Healthy Living

Meet our Members: Joseph Fireman

By | Healthy Living

Joseph Fireman, aka Joey, is a native Cree from the community of Chisasibi, Quebec and the owner/trainer of SOOK Training. Joseph opened SOOK Training in 2009 to inspire others in the Cree Nation to achieve success in their health by getting active.

Joseph has had many set backs including alcoholism (sober since 2000), severe illness, and a mild stroke in 2018. Despite these trials, he has gone on to offer his SOOK Training method to the Cree School Board, for which he received a people’s choice award in 2016 for his program, and was hired as a fitness trainer and Cree consultant for the Eeyou Eenou Police Force (EEPF).

Joseph resides in Chisasibi with his eleven children, training, hunting and fishing!

Why did you choose canfitpro?

I chose canfitpro because it is the largest provider of education in the Canadian fitness industry and they had more resources available to me to become a personal trainer.

What is your WHY? Why have you chosen this profession?

I chose this profession because of my passion, dedication, desire and love of being a personal trainer. GOD has given me this gift to help others with fitness.

What gets you excited to go to work each day?

Every day is gift and as soon as I wake up in the morning I thank God.  I’m happy seeing all of my clients with smiles on their faces, giving each other high fives and hugs, knowing they are stronger and healthier after their workout at SOOK Training.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

I enjoy the people! I treat each individual, from young to old, of every gender, that shows up at SOOK Training with integrity, honesty, determination, respect and LOVE.

A Possible New Treatment for Diabetes

By | Healthy Living

By Eddie Fatakhov  M.D.

A study released out of a British Columbia research lab in Canada provided a new possible treatment for one of the most rampant diseases in the world. The study found that manipulation of a specific protein within fat cells may not only prevent the development of, but also reverse type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes now affects over 30 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC estimates 84 million Americans are prediabetic (majority of them being unaware). Long-term complications of unmanaged type 2 diabetes can lead to heart disease, uncontrolled blood pressure, and nerve damage leading to limb amputation, kidney disease and blindness. Obesity is a primary risk factor of type 2 diabetes. The steady incline of obesity rates is directly correlating with the number of people being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Our bodies are designed to eat in order to produce the energy we need to survive.  Glucose (or blood sugar) is the body’s main source of fuel. We produce insulin in response to sugar consumption. Insulin is essentially the key that opens the doors for glucose to enter our body’s cells and fuel our body. When we regularly consume more glucose than required for the energy we expend, our body cannot keep up with the insulin demand and we can become insulin resistant. This results in an inability to use glucose for fuel. In turn, the glucose remains in the bloodstream, resulting in high blood sugar levels over long periods of time, eventually turning into, you got it… type 2 diabetes.

Along with potential insulin resistance, eating more than our body needs results in the expansion of white adipose tissue, where excess energy is stored as fat. This study conducted by a group of researchers out of Canada and Sweden examined a specific protein and its role in fat cells. This protein is a glycoprotein known as CD248, a protein that has a known association with the growth of tumours and inflammation. CD248 had never been studied in direct relation with obesity or insulin resistance. Researchers found that CD248 was found in greater amounts within the white adipose tissue in people that were obese or insulin resistant.

In a laboratory setting, researchers then artificially reduced the activity of CD248 in the white adipose tissue cells. From experimentation with the activity of CD248 in the white adipose tissue, researchers were able to conclude that the protein plays a role in the process that leads to insulin resistance and a cellular hallmark of obesity and hypoxia.  Researchers next moved from the artificial reduction of activity to looking at the gene that codes for CD248 in mice. They used genetically-altered mice that lacked the gene that codes CD248 in white adipose tissue. These mice were fed high-fat diets and became obese, but did not develop insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Potentially the most beneficial find is that the mice that already had diabetes and had the CD248 levels within their fat reduced, showed improvement in their insulin sensitivity. This discovery suggests the possibility of a future target therapy for type 2 diabetes, especially considering the reduction of CD248 did not result in any adverse events. Researchers are careful to point out that this is a very early stage of discovery, but the results give them a new pathway to head down in the treatment and/or prevention of type 2 diabetes. The more the prevalence of type 2 diabetes increases, the more urgent new treatment options become.

About Eddie Fatakhov

Eddie Fatakhov, M.D., a.k.a. Dr. Fat-off, is a Board-Certified Physician, Nutritionist, and author of the new book, “Dr. Fat-Off: Simple Life-Long Weight-Loss Solutions.”

