Healthy Living

Workout Shoe or Running Shoe?

By | Healthy Living

By Nick Rizzo

1. Running shoes are not “workout shoes”.

These categories of shoes are drastically different, and for good reason.

Where a workout shoe or crosstrainer can be used for weightlifting, plyometrics, sprints, sports, and everything in-between, a running shoe is designed to help you do the exact same motion of moving forward.

Mixing this up can leave you open to potential injuries.

So take note of these differences when comparing a running versus workout shoe:

  • Workout shoes can provide mild cushioning, but have a greater focus on support, durability, and movement control for lateral movements. Whereas running shoes typically have a lot of cushioning and support.
  • Running shoes typically are lighter because running requires less overall material and the material used is lighter in comparison to the workout shoes that use heavier and more durable options.
  • In a workout shoe, you want to feel connected to the ground in order to best support proprioception and neuromuscular functioning. Running shoes aim to remove your foot from impacting the ground as much as possible by layers and layers of cushioning.
  • A typical shoe for workouts will have a wider base in order to support the various types of movements while running shoes are slim and narrower.

2. Cheaper workout shoes are better.

Save your money. Expensive workout shoes aren’t worth it.

That’s what one study found after analyzing 323,776 reviews of 336 workout shoes from 20 brands.

The general trend is that the more expensive a shoe is, the worse it’s rated. But even at the extremes, the 10 most expensive workout shoes cost 183.05% more than the 10 most affordable ones.

Despite costing so much more, the expensive shoes were actually rated 2.3% worse than the cheaper ones.

3. Know the differences between brands.The 20 brands from the same study were compared against each other as well, comparing the average price and ratings of each brand of workout shoe.

Brands like NoBull, Skechers, Jordan, Inov-8, and Puma are in the top five highest rated brands, making them all great options based upon your specific needs.

But, if you are looking to keep the cost low and the ratings high you have to consider Skechers, Puma, Ryka, Reebok, and Avia.

4. High quality shoes at a great price.

With a clear idea of where the brands stand, here are a few great affordable suggestions for your next pair of workout shoes:

  • Reebok Flexagon Energy
    Average Price: $55 (Some sizes and colors priced as low as $25!)
    Rating: 87/100
  • Skechers Haniger – Casspi
    Average Price: $50
    Rating: 89/100
  • Avia Avi -Verge
    Average Price: $35
    Rating 88/100

About Nick Rizzo

Nick Rizzo is the Training & Fitness Content Director at He uses his education in the sciences, experience as a researcher, and 10+ years in the fitness industry to craft comprehensive content to educate, motivate, and support readers with information backed by science.

Hormones, Calories, and Weight Gain

By | Healthy Living

By Igor Klibanov

Many women going through menopause wonder, “Why am I gaining body fat if I’m eating the same, and exercising?” They conclude, “It must be my hormones.” And, they are (largely) correct. But how do hormones really affect body fat? Do they slow down metabolism? Do they stimulate appetite? Is there another mechanism? And, likewise, how does food influence hormones?

Yes, hormones affect calories, but the opposite is true as well – calories affect hormones. In this article, we’ll explore the intricate relationship between hormones and calories.

We’ll answer questions like:

  • What are the four ways in which calories are burned?
  • How does estrogen affect calories?
  • How does thyroid affect calories?
  • How do calories affect hormones?

What this article will not cover is how to balance hormones. I’ve written an entire book on that, called STOP EXERCISING! The Way You Are Doing it Now. If you would like to download a free PDF version of the book, you can do so here.

How Are Calories Burned?

When we talk about having a “slow metabolism” or a “fast metabolism”, what does that really mean? Often, we use it as an excuse as to why we have a few extra pounds (it’s easier to blame our metabolism – something seemingly outside of our control, rather than something like what we eat, which is within our control). Too bad this excuse isn’t valid at all, since overweight people have faster metabolisms than normal weight people (after all, a person who weighs 200 pounds burns more calories than a person who weighs 150 pounds).

But, when we (the laypeople) say “metabolism”, we’re referring to how many calories we burn per day. Though to be technically accurate, that’s only one of four sources of caloric expenditure.

There are four ways that calories are burned, and all combined they’re called the “Total Daily Energy Expenditure” (TDEE for short). They are:

  • Basal metabolic rate (BMR): How many calories you burn just to stay alive. This contributes around 40-50% of your total daily calories. So, if it takes you 2000 calories per day to maintain your weight, you spend about 800-1000 calories on BMR.
  • Exercise. This one’s obvious. Depending on how much exercise you do, that will determine how many calories you burn.
  • Thermic effect of food (TEF): Whenever you eat food, you don’t absorb 100% of the calories. Some of those calories are used to help with digestion and assimilation of food. TEF is estimated to be about 10% of daily calories. So, if you need 2000 calories to stay the same weight, TEF will be around 200 calories.
  • Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT): These are movements and activities that aren’t formal exercise, but they burn calories. Things like gardening, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, fidgeting, etc. NEAT is a real “wild card” when it comes to metabolism and a lot of people believe that NEAT makes the difference between those who are naturally lean and those struggling with their weight. NEAT can range from as little as 100 calories to over 1000 calories per day (things like treadmill desks can really boost your NEAT without making you tired, since the intensity is so low, but spread out over eight or more working hours).

