Thursday, 25 April 2019

New Year, New Me (2019)

Have you ever started the new year with a ton of motivation, and a feeling of a fresh start. That feeling that almost anything is possible. Starting at the gym, budgeting, eating well and finally spending time on you! The hope, the enjoyment and the excitement...

All to have it fall apart by February. Ending up back in the same old patterns as before, lacking motivation to continue on with your goals, and having these years resolutions fall by the wayside. 

Well enough is enough! Time to make and sustain that change. 

These next few blogs are going to highlight different things to think about and different changes to make to help you change the way you look at your resolutions, and stick with them this time around, because lets face it... you deserve it! 

New Year, New Me? Let's make it happen!

Part 1: Resolutions

The fitness industry is a funny place. Many fitness instructors and leaders are dead set in a black and white mentality of this is right, and this is wrong. Unfortunately, that can lead to highly biased opinions and mislead consumers, cause lets face it... we wouldn’t buy a program that MIGHT work for us, versus a program advertised that WILL work for us.

One example of a term that’s been getting beaten up over the past several years is the term “Resolution” especially around New Years.

“Don’t make resolution’s... make goals!” is a common term you will hear from almost ANY fitness instructor come the new year, including yours truly. But why? Why is it that Resolutions are now the enemy?

The common thought process behind why resolutions aren’t great is that they are too generalized, they don’t add any structure, and that they don’t work long term. When we look at it that way, resolutions don’t sound like the best way to go when making a lifestyle change. Even in practice they seem to not work very well, think back to last new years and what resolutions we may have made. Did we follow through on them? Did they last more than a month? Most likely not. So that must mean that resolutions are crap, and you’re better off not making them at all right?


Resolutions are fantastic to make. When we look at the definition of a Resolution, they are a “firm decision to do or not to do something”. When we make that decision that we want to make a change, whether that’s adding something into your lifestyle (exercise, water, etc.) or taking something out (bad nutrition habits, smoking, etc.) that’s the starting point of the process. We don’t implement a plan; we don’t set goals and we don’t see progress without first making a resolution to see that change. It’s the way we approach resolutions that need to change, not simply stopping the process of making resolutions. Resolutions should be the base that we set our goals for the year. If our resolution is to get in better shape this new year, then we can start to make action plans on how to accomplish that. It really is a trickle-down affect from that ultimate vision of what you want to accomplish throughout the year, and then applying strategies to accomplishing it.

Long story short… Goals and Resolutions are ultimately the same thing. So next new years, make a resolution, make a goal, make action plans but most importantly take action towards those plans. We can have the best plan in place to see change but unless we put that into action, we’ll never see the changes we want.

Part 2: The Starting Point

Why is it that we always seem to start something on a Sunday? Or the First of the Month? Or the start of the New Year?

The fitness industry is keen on promoting the “don’t wait, start now” mentality, but why do so many of us wait to get started?

While I’ll never claim to be a psychologist and know for sure (this is all based off prior experience), there’s something to be said about having a clearly defined, set time frame to make a change, that just helps us get started. Mentally, this gives us a chance to prepare for change, and be ready to make that jump.

Let’s start with the example of starting to go to the gym. If we know exactly what day we are going to start (and commit to it!) then it gives us an opportunity to prepare, get some new shoes, new workout clothes, a water bottle, look up a workout plan, and visualize how that experience is going to go. It gives us time to ask around about the facility we’ve decided on, so we have a better idea of where things are or how things work. Mentally, we feel more prepared when we first step into the gym. Yes, there will still be nerves and a bit of anxiousness if we’ve never been there before, but once we get going that will dissipate very quickly.

Another benefit of being able to prepare is that we have one date that we know we need to get started with. We know exactly what time/day we need to be at the gym, so instead of saying “I’ll go tomorrow” time and time again, we are able to commit to the date selected.

There is no other prime example of this time specific starting date, then short term programs. They are by far the most popular programs, and one of the most successful in terms of the results we can see in a short time frame. One of the biggest reasons why people have so much success? “It had a specific start and end date”.

But this isn’t just for fitness, this is applied in a lot of ways through our lives. How many of us have started a budget at the beginning of the month? Who’s rent comes out at the same time every month? Do you do your grocery shopping on Sunday? Do you have a clear time you need to be at work? We do this because it helps us think ahead, it helps us track things better, or because we just need that structured accountability in our minds to get us there.

So whatever change you are looking to make, use this tool to help yourself. While its great to be an action taker and do things at the spur of the moment, that’s not how everyone works. Look at your calendar and pick a date you are getting started, then get started!

Part 3: Priorities

Every new year, gyms get flooded with new members looking to finally make that change this New Year and be a healthier version of themselves. But come the end of January, many of these individuals are no longer going to the gym. They’ve fallen off, lost motivation, or simply stopped going all together. But why does this happen? Why do people start with so many great intentions but don’t follow through?

Let’s take a step back and think about why we got started in the first place. Most of us start a physical activity routine because we know we should in order to lose weight, lose inches and be healthier. We want to look and feel better than we do now. So, if we want it, why don’t we stick with it?

