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!


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!

Reader Question: What Can I do in a small space to burn fat?

21 05 2009

I received a reader question this week, looking for advice on fat burning exercises you can do in the privacy of your home with no equipment (well, maybe a skipping rope or video) and little to no space.  I thought I would share the info with the rest of you as well!

Check it out!!

So, anything that gets your heart pumping and you all sweaty (including all those good things I know you are giggling about) will burn fat, it’s about finding an activity you can sustain long enough to start burning stored fat and not energy reserves. You need to be working consistently hard for a minimum of 15 minutes to start burning the stored fat, or work in intervals, but if you want more info on intervals, message me. That being said, here are some great sustainable options in a small space, you can always use any combo of the below suggestions or other suggestions, as long as you are working hard you can mix it up all you like!

1. skipping -lots of options to mix it up with pace, footwork and large vs small jumps

2. Salsa dancing – any kind of dance is good, but salsa and hip hop can be done in little to no space

3. Burpies, jumping jacks, mountain climbers and all those other great calisthenics that our gym teacher used to make us do…they are all still very effective

4. Shadow boxing ( tae bo) – just punching hard and moving your feet. Take a boxing cardio class to get the basics (or rent Billy Blanks and enjoy a giggle at the same time) and feel like a bad ass at the same time! Or, call us at THE BODY TEMPLE and get a boxing coaching session under your belt and turn your cardio time into FISTS OF FURY! 😉

5. Barre work – from a ballet, jazz or modern class. If you have no dance experience, The New York City Ballet Workout is fantastic and you can get the video or the book. Dancers have killer bodies and trust me, an hour of barre work may look easy, but it will kick your butt! 20 years of dance experience behind me….;)

6. Private dance party – this is what I suggest to my clients that get bored easily (I’m a trainer), just make a playlist of about 40 minutes that includes all of your fav dance songs that make you want to get up and play air guitar. Put it on and just boogie around your place until your playlist ends…. it’s a great mood booster too!

Hope this helps all of you out there.  Remember, summer is a great time to just get outside and play!  A game of pickup ultimate frisbee, frolf, a jog/walk through a park or just play in the playground for awhile.  Bikes and rollerblades are also back, so take advantage of the beautiful weather and feel good about yourself at the same time!

Equipment-Free Workout from Body Temple Boot Camp!

13 05 2009

This week’s equipment-free workout comes to you courtesy of last night’s Body Temple Boot Camp (and if you’re not coming out to them yet, what are you waiting for?!?). We had our boot campers run through this circuit a grand total of six times, but you can adjust that number to your own personal fitness level.

We performed 20 seconds of each of the following, with about 5 seconds in between exercises to get into position for the next one.

Jumping Jacks

Push Ups




Mountain Climbers

Notice how the exercises switch back and forth from standing to ground work. That’s to get you moving even more as you’re constantly getting up and back down. As with most circuits, your own intensity level will really dictate how much of a workout you get with this. Your rest time in between rounds in completely up to you, so if you want to really kick your own butt, minimize that rest time and get right back into the next round. You can either set a specific number of rounds to get through, or set the time for 20-30 minutes and see how many rounds you can get through. Next time out, try to beat your own record.

Have fun with it, and remember to warm up first, drink plenty of water during, and stretch afterwards.

Jon’s Personal Workouts

21 04 2009

I often get asked about what I do during my own workouts, so I thought I’d take some time and space here to shed some light on it. As with my clients, my philosophy is to train for health and function first, and aesthetics will come after that (no, there’s nothing wrong with wanting washboard abs and big biceps, it’s just important to look beneath the surface in your quest for them). The other thing I’m a stickler for in my training is FUN. I have always enjoyed working out, but have really hated gyms. Bicep curl machines and treadmills just don’t do it for me. I consider myself pretty disciplined when it comes to fitness, but I couldn’t run on a treadmill everyday. It’s too boring, and there’s no real mental stimulation there for me. I just couldn’t do it.

With The Body Temple, Alayna and I tried to create the type of environment that we would love to workout in ourselves. That environment didn’t really exist elsewhere, so we had to create it. I look at our equipment as fitness toys, and when it’s time to train, that’s playtime!

