More than you ever wanted to know about fitknitchick

Happy Tuesday!

Are you ready for more randomness?

1. This week’s theme on Tuesday Trainer is ‘Rest week – Getting to know your trainers’. That means there’s no exercise video, just a clip of my answers to the three questions Lindsay posed last Thursday. Have a look (or not) and tell me what your answers would be! (If you’re desperate for a workout, check out my Upper Body Bootcamp video).

2. I’ve been nominated by the lovely Elle (of Eat Run Sail) for The Lovely Blog Award. The award is essentially a way of making bloggers reveal deep, dark secrets about themselves. Things they might not otherwise write about (unless they’re had a glass of wine first). I need to answer some questions (again, with the questions!) and tag some other bloggers to spill their guts too. Thanks so much Elle for the nomination and shout out!


I’m going to break the proverbial chain and only follow the first two steps. I’m hoping nothing terrible will happen to my husband or children as a consequence.

Seven things about myself (presumably things that you don’t already know):

  1. I can’t whistle without a blade of grass between my thumbs.
  2. I once jumped out of a moving car to avoid something terrible happening to myself and a friend.
  3. I dislike wearing shorts; short skirts are fine, shorts are not.
  4. I received my Canada Cord in Girl Guides (the highest honour attainable!).
  5. I was the only cheerleader on my squad who couldn’t do the splits.
  6. My favourite chocolate bar is an Almond Joy. I always buy one when in the United States.
  7. My youngest son’s name is Adam only because we were tired of looking through the baby name books by the time he came along. We never made it to the ‘B’s’.

3. I’m celebrating a 2-FO week; that’s two finished objects (knitting, remember?) in one week. Never mind the fact that they’ve both been on the needles for at least two months. I won’t show you pictures of the socks I knit for my daughter because you’ve seen the yarn at least three times already. Yeah, it’s been that long.

I will, however, show you the lovely cardigan I made for myself. I plan on wearing it to this week’s Fitness and Health Blogger’s Conference in Denver and thought that those of you who are going might appreciate knowing what I look like (and what I’ll be wearing to the Thursday evening reception, in case you want to coordinate with me) in advance!

Hand knit sweater

Pattern is Pas de Valse knit in Saffron Dyeworks Pali Sport

Now tell me something random about you! 

The ‘Functional Four’ workout and a bonus move for your butt

I work as a personal trainer in a public gym. The majority of my clients are women in their 40’s who need to lose (by their own admission) 15-40 pounds.

In my experience, the best way to do that is to perform whole body, compound exercises at an intensity that elevates your heart rate for the better part of your 45 minute workout. (In addition to eating clean, of course).

The workouts that I prescribe typically include four functional movements; squats, lunges, pushes and pulls. Each of these types of movements target multiple muscle groups and hence, won’t increase the size of your biceps or triceps or tighten your inner thighs exclusively.

Curls and triceps extensions and calf raises? Vanity moves. Exercises that can improve the look of a single muscle group, but only once the layer of subcutaneous fat that covers them is burned off!

Am I suggesting that you shouldn’t perform vanity exercises? Absolutely not! I love vanity moves too!

Instead, I suggest that you place them at the end of your program, once the heavy, metabolic, fat-burning lifting is done! Think of bicep curls as a reward for completing your squats and lunges! Tricep extensions as the dessert to your meal of pushups and bent over rows. Hamstring curls on the ball as a rest for  your arms and back after finishing your third set of pull ups!

Below is my ‘Functional Four’ workout.

Complete 10-12 repetitions of each exercises using the heaviest weight (or most challenging progression) you can. Then move immediately to the next exercise, cycling through the entire workout 3 or 4 times. Your heart rate should remain elevated throughout; don’t rest until you’re done! Options are given for beginners,  intermediate and advanced exercisers.

fitknitchick workouts

And no, I didn’t forget about your abs! Almost all of the above exercises require you to work your core in a functional manner. Stabilization and mobilization while other parts of your body are moving.

If you want to increase the challenge of the above workout to your core you can (1) offload the weight during a given exercise (e.g., offset load squat, change the pushup into a T-pushup) and (2) use a stability tool in place of either the floor (e.g., lunge with foot on Bosu) or a bench (e.g., chest press with head and shoulders supported on a stability ball)

Once you’ve finished the heavy work you can indulge in a vanity move or two. One of my favourites in a hamstring curl on the ball.

