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I’m working hard on my balance and stability for the upcoming Ski and Snow-board season, I’ve seen lots of Bosu’s in the gym. What do they do and will it help?

The Bosu Balance Trainer is an inflated rubber hemisphere attached to a rigid platform that looks like a stability ball cut in half. The name is an acronym that stands for “BOth Sides Up” — a reference to the two ways a BOSU ball can be positioned.
A Bosu is a fantastic piece of equipment and will definitely help with your balance and stability, mainly because of it’s versatility. Its unstable surface requires your core muscles especially the smaller stabilizer muscles that surround your joints — to work harder to keep you balanced.
The Bosu can be one of several pieces of equipment you use in your workout or it can serve as the  surface for your entire workout — either on the flat side or the dome side.  It can also aid in the rehabilitation of certain types of joint injuries.
USING THE BOSU: If you’re new to the Bosu, it’s a good idea to start by standing on either the dome side or the flat side to focus on and improve your balance. As your confidence grows, try different leg exercises or upper body exercises from a standing position.

The Bosu is also great for various oblique and core ab exercises. Normally, when you’re working your abs, you sit on the dome.

*CAUTION: while the Bosu’s unstable surface works your muscles harder, it also challenges your balance. Ask for help if your unsure of how to use it safely and correctly.

How Important is Stretching?

Ask the Expert: Dynamic Health and Fitness
Q.  I hate stretching – is it really that important?

A. In a word, YES!

Here’s what Dr.Frank Lipman, a leading New York health specialist, has to say about stretching:

I believe a lack of flexibility is the root cause or major contributing factor of many injuries and stretching is the solution to this lack of flexibility. It counters the gradual tightening and constriction we all develop from both under- and over-use of our body. It is the perfect antidote for long periods of inactivity and holding still and is just    about the simplest of all physical activities.

Regular stretching will:

  1. Decrease muscle tension, which is the most common cause of back and neck pains and headaches.
  2. Decrease the incidence of all types of injuries, from joint sprains to tendonitis to muscle strains and spasms.
  3. Speed up the recovery rate from injuries.
  4. Increase physical and mental relaxation.
  5. Improve performance of any skilled movement.
  6. Improve and increase body awareness.
  7. Slow the aging process.
  8. Enhance the neurological system.
  9. Improve circulation.
  10. Support the detox system.

Precautions – Don’t stretch an area if you:

  • Recently broke a bone.
  • Have an infection or inflammation in or around a joint involved with the stretch.
  • Experience sharp or acute pain with stretching or joint movements.
  • Recently had a sprain or strain in the area being stretched.
  • Have an unstable joint in the area.
  • Have osteoporosis.
  • Have any disease that needs medical approval before undertaking any new activity.”
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends stretching each of the major muscle groups at least two times a week for 60 seconds per exercise.

Burning Calories (or fat) to Lose Weight?

ASK AN EXPERT: Dynamic Health and Fitness
Q. How many calories do I need to burn to lose weight?
A. A pound of body fat equates to approximately 3,500 calories. If you burn 500 calories more than you eat each day, you will achieve a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories (or one pound of fat) over the period of a week.
So how do you burn that 500 calories per day? Let’s use ‘Bob’ as an example. Bob wants to get fit and trim. He’s tracked his food intake for a couple of weeks to figure out his average daily caloric intake (DCI) which is 2,500 calories per day. If Bob wants to achieve a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories per week, he can choose from three options:
1.  Reduce daily calorie in-take — Bob can reduce his DCI by 500 calories through simple steps like reducing his portion sizes — especially on servings of processed foods or foods containing saturated fats — and by skipping desserts like a 320-calorie slice of chocolate fudge cake! Health Canada’s food guide is a great resource for planning balanced, satisfying meals.
2.  Exercise — Generally speaking, it takes about one hour of moderate to high intensity exercise to burn 500 calories. Bob could jump on the elliptical, jog, walk the dog at a very brisk pace and/or work out using resistance training for an hour a day.
3.  Combined approach of diet and exercise — to achieve a daily calorie deficit of 500 calories, Bob can reduce his DCI by 250 calories/day and burn another 250 calories by add-ing 30 minutes of moderate to high intensity exercise to his daily routine. One thing to remember is 5lbs of muscle is leaner then 5lbs of fat so in Bob’s quest to become fit and trim, his goal should not be to lose weight — rather, he should focus on losing body fat!