It’s quite simple, but we have a hard time admitting it. The reason why we don’t stick with it? It’s not a priority to us, compared to other things in our life.

We need to prioritize the time we spend on ourselves to go to the gym. We need to prioritize getting that gym session in before or after work when all we want to do is hit the snooze button, or head home to chill out on the couch (and most of us aren’t getting up once we get there!). It means eating more fruits and veggies rather than chips and ice-cream. Drinking more water than pop, juice or beer. All of which can be a very tough change.

So how the hell can we end up sticking with it all?

It starts with really diving deep and thinking about what we want from being active, and why it’s important to us.

Here’s a quick example (and trust me, sometimes this conversation goes a lot longer, and is much harder to admit too):

I Want to get started so you can lose weight?
Awesome! Why do you want to lose weight?
To fit better in my clothing.
Why do you want to fit in your clothing better?
To feel better about myself.
Why do you want to feel better about yourself?
Because I want to feel confident, healthy and happy about my appearance.


So, what is more motivating for us to go to the gym? Because they want to lose weight? Or because they want to feel more confident, healthy and happy about themselves? When we are honest about what we want to achieve, we will be more motivated to go and get it done. Relying on motivation won’t keep us going all the time but using those motivated times to establish strong habits will.

We need to remember why we are wanting to make this change and why it’s important to us, not just doing it because we should, but doing it because we want to see a change in our lives. When we do that, we can stay motivated, and make this new year resolution one that works.

Part 4: Top 5 Things You Can Do

Ready to finally get started on achieving your New Years Resolutions? Well, we have the top 5 tips to help you achieve the success you are looking for!

1. Have a clearly defined goal that means something personal

We need to think of what we want to accomplish, and why we want to accomplish it. Is it “Just cause” or is there a purpose to this ultimate vision of what we want to achieve? If there is a reason behind our goals, we are going to be much more likely to follow through on these changes not just short term, but long term as well.

We can’t be general in our goals either, we need to come up with very specific goals that we can clearly set up our action plans for (the S.M.A.R.T. goal structure is the best to go here). “Being fit” is not a good goal, an alternative to that (depending on the goal) may be being able to do a 5km run by September or being able to do 10 pullups in a row in 10 weeks from now. These are clearly defined goals, with a result we are looking for, and a deadline that we need to accomplish it by. If we hit it or not, it gives us an opportunity to see how we are progressing. Which comes to my next point…

2. Come up with a step-by-step plan 

Once you know exactly what you want to achieve, we need a plan to go about achieving it. Unfortunately, the following doesn’t work:

“Step 1 – Workout
Step 2 – Have a Six Pack”

As you can see, there are a few steps missing between step 1 and step 2. We need to come up with a realistic and effective step-by-step plan towards the results we want to achieve. A lot of times this is where we can get stuck, or we aren’t sure what we need to adjust to see the changes that we want to see. This is where either professional help or a deep look at what we are doing (plus some tracking) can come in to help us realize what we are doing, so we can make the change necessary to see our goals.

We want to think about this like fractions in math (I know... yucky!), we want to break this down to the lowest number possible. We need to take our action plans from five-tenths to one half. If our action plan is to workout, then you better know how many times per week, how long, what you are doing for those exercises and have a way to track your progress. We want every detail of this action plan written down because then it gives you exact guidelines on what to do to get to where you want to be.

Let’s use the example from point 1, 10 pullups in 10 weeks:

Step 1
- Do 1 pull-up 5x per week.
- Stretch back muscles 1x per week for 5 minutes.

Step 2
- Do 2 Pull-ups in a row 5x per week
- Stretch back muscles 2x per week for 5 minutes

Step 3
- Do 3 Pull-ups in a row 2x per week
- Do 2 Pull-ups 3x in a row per week
- Stretch back muscles 3x per week for 5 minutes


Now you can see we have much more structure week to week, we know exactly what we need to accomplish, or we at least must have a goal to accomplish this. If we don’t hit it, we can reassess and try again next week. This gives us a vision of where we are going to get to, and how we are going to get there.

3. Create a support system 

What good is all this without people around who are going to help us rather than hinder our progress? If we’ve done all this planning and all this preparing just for someone to sabotage us, what’s the point of all this? We need people in our lives who are going to help elevate or raise us up. Therefore, it is so important to share our goals with those around us. If your friends, co-workers and family members understand why we are making changes, and the importance of those changes to us they will hopefully support and help you along the way. When we don’t have peer pressure in our lives, it gives us much stronger “willpower” to avoid situations where we may fall off from our goals.

Unfortunately, not everyone will be supportive, and this is where we really must look at who we are spending time with. If people around us are saying things like “Oh just come for one drink, it won’t kill your diet” or “Skip the gym, you’ve been working hard all week”, then you might have some red flags. I’m not sitting here telling you to cut these kinds of people out of our lives, but it might be time to assess how much time you spend with those people. Unfortunately, subconsciously or not, some people will try to tear us down for trying to make that change in our lives. Sometimes others are jealous, sometimes people just want to stay in their own ways, but regardless of what it is, it will make this process harder for everyone involved.

