Sign up for personal training / sports training by emailing cardiotrek@gmail.com.

Fix your Bicycle for Fun and Exercise (and Profit)

So bicycling is already an exercise, but so is fixing your bicycle. Or better yet, learn how to fix other people's bicycles and you can "exercise and get paid for it" on a regular basis.

Learning how to fix your own bicycle is certainly a good way to save money. Professional bicycle mechanics in Canada typically charge $60 per hour + the cost of parts.

See How much should a Canadian Bicycle Mechanic be charging for repairs?

So yes, you can definitely save money and get exercise while fixing bicycles.


But How Do You Learn How To Fix Bicycles?

Well, there are a number of methods of learning how to fix bicycles. Here is a list of ways:

  1. Take a bicycle mechanic training course from a professional bicycle mechanic instructor. The one I recommend is Smokey from the Quadra Bicycle Mechanic School. Smokey used to teach the BAM class in Toronto, but later moved his teaching to the island of Quadra in British Columbia. Before I became a personal trainer / sports trainer, my one time goal was to open a bicycle shop and become a full time bicycle mechanic. Smokey is the guy who trained me, and even though I never opened my bicycle shop, I still credit him with me changing my life around and starting my own personal training business.
  2. Learn from a book: The book I recommend is "Barnett's Bicycle Repair Manual". If you do a Google search you can probably find a PDF copy of it. Otherwise it usually costs about $29.99. I have a copy of the book that I got when I took the BAM program in 2009.
  3. Learn from a website: Eg. The Bicycle Mechanic, for example, is a website I started in 2009 around the time I took the BAM program here in Toronto. I was basically learning everything I could during the BAM class from Smokey, plus the Barnett manual, and converting the things I learned into a website that other people could read and use.
  4. Learn from various YouTube channels. There is no one YouTube channel I am going to recommend on this subject. Many of them are good. They range from celebrities like James May (from "The Grand Tour" and "Top Gear") doing bicycle builds and maintenance videos to people who are not famous, but are professional bicycle mechanics. I have included one such video from James May below in which he does some "boring bicycle maintenance".
  5. DO ALL OF THE ABOVE. Watch the videos on YouTube, read websites like The Bicycle Mechanic, get a copy of Barnett's manual, or take a bicycle mechanic training course. If you're absolutely serious about getting really good at fixing bicycles then just do everything.




And once you learn how to fix bicycles then you can potentially earn money (and get more exercise) while doing an activity you enjoy. (Well, it isn't always enjoyable. Sometimes it is hard, but anything that require exercise during the process usually means there is a work element to it.)

What about myself?

Speaking for myself I learned how to fix bicycles from my dad and my best friend Jonathan (who was practically a brother to me) when we were growing up. When I was older and serious about learning more about how to fix bicycles I took the BAM course, I got the Barnett manual, I made the website myself, and I have even considered making my own bicycle mechanic YouTube videos. With the exception of the bicycle mechanic training course from Smokey I did everything else myself.

Same thing goes years ago when I got more serious about making my own bows. I took a course from a bowyer here in Toronto and I purchased 5 books on the subject of bow making, so now I can make my own flatbows, pyramid bows, longbows and more.

If you really want to learn something then hire someone to teach you. It is the whole premise of my sports training business. I teach archery, boxing, swimming and ice skating. Skills that people really need an instructor for if they want to learn how to do it properly.

Bow String Brace Height

Q

"What is the best brace height for my bow?" 


A

It depends on the type of bow and the manufacturer. You should check the manufacturer's guidelines for the best brace height. If you cannot find the manufacturer's guidelines for the ideal brace height then you may need to experiment a bit.

Once you have the manufacturer's recommended distance then you just measure the distance between the lowest point in the handle to the bowstring. If it is too low you need to tighten the string by twisting it about 5 to 10. If the bow string is too high then you need to untwist it 5 or 10 times and check again. Keep repeating this process until you reach the optimal distance.

I personally use the "rule of thumb" method for recurve bows, and slightly less than that for longbows and flatbows. I am less worried about being exactly precise because I know the optimal brace height is really often a range within 1 to 2 inches of the rule of thumb method.

The important things to keep in mind are the physics involved...

The Physics of Brace Height

Too Long Bow String = Too Low Brace Height = Bow string de-accelerates, causing slower arrows, more arrow vibration, more bow vibration, sluggish accuracy.

Perfect String Length = Optimum Brace Height = Bow string accelerates fully, causing nice fast arrows, reduced vibrations, optimal accuracy.

Too Short Bow String = Too High Brace Height = Bow string doesn't accelerate fully, causing slower arrows, vibrations are still reduced, accuracy is down because arrow speed is slower.

Optimal > Too High > Too Low.

Thus it is better to be slightly too high than slightly too low, but ideally you want to get as close to the Optimal Brace Height as you can.