Resistence Exercises

ASK AN EXPERT: Dynamic Health and Fitness
Q. What resistance exercises are most effective if I want to lose weight?
A. Your best bets for weight loss are compound exercises that simultaneously work more than one group of muscles (functional training) and more than one joint at a time. Don’t waste your time with biceps curls or seated calf raises (isolated exercises)working the larger muscles in your body will burn more calories. Try walking lunges and dumbbell squats to work most of your lower body and seated rowing or dumbbell chest presses even push-ups for your upper body.
If you’re ready for an even bigger challenge, try some full body exercises like Burpees and Daisy Chains — but be advised — while these exercises are great calorie and fat burners, they’re not for beginners. You can work your way up to them.

Sports Drinks and Electrolytes

ASK AN EXPERT: Dynamic Health and Fitness
Q. What are electrolytes and are they useful for training during summer months?
A. Electrolytes are minerals that dissolve in the body’s fluids, creating electrically charged ions like sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphate. They’re trace minerals, meaning we only need a tiny amount — but we need them nonetheless.
Our body fluids dissolve electrolytes (ions) to allow the flow (conduction) of electrical signals throughout the body to regulate nerve and muscle function and to maintain proper fluid balance and pH levels (to keep your blood from becoming too acidic or too alkaline).
We see lots of ads for sports drinks that boost/replenish your electrolytes and help you perform better. But do you really need them? Be honest with yourself. If your workout intensity is light to moderate or if you lift heavy weights just long enough to see some muscle definition in the mirror, then water will do just fine. Energy drinks that contain electrolytes also contain 46 grams of sugar — enough to replenish all the calories you just burned!
Sports drinks are made for the more high intensity/endurance fitness enthusiasts who are exercising for long periods of time (1-2+ hours) or in very hot conditions like the summer months, where sodium losses through sweat can be profound. The right electrolyte balance is very important to the healthy functioning of your body. If you’re concerned about your electrolyte intake, please consult your doctor.
You can maintain a healthy electrolyte balance by including these important electrolyte sources in your diet:
• Calcium (spinach) • Potassium (dried apricots) • Magnesium (pumpkin seeds) I speak from first hand experience — YOU NEED TO EAT THESE FOODS OR SUPPLEMENT YOUR DIET with vitamins that contain these trace minerals in order to maintain your electrolyte balance.

A Healthy Way of Losing Weight

ASK AN EXPERT: Dynamic Health and Fitness
Q. I want to lose a bit of weight before getting into my bathing suit for the summer. I’m doing cardio almost every day with minimal results. I don’t want to lift weights because I want to lose weight, not gain size. What would you suggest I change?
A. Cardiovascular exercises like walking, running and swimming get your heart rate elevated and you start to burn calories immediately. However, there are several factors that determine just how effective your cardio workout is in burning fat — namely: level of intensity, duration and frequency of your workouts and the type of exercise you’re doing.
To really optimize your results, I suggest adding resistance training to your cardio workout. This addition will help increase your lean body tissue without necessarily gaining bulk. The higher the proportion of lean tissue in your body, the faster your metabolic rate. In other words, your body becomes a more efficient “machine”, burning body fat for energy, not only during workouts but during your day-to-day activities.
If you haven’t tried resistance training, I suggest you start by seeking the advice of a professional personal trainer — someone who can help you develop a program tailored to your fitness capabilities and goals. Once you start, you should work your body in balance — front to back, left to right and top to bottom. Work your bigger muscles like glutes and quads harder than your smaller muscles like triceps and calves. Work up to an appropriate level of intensity so you’ll see the benefits of your efforts while avoiding injury.
Resistance training, along with cardio and flexibility training, is an important tool you should use in order to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. My fellow Dynamic Health and Fitness personal trainers and I can help you!


Staying on Track

ASK AN EXPERT: Dynamic Health and Fitness
Q.How do I stay on track through the spring and into the summer?
A. You can smell the barbecue, NHL playoffs have started, and your glued to your seat, refreshments are calling your name on the patios. It would be so easy just to put off that workout!
But take a moment and reflect how hard you’ve worked over the last six or seven months. Is it worth it to “take some time off?” Maybe not, if you are feeling a bit lazy, low and out of shape. With summer officially around the corner, we need to plan ahead and stay on track.
CONSISTENCY IS KEY. Don’t skip your workout just because it’s warm and sunny out — work it in with your other activities. If you’re an early riser, you can enjoy leisurely evenings on the patio because you got up early and worked out (don’t forget — Dynamic Health and Fitness is open at 5:30 a.m. on weekdays and 7:30 a.m. on weekends).
SPICE UP YOUR ROUTINE. The workout that challenged and shaped you last fall and into the winter may need a refresh. Ask any of us trainers to help you shake things up with a spring refresher that gives you results and the drive to stick to it.
MAKE A GOAL FOR YOURSELF. Sign up for a 10k fundraising walk, a 5k or 10k running race, an adventure race (Tough Mudder, Spartan) When we have a goal for our training, it makes hitting the Club easier. We can direct all our effort toward a tangible payoff — like your best time ever in your favorite challenge.
TAKE IT OUTSIDE. PLAY! Get out there, go for a run, play Frisbee, climb the Chief or do some push-ups in the park. When the weather’s this good, bi-weekly outdoor workouts and activities are the perfect complements to your indoor workouts at the Club.
So, in a nutshell, here’s how you make working out a fun habit in the spring/ summer — plan ahead, just do it, set some goals, take it outside and take time to relax and enjoy the sunny warmer weather — you will have earned it!