How Does Estrogen Affect Calories?

We know from the previous section that we can burn calories through BMR, TEF, NEAT, and exercise. So, which of those four does estrogen affect, and by how much?

That’s what this study wanted to find out. Here’s what the researchers did:

They recruited 45 women, and divided them into two groups:

  • Group 1 received a placebo (they were told they were receiving estrogen, but in reality the cream they received had nothing in it).
  • Group 2 received estrogen therapy

Both groups received the treatment for five months and here’s what happened afterwards:

  • BMR:
    • In group 1, it dropped by an average of 54 calories per day.
    • In group 2, it went up about six calories per day.
  • The amount of calories burned through exercise:
    • In group 1, decreased by about 8%.
    • In group 2, it decreased by about 5.5%.
  • TEF increased by a similar amount in both groups (about 10-12%)
  • NEAT:
    • In group 1, increased by about 19 calories per day
    • In group 2, increased by about 41 calories per day.

If you’re an accountant, engineer, or scientist, you probably love all these numbers. If you’re not, you’re probably just glazing over and wondering what the implications of these results are. Here it is:

  • Women with higher estrogen levels during menopause burn more calories at rest, they burn more during exercise compared to women of equal age, but with lower estrogen levels, and they are slightly more active during the day.

All in all, it adds up to less fat and more muscle.

So, you must be wondering how you can raise your estrogen levels so that you too can have less fat and more muscle. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as getting started on hormone replacement therapy.

You have to ask yourself why estrogen levels are low to begin with. For any one issue, there are multiple potential causes. Here are some potential reasons why estrogen may be low:

  • Testosterone is low (estrogen is made from testosterone so, if you have low testosterone, that may be causing low estrogen levels)
  • Cortisol (the stress hormone) is high
  • The liver isn’t processing estrogen effectively
  • The gastrointestinal system isn’t working properly
  • …and others

So, it’s a fairly lengthy process to figure out what’s going on and the most appropriate course of action is to see a medical professional for hormonal testing and interpretation.

Besides the involuntary aspects (metabolism, thermic effect, and NEAT) of having higher estrogen levels, one study found that women with higher estrogen levels naturally want to exercise more and harder.

And another study found that women with higher estrogen levels get more pleasure and satisfaction from their food, so they don’t feel the need to eat as much.

In summary, how do low estrogen levels cause fat gain? Through a quadruple whammy of:

  1. Burning fewer calories at rest.
  2. Doing less involuntary physical movement.
  3. Doing less exercise, and less intensely.
  4. Eating more because food isn’t as satisfying as it was when estrogen levels were higher.

How Does Thyroid Affect Calories?

Often, in women going through menopause, it’s not just one hormone that’s “out of whack” – it’s a whole bunch of them: estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, and thyroid.

We covered estrogen in the previous section. In this one, we’ll cover thyroid (the reason we don’t cover progesterone and cortisol in this article is because very little evidence exists on how they impact TDEE).

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits in the middle of your throat and it’s the “gas pedal” for your metabolism.

As much as two thirds of BMR is used just to keep you warm. In other words, it’s used to maintain your body temperature at healthy 36.5-36.8 degrees Celsius. So, if your temperature is lower, you’re burning fewer calories. And one of the most common symptoms of a slow thyroid is low body temperature. People with a slow thyroid often complain that their hands and feet are cold all the time, even when other people around them are comfortable. Or they’ll often sleep with socks on.

For every degree Celsius that your temperature is under that 36.5-36.8 range, you’re burning 10-13% fewer calories, according to this study. In one client, I measured her temperature at 34.2. Therefore she was burning about 25% fewer calories than she thought she was.

One study decided to look at how many calories are burned by people with hypothyroidism. People without hypothyroidism had a BMR of 1591 calories/day while people with hypothyroidism had a BMR of 1316 calories per day – a difference of 275 calories. With that kind of deficit, that’s equal to gaining a pound of fat every 13 or so days. However, when thyroid hormone was given to people who had a slow thyroid, their metabolism increased to 1623 calories/day.

Of course, just like there are multiple reasons for low estrogen, there are also multiple reasons for a slow thyroid:

  • High cortisol
  • High estrogen
  • The immune system is attacking the thyroid gland
  • The body is resistant to thyroid hormone
  • High levels of mercury
  • …and others

How Do Calories Affect Hormones?

We’ve covered how hormones affect calories, now let’s switch gears and talk about how calories affect hormones.

First of all, not all calories were created equal. Calories are divided into three different categories and each one has a different hormonal effect:

  • Carbohydrates (found in sources like bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, beans, lentils, peas, etc.)
  • Fats (found in sources like butter, olive oil, nuts, avocados, fatty fish like salmon, etc.)
  • Protein (found primarily in sources like meat, fish, and seafood. You can read my article on the best protein sources).
Carbohydrates and Hormones

The most obvious effect of carbs is on insulin. When you eat carbs, blood sugar rises. When blood sugar rises, insulin also rises in order to bring blood sugar down. Usually, blood sugar overshoots the baseline, goes a bit too low, and so cortisol is released, to bring it back up to baseline. So, there’s this teeter-totter between insulin and cortisol. Insulin lowers blood sugar, and cortisol raises it.

