Archives for 2012

Review, reflect and move forward | 5 lessons from 2012

My very favourite thing about January 1st? The need for new stationery! (Are you a stationery geek too?)


january goals


A new calendar to keep my family’s activities organized. A new journal for me to write my thoughts and dreams in. My first Fitbook to plan and record my workouts and nutrition.

But before I move forward, I’m taking the advice of my blogger friend Kareen (of iameatingright) and making time to review and reflect on my accomplishments and near accomplishments of the past year.

While these reflections are personal, I do believe that many of you will have had similar experiences and will relate to one or more of them.

1. Make a fitness plan and stick to it. When I look back at the workouts and programs I engaged in throughout the year, I’m struck by how often I changed plans midstream. From whole body metabolic training to body part splits to incorporating yoga and running, I tried to do a lot of different things; none of which I stuck with for long enough to really reap the benefits. I like to think of this as ‘shiny new thing’ syndrome.

I did, however, get to the gym and engage in some sort of exercise 5 days out of 7 almost every week in 2012!

2. Find ways to work around injuries. Way back in July, I strained my intercostal muscles. The recovery and rehabilitation process was long and drawn out. There were a lot of movements that I couldn’t perform pain-free. Although I continued to teach and hop on the Cybex ARC trainer daily, I let my weight training slide. Rather than figure out what I COULD do, I worried a lot about what I COULDN’T. As a consequence, I lost considerable ground in the weight room. And because I didn’t adjust my nutrition to take into account all of those calories I was no longer burning daily, I saw the scale go up (and stay there!).

This experience has made me much more sensitive to my clients’ injuries and has led me to getting more creative with their workouts, so as to keep moving them towards their fitness goals.

3. Acknowledge and accept that the hormonal effects of aging may require you to change the way you exercise and eat. I am 45 1/2. Peri-menopause is part of my daily experience. Mood swings. Food cravings. Hot flashes. All caused by changes in my hormonal profile. Like it or not, my body responds to food differently than it used to. I used to be able to eat whatever I wanted without repercussion. Not so now. Same with exercise. In the past, cardio and light weights were enough to keep me lean and strong. Now I find that my body needs heavy weights to maintain muscle mass and keep the belly fat at bay.

Earlier this month I PR’d on three exercises in the same workout; squats, dumbbell bench press and bent over row. I’m excited to keep up the strength training momentum in 2013!

4. Place your own fitness needs before those of others. I spend 15-20 hours per week teaching group fitness classes and training clients. As I look back at my 2012 calendar, I see many, many days when I cut my own workout short or delayed it to a low energy time of day to accommodate a client’s last minute schedule change or to sub a class for a colleague. I put on everybody else’s oxygen masks first.

I will remember and avoid this tendency as I plan my own January workouts.

5. Don’t be afraid of trying something new. Over the past year and a half I stepped outside of my fitness comfort zone more often than ever before! I took a Burlesque class! I tried CrossFit and Trampoline fitness! I made yoga a regular part of my fitness routine!

What shall I try in 2013?

Whether you’re making resolutions or not, I encourage you to watch Kareen’s video and take a few minutes to think back on your OWN 2012. Celebrate your successes, identify areas where you could have done better and make a plan for tackling those aspects of your life in 2013.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and fit 2013! xo Tamara

What was your biggest health and fitness accomplishment in 2012?

How will you improve even more in 2013?


#FatblasterFriday | Staircase Circuit Workout

No matter how fit you are, climb a long staircase quickly enough and three things will happen:

  1. your heart rate will skyrocket
  2. your thighs will burn
  3. you’ll continue to huff and puff for a minute or two afterwards

Perhaps not the most desirable of consequences when you’re dressed for an evening out, but EXACTLY what you need if a stronger, leaner body is what you’re looking for!

In addition to being great for your legs and lungs, because stair climbing is anaerobic, you’ll also continue to burn calories AFTER the workout is done (a little trick known as the ‘after burn’ effect).

Presenting #FatblasterFriday’s “Staircase Circuit Workout”!

An all body weight, multi-level, staircase circuit workout designed to build muscle, torch fat and strengthen your heart and lungs!

Tailor the workout to YOUR fitness level and ability by varying (1) the length of the staircase and (2) how quickly you ascend.

Do the circuit in the video 3 times through for an efficient and fat-blasting workout!

