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Meeting One of my Fitness Idols

Hi everybody!  For all my American friends, I hope you had a lovely Memorial Day.  Here in Canada last weekend was our long May weekend so it was business as usual for me today.

Yesterday (Sunday) I spent the day in Halifax at the CanFitPro Fitness Conference.  CanFitPro is our largest fitness certifying body in Canada, and is the organization I have my Fitness Instructor certification from.  This conference is held annually for all us fitness professionals to obtain our CEC’s (Continuing Education Credits) in our to maintain our certifications.  I actually had already taken enough courses over the past two years that I didn’t need to attend, but it’s always a very informative day, and I love me some new ideas so off I went!

I started the day in a session called Step Tonic.  It is a different type of step class where you spend 3 minutes learning dance steps (only 8 counts are taught over the 3 minutes), followed by 2 minutes of a boot camp styled power move to really get your heart rate up there.  You do this for 40 minutes (so 8-5 minute blocks) and at the end you put all of your dance moves together for a final “show”.  I loved it.  It was dance-y, and I got a serious sweat on from the power moves.  The only real issue I see (for me) is I think it would be an extremely difficult type of class to teach without a mirrored wall.  The dance moves we learned weren’t super hard but I think it was really helpful for us to watch the instructor facing away from us to see her footwork exactly, and because of the mirrors she could still keep an eye on us.  The class is marketed as the step class “anyone” can “get” and I think they could – if you have a mirrored wall, if you don’t this would qualify as a semi-moderate difficulty.  Any of my Acadia girls that are reading – I think you guys could handle it no problem, but for beginners not really used to step, it would be a bit harder.  I found a little promo video on youtube of steptonic so you can get a better idea of what it’s like.

I’m not 100% sure but I think the blond instructor in the first half of the clip is the same girl I took my session with yesterday.  I really liked her!

From there I went on to a few different lectures and a yoga session, but there was really only one session I could think about….

a lecture by Krista Popowich

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I’m sure very few of you outside of the fitness industry know who she is, so here is a brief bio I’ve taken from her profile on ideafit.com:

Krista Popowych, B.HK is an international presenter on group fitness, personal training, indoor cycling and management. As a two-time Canadian Presenter of the Year recipient (2008 & 2003), Krista is a passionate fitness professional who inspires others through movement and education. As an Adidas sponsored athlete, Krista holds numerous certifications, is featured on various DVD’s and has both hosted & co-hosted fitness TV. She sits on IDEA’s Fitness Committee as well as Can-Fit-Pro’s advisory panel.

The other bit of information you need to know is back when I first took my Fitness Instructor Certification course, prior to completing my practical they encouraged us to find a local fitness instructor to mentor us, to give us guidance, and just generally help prepare us to teach classes.  I didn’t have a mentor.  I had quit my full time office job to become a fitness instructor, had didn’t have a lot of money to travel the 30 minutes each way to take classes from someone, never mind the actual cost of taking the classes.  So, I improvised.  I started taping the Caribbean Workout (which happened to be during the time Krista was hosting) on OLN twice a day and every afternoon would do the two workouts from that day and would analyze how she cued, wrote down different step, ho/lo and kickboxing combos she used, learned proper form when executing strength training exercises, etc.  Essentially, Krista was my mentor.

Okay back to yesterday, lots of times at these sessions you don’t really get a chance to talk one-on-one with the presenter, but I went early in hopes that I would get the chance to meet her before or after the session.  I lucked out.  She came in the room and actually went around to every person and introduced herself and shook hands with everyone.  When she got to me I was totally tongue tied.  I *tried* to tell her how she was my “virtual” mentor while preparing for my practical and I totally tripped all over my words.  On top of that I was looking like a hot mess from being all sweaty and gross all day (by the way – she had been teaching spin sessions all day and came in dressed in a dress and knee high boots looking absolutely perfect – what’s that all about!?) so I’m sure she thought I was a total goof ball.

Oh well, I still got to meet her, and talk to her, and shake her hand.  I would have been a total nerd and taken my camera to get my picture taken with her but we were told cameras were not allowed (although I saw a number of people taking photos and video taping sections of sessions all day – which was totally forbidden) but considering how nasty I looked, this is probably best.