What is not as well known is the effect of carbs on your thyroid. According to multiple studies (here’s one of them), it appears that low carbohydrate diets slow down the thyroid. However, once normal carb intake is resumed, so is thyroid function.

Fats and Hormones

Dietary fats influence a hormone called “leptin.” Leptin is the hormone that tells you that you’re full. It’s the “satiety hormone.”

What is not as well known about fats is that they can actually increase testosterone levels in both men and women. People who are on low fat diets have lower levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. That is because all three are made of cholesterol. If cholesterol is too low, typically so are all three hormones. However, if all three hormones are within normal range, it doesn’t seem likely that additional dietary fat will increase them.

As I’ve written about previously in my article on PCOS, women with this condition seem to actually do better on a higher fat diet (where it makes up about 30% of daily calories), compared to lower fat diets.

Protein and Hormones

Like carbohydrates, protein can also raise insulin levels, but not nearly to the same extent.

Sufficient protein intake (1.2-2.0 g/kg/day) keeps testosterone levels where they need to be, but low protein intake can actually decrease testosterone levels.

So, why am I gaining body fat if I’m eating the same and exercising?

So, by now, it should be making sense why you might be gaining body fat, even when no other changes were made.

Imagine this scenario: it takes you 2000 calories per day to maintain your weight. So, you eat 2000 calories per day and through a combination of exercise, metabolism, TEF and NEAT, you burn 2000 calories per day. Your body fat is stable.

Then comes peri-menopause, and both your thyroid and estrogen decrease. You’re still eating 2000 calories per day, but your BMR is now 100 calories per day slower and you don’t move around as much involuntarily, so you burn another 100 calories per day less. Now you’re burning 200 calories per day less than you were just a few years earlier, before your hormones started to change.

You’re taking in 2000 (that hasn’t changed). You’re still exercising and eating the same amount (that hasn’t changed either), but you’re not burning as much. It doesn’t take a math genius to figure out that if you take in more than you expend, you’ll gain body fat.

And that’s often the complaint with our menopausal clients.

This is the challenge. Although, we don’t talk about the “what to do”, I do cover that in my book, STOP EXERCISING! The Way You Are Doing it Now. If you want to download a free digital copy, you can do so here.

About Igor Klibanov

Igor Klibanov is the author of five books on fitness and nutrition, 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, including canfitpro.

Meet our Members: Jennifer Bonnici Elias

By | Healthy Living

I have always taken fitness classes, starting back in my 20’s, and I was always a person who needed a class to hold me accountable. I was not a gym person, so after I had my first daughter and I gained just over 50 lbs, I knew I had to get back into classes. I started at my local community center and I was on the journey to losing my baby weight and achieving overall healthier habits. I was pregnant fairly quickly again with baby #2 and again gained just over 50 lbs. As early as two to three months post-pregnancy, I was back taking classes. It was not until my youngest was about to start JK when I thought about what else I could do with my time alongside my part-time job, taking care of my two girls, and being a mom with a travelling husband. I struggled with putting me first and had to really think about it, and then it hit me to try to become FIS certified.  I am one to second guess myself and say it won’t happen, or I will fail, but I pushed myself and along with the encouragement from my husband, I took the leap to try something new.

I enrolled and attended the program and studied hard for the exam while the kids were at school. I could not believe how long it had been since I had been in a school type setting.  I studied hard and got the highest mark in my class – 94%! I passed the practical portion of the exam and now needed to apply my new-found skills.  I applied and was hired on with the City of Oshawa and City of Clarington. In January 2020, it will be two years since I started my journey as an FIS.

I now teach five classes a week ranging from cardio to abs to glutes, and two 50 and better classes. I could not be prouder of myself for putting me first. Often, as many moms do, I put others needs and wants first and mine last.  With my husband being away as little as two weeks a month, often three and even four weeks a month, it was tough.  I worked hard and through the support of my parents watching my children when I needed them, I am a very proud to be where I am today.

I lost my baby weight and I am in maintenance mode I would say. I love the energy I get from teaching and the impact I get to make on others. I truly enjoy teaching and am thankful for the ongoing support and community canfitpro offers.  I wanted to write this piece to inspire others and to share my story and journey with health.

When is the Best Time of Day to Work Out?

By | Healthy Living

By Jamie Logie, PTS, NWS

You are aware of the benefits that come from being physically fit and active. You know strength training, cardiovascular exercise, stretching, and recovery can be life-changing. But what time of day should you exercise?

This article will look at why workout timing may have a big impact on your results and progress in the gym.

Should you work out earlier or later in the day?

If you have always been a morning person, this has probably been an easy decision and you exercise first thing. If the thought of getting up early in the morning repulses you, you may want to reconsider it when it comes to working out.

Not only can working out first thing give you a boost of energy for the day, but it also pays off with better sleep later that night. When you’re active first thing in the morning, your circadian rhythm is engaged. This is your biological clock that needs to follow the course of the day, but can be thrown off very easily. Staying up too late and neglecting your sleep throws it out of whack.

When you work out in the morning you set your biological clock into motion. This means it will start to wind down right around when you need it to. This is beneficial as it will help you to not only fall asleep faster, but stay asleep. It will allow for deeper sleep and with that comes improved recovery from training.