It MAKES MY DAY when you —>>>

  • WATCH and DO the workouts with me
  • SUBSCRIBE to fitknitchick on YouTube 
  • CHECK OUT the #FatblasterFriday Playlist for more, real time workouts
  • PIN the WORKOUT PHOTO below
  • GIVE me your FEEDBACK on YouTube or in the COMMENTS section on this page
  • LIKE and SHARE my videos with your friends via email, Facebook and Twitter


staircase circuit workout


Disclaimer: Although I am a registered Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Personal Trainer Always adapt workouts to suit your body and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.


Eat, drink and be merry | Christmas over fitness, not fitness over Christmas

Finally, Christmas eve is here.

fitness over Christmas

The presents are all wrapped (well almost). Christmas dinner has been prepped (except for dessert). All that’s left is spending time with family and friends, enjoying the tastes and traditions of the season. All of them.

In my house that includes chocolate fondue (with fruit and pound cake) on Christmas eve, eggs and bacon and cinnamon buns on Christmas morning and a turkey, with all the trimmings for an early Christmas dinner. And baking with the children!

fitness over Christmas

Lots of food, lots of fun and lots of time with my family.

Notice that I didn’t mention fitness at all. No exercise (formal exercise, that is) for this girl. Oh sure, they’ll be walks to see the neighbourhood lights, some Super Mario Bros. on the Wii, ice skating at the rec centre and perhaps a beach walk, weather permitting. But no trips to the gym or home workouts on Christmas Day or Boxing Day (and maybe not even for the rest of the week; shocking!).

I’m choosing Christmas over fitness (rather than fitness over Christmas) and I’m okay with that.

It’s not like I’ll lose the muscle definition or cardiovascular conditioning I’ve earned over the last twelve months. Exercise consistently and progressively for 50 weeks out of the year and you can afford some down time without fear of having to start all over. And it’s not like I plan on gorging myself with rich, calorie-laden indulgences. Just enough to feel like I’ve experienced the holidays fully.

Are you with me? Allow yourself some time away from the gym (no feeling guilty) enjoying the all-too-short season of family and festivity! The weights and treadmills and squat racks will still be there when we get back…

fitness over the holidays





#FatblasterFriday | The ‘snowed in’ home workout

As important as it is to plan and schedule your workouts (“failing to plan is just planning to fail”), sometimes life happens and you can’t get where you need to be when you need to be there. The key to success is being flexible. Change your plan to work with what you’ve got, rather than ditching your workout entirely.

Take this week. Tuesday morning I awoke to Vancouver’s first big snowfall of the year. (If you live somewhere that gets a lot of snow, please don’t laugh; this is a ‘big dump’ for us!)

home workout

As beautiful as it was, there was no way I was driving kids to school (2 miles and uphill all the way…). That also meant I wouldn’t be heading to the gym. Wednesday brought more of the same with the added bonus of a vomiting child. Children at home, a Christmas tree filled living room and too cold to work out outside meant that I needed to get creative.

While I managed my own limited-equipment-at-home workout, filming a workout video for this week’s #FatblasterFriday was out of the question. Rather than leaving you up to your own devices ;), I thought I’d share one of the workouts I did while snowed in.

All you need is a set of hand weights (I used 15 lbs, go lighter if you need to), the bottom step of a flight of stairs and your own body weight. Work through the circuit at least twice, stopping only after the burpees to grab a quick drink and catch your breath!

home workout

If you’re one of those people that really needs company when exercising, check out my #FatblasterFriday playlist on YouTube. I’ll be happy to work out with you if it keeps you from skipping your workout entirely!

Did you like this workout? Then PLEASE

  • SUBSCRIBE to fitknitchick on YouTube 
  • PIN the above WORKOUT PHOTO
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Does it snow where you live?

Favourite snowy day activity?

Disclaimer: Although I am a registered Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Personal Trainer. Always adapt workouts to suit your body and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.



5 reasons to trade your glasses for contact lenses during exercise

I have worn glasses nearly all my life. Although I am a devout contact lens wearer, I have always had a pair of glasses to wear for mornings and evenings and sick days at home.

From my first pair of oh-so-fashionable ‘hex’ frames at the age of 10 (my mother let me choose; for obvious reasons, my children do not have the same freedom)…


contact lenses


to the dark, round, over-sized look of the mid-eighties (sadly, I could find not a single photo of myself wearing these…)

to the ‘evening-only’ pair I currently wear (contact lenses for company, glasses for family)…

 contact lenses

and the reading glasses that I should be wearing, but don’t (so much easier to just enlarge the image on the computer screen)…

contact lenses

Yet until last year, when I contracted a bout of pink eye (nasty, nasty business), I had never worn my glasses while exercising.