Email him at or visit his website Eddie Fatakhov, MD. You can also follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

Understanding GMOs: No hype just the basics

By | Healthy Living

By Carol Harrison, RD

Genetically modified foods (GMOs) have become a real hot-button topic for consumers; but we’re all so busy, it can be hard for us and our clients to find the time to even get the basic information under our belts.

As a dietitian, I’ve had to research this topic because long gone are the days when consumers only ask about the nutritional merits of foods. How food is produced matters to us all. We want reassurances that our food is safe and healthy, and of course, we’d like to see it remain affordable too.

What are GMOs?

For thousands of years, farmers have been choosing seeds from plants with the traits they are looking for (maybe the sweetest apples or disease-resistant potatoes). With today’s technology, plant scientists can use precise genetic engineering methods to transfer a desirable trait from one plant to another, or alter a trait of a plant.

By using genes that help with disease or insect resistance or drought tolerance, the result has been that we can produce more food with fewer resources (land, water, fertilizer, and pesticides). Not only does that help to keep the cost of food down, but the environmental footprint is minimized as well.

Good to know: The widespread use of the “non-GMO” claim on labels may lead people to think there are many GMO foods available, but the truth is there are only six GMO crops produced in Canada:

  1. Canola
  2. Corn
  3. Potatoes
  4. Soybeans
  5. Alfalfa
  6. Sugar beets

Hooray for plant scientists! We may not grow papayas in Canada, but thanks to GMO technology we can buy them in stores. The ringspot virus threatened to wipe out the papaya industry in Hawaii until a local plant scientist used GMO technology to come up with a disease resistant variation.

Are GMOs safe?

The consensus on the safety of GMOs is very reassuring. The following scientific and regulatory groups have all reviewed more than 1700 studies on GMOs and they all conclude GMOs are safe for humans and the environment:

  • Health Canada and Canadian Food Inspection Agency
  • The American Medical Association
  • Dietitians of Canada
  • American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine
  • World Health Organization
  • US Academy of Sciences
  • Royal Societies of London and Canada

Good to know: There is a tremendous amount of fearmongering about the safety of GMOs, and that really concerns me as a dietitian. Worrying about GMOs when there is no reason to limit or avoid them distracts us from healthy habits that can truly improve our wellbeing like making half your plate veggies and fruits, or following good food safety practices.

Find out more:

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.

Is It Too Late for a Summer Body?

By | Healthy Living, Movement

By Fyonna Vanderwerf, B.A, B.Sc, canfitpro PRO TRAINER

With 1,440 minutes every day until that first week of September, it’s never too late to get in shape and create some really great habits to keep as we move through 2019.

What is the biggest barrier? I can tell you right now, it’s the space between the ears on our head. It’s listening to that inner chatter that says you are not able to stick with a habit. That’s what goal setting is, planning a better you, whether it’s being able to say no to drinking too much at the backyard barbeque or deciding that it’s no longer exclusive territory of Michelle Obama to rock every sleeveless outfit she owns!

You have this in five steps. Note, I did not say ‘easy’ – nothing worth a change ever is, but I assure you sticking to these steps 90% of the time will get you to 90% of your success. That other 10% is up to that space in your head to do make up the difference.

What’s at stake here?

  1. A better mindset.
  2. A confidence that people see and feel around you that inspires them to try harder. That is the ultimate gift – the world gets a little extra help from you.
  3. A body that is stronger, more mobile, and less fearful.
  4. An ability to progress through change and make adjustments for long term results.
  5. The integrity and chutzpah that comes with achieving something you’ve worked hard on!


  1. Journal

It makes you accountable, either by an app or in a book. It reminds you of your path. It is also an extra way to gain resilience in the brain to follow through. You’ve thought it, you’ve documented it and by writing it down daily you are keeping accountability to yourself. Journaling the night before for five minutes gives your brain a reboot so you begin with success the next day by absorbing ideas and intentions. A few ideas to reflect on daily: three successful parts of the day, three ways you are grateful, two areas to work on, and a yummy quote to keep you going.

Action step: Find a blank journal/ app to record and start.

