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New Times, New Strategies

By | Healthy Living

By Kathleen Trotter, PTS

It is a new world, one filled with ZOOM, facemasks, heightened anxiety, home gyms… oh, and did I mention anxiety?

The conundrum is this: although our new normal has made “health” feel almost impossible, it also has made healthy living an absolute must—a non-negotiable. Exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep, and maintaining a nutritious diet not only supports immune and cardiovascular health, but these habits assist in the management of depression and anxiety, and improve everything from mood to energy, to mental focus. Plus, I know that when I “control what I can control” (exercise, nutrition, etc.) I feel more able to navigate what life throws at me. Maintaining my healthy habits gives me a semblance of control, a much-needed feeling in this new crazy world.

Instead of trying to use solutions that may—or may not—have worked pre-pandemic, find new and innovative ways to reach your health and fitness goals. Acknowledge that our world has changed, then adapt your strategies to the new reality.

New Strategies

In terms of exercise…

Try the “plug and play” solution

The plug and play solution is a tailored list of exercise options based on time and accessibility. Decide what activities you could realistically do in five minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, etc. When you find yourself with a chunk of “found” time, instead of wasting that block of time on social media or wondering what you should do, look at the list and go.

Think of the plug and play list as “exercise snacking.” Sure, you might not be able to prioritize an hour workout—a full “exercise meal”—but you can always fit in 5 or 10 minutes. Ten minutes of exercise a day is 70 minutes a week, and 70 minutes a week is better than zero minutes. All motion adds up.

Create the list in advance. Why? When you have to stop and think about what exercise to do, all too often you will end up doing nothing. The cognitive load of deciding is one thing too many. The list will help you take the guesswork out of fitness. That way you can make the best of all free moments.

How do you decide what goes on your plug and play list? Think about what you find fun, what is safe, what is realistic, and what can be done in the specific amounts of time you have.

Make it FUN… maybe get your family involved

Find things you enjoy, or at least that you don’t hate. This pandemic is hard enough; it might not be the time to make yourself suffer through exercise that you despise. Put on some music and dance around! Jump rope outside. Play semi-active games with your kids such as hide and seek—these types of games may not be a workout, but they require more activity than watching TV.

Make “dates” with your family to do online workouts, or to go for “fitventures.” Every Sunday I try out a different park around Toronto. My dog, Olive, loves it. I get time with my partner, James. We get our steps. Wins all around!

Consider a family challenge! Be creative. Base the parameters of the challenge on the number and age of your kids and their interests. Maybe each family member counts how many steps they take throughout the day. Everyone has to get creative to accrue steps — “forget” things upstairs, play active video games, pace on conference calls, etc. Or try a family pushup or squat challenge. The winner gets to pick family movie night or have their favourite meal delivered.

In terms of nutrition…

Procrastinate intelligently

Learn to delay your gratification. The next time you desire something that you know your future self will not be proud of, tell yourself you can have it, but not now. Delay the indulgence. Tell yourself you can have the treat tomorrow, or after you play a fun game or get going on a project. Future you will typically forget about the craving altogether!

Only bring food into the house that you want your future self—or your future family—to consume!

Control your nutritional environment; be vigilant about what comes into your house! Make your grocery list or order your groceries when you are feeling satiated and relatively calm—that is, when your rational brain is in charge. Then, don’t allow your emotional self to change that list.

The main takeaway is this: your workouts don’t have to be perfect, but they do have to happen. Think consistency—think daily, non-negotiable motion! Your food choices don’t have to be perfect, but they do have to be conscious. Stop mindlessly snacking. Control your nutrition environment. Unhealthy food in your cupboards will eventually be consumed by you or someone you love. Equally, healthy food will eventually be consumed by you or someone you love. If you don’t bring it into your house, you can’t eat it!

About Kathleen Trotter

Kathleen Trotter holds a masters in Exercise Science, is the author of two books including the new book Your Fittest Future Self, and is a Personal trainer, Nutritionist, Pilates Specialist and Life Coach. Visit her at KathleenTrotter.com

Twitter: @FITbyKathleenT

Instagram: @fitbykathleent

Facebook:  FIT by Kathleen Trotter

Exercise Prescription for Mental Health

By | Healthy Living

By Igor Klibanov

As a fitness professional, you undoubtedly know how prevalent mental health issues are, and you may even work with people who have them. However, there’s very little specific information on how to make it better (other than “exercise is good for you”) and any improvements that come are simply a side effect of exercise. But what if there was a direct way to exercise specifically for improvement of mental health issues? That’s exactly what we’ll cover in this article.

If your clients have noticed that they:

  • Have lost pleasure in activities that they really used to enjoy
  • Aren’t taking care of themselves as much
  • Are neglecting certain relationships
  • Performing worse at their work than they used to

Then this article is for you.

We’ll discuss the exercise prescription for mental health issues. I use that word, “prescription” very precisely. After all, when a doctor prescribes a medication, there’s a lot of precision behind it. S/he tells you:

  • The name of the medication
  • The dose
  • Whether you should take it with food, or away from food
  • Whether you should take it in the morning, or the evening

But, when the doctor recommends exercise, well, the recommendation is vague. You don’t know exactly how to do it. You need the exercise prescription for different conditions:

  • The type: cardio, strength training, or stretching
  • The frequency: how many days per week. It’s not always a “more is better” type of scenario. With some things there’s a “sweet spot”.
  • The duration: how long you exercise for, or how many sets and reps
  • The intensity: at what percent of your maximal effort do you exercise?

