries are a fresh,  light change as well.  Making a smoothie to go is also a great way to incorporate more than one of these nutrient groups together in a tasty way.  Try adding spinach for a high iron boost in a fruit/veg smoothie!

Did You Know? Cramping when running or swimming after eating a fuller meal is actually your body trying to digest that food.  The blood that supplying your body’s intestinal tract gets redirected to your arms and legs, and the food “stalls” in your intestines.

Don’t let your car sputter out, just make sure you put premium in!


Let the Rhythm Move You!

Inspiration comes in many forms, for me music is a huge motivator.  I’ve always been a musically inclined person, even if I didn’t know it.  I started in elementary school playing the recorder, graduated to the clarinet for junior and senior high school, and I still play the clarinet today, mind you not nearly as well anymore.  I have always been able to feel and move to the beat of the song but don’t be mistaken, I dance like Elaine from “Seinfeld”.  There I go dating myself again.

Music is an expression of feeling or mood, even an expression of identity for some.  I have several playlists that I listen to when working out, and they’re all based what my program of the day consists of as well as the mood I am in walking into my workout.  I edit my playlists about once a month to update my motivation and keep from overplaying these delightful gems.

When I want to hit the cardio hard, I focus on pop music, whether it’s current top 40 or from another generation all together, if it makes me smile and want to dance, it makes the cut.  This week’s current cardio-killer favorites include Justin Timberlake’s “Cant Stop The Feeling”, Will.I.Am and Britney Spears “Scream & Shout”, Nicki Manaj “Super Bass”, and Men Without Hats “Safety Dance”. Love them or hate them my friends, but they make me smile and move a little bit faster.

Weight lifting/resistance training is a completely different beast for me.  My focus and mindset changes, as I suddenly have to pay close attention to my posture and form as well as breathing and core engagement.  With so many more factors to be considered, I need something rock to focus..  My favorite lifting anthems right now include Rise Against “Prayer Of The Refugee”, Metallica “Better Than You”, and Social Distortion “Story Of My Life”.

Cool down and stretching are important components of fitness that are forgotten or skipped quite frequently.  I have made my self an amazing chill playlist to enjoy at the end of my workout to inspire me to stay those five minutes longer and work on my balance, range of motion, and relaxation.  Current favorites include The Gaslight Anthem’s “Bring It On”, Pearl Jam’s “Release”, and Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You”.

I’m pretty passionate about both wellness and music, so I’m elated that the two can go hand in hand for me.  I feel like my musical tastes are a part of me and I’m happy to share a snippet of myself in the form of musical identity with you.  Take the time to build a stellar playlist.  Keep a list in your “notes” app on your phone of songs you hear and decide you love so you can download and add it later.  Something that makes you want to dance, sing and have a great time.  It’ll brighten up your day, kick up the intensity in your workout, and leave you feeling refreshed and in a better mood walking out of the gym.

Shake it Off!


Finding Time

You’ve packed your bag the night before, filled your water bottle, packed the kid’s snacks and booked her into child-minding.  She wakes up with a fever.  Sigh.

You got all of your paperwork filed, you’ve had your morning snack and have a packed lunch to eat at your desk after a lunch-time run. Your phone rings, and it’s a client crisis that just can’t wait.  Sigh.

No matter what the scenario that you’re hit with, the one thing that gets missed in your day always seems to be you.  For a workout veteran, this can be disappointing, frustrating, changing the mood and course of your entire day.  For a rookie, this can be catastrophic, completely derailing your momentum.

How can you combat this?  Here are five not-so-average body weight exercises that you can do at home or in the office with absolutely no equipment.  Before you even begin, take a moment and focus awareness on your posture.  Hold your core in tight (belly button towards your spine), open up your chest and pull your shoulder blades back.  Bring your chin up and tuck your pelvis under just a bit to protect your lower back.  OK, let’s go!

1. Sumo-SquatTargets the Leg Adductors (inner thigh) – Start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointing out towards “10 and 2 o’clock”.  Raise your hands out in front of you as a counter-balance, and push your glutes (bum) backwards, bending at the knee.  Be sure to keep your knees behind your toes and your head up.  If you feel a strain in your lower back, come back to your starting position and reset your posture.  Every time you get to the top of your range of motion, squeeze your glutes tight.