This is where establishing some new support systems becomes important. Find new people with similar interests by taking some different classes around town, joining a walking/running group, join a recreational sports team or just get a friend or family member involved. Having someone to do it with, and that supports us every step in the way will make our goals much more achievable!

4. Track Everything 

We cannot make a change in our lifestyle, if we don’t really know what is happening. To make a change, we need to track what we do daily. This can include what we eat, our
physical activity, our water consumption, our screen time, our alcohol consumption and almost any other lifestyle habit we have. When we track and measure what we’ve done daily/weekly/monthly it gives us a realistic idea of where we are that’s on paper, and not relying on our memory. How many times have we all thought that we drank enough water throughout the day, when realistically we may have only had one or two cups?

When we track, we end up being honest about what we are taking in, which can show us what the real issues are, so we can make the adjustments necessary to see the changes that we want. If we are looking to make a real change this New Year, we need to track everything possible to build new habits and stay on track much more effectively.

5. Take Action 

Nike nailed it back when they made the slogan “Just Do It”. If we want to make a change, if we want to achieve something, if there is a goal we want; we just need to do it! We need to act, and not next week, not next month and definitely not next year. We need to change this crap today! Once you have that idea in place, get those goals on paper... build you plan of attack... tell people about what you are working on... start tracking what you want to change... then start making that change!

This should be the easiest step, but we all tend to procrastinate and put things off until the perfect moment, the perfect time or the perfect situation. News flash… there is never a perfect time to start anything. There always be a reason to NOT do something, but we need to find that reason to Just Do It.

Let’s make this the New Years we’ve always wanted it to be, by achieving our goals, hitting our resolutions and making that change in your lifestyle once and for all!

Rich Hill
CSEP - Certified Personal Trainer (2011-Current) 
General Manager - 360 Fitness Sherwood Park

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Monday, 17 September 2018

What Is The Best Diet For You? (2018)

Keto? Paleo? Fasting? Low Calorie?

Carb or No Carbs? Fats or No Fats?

It's a confusing world out there when it comes to nutrition. If you google "diets" there are over 738 Million results, in half a second!

As more and more people are becoming mindful of their midlines (which IS a great thing!) there are more and more people looking at their dietary intake. With that, there are new diets being create seemingly daily, which begs the question.. what is the best one for you?

This is the fun part about this industry. There are 100 ways to get to 1 destination, it's just finding which way works best for you! There are a couple of steps required to find the best nutrition plan for you. Some of these may seem obvious, some less so!

1. What do you want to achieve?

Goals are so important (check out my goal setting blog), and this should be the building block of your nutrition plan. Are you looking to loose weight? Build muscle? Improve performance?

All of these goals require a completely different approach to the nutritional side of things. You need to make sure you are fuelling your body for what you want to achieve. So you need to think about your ultimate vision of what you want to attain, and build your way to that.

2. Is it sustainable?

This is a big one when it comes to choosing a diet for you. This can make or break how you sustain the results you see! For example, if you are looking to lose 30 pounds and cut out all of your carbohydrates, and then achieve that goal, what do you think is going to happen when you go back to eating carbohydrates? You WILL gain weight back.

So, when looking at a meal plan that's going to work for you, you have to think about what is going to work for you in 10 years from now. If you want to cut out your carbs, if you want to not eat grains, or dairy or cut out whatever food you want, make sure that it's something you will be able to do! In my experiences, when people restrict the type of food they consume to see results, they end up battling with weight gain once they go off the restriction.

Now, this also comes with an asterisk when it comes loosing large amounts of weight. When someone is 100+ pounds overweight, then crash dieting will be effective in helping that person. They should still be thinking about long term changes, but short term for health is important

3. Research, Read and Learn!

When looking at different diets it's important to look deep into how this diet will affect the body short term, but long term as well.  Far too often I hear people say "I'm doing 'X' diet, my friend has dropped 20ilbs doing it!", which is great for that friend but as the old adage goes.. if your friend jumped off a bridge, would you do it to?

People who are excited about their results cannot wait to tell you about them, and companies will go to far lengths to show you why their diet is the best, and you should follow theirs versus their competition, it is a business after all. What people/companies won't tell you about, are the possible side effects or negatives certain diets can have, and trust me when I say.. there are downfalls and negatives to EVERY diet!

Eating 5x per day is time consuming. Fasting all day can be very tough to work around. Cutting out alcohol can affect your social life. No carbs means no pizza!

These are all very surface level problems, but you get what I mean! Learn the pro's about the diet, but don't put your head in the sand... learn the con's as well!

4. Fuel Your Body

Regardless of what program you are doing you need to make sure your body is getting the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients it needs on a daily basis. This also means getting in an adequate amount of calories per day to allow your body to grow. Typically anything that recommends you eat less the your Resting Metabolic Rate (Or Basil Metabolic Rate aka BMR) is a bad idea. You want to make sure you are at least eating enough to sustain proper body function on a daily basis.

If you want to go in-depth with this, getting your body fat percentage calculated is very useful in determining this number. You can do this test in a number of ways, but keep in mind that this is an approximation of your need calorie intake, it will not be 100% as there are a number of factors that play into metabolic rate.