  1. Feed the Mind

Now is the time to make that noggin work for YOU. Start manifesting your success by reading inspirational and motivational content. Books that have given me the mental focus to follow through on my goals (competing at Worlds for bodybuilding and placing third in an Ironman triathlon for my age group) are; The Champion’s Mind by Jim Afremow; Make Your Bed by William McRaven; and one of my most absolute favourites, Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss. Not a reader? Try a podcast.

Action step: Google “motivating books” or find one in the library, online, book store, from a friend or co-worker.

  1. Find a Workout

I’ve had clients who wear their gym clothes to bed so when they wake up they are ready to go, with one less excuse. The challenge with finding that perfect workout is  the volume of ideas out there, along with every food plan known to the planet to shrink this, build that and eradicate that wiggly skin on your elbow. Listed below is a simple program using a dowel, broomstick or the floor. This program can be done as seen or elevated on a platform, if getting to the floor is not a fit. No gym required, just arms that want definition.


Each exercise is done in a circuit of 30-45 seconds each; repeat all exercises two to three times. Stay mindful of your breath.

Press Backs: Stand or sit, dowel behind your back. Find your power posture, shoulders down and back in set position, lift dowel and pulse to hit the triceps.

Triceps Dip and Taps: Posture tall, arms strong and steady, legs bent 90 degrees. Allow glutes to drop down, hinging begins at the elbow, engaging the triceps (Fig. 1). As you lift up, touch toes or knee with opposite hand while balancing (Fig. 2).

Do the other leg.


This is super functional and modifiable for many levels. It’s quite common to hold your breath while balancing.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Fig. 2

Moving Planks: Assume the typical plank position, using knees or on toes.

Place weight on elbows under the shoulders.

Move forward and backward as if you were sawing.

This targets the shoulders and core.

Happy Canoes: Standing in a lunge, either shortened or full lunge, dowel out in front at shoulder height (Fig 3).

Turn and dip dowel as if it were a paddle (Fig. 4) and then dip to the opposite side (Fig. 5).

For added fun, do this as a moving lunge across the room. It’s definitely harder than it looks, but it works everything well.


Fig. 1

Fig. 3

Fig. 2

Fig. 4

Fig. 3

Fig. 5

Triangle Pushups: On the floor or elevated surface, on knees or toes, turn hands inwards so your thumbs and first fingers on each hand resemble the outline of a triangle – it could also be a bigger triangle for more stability.

Lower down, keeping elbows pointing out, as low as you can go.

Push hands into the floor to come back up.


This is a fun way to work the arms and shoulders as well as the chest.

Action Step: Try the program above, email me to let me know what you think or email me something that worked even better to rock the arms.

  1. Food and Friends to Nourish

Eight out of 10 things that go in our mouth should aim to fuel cells, muscles, growth systems and rest patterns. Think about food neither being good or bad – just what you can pull from it.

You spend 75% of your time with the same four to six people. How are they nourishing you? If they knew you were focused on getting healthier would they encourage you to bring healthier food to that barbeque or would they offer to have more selection? Surround yourself with people that root for you. Let them know you are making some changes and I’ll bet that some of them will jump on board that train to be a part of it.

Simple food strategies in the summer could include hydrating more – lime in water is a quencher on a dock as much as we pretend that gin and tonic is. Pick crunchy rice crackers, fruits and veggies over chips and Cheezies. Reduce those highly processed items and go simpler – a cleaner protein over a sausage or store bought burger.

Action Step: Read through that journal and see what 10 items you have chosen to eat.

  1. Control is Not Just for Janet Jackson

As busy multi-taskers, we all love to tackle everything. Guess what? You’d be better at what you do if you did less and delegated more so you could focus on your game changing skills. Ask yourself these three questions: what do you do the same, what do you do less of, and what do you let go of.

Action Step: Look at three habit patterns you have that are keeping you from being healthier or not as strong and see which ones fall into each question.

So there you have it, five strategies that can help make your summer fitness goals easier to reach, just in time!

About Fyonna Vanderwerf

Fyonna Vanderwerf is a canfitpro PRO TRAINER for PTS, HWL, FIS, and FMA. She lives and works in Muskoka, Ontario as a coach and fitness instructor, with over 50 certifications. She is a Grandmaster competitor in body building at the Provincial and World level in figure and fitness modeling. She runs a successful personal coaching business.

You can reach her at or visit her website at Bee Fit With Fyonna.

Why Train Mental Toughness?

