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.
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!
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!
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-Squat – Targets 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 Jack – Targets 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-Overs – Targets 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-Backs – Targets 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!
YMCA Calgary will be waiving the joining fee in January!
This January, YMCA is making it easier than ever to get involved and make a difference in your health and wellness. For the first time ever, YMCA is waiving the joining fee! Join in January and you’ll save up to $75.00.
Because YMCA Calgary understands that every dollar counts, especially now. Take control and join a community that will keep you motivated to reach all your health goals.
Get started today!
I am a rock climber. I guess that kind of makes sense as I look after the Wall Climbing Programs at the Saddletowne YMCA. But that is away from my point…
When rock climbing, there comes a point in the climb that is especially difficult. This is either physically or mentally difficult, and takes the most amount of effort to overcome. There are times when it feels impossible to make it beyond that point, but all that is usually needed is a step back and change of pace. This difficult point in rock climbing is known as the “crux”.
Working out, staying fit and wellness routines have this crux in them as well. It may be known by another name: the rut, the plateau, the stall, the trough…just to name a few. There comes a time when a change is needed. We challenge you to spring-clean your time here at the YMCA and try something new!
Throughout the month of May, pick up a passport from member services and do some travelling. Explore everything that we have to offer and add some excitement. Get a grip, get your feet off the ground, get your feet wet, get in the game, get your groove on…get over that crux! Once you complete your passport, return it to member services for 2 guest passes and a ballot for a draw for a 1 month buddy pass. The program board will be passport central, with information on all of our exciting changes of pace.
From someone who climbs, there are many ways to stay fit on the climbing wall, challenging both your body and your mind. Be it climbing to the top, or just staying down nice and low, I always can get a workout in. The best part is that it doesn’t feel like one, but the next day, I can feel it in my arms, legs and core muscles. When I am stuck at a crux, I go for a climb and can then literally reach new heights!
The challenge is on, talk to member services and get started on overcoming your crux today!
Be a superhero for kids!
YMCA MEGATHON officially kicks-off the 2015 YMCA Strong Kids Campaign at all YMCA Calgary locations! With the goal of making all Calgary kids healthier, you can have loads of fun and directly support children and youth in the community to have a YMCA experience.
Here’s how to get involved:
- Individuals or teams can create an online website at www.ymcastrongkids.ca. Once set up, encourage family, friends and coworkers to support your effort by making a donation.
- On March 9, dress up like a superhero and tackle a variety of exciting health and fitness activities.
- Participants will be entered to win YMCA prizes!
Visit your branch for a schedule of the day’s events.
Did you know…
1 in 5 children and youth coming to YMCA Calgary are in need of financial assistance? YMCA MEGATHON is a great way for you to have fun and raise much needed funds for kids.
Busy that day? You can still contribute. All locations will also have their own webpage which allows anyone to donate directly!
Today Wednesday 4th February we hosted Drop in Soccer for all our grade 6 members, we had a good turnout of players and it was lots of fun!
Next week we will be meeting again from 5-6 pm in gym 1 on Wednesday at the Shawnessy YMCA for a special Grade 6 Vs Y-survive event, all grade 6 members are invited so come along and try some soccer!
Youth Coordinator Shawnessy YMCA
Keep your motivation going after the New Year with some friendly and healthy competition.
Yes YSurvive is back for its sixth year! This is a great way to meet new people, try new activities, shake up your routine and stick with fitness goals.
All YMCA Calgary members, volunteers and staff are welcome to join this fun event. Just stop by Member Services to register, get your t-shirt and be placed on a tribe with a captain. The tribe that earns the MOST points during the competition wins bragging rights and special recognition on the YSurvive Cup!
To earn points you can run, swim, lift weights, climb, shoot basketball, play badminton or participate in yoga and fitness classes. There will also be special challenges, themes and prizes!
Don’t miss out on all the fun! Registration starts in January and the competition runs February 2 through March 9. Watch for details in displays at all locations.
Now that January is almost here, it’s a great time to resume a healthy active lifestyle. YMCA Calgary offers a variety of programs for all ages and fitness levels. You can still find all of your favourite programs plus get inspired with some new choices to keep you moving towards your 2015 wellness goals!
- Self Defense at Crowfoot YMCA
- Bellyfit® at Saddletowne YMCA
- Western Dance at Eau Claire YMCA
- Tae Kwon Do at South Health Campus YMCA
- Preschool Yoga at Shawnessy YMCA
Please call Member Services at your branch for more information and to register.
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