Tag Archives: core

The Four Core Values in Fitness

Weight-Room etiquette is basically the same at every gym or club.  At the YMCA we like to base our etiquette on four core values displayed prominently in every location across Calgary and Canada alike.  Following the basic idea of these core values both personally and within the facility allows all members to show one another the kindness of these core values in our workout areas.

Honesty – Personal – Listen to your body and acknowledge what your limits are; push yourself to those limits.  Hitting below won’t give you the results you desire, and above may lead to injury.  Facility – There isn’t a sign-up for our cardio machines as there once was, but we do ask that members honor the 30-minute maximum during busy or peak times when someone could be waiting.

CaringPersonal – Care for yourself by eating well, sleeping well, and creating a wellness balance in your life.  Facility –  allow others to work-in between your sets.  Working together can help build new relationships and friendships within our YMCA community.

RespectPersonal – Acknowledge that you are being the best version of yourself and stop comparing yourself to others.  Cherish the uniqueness that is you!  Facility – wipe down equipment after use, no one wants to use equipment that hasn’t been cleaned!  The staff and volunteer team has a cleaning list that covers all equipment in the gym and we do our best to keep things are clean as possible for member use.

ResponsibilityPersonal – Hold yourself accountable, don’t blame external forces if you stumble.  It happens to everyone; own it and move past it.  Facility – Clean up after yourself; put weights away, cable attachments back to where they belong, and take pride in being part of our YMCA community.

The YMCA prides itself on delivering four core values in our every day engagements.  As a member of the YMCA, we hope that you feel those core values every time you are in our facilities, as well as paying it forward to one another.

Be Well


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!

Fitness Kickboxing is a great way to build strength & confidence while relieving stress.

I attended the Fitness Kickboxing demo class here at Saddletowne a little while ago and I found the class to be invigorating and fun. After the warm up, the instructor taught us a variety of punching techniques and combinations which we then got to practice with a partner using gloves and pads. Afterwards she led us through some kicking techniques and combinations which we practiced again. By the end of the class we put it all together in punching and kicking combinations with our partners.

I worked up a good sweat in the class and definitely felt my muscles the next day. The exercises especially helped to challenge my core strength and coordination as well as my mental focus and reflexes. I loved being able to engage in a contact sport with another person, express some playful aggression and let off  steam in a way that was safe, fun and empowering.

I definitely recommend Fitness Kickboxing as a different kind of fitness class that will produce great results, increase your confidence and challenge you in new ways.

Fitness Kickboxing is offered at the Saddletowne YMCA on Sundays from 6:30-7:30pm beginning January 11th. To register call 403-237-2393 and quote barcode # 96569.


Small Group Training comes to the Eau Claire Y!

  • Need a new challenge or like a bit of the ‘unknown’ thrown in to your workouts?
  • Class schedule doesn’t suit your timetable or you need a bit more flexibility built in?
  • Want to try personal training but it’s just out of reach?

YMCA Eau Claire is excited to launch a new way to get fit with the introduction of Small Group Training.

What is it?
Small Group Training (SGT) offers a dynamic, trainer-driven workout that is scalable to all fitness levels. Your workout could include free weights, sprints, kettlebells – whatever your trainer feels inspired by – plus always a ton of core work. And because of the guaranteed small class size you will receive all the hands-on expert guidance that you need to be safe and effective. If you already know what you’re doing, jump straight in to the workout and compete against yourself! It will be a fresh workout each time with progressions built in for regular participants.

How does it work?
Simply purchase a single or multi-visit punchcard from member services then turn up to any of the advertised times. There’s no need to register or sign up in advance. If you want to bring a friend they just take a punch from your card. If you’re feeling generous or trying to encourage a colleague/loved one to get more active, give them a card as a gift. They are fully transferrable and start from just $18 per class for members and $24 for non-members.

Where are the classes held?
All sessions will commence in the Functional Training Zone on the 4th floor. They may then lead to other parts of the facility or even outside (can you say Crescent Heights stairs?!).

Who is this for?
Everybody! All workouts will be scalable to challenge the beginner through to the advanced participant. If it’s your first class just let your trainer know so they can set you on the right course and make sure you receive the right amount of attention.

When does it run?
Small Group Training will run year-round, there will be no fixed start or end date. There will always be a selection of times available across the week which will be listed on the website and in the branch. If none of the listed times suit your schedule, find 3 friends and we’ll create a group just for you! Classes are capped at 8 participants per session so make sure you arrive on time to secure your place.