Back to the original point though, if you are going to be restricting different types of food, you want to ensure you are getting those nutrients from other sources. Vegans need to find alternative sources for complete protein, restricting carbohydrates can lead to lack of fibre or certain vitamins, etc. Some times supplements may be needed to help out! Keep that in mind.

5. Stick With It

Whatever plan you pick, it's important to see it through. Stick with it and be realistic with your expectations. We don't gain 20ilbs overnight, we won't lose 20ilbs over night either. It takes time, it takes effort and it takes some form of sacrifice (see my previous blog on sacrifice). Be honest with yourself, and give it a good honest try. Far too often people will bounce around from plan to plan claiming none of them work, but we have to stick it out.

If you feel like you're not seeing results on that plan, start tracking everything you take in. Most likely you'll find that you may be not following it as closely as you think. Or if you've given it an honest try, maybe it's just not the right fit for you.

So there you have it team, a couple of pointers to help find the best diet for you. In reality though, the best diet and the best meal plan you can have is the one you will actually follow.

Thanks for reading along, if you like this content please share it, comment below and subscribe. Until next time, see yah in the gym!

Rich Hill
CSEP - Certified Personal Trainer (2011-Current) 
General Manager - 360 Fitness Sherwood Park

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Check me out on Twitter & Instagram @RS_Hill

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Movie Night: How to Work Towards Your Goals & Enjoy Your Night Out (2017)

I think it's fair to say the large majority of us enjoy going to the movies. Being able to watch the newest flick everyone is buzzing about on the big screen can allow you to escape this crazy world for a few hours and be a fun, thrilling or down right terrifying experience (in a good way... depending on the movie).

But did you know that your night out at the movies may be setting you back when it comes to your fitness goals? Shocking right? That might not come as a huge surprise, but it might be more impactful then you previously thought. Well have no fear, content reader, I'm hear to be your superhero today and give you a few tips and tricks on how to make your night out at the movies as fun, and healthy as possible.

Let's assess the dangers first:

1. Food/Drink

This is the more obvious danger of attending your favourite Cinema, yet one of the most tempting. When you think of the movie theatre you think of that sweet smell of fresh popcorn and have memories of washing that salty, buttery popcorn with a nice cold soda pop. Now that is the biggest trap of them all, it's not unusual for theatres to vent out the air from their lobby outside the front doors so you immediately begin to think and crave popcorn base off the smell, and memory receptors. Remember the story of Pavlov's Dog? It's kinda the same thing. Keep in mind, movie theatres make a large majority of their money off of concession sales (up to 85% of their revenue!) so they want you to buy that popcorn!

"But I thought popcorn isn't that bad for you"

Well kind reader, you're not wrong there but it's all in moderation, and how it's prepared. Air-Popped Popcorn with light salt and light butter will be fine at home. A large popcorn at your old movie house however, can pack up to 1200 calories if you decide to have butter... add in a large pop and you're going to be taking in over 1500 calories in a sitting. That is a whole days worth of calories for most people in the span of about 2 hours! I don't think I need to say much about the candies at the films; I will only remind everyone that these candies are pure sugar, will spike your insulin (not good) and if not used by the body almost immediately, will begin to be stored as body fat (also not good).

Some Cinema's will have more full meals available for purchase, but those will only do more damage than it will any good. With calories ranging from about 500-900 per meal item, and each one with a skyrocketing 1000mg+ of Sodium. One of the best bets you'd have is to go for the Chicken Tenders for about 350 calories (yet they still have 14g of fat, 30g of carbs to go along with the 26g of protein).

(Source: &

2. Non-activity

What can I say? There is nothing healthy about being seated for long periods of times. The average film length has steadily increased by a small percentage since the 1980's with the average film clocking in over 120 minutes or 2 hours long. While the movies themselves really aren't getting dramatically longer, the time we spend in the old film house  has. Think back to the last time you rushed into a movie, thinking your late because your ticket said 7:30 and you got there at 7:35, yet you come in to still be watching TV ads... then movie trailers (about 3-5 per movie) THEN we get to the actual movie. While your movie "starts" at 7:30, it really starts at about 7:45, maybe even 8 if you get a big budget blockbuster.


Combine the almost 1500 calories people will consume during their cinematic experience, with the nearly 2.5 hours of staying seated (unless you REALLY have to go pee) makes for quiet the toxic environment for trying to lose body fat or gain muscle.

3. Posture Wrecker

Newer Theater's will have seats that allow you to lean back, to enjoy your movie in the most comfortable position possible, however the most comfortable position is typically the worst for your posture.

This position will cause people to slouch, which will create more strain on the lower back, a rounded upper back, which can lead to shoulder and rotator cuff injuries, and reduce blood flow throughout the body. Being able to sit in proper posture (if you're reading this I'm sure a few of you propped yourself up just now.. good start!) with the shoulders rolled back, feet flat on the floor, butt back in the seat and arms being able to relax by your sides is how we want to be seated for long periods of time.

So those are the 3 main issues you'll have when you go on your next movie date, so what can you do about them? Well, I have you covered!

1. Eat before you go

Have a homemade meal or snack prior to going to the movie. Having something to eat will lower your hunger cravings and ensure you don't overeat or crave the food at the movies.