I tried to find a clip of Krista on the Caribbean Workout on youtube, but I couldn’t.  If you want to see her in action here is a video of her from another workout video/series she was involved in:

Sidenote: I have also taken sessions with the feller on the left Geoff Bagshaw, he is a really fab presenter too, and the other gal is Sharon Mann whom I haven’t met.

So that is my celebrity story of sorts.  I guess you could liken it to meeting your favourite sports star or something of that nature.

Now to get myself to NYC to meet Tara

Question:

Have you ever met one of your favourite stars/idols/etc?  If you have please tell me you acted like a goober like I’m sure I did!!  When I head to Florida in July for the Zumba convention one of my sessions is with Gina Grant (who is one of my fav Zumba peeps) so I have a good chance of meeting her – and acting like a goober all over again.  :/

One last tidbit:

This past weekend we celebrated our annual “Apple Blossom Celebration” here in the Valley.  The Apple Blossom Parade was on Saturday and is the 3rd largest parade in all of Canada.  I did not go to the Parade.  I missed Brandon Walker (otherwise known as Jason Priestley).  Honestly, the most exciting person I ever saw in that parade was Dini PettyLynette @ My Wee View saw him though and got a good picture you can see it here.  I think he was the Parade Grand Marshall or something – his TV Show “Call Me Fitz” is was shot right here in the valley, and clearly my husband and I are two of the last people who actually WANT to see him that haven’t.  Sheesh.

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An Intro to Zumba Toning

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A few weeks ago I mentioned that I had received my license for Zumba Toning.   As this is a new Zumba format to Nova Scotia (the training I went to was the first held in the Atlantic provinces – anyone who held the license prior to that had travelled elsewhere to obtain it), and is still quite new in general, I thought a “What’s what” post on Zumba toning was in order.

Before we get started take a minute to watch this promo video…

What makes Zumba Toning different?

In a nut shell, the main difference between a regular Zumba class and a Zumba Toning class is the addition and focus on strength training exercises within the dances, as well as the addition of toning sticks.  This type of class will not give you the aerobic workout you know and expect from regular Zumba classes, but instead works on circuit training (a few minutes of cardio followed by a few minutes of strength training) which creates a higher calorie burn than strength training alone, offers some cardiovascular exercise and because it is still Zumba – it’s FUN!

What are Toning Sticks?

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The Zumba Toning Sticks are a pair of light weights (they come in 1lb and 2.5lb weights) that are typically used during a Zumba toning class.  They are weighted with sand that allows you to shake the weight without the jarring to the body that would happen with a regular dumbbell.  They are soft (so easy to hold on to) and they make a sound like a maraca when you sake them which makes them all the more fun 😉

You are able to use light hand weights instead of the toning sticks in a Zumba toning class, but because hand weights are hard metal (as apposed to the flowing sand that is inside the toning sticks) you won’t be able to do all of the moves and truly the fun factor goes down a few degrees.  The toning sticks aren’t expensive, so they are totally worth it (IMO) for the fun factor alone.  If you do go the hand weight route, you should never go above a 3lb weight (more on that in a minute).

Will it make me bulk up?

The truth is there are very few women who “bulk up” easily.  To gain a pound of muscle takes an incredible amount of work and heavy weight training.  The bottom line is, the weight amounts used in a Zumba Toning class are much too low to create muscle mass.  The name “Zumba Toning” says it all, this class is meant to create a toned look – not a bulky look, and isn’t that what most women are looking for?  The appearance of toned muscles especially in the arms, legs and core?  In addition to the toning effects, it also helps to improve your posture, balance, coordination, agility, bone density, joint mobility – and lots more.

Is this workout for me?

As with any type of workout, Zumba Toning is not for everyone.  If you have any known medical or physical conditions you should consult your physician before undertaking any new or different exercise program.  He or she knows you situation best and can advise you whether a Zumba Toning class is appropriate for you.

Assuming you are a healthy and injury-free individual, who loves going to Zumba – does that mean Zumba Toning will be a good fit for you?  Not necessarily.  Zumba toning requires a whole new level of coordination and mind/body connection.  If you are interested in attending a Zumba Toning class you first step should be asking your regular Zumba instructor if he/she thinks you are ready to try Zumba Toning.  Certainly that doesn’t mean you absolutely need their approval before attending a class, or that you have to be a Zumba regular before taking up Zumba Toning but both are a good idea.