After 3 days of teaching and training in glasses, I understood why I rarely see participants wearing them in my group fitness classes.

5 reasons to trade your glasses for contact lenses during exercise

  1. Contact lenses do not slide down your nose. When I exercise, I go hard. I typically sweat a lot. Enough to cause my glasses to continuously slide down my nose. Hard to push them back up when your hands are busy with heavy weights.
  2. Contact lenses do not fog up. Condensation occurs when warm, moist air meets a solid, cooler surface. Like the air between your glasses and your face as your body heats up during exercise. Hard to do HIIT when you can’t see where you’re placing your feet.
  3. Contact lenses do not have a frame to obstruct your view. Today’s preferred glasses styles have fairly small frames. Frames whose edges you can plainly see when you look up, down and side to side. During the choreographed step classes that I teach, I need to have an unobstructed view of my feet and the edges of my step. Wearing glasses while teaching made me much more cautious about my foot placement; I had to move my entire head, rather than just my eyes.
  4. Contact lenses do not have arms to interfere with your wireless mic. Or your big old headphones, if you’re a big old headphone wearer. When I teach, I wear a wireless microphone that hooks behind my left ear. Although my right ear sticks out enough to accommodate both the mic and my glasses, my left ear does not.
  5. Contact lenses do not break if your workout partner or teammate elbows you in the face. Exercising is a risky endeavour. So much potential for injury. From dropped weights to full on contact with training partners and teammates. Glasses are expensive to replace (my boys have each broken a pair playing team sports).

Of course, ‘comfort’ is an obvious addition to this list, but most people who exercise aren’t afraid of a little temporary discomfort, right  😉

The best thing about contact lenses? You can order them online! (If you follow me on Twitter you know what a big fan of online shopping I am…). Unlike glasses, you don’t need to try on a dozen pair to find one that flatters your face. All you need to know is your prescription and your credit card number!

Are you a contact lens wearer?

Do you wear glasses or contact lenses to exercise in?



#FatblasterFriday | The Virtual Partner Workout

Last September I attended Fitbloggin. During the Reebok-sponsored Crossfit workout, I was lucky enough to be partnered up with Brendon Payne of Sequel Life Fitness. An incredible athlete, enthusiastic coach and all-round great guy, he lifts weights, runs AND practices yoga!

(Great hair and smile too, don’t ya think?)


partner workouts


We had so much fun we promised to schedule another fitness collaboration; a bit of a challenge given that we live in different countries and on opposite sides of the continent! Who doesn’t love a good partner workout?

Thank goodness for video cameras, Skype and iMovie!

Although Brendon and I did this workout together (well, ‘virtually’ together), you can do it with or without a partner. (Partner workouts are a blast IF you have the RIGHT partner…).

Today’s #FatblasterFriday is an interval partner workout;

  • 6 body weight exercises (actually there are 7; I snuck an extra one in. Can you find the second ‘5’ in the video?)
  • 30 s of HIGH INTENSITY effort
  • 15 s RECOVERY between exercises
  • 2 or 3 times through

You can take turns performing the 30 s of work (thereby earning a 45 s rest) OR each perform all of the moves as written above. Your choice.

Note that we purposefully didn’t plan the workout in advance. Neither of us knew what move the other would request, setting the stage for ‘pay back’ lest one of us be too demanding!

You can use the same format (and different moves) next time you do a partner workout (just be sure and go first….he, he!). And even train with friends who live nowhere near you! (I seriously LOVE Skype!)

If you LOVED this workout, please share it via Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube or Twitter (sharing buttons are at the bottom of the post). We promise, it will make our day!


partner workout


Who did you think was better at following directions (I have a very thick skin…)?

Will you do this workout solo or with a buddy?

Disclaimer: Although I am a registered Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Personal Trainer. Always adapt workouts to suit your body and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.


On the benefits of letting go of holiday exercise expectations (Guest Post)

In the spring of 2012 Julie & her family hit rock bottom. They finally realized, after years of dreaming, that it was time to leap. 6 months later they have moved to a small island in BC from their home in Vancouver, quit their jobs and re-focussed their life on their kids. Julie’s blog “Pursuit of Happyness” follows their journey, shares their stories as they face their fears and redefine success for themselves.

We just returned from a two week vacation in St Lucia, thanks to a fabulous win from the tomtom map paradise contest.

Two weeks at an all-inclusive, full of food, fabulous sunshine and lots of fun!

julie nowell

Before we left and as I was packing our cases, hubby walked in on me as I was slipping my sneakers and workout gear inside with wishful thoughts of running off my pina coladas on the beach at sunrise, partaking in the daily yoga classes and reminding my abs of their existence via the sweaty fitness classes.

