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Building a Stronger Grip using Grip Exercises

Building a stronger grip is really a specialized form of weightlifting / resistance training, and usually the result of someone some form of hand injury wherein their hand was in a cast for a month or more and they need to rebuild the muscles in their hand.

There are a variety of other reasons why people might want a stronger grip in their hands (eg. people who are into rock climbing), but their goals will be roughly the same - to build the muscles in their hand so they can strongly and firmly hold something in place. For bodybuilders having a good strong grip is also handy when lifting the heavier weights.

Some people also build stronger forearm muscles, which also effects grip, so absolutely that is another reason to be doing grip exercises.

There are essentially two ways to do this...

#1. Sports Hand Grips and Weightlifting Grips

You've probably seen them in stores before. Its basically just a device with a spring that you squeeze together. Its not complicated or expensive to purchase them, and they do "most" of the job they are advertised to do.

When buying grips you will want to start with a low number - like 30 lbs or 40 lbs. You can even get adjustable grips where you can change the tension in the spring.

The more heavy duty weightlifting grips start at 100 lbs and go up to 300 lbs, but that is more for serious weightlifters.

#2. Old School Frugal Grip Exercises

These are arguably the better way to attain a stronger grip. Why? It gives you more range and variety, offering you more of a challenge and will push your muscles further than any mere gadget will do. The types of grip exercises will give you different things to challenge yourself with - and the beauty of these exercises is that are not only better for you physically, but they're easy on your wallet too.

Look at the visual examples below of various grip exercises you can try. You won't need anvils or weights to do some of these exercises. When lacking in equipment try using books and heavier objects in your home or garage. Rope climbing is an excellent method too as it uses your body weight instead of the weight of the object.

High Intensity Interval Training pays off well - but is it for everyone?

Interval training is a great way to exercise. Nobody disputes that.

And high intensity interval training (HIIT) burns even more calories, and increases the Afterburn Effect which causes you to continue burning more calories throughout the day due to a heightened metabolism.

However HIIT is not for everyone. Especially people who are elderly, out of shape / overweight, have injuries (eg. knee injuries).

Which is why I have introduced Low Intensity Interval Training (LIIT) and Moderate Intensity Interval Training (MIIT) as options for my personal training clients. Why? Because on a regular basis the people who actually want to hire a personal trainer are in one of these categories:

Overweight / out of shape
Suffering from an injury (eg. knee)

And being told by a personal trainer that you can't do a specific workout becomes a whole Catch-22 scenario. In your head you think you can't lose weight / become fit without doing that high intensity workout. Except you can do the workout - but you need to do it a lower intensity: low intensity or moderate intensity. Especially if you have an injury you need to work around.

It is true that High-intensity interval training (HIIT) offers a bigger payoff from our workouts in less time. But if you can't physically DO the workout due to age, fitness level or injury then you need to do the next best thing.


High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) improves your current fitness level in short sessions, working to increase your metabolism and cutting your workout sessions to a fraction of the time. The goal is to alternate high-intensity bursts of exercise with periods of low-intensity exercise, or active rest.

So for example... Sprinting for 45 seconds, jogging for 45 seconds, repeated 10 times. Total time is 15 minutes and that would be a High Intensity Interval Training you could do at home / in your neighbourhood.

However sprinting / jogging for 15 minutes is a very intense workout. Many people wouldn't even be able to do the first 3 sprints without wanting to stop and rest for 5 minutes.

So a more moderate high workout may be called for.

Sprinting 30 seconds, jogging 30 seconds, walking 30 seconds, repeated 10 times. Total time is 15 minutes. That workout is more doable, but may still be beyond the reach of many people who are out of shape.

One of the goals of HIIT requires you to raise your heart rate up to 85% or more of its maximum capacity. You can calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. Multiply that by .85 (85 percent) and you have your target heart rate.

So for example I am 34 years old. 220 - 34 = 186, x 0.85 = 158.

So if I want to worry about my heart rate I will need a heart monitor on my wrist so I can track how high my heart rate goes.

However I don't believe heart rate monitors are for everyone. While it may help some people to gauge how hard they are exercising and forces them to exercise harder, I think that for people who are overweight / elderly that this is a potentially dangerous practice that could lead to heart attacks (or heart attack like events).

The goal of HIIT (possibly combined by using a heart rate monitor) is to ensure that you burn maximum calories during your workout, as well as maximum calories in the hours following. However burning maximum calories should not involve risking your health and life to do so. Most HIIT workouts last about 15 to 30 minutes.

Thus there is definitely a need for different levels of workouts...