Check out today’s Tuesday Trainer for some other great vanity moves.

Do you include the functional four in your workouts?

What’s your favourite vanity move?

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.

Kicking it with Tuesday Trainer or ‘Why you shouldn’t take yourself too seriously’

Tuesday Trainer is back again!

This week (actually, last week; Lindsay decided to take some well-deserved time off, so last week’s theme was postponed until today) the trainers are showing off their favourite Taebo and Kickboxing moves.

While I competently teach step aerobics, I’ve never managed to excel at kickboxing.

Maybe it has something to do with my tight hip flexors. Or my inability to follow the choreography of other instructors. Or my fear of being in a group fitness class without my step to hide behind (really!).

Regardless, this week’s assignment took me way out of my comfort zone! Rather than castigate myself for not being very good at something (heck, we can’t excel at everything!), I chose to have fun with it. Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously. Fitness is supposed to be fun and laughing is a great abdominal exercise!

Next time you’re having difficulty following your group fitness instructor, remember my less-than-stellar kickboxing demonstration. Don’t get frustrated. Don’t get angry and blame the instructor for wasting your workout time.

Take a deep breath and remind yourself of the reason you came to class in the first place; movement, positive energy and the great feeling you have when you’re all finished! Leave your self-judgement and perfectionist tendencies at the door and allow yourself to have fun regardless of whether you’re keeping up with the rest of the class or not.

Want something else to laugh about? Check out the top search terms that led people to my blog this past week.

My favourites? ‘Senior woman in spandex jogging pants’ and ‘hot chicks that invigorate the mind’. I’m picturing a little old man sitting behind his computer ogling middle-aged fitness bloggers. Was it you?

And NO, pull ups will not make you short.

How serious are you when you’re working out?

What type of workout is completely out of your comfort zone?

Bosu balance trainer workout and a new Tuesday Trainer video

One of my favourite fitness tools is the Bosu balance trainer.

Essentially, it’s a stability ball, cut in half and mounted on a hard, flat piece of rubber. It can be used dome side up (for beginners) and platform side up (for more advanced and stable exercisers). I like to use it both ways (BOth Sides Up)!

 Bosu group fitness class

Great for challenging your balance and adding a bit of instability to your workouts, I often use it with my clients to improve

  1. knee and ankle strength; just standing on the dome side forces all the little stabilizer muscles surrounding the knee and ankle joints to wake up and turn on (you’ll also feel it in your inner thighs). Try closing your eyes!
  2. balance and kinesthetic sense; knowing where your body is in space (“proprioception”) is helpful for avoiding slips and slides and falls
  3. knee tracking; often knees ‘drop’ inwards or ‘splay’ outwards during lunges due to weak quadriceps. Stationary lunges or squats on the Bosu can help strengthen the vastus medialis and reduce or eliminate the knee tracking problem. Just make sure that knees are staying above the ankles during movement

Balance training is an important part of a well-rounded fitness program. It improves your posture, functionally strengthens your core and adds an interesting challenge to exercises you may already have mastered on a stable surface.

Here’s a sample workout that I’ve done with my weekly Bosu Blast class.

Bosu balance trainer

You’ll need a Bosu balance trainer, some light to moderately heavy dumbbells and a mat. Make sure your running shoes are tightly laced; after a few minutes of marching on the dome, your feet may feel like they’re sliding around in your shoes. And avoid wearing short shorts; during seated Bosu work, they tend to ‘migrate’ upwards (think ‘wedgie’). Enough said.

The workout has 6 parts; I’ll describe the first five (with examples of increasing difficulty) and leave you to stretch on your own!