By | Healthy Living

By Jeff Melis

Most health and fitness professionals spend countless hours devoted to mastering and training the physical body.  They plan their workouts for the week, carefully noting how many sets and reps they are going to perform, and what exercises are going to lead to peak results.  But when is the last time you sat down with a plan to train your mind?  Have you ever laid out mindset drills to train your brain in order to overcome negative self-talk, see adversity as opportunity, or rise after an embarrassing fall? This missing but vital piece of work is why, when many of us encounter a staffing problem, a tough revenue month, or an unexpected and unpleasant surprise, our business suffers.

Mental toughness is like any other muscle we have in our body, it must be trained if we want to be able to flex it.

Mental toughness is like any other muscle we have in our body, it must be trained if we want to be able to flex it. Have you ever met someone whose whole day is ruined if their cell phone battery dies?  This is a real disaster in their world.  That’s because they can’t flex their mental toughness muscles. In your business, you are going to face all kinds of problems on a much larger scale. If you cultivate the ability to deal with these problems efficiently and with confidence your business will flourish. People who make training mental toughness a regular part of their routine are better able to create thriving businesses and lives because their new perspective sees problems as opportunities. They can recover from adversity and are less effected by the inevitable ups and downs of running a business.

Whether you are trying to maximize your personal business or develop a winning team around you, the right mindset makes all the difference in the world.

Whether you are trying to maximize your personal business or develop a winning team around you, the right mindset makes all the difference in the world. In your business, and in life for that matter, the only thing that is certain is that you will be faced with challenges, obstacles and adversity. Is your mind tough enough to pull you up when the chips are down? To lead others when things seem bleak? To keep going when others would quit? To motivate your team to victory, even when the path is unclear?

At the Exercise Therapy Association, we believe in training the forgotten muscle, the mind.  Our mental toughness coaches not only help people to restore healthy thinking habits, but work through practical drills that strengthen the mind’s ability to deal with the adversity we all face.  Issues like self-confidence, self-worth, dealing with adversity in business and in everyday life, and being clear on your purpose.

We have found that it’s not good enough to read the latest self-help book or listen to the podcast of the week on self-improvement. Although these band aid solutions may seem helpful in the moment, there is no lasting impact because simply listening to something does not rewire the brain to deal with real life situations. It leaves business owners unarmed as they try to balance the many facets of their day, week or month.  The foundation of all ETA courses is practical application and that includes our mental toughness program. We not only share tested and proven theories on improving mental toughness. We will show you how to integrate them into daily practice so that you can train and strengthen your mental muscle; your mind.

Ask yourself; how much time and money have you spent on mastering your craft? Think about the countless hours you have spent on tackling effective marketing strategies or trying to stay current with technology.  You have all the potential you will ever need to do great things in this industry.  You just need to unlock that potential.  If you believe having a winning mindset can impact your success, is it not worth it to take the time and effort to train your mental toughness? When are you going to start?

If you believe having a winning mindset can impact your success, is it not worth it to take the time and effort to train your mental toughness? When are you going to start?

Make sure to register for canfitpro 2019 to hear Jeff Melis present his course, Training Mental Toughness!

Jeff will show you the link between physical and mental toughness, teach you the mental toughness pyramid and more!

About Jeff Melis

Jeff has run #1 club in Personal Training, achieving over 4 million in personal training sales, #1 in the world. Set industry records and won many top industry awards including “Top Fitness Manager” & “Top Company Personal Training Sales” for the largest fitness organization in Canada. He has seen why personal trainers struggle and what makes them thrive in their careers and has turned his passion to coaching others to succeed.

How Overuse Injuries Can Derail Your Fitness

By | Healthy Living

By Jamie Logie, PTS, NWS

Your training is going great. You’re getting stronger, fitter, losing weight and seeing results.

And then … Bam! You get injured.

Nothing derails progress more than an injury. It stops any pursuit of fitness in its tracks and leaves you stuck to deal with it. If you’re not able to be active, your progress goes backward and this can leave you frustrated and depressed. Let’s look at overuse injuries and the problems they can cause for your long-term training.

What Is An Overuse Injury?

It’s self-explanatory, but to be more specific, an overuse injury is caused by repetitive trauma. This can be any type of muscle or joint injuries such as tendonitis or a stress fracture. These are both things building up over time and then appear abruptly.

