Archive | October, 2011

Workout Video Reviews

27 Oct

Here’s to you Jane Fonda, the all-time workout video queen!
Thanks for getting me started when I was 8 years old doing arm circles and leg kicks beside my dad, yes dad!

I’m both proud and slightly embarrassed to admit I was a loyal follower up until third year university, just ask my roommate who would come home in hysterics watching me squeeze my bum while pulsing up and down.

Jane must be doing something right though! Gosh if I look like that at 73 I’ll consider myself a lucky lady!

Over the past few years I’ve taken a big shift in my fitness and Jane unfortunately no longer satisfies my workout requirements. Below you’ll find a list of my new favourites and not so favourites.

Workout Video Reviews


Overall, a decent series. My boyfriend Matt did the 90 day challenge and was in great shape after it. I like the program, I believe the key here is the consistency, that’s what really helps you get in shape. I’ve personally only done a few of the workout volumes so here’s what I thought of them:

Plyometrics – in the beginning this KILLED me. I’m talking days, even weeks of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) – BRUTAL. Now it’s a total breeze… I find myself doing extra burpees during the rests. It’s a great intro to plyometrics aka “jump training”!

Yoga – awful, poor form and way too long. Also not challenging or relaxing, I found it an awkward inbetween and had to turn it off.

Cardio X – alright, got me sweating but I feel more after a 30 minute jog than completing the video.

Kenpo X – ridiculous … and that’s me saying that who will pretty much try anything in the name of a workout. Failing your arms around for 45 minutes will pretty much tire anyone out. Felt like it was doing nothing for me except nearly dislocating my shoulders.

P90x + Intervals – also a great workout. I like how the instructor offers 3 levels to the interval, a great way to gradually build up strength. Once you’ve done this one you can always skip right to the advanced variation which makes it more challenging.

P90x certainly helped me spice up my routine. I would recommend the series as a moderately challenging workout.


This one lives up to it’s name… absolutely INSANE! I still turn to the instructor, ex-track star, Sean T from time to time when I’m sick of listening to my own voice telling me what to do.

My favourite volume (and therefore the hardest) is the max interval plyo workout. Don’t attempt this unless you’re in great shape, have a crash cart nearby and a gallon of water to go through during the workout!

At first I found it hard not to get discouraged watching this workout. If you’re working out with these for the first time expect to be really bad and you won’t be disheartened … as a general rule for myself if a workout video is easy the first time then it won’t do anything for me long term.

“Get Fit or Get Out” – Sean T

Physique 57

Well I thought, if these worked for Kelly Ripa, it will work for me.

Overall it’s a good workout, not great but good. I recommend this series to older female clients who want a relatively tough workout that combines resistance training and cardio.

I like that the instructors move through the workout quickly. Most of the exercises are very creative. I’ve taken elements from these DVDs and worked them into my program.

If you’re just starting a workout program this is a good place to begin.

Tracy Anderson

When I was starting to get more serious about my workout regime Tracy Anderson appeared on the market. Despite my initial hesitations I purchased two DVDs: Dance Aerobics and Mat Workout. I learned that I should trust my instincts.
In the intro Tracy states that we would all benefit from and hour of dance and an hour of mat work each day. If you work out for 2 hours 6 days a week doing anything you’ll see changes. I think there are way more effective ways to achieve your goals!

Dance Aerobics: First Tracy is not a natural video instructor, she looks insecure when she does talk, which is rare and the production feels very amateur. The dances were tough to master to say the least. The choreography was way too challenging for me, a once total devotee to aerobics, to keep up with. After 5-6 separate attempts I was not able to complete the entire workout (1 hour and 10 minutes). If you’re a dancer you might love it. For me and other mere mortals I had to park this one on the shelf.

Mat: If I start a workout and I’m not sweating within the first 4 minutes something is up. If I don’t sweat after 50 minutes it’s not working. This video just didn’t cut it for me. Like the dance aerobics it was poorly instructed, almost zero motivational encouragement. In terms of results, besides my shoulders after what felt like Jane Fonda on steroid arm circle series I felt nothing the next day.

Overall would not recommend this workout series.

Do you have any favourites? Please let me know so I can try them!

My Favourite Online Workout Resources

26 Oct

So a lot of my best ideas for designing workouts come when I’m browsing online. Here’s a list of some of my favourites!

Map My Run – an excellent route planner to scout out new running routes. I love using this when I’m visiting new places to make sure I am on the right track!

Running Room – has some routes already to go for you! Just click on your closest store location (where all the routes start) and the routes are organized by their different distance options.

Interval Timer – perfect for doing interval workouts! Set your interval, rest and number of rounds you plan to complete and you’re good to go! I love my interval timer but this is a great option just in case.

Music Playlist – this is the perfect accompaniment to the interval timer. Grooveshark has popular songs organized at the top of their item list but you can get pretty much any type of music. When I’m doing interval workouts near my computer it’s great to have your playlist ready and it’s much easier than downloading music on your Ipod.

Zuzana – LOVE her! Excuse the cleavage and loud panting though… once you get past that this website is packed with awesome exercise ideas. Great to add some intensity to your workouts and keep things interesting!