So let’s get down to the actual workouts. First off, it’s a rarity if I go a full hour with my training. Most workouts are about half an hour to forty minutes, with little rest as I go. By keeping the intensity high, you can get a lot more out of shorter workouts. You’ll be breathing heavy, sweating, feeling a little weak-legged, but the advantage is that after you’re done, you’re done. None of this going and ‘lifting’ for an hour, then hitting a treadmill or elyptical for 45 minutes. That seems like madness to me, and that way of training never yielded the results I wanted. When I hear people boasting about spending 2 hours + at the gym, I have some real questions about what they’re actually doing in there (unless they’re a serious athlete).

The next thing I focus on is doing big movements that get as much of the body involved as possible. Stuff like squats, pull-ups, burpess, and push up variations. This taxes my body much faster than isolating one muscle at a time, and my body gets the benefit of learning how to function as a whole. Isolation training simply won’t provide you with that benefit.

As far as structure goes, sometimes I’ll set up circuits. A sample circuit may look something like:

10 Bulgarian bag thrusters

10 push ups

10 pull ups

10 knees to elbows

1o kettlebell swings

10 rounds of that with as little rest as possible, and when Ido rest, I make sure to do it in between rounds.

Other days I like to do what I call a ‘stay busy’ workout. For these, I’ll set up the interval timer with either 12 three minute rounds, or 5 five minute rounds. The whole gym is up for grabs, and my only requirement is that I stay busy. So, I’ll swing a sledge hammer, do some laps on the monkey bars, plank with weight transfer, slug it out with the floor bag, do band work; whatever I feel like doing, I do. When the round is up, no matter where I’m at in the workout, I stop and bring my heart rate down and just rest. I’ll sip on either water or coconut water. Never sports drinks like Gatorade. These workouts are usually my favourite because they’re as fun as you want them to be. It’s in the middle of these that I come up with some of my coolest training ideas.

Other days I’ll focus on more traditional lifts like bench and squat, and we’ll go pretty heavy on those days. Those, however, do not make up the bulk of my training. The rest of my exercise comes from working with clients. Trust me, holding the focus mitts for a talented striker (or even a not-so-talented one) for a few five minute rounds is a crazy workout all by itself!

None of the stuff I do is really all that hardcore, and the beautiful part about The Body Temple is that we can set up workouts for any fitness levels. From the super unfit, to the elite athlete, this place has a little something for everyone. If you think it’s too much for you, think again.

The next time you’re at the gym, doing your usual routine, ask yourself if what you’re doing is truly challenging your body. I’ve had more than one client come in here and tell me that they’re not used to sweating so much when they train. Push yourself!

You, and only you, have to suffer through the pain of tough training; but you, and only you, get to reap all the rewards. An investment in your own health is one that no one on Bay Street or Wall Street can ever take away from you. The government can’t foreclose on your body. Keeping yourself fit, agile and healthy is the ultimate way to prepare yourself to handle anything that the future may hold.

A healthy human body is an amazing gift. Don’t squander it.

Monday Workout – No Equipment Required!

13 04 2009

Another Monday means another equipment-free workout to get your week off on the right track. For this one, you’ll need just a small amount of space, and I’d reccommend a bottle of water and a towel (there’s gonna be lots of sweat).

Today we’re going to do a ladder; 3 exercises performed in a row, progressing from 1 rep of each all the way to 10 and back. The exercises are:

Jumping jack or jump up with your knees to your chest

Squat; if you feel like adding weight to this one that’s all good!

Push up

So just to give you an eample of how this works:

Do one jumping jack, then immediately do one squat, then head down to the ground for one push up. Get up, shake yourself out a little if necessary and do 2 reps of eerything. Now, if you can’t make it all the way to 10 and back, just set the target number a little bit lower; go up to 6 or 7 and then back.

These workouts are all about what you put into them. It wouldn’t be that tough to ease my way through this one over the course of an hour or two, so keep the intensity up. You have to suffer through the pain of the workout, but you get to reap all the rewards that come with it.

BIKINI BODIES PT 2 – Hips & Butt!

13 04 2009

Welcome back to BIKINI BODIES 2009!  Part 2 will cover your butt and hips…another trouble zone for ladies especially.  These particular moves have a great track record, helping some of my best clients shave 2-3 inches off their hips and thighs in under 3 months!  So let’s talk about our hips!
The goal here is to target all sides of your hips and butt , from the inner hip flexors to the glutes and everywhere in between.  To do that, we need a variety of exercises with different stances to target each muscle group from a variety of angles and directions.  I have tried to include exercises that require no equipment so you have no excuses!  You can hop off the couch and get in a full set or two of an exercise during commercials.  SO, let’s get started!

