The Fundamentals of Strength Training

By | goals, Strength | No Comments

The instagrams are clogged to bursting with videos of our friends at Cirque doing one-finger pirouettes and juggling kettlebells (Seriously. That’s a thing. Search #kettlebelljuggling or click this video of kettlebell juggling to see for yourself!).

But before you twinkle your toes—or your kettlebells—in the air, you’ve got to know the fundamentals of strength training. These are the building blocks upon which all other moves rest.

All those fancy flourishes can be boiled down into a few basic categories of human movement: Pull. Push. Lift. Lunge. Squat. Carry.

That’s why we’re dedicating this month at MGPT to the fundamentals of strength training. You’ll learn how to use the Olympic bar to do a real deadlift, squat, shoulder press, and benchpress. We’ll use kettlebells to do swings, carry and Turkish get up.

Why does this matter? What’s the use if you’ll never need to benchpress or swing in real life? A-HA! But you DO need to do this stuff in everyday life. Because every day life is comprised of pull, push, lift, lunge, squat and carry.

And unfortunately… this is the stuff where peeps get hurt because they haven’t trained the proper movement patterns.

You’re at a summer festival with a backpack-full of blankets and snacks and need to visit the port-o-potty (squat). Safely lift the bag of dog food from floor (deadlift). Push your car out of the snow (benchpress) and put away the box of old photos on the top bookshelf (shoulder press). Clear the walkway of snow drifts (swing) and transport baby & bucket from the parked car to the in-laws (carry). Last but certainly not least, you gotta know how to get up offa that dance floor without spilling a drop of martini (Turkish get up).

Practicing the fundamentals of strength training in a safe environment like MGPT Studio not only gets you stronger, it’s also injury prevention for everything life throws at you “out there”.

No one says it better than Bret Contreras, world reknown glute-strength expert (yes, this is also a thing). “If you think lifting weights is dangerous, try being weak. Being weak is dangerous”. 

If you have questions or want to learn more about the fundamentals of strength training, proper lifting technique and injury prevention, call me or drop in for a class.

Be healthy, Be happy,

Maxine

3 TIPS TO STAY HEALTHY

By | nutrition, self care | No Comments

Oh no, seems like everyone is getting sick these days! Here are 3 EASY TIPS to boost your immune system.

Seriously… you guys know this stuff! It’s the stuff your mom told you. But it was true, and she was right. So in no particular order, here are three key ways to boost your immune system… (drumroll please).

1. EAT RIGHT. More fruits and veggies!

Make what you eat. Try to have homemade stuff whenever possible. The more you eat homemade, the higher your chances are that it’s nutritious. Now… Eat what you make! In other words, actually eat it; don’t just serve it to the kids!
Vitamins and minerals are what protects your immune system and fights illness! And drink water too. But you knew this.

 

2. SLEEP RIGHT.

Prioritise sleep. There are loads of resources on how to fall asleep and stay asleep. I fall asleep easily but often toss and turn in the night. Recently cognitive shuffle technique has been working for me to get me through these patches. You are not helping anyone by getting “one more thing” done before going to bed… and if you get sick and miss three days of productivity you will definitely not be ahead. But you knew this!

 

3. EXERCISE.

Here’s one I’ll bet you didn’t know: exercise makes your immune system stronger, just like it makes your muscles stronger.
Maybe it’s the blood coursing through your system that flushes nutrients and white blood cells around your body, while flushing viruses and bacteria out. Maybe it’s the increased breathing that pushes germs out of your nose and lungs faster. Doctors and scientists aren’t exactly sure HOW it works, but they DO know its true. Or maybe exercise just helps you eat and sleep more. 🙂

 

BONUS TIPS, BECAUSE I LOVE YOU. Like, for real. 

Booze. Try to reduce alcohol to one or two nights a week. An easy way to do this is to say no drinks from Sunday to Thursday. Booze also convinces you poutine before bed is a good idea and then messes with your ability to stay asleep. See rules 1 & 2.
Fermented foods. Kefir, kombucha, kimchi, kisses… seems like all the good stuff start with K! Fermented foods help line the intestinal wall keeping baddies out, and they feed your gut flora which keeps your immune system high. Which can lead to more kisses. Yay! (Not fermented kisses, that’s gross).
 
How much exercise is too much? You want to stress your body just enough so that it bounces back stronger. Wait too long between workouts and you lose the stress effect; wait too little between workouts and you lose the opportunity to bounce back. Four-ish times a week is ideal, rotating between different muscle groups and styles of exercise (fast, slow, heavy, bodyweight, mobility, etc.). If you have are itching to do more, use the time for sleep or meal prep. You know which rules to see. 🙂
When should you NOT exercise? The rule of thumb in this case is actually the “rule of neck”. If your symptoms are above the neck (stuffy, congested) you are probably ok to train. It won’t shorten the lifespan of the cold but it may help break up congestion. If symptoms are below the neck (lung infection, bronchitis, for e.g.) you want to see rules 1 & 2: eat and sleep right until you are better.
Rocket Science?
Just ‘cuz these tips are simple doesn’t make them easy to follow. There’s lots going on! I know! So don’t beat yourself up if you’re not getting a perfect score on the above; no one is. We’d all be self-loving, hyper-inspired, higher-level conscious, one-hand-handstanding ninjas volunteering at the orphanage.
Just figure out which is your biggest culprit (or easiest opportunity to make a change) and try to move that one lever a little to the right. That’s it. It may be all the difference you need to fight that next little virus heading your way.
Stay healthy, stay happy!