2. Stay hydrated

Many people will avoid drinking water prior to the movie because they do not want to have to run to the washroom, but staying hydrated will once again reduce the feeling of hunger you may have but it also ensures your body is digesting food properly, ensuring that your body is still getting a proper nutrient distribution, blood flows easier, prevents headaches and keeps your muscles fluid so when you stand up, you're less likely to have muscle soreness from being seated.

Bonus tip: Take smaller sips of your water during the movie to prevent having to rush to the washroom and missing your movie!

3. Enjoy yourself.. in moderation

Again, the popcorn you're getting at the movie isn't as healthy as the air-popped stuff you make at home. BUT that doesn't mean you have to completely stay away from it, but keep moderation in mind and order the smaller sizes. Having a small popcorn will still have 400 calories, but if you avoid butter, it's going to be a better alternative then your other options. I would recommend completely avoiding any soft drinks, as the liquid calories & sugar content will absorb much quicker and be much more damaging. If you're looking for a different alternative, most movie theatres will have Vitamin Water available, that will be slightly flavoured and keep you hydrated.

4. Plan your day and do some P.A.

When you're planning on seeing the latest, greatest that hollywood (or bollywood if that's your thing) has to offer make sure you plan your day. If you're going to be seated for 2 hours (or more) you should really plan on going for a walk, run, swim or workout at some point throughout the day to make up for that inactivity. Keep the blood flowing and get a nice sweat on so you can enjoy the movie that much more.

5. Sit up..and Sit Right!

As I mentioned before the posture we use as we are sitting in the big comfy chairs can cause a lot of different postural issues. Don't let yourself get sucked into the slouching trap. Sit up right, but also constantly remind yourself to keep your core tight, and engage your glutes throughout the movie (bum squeeze!). This can help prevent hip or lower back pain. Avoid putting your feet up on a chair or crossing your legs as that puts the hips and hip flexors in a more damaging position.

Well, that's all folks! There are 5 tips for you to survive and thrive during your next movie going experience. Don't avoid going out to the movies, everyone needs to enjoy life and not have to hide from fun situations. With a little pre-planning and willpower you'll knock it out of the park and see great results moving forward!

In Summery: 
- Stick to smaller popcorn sizes
- Avoid Pop
- Be prepared, eat before
- Stay hydrated
- Plan a workout
- Sit up straight

Questions? Comment Below! 

Rich Hill
CSEP - Certified Personal Trainer (2011-Current) 
General Manager - 360 Fitness Sherwood Park

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Check me out on Twitter & Instagram @RS_Hill

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Dark vs Milk - How Chocolate Can Be Good For You (2017)

Did you know chocolate might not be as bad for you as you think? 

It all comes down to the TYPE of chocolate you are having. Today I am going to compare some of the differences between Milk Chocolate vs. Dark Chocolate

Many people will scoff at the idea of eating Dark Chocolate. "It's too bitter" is the go to when people don't like it, but that is because Dark Chocolate isn't loaded with added Sugar to make it taste better. Milk Chocolate tastes so sweet, because it has almost over 5x as much sugar per serving than it's dark counter part. That bitterness, which is how cocoa actually tastes, will be lessened the more frequently you have dark chocolate compared to milk chocolate. 

Not only will Dark Chocolate have less sugar, it has significantly more fibre per serving as well, which has been shown to slow down the digestive process and limit the release of insulin inside the body. This is important because with the simple sugars being released from Milk Chocolate will spike insulin levels, which over time can lead to metabolic syndrome, or more commonly, Diabetes. This will also help with hunger satisfaction levels as well. 

While Dark Chocolate has more calories per serving, it is a higher quality option by having less ingredients, less sugar, more fibre, more protein and more nutrients (Antioxidants & Iron) than the alternative. Dark Chocolate will also have more fat, but those fatty-acids have been shown to lower your bad cholesterol (LDL) and boost your good cholesterol (HDL) which can help prevent cardiovascular decease and help increase blood flow throughout the body. 

So next time you get that sweets craving for chocolate, don't pick up a your typical chocolate bar, go find one with at least 85% dark chocolate. Of course, watch your portions. Anything can be bad for you if you eat too much! 

If you have any questions about Dark vs Milk Chocolate include them below and I will do our best to answer for you!

Rich Hill
CSEP - Certified Personal Trainer (2011-Current) 
General Manager - 360 Fitness Sherwood Park

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Check me out on Twitter & Instagram @RS_Hill

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Maybe Personal Training Is Not For You... (2017)

Working with a Personal Trainer can be a great tool to help individuals reach their goal by offering accountability, structure and support in a health and wellness routine. Personal Trainers all over the world are helping people lose weight, improve athletic performance or rehabilitate injuries, but working with a trainer doesn't guarantee results. While trainers can set up a program, prescribe a nutrition plan and help come up with goals to help people reach their goals, it's up to those people to follow through with the program and do the work.

