Tag Archives: Exercise

Pros and Cons of Your Fitness Options

It is that time of year, the resolutions have begun. Many of you are in the hunt for an avenue to begin a new fitness program.

But what should you be doing? How should you go about making changes? Where can you go to begin a program?

There are so many avenues available to you that often the most difficult part of the process is simply figuring out what the best option is for your investment.  

Here are my thoughts about the most common paths people take at this time of year.

Gym Membership

Gym memberships are great for people who are self motivated and already have a good base knowledge of how to design a fitness and nutrition program. They provide clean and safe equipment and an area to workout. If you already have a workout buddy or group and are comfortable with how your body works and how to design a fitness program than a gym membership is a great option for you.

Gym memberships are not good for individuals who are unfamiliar with exercise programs and how to design a program to meet their goals. If you need someone to motivate you and teach you what you should be doing or if you find exercise to be boring and it seems more like a chore, than a gym membership is a large waste of your money.


·         Set hours and consistent access

·         Variety of equipment

·         A lot of variety

·         Most activities and facilities included in membership

·         Larger chains provide access to facilities in multiple cities



·         Locked into membership for 1 to 2 years

·         No guidance or long term support; the only support offered is very basic and is designed to entice you to purchase additional services

·         More concerned about profit than your long term health

·         Many ‘hidden’ fees

·         Hide information and pricing from you in order to ‘hook’ you into listening to their sales pitch

·         Staff are all sales driven and are rewarded for high sales, not for education and furthering their knowledge base and skills

·         Large chains often lag behind fitness industry trends and research by months or even years

·         Can be very intimidating


Purchasing Equipment for Home

This is the other most common purchase for people who are looking to embark on a fitness program. The purchase of home based fitness equipment. Treadmill’s and elliptical trainers are the two most frequently purchased pieces of equipment.

The vast majority of fitness equipment is based on cardiovascular fitness training only and does not incorporate strength or flexibility training. There are some popular strength based pieces of fitness equipment but most of these promise dramatic results in short periods of time, which is an immediate red flag. Too good t be true = it IS too good to be true.

I call treadmills and elliptical trainers the most expensive coat rack you will ever buy. You may get on it for a few weeks but soon you will be bored to tears and after 4 weeks of slaving away you will not feel any stronger or fitter and you will look the same in the same clothes. For the cost of this equipment you could have an experienced personal trainer TEACH you what to do and how to exercise with no equipment at all!

There are a lot of companies salivating at this time of year and waiting to impress you with flashy marketing, flashy equipment, and flashy payment plans to suck you into purchasing equipment that has a track record of being ineffective at changing lives. Commissions are great for them, however.


·         Convenient due to location in your home

·         Private for those nervous to go to a gym or join a program

·         Can be a good kick start to initiating a fitness program


·         Rare to achieve long term fitness success

·         No instruction or long term support

·         High cost for quality equipment

·         Very tedious and boring over time

·         Very little variety, becomes very boring

·         One sided fitness, does not encourage a well rounded fitness program

Private Fitness Facilities

These are smaller versions of gyms and are often very specific as to their services. Common offerings are yoga, personal training, group programs, pilates, dance fitness, martial arts, or a variety of other fitness based offerings. Many facilities also offer a combination of services.

In general you will find a higher quality of service at these establishments and it is much more personal. Programming and offerings are cutting edge and are created around what is most effective and not what generates the most profit.

You will also tend to find a more experienced, educated, and higher quality of staff at smaller private facilities as they offer more rewards for staff members, better pay and better opportunities for career advancement.

The challenge is to find a facility that offers services and programs that are appealing to you and effective at the same time. Again, this comes down to research and research! Check out facilities in your area, talk to the staff, and talk to current members in order to ensure that it is the right place for you.


·         Personalized services and offerings

·         The most cutting edge and modern programming available

·         More focus on service and quality than on profit, fads, and gimmicks

·         Variety of services

·         Staff that actually care about your long term success and well-being

·         Affordable for the quality of service


·         Can be more expensive than a monthly membership

·         Cannot use facilities on your own time (typically)

·         Limited options can make long term fitness difficult

Personal Training

In my opinion this is the best option available to everyone. If you have never exercised in your entire life, or if you have competed in Ironman competitions, a quality personal trainer is worth their weight in gold. The key phrase is quality.