Some common types of overuse injuries include:

  • Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis)
  • Swimmers shoulder (rotator cuff tendonitis and impingement)
  • Runners’ knee
  • Jumpers’ knee (infrapatellar tendonitis)
  • Little League elbow (comes from too much throwing and caused by repetitive stress to the growth plate on the inside of the elbow)
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Shin splints

The last two are the most common and familiar, and it’s important to point out that with all the other examples you don’t have to be playing sports to get them. They are common if you are constantly doing repetitive motions. They even show up in lower intensity movements. If you are using a keyboard and mouse all day, you know the toll it can take on your body over the long term.

What Causes Overuse Injuries?

They are caused by a combination of repetitive stress, but also training errors when you are engaged in fitness and workouts. They can also happen when you take on too much physical activity too quickly. Other causes include doing an exercise too fast, exercising for too long, or doing too much of one type of activity. This causes an unnecessary strain on your muscles, joints, and tendons.

The other big cause is poor technique. When you use poor form during an exercise, it can have a bad impact on your body. With poor form during a workout, you can overload certain muscles leading to an injury. Another big problem occurs when trying to lift weights that are too heavy. The form turns sloppy and you can end up putting more force and strain on your joints as they struggle with the weight. The muscle you are intending to train doesn’t get properly engaged as your ligaments and tendons are taking on the brunt of the weight.

If these overuse injuries hit you, it can derail your training as you can aggravate them further by trying to work through them. You will also need an extended recovery time to allow them to heal which derails any progress. To help avoid an overuse injury you want to focus on a few things:

  • Master exercise form before progressing with increased weight. Perfect your form and the weights will naturally go up.
  • Wear proper shoes. If you are always running in worn shoes you set yourself up for an overuse injury such as shin splints. You should replace your shoes every 400 to 800 km, even if they still look new.
  • Mix up your training. If you are always doing the same activity, you risk overuse injury as well as your body becoming accustomed to the workout, slowing down your results. Add in some low-impact activities such as swimming or biking to give your body a break, but still get a good workout.

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’.

Fuel Up for Fun

By | Healthy Living

By Carol Harrison, RD

Summer is here, and fueling up sporty kids to help them feel and perform their best is now easier with this resource: Fuel up for Fun. Designed for parents and coaches of kids 6 to 15 years of age, this resource fills a gap I noticed while raising my three sporty kids: what should I feed them, and how do I do that and still make it to practice on time! Parents and coaches who reviewed the resource agreed it addresses their top sports nutrition questions, and it is jammed with practical how-to tips. It’s now updated to include references to Health Canada’s new food guide, and multiple copies of this resource can be ordered at no charge.

Three key take-aways to share with parents and coaches:

Eat a variety of healthy foods each day (click to enlarge)

Eat a variety of healthy foods each day (click to enlarge)

  1. Back to Basics: replace ultra-processed food with nutrient-rich wholesome food

 It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the plethora of nutritional advice, but consider this: amongst Canadian kids’ ages 9 to 13 years of age, 57% of their calories come from calorie-rich, nutrient-poor, ultra-processed food like frozen pizza, french fries, sweetened cereals, candy, salty snacks and pop. Given that the number one nutritional priority for most families will be to help kids fill up on nutrient-rich, wholesome foundational foods, Health Canada’s new “Eat Well Plate” is a great place to start.

TIP: What to offer before, during and after physical activity, how to handle challenges like practices over the dinner hour, and how to handle treats and more are all covered in “Fuel up For Fun.”

Healthy eating is more than the food you eat (click to enlarge)

Healthy eating is more than the food you eat (click to enlarge)

Good to know: The nutritional value of foods represented in the protein group varies widely with omega-3s from fatty fish, iron from beef, calcium from dairy, choline from eggs, and fiber from beans and lentils. That old wisdom about eating a variety of wholesome foods still holds true, especially for the protein group.

  1. Hydration Basics: Water is still king

Getting enough water helps kids to feel energized during workouts, and to avoid cramps as well. Because thirst is not a reliable sign of dehydration, kids need reminders to drink before, during and after physical activity. Kids may not realize it, but they continue to lose fluids or dehydrate even after games and practices.

TIP: Wondering about hydrating with juice, sports drinks and energy drinks?  That’s all covered in “Fuel up for Fun”, including a recipe to make your own sports drink.

Good to know: Kids will drink more water when it’s flavoured. Try adding mint, orange or lemon slices to water.