  1. Balance and proprioception
  2. Dynamic warmup
  3. Speed and agility (cardio)
  4. Strength and conditioning
  5. Core specific exercises
  6. Stretch

Balance and Proprioception

  • standing on dome side; arms at sides or extended out from body or overhead, eyes open or closed
  • 1/4 squat and hold; arms extended at sides, eyes open or closed
  • single leg balance; non-supporting foot touching side of dome, pressed against calf of supporting leg, extended straight out to the side (‘tree pose’)
Dynamic Warmup
  • marching on and off the dome; increasing speed
  • marching or jogging on top of the dome; high knees
  • mini-squat jumps
  • lateral squat (one foot on top, one on the floor beside); up to balance knee
Speed and Agility (perform 30 s of each at high intensity with 15 s rest between)
  • fast feet; marching on an off as quickly as you can with pumping arms; switch lead leg 2nd time through
  • squat or tuck jumps; arms out front or hands behind head
  • tire runs; one foot on dome, one on floor; switch sides 2nd time through
  • Bosu burpees
  • Bosu straddle jacks or straddle squat jacks
Strength and Conditioning (perform 10-12 repetitions of each movement, no breaks between; rest and repeat)
  • dome (or platform) squat with bicep curl to shoulder press
  • platform power pushups (from knees or toes); drop, hold at bottom, slowly push up
  • split lunge with lateral raise (back toe on dome or platform); lift arms as you push up out of the lunge
  • bent over reverse flys (on dome or platform); both arms together or alternate arms with torso rotation
Core (hold static positions for 30 s, perform 10-12 repetitions of movements; rest and repeat)
  • V sit on dome (hands behind for support/knees bent/legs extended/arms across chest/arms extended)
  • Bosu sit to stand crunches; sit low on dome, weight in hands, lean back, curl up and push through feet to stand
  • platform plank tilts; holding handles, plank from knees/toes; alternately press hands down towards floor, pausing to regain balance in the centre before pressing to other side
  • belly on Bosu back extension; hands on floor/feet on floor/hands behind head/feet lifting

Whew! That’s a lot of words to describe a workout. Maybe I should have shot a video? (Do you want me to???)

A big thank you to Lindsay for giving me the idea for today’s post. This week, Tuesday Trainer is all about balance training. Here’s my video contribution:

For more great balance exercise videos head on over to Lindsay’s List!

Do you incorporate balance training in your fitness routine?

Have you ever tried an extreme balance board? Makes the Bosu balance trainer look like a piece of cake!



Upper body pyramids and lower body supersets; one for today, one for tomorrow

It’s Tuesday! And that means a new Tuesday Trainer workout is up!

This week, Janetha is hosting and has put together an upper body pyramid workout to shape our arms, chests and backs. You can see my contribution below.

Given that pyramids typically work your muscles to fatigue, tomorrow, by default, will be a ‘leg’ day.

So here’s some quick lower body supersets you can do while your upper body gets a needed day of rest. Remember to choose a weight heavy enough to fatigue your muscles by the end of each set (that means you shouldn’t be able to do another repetition in good form without a break). Going to fatigue is the best way to build muscle, burn fat and see some much appreciated definition.

The workout is of the ‘antagonistic superset’ variety. That means you’ll be working opposing muscle groups, one after the other, with no rest in between.

For example, your first superset will consist of a squat and a deadlift; the squat works your quads (among other things) and the deadlift your hamstrings (primarily). Aim for 8 to 10 reps of each exercise, 3-4 times through each superset before moving on to the next.

Work hard enough on your lower body supersets and you’ll be wishing for some upper body exercises for ‘a break’!

 lower body supersets

As always, if you like the workout, please Pin it to your favourite exercise Pinterest board!

When you weight train, do you work different body parts on different days?

If so, what type of ‘split’ do you like best?

A Tuesday without Tuesday Trainer? Come work out with me!

It’s Monday evening and I’m suddenly realizing that there’s no Tuesday Trainer tomorrow. Lindsay is on holiday with her family and has left us without a leader! No weekend assignment to create a video about _____. No videotaped instructions from my favourite fitness bloggers.

What’s a girl to do?

I could skip the workout; I worked out yesterday and the day before and am scheduled to try a new style of fitness class on Wednesday. According to yesterday’s post, I could claim tomorrow as a legitimate rest day.

But I WANT to go to the gym. I’ve MISSED my strength workouts these past two weeks (and given my poor showing during a Tabata pushup drill in class this morning, I need to get to work regaining the strength I’ve lost…). So I’m taking a deep breath and designing my own Tuesday Trainer program. (You all know that I work as a personal trainer, right? So why is it so difficult for me to design a program for myself?)