Moderate High Intensity Interval Training (MHIIT)

Target Heart Rate is 70 to 80%
You will still have difficulty talking during this level of workout because you will be breathing so hard.
eg. A running MHIIT would involve a mix of sprinting, jogging and perhaps even some walking.
Aim to workout for 20 to 30 minutes.

Moderate Intensity Interval Training (MIIT)

Target Heart Rate is 60 to 70%
You will be able to talk easier during this kind of workout, but conversations will be dragged out.
eg. A running MIIT would involve a small amount of sprinting, be mostly jogging and some walking.
Aim to workout for 25 to 35 minutes.

Moderate Low Intensity Interval Training (MLIIT)

Target Heart Rate is 50 to 60%
You will be able to talk most of the time.
eg. A running MLIIT would involve intervals of jogging and walking.
Aim to workout for 30 to 40 minutes.

Low Intensity Interval Training (LIIT)

Target Heart Rate is 40 to 50%
Talking will be easy during this kind of workout.
eg. A running LIIT would involve intervals of jogging and resting.
Aim to workout for 35 to 45 minutes.

If a particular workout gets too easy for you and you aren't experiencing any pain / discomfort, try a higher level of intensity. Don't try to deliberately hurt yourself, but do try to challenge yourself as your fitness level progresses.

It is advised that elderly people with heart problems (eg. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on the right) jog with a partner in case they develop any complications during their workout. When in doubt stick to a lower pace workout and avoid over-taxing your heart. (And yes, that was a pun on British taxes.)

The more intense the workout the more oxygen you consume. This increase in oxygen, in turn, increases your post-exercise metabolism - and results in you burning extra calories for anywhere from 90 minutes to 24 hours after the workout is finished. The higher intensity the workout the more benefits you see in terms of fat loss, increased oxygen consumption and improved anaerobic capacity benefits in less time.

While Interval Training is usually used for cardiovascular workouts to improve endurance, it can also be used in sport-specific workouts or weightlifting sessions.

You don’t have to be in amazing shape to add Interval Training to your workouts. Choose your intensity based on your fitness level. When in doubt start low and build your endurance / strength slowly.

You should check with your doctor before starting any exercise program, especially High Intensity Interval Training. If your doctor says you’re healthy enough to engage in HIIT then go ahead and try it. If your doctor advises restraint then you would be better off starting off with low or moderate intensity workouts and then progress slowly.

Lawyer suing NY personal trainer

A lawyer in Manhattan New York is suing a celebrity personal trainer in NYC.

What is interesting is WHY he is suing the personal trainer.

Manhattan attorney Neil Squillante signed up for some personal training sessions 3 years ago, the workouts were too intense for him and he is still in pain 3 years later.

Why? Because the workouts were so intense it ripped ligaments in his joints. The scrawny lawyer was apparently so skinny and underweight that his ligaments weren't used to the intensity of the muscle strain he underwent during the workouts that it ripped the ligaments.

Now I should note that for weightlifting, ripping muscle tissue is normal (“no pain, no gain”) and even desired because it builds new muscles tissue in-between the ripped tissue. However, ripping ligaments is not something you want to happen, because the damage is much more severe, painful, and crippling.

People who get into professional weightlifting and power-lifting are warned about the dangers of ripping ligaments. You have to know your limits and not take risks. Like muscle tissue, ligaments need time to grow and become stronger.

What the personal trainer in New York did was take a workout that they normally do with celebrity's like Beyoncé (Beyoncé is one of their former clients) and then give the same workout to a skinny lawyer who has been sitting at a desk almost every day for the last 10 years.

So I agree with the lawyer. The personal trainer who was training him should have known better to force such an intense workout on someone who's body wasn't ready for it.

What he needed was a more gradual workout program designed to toughen him up first, emphasizing endurance first and strength secondary. Smaller weights, less intensity, longer time period. That is what the personal trainer SHOULD have done.

Instead here is what happened...

#1. Prior to signing up for sessions Neil Squillante “lived a sedentary life with minimal physical activity, lacked physical strength and fitness . . . and had no experience with vigorous physical exercise or strength training.” As such the trainer should have known that in order to prevent injuries that this person would have to be introduced to intense workouts and weightlifting gradually.

#2. In April 2010 Neil Squillante signed up for personal training sessions with a Chelsea personal trainer, who is the Focus co-founder Gabriel Valencia, whose clients include the singer Beyoncé.

#3. He should have been started off gradually with mild workouts, small weights, low intensity and a focus on endurance first. Instead the workouts ended up being a series of intense sessions of squats and thrusts with a heavy medicine ball in what Squillante describes as "a torture session".