Cardio vs. Strength Training

Although the occasional study finds that cardio is more effective, most studies find no difference in effectiveness between cardio and strength training.

In one study, researchers divided participants into two groups:

Group 1 did cardio, three times per week, for one hour, at an intensity of 80% of their maximal heart rate.

Group 2 did strength training, three times per week for one hour. They did 10 exercises, in a circuit format, making sure their heart rate did not rise above 50-60% of their estimated maximum.

Group 3 was the control group. They did not exercise.

Both groups one and two had similar improvements in mental health (as judged by their depression score). After the study, around 80% of the people in groups one and two no longer met the diagnostic criteria for depression. But only 17% of the people in group three no longer met the diagnostic criteria for depression.

In another study, participants with mental health issues, whose average age was 71, participated in high-intensity strength training and, after 10 weeks, those who were in the exercise group had a 54% improvement in their mental health.

Frequency

How many days per week is better – one, three, five? Or is it like medications, where if you don’t take it for one day, the effect completely goes away, in which case, you need to take it every day, seven days per week?

That’s what this study tried to answer. In here, researchers divided participants into five groups:

  • Group 1: control group (stretching)
  • Group 2: burned 7 kcal/kg/week, across 3 days
  • Group 3: burned 7 kcal/kg/week, across 5 days
  • Group 4: burned 17.5 kcal/kg/week, across 3 days
  • Group 5: burned 17.5 kcal/kg/week, across 5 days

In this case, there was no difference between the two groups that burned 7 kcal/kg/week, and the group that didn’t exercise at all. None of those three groups saw much of an improvement in mental health. However, both groups that exercised at 17.5 kcal/kg/week saw reductions in symptoms of mental illness that were similar to each other. After 12 weeks of following this program, the reduction in mental illness symptoms was about 47%.

From this preliminary evidence, it seems like there’s not much of a difference between three times per week, and five times per week, as long as you cross a certain energy expenditure threshold. Is there a greater effect for even greater calorie expenditures? Maybe. But, as far as I know, that research has not yet been done yet.

Intensity

So, now that we know the type (cardio and strength training are about even), the frequency (not much of a difference between three and five times per week), what’s the intensity required to reduce mental health issues? Should you take it easy? Or should you really push?

That’s what this study tried to find out.

Researchers divided participants into three groups:

Group 1 was a control group (they didn’t exercise)

Group 2 did strength training at 80% of their maximum weight, three times per week for eight weeks.

Group 3 did the exact same exercises, repetitions, and frequency as group 2, but they did it with only 20% of their maximum weight.

The results:

  • 21% of the people in group 1 had a reduction in their mental health issues after eight weeks. Without exercise. Without medication. Without psychotherapy. It just happened.
  • 61% of the people in group 2 had a reduction in their mental health issues after eight weeks.
  • 28% of the people in group 3 had a reduction in their mental health issues after eight weeks

What’s our conclusion? High intensity (over 75% of your maximum) is superior to low intensity when it comes to mental health improvement. This study looked at strength training, but other studies saw the same effect for cardio.

Duration

Is this a case of “more is better”, or is this a case of “just right”? Unfortunately, this variable hasn’t been as well studied as frequency, intensity, and type. However, one preliminary study concluded that duration and intensity are much less important than frequency.

In terms of weeks/months, although small, transient reductions are seen with just a single exercise session. To see large, consistent, long-term reductions, you should exercise for at least 9 weeks, according to this study.

Exercise vs. Medications

And now, the million-dollar question: how do medications compare to exercise when it comes to mental health improvement?

One meta-analysis (a study of several studies), from the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology looked at this question in very significant detail and found that exercise is equally effective to medications in the treatment of mental health issues. And, when the two are combined, the medications work even better.

How Exercise Work on Mental Health?

It’s nice to know what works, but “why” does exercise help relieve mental health issues? What are the mechanisms involved?

Reason #1: Endorphins

When you exercise at a high intensity, it’s physically uncomfortable. You’re out of breath and your muscles are burning. Your body doesn’t like that, so it releases “pain-blocking” chemicals called “endorphins.” It makes sense why the high intensity is required for mental health improvement. It has to be uncomfortable enough to trigger the release of endorphins. Low intensity is too comfortable for endorphin release. It blocks physical pain, but along with that, it helps emotional pain, as is seen in mental illness.

Reason #2: Self Efficacy Hypothesis

Often, a person who suffers from mental health issues has the feeling like their life is out of control. Things are happening to them and they are helpless against circumstances. Exercise gives you a sense of control. You know that if you go for an intense 20-minute workout, you’ll feel better. And who controls when you work out? You do! Who controls how long you work out? You do! Who controls how hard you work out? You do!

Reason #3: Distraction

Sometimes exercise just works because you’re focused on how hard you’re breathing and how much your muscles are burning. You are able to forget whatever is stressing you out.

Reason #4: Sleep Improvement

It’s very well-known that people who exercise usually sleep better. People who sleep better have better moods.

Reason #5: Serotonin

Serotonin is the “happy chemical” and when it’s released you feel content and relaxed. Exercise helps increase serotonin in the brain.

About Igor Klibanov

Igor Klibanov is the author of five books on fitness and nutrition, including The Mental Health Prescription, as well as the CEO of one of Toronto’s premier personal training companies, Fitness Solutions Plus. He was selected as one of the top five personal trainers in Toronto by the Metro News newspaper, and has performed approximately 400 speaking engagements, many of which have been to some of Canada’s largest corporations (including RBC, IBM, Intact Insurance, and others).

Additionally, he has multiple programs for personal trainers to enhance their skills and is a regular speaker at various personal training conferences.