Benefits of a Health and Fitness Club vs. Fitness DVD’s

ASK AN EXPERT: Dynamic Health and Fitness
Q.What benefit does the gym have over working out at home to my Fitness Insanity DVD?
A. Home fitness workouts have been available on vinyl, videotape and DVD for ages — and most recently, “Gillian Michaels, px90” and “Insanity” have gained quite a following. Like good intentions though, onscreen home workouts are easily overlooked, ignored and/ or avoided in favour of playing with the kids, relaxing over a glass of wine or settling in for some screen time. On the other hand, a gym is structured to motivate you to get fit. It’s your second home — furnished with the right equipment, coaching and motivation you need to make your workout time well spent.
Check out the benefits of working out at the gym:
VARIETY: Even if you’re still not ‘feeling it’ when you walk into your gym, you can change up your routine. Not sure you want to use the weights or the cardio equipment? Try a class that suits your interest, fitness level and desired intensity.
EQUIPMENT: Home workout programs tend to rely on the use of body weight as the resistance element of your exercise. While always available and economical, body weight isn’t adjustable. You can adjust the settings on resistance machines to increase muscular strength and bone density, burn calories and tone muscles. Generally speaking, gym equipment like treadmills and ellipticals are more varied, shock absorbent and functional than their home grade equivalents.
ATMOSPHERE: When you don’t feel like it, it’s easy to put off your home workout. But if you promised a buddy you would meet at the gym after work, you’ll usually opt to keep your workout date. Even going solo doesn’t mean you won’t meet some great people — including a spotter when you need one! Sometimes a simple ‘hi’ from your fellow gym users can give you that spark that makes you glad you hit the gym instead of the fridge. Can your px90 DVD do that for you?
BEST OF BOTH: Mix home and gym. If your goal is to workout four times a week, alternate gym and home workouts. For some of us, knowing we have a choice makes it easier to do both. Check any fitness blog and you’ll see valid pros and cons for the home workout vs. gym debate. However, each side has a common theme — whether you choose home, gym or a combination of both, stick with your fitness program!

New Years Resolutions

Dynamic Health and Fitness
Q. Help! My new year’s resolution
to get trim and fit is about to crash and burn! The first couple of months of 2015 are almost over and everything’s going wrong — I’ve lost my motivation, the diet’s gone out the window and I didn’t hit the gym nearly as often as I planned. I’m ready to give up.
A. I feel for you — you’re in a tough place right now. But take heart — I have some ideas for you to get re-inspired and back on track:
INVOLVE A FRIEND: You probably know someone who’s struggling just like you. Ask around at the office, Facebook your friends or chat with a neighbour. I bet you’ll find a few takers for a friendly and motivating competition to get fit through diet and exercise. The bonus — you’ll achieve a more efficient and rewarding workout.
WRITE DOWN YOUR GOALS: Whether your goal is to lose that last ten pounds, tone up, increase muscle, run 5K or simply gain more energy,
WRITE IT DOWN. Stick that goal on your fridge or by your bedside table. Look at it everyday to remind you why you embarked on this journey. A bit of ‘external accountability’ never hurts either — tell your friends, family and partner about your goals as well. They’ll provide moral support, encouragement and compliments.
GIVE IT TIME: It’s only been a month since New Year’s. It took a while for you to gain the weight and/or lose your ideal fitness level — and it will take some time to reach your goal. In the meantime, don’t be distracted by the claims of rapid weight loss and toning programs. They’re not realistic and the results don’t last. Losing up to two pounds per week is achievable and safe. Find activities that you can incorporate into your routine. Before you know it, you’ll be losing inches and gaining definition in all the right places! Should you slip and eat that calorie-busting brownie, shake it off and hit the reset button.
GET A TRAINER: The trainers at Dynamic Health and Fitness have dealt with all different shapes, sizes and age groups and fitness goals — as well as the challenges to achieve them. It’s both their job and pleasure to keep you positive, motivated and supported as you achieve real, sustainable results. You’ll learn a lot and you’ll have fun too.
You can reach your goal. Try these tips, keep up the good work and remember that tried and true maxim: Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Let’s get started.