“Within a few days after his first physical training session, Squillante told Valencia by telephone that his arms were so sore from the workout that he could not lift them,” the lawsuit says. “Valencia chuckled and said that Squillante’s soreness was normal and nothing to worry about.”

Soreness in the arms, okay. But soreness in the joints so that he can't even lift his arms? That is a warning sign of damage to the ligaments. The personal trainer Gabriel Valencia SHOULD have halted the sessions immediately and counseled that he seek the attention of a doctor who specializes in sports injuries.

Instead Squillante went to two more sessions and ripped his ligaments even more. He ended up having severe damage to his knee, hip and pelvis due to multiple torn ligaments.

#4. Three years after several Neil Squillante still suffers “pain and weakness when he stands,” has trouble sitting “for reasonable periods,” and is in constant pain even when he is not standing or sitting. He rarely travels, has few work meetings, is unable to recruit staff (he runs a legal information service company), and has a diminished social life. He is basically a cripple.

#5. Neil Squillante filed a lawsuit on May 15th 2013 against the personal trainer Gabriel Valencia, his boss and the company.

I believe Neil Squillante absolutely deserves to win his lawsuit because that was gross incompetence on the part of the personal trainer who evidently wasn't used to training people who were that thin / unused to exercise and furthermore ignored the warning signs of a serious sports injury.

Whey Protein isn't just for Bodybuilders

Whey Protein is typically used by people who are into weightlifting and bodybuilding in an effort to bulk up.

And it works too. If you're putting in the effort into the exercises (weightlifting or otherwise) then adding whey protein as a supplement to your regular diet will help bulk up the muscles you are using during the exercises - faster than you normally would on your regular diet.

What is Whey Protein? Its from whey (as in curds and whey), a milk product that is extremely high in protein. So if you're vegetarian you can use it just fine. (Vegans however won't because they don't use dairy products.)

Now you may have noticed up above that I said "exercises (weightlifting or otherwise)", meaning basically any kind of exercises. Including cardio. It does not have to be weightlifting.


Because during cardio exercises the two muscle groups you are using most is actually the lung and heart muscles. The lungs are bringing in oxygen, expelling CO2, and the heart is pumping freshly oxygenated blood to all your body parts.

So what happens to someone who is training for a marathon and they add whey protein as a supplement to their diet?

#1. Their lung muscles will become stronger, making it easier for them to breathe while under stress.

#2. Their heart will become stronger, enabling them to pump more blood quickly and easier.

#3. Their endurance will go up at a faster rate than the normal diet alone.

#4. The muscles they are using (in this case, leg muscles) will grow stronger too. They won't bulk up so much (quantity), but the individual muscle cells will become stronger (quality).

#5. Sore muscles after running will heal faster thanks to the extra protein.

Personal Example #1 - It is archery season right now and I am using whey protein as a supplement after particularly difficult days at the archery range so that I can both heal my back and shoulder muscles faster, and bulk them up faster so I can handle a heavier draw weight on my bow.

Personal Example #2 - I am also using whey protein after jogging every morning so my lungs, heart and leg muscles will grow faster - increasing my endurance and speed.

How Much Whey Protein Should You Use?

Honestly, you don't need to gobble it down in large doses.

If you read the packaging it recommends the maximum dosage. For example on Six Star Muscle Professional Whey Protein the maximum dosage is listed at "2 heaping scoops, 3 times daily". That is a huge amount and it is aimed at people who are bodybuilders who are doing weightlifting in the morning, the afternoon and again around 7 PM in the evening. They're weightlifting for multiple hours daily.

Chances are likely that is not you. Your goals are much more different.

Speaking for myself when I use whey protein I don't even use a full scoop most of the time. It is usually half a scoop or three quarters of a scoop. I use whey protein sparingly, and only when I need to because my regular diet is already reasonably high in protein.

So if you're into jogging and want to build your endurance faster, half a scoop after you finish jogging is enough for your needs.


Protein is also tied to higher brain functions. Your brain is a muscle after all. A balanced diet that makes certain you are getting all your vitamins, minerals and protein will also make you smarter. In contrast too much cholesterol (from a fatty diet) in your blood clogs up the arteries in your brain, making you slower at problem solving and interferes with mnemonic skills (slower at remembering things).

HOWEVER, in order for this to work you need to be doing brain exercises on a regular basis. Thus activities which work your memory skills, problem solving skills, math skills, etc are essentially exercises. Someone who does math for an hour every day and follows those math exercises by eating a healthy meal will ultimately be smarter at math than someone who doesn't exercise their brain and fails to eat a healthy meal.

Be Smart, Eat Healthy!