  1. Plan ahead to work smarter, not longer in the kitchen

For most of us, time is the biggest barrier to helping our active kids get the good nutrition they need. Try to get ahead by doing some meal prep on Sundays:

  • Hard cook eggs, chop up cubes of cheese, fruit and veggies or make muffin-tin frittatas for breakfast on the go.
  • Make containers of dried fruit, nuts and whole grain cereal for a portable and energizing snack after practices and games.
  • Pan fry some ground beef with diced bell peppers and onions then add in a can of rinsed kidney beans. Use that as a base for a head start on a weeknight dinner of tacos, pasta with meat sauce or grab-and-go burritos.

TIP: Eat well during “away” tournaments. Pack up a cooler, book a hotel room with a fridge and organize family potluck suppers. For times when teams do eat out, “Fuel up for Fun” offers lots of tips for making better-for-you choices.

Good to know: Kids can get enough protein from food, and do not need to rely on protein supplements which are costly, highly processed and don’t offer the same nutritional benefits as whole foods. Animal foods like meat, fish, cheese and poultry are richer in protein than plant options like beans and nuts, but for optimal nutrition it’s good to include a variety of both animal and plant-based proteins.

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.


Meet Our Members: Mike Goertz

By | Healthy Living

Mike Goertz has been a long standing volunteer in the fitness center at Hutton House; his dedication to the program and the people that participate in it is inspirational.  Recently, Mike went through to be a certified canfitpro Personal Training Specialist and was successful! One of his goals is to work with the older adult population and take more courses that pertain to that. Mike’s dedication to the course shows what an inspiration he is!

Why did you choose canfitpro?

It was recommended to me by Kristy Hoornick, Fitness and Wellness Facilitator at Hutton House. I also liked the information and the way they taught the course

What is your “why”? Why have you chosen this profession?

I am an athlete with Special Olympics Ontario and I swim competitively. I started exercising to improve my own fitness for competitions. I enjoyed it so much that I decided I wanted to help others with intellectual disabilities to improve their fitness. I feel that by having a personal trainer who can relate to their clients on the same level is important, and my being able to understand their experiences helps with this.

What gets you excited to go to work each day?

I get excited to go to work each day because I get to see each of my clients as well as other participants, and help them achieve their goals. To see the pride that they have in themselves for achieving a goal or completing a new exercise makes it all worth while.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

I enjoy the clients that I work with and making a difference in their lives.

A History of canfitpro: A Continued Glory

By | Healthy Living

By Mo Hagan

By the early 1990s, there was an increasingly growing demand for quality group fitness instructors (back then called “Aerobics Instructor”), and at the same time personal training was just emerging onto the scene. Like other conference organizations within the global fitness industry, our passion for moving the industry forward was fearlessly high, however our beginnings were very humble.  With a simple company purpose to communicate, educate and motivate one fitness professional at a time, canfitpro set forth in 1993 to help grow the fitness industry in Canada with an education conference called BodyLife.

As the owner of a small chain of clubs at the time, canfitpro founder and CEO, David Patchell-Evans, purchased the rights to this well-known and respected magazine and conference brand from Germany. His idea at the time was to help his company find and develop educated fitness professionals, while at the same time raise the standard within the fitness industry to benefit everyone across the country. I recall Patch’s answer to my one-and-only question upon hearing this news, and my question was “WHY?”  His answer was simple. “The demand for fitness is growing and the supply of fitness professionals is not going to be able to keep up in its current stateTo ensure that Canada’s fitness industry is able to keep up, someone will need to step in to provide education and training at a grassroots level, and to be consistent (in order to build credibility), it would have to be on a national level”.

By the time BodyLife launched, with its first event in the fall of 1993, there was only one Fitness Instructor Training Network in existence, along with provincial-level government funded training associations, of which only a few remain today. The company’s first couple of years was built from the side of my desk, with the help from BodyLife Germany education director, Darin Dieterich. Darin introduced BodyLife Canada to many amazing fitness presenters and educators, and in turn provided Canadian presenters the opportunity to present abroad, myself included. In 1995, BodyLife was officially re-named Can-Fit-Pro and relocated to Toronto. Soon after, Can-Fit-Pro launched the Fitness instructor Specialist (FIS) certification, and a few years later the Personal Trainer Specialist (PTS).