30-DAY FITNESS CHALLENGE: November 15-December 15

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30-Day MGPT Fitness Challenge

At MGPT we love a good party (or two!), but the holiday season can quickly turn into an extravaganza of excess food, drinks, and late nights… and skipped workouts.

To get a month of training under your belt before the holidays, join the MGPT 30-day fitness challenge. It’s simple: attend as many classes as you can between Nov 15 and Dec 15, 2017.

There will be lots of prizes to be won, including one free month of unlimited training plan.

TO ENTER
Every training session at MGPT counts as one entry into the draw.
** Take advantage of the new UNLIMITED TRAINING plan to participate! **

BONUS ENTRIES

  • Share the announcement on Facebook
  • Bring a friend
  • Bring a smile
  • Check-in to MGPT on Facebook

Contact me for info or sign up here

Max’s lunch and snack hacks

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School’s back in and making lunches is a PITA. (Pain. In. The. Ananas).

You’ve got the basics down pat:

SNACK #1

  • fruit
  • veggie sticks
  • dry cereal
  • nut-free granola

LUNCH

  • last night’s leftovers
  • sandwich

SNACK #2

  • yogurt
  • cheese stick

Sounds easy-peasy, but here you are staying up late and waking up early making cute apple slices and rubbing them with lemon-squeezy so they don’t turn brown. These turn brown anyway, the kids eat half, and come home ravenous regardless. You need ideas for healthy stuff the kids will actually eat and that will satiate their appetites for destruction.

Below are some tips that are working for us this week. They take a few more minutes, but you’ll feel good about it, so that’s something, right?

HOLD THEM LONGER. With snacks, not goodbye hugs.

Stop separating your #1 and #2 above. Try prepping snacks that combine a dairy and a fruit/veggie.

There’s a reason these are classics: the fat-carbohydrates duo keeps kids (and adults) fuller, longer.

  • Celery and cream cheese
  • Apples and cheddar
  • Fruit and/or Granola with yogurt (plain if you can get away with it)
  • Half a cream cheese & cucumber sandwich
  • Melon and cottage cheese

Yup, it means using a Tupperware, but most individually-wrapped stuff is crap anyway. And this way you avoid the packaging so you get to score environmental points, too. 🙂

Tips for Quickies

Stuck for a main? Here are some last-minute lunch ideas that fly in our house…

  • Falafel and hummus
  • Scrambled eggs in the Thermos (Ooooh, Thermos! Why do kids love it? Beats me but seems to be the same reason they love taking the school bus).

Ditch the ‘Wich

Sandwiches take AGES to prepare. Toast the bread, slice the cheese, wash two skimpy pieces of lettuce, dry lettuce, add mustard…. Mash a bunch of tuna, chicken or hard-boiled egg with your fork, chop celery, add dressing, mash some more… Ugh. Forget it. (My kid also happens to be saran-wrap-remedial, and half the time it all falls apart in the opening process).

Just toss whatever would’ve been in your sandwich into a container. Chicken chunks, half a can of tuna, a hard-boiled egg. Throw in a big hunk of cheese and a chunk of cucumber. Close and done. Frankly they weren’t getting much nutrition from the bread anyway so this gives them more of the good stuff, too.

Big, Fat PITAs

Actually this time I really do mean pitas. Use the THICK pita pockets (I get mine at Akhavan). They’re easy to shove stuff into and don’t fall apart on children who are challenged by unconnected layers of bread. Also easy to pop in the toaster oven with leftover tomato sauce and a slice of cheese for quickie pizza-pockets (Hint 1: marry an Italian. Hint 2: always make extra sauce).

Last Night’s Leftovers

It’s pretty amazing that kids these days have been exposed to so much food variety and are so worldly. When I was little, I’d be the kid with Tupperwares of tabouleh and moussaka and my friends were all like, “Ew, you’re weird. Moose-wha? Taboo-who? Your family dips bread in OIL??? GROSS! WHERE’S THE MIRACLE WHIP???

If your kids ate it last night, they can eat it tomorrow. I usually cook about 1.5 times more than I need to so that I have enough for kids’ lunches, and my own. And don’t stress so much about refrigeration (you know who you are). Nothing bad happens to their food in the brief stretch between 8am and 12pm. Billions of kids who wish they were in school all over the developing world can’t be wrong.