80% of personal trainers should not be allowed to call themselves fitness professionals and should not be allowed to dispense fitness advice.  This is an unregulated industry and finding a quality and experienced trainer is very difficult. For detailed information on how to do that follow the following link to my blog about the subject. http://tayloredtraining.ca/blog/the-problems-with-personal-trainers/

The cost is not as much as many people think (Visit my blog to learn about that as well: http://tayloredtraining.ca/blog/the-cost-of-personal-training/ ).

Yes I am biased to personal training, that’s why I do it for a living. Make sure to research your trainer before signing up with them. Kingston has many facilities where quality personal trainers are available to you. Research them, interview them, talk to their other clients, check on their certifications and experience. Ensure that you have selected the right trainer for you, then sign up with them and be prepared to get blown away.


·         Program is customized to your body

·         Lack of motivation is not a problem

·         Experienced trainers can help avoid injuries and they can work around previous injuries

·         Customized diet and nutrition advice

·         Constant motivation and someone to ‘checkup on you’

·         Cut through the myths and fads and have a realistic and effective program customized for you

·         80% more effective than working out on your own

·         Vast increase in education and leaves you with the ability to train on your own after the end of the workouts


·         Cost can be prohibitive

·         Finding a good trainer can be difficult

·         Investing in a poor trainer can be a waste of money

·         Can be very addictive, you may never want to train alone again

Books, Magazines, and the Internet

This is a dangerous category. It is so easy to post on the internet that almost anyone can raise a voice, even if they have no experience of knowledge base to be able to do that. Fads and unsafe programs and diets are very, very, common and deciphering between good, science based knowledge, and cheesy unfounded programs can be very challenging.

Books and magazines are designed to sell. There are many out there that contain great advice and programs. But there are even more that play off fads and fears in an effort to make sales. And they are impaired by the fact that they have to keep advertisers happy, which can lead to a skewing of good information.

The programs and advice in these periodicals are also very generic and do not account for individuals difference and preferences. Not to mention that they cannot work around previous injuries or injuries you may develop during exercise.

Many of the programs also require a lot of equipment that can be costly to purchase. Careful, a lot of those equipment manufacturers also pay for advertising in those same publications!

How can you be sure? Anything that promises dramatic results in very limited amounts of time is suspect. If they promise easy workouts or no sweat workouts you should also be raising red flags.


·         Very cost effective

·         Convenient

·         Get advice from the top experts in the field

·         Lots of variety


·         Not tailored to your individual needs

·         Often is flashy marketing and based on driving sales, not effective long term results

·         Plays into what you want to hear not what you need to hear

·         Tough to find quality, not fads

·         Often based on equipment and supplements that are not necessary

·         Workouts are often not effective, can be boring, and rarely result in the outcome that was promised

The Truth about Cardio

Here is something I hear all the time; “when do I do my cardio?”

My response is simply to tell people never. I do not see any need for people to do cardio only workouts.

The belief that we need to stems from this bodybuilding/gym tradition, which requires that low intensity cardio focused workouts be performed on seperate days from strength training. This is a process used by bodybuilders and fitness copetitors to minimize muscle breakdown while burning body fat.

What many people do not realize is the amount of time these dedicated individuals put into training. Many people in this field typically do strength training worouts 6 times a week for 60-90 minutes and then in addition to that perform another 4-7 90 minute cardio workouts at low intensity.

Will this system get you lean and strong? Yes. How many of you have time for 12 to 14 60-90 minute workouts per week?

Resultant from this philosophy is the idea that the only way to lose body fat and keep your heart healthy is to do long cardio training exercise 3-4 times a week. This is absolutely not the case. These cardio workouts are alos not neccesary to improve and maintain your heart health.
Thats right, you do not have to do cardio workouts to keep your heart healthy, strong, and free of disease.

Here are my thoughts.

Your body was never designed to work each body system independantly. Everything you do from daily life chores, to sports and recreation, to sleeping, and almost any other activity you do requires that your cardiovascular system works in conjunction with your muscular system, lymphatic system, circulatory system, and neurological system (thats your brain and body control) and every other thing that occurs inside your skin.

Why would we train that seperately then? Why would we work the muscles one day and the heart and lungs the next? Why would we do days of just flexibility and balance training and not train your body to be flexibly and balanced while it is also using your muscles and heart and lungs? The answer is that we should not be seperating these things.

Your cardio system, muscular system, and your nuerological system should all be trained TOGTHER. And sorry, jogging/walking on a treadmill, sitting on a stationary bike, and mindlessly going through the paces on an elliptical trainer does not accomplish this.