Cookbook Review: My Father’s Daughter by Gwyneth Paltrow

25 Oct

I am a HUGE fan of this cookbook!

The recipes are creative, yet straightforward and very healthy!

The book itself is beautiful and reads like a story of Gwyneth’s life through food. I’ve always liked Gwyneth but after reading this book and cooking recipes from it I have a new found respect for her dedication to her passions.

Any recipe that isn’t too healthy Gwyneth offers a healthy alternative- so smart! There is a great chart at the front explaining the benefits of alternative ingredients.

“Invest in what’s real. Clean as you go. Drink while you cook. Make it fun. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It will be what it will be.” – Gwyneth Paltrow

Recipes I’ve tried:

Hot Salad Nicose


With fall in full bloom and winter around the corner this is an excellent alternative to my favourite summer salad, the cold salad nicose.

This has become an easy go to dinner for us! It’s all done in one pan and if I don’t have tuna steaks I replace it with salmon – Delicious!

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Fudgy Chocolate Brownies – (Gluten free and no added sugar!)

These are AMAZING!

The best thing about these little wonders is they are made with spelt flour, maple syrup and agave nectar – gluten friendly and absolutely no added sugar!

I’ve made many “mock” brownies in the past with dates, cottage cheese, apple sauce, etc. but nothing compares to these. I think I like them even more than the real version!


I wonder if they are still healthy if you eat the entire pan?! Opps!

Happy eating!

Bottom Line: If you love simply decadent food that’s both delicious and nutritious you will love this book!

Click on Gwyneth to purchase:

CHEK Nightmare

23 Oct

Alarm bells were ringing in my head all weekend.

I signed up for Paul Chek’s holistic lifestyle-coaching course under the impression that this would be helpful to my clients. The recommendations made over the weekend were astoundingly false. The most disturbing part of this weekend was within this group of 30 “students” we are all encouraged to practice and share “knowledge” after this one weekend course. We are licensed CHEK coaches in 3 days.

There’s a saying in science to describe the liberties pseudosciences take that goes something like this…

Ducks quack: fact

A duck is a bird: fact

All ducks are birds: fact

If all ducks are birds then all birds quack: extension

This course was quacking loudly all weekend.

The first quack came when our instructor, Emma Lane, a naturopath from England told us that she managed to cure a man who was wheelchair ridden simply by having his mercury tooth fillings removed. The class oooowwwed and awwwed like she was a god.

She had them hooked.

Next she confidently stated that since she’s a trained practitioner Lane regularly prescribes super doses of vitamin D. The FDA sets the upper tolerable intake level at 4,000 IU per day.  Lane prescribes up to 50,000 IU to her patients. 12x the tolerable limit – YIKES. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which makes it extremely toxic because, unlike water-soluble vitamins your body can’t excrete excess easily.

We were next given the CHEK Metabolic Typing diet, or sorry not a diet a ‘lifestyle’ with restricted food items done on an 8-12 week schedule. Based on a 10-item metabolic typing questionnaire we were grouped into protein, mixed or carbohydrate groups. If you happen to fall in the protein type category, as I did, we were told that healthy breakfasts could consist of 6-8 chicken thighs fried in ½ pound of butter. Yum. Oh and it all better be certified organic.

Metabolic typing is not a new concept. A dentist invented it in the 1970s. This dentist had cancer and was apparently able to cure his cancer by following a high protein diet. Although he was cured his wife soon became very sick. From this tiny sample group the dentist came to the conclusion that everyone needs to eat slightly differently. What they neglected to mention in class was this dentist was arrested, multiple times sued for malpractice and stripped of his practicing rights. And 30 years later his science was “awakened” by Chek.

Over the last few years I’ve observed that one common way the naturopathic world endeavors to establish credibility is to regularly take digs at the allopathic, or traditional medical world. This weekend multiple digs were made toward western medicine. The most consistent dig was the fact that MDs regularly prescribe meds and that’s all they want to do. In my personal experience that couldn’t be further from the truth. My MD has always made sure antibiotics are the last course of action. MDs do not make money off their prescriptions arguably, they lose money. It is in a medical doctor’s best interest to keep their patients healthy, they are paid more by OHIP to do so.

Conversely, naturopaths and holistic practitioners make huge margins off drops and vitamins. If you’ve ever been to one you’ll likely walk out with a cocktail of your “essentials”: a 20-pill morning mix. This weekend our instructor regularly referenced her websites where she sells products she’s endorsed. We were also sold these “technology canceling” necklaces conveniently available at the front of the room for $95 a piece. Bottom line here is natural practitioners are not without alternative agendas, as they would often have you believe.

My final comment from this weekend is Chek’s zone exercises for working “in” energy. We are encouraged to tell our clients who come to see us who are overweight what they really need is to build up their chi for 6-8 weeks before they start to workout. We were taught simple movements from breathing in to bending over. My comment as a trainer is good luck with that chi, come see me when you’re done.

Overall my consistent emotion throughout this weekend was disappointment and fear for the future of health care. I was genuinely excited to take part in this “advanced exercise education” course.

To anyone thinking about seeking out a CHEK practitioner I caution you to be very wary. After completing the certification, I wouldn’t go near a CHEK practitioner for all the organic tea in China.