But, the reality is that it really was wishful thinking.

Hubby’s look said it all. . .

See, what I forgot was that we were going away as a family, all five of us, for two weeks of fun and frivolity. As much as fitness was a part of my life, it wasn’t all of my life, and me taking time away from the 3 kids, in a new (sweaty environment) just wasn’t going to happen.

And honestly, I didn’t really want it to.

Instead of bringing my runners, I focussed my energy on my kids, and spent my sweat sailing with the family, building sandcastles and enjoying a few rambunctious games of volleyball.

I did indulge. . . I enjoyed the evening dessert bar, and far too many sugar and rum laden frothy drinks, but I also tried to focus my food intake on proteins and simple veg (pretty hard to find at an all-inclusive that caters to mainly British!)

And I imagine I burned a few calories laughing at our 3 year old learning to body surf and at the girls racing each other down the beach.

Julie Nowell

And I relaxed, I smiled and I let my expectations for my body go for a moment.

See, I believe that we should be comfortable with our fitness level, which sometimes means letting go of the structure of a routine and allowing ourselves the freedom to stray, always knowing and being confident in the fact that we will return and find our strength again. I believe it is ok to have breaks, changes and adjustments in all of our life, all while maintaining a happy, balanced existence. And yes, that means enjoying, guilt free, that pina colada and nap on the beach!

I did not want to take time away from my family each day, or even every few days to maintain a moderate intensity exercise program.

So, I let it go.

I will return to my fitness routine, absolutely, and I will return with a new vigor and intensity that I may not have had if I had maintained it on our holiday and missed the giant caterpillar or the totally awesome sandcastle. My fitness is a part of my life, as are many things, but it didn’t need to come with me on my holiday.

Plus, it was seriously hot here . . . there was no way I was running in 40’ heat with massive humidity! Yikes!


#FatblasterFriday | Best exercises for your back (and back side)

Everybody’s seen that guy  in the gym. You know, the one who loves to train his biceps, chest and abs? Bulging arms. Gorgeous pecs. A well-defined six-pack.

And forward sloping shoulders.

We all love to train the muscles we see in the mirror.

exercises for your back

But what about the muscles that everybody else sees when we turn and leave the room?

exercises for your back

Back of the body (or posterior chain) exercises not only improve how you look (think ‘posture’), done regularly they can also;

  • strengthen your core
  • improve shoulder and hip mobility
  • decrease or eliminate lower back pain
  • reduce your risk of sports-specific injuries
  • burn a lot of calories (when performed at a moderate pace with heavy enough weights)

Today’s #FatblasterFriday workout features some of the best exercises for your back (and back side). Exercises that you can do at home or in a small hotel gym with just two sets of dumbbells. (Exercise balls, UGI and stability are optional).

exercises for your back

Only 6 exercises, performed in superset format (two exercises, worked one after the other with no break in between, for 2 to 3 sets), to work your hamstrings, glutes, lower, mid- and upper-back, triceps and posterior deltoid.

Each superset combination has both a lower and an upper body move. Make sure to choose a weight that will challenge your muscles by the end of 10 repetitions! Watch the video below for explanations of the exercises and tips for making them more difficult (as you get stronger!)

‘Got Your Back’ Workout

What are your favourite exercises for your back?

And your front?

Did you like this workout? Then PLEASE

  • WATCH and DO the workouts with me
  • SUBSCRIBE to fitknitchick on YouTube 
  • CHECK OUT the #FatblasterFriday Playlist for more, real time workouts
  • PIN the above WORKOUT PHOTO
  • GIVE me your FEEDBACK on YouTube or in the COMMENTS section below
  • LIKE and SHARE my videos with your friends via email, Facebook and Twitter


Disclaimer: Although I am a registered Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Personal Trainer. Always adapt workouts to suit your body and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.



Trampoline fitness | it just makes exercising fun!

I love jumping! Jumping jacks, box jumps, squat jumps, split lunge jumps and even burpees (do you add the jump to yours?). I particularly love trampoline fitness!

Jumping on a trampoline just makes exercising fun!

When was the last time you jumped on a trampoline? Me? Way back in September during a trampoline class at Fitbloggin.

Today I’m over at the Gaiam Life blog sharing the results of recent scientific studies on the health benefits of trampoline fitness. Why don’t you jump on over and check it out?

I’d love to hear your thoughts (over there!) about trampoline fitness!

trampoline fitness