Now, there are programs that simply don't work, trainers who aren't great coaches or don't have the proper education to handle certain situations. It's not all on the client, that's for sure. There are however some very important factors that can ruin a training program before it even begins. So, save yourself some money and read my 4 reasons that personal training might not be for you:

1. Change

This one seems pretty straight forward but needs to be discussed. We've heard it time and time again, where clients will be disappointed with the results they've seen, yet haven't made any new changes. As trainers explain time and time again why certain lifestyle choices (ahem, Wine) are going to be counter productive towards their goals, and yet they continue to make the choice to do it. At a certain point, coaches can only take their clients so far, that client needs to take that step to make that change themselves, otherwise they will consistently be disappointed by their results. As clients see more success and lower their body fat percentage, they will need to continue to make changes if they want to continue to see results. Some clients will see initial changes by just being more physically active alone, others will need to watch their nutritional habits, while others will need to be very strict and regimented with their lifestyle choices. For working with weight loss clients I can tell you, there are a lot harder changes to get the last 10ilbs off, then the first 10ilbs. If someone thinks they can spend money to magically see results, they have another thing coming.

2. Know-It-All

I'm not going to sit here and say I know everything, or every trainer knows everything there is to do about fitness and health. Clients should do their research and learn about their body as much as possible. In saying that, there is a difference between being an educated individual and a know-it-all. As a client, people need to understand that they are coming to a trainer for help, and while they should NOT blindly follow what their trainer tells them, they should at least have an open mind to what they are saying. Again, when searching out for a trainer, that is a way for an individual to be searching for help. If clients are unwilling to open up to new ideas to help them achieve the results they are attempting to reach, then working with a trainer isn't going to help them because they will not take the advice they are given.

3. Priority

This point ties in nicely with point 1. People come to personal trainers for a number of different reasons. They want to lose weight, gain muscle, build confidence or prevent illness. Sometimes, however, the change people are looking to make doesn't quite line up with their current priorities. While most people would like to shed a couple extra pounds, they are too focused on their work career, family life, friend commitments, etc. to really commit to making a change. Seeing results needs to become a priority for someone to see big changes. Once their goal is a true priority to them, they will be more willing to sacrifice in different areas of their life. These don't have to be major sacrifices (depending on what their lifestyle looks like) but even small ones will come with less resistance. Again, the trainer can put the best program in the world in front of any client, but it comes down to them making it a priority to follow through.

4. Why?

One of the biggest things that can defeat someone right off the bat, is not knowing why they are going to see a trainer, or better yet not having a clear goal in mind. If a client truly wants to see changes in themselves, they need an idea of what they expect to get out of their time with a trainer, and WHY they want to see that change. There have been many times I've worked with clients who just want to "Get Fit" - very vague goal - yet never see changes, because they are doing what they think they should be doing, instead of really wanting or knowing why they are doing it. In some situations, it becomes more of a status situation, where individuals just want to brag about "Seeing a trainer" yet don't put in the effort in or outside of their sessions. Again, the key to seeing a trainer is having a goal you'd like to achieve and having a reason why it is now important to you (which will help with point 3 and in turn point 1)

Again, these are just a few things to consider before reaching out to a trainer for help. Everyone has different struggles, different successes and have different needs, but working with a trainer can be a great start for individuals who have an open mind, are willing to commit and have a goal they want/need to achieve. It's not easy, but it's a lot easier with guidance, coaching, and accountability

If you have any other questions, please comment below!

Rich Hill
CSEP - Certified Personal Trainer (2011-Current) 
General Manager - 360 Fitness Sherwood Park

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Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Travel Fit: Stay On Track On The Go (2017)

Vacations, while relaxing, can be extremely hard when you're on a health and wellness plan. Typically on vacation we over indulge, get out of our regular sleep patterns, workout routines and consume more alcohol. The trip itself can be hard enough, but getting back on track can be even harder. With that being said, I've come up with some tips to help you stay on track, and get back on track after vacation.

1. Don’t Stress – It’s a Vacation

- Enjoy your vacation: One of the biggest thing we see from many clients is a fear of taking a step back while on vacation. Other stresses include work projects, family/friend issues, school, pets and much more. Keep in mind, you work hard for most of the year, you booked the vacation to get away, so make sure you get away. The more you stress about things, the less you’ll enjoy your vacation and it will actually affect your waist line. When you’re more stressed out, your body will be more likely to store body fat.

Let’s get into some tips:

- Disconnect: You’re in a new, exotic place. It’s time to get away from home, work and everything that comes along with it. To disconnect you need to get off social media (who care what Steve is doing, your on vacation!), get away from your e-mails and turn off your cell phone. Be in the moment, be present and enjoy the different sights, sounds and experiences that your vacation will give you.

- Keep an Open Schedule: Don’t over schedule your vacation. While it’s great to have an idea of what you want to do during the vacation, you need to manage your time. While it’s great to rush out and see every possible landmark or tourist attraction during the trip; how nice is it to be able to sleep in? How nice is it to lay by the beach, or go for a sporadic hike? Why stress about getting to bed early to get up at 6am every day and spend all your time on a tour bus, train or boat and not have a chance to unwind. Make a loose agenda, prioritize and be able to enjoy your vacation. This should help with the feeling of needing a vacation from your vacation.  

