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Top 10 Fitness Trends of 2010

 According to the American College of Sports Medicine’s Heath & Fitness Journal survey, these are the top ten “Fitness Trends for 2010”. A trend is defined as “a general development or change in a situation or the way people are behaving” and is not the same as a fad. Along with each trend, I will mention a few of the current “fads” that may go along with the general tendencies or trends.

    1.    For 2008 through to 2010, the first and foremost trend is that of educated and experienced fitness professionals. This means that there are certification and education programs that are fully “accredited” by third party organizations and these lead to recognized designations. In Canada, this might involve carrying a degree from a university in kinesiology or “exercise science”. The graduate can then apply to be registered with the provincial College of Kinesiologists. Each province has it’s own recognized programs, in BC fr example, fitness professionals can gain certification for teaching  land-based or aquatic classes through BCRPA. Ask the trainers you are keen to work with what their certifications are. Do an internet search to find out if it is widely recognized. There is a very wide range of education and backgrounds and you should be informed.
    2.    Strength Training. While this was number 6 on the list of trends in 2007, it is now number 2, possibly as it is becoming common knowledge that increasing muscle mass helps with weight management and in rehabilitation to name but two benefits. This is where there is a broad range of WAYS to go about strength training, from weight-lifting at the gym (traditionally) to all the latest gadgets and classes that have been developed to alleviate boredom. The list for 2010 includes things like kettlebells and the TRX systems, which involves a system of webbing with handles attached firmly to a door or the ceiling using your own body weight as resistance!
    3.    A focus on childhood obesity. This issue has been making the news and is beginning to be seen as an issue in not only the US but in Canada as well.  Obese kids today will be the obese adults of tomorrow so there is an increased focus on programs designed to prevent this. Check out the TV program X-Weighted Families on Slice Network  to see what it takes to turn overweight families around- it’s a multifactorial approach.

    4.    Personal training now seems to be for everyone, not just the celebrities or the very well-off. Personal training requires a higher level of financial and personal commitment which, I suspect, helps foster accountability and results! The cost maybe higher but often the effectiveness of the workouts will also be much higher. Back to point number 2, find out what your potential trainers credentials are and ask them if they have experience working with clients like yourself (if you have any special requirements, ie. recently post-partum, recovering from cancer, have had surgery recently etc etc.)
    5.    Core training. This trend has been around a while now and describes the focus of exercise on strengthening of the back and abdominal muscles. The equipment could include BOSU balls, stability balls, foam rollers, wobble boards and the like. This is a form of strength training (as in #2) but it is thought that the focus on the abs and back muscles helps support the spine. From a physiotherapy perspective, this is not an absolute correlation, but that is an entirely different article and I won’t go into that here!
    6.    Special Fitness Programs for Older Adults– there’s no limit as to when you can benefit from exercise, so even at 70+, there are health benefits to exercise.
    7.     Functional Fitness. This refers to exercise programs that the reflect actual activities that someone might do during the day.
    8.     Sports-Specific Training.  Twist Conditioning has built a reputation in this area by providing products and training systems to build speed and coordination to name but a few benefits for sports like soccer and hockey. They are located in North Vancouver and offer programs for kids and adults alike who wish to improve their sports performance.
    9.   Pilates.  This form of exercise focuses on alignment, breathing, coordination and the entire body in progressively challenging positions and variations. Exercises can be done on a mat or with complex (and expensive) equipment. These exercises work well for clients recovering for various medical conditions but require highly trained teachers to get you to perform the exercises with the exactitude they require. Caution: It looks much easier than it is!
    10.    Group Personal Training. For the budget conscious, these sessions offer guidance in appropriate technique but with a social element. Groups can be small (as in 2-3 clients) making it more affordable but  still giving many of the benefits of a trained instructor who can give personalized exercises for the most efficiency in training.

So if you’re feeling bored  or stalled with your  exercise routine, this is what’s trendy on 2010. If you’re not sure how to proceed, talk to your favorite health practitioner.


Sue Shalanski BScPT

Registered Physical Therapist and Owner of Reach Physio Solutions in Squamish, BC


Want to be a lifelong exerciser?

