Healthy Living

Why You Shouldn’t be Scared to Consume Fat

By | Healthy Living

Fat is not the enemy and we should be consuming the right fats to promote our health!

About Kathleen Trotter

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

Twitter: @FITbyKathleenT

Instagram: @fitbykathleent

Facebook:  FIT by Kathleen Trotter

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.

Exercise for Anxiety and Depression

By | Healthy Living

By Igor Klibanov

You’re a personal trainer, and you work with clients who have mental health issues (be it anxiety, depression, or something else). You know they’ve gotten better over time, thanks to exercise, but what’s the best form of exercise for different mental health issues, and how does it work? That’s what we’ll talk about in this article.

Exercise Prescription for Mental Health

Interestingly, when a doctor prescribes a medication to his/her patients, s/he says the name of the medication, the dosage, whether it should be taken with meals, or away from them, and whether it should be taken in the morning or evening. There is precision in the prescription. But when a doctor tells his/her patients to exercise, s/he leaves it at that. No more information.

So what is the patient to do? Should they do cardio or strength training? How frequently? At what intensity? For how long?

The truth is that just as the doctor has the right medication for each condition, so should exercise recommendations differ based on the specific condition. Fortunately, in recent decades, there has been more and more research on the right type and “dosage” of exercise necessary to improve and support different conditions.


Anxiety is a persistent worry and restlessness, which is normal to most people. By the time it crosses the line (once the label of “anxiety” is official), the person is in a pretty dark place. Fortunately, exercise can help with that (as you already guessed).

In one study, researchers took 26 well-conditioned college athletes and divided them into two groups. The first group cycled for 30 minutes at 70-80% of their maximal heart rate. The second group lifted weights for 30 minutes at 70-80% of the 1RM. The group that cycled had a lower anxiety level after exercise, compared to before. What about the group that lifted weights? Their anxiety levels were actually higher after exercise than before. But, when they were measured through the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) questionnaire at 20 and 60 minutes post-exercise, their anxiety levels only returned to their pre-exercise levels.

The conclusion: cardio is more effective than strength training for anxiety reduction, when done at 70-80% of the maximal intensity.

What about duration? What’s the least that you need to exercise to have anxiety-reducing effects? Most studies start at 20 minutes, but that’s because they don’t directly look at the minimum effective “dose”. There are currently two studies available that look at the least amount of exercise someone needs to do to have anxiety-reducing effects.

Their conclusion: somewhere in the 10-15 minute range. That’s pretty cool! For only 10-15 minutes of exercise, anxiety is reduced, and usually for up to 6 hours.

But there are still a few unanswered questions, like:

  • Does it only change their anxiety in the moment, or does it change how they are as a person?
  • What about people with severe anxiety? Does exercise work for them as well?


We now know that exercise works well for anxiety, and that cardio is more effective than strength training. How about depression?

In the case of depression, it seems that both cardio and strength training have equal effects. In one study, the researchers enrolled 40 women with depression and divided them into three groups. The first group was the control group. They didn’t exercise. The second group ran four times per week for 30 minutes, and the third group lifted weights four times per week for 30 minutes

The results: both the cardio and the strength training groups reduced their depression symptoms by an average of 50%. Not bad, considering that exercise was used as a stand-alone therapy (no medications or psychotherapy were used).

But just as in anxiety, there are a few unanswered questions, such as:

  • How does exercise compare to medications in those with depression?
  • How long do the effects of exercise last?
  • How does exercise affect those with severe depression?

Mechanisms: How does it Work?

There are eight hypotheses that explain why exercise works to improve mental health. Three of those will be covered here.

  • Hypothesis #1: Self-Efficacy
    Self-efficacy means that you feel like you’re in control. When you have anxiety or depression, it feels like things are happening to you. You feel helpless, out of control. But then you start exercising, and you quickly realize that if you exercise you can make yourself feel better, which brings back a sense of control to your life. You start to understand that you can control how you feel. You can control when, where, and how intensely you exercise. Exercise doesn’t just “happen” to you. You make it happen.
  • Hypothesis #2: The Tryptophan/Serotonin Hypothesis
    It is believed that one of the mechanisms of fatigue in exercise is the increase in tryptophan levels in the brain. Tryptophan is an amino acid and it gets converted to serotonin. Serotonin is the “happy chemical.” When serotonin levels rise, you feel happy and relaxed.
  • Hypothesis #3: Increased Alpha Waves in the Brain
    If you were to hook up the brain to an EEG machine and measure electromagnetic waves, you’d notice four types of waves: alpha, beta, gamma and delta. The beta waves are what you experience when you’re awake and concentrating. The gamma and delta waves predominate in deep sleep. It’s the alpha waves that are less present in the person with anxiety. Alpha waves signal relaxation, and they’re most evident when a person is relaxing, daydreaming, or in that period when lying in bed and you’re not quite asleep, but not quite awake. Exercise helps increase alpha wave activity and calms you down.

