Workout: Legs, Core, Triceps, Back, Abs, and Hip symmetry!

Hey Gang,

Wanted to share with you one of my workouts from last week.  The exercises are low impact, but can be very challenging when done properly.  I did each exercise in a Tabata format, which means I did 20 seconds of hard work, followed by 10 seconds rest, and repeated that 8 times for each exercise.  This means I got a good workout in all in under 20 minutes!  I promise, even though it’s short- you will feel a burn!

The purpose of my workout was to really focus on alignment of my spine, as well as engaging my inner thighs in my motions to square and strengthen my hips in alignment.  As someone who has always liked to squat a heavy weight, I had slowly developed some imbalances in strength in my hips.  Heavy squatting is often done with a knee and toe turn out, which works more your outer hips.  Slowly over time my inner thighs started to become quite weak, which was showing up as knee issues during running and hiking.

If you want a whole body, low impact, medium intensity routine to add to your week, give this one a try:

Exercise #1:  Hamstring curls.

These aren’t your typical hamstring curls!  To start, place a yoga block between your knees.  Your job will be to squeeze that block together to activate your inner thighs and abdominals to a greater degree, and stabilize your pelvis during the motion.  Once the inner thighs are active, press the hips up in the air using the glutes.  With the glutes in the air, extend your legs out and then pull them back under your body using your hamstrings (backs of your legs).  Ensure your core is absolutely braced the whole time.

Hamstring Curls Video Link

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Exercise #2:  Lat pull down with leg lowers. 

This one will work your core, as well as your back muscles (lats).  You will need to have a space where you can hook a band up behind your head, to use as resistance for the muscles.  Once you are set up on the mat, like I am in the photo below, you are going to lift your knees up into a 90 degree position.  Then, exhale and strongly engage your core, followed by a straight arm lat pull down combined with dropping one leg to the floor (takes a bit of coordination!).  Some things that often go wrong in this exercise and cause pain:  allowing your ribs to ‘pop’, allowing your core to disengage so that your lower back is doing all the work.  Go really slow with this one, use your breathing and core engagement to make it effective and challenging.

Lat pull Down/Leg Lower Video LinkScreen Shot 2017-06-12 at 11.16.29 AM.png

Exercise #3:  Tricep pull down with ab/inner thigh squeeze.

Here is a great exercise to strengthen the back of your arms, while at the same time working your inner thigh and abs.  Laying on your back, using the same band set up as the exercise above, and bring your knees up to the same 90 degree position.  This time, hold a block between your knees.  Your job is going to be squeezing that block together the whole time (which also nicely activates your core).  Keeping your elbows pinned on the floor, slowly squeeze your arms into a straight position.  Make sure to lock your wrists out!  Keep those abs tight, as always.

Tricep pull down with Abs/inner thighsScreen Shot 2017-06-12 at 11.22.16 AM.png

Exercise #4:  Side Plank with added stability requirement.

Here is a challenging side plank variation (not for beginners).  If you are new to side planks, you can try just holding a side plank from your knees/toes, or moving your top leg with your bottom knee bent.

The reason why I love this exercise:  It requires you to brace strongly with your core (to protect your back, and work core stability), while you breathe and move your leg back and forth (mimicking more of a functional movement exercise).

Give it a try!

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Side Plank with Stability component video

Exercise #5:  One leg Squat

One leg squats are extremely hard, and require a tremendous amount of flexibility, mobility, and strength.  In this example I am strengthening the ‘squarenesss’ of my hips in this position and movement.  I am using a bar as gentle support to help me out of the bottom of my squat, but most of all I am really squeezing against the yoga block with my inner thighs to stabilize my pelvis, and activate my core.  My goal is one day to do a pistol squat!  A beginner friendly version would be to do a one leg glute lift, like I showed on the previous workout blog, which you can find HERE.

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One leg squat Video link

So have fun with it!  Let me know how you do, if you need modifications, and if you find it fun 🙂

And remember- consistency is better than intensity, better to do a small workout every day then just a few intense ones each week.

Today’s Workout: inner thigh, spine, butt, shoulders.

This workout today is all about neglected muscles!  In our ‘typical’ workout programs that we often get trapped in doing in the gym we tend to focus on exercises like squatting, lunging, push up variations, pull down motions, and the like.  These are all great exercises, but it’s also good to have a ton of variety in the movements you perform, that way you avoid creating imbalances in your body!  At the same time, each of our bodies have muscles and movements that we are a bit weaker in.  For me, my inner thighs, my straight arm shoulder strength, and my one leg glute strength are areas I am working on.

I wanted to share my workout with you today for a few reasons;

  •  Give you some ideas to add variety to your gym routine.
  • Explain why these exercises are so great.
  • Get you thinking about all the ways in which we should challenge our body to move, to keep it working optimally!
  • You can get done this workout in less than 25 minutes with rest breaks!

