Tag Archives: cardio

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!


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.

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!

Fitness Fundamentals

Fitness isn’t necessarily what it used to be.  Fitness is a word that brings specific images to mind and for a lot of us, that’s a very specific image of the roots of the word fitness: leg warmers, spandex, and more spandex.  Changing the idea of what fitness is has come over time but it looks like we’re going in a good direction, changing that image to one of overall Wellness. That wellness comes from five different aspects:

Cardiovascular Endurance – Conditioning of the cardiovascular system in the body.  The ability to deliver oxygen and nutrients to tissues, and take waste materials away for a sustained period of time Example – biking, running, swimming

Muscular Strength – The maximum force that a muscle can deliver force in in one repetition

Muscular Endurance –  The ability of a muscle to deliver force over a sustained period of time

Flexibility – The movement of a muscle around a joint in a full Range of Motion (ROM).  Important to note: flexibility is different from stretching, stretching actually increases flexibility

Body Composition – The body’s make up of lean muscle, bone, fat mass, and tissues/organs.  The ratio of these masses in the body is considered your body composition

So remember that fitness is more than spandex and leg-warmers.  It’s about our overall wellness, including our cardiovascular and muscular systems, lifestyle, sleep and eating patterns.

Let’s be well.


Body Shape 101

Not all Fat is Created Equal.

There are two main types of body fat found in our bodies.  Ironically, we tend to focus on subcutaneous body fat, which is the softer fat found beneath the skin.  This is the fat that we can grab with our hands or skin-fold calipers.  Subcutaneous fat is less damaging as it is superficial (closer to the surface), and is less likely to result in major health issues.  Visceral fat is the unseen fat in your body.  It is found deeper inside the body, around your internal organs. It’s a harder fat and has been linked directly to chronic diseases like heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, and some cancers.  Visceral fat hides well beneath the surface, we don’t see it, most people don’t know about it, and it’s the body fat we should actually be more concerned about.

Lucky for our health, visceral fat tends to be targeted first during weight loss.  Unlucky for our esthetics, the subcutaneous fat we all see is targeted second.

Wellness Comes in All Shapes and Sizes

We’re all wonderfully unique.  It needs to be known that fitness doesn’t look like anyone or anything in specific.  We all have a “best” version of ourselves, and we can’t ask for any more than that.  In this delicious fruit bowl we call life, the three basic body shapes are apple, pear and banana.

Apples – you are identified by the majority of your body fat stored in your mid-section.  This puts you at the highest risk of visceral fat accumulation, as well as the health risks associated with that.

Pears – you are identified by an accumulation of subcutaneous fat around the hips, buttocks and thighs.  Not to say that you shouldn’t be concerned with visceral fat within your body, you are simply at a lower risk than your friend the apple.

Bananas – you are identified by your long and lean frame.  Don’t be fooled with the lack of subcutaneous fat, visceral fat may still exist but hidden deep and unseen on your body.

Where your body carries weight naturally can be a factor in determining a lot of things for you.  What doesn’t change is how to work with and manage your body type.  Put down the junk food and grab an apple, pear, or banana – and get moving!

One Step at a Time

Part Two – Putting One Foot in Front of the Other; the Beginning of Cardiovascular Wellness.

Getting yourself moving sounds like an easy step, but for someone who is beginning their wellness journey for the first time, or someone who is starting to work out again after some time off, it can be really daunting.

Try Different Things The first place a beginner heads to when they walk in the door is the treadmill. Keep in mind that there are a lot of different things you can try when getting started, but overall the best place for anyone new to the gym is the place that makes you feel comfortable, safe, and secure.  I’m a fitness professional, and the idea of hanging out on a treadmill for an hour sounds absolutely dreadful to me.  The key to finding a successful cardiovascular program is to change it up and find something that you like to do.  The treadmill might be your favorite place in the gym, others will find the elliptical, track, or bike your happy place.  If you want to try something and don’t know how or are intimidated by it, please ask us!  There are staff working in the weight room at all of our facilities and as active people, we would much rather talk to and help our members than sit at a desk!