Research from Johns Hopkins University found that when you work out in the morning it improved slow-wave sleep. This is that deep restorative sleep you need to feel refreshed and rejuvenated. The other benefit of early morning workouts is that it raises your body temperature, which is a signal to your body that it’s time to wake up.

The rise in core temperature will allow you to become more alert and productive first thing in the morning. Morning workouts will also give you a brain boost and with it comes alertness and improved creativity. This will allow you to bust through plateaus at work and focus better on projects and requirements.

Is there a best time of day to work out?

The mornings look good for exercise as it helps set you up to take control of your day. Working out first thing may also be the ideal choice if you’re looking to feel better and more energized.

To find the ideal time to work out you need to look at what type of training you are doing. Regular cardio such as running, or even walking, will be quite manageable early in the day. If your training involves more intense activities such as strength training or HIIT, you may want to wait for a few hours after you wake up. This is not to say you won’t get results from high-intensity training early in the morning, you just might not be able to provide maximum exertion.

Training will depend on your schedule, but if it’s possible you could be better off waiting an hour or two after a light breakfast for more engaging workouts. Another option is to do some lower-intensity cardio earlier in the day and save the more intense training for lunch breaks or after work.

Your goals will determine the best time of day to work out

If you’re looking to lose body fat and want to boost your energy, early morning workouts would probably be best for you. You get the added bonus of your metabolism continuing to burn throughout the day after your workout. If your goals are more strength and muscle-based, then training in the earlier half of the day would be more ideal.

Hormone levels – specifically testosterone – peak from around 8 am to 11 am and then drop over the rest of the day. With testosterone at it’s highest, gains in strength and muscle are more likely. If you are only able to workout late in the day, you want to leave a gap of a few hours between training and sleep. High-intensity training late at night will lead to difficulty falling and staying asleep. Better pre-sleep exercise choices include walking, stretching, and yoga.

Final thoughts

If you’ve been wanting to get up and at ‘em first thing in the morning, this can be a great time to start doing early workouts. Many benefits come from training at this time, but it’s important to look at what you are looking to accomplish from your training. Your schedule will determine a lot of this, but for general fitness and cardiovascular exercise, earlier in the day is ideal.

The other advantage of working out early is it helps you in time management and structuring your day, making you more productive. Ultimately, it’s all about finding the time of day where you will be consistent with your workouts and consistency is what drives results. Consistency leads to better performance, improved oxygen consumption, and lower exhaustion rates. So find your ideal time and stick with it.

About Jamie Logie

Jamie Logie is a personal trainer and health and wellness coach (PTS, NWS). He’s worked in gyms in Canada, U.S, England, and Australia. He runs and is a contributing writer on health and fitness for The Huffington Post, Thrive Global, LifeHack,, and has an Amazon #1 book called ‘Taking Back Your Health’.


Developing Your EQ: Body Language

By | Healthy Living

By Judith Humphrey

I once coached a young financial executive who was tall and attractive with a warm, engaging manner.  I assumed that he would come across with executive presence when he spoke to prospective investors. But, at our first coaching session I asked him to pretend he was talking to potential clients, and suddenly his body language became guarded and uninspiring.

Good body language doesn’t just happen because we are handsome or attractive. It requires an awareness of what our body is saying – and adjusting it when it sends the wrong messages. If you are a personal trainer who wants to build strong relationships with your clients—or prospective clients—you must make your body speak well for you and convey the right messages.

The following five guidelines will enable you to project body language that expresses emotional intelligence (EQ) and builds a strong relationship with your clients.

  1. Create a Shared Space

Good body language requires a good setting. At the beginning of your sessions, find a spot on the floor you can share only with your client. A heavy traffic area may not be the best setting because it conveys the impression that you don’t value the one-on-one relationship with your client. And it also creates distractions.

So move away from the crowd and say, “Here’s a good spot for us” or “Let’s set up shop here.” This positioning will create a better one-on-one experience.

In creating this collaborative space you’ll also want to keep the area free from objects. Even a water bottle or a cell phone can be intrusive and create a barrier between the two of you. So create a shared space that belongs to the two of you.

  1. Adopt a Strong Stance

Your stance says a lot about how focused you are on your client. If you want to show you are attentive to your client’s needs, stand tall, indicating that you are in the “ready” position and intent on helping the trainee. When your client is on the floor, you may kneel so that you are closer to her and not looking “down” on her.  But, avoid slouching at all costs, for it sends a message that you are disengaged and too tired to be of assistance.

As you stand or kneel, face your client directly– don’t position yourself at an angle to her. You want to show that you are completely centered on her and ready to engage and support her.

  1. Make Eye Contact

Our eyes are more powerful than all our other senses put together, so use them well.

Keep your eyes on your client. When you look intently at your client, you are saying, “I am focused on you” and “I care about everything you’re doing.” Hold eye contact when your trainee is doing specific exercises. Hold eye contact when you are praising your client or “high fiving” him. It will mean much more than praise without eye contact.

Finally, don’t let your eyes wander. A client can easily feel less important if you glance at others while you’re training. A wandering eye—even if it’s just to look at a fellow trainer—can undercut your relationship with your client by making them feel less important than the object of your gaze. So stay focused.

