Just In @ The Body Temple: BodyBlades!

29 09 2009

The BodyBlade is an awesome new toy that we recently picked up for the gym. Is it the only training tool you’ll ever need? Probably not. Is it an insanely fun (and functional) element to add into your current workout plan? Hell yes! You really have to try them for yourself to appreciate how great a workout it really is. Please enjoy the super cheesy music in this little promo video I found on youtube.


Shake it, Baby!

8 09 2009

There are a lot of pre and post workout shakes out there that are absolutely disgusting. They look gross, they smell gross, and they taste gross. I am a firm believer that getting fit, healthy and has to be as enjoyable as possible if it’s to be sustainable. To that end, I’ve come up with some delicious, healthy shakes that actually taste good! Here’s what I’m drinking after this morning’s workout:

Add some frozen berries to your blender; I opted to blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. The antioxidants in these berries will stave off that muscle soreness that crops up after a hard workout. I add a little warm water on top of the berries and let it sit for a few minutes to soften them up. You can also use tea for this. Green or white are always a good bet. When you’re ready, blend the berries up with a few pulses. Then, we’ll add either OJ or cranberry juice – not too much, otherwise this thing will just be sickly sweet. Any other liquid you need in your shake can come from fresh, filtered water.

Next, add a couple of spoons of vanilla yogurt, some high quality vanilla whey protein powder. At this stage I add a dropper or two of marine phytoplankton, but that’s completely optional. Finally, I add a few tablespoons of hemp seeds.

Blend that whole sucker up and enjoy the deliciousness! If you can’t quite finish it, refrigerate the remains and use it as a base for your next shake.

Try it. You’ll love it!

The Sinister Snacks!

26 08 2009


It has been a crazy summer and I apologize for my absence from the blog, but fall reinvigorates us all!  I am back with more client questions, videos and more info than ever before!

One question I got consistently throughout the summer months was about snacking!  Ohh, the drama!  I get many clients asking what to do when their cravings get away from them and they find themselves vegging out on the couch with a huge bag of chips.  Worry not dear Body Templars, I have simple, easy and will-power free solutions for your snacking problems!

What to eat?  This is usually number one in the snacking inquiries.  What is a good snack, how much should I be eating and what should I avoid?

1. A good snack has a little bit of protein, a small amount of carbohydrates and little sugar, especially refined white sugar.  Some of my personal favs are

Apples and cheese ( or peanut butter)

Whole grain crackers and cheese ( cranberry cheese is the best!)

Whole grain toast with peanut butter ( add some hemp seeds for an extra boost)

A real smoothie ( only fruit, juice and yogurt or milk, no added sugars)

Sliced fruit of any description ( this is a great time to eat seasonally, so check out the farmer’s market or fruit market near you for delicious, fresh fruit)

Veggies & Dip

Half a sandwich or wrap

Peanut butter & banana ( no bread required, just spread a little peanut butter on the banana before each bite, no garbage to throw out either!)

2. How much should I eat?  A snack is called a snack for a reason!  This is not an excuse to take in a full meals’ worth of calories.  Television ads would have you believe that 100 calories is the most you would want in a snack, but I say it depends on what is in those 100 calories.  If you are eating a snack sized amount of Oreos, then yes, 100 calories should be your max, but if you are eating fruit or veggies as the bulk of the snack, you shouldn’t feel limited by the 100 calorie ideal.  I like to use a small plate ( ie dessert plate) or Tupperware container to figure out my portions.

Choosing a smaller plate or container will make it appear that your snack is larger than it is, which will keep you from second guessing your portions and eating twice as much as you need.  I generally say, if you can’t eat it all in under 10 minutes without having chipmunk cheeks, then you’ve got too much in front of you.

You can also use the ‘palm’ method.  Look at your hand face up, the palm of your hand shouldn’t be smaller than the super hero ingredient in your snack ( ie the banana in bananas and peanut butter) and you should have no more than 3 fingers worth of the side kick to your snack ( ie the peanut butter in the same scenario).  Your hand varies from mine, just like stomach size does, so use your own hand to measure if that is your choice.

3. What should you avoid?   I’ve touched on this already, trying to avoid refined sugars as well as white flour are a great start.  You also want to avoid eating anything that has no energy besides sugar, as it will give you that late afternoon crash when the glucose runs out, that’s why a little protein and a few carbs can go a long way.

I also like to avoid heavy things, like red meats as they take awhile to digest and can effect your appetite for dinner ( I know, I sound like your mother, warning you not to ruin your appetite).  This may sound good initially, as in, if you eat a larger snack and aren’t hungry for dinner, you’ll intake fewer calories over all.  However, this strategy always ends up backfiring because if you don’t eat enough at dinner  you often end up snacking again after dinner before bed.  For the majority of people, eating right before bed is the worst possible time to eat as your body is inactive at the time of digestion so no extra calories are burned and the food is converted to fat.  Not everyone is the same, but across the board, I think we can all agree it is healthier to eat a proper meal, that is well balanced at dinner time rather than eating a little bit of a well balanced meal at dinner and snacking later on whatever is available.