 

Straight Talk About Iron: What Women Need to Know

By | Nutrition

By Carol Harrison, RD

Iron is vital for women’s health, yet it’s rarely top of mind. Many of the women in your fitness class are likely unaware of the vital role that iron plays in optimizing health. Beyond the basics about iron, which I’ve written about before, here are the top three things to know about iron and women’s health.

There is no test to provide an early warning about low iron.

Iron is needed to carry oxygen to all parts of our bodies, including our muscles and brains. If iron is in short supply, our bodies will deprive our tissues of iron to ensure that there is enough of it in our blood. This means that by the time a blood test indicates low iron, we have long overshot the point of insufficient iron for optimal health.

Food for thought:  The importance of iron can get lost in the buzz about plant-based eating. Beef is one of the richest non-fortified food sources of well-absorbed iron. Advice to cut back further from what Canadians currently eat (two servings of fresh beef per week, on average) could make it challenging for some women to get sufficient iron. Some plant foods provide iron (and many other important nutrients including fibre), but the type they contain is less well absorbed.

Think optimal iron, not just preventing deficiency.

Your clients may complain of low energy, irritability, headaches or brain fog. They might ask you how they can eat for energy. One possible solution is to ensure they’re meeting their iron needs. Given that there is no good early warning test for low iron, the best advice is to be mindful of the importance of iron and to eat iron-rich foods daily to optimize your iron levels prior to detection of deficiency. Optimization is the key.

Food for thought: Women are often the primary caregivers of young and old alike. When stretched to the limit, self-care – like eating well – often gets pushed aside. Adopting some basic good eating habits like getting enough iron can boost well-being, energy, and resilience.

Iron matters well before women even think of conceiving. 

Women need to think about iron pre-pregnancy; if their iron stores are low, it can be hard to play catch-up and meet additional iron demands during pregnancy. That’s because it can take several months to correct low iron stores.

What many women may not realize is that insufficient iron can contribute to low birth weight and premature birth, and it can interfere with a baby’s optimal growth – even brain health – during fetal development and long after birth. Eating iron-rich foods daily starting well before pregnancy is ideal. Health-care providers may also recommend a supplement.

Food for thought: Up to 18% of Canadian women (14–50 years of age) do not meet their iron needs. Given that female athletes may need up to 70% more iron than recommended, and iron needs are almost doubled for those who do not eat meat, it’s likely that the prevalence of low iron has been significantly underestimated.

About Carol Harrison

Carol Harrison is a registered dietitian who loves her daily workouts! She has a food nutrition communications company in Toronto. Follow Carol on Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

R.E.W.I.R.E. Your Brain for Success!

By | Healthy Living

By Jill Hewlett, Brain Fitness Expert

We often refer to our cognitive abilities as muscles, but did you know that your brain is actually a jelly-like substance that is malleable and modifiable?

Similar to the muscles of your body, your brain is designed to grow and strengthen, and thanks to a special ability called ‘neuroplasticity’ it can be sculpted too.

This means that with the right knowledge and tools you can impact how your brain functions, improving your physical, mental, emotional and functional states, currently and long term.

 One of the best ways to do this is by using the body you currently have to get the brain you want!  Your brain is neurologically wired throughout your entire body, so when you intentionally care for your body, you inevitably care for your brain.

As fitness professionals, you are practicing and teaching many practical aspects of neuroscience – perhaps without even realizing it. With the information and new awareness that I’d like to share with you, you can quickly leverage your current skill set and have an even greater impact on your results and the outcomes you provide for yourself and your clients. Here are six steps to get you started.

R.E.W.I.R.E

REPETITION – Whatever you repeat on a regular basis creates more neurons and neural networks that will support and engrain that habit and way of thinking. If you are happy with your results, then continue with what you are doing. However, if you are not satisfied, then it’s time to get some new habits into place and to fortify a new and improved brain network.

ENGAGE – In neuroscience terms: “how you fire it, is how you wire it!” If you are serious about making changes in your life, you need to engage in supportive actions that align with your goals. In other words, you can’t just talk or think about it, you need to DO something which will activate neural responses and resulting brain connections.

WHY – As with anything in life, there needs to be some degree of motivation to get us started. For example, you are hungry enough to make a meal, tired enough to go to sleep, smelly enough to take a shower…etc. This is the same with life goals, too. When you want a change badly enough you will let go of your current situation and move into new terrain. Take a moment and connect to the reason behind your desired life change or goal. What’s your motivation? How would your life look, feel, or be different if you were to achieve the change? Clarifying and anchoring your intention is the precursor to actually delivering on it.

IMAGINE – Did you know that visualizing yourself performing an activity is almost as powerful as doing it? Visualization works because the same brain regions are activated when you mentally rehearse something as when you actually perform it. If you want to improve your athletic performance, deliver a powerful presentation, talk about a delicate subject with a friend or co-worker, you can rehearse ahead of time and improve the likelihood of more positive outcomes.

RELEASE – In order to bring the ‘new’ into your life, you need to make space for it. For example, if your calendar is already packed with commitments, how will you schedule in new opportunities? If your cupboards are full of food that doesn’t nourish you, where will you put new items that will? If your mind is so busy analyzing and regurgitating familiar thoughts and material, how will you have time to imagine and invite new possibilities? Take the time to do some weeding out to lighten your load and shift your energy in the direction you want to go.