So here it is:

  1.  First step- set your tabata timer (I use a free one from my app store) for 45 seconds of work, 15 seconds rest X 7 rounds.  After you perform all 7 exercises, grab a sip of water and restart your timer to go again.
  2. Set up your BOSU, 2 yoga blocks, 1 light KB, and one pilates ring.  You only have 15 seconds to change exercises, so you want these items close.
  3. Start your timer- and get to work!

Here is your first exercise:

  1.  Inner thigh squeeze and one “lift” of the chest to the ceiling.

For this one- just place the pilates ring between your inner thighs.  Use your inner thighs and abdominals to ‘crush’ the ring a.k.a squeeze your knees together then keep the legs squeezing as you ‘levitate’ your chest up towards the ceiling.  For each squeeze of the thighs you do one lift of the chest.  Note:  This is not a sit up type motion.

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Here is a full video:

2.  Superman Varieties

These versions of your typical superman exercises are much harder then they look!  They require incredible straight arm strength, and inner thigh strength, as well as just like any superman exercise it is a great workout for the muscles down your spine.

What I would suggest is that 45 seconds will be quite a long time to hold this position, especially for a beginner.  In the video below I show you 3 different versions of this exercise.  I would suggest that for each round you do through your circuit do 1 of the varieties I have shown.  If you can’t last 45 seconds, no problem, take small rests and then jump back into it!

For the first version I am squeezing my straight arms against the side of the block, while at the same time I am trying to shrug my shoulders gently away from my ears and lift my chest and arms off the floor.  Second version the block is between my knees and I am squeezing the block as I lift my legs only.  Third version both arms and legs are squeezing and lifting.  Keep your neck in a straight line.

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Here is the full video:

3.  Straight arm overhead kettlebell carries.

Many of us (including me) are lacking really good shoulder stability strength.  We are so used to working our back arms and shoulders from a bent elbow position, that often we are missing out on what we want to strengthen the most- our shoulder stability, aka the shoulder’s ability to stay in a strong position as our arm perform’s movement.

To work on this you could try one arm overhead kettlebell (or dumbbell carries).  For this- just set the bell up overhead on one side and then try to work your arm nice and straight, while at the same time trying not to lean or let your shoulder work up towards the ear (you can see me working on all of this in the video).

One side for 45 seconds, then switch arms.

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Full video here:

4.  One Leg Glute Lifts

One of the most underused (and in most need of use) muscles on our body is our glutes.  We need strong glutes for back health, for athletic power, for locomotion, and so many more purposes!  I love this one leg glute exercise because it can really help to deal with asymmetries in hip strength.  I like to put my hands on my hips and really feel if I am trying to rotate my hips or hike on hip up too high towards my ear in relation to the other hip.  Try not to push all the way up to the top, I find going about 3/4 of the way up really gets a good burn for the glutes!  Do one side for 45 seconds, then switch!  Make sure you squeeze your butt!

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Full video here:

And you are done!  After you perform each of the exercises on both sides it should have taken you 7 minutes X 3 rounds= about 25 minutes with a little rest in between each round.

I hope you got some good ideas from the exercises.  Keep finding ways to work on your weaknesses, and add variety to your movement and you will continue to get fitter, healthier and stronger!

Breaking down research- How does lifting weights help weight loss?

On Sunday I attended a full day conference put on by Can Fit Pro.  Each year I always come away with so many new tips, tricks, ideas, motivation, as well as new research to put into action.

One of the sessions I attended was by one of my favourite researchers, Dr. Len Kravitz.  He has a way of making science interesting, fun, and applicable!

Today I chose to share one of the articles he used in his session on THE EFFECT OF STRENGTH TRAINING IN WEIGHT LOSS.

Here is the article information:   Avila et al. (2010). Effect of moderate intensity resistance training during weight loss on body composition and physical performance in overweight adults. Euro J Appl Phys 109, 517-525.  To view the article copy and paste the title into

As Dr. Kravitz broke down the article for us, it became more and more clear that strength training is essential and needed for weight loss.

–>  There were  27 male and female subjects (BMI=32kg/m2 ): 67 yr

~  This tell us that the group was an older population, highlighting the fact that resistance training was important for an older population!

–>  Previously sedentary people were included.

–>  It was a 10-week study of two groups.   One group followed the DASH diet only; the 2nd group followed the dash diet and did resistance training.

–>  The researchers measured weight loss, body composition, and muscle

–>  All subjects were on individualized diet (10% caloric restrict) based on estimated metabolic rate

–>  The weight lifting group did 40  minutes of resistance training on 3 non consecutive days.  Their program consisted of 6 upper and lower body exercises including a warm up set. They did 8-12 reps per set, and 4 rounds of each exercise.