The final question I get frequently is about cravings and how to avoid the mindless or convenience snacking.  Many people get hungry around mid-afternoon, we already know that, so let’s use that to our advantage!

In the morning when you are making your breakfast, plan your afternoon snack, do any labour required for preparation and put the finished snack into a bowl or Tupperware container to await your cravings.  If you go to work, take the snack with you, and if you work from home, keep the snack at the front of the fridge until you get hungry.  By planning ahead, you have taken away the most common excuse for eating unhealthy snacks which is the old ‘But, I don’t have time…’ line.

If the snack is ready and waiting for you, you won’t be as tempted to just grab something from the store, vending machine or bag of chips that need no preparation and no time commitment.  Don’t give yourself the option of taking the easy way out and before you know it, you’ll be craving that afternoon peanut butter pick-me-up and sailing right by the vending machine without a thought!

The most important thing to remember is to set yourself up for success!  No one else will do it for you, there is no magic apple slicing fairy waiting in your cupboard for your orders.  Take charge of something simple like your snacks and before you know it you’ll be managing everything else with equal ease!

Please, send me your favorite afternoon snack and I’ll try them out, take pictures and post more great snack options in a future blog!


The Advantages of Working Out With a Partner

18 08 2009

Let’s face it, the thing keeping many of us from reaching our health and fitness goals is motivation (or a lack thereof). It can be tough, at the end of a long day, to force yourself into the gym to train, so you need to do whatever you can to stack the odds in your favour. One of the best ways to do that is to find a workout partner.

Your partner needs to be someone that will motivate you, maybe even get you fired up and competitive. It should not be someone with whom you can’t stop talking for 2 minutes, and it definitely shouldn’t be someone who will help you make excuses!

You guys will work together to be accountable and to make sure that you’re both sticking to your plan. It’s easy to bail on the gym if there’s no one waiting for you, but when you’ve got a friend who’s dragged their tired self over there in the evening it is a LOT tougher to justify not going.

The other thing working with a partner affords you is the opportunity to try partner exercises that you simply wouldn’t be able to do on your own. And, in the case of partner training at The Body Temple, bringing a partner means that you get top quality training (which is essentially still personal training) at a lower price. More fun, different challenges, less expensive – you can see why partner training is so popular at our gym.

So what can you and your friend do, right now, to workout together? Grab a large towel (like a beach or bath towel) and then roll it up so that it resembles a rope. The partners each grab an end of the towel and face off. From here, you’re going to perform squats together while pulling on the towel. The idea is to find that point of balance and move in unison. The towel will force your forearms, biceps, and upper back to work, while the squats will work your entire lower body and even your core. Perform 10 repetitions, slowly. Look at your partner and make sure that your movements match. If 4 sets of 10 reps isn’t enough for you, try for 4 sets of 20 reps. This will really get your whole body going, even your heart and lungs (provided you don’t take too much rest in between sets).

So, if getting yourself into the gym hasn’t been working for you lately, grab a friend! And if you’re at a loss for what to do, come in and train with us and see what all the fuss is about!


29 07 2009

I got an email from a good friend who is in the middle of a popular home workout DVD series, asking if it’s okay to skip a day to recover from muscle soreness, or if they should just power through and stick to the directions. Here’s my response:

I would say most certainly take a day off. Recovery is very important,
and if you go so hard that you hurt yourself then you’ll be forced to
take way more than one day off to heal up. It always pays to take time
off in the short term if it means more consistent exercising in the
long term.

When you’re ready to train again, just pick right back up where you
left off. Remember, this is about being healthy and fit, not prepping
for Mr Universe, so you’ve got the whoooole rest of your life to catch
up on any days you miss:)

Equipment-Free Workout! ‘Punchy Likes To Squat’

22 07 2009

Try this one out at home or anywhere you have a few feet of space to work with. Seriously, you could do this one in a phone booth (do those even exist anymore?):

Take up an orthodox boxing stance; left foot forward, feet shoulder width apart, weight evenly distributed between the ball of your back foot and your front foot, abs tight, hands up, chin down (but look up).

Throw a 1-2 combination; fire your left lead hand first, followed by your right rear hand. Breathe out with every punch and twist your body. Remember, your hip, knee, and toe all need to be pointing in the direction of your target so this means you’re really going to have to rotate those hips (which makes this a fantastic exercise for trimming your waist line, among other things).

After your 1-2, perform 2 striker’s squats. Weight on the heel of the front foot and on the ball of the back foot, back straight, abs tight, looking forward (I like to pick a spot on the wall and focus on that). Bend your knees and squat down as low as your comfortably can.

After your two squats, throw 4 straight punches. Lead hand – rear hand – lead hand – rear hand, keeping in mind the same things from the 1-2. As the workout goes, you’ll just keep adding 1-2s together.

Now perform 2 more striker’s squats, then 6 straight punches. Then 2 more squats, and 8 straight punches. Keep going all the way up, in increments of 2, until you get to 20. Then, come back down in increments of 2.