2. Stay Active

- Try Different Activities: Vacations are a chance to go to new and exciting places so you want to utilize it as much as possible by trying new things and using your environment to the full benefit. Going to Banff? Plan a hike or go cross country skiing. Going on a cruise? Take a fitness class, jump in the pool or use a rock climbing wall (yes they have them on cruises). Going all-inclusive? Go on a walking tour, snorkelling, go dancing or play some beach sports.

- Equipment need: Do you need a full gym set up? Squat Rack? Cable machine? Absolutely not! Find easy to do exercises and utilize your own body weight. Squats, lunges, pushups, burpees, and the majority of core and cardio exercises don’t require any equipment, but you can also find easy to use equipment you can pack away such as resistance bands to add a bit more variety to your routine. Looking for a cardio burst? Ditch the treadmill and run in the sand or in the water to add in more muscular engagement which gets you sweating more.

- Small Changes: Being active isn’t just the exercise side of things, it’s making more changes to the lifestyle. This means that you take the stairs instead of the elevator/escalators, biking to locations rather than cabbing, and carrying your bag instead of always using the cart.

- Frequency: This will depend on the length of your vacation, but you should be aiming to get some type of physical activity the majority of time you’re there. Typically looking to get a quick workout in every second day of your vacation for 15-30 minutes. Keep the intensity high, time short and go to work

3. Nutrition


- Water is one of the most well know, underutilized aspects of your health and wellness. Drinking water helps with your digestion, muscle recovery, blood flow and skin/hair/nail health. Staying at an adequate hydration level can be tough in everyday life, which makes it an afterthought during vacations but this is one of the most important (and easiest) parts of your vacation nutrition. With added physical activity, hotter or humid climates and increased intake in sodium and alcohol your body will be starving for water.  Now when dehydrated, your body has a hard time distinguishing thirst, from hunger; so, when an individual is dehydrated, they are much more likely to overeat. Not only that, but the decrease in water slows down the nutrient absorption rate through the blood stream and the speed in which those nutrients get to the cells to give the body more energy. I could go on all night about why water is good for you, but it will keep you energetic, help keep your skin healthy, prevent headaches or sunstroke and prevent any type of bloating throughout your trip.

- It’s recommended to aim for about 3 litres of water per day on an average day. Aiming for more while on vacation is ideal, so make sure to invest in a good water bottle, and know how many it will take to hit your goal. Keep it full!

- Bonus: Make sure to keep drinking water before, during and after your flights. The low humidity can cause dry skin, sore or bloated extremities, dry eyes, nausea and can lead to an increased risk of catching colds. Keep drinking your water, even if you have to use the wash room more frequent.

Food Choices

- This will be another area that will take a bit more time but very important. I’ll try to come up with more general ideas and leave some time for some question later.

- You are on vacation, you need to keep moderation in your back pocket, and sample delectable foods, don’t just go to town on them. At buffets, don’t load up your plate, take an adequate amount for you. When time comes for dessert, pick one and enjoy it. If you want to try out multiples, split them between friends. You wont need all the sugar, regardless of what your goal is! Try to keep the treats to 1x per day as well.

- Enjoy the local foods. These are fresh and going to be prepared while you are there. Just like at home, avoid the fast foods as they are usually the unhealthy options. While at these restaurants, be mindful of your sides with what meal option you are picking. If you’re having a burger, you’ll be getting more than enough carbohydrates with the bun, so instead of the fries, the veggies or green salad would be a better pick. Having a steak?  You might have a bit more freedom. Remember, these things add up!

- Pack up some snacks (and eat them). Eating throughout the day will help keep your energy levels and ensure you don’t overeat at other meals. Stopping at a convenience store and picking up some fruit, nuts, beef jerky or precut veggies and carry them around in your bags!

- Plan ahead. Research where you are going, the food options in those areas and review some of the places to go eat. Get a good idea of what to expect and make a bit of a strategy for the trip.

- You’re on vacation, enjoy yourself! Remember, moderation is the key. Eat until you feel comfortable, don’t eat until you’re full. Most the keys to success don’t differ much while on vacation than your everyday life, except for the fact you can’t meal prep. Again, questions will be opened up a bit later!


- This is a big part to the nutrition side of vacations. While eating a couple different meals here and there is fine, it’s the alcohol consumption that does the real damage. This is my time to be the bad guy. The more you can cut out your alcohol consumption, the more likely you will be to maintain or lose weight on your vacation. Alcohol essentially slows down your metabolism and becomes the priority for your body to metabolize. All other calroies that come on during that time are going to essentially be stored as body fat. Your energy levels will fall as well due to the empty calories from the alcohol, and it will dehydrate you. Now it’s not all doom and gloom. Here are some tips to help you still have some fun, but not go too overboard.

- For starters, Use our previous tips to help out. Drink your water, stay active, and eat throughout the day so the alcohol doesn’t have as big as an effect.

- Avoid sugary drinks, drink water between drinks, press your drinks & maintain the moderation mindset.

4. Pre-Planning (pre & post)

- Like anything else, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. So before going on your vacation, prepare for when you come back as well. It’s a common issue we see around the gym all the time, a client goes away on vacation but doesn’t get back on track until weeks later. Why? Because they are not prepared, and don’t have a plan for when they come back. So how do we combat that? We pre-plan!