Which describes you best? Are you someone who is active every day, without giving it much thought, or are you someone who jumps on a bandwagon of exercise for bouts at a time, in between periods of inactivity. I was very lucky to grow up being active nearly every day. I’ve remained this way pretty much throughout my life. If I’m unable to be active (due to injury, for example) I’m a bit lost, to be honest. But I know not everyone is driven this way about exercising.

It’s fairly commonly known that exercise has a multitude of health benefits. Not only does it help the immune system, it also improves our mood. So why do some people find it so hard to choose lifelong exercising habits?

One reason could be starting out a new exercise habit with too much volume or intensity. Depending on your age and past activity, this could be a recipe for injury. Injury leads to time off exercise, which leads to inactivity…a law of physics that I have never forgotten from high school was “a body at rest tends to STAY at rest” whereas “a body IN MOTION tends to stay in motion”. This is a bit of a mantra for me, when I start feeling a little sluggish. Slow motion is still motion! If you are just beginning to be active, start SLOW rather than blasting and then crashing!


An unfortunate finding from the America College of Sports Medicine is that 50% of people who begin an exercise plan drop out after 6 months. So what do the 50% of exercisers who sustain their exercise do differently?


Well, maybe they talk about exercise differently. Remember when you were a kid running around the neighborhood with friends, on bikes, building forts, making snow angels. Did you ever say “I HAVE to go out and play now” the way we might say “I HAVE to go to the gym after work”. Being active as a kid was natural and FUN. Is it possible to view exercise in your life as PLAY instead of more “work” to get done?


Becoming a lifelong exerciser is all about making it a habit that becomes integrated and natural. Experts say it takes 21 days to make a habit. I suspect it could take ONE day if you choose to accept the new habit as you. But if suddenly taking on a new persona isn’t you, and you’d prefer social support and a FUN focus, why not join our next 30 Day Challenge, starting May 3rd. Everyday we will have an exercise “event” you can attend. Group exercise and a goal (completing 30 minutes of activity for 30 days in a row) can be what will take you from being an “dabbler” in the world of exercise to a full fledged “fitness-freak”! Find out how to sign up for our event by clicking here.


Sue Shalanski

Registered Physiotherapist, Clinic Owner and regular exerciser

Turning up the intensity

A blog post should NEVER replace the advice of your health practitioner. Before considering any of the suggestions below,  consult someone who knows about how your body will adjust FIRST!

Ugh. The painful element of exercise…the BURN in the muscles, the struggle to breathe. It’s what’s necessary to get results and that’s such a kicker. It’s one of the aspects of exercise that deters many people. But if you’re seeking results in the form of improved fitness or some weight-loss from your exercise efforts, it is a necessary element.


It’s pretty straight forward-  walking faster burns more calories than walking slower- due to simple physics required to move a mass (the body) at a higher velocity/speed means more energy is being generated to propel the body! What also happens if the body registers a “challenge” (ie. the fatigue point you reach when you can’t possibly do another repetition) is that it prompts the build itself up after the activity to prepare for the next bout that might be tougher!


But HOW intense must it be? There was a trend that involved promotion of the “fat-burning” zone to be labeled on cardio equipment  a while back, which could be from 50-60% of max heart rate (we’ll get to that in a minute). People LOVED this because the intensity was very very comfortable. One would barely have to breathe hard. This was bliss, except that the “fat burning” would only happen if the exercise lasted for a LONG time (usually longer than the 20 minutes most people would use on cardio equipment but certainly acceptable for those new to exercise or better than NO EXERCISE, of course). It was thought that exercising too hard would only burn up carbohydrates, a fast burning fuel. More recently, we’ve come to learn that burning off fat requires more intensity than the 50-60% of max heart rate because OVERALL calories burnt is muc higher (and that’s great news given that we continue to burn calories AFTER the exercise is over at a more elevated rate too).


Now, I confess, I am not a exercise scientist but consider myself a “translator of the information” for the public (and my patients). What this all means to me is that we need to feel a little uncomfortable during exercise!