How about I pretend that I’m writing a program for YOU and we’ll do it together? Okay? Okay!

(Note that I’m assuming that you’re healthy, with no joint pain or hip/knee/shoulder troubles; if so, please listen to your body and modify where necessary!)

We’ll be doing supersets (I love supersets; fast and efficient when done properly). Alternating between two exercises at a time, 8-10 reps of each exercise, 3-4 supersets of each pair. Got it?

  1. Barbell squats/pushups
  2. Alternating Smith lunges (or barbell lunges if you don’t have a Smith machine)/pullups or inverted rows
  3. Seated shoulder press/preacher curl (or some other sort of bicep curl)
  4. Dumbbell deadlifts/barbell tricep skullcrushers
  5. Roll outs on the ball/medball V-sit core rotations

and finishing with 20 minutes of 1:1 intervals on the Arc Trainer (or your cardio machine of choice).

Ready? Off you go!

And don’t forget to show me your #PROOF!

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.

Rediscover your abs with clean eating and Tuesday Trainer

About 6 weeks ago, prompted by feeling mushy around the middle, and determined to feel great in a crop top before I turn 45 this spring, I started adding an extra metabolic strength workout to my weekly schedule. I took some photos, but decided to keep them to myself, lest I fail and have no improvement to show you (accountability for cheaters, I know).

Since I’m seeing results, including the rediscovery of my abs, I thought I’d post them now.

circa February 28, 2012

circa April 10, 2012

I don’t know about you, but I see a huge difference!

Now to be honest, it’s not just the new workout that’s doing it. I’ve also been pretty diligent in the kitchen, keeping my hand out of the cookie jar (mostly), cutting back on my starchy carbohydrates (except for my morning oats), reaching for dark chocolate over milk (forgetting all those mini eggs I ate Easter weekend…) and pushing myself to lift as heavy as I can in the gym. I’ve also been drinking a lot of water. Clean eating has it’s rewards!

My tips for rediscovering you abs?

  • eliminate sugar and processed food (you knew I was going to say that)
  • cut back on starchy carbs, paying attention to cravings and feelings of satiation (if cravings are too intense, increase starchy carbs by a bit)
  • water, water, water
  • reduce caffeine intake
  • small, regular meals (before you’re starving!)
  • bye bye alcohol

Of course, to have abs to reveal, you need to build them first!

This week, Tuesday Trainer is featuring an all abs workout. Each trainer has submitted their favourite ‘reveal your abs’ exercise. I’m demonstrating Before getting sick, I had planned on demonstrating a ‘Russian Twist on the ball’. Not only does it target your ‘six pack’, you’ll also feel your obliques and your glutes working. One of the best ways to get rid of that little pooch is to learn some glute activation; so be sure to keep your hips up and bum cheeks clenched throughout!

I promise I’ll get to filming today or tomorrow and have it ready for you to look at later in the week.

Meanwhile, head on over to Lindsay’s List to see what the other trainers put together for you and then pop in to YouTube and subscribe to my channel (click the link, now find the ‘subscribe’ button above the video, click on it!). There you’ll find the rest of my Tuesday Trainer videos as well as some other workouts and video blogs. Don’t forget to share!

How frequently do you work your abs?

Tell me your ‘reveal your abs’ tricks!



Adventurous April; put some adventure in yours!

This week, Lindsay asked the Tuesday Trainers to take a break from exercise (well, filming exercise, to be specific; I’ll definitely be getting my workouts in this week…) and film ourselves someplace we usually don’t. It’s all part of ‘Adventurous April‘; a challenge from Janetha at Meals and Moves to encourage people to get out of their comfort zones and do something different and new to them.

I don’t know about you, but my life is not very adventure-filled.

Most days, the biggest adventures I partake in involve,

  • postponing going to the grocery store, gambling that they’ll be enough milk for coffee in the morning
  • hitting the ‘publish’ button on a blog post (what if it sucks?)
  • choosing downward dog instead of child’s pose in yoga class
  • eating dark chocolate after dinner (it might ruin my sleep)
  • ‘winging’ my patterns in step class

Perhaps the only truly adventurous thing I did this week was wear a crop top to the gym (I NEVER bare my belly, so I’m claiming this as an EPIC adventure!).