- Have your meal choices all picked out for the week you return and have a grocery list ready to roll for when you get back. If you have this done ahead of time, it takes away having to motivate yourself to make these things after you get home and all you want to do is lay on your couch/bed or start playing catch up for your every day life.

- Freeze 2-3 meals before leaving on your trip. Having a few meals already prepared will help prevent the trips to the fast food restaurants or the pre-made, crap filled meals from the grocery store. This gives you something to eat when you get home, and possibly the next day if you don’t have a chance to get groceries.

- Hydrate, hydrate and hydrate some more.

- Catch up on some sleep! Staying up late and not sleeping in your normal sleep pattern can affect your appetite and how your body processes food. Sleep is essential to producing hormones in your body to repair muscles, improve metabolism and keep your body & mind healthy.

- Prioritize! What is more important? Is doing Laundry immediately after coming back from vacation then going to the grocery store? Do you NEED to unpack everything that first day rather than get a goodnight sleep? Are your e-mails, Facebook notifications, or text messages going to disappear if you don’t answer them as soon as you get home? There is only so much time we have in a day, we need to use it productively otherwise our health and wellness will take a back seat again, and it will be much harder to get back on track & see the results you’d like to see.

 In Summery:
-        Moderation Mindset
-        Disconnect from technology and enjoy your surroundings
-        Stay active – go for walks, hikes, swims, workouts, whatever is most appealing to you!
-        Drink water, stay hydrated
-        Preplan for your post vacation
-        Relax! It’s a vacation 

Rich Hill
CSEP - Certified Personal Trainer (2011-Current) 
General Manager - 360 Fitness Sherwood Park

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Thursday, 23 March 2017

Staying Healthy At Your Desk Job (2017)

Spend All Day Here? This Is For You

A large majority of the population is currently spending most of their day in a sedentary position. Spending nearly 8 hours a day at a desk can do great damage to a person's posture, waist line and overall health. 

Get up more frequently
Getting up and stretching your legs is an easy way to create a healthier work place. Getting up every 30 mins for a quick walk around the office or a stretching break will increase productivity and increase blood flow throughout the body, in turn, creating more energy. Use this time to be screen free as it’s also been shown that every 20 minutes the eyes need a screen break to reduce eye strain.

Stretch to decrease pain
Sitting at a desk for long periods of time can put a lot of strain on your back, wrists and neck. Implementing a stretching plan throughout the day to loosen up these muscles will help dramatically. Ensure that you stretch through the Traps to prevent headaches, Wrist to prevent carpel tunnel then stretch the Glutes, Hip Flexors and Hamstrings to help with the low back pain.

Drink More Water
Canadians on average are dehydrated throughout the day. This dehydration can cause fatigue, headaches, “fuzzy brain”, troubles with short term memory and can affect both mood, and hunger. The body has a hard time determining if it’s hungry or thirsty which can lead to a lot of unnecessary snacking. Aiming to drink 3 Litres of water daily is optimal to keep the body functioning properly and efficiently (and increase your walking through the day...bathroom breaks)

Desk Posture
Desk posture is extremely important. Some key tips to remember are:
·      Keep you chin pulled back to keep your head over top of your neck (don’t reach forward with the head)
·      Keep the keyboard & mouse at a comfortable arms length away
·      Keep your shoulder blades against the back of your chair at all times (no slouching!)
·      Have an arm support at all times to keep your shoulders at a comfortable level
·      Have a wrist support for keyboarding and your mouse
·      Keep both feet firmly places on the floor. If they don’t reach the floor comfortably, get a foot rest.

Eat Small Snack throughout the day
Eating throughout the day is extremely important to keeping your energy levels high through the day. Calories are the fuel that keep our body moving and energetic! Aiming to have a well balanced breakfast, lunch and dinner with 2 snacks containing a carbohydrate and either a fat or protein is extremely important.

To Determine approximately how many calories you should be eating a day (minimum) use the follow formula:

Body Weight x   10 (men) or 9 (women)  = Resting Metabolic rate

Aim for about 40% of your calories from Protein, 30% Carbs (startches/fruit) and 20% Fats. With the remaining 10% from veggies (or more)

Strengthen Your Body and Cardiovascular system
With long bouts of sitting throughout the day we want to make sure we are strengthening our core and joints. This can prevent injuries from occurring, it will increase lean muscle mass which increase your metabolism, energy levels and overall strength. This is especially important for the core to prevent lower back pain. Normally we recommend 3 days per week of resistance training, with 2 extra days of cardiovascular training. These sessions don’t need to be hours on hand, 30-40minutes will be more than enough to notice big differences.

By implementing the previous 6 tips, you can increase your energy at work, decrease physical pain and increase your overall health levels. Try to implement 1 or 2 of these habits at a time to help make the transition to a healthier work day much more easy. Small, every day changes can lead to big changes in your body composition, mood and overall health levels.  

Rich Hill
CSEP - Certified Personal Trainer (2011-Current) 
General Manager - 360 Fitness Sherwood Park

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