ELEVATE – As they say in show biz, “It’s a long road to an overnight success!” Every step is part of the bigger picture; and if you want to make the ‘long road’ fun and enjoyable, recognizing all your efforts will be worth it. Research has shown that as children are growing and developing, being acknowledged for their efforts plays a big role in keeping them motivated and anchoring each new skill. Adults are not much different. We all do better when affirmed for our efforts. There are many simple, quick, and affordable ways you can bring in an element of celebration on a regular basis. A high five can go a long way!

To your Fit Brain & Fit Life!

About Jill Hewlett

Jill Hewlett is a nationally recognized speaker, author, Brain Fitness Expert & Wellness Authority.

Combining user-friendly neuroscience and inspired common sense strategies, Jill draws out the natural leadership, resources, and resilience in individuals and organizations to support them in achieving greater levels of wellness, productivity, and success.

With her keynotes and training sessions, you will be equipped with the information, motivation, and tools to proactively build your Fit Brain & Fit Life!

Visit her website www.jillhewlett.com

Movement of the Month: Supine Diaphragmatic Breathing

By | Movement

By Coach Kennedy

It’s no secret that COVID has caused much stress, put many into mental states of “fight or flight”, affecting our breathing patterns and our health. So, in light of this, I thought it would be appropriate to offer up something this month that could assist everyone with their health and wellness.

What is Supine Diaphragmatic Breathing? Simply put, using your diaphragm to breath, not your chest (more details in the video).  And, as the name suggests, it’s performed in a supine position.

Why perform it? Where do I even begin!  I could take you down a long crazy rabbit hole, but that wouldn’t accomplish anything, so I’m going to give you an analogy to put things into perspective. Please note that this does not apply to high intensity exercise. Why? Because we expect to see the chest moving to assist with breathing during recovery after high intensity exercise.

Consider this; breathing from our mouth or chest breathing is more indicative of being in “fight or flight”, or more representative of hyperventilating. In this state, the body – your nervous system more specifically – has one purpose, to protect you, PERIOD! What’s the issue? The issue is that in “fight or flight” your body will NOT heal, systemically or physically. Ever wonder why an injury or illness never seems to get better? Consider their state. Consider how you breath. Consider what part of the nervous system it’s in.

And, just to pique your interest, when we’re in fight or flight our gut also stops producing HCL- hydrochloric acid. Why does this matter? You won’t be able to properly digest your food, which can lead to digestion and gut issues. We have a nerve called the Vagus nerve that runs from your gut (hence that “gut feeling” we get, it’s real) to our brain.

EXERCISE EXECUTION:

STEP #1: In order to provide you with the best possible execution for Supine Diaphragmatic Breathing, I’ve given full instructions in the video provided.

KEY POINTS: Diaphragmatic Breathing can be executed anywhere, but I highly recommend it’s done in a quite place with minimal noise and eyes closed. Visualization, concentration, and focus are KEY factors in making this as affective as possible. Remember, just going through the motions does not work. VISUALIZE, CONCENTRATE, AND FOCUS.

EXERCISE PROTOCOL:

Supine Diaphragmatic breathing is performed for approximately one minute, but of course can be performed for up to 2-3 minutes. Each breath is 11 seconds in length. We perform a 5 second inhale, 1 second pause, and finally a 5 second release. Five rounds of breath are about one minute.

ALWAYS regress and progress as required. Not sure how? Connect with me at: kennedy@coachkennedyonline.ca.

About Coach Kennedy

Coach Kennedy (Kennedy Lodato) is a 29-year advocate of health and a 14-year veteran of the fitness industry, with a thirst for knowledge and a passion for teaching and running his own one-on- one coaching programs, consulting, live education, workshops, and lectures. Coach Kennedy is also an educator for canfitpro and EBFA- the Evidence Based Fitness Academy.

Before pursuing his true felt passion for mentoring trainers and coaches, he occupied the positions of Personal Trainer, Sport Conditioning Coach, and Personal Trainer Manager.  Kennedy is a three-time recipient of the canfitpro PRO TRAINER of the Year Award as well as the 2019 Canadian Delegates’ Choice Presenter of the Year Award.  Coach Kennedy is also a cofounder of QHI- Quantum Health Institute.  www.KennedyLodato.com and www.quantumhealthcollective.com

 

De- “MIST”ifying Fogging and Spraying

By | Business

The process of “fogging” has been used for years as a solution in remediation and pest control, while the process of disinfecting has been a traditional one of bleach and rag for even longer than that. Over time, technology has advanced in commercial kitchens, food manufacturing facilities and barns, disinfecting with fog and foam-based products that cover all surfaces. And, in the last decade, disinfectant spraying and fogging have both been used as a way to clean spaces such as classrooms and locker rooms, but was limited to who used this. Until this year, when suddenly fogging is a process that nearly EVERY business is now considering.

In the fitness industry right now, there are more challenges then ever to keep spaces clean and disinfected.  Trying to balance how to be time efficient, cost efficient and do the right thing has been forced upon the industry in new ways.

Let’s break fogging down and de-mystify what it is all about by answering some of the most common questions that we get below!

You can also learn more about the difference between cleaning and disinfecting, what dwell time is, and how we can support you with telling your “clean story” to members and clients by watching a pre-recorded webinar

What is Disinfectant Fogging and Spraying?

Disinfectant fogging and spraying is the process of using a piece of equipment (fogger or sprayer) to disperse disinfectant into a specific space. In the case of a fogger, the disinfectant travels through a high-speed vortex and is atomized into a fine mist or “fog”.  In the case of a sprayer, the disinfectant is “charged” as it exits the sprayer so that it attaches and wraps around a surface.

Why would I choose fogging or spraying over elbow grease?