Worthwhile Fitness Goals

Sometimes it is difficult to set goals for your fitness.

For example setting a goal of losing a specific amount of weight is trickier than it sounds because your weight fluctuates up and down up several pounds every day. It is much more likely you will under or overshoot your target weight.

In addition you can also gain bone density weight - possible as the result of weightlifting, but you can also gain bone density in your legs as the result of jogging or running.

Thus measuring your weight and aiming to lose weight can sometimes be difficult to determine success. You might lose 20 lbs of fat but gain 4 lbs od muscle and 3 lbs of bone density - making you both stronger and tougher and more healthy, but because you only lost 13 lbs overall you may think you failed in your goal and feel discouraged.

If your goal is to shed fat a more realistic measurement is to use a regular tape measure - and aim to track your calorie loss instead of weight loss. Using a tape measure can still be knocked off a bit if you are gaining extra muscle in that area, but you are more likely to see the results with a tape measure. Just remember to record and track your measurements!

Or alternatively, if you track calories then you will see the mathematical difference between what you are eating and what number of calories you are burning. Counting your calories in and out is trickier and will require more effort on your part (although there are apps for that), you are far more likely to succeed if you track your calories in and out.

Setting a goal of losing 500 calories per day for example is doable. Cut out the fatty/sugary foods, eat 1700 to 1900 calories of healthy food per day... and increase your daily exercise levels so you are burning at least 2200 to 2400 calories per day. At that rate you should be losing approx. 1 lb of fat per week.

Other goals I recommend people set are:

#1. More flexibility by engaging in stretching exercises and yoga.

#2. More youthful appearance - with proper exercise and diet you can lose years off your appearance. (Most people think I am 24.)

#3. Live longer. Longevity goes hand in hand with a more youthful appearance. You could end up being 90+ and having the body of a 60 year old. (Did you know Arnold Schwarzenegger is 65 years old? He will be 66 on July 30th 2013.)

#4. Build muscle... Okay? But how much? And what do you actually use it for? If you had a favourite sport (eg. Shot Put) that calls for muscles then yes, that will help motivate you and you can use those newfound muscles in your chosen sport. (I myself did a weightlifting regime over the winter so I could pull a heavier bow for archery and hold it steady.)

#5. Build confidence / feel better about yourself.

#6. Become more fit / feel better physically.

#7. Reduce your chances of injury or illness. Again with the bone density - elderly people who do weightlifting are less likely to fall and break their hip.

#8. Reduce the symptoms of a health problem you already have. Being overweight causes many health problems, everything from heart problems to joint pain to erectile dysfunction. Losing the weight and embracing a healthier lifestyle to shed oneself of those symptoms is a worthwhile goal.

#9. Get six pack abs. True, it is a purely aesthetic goal, but it is still a goal worth having if you want to feel better and more confident about your appearance. To do this you first need to lose the weight by doing lots of cardio, and then do a combination of abs and obliques exercises.

#10. Firmer breasts that look younger and perkier. Yes, even that can be accomplished with exercise. They're called "Bust Firming Exercises" and even Marilyn Monroe did them.


You can't do "spot treatment" for weight loss. If you want to lose fat in specific areas of your body then you need to exercise the WHOLE body through cardio exercises to shed the extra fat everywhere. Spot treatment works for weightlifting and building muscles in specific areas, but it doesn't do anything for shedding fat in specific areas.

Weightlifting doesn't actually cause you to lose weight that easily. There are some weightlifting trainers who like to claim that you can accomplish all your fitness goals with weightlifting alone. This is a myth that they are perpetuating. The more effective route to lose weight is old fashioned cardio exercises like jogging, swimming, etc (which won't cost you a penny). Even simple exercises like jogging up the stairs burns more calories than weightlifting - because you are lifting your body weight up the stairs while doing cardio.

Exercising doesn't have to be expensive. I have numerous Frugal Exercises posts on this website which are completely free. You don't need fancy equipment or clothes or a gym membership or a personal trainer (although if you live in Toronto I fully endorse hiring me if your have difficulty with motivating yourself).

Stabilizers for Archery - How do they work?

If you are new to archery you may have noticed that many Olympic archers and hunters have a big long or heavy thing attached to the front of their bow - an object known as a Stabilizer.

It isn't a brand name or anything like that. Many different companies make stabilizers for different kinds of bows. You can even make your own stabilizer if you have the right materials (see section below on making your own).

Olympic bows often use long thin stabilizers made of rubber and carbon fibre, and hunters typically use short, fat and heavy stabilizers made of heavier materials.