As Canada’s largest fitness education organization today, we have always maintained the position of an education organization, with our purpose of inspiring healthy living through fitness education. We have weathered both black-outs (in 2003) and countless industry breakthroughs, beginning with a non-traditional model of education delivery through our PRO TRAINER network. With a simple company purpose to communicate, educate and motivate one fitness professional at a time, canfitpro set forth in 1993 to help grow the fitness industry in Canada with an education conference called BodyLife.

Now, 26 years later, our membership has grown globally to surpass 25,000 fitness professionals on an annual basis, certifying over 10,000 professionals annually. What began as a quarterly magazine and an annual conference that drew 250 delegates, has grown into one of the largest fitness education conferences in the world and the largest fitness Expo and Tradeshow in Canada, serving over 5,500 fitness professionals and well over 10,000 consumers annually. Annual regional conferences in Vancouver, Calgary/Edmonton, Montreal, Halifax, and Toronto help to support our fitness pros coast to coast, making education and certification accessible.

I believe that the secret to success we have had at canfitpro over the last 26 years has been due to the following:

  1. Know what brings you passion and focus on it, understanding your WHY (why you exist to do what you do). This will ensure your emotions (passion, excitement, joy/happiness) outweigh fear.
  2. Align your strengths with the strengths of others; bringing people together to share your vision and to contribute to that vision (and cause).  People want to align and follow leaders and innovators, and contribute as they can.
  3. Know the value (benefits) you bring to your work and to the industry, and be daring to raise the bar.  Patch and I both believe that there is always room for MCI (Measurable Constant Improvement) and you can only get better if you are learning and growing, and being consistent in that.  Like any athlete, you must train every day to remain at the top of your game.  The same goes for any fitness professional.  You must always be learning and with greater knowledge comes the responsibility to show up and stand up for your profession (lead by example).  This is a big reason live conferences are so important for every fitness professional to show up to, at least one time each year.
  4. Decide who you want to be in the world and go out there and create yourself.  Do not let anyone tell you it’s okay to play small in the world.  Do not let others’ actions of complacency stop you from becoming the best version of yourself.  Do not let “Black Outs” (2003) or “Flash Floods” (2018) stop you from moving in the direction of your goals, and know that the only thing or person that will hold you back from pursuing your life purpose is YOU.

On behalf of everyone at canfitpro, I am tremendously grateful for the leadership our staff, PRO TRAINERS, sponsors, education partners, presenters, and members exude on a daily basis as representatives of the Canadian Fitness Industry.  I look forward to celebrating with all of you at this year’s canfitpro 2019!

About Maureen (Mo) Hagan

Maureen is vice president of program innovation for canfitpro and GoodLife Fitness. Maureen or Mo, as she is known in the fitness industry, is a global fitness ambassador and has been recognized for her work in fitness that spans over three decades. She is a #1 best-selling author, member of the Board of Directors for Prescription to Get Active and a Reebok sponsored athlete.

Kyphosis: Is it a Thoracic or Pelvic Problem?

By | Healthy Living

By Chuck Wolf

The client/patient presents with the familiar rounded shoulders, posterior pelvic tilt, and head forward posture. All we want to do is place our knee between their scapula, grab their shoulders and pull them back…and say, “There, now stand up straight!” This scene is all too common and, historically, the fitness professional has advised the client to stretch the pectorals, anterior deltoids, abdominals, and strengthen the posterior shoulder complex.

At times, we placed the client/patient on a seated row machine and strengthened the posterior shoulder, parascapular musculature, and latissimus dorsi from this position. We have good intentions; however, are we looking at the symptom or the problem? In other words, are we addressing the functional cause?

Round Shouldered Posture (Kyphosis) is a muscular imbalance that causes forward roundness of the low back (flexion of the lumbar spine on the pelvis), increased round shoulder posture (thoracic flexion), and forward head tilt (cervical flexion).

Viewed from the lateral perspective, the client is slouched in their standing posture (there is a reduction in lumbar and cervical lordosis, increased thoracic kyphosis or flexion, shoulder and scapular abduction (protraction), and a relatively posterior tilted pelvis).  The traditional approach of stretch the anterior shoulder region and strengthen the posterior region is only part of the solution.

From a biomechanical reaction, when the upper thoracic spine becomes further flexed, the lumbar and cervical spines will flex and the pelvis will tilt posteriorly. Or when the pelvis becomes posteriorly tilted, the lumbar spine will flex, the thoracic spine will flex further, and the cervical spine will reduce lordosis, head tilt forward and downward.  In all, but very rare cases, will this reaction occur.