So if you cannot find the manufacturer's recommended brace height then it is better to try the "rule of thumb method" and experiment a bit.

If your bow string is hitting you in the wrist during shots then your brace height is definitely too low.

What is the rule of thumb method?

Holding the bow sideways with the string away from you place your hand on the lowest point on the bow's handle in the "thumbs up" position towards the bowstring. If your thumb is touching the bow string then the brace height is too low and is likely to hit you in the wrist.

You then unstring the bow, twist the bow string 10 times to make it tighter, and restring the bow.

You check the brace height again using the rule of thumb method and if it is still touching your thumb then you repeat the process.

Because people have different sizes of hands the optimal brace height may be roughly 1 or 2 inches above your thumb.

Notes

With longbows and flatbows expect the optimal brace height to be slightly lower than what is normal for recurves, so closer to your thumb or even touching your thumb.

If a bow string is brand new expect it to stretch a bit during the first hour of being used. You may need to stop and adjust the bow string's brace height 30 to 45 minutes a second time.

Why I Love Blunt Field Points and Wingnuts

When it comes to archery finding a really good target to shoot at is really important.

However what you can safely shoot at (depending upon the distance and other factors) can really vary significantly based upon the type of arrowhead you are using.

The standard metal blunt arrowhead, like those sold by 3riversarchery.com, I would argue are the most useful and beneficial because you can add a wingnut or a washer behind the arrowhead and make it so digs into the grass or dirt like an anchor.

Using a metal blunt with a wingnut means you can use a target ball like the Rinehart target ball, shown below, which is extremely durable and if used with blunt arrowheads will last a really long time. (I currently have two of these target balls and use them regularly during my archery lessons because they're very versatile with respect to both field archery and target archery.)

If you don't have a target ball you don't necessarily need to use blunts however.

You can also add wingnuts to pointed field points (like in the image below), allowing you to shoot at anything you don't mind damaging. Eg. Plastic water bottles raised upright on a broken arrow I find makes a great target.


 There are also other types of blunt arrowheads, like those shown below which have sharp edges and are meant for small game hunting. Don't use those on a target ball, but combined with wingnuts they work great for shooting at plastic bottles and similar targets which you don't mind damaging.

With respect to rubber blunt arrowheads you don't want to use those on a rubber target ball either. For some reason rubber bouncing against rubber BOUNCES LIKE CRAZY!

So yes. Definitely don't use rubber blunts on a rubber ball.

Using the blunt field points and wingnuts in combination also works well for:

  • Shooting in snow.
  • Long distance shooting.
  • Any time you are worried about possibly losing your arrow.

Do field points plus wingnuts still work? Yes, but then you need to use a target that you don't care if it gets damaged. So you don't get the versatility and durability of a target which is reliable when it comes to stopping your arrow. (When hitting a plastic bottle your arrow will often rip right through the plastic and the plastic can damage your fletches. By shooting at a rubber ball it STOPS the arrow and your fletching doesn't get damaged.

So really this is a matter of durability and longevity for your equipment.

Plus doing field archery shooting at a rubber ball is great practice for small game hunting and hunting in general. Also good practice if you want to enter a field archery competition.

Sign up for archery lessons in Toronto by emailing me at cardiotrek@gmail.com to learn more.


Off Season Training + Weightlifting

If you're like me the winter is your off season when it comes to sports training. In my case my primary sport is archery and during the winter I don't have many archery students and I am not doing personal practice as much either.

Plus with COVID going on it has put a damper on how many archery students I have had in the past year and how many people have currently signed up for archery lessons in 2021. (Many people seem to be delaying archery lessons until they have a better idea of what the COVID numbers will be.)

However that doesn't mean I just stop exercising when it comes to my personal fitness. I am a personal trainer/sports trainer after all, and I need to stay in shape too.

This is why I have a list of daily exercises that I do every day in order to stay in shape. They are:

 

DAILY EXERCISES
100 Jumping Jacks
100 Sit Ups
100 Push Ups
100 Chin Ups
100 Bicep Curls
100 Tricep Lifts
100 Shoulder Lifts

 

Now you may have noticed that it is a relatively short list, but trust me the size of the list doesn't compare to the amount of time required to do these exercises.

I chose these 7 exercises because they give a full body workout and require the bare minimum when it comes to equipment. All you really need is 1 chin up bar and 2 dumbbells.

I also recommend MUSIC while you are doing these exercises. It will help motivate you and keep you going even when the exercises start to feel boring.

The first 4 things on the list are all body weight exercises designed to target my legs, arms, abdominals, biceps and shoulders. Only the chin ups require the use of the chin up bar. The last three are weight lifting exercises using dumbbells.

They don't need to be heavy dumbbells. I am currently using a 20 lb dumbbell, but my goal is to work my way up to 25 lbs and eventually 30 lbs as I build my endurance and strength. If you're a beginner when it comes to weightlifting I recommend starting with 10 or 15 lbs. It is better to start with a low number and then build endurance + strength first, and then when you get to the higher poundages it will be easier and you won't lose your motivation so easily.