The purpose of a stabilizer is to reduce the vibrations in the bow so that during the release your bow-hand doesn't jerk upwards, downwards, left or right so much. You can try to reduce these vibrations a bit by softening your grip on the bow and relaxing your bow arm (your arm will jerk more if its stiff), but you still need a good strong arm to hold the bow steady.

Thus stabilizers are essentially a gadget for people who want to improve the quality of their shots - without doing all the exercising required to have stronger / steadier arms.

If you pay attention you will also note that there is no one "perfect stabilizer" that is "one size fits all". Many of the stabilizers that Olympic archers use are very different from the ones used by hunters, and even very different from one another's stabilizers too. Typically an Olympic stabilizer will be quite long (two to three feet) and usually consist of carbon and rubber.

In contrast hunting stabilizers are often less than a foot in length, but thicker, heavier and have a lot more rubber to dampen vibrations.

Many of the hottest selling stabilizers are nothing more than a heavy piece of rubber cut into an interesting pattern to make it look intimidating. These small rubber stabilizers are more for looks than actual functionality.

That doesn't mean they don't help to stabilize the bow - they do help to do that, but if they were designed better they would function and do that task better.

Some people (mostly bowhunters) have been led to believe that the primary function of a stabilizer is to reduce hand shock, eliminate noise and bow vibration - which it does do, totally ignoring that the real primary function is to keep the bow steady and stable while a person is shooting.
“There is no question that a stabilizer helps reduce hand shock, bow noise and vibration, but one of the main reasons bowhunters should hunt with a stabilizer is because it helps keep a bow steady and stable when shooting. That’s why it’s called a stabilizer,” says Bill Leven, owner of Doinker Stabilizers.

At first glance, you will realize that stabilizers come in all shapes and sizes. The most important parts are those that incorporate a series of components that are scientifically proven to do their job. All stabilizers screw into the bow, some versions employ a more sophisticated anatomy, whereas others can be downright simple.

If they are made of all one material - typically rubber, metal or plastic - then the stabilizer in question might be designed for weight or it might be designed for dampening. A rubber stabilizer for example will be made for dampening vibrations and a metal stabilizer is made for weight.

The more complex stabilizers will use a balance of rubber, metal and/or plastic, attempting to combine weight and dampening in the same gadget. How well this performs will depend on the quality of the design and the individual archer.


The main body of most stabilizers typically consists of a solid tube. Historically, many stabilizer bodies were made out of metal because the weight makes it more stable - however you don't want to add too much weight to the bow because then your bow-arm can shake anyway if its too weak, thus you want to find a nice medium weight that your arm can handle.

If any weight is to be added, it should be done in the right place - the end of the stabilizer, after the dampening material. Many companies now use carbon fibre, ABS plastic and similar materials to make stabilizer bodies as light and rigid as possible. Some of these materials are chosen because they will sell, but they don't make a good stabilizing material, eg. titanium sounds cool, but it doesn't actually make a good stabilizer because it doesn't absorb vibrations that well.

Carbon fibre is the most popular choice these days.


This is arguably the most important part of the modern stabilizer. Many companies use a type of rubber, gel or even sand to serve as the dampening component. All of these materials have dampening capability, but the most common choice is rubber.

It is important for dampening to occur where it’s most beneficial and effective. Vibration must be transferred properly away from the bow and out of the stabilizer end. By strategically placing the dampening materials away from the bow end of the stabilizer it will maximize the dampener’s effectiveness.


In order to maximize effectiveness, the weight should come after the rubber material at the end of the stabilizer where it is furthest from the bow. The weight is meant to ground and draw away the vibrations from the rest of the bow. It serves as a counterbalance, and is what keeps the bow stable when being shot.

The heavy front-end weight combined with a rubber dampener directly behind it is designed so to assist in canceling out vibration. Stabilizers of the past were a solid piece of metal or rubber, and the moment the stabilizer was attached to a bow, they became “one unit", which means the bow still vibrates as part of the stabilizer. When a bow is shot with a quality weighted and dampened stabilizer, the vibration simply moves from the bow through the stabilizer and going to the weight at the far end, being dampened along the way. The vibration is cancelled out when it meets the rubber because the weighted front-end is allowed to oscillate at a different frequency than the rest of the stabilizer and bow. This turns the vibration into motion, which does not affect the rest of the bow.

Conclusions - Aim to select a stabilizer with a weighted front-end that has some type of dampening device directly behind it.


This comes down to personal choice. Honestly, you won't know what is right for you until you try many different stabilizers on the archery range and determine which one you like best - and get the most accuracy with.

I also highly recommend getting a stabilizer that you can customize and modify. Some stabilizers have added parts you can remove, add on, change. This allows you to select the right length, weight and materials that is right for you.