Switches for Healthier Options

YOGURT

Watch out for those sneaky little packaged yogurts. They are CHOCK-A-BLOCK with sugar (fact: 1 Activia Strawberry yogurt = 1 can of Coke).

If your kids have gotten wise to plain, buy 2 large tubs of yogurt — one plain, one flavoured — and combine them in a little container so they’ll get half-half. Sexy it up with raisins, berries, coconut flakes or–what the hell–chocolate chips.

CEREAL

DON’T choose cereal with dried fruit already in it. DO feel free to add your own dried fruit, but be aware when purchasing.

Check your labels… dried fruit is often rolled in hydrogenated oil and sugar. Look for ones that are plain and with no sulfates. (Tip: COSTCO often has large packages of organic dried fruit with no additives. Their organic apricots are literally the only fruit my 3 year old — a.k.a. Captain Beige — will eat.)

We usually get Nature’s Path Sierra Sunrise. It’s nut-free, gluten-free, tough enough to stay crunchy in milk and holds up in a ziplock or tupperware for snacks and approx. 5g of sugar/serving.

BAKING

If you can get around to in on a Sunday, make a dozen muffins. Freeze and presto! One to toss in their lunch every day for two full weeks.

To make muffins healthier:

  • Replace 1/3 (or more) of the flour in your recipe for buckwheat. Kinda tastes like sand so don’t go more than half.
  • Cut the sugar by ½ (or more). DO just leave it out. DON’T replace it with maple syrup, agave, stevia etc… it will taste fine, I promise.
  • Use butter or coconut oil instead of vegetable oil or canola
  • Add anything that contains fibre (zucchini, carrots, oats, bran, flax, hemp)

Whew! Hope this post has given you a couple of new ideas.

Do you have more suggestions to share? Questions? 

I’d love to hear your feedback. And stay tuned for tips on GROWN-UP lunches, coming soon!!!

The healthiest life can make room for ice cream too!

What’s the healthiest life you ENJOY living?

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Clients often say “I was good this week”, or “I was bad this week”. Meaning either they peeled the skin off their chicken breast or had snacks they were not proud of. ALERT! Neither of these things make you a morally better/worse person and I LOVE YOU just the same. The goal is to live the healthiest life you actually *enjoy* living. Only YOU can define where you sit on this.

The more you read ingredients and nutrition labels; the more you pay attention to how you feel when you eat whole foods (including delicious crispy chicken skin and the dark meat it rode in on), the more you may find that the life you ENJOY is one that has more healthy foods. Say NO to being militant, Say YES to participating in festive occasions with family and friends. Say NO to obsessing over pant size. (ALERT! pant size ALSO does not make you a better/worse person). Say YES to the treats that really bring you joy, and NO eating the kids’ leftover pizza crust and goldfish crackers just because “they were there”. The recipe for living the healthiest life you actually enjoy living? Aim for being 85% good 85% of the time and you’ll get an A+ from me.

I was recently inspired by Jolene Jones, a former body builder who shares her “reverse transformation” on how much happier she is since she gained 25 lbs. She writes, “Things I don’t do during meals: MATH”.

The healthiest life you enjoy living means including your mental, emotional and social health in the equation. Any regime that stresses you out or makes you unhappy is not quite balanced yet. Let me know if you want to talk about making adjustments.

Open House Week Schedule - Try a Free Workout Today!

Open House Week

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If you’ve been meaning to try a class and were just waiting for your personal invitation, here it is! Bring a sister, spouse or friend for a free workout. Check the class calendar and contact me to let me know how many spots to reserve. Book soon, spaces are limited!

A Free Workout For You *And* Your Guest

New clients: try any class on the calendar for free.
Current clients: refer a friend and earn a free class credit when they sign up!

Summer sweat for a good cause - NDG Food Depot

Summer Sweat & Diaper Drive

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FREE outdoor bootcamp for a good cause – bring a donation of disposable diapers* for the NDG Food Depot and join us for a one-hour workout in the park. ~~All levels welcome.~~

WHAT: bodyweight bootcamp. No equipment or experience required!
WHEN: Sunday July 30, 9:00 a.m
WHERE: Girouard Park, corner Sherbrooke W and Marcil
WHY: NDG Food Depot needs diapers (and food, too).
HOW: ask a friend, neighbour, spouse to watch the kids at home or in the park, and join us for some fitness fun!

Contact me for more information.

* Or non-perishable food item. Open-package “leftover” diapers accepted.

Beach body

REAL reasons to have a beach body.

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We can all agree by now that there is only one recipe for a beach body: 1) Have a body. 2) Go to a beach.

If you want to go a step further and fight some the deep-rooted beliefs and insecurities we’ve been taught, think about joining the Bikini Rebellion. Follow Neghar Fanooni on social media or search the hashtag #bikinirebellion to learn more about gaining confidence in your own skin, at every age and stage of life.

Get A Do-Anywhere Fitness Program for YOUR Beach Body

Want a program you can do on the beach (or anywhere else) this summer? Get yours here.