  1. Use Open Gestures

Emotionally intelligent body language includes gestures that are open and directed to your client.

Keep your arms loose at your sides when not gesturing and avoid crossing or folding your arms—a position that suggests detachment or distance from the person you’re working with.  Don’t even cross or fold your arms because you are cold. Crossed arms announce, “I’m not open to you.”

Your arm gestures should always be extended toward the client. And the best ones are full arm gestures, not gestures from the elbows or from wobbly wrists. Big gestures are powerful and convey a sense of energy and excitement about what you are saying or what you are observing.

  1. The Human Touch

Touch can be a powerful expression of your emotional intelligence, but it must be handled with great sensitivity and discretion.

Touch is therapeutic. According to physicist Leonard Mlodinow, “During a conversation, a light touch can impart a subliminal sense of caring and connection, leading to more successful social interaction and even better teamwork.”

As a personal trainer, you have tremendous power to demonstrate emotional intelligence by using your hands to gently touch your client. This can be done by touching a client’s back to adjust his position when he’s doing a plank, or by holding a client’s shoulders to explain how she can perfect her posture in an exercise. If touch is as important to our health and our humanity as research says it is, these gestures are far more sensitive and effective than simply shouting, “Ribs down,” or “Pin your shoulders back.”

But, as positive and important as touching is, it must be done with professionalism. For example, a trainer should ask the client first if it’s OK to touch, before doing so. Be sure to get this permission when you begin working with a client. She will appreciate your thoughtfulness, and by asking you will make her feel less vulnerable.

Your body language speaks for you in so many ways. Use these five guidelines for projecting “body intelligence” and you will build stronger, longer lasting client relationships and a more robust business.

About Judith Humphrey

Judith Humphrey is Co-Founder and CEO of EQUOS Corp, a firm that teaches EQ skills to fitness professionals, manual therapists, and health care practitioners. Before entering the world of fitness, Judith was Founder and CEO of The Humphrey Group, a company that works with corporate leaders around the world who wish to speak with clarity and confidence. Judith is a Fast Company columnist, and the author of three books on communication: Speaking as a Leader: How to Lead Every Time You Speak (2010), Taking the Stage: How Women Can Speak Up, Stand Out, and Succeed (2014), and Impromptu: Leading in the Moment (2018).

EQUOS will be offering a one-day workshop, “The Emotionally Intelligent Fitness Professional,” in Toronto on November 9th and December 7th. For further information, visit their website.

Follow EQUOS on Instagram and LinkedIn.

Imagining a Society Where Physicians Write Prescriptions for Physical Activity

By | Healthy Living

To date, there is an epidemic of physical inactivity within the Canadian population where apparently healthy, low risk, sedentary individuals are not meeting the recommended Health Canada recommendations levels of physical activity.

On average, 90 percent of Canadians are inactive (in that they are not meeting the minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity per week).

This is more concerning than the obesity epidemic. Our cultural evolution has outpaced our physiological evolution—Humans are designed to move!

The power of a written prescription

It is unfortunate that patients only become motivated to move more when a physician writes them a prescription for physical activity; this is our new reality. This uniquely designed prescription gives patients of all ages advice on how to increase their physical activity levels and provides them with access to resources and community recreational and fitness facilities for free. In a 2018 report, 73 percent of participants in the Prescription to Get Active program said they are more active because of this prescription, and just over 80 percent of them stated that they saw health benefits and increased their physical activity because of this program, especially when they were presented with recreation and fitness facility access.

What is Prescription to Get Active?

Prescription To Get Active (RxTGA) is a not-for-profit corporation with a program created by a passionate, diverse and experienced board of directors, and local chapters committee members in Alberta and Ontario (and growing fast).

These leaders are dedicated to improving the health of Canadians by providing an impactful program and making physical activity the most powerful prescription given. RxTGA supports individuals to become more active by collaborating with community-based recreation and fitness facilities and research community resources for accessible spaces for patients to be active where they live, work and play.

RxTGA equips doctors and their healthcare teams with the tools to educate their patients on the importance of physical activity and provide resources to ensure physical activity is an important conversation at every appointment. Click here to learn more about RxTGA.

How does the program work?

Step 1. Healthcare members identify patients who below the Canadian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior Guidelines and who are able to participate in unsupervised physical activity without medical clearance.

Step 2. Prescribers then write a specially designed prescription to their patients

Step 3. Patients record their Prescription to Get Active at

Step 4. Patients start moving at home and in their communities, access physical activity resources provided through the website and they can also fill their prescription at participating recreational and fitness facilities and receive a free trial access.

If you wish to learn more about this latest trend in fitness—‘exercise as medicine’—visit To participate in this program or become a member,  you can also email

canfitpro is proud to support Prescription to Get Active as this will provide our members with a massive opportunity to grow their careers, their membership and clientele base while helping improve our cultural evolution to one that better serves the human race, and the health of the planet.

Fight Back Against Aging With Strength Training

By | Healthy Living

By Nick Rizzo

Canada’s population has been steadily aging. As of 2014, seniors were making up 15.6% of the population (approximately 6 million). By 2030, estimates expect that number to rise significantly to over 9.5 million seniors that account for more than 23% of Canadians.