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.

Igor is generously giving away free digital copies of his most recent book, The Mental Health Prescription to canfitpro members. You can get your copy by visiting this website.

It’s All About You!

By | Healthy Living

By Leah Staff, BA Psychology, Speech Communication Minor, PTS

Stop! Don’t cancel that appointment with your trainer! Didn’t complete your workouts this week? Your nutrition intake was more than a shade off target? You might be tempted to cancel your session because you are too embarrassed to face your trainer but hang on a minute. Your trainer likely told you that in order to achieve your goal (the outcome), consistency in your behaviours (workouts, rest and nutrition) is absolutely necessary. But as an intelligent adult you already knew that. So yes, when you haven’t been able to keep up your side of the program it is tough to face your coach; however, here are some points to remind you that your fitness level is not about keeping your trainer happy, but rather this process is 100% about you.

First, your coach is completely in your corner. She wants you to succeed and that can only happen if you continue to show up. When you’re feeling unsuccessful, this support might feel like pressure. Pause for a moment to reframe her desire for your success as being there to help you through every human bump on your journey.

Second, trainers are people too. They have families, schedules, life hassles, and sometimes they even have other jobs! They live with the same constraints of managing daily life and the toughness of getting everything done during a week. From their personal experience, they will not be shocked that you had a difficult week. Plus, unless you are their very first client ever, their professional experience entails other clients who’ve had the same struggles.

Third, trainers are weird and they know they’re weird! They love exercise! When workouts are skipped they get grumpy, don’t sleep well, feel less energetic and they hate it. They are are also keenly aware that most people don’t feel as strongly about exercise as they do. In fact, more people than you might think actually hate everything about exercise. The entire reason trainers work in fitness is because they enjoy it. They will always hope that you’ll learn to love it too, but they aren’t shocked when it’s not love at first sweat.

Fourth, your trainer only knows what you tell her. If there is something about your workout that you don’t like, that hurts, that feels too hard, and that makes you feel conspicuous or in other ways makes it tempting to skip your workouts – speak up! She wants to know! There are many paths (behaviours) that lead to your goal (outcome) and your trainer is completely capable of designing a new road with scenery that is more appealing to you.

Fifth, you’re the boss. When it comes right down to it, you have paid for these workouts with your hard-earned cash and cancelling last minute is money down the drain. Your trainer is your coach, hired by you, working for you. A good trainer will help you figure out a strategy to turn your exercise journey into another part of your weekly habits. Tap into her coaching skills by showing up and being transparent about your struggles. She can’t help you if you’re not there.

Try reframing your embarrassment, disillusionment or despair into a recognition that setbacks are a normal part of forming new habits. People rarely succeed on their first attempt to instill life-long exercise habits. In fact, you can look at it this way: every time you teach yourself to shake off low fitness weeks and get back into the gym groove, you are that much closer to staying consistent. So get out there and go see your trainer – she’s waiting for you!

About Leah Staff

Leah is a communication and wellness expert who prides herself on all sides of corporate consulting: thorough analysis, leadership input, alignment with business goals, and strategic solution delivery. She spent 25 years working in health and fitness as a presenter, educator and coach. Working in the corporate world since 2008, Leah has implemented over 100 wellness programs across Canada with national award-winning success. Curious as to why some individuals and organizations embrace change and flourish while others seem to struggle or even resist growth, she returned to school part-time to find out more about communication and human behaviour. In December 2018, Leah graduated With Distinction with her Psychology Degree, Speech Communication Minor from the University of Waterloo.

Leah consistently provides a superior learning experience with engaging, interactive workshops that foster effective communication skills. Participants leave feeling empowered to apply new practices that positively impact their professional and personal progress.


LinkedIn: www.linkedin/leahstaff