What we all should be focused on is making your muscles stronger (resistance training, not neccessarily weight training), while at the same time improving your heart and lung health (cardiovascular training) and challenging your brain (neurological system) to coordinate the whole thing.

 This can be accomplished many ways. Here are some examples:

-instead of a stationary bike get on a real bike and go mountain biking

-try rock climbing

-bootcamp style workouts (old fashioned military stuff, you know, pushups, stairs, squats, hill sprints and all that really fun stuff)

-HITT style programs

-martial arts/kickboxing etc

This is not an exclusive or exhaustive list by any means. The common theme here is that all of these activities challenge your muscles, heart and lungs, and your mind all at the same time.

What is lacking from most cardio workouts is strength training through full ranges of motion. Sorry but the ellipticals, treadmills, stationary bikes, spin bikes do not provide this. Walking, running, and swimming also do not provide these things (running and swimming can be adjusted to provide some of these benefits).

The whole point of this blog is to inform you that for the majority of the population (wanting to lose weight, ‘tone up’, improve their fitness, improve sports performance etc) there is no need to perform cardio workouts. This is a big fat myth.

The journal of Strength and Conditioning published an article in March 2008 detailing the aerobic fitness improvements in recreational rock climbers. The subjects of the study participated in 120 minutes of climbing per week and the average participant age was 42 years old.

What did the study find? That in 2 hours of rock climbing per week with no additional exercise the aerobic profile of this activity was classified in the excellent category as set by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Thats right. 2 hours weekly rock climbing meets the requirements set out to keep your heart and lungs happy and healthy.

And rock climbing provides the added benefits of strength training, improving flexibility, and improved neuorological functioning. Let’s see a treadmill or elliptical ellicit all of those responses in 2 hours per week. I am not even going to get into the positive changes to your hormones that come from strength based activities.

I hear the question all the time….’what about doing cardio?” If you love doing cardio then keep on going. But I want people to recognize that you DO NOT HAVETO DO CARDIO only training, in fact cardio only training can work against you.

Yes, if you only do cardio training and your goal is weight loss, strength gain, ‘toning’, or long term commitment to a program you are on the wrong track.

The longer you can do any activity the slower your metabolism must be and the better your body must become at conserving energy. Thats right, you are slowing your metabolism down. The longer you can do an activity the less muscle and strength you will have because you can not sustain that type of body tissue for extended periods of time, it simply takes too much energy. The longer you do the same activity over and over again the less likely you are to be stimulated enough to continue the program.

Here is the jist of what I am getting at. I am not saying cardio is bad. You need to exercise your heart and lungs. I am saying that the current beliefs and practices guiding how we maintain our cardiovascular health are totally misguided. We need to change how people are exercising in order to improve the long term health and well-being of our culture.

For all you runners, marathoners, cyclists and other endurance athletes out there take heed to what I am about to say before tearing a strip off me (which I always welcome anyway). I am not saying these cardio exercises are bad for you. I am saying that they do not line up with most peoples goals.

If you compete or have an interest in these endurance activities then it is fine to do them and you can do them safely and effectively. But also note this, if you exclusively do endurance activities and do not cross train with strength based and full range of motion activites then you are damaging your bodies very badly and need to adjust your workouts accordingly or you will pay the price inthe long term.


Sum it up! You do not need to do cardio training on its own. Trash your elliptical and get rid of your clothes rack (I mean super dusty treadmill). Find something you enjoy that can acomplish all of the things you need at the same time. It is more effective, more efficient, and you are more likely to stick to it and yes, you are more likely to enjoy it!


Voluntary vs. Involuntary Muscle: Major Consequences for your Health

When it comes to maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle it is very important to truly understand some of the key difference in your muscle anatomy.

            Understanding the simple differences between the main two muscle categories will have dramatic effects on your health, body fat, energy, and overall sleep patterns. It is unfortunate that this simple explanation is not provided to more people and that the majority of health professionals tend to ignore that these classifications exist.

            In the health and fitness world most professionals spend their time promoting unachievable programs and unrealistic expectations. Many professionals including, personal trainers, doctors, nutritionists, physiotherapists, and chiropractors spend a lot of their time coercing and trying to convince their clients and patients to follow healthy diet and exercise programs without delving into the most important aspect of adherence to those programs.

            If we were to spend more time paying attention to one simple and important element that drastically affects your diet and exercise we could truly make an impact on our population’s health and fitness.

   Continue reading Voluntary vs. Involuntary Muscle: Major Consequences for your Health