With life expectancy increasing and the baby boomers still entering their senior years, these numbers are expected to keep rising, which is why there is a need now, more than ever, for more personal trainers, nutritionists, fitness instructors, and weight loss coaches to garner a greater understanding of seniors and the best ways to serve them. One way to better understand seniors is to first take a look at how aging impacts the body.

Four Impacts of Aging on the Body

1) Age-related loss in muscle mass (and sarcopenia)

The unfortunate fact is this, aging inherently leads to seniors losing muscle mass. At first, it can be a bit slow. But, from age 50 on the rate of decrease starts to pick up. At this milestone, you start losing muscle at a rate of 1-2% every year. If left unaddressed, this can develop into significant issues like sarcopenia, which, up to 13% of those aged 60-70 suffer from. Then, looking at the 80+ crowd, it is clear that this issue has continued to progress since as much as 50% of this population struggle with the health issues of sarcopenia.

2) Deterioration in strength over time

As you continue to lose muscle, you are also going to be losing your strength. Those above the age of 60 are estimated to lose as much as 3% of their strength every calendar year. This is troubling for a slew of reasons, but no more troubling than this next point.

3) The degradation of functional capabilities and functional independence

As muscle and strength decline, basic functional capabilities start to become harder and more difficult. Overall mobility and flexibility begin to take a hit as well. As these capabilities begin to degrade, it starts to limit overall physical activity which only further expedites the loss of functional capabilities. With this comes a continuous loss in seniors’ abilities to simply be functionally independent and living life by their own means.

4) Slowing down your metabolism and increasing obesity

The three above points all play a role in packing on the pounds as you age. Muscle mass is beneficial for more than looking good, mobility, and strength – having higher levels of muscle mass leads to a direct increase in one’s metabolic rate.

A decrease in strength causes speed, intensity and power generated in your day-to-day activities to significantly decrease as well. This means you are utilizing less energy, burning fewer calories, and missing the benefits of more intense physical activity.

The loss of functional capabilities inherently leads to a more sedentary lifestyle. Being less physically active overall is only going to further decrease your metabolism, increase weight gain, and a whole host of other issues.

All of this is dangerous – continually adding on weight while being less and less active can bring upon other health concerns like heart disease and diabetes.

It is clear that all of these aspects are all interconnected. But what is the best way to fight back against these issues?

View the full infographic: 78 Benefits of Weight Lifting for Seniors

Click to view the full infographic: 78 Benefits of Weight Lifting for Seniors

Strength training: Five benefits for the 65+ population

Weight lifting to build muscle and increase strength is easily one of the most important things that the aging population needs to be engaged in. In fact, a meta-analysis analyzed over 120 peer-reviewed studies and identified 78 benefits of strength training for seniors. It addresses everything from the topics we are touching on here to cognitive health, mental health, reducing fall risk factors, reducing mortality rates, and much more.

But, even if we focus just on the issues listed above, it is clear that strength training is critical. Here’s why.

1) First of all, it’s safe

The amount of times I have heard people spread the myth that lifting weights is dangerous for older folks is mind numbing. I have even seen trainers refuse older clients because “they should just walk at the mall”. Infuriating. So let’s do away with this myth first and foremost. Study after study has shown that not only is it safe, it is extremely effective for a whole bunch of reasons.

2) The best prescription for preventing and reversing sarcopenia

A lot of people, my father being one of them, didn’t think that they would be able to really see any improvements in their muscle mass. The question is always something like “I am just too old, will this really work?”

The answer is a hard yes.

Whether your 50 years old or 90 years old, you can still build muscle. In fact, even just doing one set of exercises three times a week has been shown to produce significant improvements in muscle mass. Increasing the sets, reps, intensity or number of exercises leads to a dramatic boost in benefits.

By starting earlier, rather than later, you can actually prevent the decline from ever occurring. But, if you haven’t started, it isn’t too late. As studies have seen, volunteers aged 61-80 can see dramatic improvements of their current health status, with volunteers being able to add over two pounds of muscle mass in 10-12 weeks, which reduced their physical age by five years on average.

3) Best way to maintain strength and improve it

No matter the age, strength training will improve general functional strength, maximal strength, endurance, and conditioning.

Being ahead of the curve has its benefits. Those who had been strength training as a regular way of life were protected against significant losses in strength.

But don’t be confused, just being physically active isn’t the same. When one study compared populations of strength training masters and physically active seniors, the masters had greater strength, functional capabilities, functional performance, and more.

4) Fighting back against obesity

The obvious is that exercise is going to help fight back against obesity. What isn’t obvious is what sets strength training apart from other forms of exercise.

One study demonstrated that hitting the weights over the course of 10 weeks was able to reduce more than 1.8kg of fat mass. All the while, the participants saw their average metabolic rate increase by as much as 7%.

Another aspect is that load-bearing exercises are known for significantly elevating metabolic rates for 12-48 hours post-workout. Adding this on top of the already elevated resting metabolic rate will help to utilize more calories and increase your daily energy expenditure to drop fat.

A third way that isn’t talked about as much revolves around a singular hormone known as isrin. Lifting weights increases the levels of this hormone (while also improving other aspects of your endocrine system). What isrin does is help promote “good fat” while also decreasing “bad fat”.