Now here’s the fun part: switch to a southpaw stance and do the whole thing again. To form a proper southpaw stance, just do everything from your orthodox stance in reverse. It will be humbling to your ego to throw punches (or do most everyday tasks this way) but that is why we do it. Don’t let your ego chase you away from doing something because you’re not good at it the first time out. If you really want to do your body and mind a favour, start this drill with your non-dominant side. The ability to throw a good, hard punch from any stance, or in any position is something that everybody should carry with them and hope that they never have to use.

If this is too much for you, just scale it back. Work your way up to 10 punches and back. If you know what you’re doing, mix in some of your other strikes: uppercuts, hooks, palm heel strikes, hammer fists, elbows, knees! String them together in different combos to keep it interesting for yourself.

Be sure to shake out your legs afterward and do a little running in place, or a few jumping jacks just to help cycle out the lactic acid that you’ll have built up from doing those squats.

Here’s another helpful tip: keep some water close by. It’s super important to stay hydrated while you train. Adding a pinch of sun dried sea salt to your water will also help with your hydration, and it’ll make your water taste great – just don’t use too much!

No More Diets! We Need a Revolution!

20 07 2009

For some reason, don’t ask me why, I was watching The Bonnie Hunt Show today. She had on, as a guest, one of the trainers from the Bravo TV show Workout and she seemed shocked that he could be both a personal trainer and a chef. She indicated that those two professions were at opposite ends of some imaginary scale. In actuality, the two go hand-in-hand, as I believe the very best trainers sould always know how to prepare and serve healthy interesting meals, and a wide variety of them! I’m talking about breaking the stereotype of the trainer who tells you to never eat a carb and subsist on a diet of egg whites, protein shakes, and plain oatmeal. Not only is that gross, but it is NOT healthy! Oh sure, it might get you ‘lean’, ‘ripped’, ‘shredded’ and any other synonym for sinewy you can think of, but what’s the point in being any of those things if it’s at the expense of your health? The constant losing and gaining of weight that goes along with so many ‘bodybuilding’ style programs of fitness and nutrition is not only short-sighted and detrimental to your long-term health, but it creates and fosters a weird, unhealthy relationship with food.

If you’ve been following one of those plans for any extended period of time, chances are your life is a series of highs and lows; you starve yourself down to get to some arbitrary weight or level of ‘shreddedness’, and the whole time you’re craving all the foods you CANNOT eat. Then, after the goal is reached, it’s time to relax and enjoy all those foods you weren’t allowed to eat during your ‘cutting’ phase. This is generally called a ‘bulking’ phase, but let’s be honest with ourselves. During this phase you eat with wreckless abandon, yet you’re riddled with guilt for all the ‘bad’ stuff you’re eating, and a fear of the next ‘cutting’ phase where all of these sweets and treats will be persona non grata.

Does this not seem ridiculous and extreme to you? Granted, that may be what it takes to get to the top in the world of bodybuilding, if that’s your cup of tea, but I know so many ‘regular’ people who live their entire lives like this because, well, that’s been the prevailing wisdom in the bodybuilding industry for years. Unfortunately, somewhere around the peak of Arnold’s invasion of America, bodybuilding became fitness. If you wanted to be ‘fit’ those were the standards. As a consequence, people have forgotten all about balance. They’ve become more concerned with their body fat % than what’s going on inside their own bodies. More concerned with being ‘shredded’ than with living to see their grandkids get married.

This mentality also leads to a lot of deception in the fitness industry. Last month Alayna brought home a fitness magazine with a well-known female trainer on the cover, and of course she was ripped to the bone. Muscles everywhere! 8 pack in full effect! But you’re kidding yourself if you think that’s what she walks around like. She cut weight for that shoot, probably carb starved and did a host of other not-so-pleasant things in preparation for that magazine cover. Let’s even pretend that photoshop and lighting don’t come into play at all, and she legitimately got that ripped on her own, what does that prove? Does it set a reasonable expectation to her clients and all the people who pick up that magazine? And why aren’t we allowed to see her as she really is? What’s wrong with not being an unrealistic level of lean? As a result, Alayna and I have made a pledge to not cut weight or do any of those ridiculous things for photoshoots. What you see is what you get. Sometimes our bodies are running a little leaner than others but, for the most part, this is it. I can present to my own clients a much more realistic, attainable physique than the guy who spends 4 hours a day working out and never touches a carb. Who has time for that, and how can it be good for you long-term? The bottom line is, there are ALL kinds of ways to get your body fat ridiculously low, but why do that to yourself? Why continue to foster these unhealthy images?

So, no, I’m probably not the best guy to get you ultra-lean for that FitnessStar or other such competition, but what I can prepare you for is real life, a long life, and a life where you enjoy every bit of food that goes in your mouth without being racked with guilt. Over the next few weeks I’m going to lay out exactly how I do that, by sharing my own recipes with you guys. We are going to make delicious, healthy, colourful food – from soups and salads to baked goods and desserts – that will change how you think about ‘health food’ forever. Now here’s what we need from YOU:

Tell us your favourite meals/foods/comfort foods, etc. that you know are bad for you. We’ll take those suggestions and spend some serious hours in our test kitchen coming up with healthy EASY versions of those meals that you can enjoy guilt free! No more of these foods that you CANNOT have. No more diets. It’s time to enjoy the journey towards health, because that’s really all there is.