Hips:  Most of these exercises do double duty and will work both your hips as well as your butt, so get moving and see those inches start melting off!  Keep your chest high and your weight on your heels.
1. Plies! – This is also called a squat, but what makes it a plie instead of a squat is CONTROL!  Move slowly but with purpose.  Imagine the weight of your body as your load and imagine pressing your feet into the floor to lift your body away from the ground as you straighten your legs.  Never lock or pop your knees, slow and steady is the name of the game.
Complete 10-20 repetitions of each plie type, repeated for 3-4 sets is perfect!
Try different leg and foot positions such as;
Regular squat -Slightly wider than hip width apart, toes facing forwards)
Sumo squats – Super wide stance, knees tracking over your toes, back straight
Turned out – Feet a little wider than hip width but toes and knees turned out.
1st position – Heels together, toes apart.  This will be a shallower squat than others, but will help target your butt, especially those charming little half-moons of jiggle that we all try to cram back into our bathing suits…;)
1 Legged squats – Can be done against a wall for support of without a wall to force your stabilizer muscles to work as well.
* Check back soon for some squat videos where I’ll show proper position and technique as well as some other types of plies/squats that are difficult to explain, but very effective!*

2. My Richard Simmons Series;  Richard really had a few things right back in the day.  I have borrowed some inspiration from him and created something I call ’The Richard Simmons Series’
To start, lie on your side, supporting your head with your hand and your feet stacked on top of each other.
Straight lift – simply lift the top leg up to a 45 degree angle and lower with control.  Keeping your abs engaged and the rest of your body still.
Pulse –  Same idea as the straight lift, simply lift as you would, but instead of lowering the leg completely, lower it about an inch before lifting again.  Repeat.
Soccer kicks – Same starting position but kick up and out like a soccer ball is coming at you ( a video will be coming to help with these…)
Circles – Imagine drawing a small circle with your toes and use your abs to keep everything above the hips still.  Always do an equal number of circles in each direction.
* Complete 10-12 of each type of lift 3-4 times and you’ll feel the burn!*

3. Inner Thigh Lifts – Same set up as the Straight lifts above, but cross the top leg over the bottom leg and rest the inside of the top foot on the ground.  Now you are using the bottom leg lifting, the inner thigh and hip are doing the work.
Lifts – Just lift and lower the inner leg concentrating on controlling the movement.
Pulses and circles are the same, just using the inner leg.

NOTE: You can make any of the above leg exercises more challenging by adding ankle weights….

4. Leg Pulses – These are hard to explain, I will shoot a video shortly, stay tuned for updates.   Be glad this isn’t here yet, it’s a tough one…. 😉

Butt! – Whether you want to minimize your jiggle or increase your lady lumps, the answer is to work out those gluteal muscles!
Squats work well as do these;

1. Kneeling series!  3 exercises you can do at one time from all fours.
Turned out lifts – Cross one ankle over the other from all fours and lift that top leg up as far as your hips will comfortably allow, keeping the knee slightly bent.  Make sure you keep your core engaged to support your lower back.
Donkey Kicks – Kick straight back with force as though you were kicking some toilet paper off the bottom of your shoe…make sure no person or thing is directly behind you 😉
Fire Hydrant Extensions – Lift your leg with your knee bent to the side, like a dog at a fire hydrant.  Then extend the knee and kick out to the side before lowering to starting position again.
Complete 10 reps of each of these three exercises on each leg for 3 sets, you’ll have a booty worthy of celeb envy in no time!

2. Standing back kicks – Same concept as the Donkey Kicks from above, simply standing.  You can generate more force when you are standing and it will force your abdominals to work harder to keep you balanced.  We always love exercises that do double duty!

3. Hip and Butt opener – Lying on your side, bend both knees to about a 45 degree angle.  Using your hands to create some gentle resistance, simply open the top knee as far as you are comfortable with while keeping your bottom knee stable on the ground.  Keep your heels glued together and increase or decrease the resistance from your hand according to your current ability.  10/side 3-4 times should be fine.

SO, there are our Hips and Butt exercises, keep checking back for the next installment of BIKINI BODIES, THIGHS & HAMSTRINGS!!!!

Keep working hard and you’ll have a banging beach body before you know it!