Two words: Time and Efficiency! The solution of good old-fashioned elbow grease works, but this means that every surface in a room needs to be cleaned manually. This is time consuming, allows more room for error (how often do you clean EVERY light switch?), and does not take into account dwell time (the length of time wet disinfectant needs to sit on a surface to actually disinfect it).

With fogging or spraying, once a room has been cleaned (the process of eliminating debris and dirt), the fogger or sprayer will do the work for you! In about a quarter of the time, every nook and cranny of a room will be covered with a layer of disinfectant that will eat all surface bacteria and viruses.

But is it safe?

100%!!! People have been fogging and spraying for a long time, but that does not mean SAFETY shouldn’t be considered when fogging and spraying as there are a few things to take into consideration.  First, what TYPE of disinfectant is being used? Secondly, what PPE makes sense for that disinfectant?

You should also consider the spaces and WHO/WHAT will be in the space. Just because you can pour it into a fogger or sprayer does not mean that you SHOULD! You also need to consider that when you fog/ spray, the disinfectant is changing from a liquid state to an atomized state. This is why we always advise working with experts who understand not only their product, but others as well!

How do I know it works?

Similar to manually disinfecting, when disinfecting with a fogger or sprayer, the best way to know the efficacy of the treatment is to perform tests. This is the same as with manual cleaning. With fogging and spraying, you can assess coverage of disinfectant with testing papers to ensure that all areas have been covered. We have completed swab tests and can demonstrate the efficacy.  The most important part is making sure the surface stays wet for the amount of time the label says it needs to.  Whether fogging or manually cleaning.

Fogging and spraying is a cost-effective way to ensure a COMPLETE and DEEP disinfecting of your space.  Whether you have a service provider complete the work for you or you choose to purchase equipment and disinfectant solutions on your own, Go Fog It can support all your disinfecting needs in one place!

We are super excited to announce your member rewards discount click here to receive 10% off any purchase of Botanical Disinfectant, Fogging or Spraying Equipment, or Training and Certification. Use Discount code: CANFITPRO10

Visit by clicking this link.

 

The Long Road Back

By | Business

By Mario Mavrides

Without question the global pandemic has challenged the way we in the fitness industry conduct business.

The global shutdown of most of our facilities and gyms has necessitated creative approaches to operations as an act of outright survival in most cases. For many gyms, this creativity has indeed helped them make it through to the other side of forced closures, and massive reduction in revenues and reopen their doors to the public.

Unfortunately, far too many facilities were unable to weather the storm, and thus closed their doors permanently.

Yet, for those businesses who remain viable in the face of such adversity, one can glean lessons to help improve and safeguard our businesses for the future.

One such lesson which came to prevalence is the value and importance of professional training. Be it small group, one-on-one, or even remote and virtual sessions, supervised training has again demonstrated its extraordinary value in member retention and revenue generation for many a gym. In fact, there have been multiple reports of as high as 90% of personal training clients returning upon reopening irrespective of age. This number of returning clients is drastically larger than that of general members, which in some cases is down below 30% (potentially lower in the over 50 demographic).

While the numbers above do represent the extremes of those data collected, the differential serves to illustrate the power a strong personal training department can have on mitigating the negative impact the pandemic has had on our industry. That said, make no mistake the benefits of a robust personal training offering go far beyond “disaster proofing” your business. A strong P/T department can help build a vibrant core of members who are focused on fitness, willing to support your business as something other than a simple commodity.

Facilities who managed to modify their practice via implementing alternative service methods to members, showed a clear advantage in client retention. One such remarkably effective approach was the liberal and intelligent use of online resources. Adapting their business to the use of online training tools by operators allowed them to virtually connect with existing members, and clients. This early and consistent connection proved a boon in providing a sense of community, connectivity, and inclusion.  By continuing to offer a relatively uninterrupted exercise experience, training clients who participated in weekly virtual training sessions with coaches were able to maintain forward progress, and more importantly satisfaction in their gym offerings. This satisfaction in turn clearly influenced participating members in their desire and willingness to return to the gym.

With many media outlets currently vociferously proclaiming the death of the gym membership as we know it, it is fair to assume members are leaving gyms in droves. If the various media claims are to be believed, former avid gym-goers have transitioned to home based primarily cardio based workouts provided by their hastily purchased dumbbells, treadmills, and other fitness equipment.

While certainly the scarcity of fitness equipment in the local retail outlets may support this contention, history clearly illustrates there should be a glut on the market of gently used treadmills, bikes and ellipticals in the coming months. Why? For the same reasons as always: Most cardio centric workouts rarely provide enough meaningful or positive changes in body composition, muscular strength, or performance (the three most coveted reasons cited by most gym attendees). Therefore, for the dedicated gymgoer who aren’t necessarily interested in running or cycling for the sake of doing so, the need for a focused, results-based gym experience provided by a professionally guided training plan is invaluable and not likely to be realised at home.

Businesses who have understood the value of personal training as a “member retention” system have historically demonstrated a resilience to the inevitable “peaks and valleys” of operating in an uncertain environment at the best of times. Organizations, who have fostered a culture of a results-based fitness approach within their facilities have benefitted versus those who may espouse a more social or amenities-based value proposition to their member base.

While there is not anything inherently wrong with the aforementioned promotion of your facility as a social hub for members, doing so at the expense of the core offering of “fitness” may lead to some unintended outcomes.

Steam rooms, hot tubs, massage chairs and beds, juice bars, lounges and gathering places can all be wonderful and valuable additions to a gym and may indeed be a boon to member acquisition. However, these are amenities and services which can be provided, and probably to greater effect by other businesses who specialize in such things (i.e. restaurants, bars, and spas for example) and therefore not a core competency of a gym.