Doing 100 jumping jacks is arguably the easiest and fastest of all 7 exercises. Takes less than 2 minutes to do them if you can do the full 100 jumping jacks all at once.

Doing 100 sit ups is more difficult if you're out of shape and not used to doing sit ups. You may need to do 10, 20 or 50 at a time and then take breaks.

Same thing goes with doing 100 push ups and 100 chin ups. Don't be afraid to separate them into smaller numbers.

If you have difficulty doing push ups you can do Wall Push Ups instead. They're comparatively easier and less stressful and you can control how much effort is required by standing further or closer from the wall.

If you don't have a chin up bar handy (or are physically unable to do a single chin up currently) then you can just skip over that one for now and just focus on the other exercises.

Similarly the 100 bicep curls, the 100 tricep curls, and the 100 shoulder lifts may need to be broken up into 10 sets of 10 or 5 sets of 20. I currently do 5 sets of 20. Nobody is expecting you to do all 100 all at once.

What about a Personal Trainer or a Gym Membership?

Having a personal trainer doesn't really make a lot of sense right now during COVID. Neither does a gym membership.

Anyone who is clinging to their gym membership these days should just give up and focus on doing exercises at home or buy a bicycle. Or buy a canoe. Or buy other sporting equipment for use outdoors.

Myself I like the sound of buying a canoe or kayak.

So save your money. Don't bother getting a personal trainer or gym membership for now. Spend your money elsewhere.

Eg. Get yourself some archery lessons in Toronto when the COVID numbers go down and you feel more confident about doing such things. Until then stay home, exercise at home, buy a bicycle, and maybe consider a canoe to be a fun investment.

How to do Interval Training

With the above exercise it is possible to play with the order and do Interval Training instead of just doing everything in their stated order. Instead try doing the following:

20 Bicep Curls, 20 Jumping Jacks, 20 Shoulder Lifts, 20 Sit Ups, 20 Tricep Lifts, 20 Push Ups, 20 Chin Ups

And then repeat the same order 4 more times, for a total of 100 each.

Or come up with your own order or change how many you do per set. You could do 10 rounds of 10 sets. Whatever works for you.

The idea of Interval Training is to alternate between different kinds of exercises that are more intense and more relaxing, so that you keep your heart rate elevated, but still allow yourself breaks in between the more intense exercises. Thus if you find one type of exercise to be too intense you will want to change the order to suit your needs.

Most likely you will find the 20 Chin Ups to be the most challenging of the bunch so I recommend taking a break before attempting that one. Many people won't even be able to do 5 or 10 Chin Ups at once so don't be surprised if you cannot make it to 20. Just try your best and then move on to the next exercise.

Just because you failed today doesn't mean that someday you won't succeed.

Each time you try and fail is just another stepping block towards succeeding.


Archery Lessons in Toronto 2021

February 10th 2021

I am not sure when I will be able to resume teaching archery lessons in 2021, but my best guess at this time is that I may be able to start teaching again on May 1st 2021. This is a conservative estimate on my part based upon on the current decline in COVID rates and the increasing vaccinations of the general public.

If large scale mass vaccinations for COVID begin in April wherein everyone in Toronto can go get vaccinated then you can bet I will be one of the first people getting vaccinated. I may even get vaccinated sooner than that, as there is already at least 3 clinics so far in Toronto that are open to vaccinations to the general public. I also expect more mass vaccinations clinics to open as the country ramps up the release of the vaccines, making it even easier for people to get vaccinated and go back to normal life.

Thus depending upon how soon I can get vaccinated (both shots 1 and 2), and how soon Ontario reopens the economy from the current lockdowns, then I expect to be up and running with archery lessons by May 1st - or possibly sooner.

Note - I may update this post later if it turns out I can resume teaching sooner. For now May 1st is the best estimate I have. 

MARCH 10TH UPDATE - Yes, May 1st will be the official start of the archery season for me. People wishing to book archery lessons for May, June, July, etc may do so.

Rates

I am keeping my archery lesson rates the same as they were during the bulk of 2020.

Availability

The good news however is that my availability this year is going to be improving dramatically: I will be able to teach 5 days per week, similar to my old schedule from 2017 and earlier. I am currently looking at teaching on the following days:

  • Tuesdays
  • Wednesdays
  • Fridays
  • Saturdays
  • Sundays

Returning / New Students

Returning students are advised to email me regarding finishing any remaining lessons that are leftover from last year or for scheduling new lessons.

New students wishing to secure time slots in May, June or July should email me at cardiotrek@gmail.com to discuss scheduling and availability.

 



Looking to sign up for archery lessons, boxing lessons, swimming lessons, ice skating lessons or personal training sessions? Start by emailing cardiotrek@gmail.com and lets talk fitness!

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