2. Plank Jack/Jump JackTargets the Core, Leg Adductors, Shoulders – Start in a prone plank position, on either your hands or elbows, knees or toes.  Hop your legs out laterally and back in, come to a standing position and up for a jumping jack.  Come back into that starting plank position and repeat.  Be sure to watch that your glutes don’t pop up into the air, as that essentially deactivates your abdominal recruitment.  To make this lower impact, walk out 1 leg at a time in both positions.

3. Roll-OversTargets Oblique Abdominals (Core) – Starting on your stomach, stretch out your arms and point your toes.  Roll over onto your back without using your arms/hands to assist you.  Roll back onto your stomach in the other direction.

4. Plank Kick-BacksTargets the Core, Glutes – Start in a prone plank position, on either your hands or elbows, knees or toes. Tighten your glutes (bum muscles) and slowly lift your leg upwards and back towards the ceiling.  Alternate sides.  Be aware of hip positioning and try to keep the pointy bones on either side of your pelvis (ASIS) pointed down towards the ground. This will help to keep your hips from rolling open to the side

5. Incline or Decline Push-Up Targets the Pectorals (chest) – Start with a basic push-up.  You can do this on either the knees or the toes.  Come down to the floor as low as you can go, and push your body weight back up.  If you’re on your knees, try to keep the fleshy spot just above your knee cap in contact with the floor.  This will keep your hips and glutes down enabling your core to stabilize your body.  Incline: have your hands positioned 6-12 inches higher on a platform.  The higher up you are, the easier the push-up becomes.  Decline: place your feet up on a platform, with hands on the ground.  When progressing from a knee push-up to toe, start with incline, progressing to flat or decline push-ups.

To add intensity, jog on the spot or add a set of jumping jacks in between each exercise. 

No Excuses left, let’s go!


Shawnessy Volunteer Recruitment – June 2013

Areas Actively Recruiting Volunteers
Shawnessy YMCA – June 2013

~Babysitting
~Community Programs – LINC
~Group Fitness Instructors
~Weight Room

Areas that your YMCA flourishes with the help of volunteers:
Aquatics
Babysitting
Childcare
Climbing Wall
Community Programs
Group Fitness Instructors
Membership Services
Laundry Services
Preschool Programming
Teen Night Monitors
Triathlon
Weight Room
Youth Sports & Programming


Fitness Volunteer Opportunity

Shawnessy YMCA in Calgary’s south west  is actively recruiting certified group fitness instructors to join our fabulous team of volunteer instructors!  There will be subbing opportunities as well as full classes available beginning in summer and fall 2013.

If you are group fitness certified with YMCA, AFLCA or Can-Fit-Pro, click here to check out the posting.


Spring Ahead

Daylight Saving’s Time begins at 2am on Sunday, March 10th 2013
Don’t forget to set your clock ahead one hour before you go to bed on Saturday night!


Can You Kettlebell?

Enhance the effectiveness of your strength training and improve your overall fitness results with exercises unique to the kettlebell. New at Eau Claire YMCA: 4-week kettlebell bootcamps!

What is so great about the kettlebell?

  • Highly time-effective: Ability to train both strength and cardio at the same time.
  • More functional/dynamic: Using a kettlebell trains multiple muscle groups at the same time.

Outcomes when using the kettlebell properly are:

  • A high-intensity, full body workout with both cardio & strength gains.
  • Improved coordination.
  • Greater flexibility/mobility.

The new 4-week bootcamps provide the foundation of a kettlebell workout. At the end of the mini-camps, you will be able to challenge yourself with a multiple of effective exercises done right.

  • Class dates: 8, 15, 22 Feb & 1 March (12:00-13:00)
  • Fees: Member $28 Non-Member $36

Wanna know more? Contact Eau Claire YMCA @ 403-269-6701.

Written by YMCA Fitness Director Geoff Starling


Contributing to a Healthy Community

Weight Floor Safety

Please help keep our weight floor safe for everyone by picking up your towels, free weights, water bottles and any other equipment and putting them away in the appropriate space.  These items left on the floor are a tripping hazard.

When lifting heavy weights, please ask for a spotter.  This not only keeps you safe, but protects others around you should you need to drop the weight suddenly.  When using weight plates on a bar, please secure the plates with collars to avoid them slipping off and possibly causing injury.

Let’s ensure everyone has a safe, enjoyable and effective workout!


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