–>  The Results?  The  DASH group lost 2% of their body weight at the end of the 10 week study; the diet only group also lost .2 % body fat and 2.7 % muscle.

–>  The group who followed the DASH diet and did resistance training lost 3.6 % of their body weight, 11.2 % body fat, and gained 1.3 % muscle.

What can we take away from this study?

#1:  People who went on a calorie restricted healthy diet lost 2 % of their body weight in a 10 week study.  We can therefore conclude that if you eat less than you need you will lose weight!  It’s a scientific equation.  (Keep in mind the average age of people was 67, harder to lose weight as you age).  *  Please also note that 2 % is a small number.  With diet changes only a 200 pound person would lose 4 pounds.  Weight loss done in a healthy way is slow and long term.  Stay focussed on the habit changes.

#2:  If you only follow a strict diet to lose weight you will not lose as much weight overall at the end of the diet, you will not lose very much body fat, and you will lose a lot of muscle.

#3:  If you diet and work out with weights 3 times a week for 40 minutes you will lose almost double the amount of weight, 11 % more body fat, and gain some muscle.  Muscle is good for a million different reasons, and you especially want it as you are aging to maintain balance, independence, appearance, and health/vitality. 

There you have it folks, weight training is essential for preventing falls, preventing injury, maintaining functional independence, and maintaining our muscle mass, and now we see that it will double our weight loss, help us to lose fat, and give us some healthy and appealing muscle.  Don’t fight the science.  We know that if you eat less then you need you will lose weight, and we also know that the more you move, and the more strength training you do as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle you will lose more weight and fat.


On a final note- I will be travelling across New Zealand for the next 4 weeks!  Yahoo!  It will be such an awesome adventure and I am very much looking forward to it.  I will most likely send out a few blogs while I am gone, but maybe not 😛  I am mostly looking to really enjoy my time away.  If you want to follow my adventure be sure to add me to twitter, instagram, or facebook.

Fantastic Spine/Lower back Strengthener

Hey All!

Sorry about not bringing you some advice last week, I am currently attending the University of British Columbia and doing my Masters of Rehabilitation Science and last week we had a very large assignment due.  I had less time to blog to you all then normal!

To make up for it, I’ve got a great one for you this week.  A month or two back I attended a personal training meeting where I work, at the YWCA in Vancouver and we were shown this fantastic video to strengthen your body in a neutral spine.  The short video is both an incredible stretch and an incredible subtle workout for all of your muscles that hold us up into proper posture.

I guarantee you are going to do this one and think two things:

  1.  Wow!  That was amazing.
  2. How on earth did those small simple movements feel so hard !?

I love this sequence so much because it really teaches people what a neutral spine is.  90 % of my day is correcting people’s spine positions that have become rounded and tucked under from sitting all day. Take a look at the photos below.  See how in the far left photo my waistband is sitting in a nice horizontal line (representing a neutral balanced pelvis)  In the photos on the right my waist band is tipping forward in the top photo and tipping back in the bottom photo, both of these positions represent non neutral spines and are associated with various muscle and movement dysfunctions.

This video is going to give you a clearer idea of where you are at in terms of building your neutral spine.

Give it a try, and post here to let me know how it goes.

I hope the guys from foundation training don’t mind me sharing their video.  You can find more of their resources here:

Prehabbing & Rehabbing the Knee

I have a soft spot for knees, because for the past 10 years I’ve been struggling to get my right knee in the game!  Every time I really get into running it starts to give me a lot of trouble.  My knee injury stems from the fact that my feet and calves are weak and dysfunctional, as well as some of the small muscles in my hip are weak.  Having knee problems is super common, and most of the time (unless you were tackled in a football game) the problem stems from chronic misuse of your movement and body.

Today’s video series are 4 examples of great exercises for the hips, butt, and core that will help to strengthen muscles that are very weak for people, especially people who have a nagging aching pain in the knees.

Remember, not all exercises are good for everyone, and these exercises might not target your specific knee issue.  Also remember that for everyone it is good to strengthen the hips, butt and core muscles, so knee injury or not- give them a try!


Introduction video:

Side stepping for hip strength:

Bridge kick outs for hip/core strength :

Glute kick backs for hip/core strength:

Glute lifts for glute strength :

Let me know how they go!


Programs Starting Next Week & More

Women on Weights Level 1


This program is designed for women who want to build confidence in using the machines, free weights, and cable systems to properly lift weights and build strength.  Each week you will be guided through a full body workout, and provided with an Ebook to follow along with training in between sessions.  The focus of the class will be on form, technique, and preparing you to create a program based on your goals.


Dates:  September 20th– October 25th  6-7 pm


Round 2:  November 1st– December 6th 6-7 pm


$150 per person- limited to 8 registrants.