With the goal of capturing something adventurous on film, I took my camera with me on a recent family outing into town. Understand that I live in the suburbs; heading into Vancouver constitutes an adventure in my books.

As I pieced together and edited my video footage, I realized that I desperately need to get out of my rut. My ‘Adventurous April’ video wasn’t really adventurous at all! See for yourself, then hop on over to Tuesday Trainer and see how much more exciting the other trainers’ lives are! (Note to self, negative advertising is not the way to get people to watch your video or visit your blog)

Have some suggestions to help my April be more adventurous?

Fire away! (that is, leave them in the comments section below)






Five favourite fitness finds and Tuesday Trainer Tabata

Have you ever found a product that you love so much you can’t fathom how you managed to live without it for so long? If you’re at all like me, you tell everyone you know about it until every time you bring up the subject they quickly switch to talking about the weather or the Canucks (neither of which have been impressive of late).

If you’ve recently witnessed me gush about any of the following, you’re free to leave now. (But of course, go directly to Tuesday Trainer where I’m demonstrating a Tabata interval featuring one of my beloved products). Otherwise, read on as I tell you about my five favourite fitness finds!

1. I know. We’ve been down this road before. But I just can’t say enough wonderful things about Holy Crap Cereal. I’m going through a package every two weeks. I can’t stop adding it to oatmeal, pancakes, yogurt and protein bars. If you’ve still not managed to try it, what are you waiting for? It’s available for order online, with free shipping to both the US and Canada, so you don’t need to walk any farther than your computer to get your hands on some. I sent some to my March Foodie Pen Pal who too, has fallen in love.

2. I always wear makeup when I workout. Nothing heavy, but a light, sheer tinted moisturizer makes me look more alive when I’m teaching classes and training clients. (You did see that first-thing-in-the-morning photo I posted last week, right?). Of course, sweating and wiping my face with a towel pretty much means that any makeup I apply before breakfast will no longer be in evidence by lunch.

Not so with the help of two Arbonne products, introduced to me by my friend (and Arbonne Consultant extraordinaire!) Lyndsy; their Makeup Primer (who even knew you were supposed to ‘prime’ before applying makeup?) and Perfecting Liquid Foundation with SPF15. Both go on smooth as silk and stay where I put them ALL DAY LONG (but only if I remember to ‘blot’ the sweat off my face rather than ‘wipe’).

3. Although I’ve known about the value of using a heart rate monitor when working out for a long time, until recently, I’ve never gotten around to buying one for myself. I knew I wanted something that I could wear as my every day watch and found this gem by Timex. It’s their Ironman Road Trainer watch and heart rate monitor.

I’ve gotten in the habit of wearing it during spin and boot camp classes to see just how many calories I’m burning and to make sure I’m working hard enough. The output shows me minimum, maximum and average heart rate during the workout, as well as the number of minutes I managed to stay in my target heart rate zone. I love it and have become addicted to snapping a photo of my calorie burn (or some other metric) at the end of each workout. Not wearing a heart rate monitor? You should be; you’ll be surprised at how hard (or not) you’re actually working and will probably think twice about indulging in an after-workout mocha frappuccino!

4. A few months ago a blogger friend of mine posted about a workout outfit she had ordered from a company making radically different fitness clothes. Enter YMX by Yellowman. Their designs are based on tribal and tattoo motifs and definitely stand out from the crowd. Unwilling to pay the exorbitant fee to have it shipped to Canada (not YMX by Yellowman’s fault; something to do with Canadian customs…), I ordered a tank top and had it delivered (much more economically) to the Californian hotel we stayed at during our spring break holiday.

I love everything about it! The colours, the fabric (silky feeling, SPF and anti-stink) and the fit! It’s almost too pretty to sweat in. I’m planning to order the matching leggings, to be delivered to me at the upcoming Fitness and Health Bloggers Conference in Denver.

5. And last, but not least, my pretty, little Gymboss interval timer.

So handy for boot camp classes, Spartacus-style workouts and Tabata training. Check out one of my favourite two-move Tabata workouts and then click on over to Lindsay’s List to see what the other Tuesday Trainers have in store!

What are YOUR current favourite fitness products?