You see, if you live a more sedentary lifestyle, the type of fat you are more likely to have is known as white fat (bad fat). This type of fat tissue is not metabolically active. It doesn’t produce much energy or burn many calories.

On the other hand, brown fat (good fat) is the complete opposite. These brown fat cells are packed with mitochondria that are highly metabolically active. Having higher levels of brown fat vs white fat leads to overall great fat loss.

Coming back to isrin… isrin works to actively convert white fat into brown fat. By working out more you can keep the levels of isrin elevated to continually improve the ratio of white to brown fat.

5) Staying physically fit to keep that functional independence

Last but not least, lifting will help you to stay functionally independent.

Seniors that were hitting the gym were able to see physical capabilities improve across the board. Studies demonstrated significant increases in:

  • Walking speed and step length
  • Performance and time of doing tasks like sitting down, standing up, climbing stairs, and walking
  • The flexibility of every single joint movement
  • Overall mobility
  • Static and dynamic balance
  • Movement control due to improved neuromuscular functioning

With these improvements, seniors can expect to reduce fall risk factors. With that, they may experience improved confidence in their movement which helps to reduce their fear of falling – a fear that can be restrictive and paralyzing from even attempting to be active.

Active living: Are you ready to help seniors with active aging?

The goal of this article is to simply help you understand this aging population and the struggles they may endure. Just simply strength training two to three times a week can be absolutely critical to having a long, healthy, and active life.

With that said, there is so much more you can do to help older adults. If you want to become someone that older clients can look to for “all of the above”, look into earning your Personal Training Specialist Certification and the corresponding Active Aging Certificate from canfitpro. You will get a deep dive into the impact and physiology of aging, healthy eating, the crucial type of exercises for older adults, and even how to adapt regiments for specific conditions or illnesses they may be struggling with.

About Nick Rizzo

Nick Rizzo is the Training & Fitness Content Director at RunRepeat.Com. He uses his education in the sciences, experience as a researcher, and 10+ years in the fitness industry to craft comprehensive content to educate, motivate, and support readers with information backed by science.

Visit his website


Get Over Your Fears of Being the Newbie at the Gym

By | Healthy Living

By Leah Staff, PTS

The gym can be a scary place, until you feel like you belong. When joining or rejoining a gym, it can raise intimidation that make us fearful of being judged, left out, conspicuous or other feelings of simply not fitting in. Let’s look at it a different way to see that the gym is indeed the right place for you!

In all areas of life, we either feel like we belong or like we don’t. Back in the 1970’s, Henri Tajfel developed the theory of in-groups and out-groups as part of social identity theory; situations where we either see ourselves as a group member or as an individual. With a sense of common ground, interests or circumstances we experience a sense of loyalty, common purpose and togetherness with other people.

We are a part of this particular in-group and feel comfortable because we have an idea of what to expect from members of our group and what is expected of us – a team at work, your curling club, fellow dog owners, are just a few examples. If someone is part of an out-group, a group to which we don’t belong, it is easy to see them as “other” and separate from ourselves. This information will sound familiar to many of you. Here’s what might be surprising. Creating an in-group can be as simple as assigning a random group of strangers to a team. Think of the last time you were at an event and assigned to the Blue Team. Did you automatically feel a competitive push towards the Red Team, even though two minutes earlier you were all part of the same large group? The same idea applies when walking your dog in a new neighbourhood and you automatically smile or wave to other dog owners. You have common ground that allows for easy, casual interaction. They get you and you get them.

Let’s apply this in-group theory to going to the gym or a fitness class for the first time. It feels daunting. You don’t know the social etiquette, who is new like you and who are the regulars, what is the cool dress code, how to work the machines, do you bring your own water or are there water fountains, where is the change room – the list of unknowns can be quite long. We assume that we are seen as a member of the out-group. We are a newbie trying to get into the in-group. It is natural to experience a heightened awareness of all the ways in which we are different, whether or not our assumptions are correct. “Everyone else has a towel, I don’t.” “Lots of people seem to know the instructor and what equipment we need. I am clueless.” And, the most common thought? “I am the most out of shape person here and everyone can tell.”  At the gym, it can feel like everyone else but us belongs there and is super fit. But, just because you feel like an outsider, doesn’t make it so.

Here comes the good news. You do belong. Simply by showing up you are part of the group of people who exercised today. Congratulations! You are in the elite 20% of Canadians! A pretty nice in-group wouldn’t you say? That camaraderie is immediately noticed by other people in the gym. In all my years as a personal trainer, the only comments ever made by my clients about fresh faces in the gym all ran along the lines of “I hope they come back.” Without exception, they were wishing people success. When we are comfortable in the gym, it is easy to see others as part of our group.

Here’s the take-away message: The rest of your gym family, even though you don’t know their names, are all rooting for you! So head high, big breathe and smile. Guaranteed you’ll get a smile back!

About Leah Staff

Leah Staff is a communications consultant, wellness expert, and 25 year veteran of the wellness industry whose corporate programs have achieved national award-winning success. As an educator, presenter and coach, Leah helps people talk with people.

LinkedIn: www.linkedin/leahstaff

Developing Your Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

By | Business, Healthy Living

By Judith Humphrey

During the 30 years that I was building my company, I became increasingly tired and stressed. There were plenty of gyms near me, but I regarded them as sweat factories where people rode bikes that went nowhere. It was only after I sold my company that I made a dramatic discovery: signing up with a personal trainer can turn your life around.