Why SGT? Why now?
Why not?! If you’re unsure if it’s for you, observe a class, chat with the trainer before/afterwards or jump in for a single session and see how you go – the worst that could happen is you get a great workout, the best is that you make some new friends!

Where do I start?
Come to our LAUNCH EVENT on Open Y Day – Sunday 18 August for FREE introductory workouts @ 0930, 1100 and 1230. Regular classes begin Monday 19 August at these times:

Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun
0800 0800 0900 0800 0900
2000 1500 1300

Any other questions can be answered by our member services staff, personal trainers or you can contact me directly on the email address below.

See you out there!

Geoff Starling
Strength & Conditioning Director
Eau Claire YMCA


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.

Core exercise advice: Be nice to your spine!

Many people are asking me about how to train their core and how to perform different twisting exercises.

My suggestion regarding twisting exercises is to avoid them unless they have been suggested after the consideration of a professional trainer.  Twisting exercises can put your lower back in danger.  Just as with all exercises bad technique can lead to injuries very quickly, especially with twisting involved.

I have read an excellent article about it by Joseph M. Horrigan; Published in IRONMAN Magazine, June 1991.  Updated by author, May 2007.


This great article explains how the lumbar spine works and why it is not designed to do lots of twisting motions.   Especially when seated twisting performed with weights can quickly deteriorate your disc in your lumbar spine.

This is how Horrigan explains seated twists:

“…. Because of this the pelvis cannot rotate with the spine as it is supposed to do naturally.  Since your arms and back may be braced, depending on which machine you’re using, the rotational demand is on your lower back, and it is excessive.  This creates a shearing force on the disks of the lumbar vertebrae. The outer, fibrous layers of a disk can begin to fray or tear.  “

 “There are safer ways to train your abs, and there are safe ways to reduce your body fat by dieting.  Remember that not all the exercises you see performed in the gym are beneficial.  Even more important is the fact that there are a few exercises that are actually harmful and can alter forever your ability to train.  Train smarter—not just harder.”

Through my personal experience I can fully agree to his warning and advice.  It is always good idea to ask a Personal Trainer before starting a new exercise.

Kettlebell Workout Routines

Kettlebells have been around for decades and been used primarily in Eastern Europe for strength training. Kettlebells bring us back to the idea that fitness means the body’s ability to work well as a whole.

The entire body is needed to control and lift the kettlebell–large groups of muscles are engaged at the same time. It works the core hard leading to better stability and overall strength.

“Just like fashion trends come and go, same can be said about workout trends. Hundreds of years ago Russian bodybuilders were using cannonball-like equipment for strength training. Little did they know then that their workouts would be turned into classes in gyms across the globe 300 years later. The reason kettlebell workouts are so popular is they provide strength training, cardio, balance and flexibility all in one short workout.” Nancy Howard

Check out these 6 kettlebell workouts sure to bring you results found on the Daily Spark website.

Members: TODAY Fall/Winter Program Registeration

YMCA Fall & Winter Program Registration for members STARTS TODAY! (Non-members on August 20).

YMCA Calgary Membership Includes:

  • Access to all Calgary’s facilities including a variety of drop-in fitness classes
  • Access to Canadian YMCAs (click here for a full list)
  • Coach Approach ® – pairing with a YMCA Health & Wellness coach
  • Workout tracking and motivation with FitLinxx
  • Online program registration
  • Free Fifth: Bring one guest for free the fifth of every month
  • Discounted program rates
  • Advanced program registration and priority on program waitlists
  • Member appreciation and member referral gifts
  • Fitness centre orientation
  • Use of locks
  • Free babysitting for children ages 6wks-18M
  • Discounted rates for babysitting services and advance babysitting booking
  • Discounted massage rates (massage only at Eau Claire YMCA)
  • Fee assistance* (Opportunity Fund Brochure)

YMCA Calgary Plus Membership Perks (varies by branch):

  • Towel service and personal care products
  • TV lounge
  • Private exercise areas
  • Locker room staff
  • Overnight tote boxes

Click here to find out more about YMCA Membership.

Avoid Injury: Yoga for Sports

A lot of sports injuries come from repetative motion or from imbalance in posture. Writer Tiffany Cruishank tells about different yoga poses that can help avoid injuries on her posting on YogaJournal.com:

“A yoga practice encourages you to take inventory of your body as you practice. The more awareness you have of how your body feels from day to day or from pose to pose, the more likely you are to notice tight or injury-prone areas of the body that need attention before full-blown injuries can occur.”

Click here to read the full article on www.YogaJournal.com.