This is not to say a gym should not offer such services, in fact many a gym business has enjoyed increased revenue diversification and numbers from doing so. Rather it seems clear the members who prioritize physical progress and change over other “ancillary” offerings, are more likely to venture forward out of their imposed lockdowns and get back to achieving their physical goals at their gyms.

Essentially one can draw a clear correlation between members who have returned and those who place import on achieving their goals. Clearly members who have invested a meaningful amount of time, effort, and money into personal training fall into this latter category and take the pursuit of results seriously. Thus, clients who prioritized fitness goals, and placed value on the relationship developed with their trainers demonstrated a seemingly greater willingness to get back to their gyms, their trainers and ultimately their healthy habits.

About Mario Mavrides

A 25 year veteran of the fitness industry  (with the bumps to prove it) Mario has successfully worked with most of the major players in North America. From business development to certification, education and training Mario has provided support and guidance to thousands of individual trainers, and operators on how to grow and build a strong, vibrant fitness business.

Most recently as an active member of the Fitness Industry Council of Canada and it’s Ontario Coalition, Mario has played a leading role in creating and advocating the #practicesafefitness initiative, a framework developed to help operators provide a safe exercise experience for their members.

Currently based out of the new TapOut Fitness brand’s flagship in Woodbridge, (www.woodbridge.tapoutfitness.com) Ontario, Mario can be reached via email at mmavrides@gmail.com.

canfitpro 2020 Virtual Series: September

By | Business

We hope you continued to enjoy the first-ever canfitpro 2020 Virtual Series. Your continuous support made the September event a success! We hope your experience with us was positive and successful, as we couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you from all of us at canfitpro!

Please remember to check your email to fill out a post-event survey to help increase their effectiveness in the future.

Take a look at some of the event highlight photos:

THANK YOU TO OUR WONDERFUL SPONSORS -
WE COULDN'T HAVE DONE THIS WITHOUT ALL OF YOU!

What you missed...

  • Make 6 Figures Teaching Online While You Sleep! With Sadie Nardini
  • WORLD OF DANCE U-Jam House Party With Sheldon McBee & Nikki Snow
  • 10 Proven Principles for Success in Business (And Life) With Sean Greely

What's coming in OCTOBER

OPENING KEYNOTE: THINK Yourself® CONFIDENT: Find Confidence & Clarity to Make Money living Your Purpose
With Nathalie Plamondon-Thomas
Sat. Oct. 17 | 8:30 AM EST

Learn from 8 times No.1 Bestselling Author and Confidence Expert, the key to unlock your full potential.

PROFIT MINDSET & BUSINESS STRATEGY for Studio Owners
With Sean Greely
Sat. Oct. 17 | 1:15 PM EST
.
In this session, you’ll get the tools needed to THINK DIFFERENTLY and win.

KEISER®: RUSH
With Sergio Velasco
Sat. Oct. 17 | 11:45 AM EST

This workshop takes interval training and delivers it in a way that is both challenging and empowering.

 

DID YOU GET A CHANCE TO VISIT OUR SEPTEMBER TRADE SHOW EXHIBITORS?

Cocoon Fitness Pod®

Fitness Industry Council of Canada

Fitness Marketing Group

Functional Movement Systems

Gallagher

Gleevie

GoodLife Fitness

Human Kinetics Canada

Life Fitness

Matrix Fitness Canada

Merrithew™

Mobility Tape

Muscle Activation Techniques®

New Era Grafix

NPE

One Day to Wellness

OptiMYz

Oxygen Yoga & Fitness Inc.

PL3Y Inc.

Pliteq Inc.

POLAR

POUND - Rockout. Workout.

Power WearHouse Inc.

SoulBody Fitness

TELUS

THINK Yourself® ACADEMY

Trainer Plus

TRX

Venus Concept Inc.

VTMN Packs

World of Dance U-Jam Fitness

YogaFit Worldwide Inc.

ZUMBA®

STRONG Nation™

We hope to see you back in October for sessions in French, spin/cycling education and more incredible learning opportunities from world-class presenters.

Register for the October sessions!

Thank you again and hope to see you soon!

 

 

Photo credit: Dawn Bowman Photography

Industry Strong – How COVID-19 can help us be better!

By | Business

By Robert Robinson

We will not soon forget the year 2020.  We started flattening the curve in the spring and social distancing in the summer, what will the Fall bring our way?

Indeed, everyone will have a story to share including the many personal experiences like virtual weddings, funerals, birthdays, and fitness conferences to name a few.  We have all demonstrated admirable resilience and courage to not throw in the towel in the face of adversity.  The Fitness Industry, not exempt, has been mentioned in several media stories including how clubs will reopen and whether members will be reluctant to return to the gym. Recognizing the ripple effect that decisions, by both Fitness Businesses and Fitness Consumers, will ultimately have on the health of the industry, many club owners and operators from across the country started the conversation.

#IndustryStrong

Personally, in the past six months I have attended more virtual roundtables and industry coalition calls than ever before.  The outcome of the global crisis ultimately brought together some of the country’s most influential club owners, operators, and fitness professionals to the table to discuss best practices, shared experiences, and to consult on next steps.

Did COVID-19 actually produce some positive outcomes?  Fascinated by the recent vertical engagement that has emerged in our industry, the true testament will be, what happens when COVID-19 is no longer a common enemy? Will we stay unified as a fitness industry or return to business as usual? For now, let us celebrate the fact that we have consolidated together – because of it.

Thank you COVID-19?