I suggest a systematic and scientific approach whereby you track your score on a target and try to determine which combination works best for you.


Start by getting a 5 / 16th by 24 bolt. (The 24 stands for thread count per inch. The most common bolt thread count is 18 per inch, so you will need to find a hardware store that sells other types of thread counts.)

If in doubt about bolt sizes, go to your local hardware store and take the riser from your bow with you and look for bolts that are labelled " 5/16 - 24 ". Then try the bolt on your riser to see how it fits. If you try using a 5/16 - 18 bolt you will discover it only goes in a little bit and then stops. The reason is because its the wrong thread count.

Once you have the bolt you need to decide what kind of stabilizer you want to make. How big is the body? What kind of dampening material? How much weight?

For example for the stabilizer I am making I am going to try using a wooden body, rubber and I haven't decided what the weight will be yet, but I am thinking maybe ivory or bone if I can find it. I want my stabilizer to be epitome of natural materials. How well it will work, I shall find out, but for now its just an experiment.

I recommend trying to make your stabilizer customizable so you can change components and try different things. How you design it is up to you.

However if you really need and want someone else to make the designs for you just Google the topic: how to make your own archery stabilizer and you will find approx. 300 pages on the topic for you to pick and choose from.

Things to do in Toronto for the Bicycle Savvy

Looking for summer activities you can do on your bicycle in Toronto?

The Bicycle Mechanic (Online)
Its online, but it offers lots of free advice on how to fix your bicycle. Having a broken bicycle is no excuse to not be outside exercising.

Get Your Bicycle Fixed / Tuned Up (Various Locations)
Visit one of the locations nearest you and get a professional tune up. Cycle Solutions (Cabbagetown), Sweet Pete's (Brockton Village), Mike The Bike (Chinatown), Ride Away Bikes (Little Portugal) and many more. See a list of Bicycle Mechanics Shops in the GTA.

BIXI (Multiple Locations Downtown)
Bixi is Toronto's bicycle rental program that you have probably noticed all over town. Its a tad over priced, but the bicycles are well-maintained and kept in peak condition so even if you don't own a bicycle you can still easily rent one. (Just remember to return it ASAP because the fees are charged by the hour.)

Toronto Island Bicycle Rental (Toronto Island)
You haven't really cycled in Toronto until you've biked around on Toronto Island. You can either rent a bike or bring your own! For couples they also have tandem bicycles.

Sugar Beach (Jarvis & Queens Quay)
Located near the Redpath Sugar Mill, Sugar Beach is a bicycle friendly location to go and relax and stare out across the lake. The location is more chic and sophisticated and has less kids running around too if you are into that sort of thing.

High Park (High Park)
The park is huge and there is everything from a petting zoo, tennis courts, baseball fields, places to feed the ducks, swimming pools, beautiful gardens - and lots of places to ride your bicycle!

Rosedale Ravine / Don Valley (Don Valley)
There is a tonne of bicycle trails / hiking paths around Rosedale and located in the Don Valley. You can get lost out there easily, riding in circles and getting lots of exercise.

Critical Mass (Spadina and Bloor)
The last Friday of every month, at 6 PM  - not just in the Summer - over a hundred cyclists gather on the SE corner of Spadina and Bloor and then as a group ride through the city. The route varies each time and there is usually a police escort these days (they arrest cyclists who ride through the red lights). Its a good way to meet other people who are into cycling and you will see a huge variety of weird bicycles too.

Consistency and Arrow Clusters

Once you've developed good form while shooting your next step is to try and adjust your shot by developing arrow clusters.

Lets pretend for example that when aiming straight at the target with the bow (off the tip of the arrow), and you are doing everything correctly in terms of pulling back to your anchor point, your bow arm is relaxed, your grip is relaxed, your mental focus is clear and undistracted, your arms aren't shaking, and so forth... and yet your shots are still veering to the bottom right of the target.

Well if you are doing everything consistent all your shots should be in roughly the same spot.

Some of your arrows might even be so close together they're touching. Not to worry, consistency is good but you need to adjust your aim.

In the photo above the person would need to adjust their aim further to the left and up a little bit. However when people do this many people overcompensate and the next thing you know you are hitting the white or black on the left side.

Thus it is always best to adjust your aim gradually. Aim 3 inches further to one side and move your cluster across the target slowly. With each round of adjusting your aim your clusters will move until you're getting better scores.

In the photo below the cluster has moved upwards, but its too high and still to the right. Yes, it is slower progress but with time a person will pinpoint EXACTLY where to aim and if their form and release remains constant they should be able to score nothing but 9s and 10s. (Hence why that rip in the yellow of the target keeps growing.)