Zumba Toning without the sticks

Another option is Zumba Toning without the toning sticks.  If your instructor feels you may not be quite ready to add the toning sticks to the workout they may suggest you attend the class and participate weight-free.  You’re still going to get a great workout, and they are doing it for your own safety, not to single you out.  The addition of weights (even light weights) requires you pay close attention to your range of motion, working in a controlled environment to avoid injury.  You may find that your instructor asks all new participants to take the class without the sticks the first time so that they can observe you in action to make sure you won’t injure yourself when you do add the weights.

Know Your Instructor

The last thing I want talk about is your instructor.  Many people don’t realize this but to become a Zumba instructor you do not need to be a health or fitness professional.  Anyone can walk in off the street and take the 8 hour workshop and leave a licensed Zumba instructor.  While that is concerning enough for regular Zumba classes, in order to become a licensed Zumba Toning instructor, the only pre-requisite is that you are a licensed Zumba instructor.  So that means on a Saturday you could technically take the Zumba licensing workshop, and then turnaround and take the Zumba Toning workshop on Sunday and by Monday morning be licensed to teach both classes.  This is scary because that means you have had very, very, very limited anatomy training, no real testing to ensure you are capable of teaching a safe and effective class, and in fact – no testing at all.

Please, please, please, make sure your Zumba Toning instructor is a certified fitness professional.  Find out if your instructor is a Personal Trainer, Fitness Instructor, Dance teacher, etc.  If their only credential is that they took the training workshops think twice about taking their class.  I’m not for a second saying that there aren’t insanely awesome instructors that can dance and teach circles around me.  I’m saying that there are undoubtedly instructors out there that don’t really know what they are doing.  That are teaching unsafe movements at unsafe speeds in their Zumba toning classes.  If they are serious about their profession they will take the time to become a professional.  If they aren’t willing to take the time and effort to become certified – do you want to put your body literally in their hands?

At my training workshop there were 30-35 Zumba instructors there, and only 6 of us were certified instructors or personal trainers.  There was actually one person at the end of the day who asked how they could find out about upper body exercises because the only ones they know are a bicep curl, the shoulder press and shoulder raise.  This was at th end of the day, 5 minutes before they were given their license to teach a weighed exercise class.

Be wary.  Ask your instructor what their credentials are – if they are a professional they won’t mind you asking.  If they aren’t – well, wouldn’t you like to know before you put your body in jeopardy?

So there you have it!  A little insight to one of the new*er* fitness classes out there.  What do you think?  Is Zumba toning something you would like to try?

Is there another type of class or workout you are interested in learning more about?

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Semi-Raw Chocolate Macaroons

Today was a lovely lazy day here, so what’s a girl to do? Make some macaroons of course! 😀

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A few people have asked for my recipe, and I was waiting until I perfected it to my liking before giving it out and I do believe I am now pretty happy with my recipe so here you go:

Ingredients

Directions

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Obviously if you have a dehydrator that is the preferable method to dehydrate the cookies but it’s good to know they are still easily made even without a dehydrator.

I’ve read that some people find they can dry them by leaving them on the counter over night or in the refrigerator.  I’ve tried both methods and found that the cookies remained too wet and fell apart too easily when I tried those methods.

Wondering about the food stats?  Well these are certainly not to be considered health food but compared to many other cookies they measure up pretty well.

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The fat content is fairly high but that is due to the coconut oil which is a very health oil, but each cookie has nearly a full gram of fibre and protein, only 3.5g of sugar and around 60 calories.  Not too bad!

One thing the nutrition facts chart doesn’t cover – taste, and baby these ‘roons are yummy!  In fact I think it’s time to go have one 😉

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You Have to Learn to Walk Before You Can Run

I’m not sure how accurate this statement is since I’ve seen lots of babies that could run before they could walk, but when talking about running I think it rings true. 

Today’s topic is courteous of Tracy who sent me an e-mail earlier this week asking:

“How would you recommend I start a running program for myself?  I’m definitely a beginner runner, but not out of shape.”

The funny thing about running is it seems like it should be so easy.  I mean you’re running for heaven’s sake! Humans have been running well, ever since there were humans – and we’ve all seen the Kenyans running in marathons looking like gazelles because they move so smoothly and making it look absolutely effortless.  It makes you wonder why when you run a mile or two your so out of breath you feel like you’re going to die!