Working with a trainer, I enjoyed the physical experience of discovering the power of my body and the beauty of a more aligned and confident physical presence. But it took me three tries to find a personal trainer who was a “good fit” for me. The first one was OK, but we didn’t connect on a personal level. The second one didn’t read me very well and pushed me too hard.

The third one, as the expression goes, “was a charm.” The reason I love working with him is that he not only has technical skills, but he has superb emotional intelligence. Every word he delivers inspires me, motivates me, and makes me feel hungry for more coaching. Each session is fun, we laugh, we talk, and we connect on an interpersonal level. I would never leave him.

If you want to keep your clients for the long term—you’ll need this emotional intelligence (EQ). These are the interpersonal skills that allow you to form better and more lasting relationships with your clients.

In the world of fitness, emotional intelligence is imperative. It enables you to elevate the client experience and retain clients in an increasingly competitive industry.

This is the first in a series of four monthly articles that will explore how you can develop your EQ and use it to foster deeper, lasting client relationships.

This first article is on how to “connect” with clients. The next three will deal with body language, the art of listening, and vision.

The Importance of Connecting

In his book, Social Intelligence: The Revolutionary New Science of Human Relationships, Daniel Goleman writes: “We are wired to connect. Neuroscience has discovered that our brain’s very design makes it sociable.”

The clients you deal with want that connection with you – in fact, clients rarely leave trainers for technical reasons. Whoever left a trainer because he couldn’t bench press 250 pounds? It’s more likely that relationships end when there is an interpersonal disconnect.

As you build healthy bodies, make sure to create these crucial ties with your clients. Even if you feel you are a social introvert, you have an obligation to give your clients an experience that is personally enriching. Hence the term, “personal trainer.”

Three Ways to Connect

There are many ways to reach out and connect with your clients, but let’s look at three that will create “stickiness” in your client relationships, and encourage clients to enjoy working with you and stay with you.

#1 Show Interest 

The first way to connect is to show interest in your client’s life. You’re dealing with a whole person, not just a body or a set of muscles.

During the initial assessment start probing. You might ask what that individual’s current exercise routine is. Or where he lives or what brought her into the gym.

Over time, you may ask what your clients do professionally, whether they have children, what sports, if any, they play, and what their hobbies are. And if someone tells you they’re going to be giving an important presentation, next time they come, say “How was your presentation?”

The important thing is to remember things they’ve told you and ask about them. Never start a session with the generic, “How’s it going?” That’s a non-starter. Ask more specifically about something that’s happened to them that week.

#2 Show Sensitivity

The second rule of connecting is to be sensitive to your client’s feelings. A sensitive trainer recognizes what a client is going through – and responds accordingly.

Your client may come in and say, “Hey, I know you assigned me cardio workouts at home, but work’s been crazy and I haven’t found the time.” Instead of saying, “You need to find the time,” or ignoring their words all together, say, “Hey, I completely understand. Sometimes life gets in the way.” 

If your client pulls you aside and says, “You know, I’m just not having fun with these sessions anymore,” take note of that, stop what you are doing and say “Let’s talk about why that may be happening.”

Showing sensitivity also means giving kudos to your clients because they show up and work hard for you. So, instead of saying “see you next week” at the end of a session or giving a pro-forma high five, be specific. Say, “Wow, you worked really hard today,” or “You hit a personal best on your pull-ups, impressive stuff!”

#3 Show Respect

The third rule of connecting is to show respect for your clients.

If a client asks you to explain something, do so with as much clarity as you can and if you don’t have the answer say, “I’ll get that for you.” Once you’ve explained something, ask the client, “Is that clear?” or “Does that answer your question?”

Show respect by being sensitive to your client’s personal boundaries. If you are with a client and take a video of her doing an exercise, don’t show it around to other trainers. In fact, one disgruntled client said she left her trainer because he did just that.

Show respect, as well, by not mimicking the poor posture or bad form of a client. You may be trying to show your client what not to do. But it’s far better to focus on what the client should be doing.

Finally, show respect by not talking to other trainers, gazing at other clients, or checking your phone when you are with your client. Sure, it’s tempting to do so, but showing respect means you are 100% focused on your client.

These three ways of connecting will ensure that you are giving your clients all the personal attention and respect they deserve.

About Judith Humphrey

Judith Humphrey is Co-Founder and CEO of EQUOS Corp, a firm that teaches EQ skills to fitness professionals, manual therapists, and health care practitioners. Before entering the world of fitness, Judith was Founder and CEO of The Humphrey Group, a company that works with corporate leaders around the world who wish to speak with clarity and confidence. Judith is a Fast Company columnist, and the author of three books on communication: Speaking as a Leader: How to Lead Every Time You Speak (2010), Taking the Stage: How Women Can Speak Up, Stand Out, and Succeed (2014), and Impromptu: Leading in the Moment (2018).

EQUOS will be offering a one-day workshop, “The Emotionally Intelligent Fitness Professional,” in Toronto on November 9th and December 7th. For further information, visit their website.

Follow EQUOS on Instagram and LinkedIn.