A Brief Look at the Spinal Reaction of Pelvic Changes

Let’s quickly analyze how the pelvis can affect spinal position.

First, stand with feet about hip width apart in a bilateral neutral position.

Now imagine reaching your head to the sky, not looking up, but stand tall from the greater trochanter of the femur to the top of the head (refer to photo 1).

Photo 1

Place the back of the hand at the lumbar spine. Typically, there should be a natural lordotic curve at the lumbar spine, the head is held upright with a natural lordosis in the cervical spine (refer to photo 2).

Photo 2

Notice how the lumbar spine is relatively extended to the pelvis and the concomitant relative anterior tilting of the pelvis to the spine.  You may want to observe this from the lateral side view.

Next, round the shoulders (scapular protraction) and notice how the lumbar spine flexed, the increased thoracic flexion and loss of cervical extension, head shift forward and downward.  Also, note the position of the pelvis as it tilted posteriorly on the lumbar spine. This is often the postural alignment many of our clients/patients possess (refer photo 3).

Photo 3

For the moment, imagine you are walking in the shoes of those that present with kyphosis and the health and fitness professional tells them to stand up straight with their shoulders pulled back. They try to heed the advice, but now stand with this strain on their face as they have adducted their shoulder girdle but have not addressed the posterior pelvic tilt. They now have an abrupt compressing conflict at the thoraco-lumbar junction. The reason for this is the pelvis has a relative flexed position with the lumbar spine and the distal thoracic spine begins to extend at the thoraco-lumbar junction near the still flexed lumbar spine. Notice that the pelvis is tilted posteriorly to the lumbar spine.

Create the Environment for the Client to Become Successful

To improve the kyphotic condition, we must create an environment of success for our client. For this to naturally and functionally occur, the pelvis must be relatively anterior tilted to the lumbar spine, thus creating lumbar extension. To achieve this, position the client into a posterior lunge with the right leg (refer to photo 4).

Photo 4

Make sure the right heel remains on the ground. Notice how the right pelvis has become anteriorly tilted to the lumbar spine. Place the back of your hand at the lumbar spine and observe the increased lumbar lordosis. To improve shoulder girdle posture, extend the left arm while it is abducted about 15 degrees to waist height. Notice how this movement pattern creates scapular retraction (adduction) of the left scapula, the thoracic spine extends, lumbar spine gains relative lordosis, the cervical spine improves its lordosis while the head draws back, resulting in greatly improved posture.

If desired, have the client/patient hold a rubber tube to add resistance as they extend the arm. This will add resistance for the parascapular muscles, posterior shoulder, and latissimus dorsi. As a functional alternative, use a dumbbell in the left hand, flex forward from the waist and reach the left arm anteriorly to waist or knee height (refer to photo 5). 

Photo 5

Then extend the torso back and reach the arm back while slightly abducted at waist height (refer to photo 6).

Photo 6

This will create a scapular retraction and help strengthen the posterior shoulder girdle and back. The rationale for the forward flexion is to allow the posterior muscles to undergo a lengthening or pre-load. When muscles move through the pre-load phase, they eccentrically contract to decelerate the forward motion.  Physiologically, the eccentrically loaded tissue stores approximately 3-9 times more energy than the concentric unload action. Whenever we perform any efficient movement pattern, muscle tissue moves through a pre-load, lengthening phase (eccentric), stabilizing phase, then an unload, shortening phase (concentric). In this case, the posterior muscles lengthen in the pre-load phase, undergo a stabilizing moment just prior to changing directions when we then extend back through the hip and back while we extend our arm with a posterior reach.

Perform 10-15 repetitions, 2-3 sets, and then repeat on the opposite side. Be sure to change leg positions to address both sides of the back. In this way, we can functionally create an environment for success to improve posture.


To find out more about kyphosis and functional training and to take his sessions, catch Chuck Wolf at canfitpro2019!

Register for canfitpro 2019 now

About Chuck Wolf

Currently sought after as one of the industries top educators, Chuck brings a whole new approach to how we look and train the body. Chuck has a Masters of Science Degree in Exercise Physiology and a Fellow of Applied Science from the Gray Institute. He is the Director of Human Motion Associates and the director of the biomechanics lab at the Masson Spine Institute, in Orlando, Florida, consulting with clients in rehabilitation to professional athletes.