I know, this may be a stretch and even offensive, because of the global impact felt by the pandemic which has directly or indirectly touched us all.  Right here in our industry, many businesses have closed their doors for an extended period, while others have closed for good.  It can be extremely hard to see the good in something that has been so bad!

I am both a Black Fitness Professional and a Professional working in the Fitness Industry.  My unique appreciation for this period in our history is influenced solely by this reality.

The other pandemic (Crisis) = Opportunity

While being industry-strong can lead to club doors reopening, my hope is that it will also lead to the opening of caring hearts that desire to change the demographic and diversity landscape of fitness.

Earlier this year we witnessed the greatest unified global outcry against racial injustice and social unrest ever in our history.  On May 25, 2020, another human life was taken at the hands of carelessness and systemic racism, but this time there were no distractions (no sports, no movies, no concerts, no fun vacations), and the world echoed, “enough is enough”.

This other crisis can actually be our greatest opportunity to be Industry Strong.  It’s easy to react, but instead we chose to respond. We quickly realized that it is not what you say, but what you do that will measure your true commitment to change.  We listened to the feedback of our members and are now imploring the Fitness Industry to join us to be better together!

The following list is only the beginning of our journey to lasting change at canfitpro:

  1. Formed Diversity & Inclusion Committee to champion organization objectives and motivate positive change in our membership base and the fitness community.
  2. Outlined a 12-Month Strategy to identify and address organizational priorities timely.
  3. Launched a Learning Club & Resource Library to promote lifelong learning.
  4. Reviewed our hiring processes to make career opportunities accessible to diverse applicants.
  5. Surveyed members and partners to better understand how best to service everyone equally.

What can you and your organization do to start?

As an industry partner we hope you are starting too.  Many fitness businesses and professionals have admittedly asked, “Where do we start?”  These five things can help you make an immediate impact in your company’s Diversity and Inclusion strategy:

  1. Hiring & Promotion: Take a look at your staff body and if there is an imbalance of racial and gender diversity on your leadership team, then this is a good place to start.
  2. Training & Development: Find an organization that specializes in Diversity & Inclusion and invite them to the table to do a corporate assessment.  You can also start by finding online training resources and initiate a Learning Path starting from the highest level of leadership downward.
  3. Survey: Ask your team how Diversity & Inclusion has impacted them and what they would like to see in the workplace to make it safe and equitable for their career growth.
  4. Management/Leadership: Leadership must lead the change in your organization.  A senior leader and/or mid-level manager must drive the corporate agenda.  If the team leading your Diversity & Inclusion strategy does not include leadership, it will fail fast.
  5. External Representation: Review your marketing materials, websites, communication channels, and product packaging to learn if your organization is victim to unconscious bias.  Your communication channels will tell your audience a lot about you.

You have a tremendous opportunity and influence. The strength of your words has the power to give life a new reality, so say less and do more. Let’s lead fitness and start with the conversation.

The whole is greater than the sum of all its parts. – Unknown

About Robert Robinson

Robert Robinson is the Manager of B2B Sales & Strategic Partnerships at canfitpro and a certified Personal Training Specialist for over 7 years. He led the revision of the current edition of canfitpro’s Personal Training Specialist program and now oversees the B2B Business Unit. Robert is an experienced sales professional with over 15 years in the financial and fitness industry. His personal focus is to enlighten others about making individual and collective choices for positive change.

GoodLife Fitness: Setting the standard for COVID-19 safety

By | Business

By Jason Sheridan, Senior VP of Operations, GoodLife Fitness

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Canada in mid-March, GoodLife Fitness made the difficult but

important decision to close its clubs to prioritize the health and safety of its Associates and Members in a fluid and unknown situation. We joined gyms across the country in experiencing complete upheaval and uncertainty.

It was an extremely tough time for the fitness industry. We all took a huge hit. But as Canada’s largest gym chain, we knew we had to be proactive to find ways to stay connected with and take care of our Associates and Members.

A multi-disciplinary team kicked into action to address immediate problems, and we prepared to start planning how to get back to doing what we do best — giving everyone in Canada the opportunity to live a fit and healthy good life.

Communicating the latest information

At the time, there were so many questions. Information was changing quickly. We established a dedicated section on the GoodLife Fitness website with frequently asked questions about novel coronavirus and its impact on the Clubs. This content was updated regularly to address Associate and Member concerns, as well as evolving health and safety requirements. GoodLife also added a weekly email update to keep Associates informed and connected.

Keeping people safe and #CanadianStrong

With gyms closed, we offered alternate workout options and content to keep people active from the safety of their homes. GoodLife launched its new digital gym #GoodLifeAtHome that gave all Canadians access to a weekly schedule of free workouts, wellness tips and free live classes on GoodLife’s social channels (@GoodLifeFitness).

#GoodLifeAtHome expanded over the subsequent weeks to deliver a variety of live fitness options to a wider audience. Senior leaders with experience in group fitness and team training stepped up to offer daily 30-minute strength, HIIT and functional fitness workouts online. These regular workouts helped many GoodLife Members stay connected, stay active and provided a sense of routine during a time of chaos.

Improving and expanding personal training

The personal training team kept their skills up with a virtual development session called Stronger Together in May. The sessions attracted 500+ personal trainers and fitness professionals to learn from experts in their field about how to deliver great experiences post-lockdown.

As a way to stay in touch with their peers and clients, several GoodLife senior leaders and personal trainers used Instagram Live to post regular interviews with personal training experts sharing their experiences and tips for maintaining mental and physical strength.