Weight Lifting 2.0 (Co-Ed)

Are blog2you ready to get strong, fit, and lean?   Have you wanted to learn how to squat, deadlift, do a chin up or pull up, or do a proper bench press?  This 6-week class is designed for males and females to take their strength training, calorie burning, and whole body fitness to the next level.  Each week you will learn proper technique, followed by a challenging workout.

Dates:  September 20th– October 25th  7-8 pm


Round 2:  November 1st– December 6th 7-8 pm



 #5: Core and Posture Training.

Posture Course

blog3.pngPosture and body alignment is the basis to preventing injuries, decreasing aches and pains in the body, and getting the most out of your workouts and daily life.  Each individual body has developed different postural dysfunctions based on patterns, habits, sitting most of the day, footwear, moving in compromised positions, as well as many other factors.  Rounded shoulders, neck pain, tight muscles, and lower back pain may all be stemming from your body alignment.   By understanding your own postural dysfunctions you can stretch, foam roll, and strengthen yourself to an improved body position.  In this session you will learn about how to assess your posture, and then how to stretch and strengthen the areas you need corrected.  The 3-hour workshop is interactive, hands on, and very informative.


–  $45 for members, $50 for non members. 

October 15th from 2-5 pm.  

Call the YWCA Health and Fitness Centre at 604-895-5777 to register for all of these programs!


Race Recap: Cultus Lake Sprint Triathlon May 29th 2016

After finishing the Olympic Distance Triathlon in Kelowna last weekend I decided to go back and do a short write up on my race weekend back on May 29th at Cultus Lake where I did the sprint distance triathlon.  

I hope you enjoy the story.  I wrote it for family a few months back and seem to switch between third person and second person writing, don’t ask me why!

For Katherine’s first triathlon Katherine and Kyle drove up to Cultus Lake and spent the weekend camping at a nice campground right on a lake, and in between two major mountain ranges. This meant their entire camping weekend was NON STOP RAIN! They spent most of their time cooking under this tarp, and reading/playing games in the back of the truck. It was a very relaxing weekend….


Katherine was feeling pretty nervous before the race because the weather was SO crappy and rainy. She hadn’t ridden her new road bike in the rain before and was nervous that is was going to feel slippery. She was also nervous because she has never done an open water swim with goggles on in a wet suit before! She was worried she was going to be swimming along and see a giant fish underneath her! On top of that the rain came down so hard all night there wasn’t much opportunity for a good sleep.

In the end they got up in the morning and headed down to set up at the course. There are a lot of things to consider at a triathlon, so this took awhile.

Katherine decided to head down to the water and do a bit of a warm up swim to get used to the temperature.


You can see by her face she’s thinking “Oh boy, my feet are frozen already, what am I thinking getting into that water right now?”



But she went in anyways, focused and determined to get a feel for the water before the race started.



At first I couldn’t put my face in the water! Too cold. It was about 14 degree Celsius.


After my warm up, the rest of the group came to join to join to get ready for our start. There were 55 racers in my race.

One of those turned around faces is me- smiling for the camera!

Bobbing blue heads getting ready to go…..

And there they go! 750 m swim!

Katherine came in 20th out of 55 for the swim- in 16 minutes.

Now one of the biggest challenges, running in numb feet on cold ground to the transition area!



Kyle captured me gearing up for my bike ride:

And I’m off for the 20 km bike ride!

The bike ride didn’t go so well because I noticed as soon as I got on my bike that my back brake was not functioning correctly, and the slippery roads freaked me out. I lost some time here, but after some practice in the rain from now on I am sure I will do better next time.

Coming in from the bike ride and the race officials commented “Wow look at those big smiles”. I was having a great time!! The feet were EXTREMELY numb now though, making it challenging to hop off my bike and run into the transition area to get my run gear on! Next up was the run.



The 5 km run was pretty easy to get through considering these were the views I had to look at:


Here I am trucking down the final stretch to the finish! I felt really great in the race. I felt I could have pushed myself a lot harder, but didn’t really know what to expect because it was my first one.  Right near the end- 50 feet from the finish line I realized the clock was at 139:50 so I sprinted to the finish line to get in under 1:40!! You can see the funny look on my face as I realized this.

In the end I had a great time.   I was happy with my overall finish for my first race, and know I have a lot in the tank for the next one. Here is my collecting my medal for placing 3rd in my age group!  I clearly wore my best outfit for the event…


Geared up in all my hobo looking camping gear- I clearly hadn’t been expecting to have to be posing in front of the group as I got a medal! Happy to be a triathlete finisher and looking forward to the next one!  Overall I thought my time was ok- 1 hour and 39 minutes.  I realized I could have pushed myself a lot harder, and am looking forward to doing so in other races.  I was happy to have this race to get used to the elements etc.