If you like to be a bit more technical than that, there are two ways (one electronic and one not) that I think can help you determine if you are working hard enough.


Way #1 (non technical) is to use THE BORG RATE OF PERCEIVED EXERTION SCALE. This is a scale from 6-20 that helps you personally “rate” the level of effort you are expending. It is well linked with heart rate so that adding a zero (so a score of 12 is equivalent to 120 beats per minute in heart rate). More info on heart rates comes a bit later. This link contains more detailed info on the Borg Scale.


Way #2 (technical) is to use a heart rate monitor. A heart rate monitor uses a strap around your chest to detect your heart rate and is transmitted wirelessly to a device shaped like a wrist watch for you to read. It’s instantaneous and quite accurate, depending on the model and can we worn during most activity even swimming. If you are “normal” (ha ha), your maximum heart rate can be estimated as 220-your age. This is then multiplied by the percentage you wish to work at (say 70%) and can be even set to beat when you are not exercise hard enough (this feature can be quite annoying). This is a great tool, if you can program a watch, you can use a heart rate monitor. Some are very fancy and can link to your computer, be uploaded to the internet, graphed out etc etc. A basic one can be about $90. Definitely get some advice from shop clerks in a specialty shop when purchasing (like a running or cycling shop) as the options/choice can be quite stunning.


A few caveats about intensity…if you are NEW to exercise or have any cardiovascular conditions or take certain medications, you may not be a good candidate for this kind of training and should stick to a personalized (ie. appropriate for you) program. The best thing to do would be to consult your physician then a  qualified exercise specialist such as a kinesiologist (one local Kinesiologist we recommend is Erica Otto) or a physical therapist to help you exercise safely at a level right for you. No need to get injured or worse yet, find yourself in the hospital undergoing stress-tests.


I encourage you to post your own suggestions below. Comments have a short delay before they appear so please be patient. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for next week’s post on breaking through a plateau in your fitness level.


Til then,


Sue Shalanski

Registered Physiotherapist

Clinic Owner of Reach Physio Solutions




Change it up!

Exercise Boredom got you?


Are YOU guilty of doing the same exercise routine day in and day out? I see this often in my practice as a physiotherapist in Squamish, BC. Some of us are creatures of habit but there are some good reasons to change it up once in a while. Here are some of them.

Being active is supposed to be a lifelong pursuit. Changing up an exercise routine helps to promote motivation and create a “lifestyle” of exercise. When I talk about doing the SAME exercises, I mean the exact moves, in the same order, using the same resistance, for the same number of reps week after week. For some, this has been going on for years. Routine is comfortable but not exactly going to move you to be excited and engaged about a life of physical activity, is it? TIP: Most regular exercise programs should change every 6 weeks to maximize benefits. If you are going to make the time to exercise, why not get the most benefit. Changing an exercise program can be as simple as modifying the order of your exercises, increasing some of the intensity or resistance as appropriate or changing the “form” the exercise takes (elastic bands instead of dumbbells is just one possibility). See below for 10 Ways to change things up.

Secondly, having a bit of variety to your routine can help you achieve your goals more quickly and effectively. Let’s say you plan on backpacking along the Inca Trail in Peru in six months (ie. considerable elevation) but your daily exercise routine is to walk (at sea level) on flat soft chip trails at a mellow pace for 45 minutes with a coffee in hand. To bridge the gap between your current activity and your goal, some variety is key. You could add some hills, some different/rocky terrain, some increased intensity, wearing a pack etc etc. This will help ease your body into increasing levels of fitness through a process called “adaptation” so that the anticipated activity isn’t a shock to the body!