Not Everyone is Built to Run Every single one of us is different. Our body’s physiology and genetic code plays a great deal into what our optimal style of workout is.  There are different muscle fibres in each of us that will make certain styles of physical activity easier than others.  If you absolutely dread long distances, try inserting some higher intensity intervals into your workout.  An example of this is to run a lap, do a set of jumping jacks, running stairs, or jump rope etc… in-between resistance training (weight lifting) sets.  So of you don’t like to run, don’t stress! There’s always something else to try!

Find Your Target Heart Rate Zone, and Stay Within It! An individual’s target heart rate zone (THRZ) is based on age.  The easiest way to figure out your THRZ is with this basic equation: 220-(age)= Heart Rate Max (HRM)  This is a number that we should aim to never surpass when doing cardiovascular activity.  Multiply that number by .6 and you will get 60% of your HRM.  Multiply that first number again by .8 to find 80% HRM.  During your cardiovascular workout, you would want to monitor your heart rate and keep it between 60% and 80% of your HRM For example, if you were 25 years old, your math would look like this:

  • 220 – 25 = 195 beats per minute (BPM) as your Heart Rate Max
  • 195 x .6 = 117 BPM
  • 195 x .8 = 156 BPM

This would mean that you want your heart rate somewhere in between 117 and 156 BPM during your cardiovascular workout.

Other Options Hiking groups, team sports or group fitness classes are an amazing way to sneak in a little cardio without even noticing it! It’s fun, it’s interactive, and you can meet new people who are living a healthy balanced life to help keep you on track. Here at the YMCA there are numerous different options to get involved in both aspects.  There are registered and drop-in group fitness classes offered at every branch in the city. We also offer climbing wall classes, swim and aquatic fitness classes, as well as some sport options.  These can differ from branch to branch, so check what is offered at your home branch. A lot of towns and cities have different recreational organizations to help people get involved with team sports as well. In Calgary, a great resource to check out the Calgary Sport and Social Club.  You can join a sport by registering a full team, partial team, or an as individual to make up a full team.

Build the Habit If you miss a day, don’t get discouraged! It’s all about putting one foot in front of the other, and sometimes a stumble will happen.  This is where you need to pick yourself up, dust off those hands and take another step.  Think to yourself the number twenty one. 21. XXI.  It takes twenty one days to build a habit.  Twenty one days to notice a real difference in your physiology. Twenty one days.  Keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll hit your stride.  You’ve got this.

Happy Trails!

Self-Defense for Youth

We are thrilled to announce the introduction of our new Martial Arts class, Hap Ki Do for youth!  Geri and Candy will teach you how to fall so that you don’t get hurt, rolls, how to get out of high-risk situations and much more!  The class will run Saturdays 9:00-10:00am, beginning November 2 (pro-rated registration after this date).  Call 403-547-6576 or drop by our Member Services desk to register.

What can you expect from A Taste of Movement class?

Tina Thrussel, Instructor, describes A Taste of Movement…

If you find the idea of aerobic or dance classes a little intimidating, or if you’re just curious and want to try out different forms of movement, then A Taste of Movement is the class for you!  In this class we’ll explore the basics of a number of different movement modalities (those incorporated into Nia – Jazz Dance, Duncan Dance, Modern Dance, Tai Chi, Aikido, Tae Kwon Do, Yoga, the Alexander Technique and the Feldenkreis Method) in a light-hearted and fun way.

As an added bonus, you’ll learn the BrainDance – a series of movements that wire the central nervous system so that the brain can operate at its full potential.  BrainDance can be used as a warmup for sports, exercise or dance; before tests, performances and
presentations; after sitting for long periods of time, or during computer work and TV watching, for brain reorganization, recuperation and oxygenation, a centering body/brain warm-up, and to wake up or calm down.

Come and get a taste of movement at the FREE demo class on Tues, Feb 12th from 8:00-9:00 pm at the Saddletowne YMCA!

Woman Who Dances with Light
(Aka Tina Thrussell)
Inspiring you to bring more Life into your life.