GoodLife introduced at-home virtual training, as well as outdoor training options for clients looking for different venues to workout with their personal trainer.  Policies, best practices were revamped to ensure personal trainers were comfortable with this option for their clients.

GoodLife also adapted its GoodLife Personal Training Institute and Base Camp programs to give personal trainers the option to learn virtually with the same standards and expectations

Revamping anything that requires movement analysis and coaching requires a lot of detailed work and practice. The personal training team and trainers in the Clubs have committed hours to ensuring they deliver training with the same high standards clients experienced before the closure.

Setting ‘The GoodLife Standard’

Long before provincial governments gave the green light to reopen gyms, GoodLife consulted experts in infection prevention and control and sanitization to ensure every Club that reopened would align with or exceed the recommendations and standards put forth by all levels of government.

GoodLife developed a comprehensive health and safety plan focused on three main areas: ensuring physical distancing, reducing capacity levels in our Clubs, and enhanced cleaning and sanitization practices. The plan was introduced as The GoodLife Standard, and acted as a guide for reopening Clubs across the country. The GoodLife Standard outlines a clear structure and guidelines for Associates and is intended to help Members understand what to expect when they come back to a GoodLife Club.

We filter every aspect of the business through The GoodLife Standard to ensure it stands up to today’s ever-changing health and safety requirements.  We recognize this is a continual process and we use these principles constantly as we operate our Clubs in this new normal.  For example, as we move into the colder months, we’re considering how changing conditions will affect Members and are preparing our Clubs to be ‘winter ready’ in line with The GoodLife Standard.

Crash testing safety protocols

But we didn’t stop there. GoodLife worked with healthcare design experts Dr. Chris Hicks and Dr. Andrew Petrosoniak of Advanced Performance Healthcare Design to crash test its COVID-19 safety protocols, including The GoodLife Standard. Hicks and Petrosoniak , both ER physicians, used simulation, combined with clinical and behavioural psychology expertise, to create customized solutions for the unique needs of fitness clubs.

Hicks and Petrosoniak completed thorough research on the fitness industry, as well as GoodLife spaces, processes and policies, with a specific focus on the company’s proposed re-opening plans and new operating model.  They tested The GoodLife Standard against real life scenarios using a situational analysis, tabletop and in-club simulations.

Their findings helped us pinpoint and fix confusion points and blind spots, as well as eliminate friction associated with compliance before Clubs opened.

A video of these simulations can be viewed on the GoodLife Fitness YouTube channel.

Reopening in stages

GoodLife worked closely with the provincial governments and regional public health offices to prepare our Clubs to open as safely and as efficiently as possible. We got ourselves ready in every province, so we could open our doors to Members as soon as we had the green light.

The official reopening dates were informed by a number of factors, including:

  • The stage each region was at with their recovery
  • Information and guidelines released by public health authorities
  • The full implementation of The GoodLife Standard

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, was the first GoodLife Fitness club to reopen. It proved to be a good test market since there were minimal COVID cases and there was only one Club in the province. We proceeded to reopen our other Clubs province-by-province as government regulations relaxed. During the reopening process, we learned to be flexible and patient to accommodate unique markets and regional fluctuation of COVID cases.

Communicating with Members

As we reopened, we took steps to make sure Members clearly understood the new normal, including health and safety protocols, cleaning requirements and what to expect during their workouts. We used as many channels as possible: email, social media, and the website. We produced images and videos depicting our processes and what Members can expect.

Of course, there will always be people who haven’t seen the information, so we made sure our Associates were equipped to explain the new protocols and answer questions from Members. Members have been happy to contribute to the cleaning and other preventative measures in our Clubs. Largely, people recognize that everyone’s safety is dependent on each person’s actions.

GoodLife asked its Members to book their workouts in advance using the GoodLife app. Members were able to book one time-block per day but were also allowed to walk in if there was capacity at their Club. These measures have been relaxed in some markets where COVID-19 rates have been lower.

To evaluate the safe-work practices, GoodLife turned to our Members and Associates for feedback. What we’re hearing has been overwhelmingly positive, and Members and Associates feel very comfortable with the protocols we’ve implemented.

Here’s what GoodLife Members said about their experiences shortly after the Clubs reopened:

  • 92% of Members said they feel very safe or somewhat safe in the clubs
  • More than 90% said it’s very easy or somewhat easy to practice proper physical distancing in their club.
  • 89% rated the space in their club as very clean.

We’ve had nearly 5 million check-ins since reopening, and we’re proud of the teamwork, dedication and flexibility of GoodLife Associates and Members. We’re always looking for ways to improve on our protocols, and we continue to consult Dr. Hicks and Dr. Petrosoniak along with government and health unit guidelines to continue making our Clubs as safe as possible.

About Jason Sheridan, Senior Vice President of Operations, GoodLife Fitness

As Senior Vice President of Operations, Jason Sheridan oversees strategy, sales and operations for GoodLife Fitness Clubs across Canada. Through research, innovation and creative thinking, he is constantly developing the company’s culture and practices, ensuring GoodLife’s Members receive the best experience possible and GoodLife’s Associates have fulfilling careers.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Jason has taken the lead on GoodLife’s reopening strategy, ensuring that the health and safety of our Members and Associates is at the forefront of all decision making, and that our Clubs are consistently aligned with the requirements and recommendations from all levels of government and the many local public health units across Canada.

In his 20+ years with GoodLife, Jason has worked in multiple positions, including sales and personal training. He is passionate about coaching people to develop and reach their goals, whether it’s personal fitness goals or a career path. He urges people to make fitness a habit and believes achieving goals comes with passion.