Which brings me to the last of my “change it up” benefits and that has to do with creating new neural pathways. What is a neural pathway, you ask? Very good question. I like to use an analogy of an obscure trail in the woods that’s hard to pick out due to the branches covering the trail & the recent growth. As the trail gets used more and more, it becomes more defined and obvious to follow. Left for many years with heavy use, eventually it could become a super-highway if it is the most established point from A to B. This is how I see pathways developing between the cortex (where movement is “planned”) to the muscles (where movement is executed). Learning a new task or changing a skill challenges us by demanding that new neural pathways get created (the new path in the woods). We recruit muscles in different patterns, perhaps increasing our muscles mass being increasing its use. By moving in a new way, we might take our joints through different ranges of motion, which helps provide lubrication to the joint. This makes me think of the old adage “use it or lose it”. Creating new neural pathways may be able to keep your joints feeling younger and your muscles primed and ready for activity!

So, having established that a little break in routine could do your body good, here are 10 WAYS YOU CAN CHANGE IT UP!

If you normally exercise indoors, go outside. If you normally play outside, see how others get fit by going to the swimming pool or a taking a class at a local fitness facility, especially when the weather isn’t cooperating!

Get a new gadget! Maybe you can go “techie” and pick up a GPS, heart rate monitor or just a simple pedometer. Or try the latest in “get fit gear” such as a Bosu, TRX system or some kettle balls. Curious? Do a google search.

Change partners! If you normally exercise alone, bring a friend along who is at a different fitness level than you- it will either push you a bit more or allow you to slow down and appreciate new elements. Always surrounded by a group? How about heading out alone and reveling in the sound of your own (heavy) breathing for something different.

Turn an activity into exercise by picking up the pace a little (put on your iPod while cleaning, washing your car, raking leaves and add a few dance steps for a more energetic pace).

Pick up a fitness magazine. See what’s new. Not all these exercises are recommended, of course, but maybe your can scoop a variation on an old standby.

Watch one of the many weight loss shows like The Biggest Loser or The Last Ten Pounds Bootcamp. Not only could you be inspired, you might find some new moves too.

Hire a personal trainer and let THEM come up with the new challenging exercises. This could likely lead to working a little harder than you would alone (AKA getting your butt kicked, this is a good thing every once in a while!)

Sign up for an event. First marathons and first triathlons are very popular events to get people making changes in their exercise routine. Find an event, register so that you commit to it and start a progressive training program. There are many resources both online and in person to help you with this.

Exergaming. Yes, this word was new to me too. It refers to the use of video game platforms to do active movements such as WiiFit.

If you normally do SLOW activities, challenge yourself with something faster or vice versa. Love yoga, add in some cardio and you will create a balanced body. If you’re always doing some cardio, maybe you need to make time for a little stretching

I encourage you to post your own suggestions below. Comments have a short delay before they appear so please be patient. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for next week’s post on breaking through a plateau in your fitness level.

Til then,

Sue Shalanski

Registered Physiotherapist

Clinic Owner of Reach Physio Solutions


Sleep better, weigh less!

Ahh, a good night sleep. It feels so incredibly good. But Statistics Canada has found that 25% of Canadians regularly have trouble sleeping and 3.3 million people suffer insomnia. Chronically being low on sleep put the body in stress mode causing the body to produce more of the stress hormone than in people who get regular good quality sleep. Having more stress hormone in the body breeds more stress by creating an overly alert state…not helpful when you are waiting to fall asleep and your head is swirling with anxious thoughts, leading to yet less sleep!

Not getting enough sleep may cause us to age more quickly and certainly reduces our perception of our quality of life. It may put us at a higher risk of illness too. But most significantly regarding weight management, it can also affect our metabolism. One theory is that the level of growth hormone, produced during our deepest sleep goes down when we don’t sleep well. While this hormone becomes more scarce as we age, naturally, keeping as much of it around as possible does helps muscle mass. This makes sense to me when you think of how as a kid or a teen, when you’r in a growing phase, it seems we could eat as much of anything that we wanted (well almost anything!).

The last connection to make between sleep and weight management is the “leptin link”. Low sleep means less leptin (the feeling-full hormone) and more ghrelin (the feeling hungry hormone). Makes sense to me- when I’m tired I crave snacks more, and on top of food cravings, I tend to choose less healthy options because I’m feeling too lazy to peel/clean veggies and go for the chips or cookies instead.

So, when your head hits the pillow at a reasonable hour, remember you are also helping your metabolism stay young and balanced.

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