So many people automatically assume they should be good at any sport they try simple because they are active and in good shape.  Well that’s just silly.  Just because you’re a good skater doesn’t mean you’re going to be a good cyclist (unless, of course, your name is Clara Hughes), and the same goes for running.  Whenever you take up a new sport or activity there is a learning curve, and running is no different.  Even though it seems like the easiest and simplest of activities, as with anything you need to start slowly.

Certainly being active and in good shape will make running easier for you than someone who is out of shape and inactive, but you should both be starting out with the same program, the only difference is the fitter person will probably cover more distance in the same time span as the less fit person.

Many people decide one day that they want to become active and take up running right out of the gate.  These are the people that often find themselves discouraged or injured not long afterwards.  Before even starting to run, you should be able to walk 4 miles in an hour give or take 5 minutes or so.  If walking a 15 minute mile winds you, then you should probably stick with walking a little longer until you’ve built up your stamina.

Assuming you can walk a 15 minute mile without much difficulty, you should be able to safely start to add in some running intervals.  I have always found a walk/run combination to be the best when starting out, here’s the program I normally use or give to people when they want to begin running:

Week 1 Run 1 minute/walk 1 min x 10 = 20 minutes total

Week 2 Run 2 minutes/Walk 1 minute x 7 = 21 minutes total

Week 3 Run 3 minutes/Walk 1 minute x 5 = 20 minutes total

Week 4 Run 4 minutes/Walk 1 minute x 4 = 20 minutes total

Week 5 Run 5 minutes/Walk 1 minute x 4 = 24 minutes total

Week 6 Run 6 minute/Walk 1 minute x 3 = 21 minutes total

Week 7 Run 7 minutes/Walk 1 minute x 3 = 24 minutes total

Week 8 Run 8 minutes/Walk 1 x 2 = 18 minutes total

Week 9 Run 9 minutes/Walk 1 x 2 = 20 minutes total

Begin each run/walk with a 10 minute walking warm-up and then a 10 minute cool down afterwards taking you to approximately a 40 minute workout each time.  remember to stretch afterwards.  If you are looking for some examples check these out

Complete the weekly run/walk workout 3x before moving on to the next week.  Don’t be afraid to repeat a week a few times until you are ready to move on and don’t be afraid to play around with the run/walk ratios to make it work better for you.  Maybe at week 4 you feel like running 2 minutes/walking 30 seconds a time, or something along those lines.  It’s your workout, make any alterations you need to, to make it work for you!

Another good program that runs along these same lines is the Couch to 5k from Cool Running. I know lots of people who have used this program successfully as a starting point for learning how to run so you may want to check it out as well.

To avoid running injuries (Runner’s kneeITB Issues, etc.) try to plan your runs for non-consecutive days.  Many of these injuries are overuse injuries and for new runners can set in very early on if not careful.  Also make sure to wear a pair of good fitting running sneakers.  If you’re serious about becoming a runner go to a specialty running store and get fitted for a pair of sneakers.  A good running store will analyze your gait (take your old sneakers with you so they can take a look at the soles to check for a wear pattern), fit you for a proper fitting pair of sneakers and even get you to run around the store so they can see if the shoes fit properly.  Believe me, although they might be a bit more expensive than your local shoe store, the information you get will be invaluable and your feet, knees and legs will really thank you!

Above all, enjoy yourself.  Running can be a very freeing experience, many runners say they do their best thinking while they run (personally I do my best thinking in the bathtub) and can’t function without their daily jog.  Having said that, running isn’t for everyone.  If you try it and discover you hate running , don’t do it anymore. Want to know a secret? I hate spinning.  Everything about it.  I tried it once at a fitness conference and my ass was sore from that seat for days.  I loath spinning classes, so I don’t go to them, and I’m pretty sure nobody thinks less of me because of it. 

I’ll leave you with this thought.  Many people debate over the difference between running and jogging.  Some say it’s based on your speed and whether or not you take walking breaks, some say it’s whether you have more of an upward thrust versus a forward thrust, but I identify with the group that believe this:

A runner is someone who has a goal in mind when they run (time, distance, whatever) while a jogger is just out there jogging for the sake of jogging.

Any runners out there that have some more (or better!) advice for Tracy, please post a comment – I’ll make sure she gets to see it.

As always, please feel free to ask me your fitness or exercise questions – I love questions!

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