Looking for an archery instructor in Toronto? Hire me! Mention this post and get an extra 5% off on packages of 5 lessons or more.

Dance Aerobics on the Treadmill

For all you dance fanatics out there, here is something for your amusement. :)

Hearing Loss from Bodybuilding?


"Hello! Have you ever heard of anyone developing hearing loss from bodybuilding / weight lifting?

- Jake H."


No, I can't say that I have.

However with the wide plethora of supplements and steroids available to the bodybuilding industry I would not be surprised if some of the more illegal steroids have side effects that include hearing loss.

There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to drugs that have not been properly tested and have been deemed to have dangerous side effects.

However the hearing loss could just be caused by something else and falsely attributed to weightlifting.

For example the older people get the more likely they are to experience hearing loss. 33% of elderly people between the ages of 65 and 75 experience some form of hearing loss. Above the age of 75 the percentage goes up to 50%. Thus if a person at the age of 68 took up weightlifting later in life, and became really serious about it, and then started experiencing hearing loss at the same time, they might falsely think their hearing loss was somehow connected to the new love of weightlifting.

To my knowledge there is no medical connection between weightlifting and hearing loss - but that doesn't mean a person can't develop hearing loss due to another cause. It would therefore be logical to start by eliminating other possible causes before we start pointing fingers.


#1. Genetic factors - Is there a history of hearing loss in your family? This is entirely possible when you consider 50% of people encounter hearing loss over the age of 75. Even people who have no history of hearing loss in their parents or grandparents may still have inherited a recessive gene.

#2. Excessive Exposure to Loud Noises over a Longer Period - What kind of work or home environment do you have that might expose you to loud noises? eg. If you work in a noisy factory and have been doing so for years, and you don't wear ear protection, you could suffer hearing loss.

#3. Buildup of Earwax / Medical Conditions - Some people build up earwax faster than others and it interferes with their hearing over time.

#4. High Intensity Sound - A single loud burst of sound can also cause hearing damage if its exceptionally loud.

#5. Tumor, Abnormal Bone Growth, Ear Infection - Some of these could be permanent or temporary. Depends on the precise cause. An audiologist could provide more info.

#6. Ruptured Eardrum due to Unknown Cause - Sometimes accidents just happen and we have no idea why.

#7. People who are into boxing and wrestling can sometimes suffer hearing loss. Many boxers and wrestlers also encounter other problems like blindness, mental impairments, speech difficulties, respiratory problems, and paralysis. A hard knock to the head can damage the bones inside the ear and cause some extent of hearing loss. Boxing can cause all sorts of damage to your ears.

Symptoms of hearing loss are pretty easy to spot. The muffled quality of sounds, listening to things at a higher volume that others complain, asking people to repeat themselves louder.

NOTE: If you experience complete hearing loss in one or more ears, or constant dizziness, then you should contact a doctor immediately.

Treatment really depends on the cause and severity. If its just earwax, then you can just remove the earwax - possibly by visiting a doctor and getting a medical wax removal procedure. The use of hearing aids is more for people who have severe damage.

And then there is Cochlear Implants - which is a whole other subject. CIs is a surgically implanted electronic device also referred to as bionic ears that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing. Even people who are born deaf can sometimes be given a sense of sound thanks to these implants. They are not cheap however - costing anywhere from $45,000 to $125,000. A cochlear implant will not cure deafness, but is a prosthetic substitute for hearing.

If you really think you might be suffering hearing loss (regardless of whether you think it is caused by weightlifting or some other cause) then I recommend speaking to an audiologist. I know of an audiologist in Vaughan who works for Omni Hearing, who offers free hearing tests. So at least it won't cost you anything to have your hearing tested in the event you feel you are suffering hearing loss.

But with respect bodybuilding and hearing loss? I would say that is a myth until proven with some kind of scientific study.

Whey Protein Burger

It is BBQ Season in Toronto!

Someone out there (someone who is better at cooking than me) should invent a WHEY PROTEIN BURGER.

Technically its already been invented. It just isn't being mass produced and sold in restaurants or grocery stores or specialty stores catering to exercise junkies.

I found two recipes online, but the first recipe I found didn't list how much of each ingredient was needed so was rather useless. Here is the 2nd recipe, which uses ground chicken as the secret ingredient (you could also experiment with using ground pork or ground beef, but chicken breast is healthier for you).