The registered session for A Taste of Movement will run as follows:
Tuesdays, February 19th – March 19th

(M$40 NM$60)
Barcode: 83484
Contact Member Services (403-237-2393) to register.

Fitness for Heart, Body & Soul at Saddletowne YMCA

Some people struggle with fitness because lifting weights may feel intimidating or unappealing and working out on cardio equipment can seem monotonous to some. While resistance training and cardio machines have their place and produce excellent results for many people, they are not the only way to get fit. We all know that an important aspect of becoming and staying physically active is finding something that you love to do, something that inspires you, something that makes you feel good from the inside out.

If you are somebody who prefers a livelier, more expressive way of working out; someone who dreads working out with machines; or someone who just wants to switch things up and try something new; check out one of our registered adult dance classes like ZUMBA™ , Taste of Movement or NIA. These classes will inspire you to express yourself and move in different ways, break out of your daily rhythm and find fitness and freedom for heart, body and soul. Suitable for men & women of all fitness levels, see the class descriptions below:

Join the Party! Zumba will take you through basic salsa, reggaeton, flamenco and other international rhythms with a fitness flare. Dance your way into shape!

Tuesdays Jan 08-Mar19 7:30-8:30PM Barcode 77673 11 classes M$110 NM$165
Wednesdays Jan 09-Mar20 7:00-8:00PM Barcode 76985 11 classes M$110 NM$165

A Taste of Movement
Experience a wide range of FUN activities that will get you moving and feeling good! This class incorporates Jazz Dance, Yoga, Tai Kwon Do style kicking, blocking and punching and the slow meditative movements of Tai Chi.

Tuesdays Feb 05-Mar 19 8:00-9:00PM Barcode 83484 7 classes M$56 NM$84

The Nia® Technique is a brilliant blend of dance, martial arts and healing arts that connects mind, body and spirit. Each class offers you safe, guided, dance-based movement that is suitable for all ages, all body types and fitness levels. Come move to great music to relieve stress, get in shape and have fun!

Wednesdays Feb 06-Mar 20 5:00-6:00PM Barcode 83609 7 classes M$56 NM$84

Check out our website www.ymcacalgary.org for more information on these and other registered classes or call Program Services at 403-237-2393.

A Workout Buddy Helps You Reach Fitness Goals

Wanna get motivated to work out? There are lots of stats out there that show having a workout buddy is one of the best ways to stay on track with your fitness routine. There are a number of reasons why:

  • Motivation. We all have on and off days. Days you don’t feel like hitting the gym, your partner will likely be primed to go and get you there. Plus we people tend to like a little competition – driving us to work harder and challenge ourselves.
  • Results. With a partner, most people push themselves harder. That not only means increasingly the likelihood of hitting your health goals, but getting there much faster than if you were on your own.
  • Alternatives. We all think a little different than each other. Your workout buddy may offer suggestions for alternative exercises or training routines. Things you may not have come up with on your own. (This is also a great reason to get a personal trainer.)
  • Spotting. Your workout buddy can help keep you safe by spotting you on equipment, allowing you to further challenge your abilities.
  • Partner moves. There are lots of exercises that can be done with a partner, like doing sit-ups and passing a medicine ball between each time you both reach the centre.
  • Companionship. Everyone loves a little company. Longer workouts can get tedious but having a friend around makes the time pass much faster.

Give some thought to choosing your workout buddy. This can make or break your success together at the gym:

  • Fitness/Skill level. Team up with someone at a similar level to avoid one person exceling and one person being left behind. The best is a friend who will challenge you to work harder but will also be a motivation.
  • Goals. Review your fitness goals together. If you want to build muscle while your workout buddy wants to increase cardio, you will be doing different exercises and end up not working out together. Try to find someone who will want to do similar moves so you both end up benefiting.
  • Relationship. Make sure you pick someone who you like spending time with because you will be hanging out a lot at the gym improving your health together!

You know you have chosen your buddy well when you are reaching your fitness goals while having fun!