Whey Crisp Protein Power Burger

Servings: Makes 4 Burgers


1 16 oz. ground chicken breast
1 cup Whey Crisps
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon steak sauce
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon grill seasoning


Mix egg whites, steak sauce, Worcestershire sauce and seasoning in a bowl. Add chicken and Whey Crisps into mixture. Make 4 small patties. Grill burgers on inside grill or frying pan until cooked through.

For fun add fat free or reduced fat cheese, tomato, red onion, and lettuce. Healthiest when served on a whole wheat roll.

Olympic Archery Equipment - Does more expensive equipment mean better shots?

Yes and No.

When it comes to archery experience, physical fitness / strength and skill matters more than equipment.

An archer who has using the same equipment for 20 years, regardless of the quality of the equipment, will be able to out-perform any amateur archer with the most expensive equipment you can find.

The experienced archer's body will be more finely tuned for the sport, they will know the power and limitations of their equipment and how to best use it, and their level of skill at aiming, controlling their breathing, being patient, etc. will all be dramatically improved over an archer who has been shooting for a year or less.

That said, what difference does more expensive equipment make?

#1. Lighter physical weight.

This means the archer will have to rely less on their endurance and strength over time as they get tired at the archery range at a slightly slower speed. The physical lower weight of the bow means they can hold their bow hand more steady while they are aiming, which means they will have a slight advantage at aiming.

However both of these drawbacks can be overcome if the archer has both a higher endurance and a higher strength. Both of which will be overcome if they train regularly.

#2. What about the poundage of the bow?

Poundage refers to the amount of torque (foot-pounds of pressure) needed to pull back the bow and aim. The poundage required to reach a full draw length varies with each bow and what is considered a full draw length depends on each person's arm length and where they anchor their arrow once fully drawn.

The amount of force used increases the arrow's speed, accuracy, distance, and even punching power.

In this respect Olympic recurve bows, traditional recurve bows and even long bows, short bows, etc all are the same. The force required to bend back a 30 lb Olympic bow is the same needed for a traditional bow of any other type.

The only difference is when it comes to compound bows. Compound bows pull back to a locking mechanism on a pulley. Once it reaches that point the amount of force needed to pull back the bow is reduced by 20 to 80% (varies depending on the type of compound bow). This means archers who use compound bows can hold their arms more steadily after it has locked into place - and it means they get a greater amount of torque going into their arrow shot, which is more important when doing hunting.

#3. More Gadgets

Olympic bows have a lot more gadgets on them. The extra gadgets basically act as crutches for people who lack the technical skill or strength to aim, hold the bow steady, and so forth. The gadgets help the inexperienced archer get a little bit more accuracy.

Example: One of the gadgets is a long rod that sticks to the front of the bow called a Stabilizer. It reduces vibrations in the bow during the time period when the arrow is being released from and passing by the arrowrest. The time period is only about 15 milliseconds, but the slight reduction in vibrations helps make the shot a little more accurate.

To the experienced archer however those gadgets are more of a nuisance however and completely unnecessary if they have honed their skill and their physical prowess.

#4. Reduced Vibrations

Having equipment that doesn't jerk around or "vibrate" as much helps when trying to aim and perform a shot. The more advanced materials used in making an Olympic recurve bow means that the bow vibrates slightly less than wood does. This means that the archer's shots will be slightly more consistent.

Sandwiched between the carbon fibre on bows' limbs is a synthetic foam core adapted from American naval submarines. This incompressible foam, made of evenly spaced glass micro-balloons, lets submarines dive further under water without getting crushed. It performs the same function in bows: When the bow is drawn, compressing the carbon skin, the foam maintains the limbs’ shape without vibrating the way wood does.

#5. Customizable Handgrips

The risers (handle region of the bow) allow you to customize the type of grip you are using. Much of this is personal preference, as some archers find they shoot better with slightly different grips. (In which case the most expensive grip is NOT necessarily the best one for you.)

#6. Lightweight Flexible Arrows

Arrows flex and vibrate as they fly towards the target 70 meters away in approx. one second. That one second is long enough for the wind to affect its flight, so arrow makers must carefully consider an arrow’s weight, stiffness, and shape.

The arrow company Easton uses a design with aluminum wrapped in carbon fiber to balance weight and stiffness with a thin narrow shaft. The smaller width size also means it is less affected by wind. The tapered end further diminishes the effect of wind, while allowing it to escape the bow more easily. The design has proven so successful, that every Olympic medalist since 1996 now uses only X10s.

Furthermore Easton makes 12 different versions of the X10, so archers can experiment with which arrows work best for them based on the weight of the arrow (which is measured in grains).

It costs between $400 and $600 for a dozen X10 arrows, depending on where you buy them. And depending on the store they only sell them by the dozen or by groups of 6.

So yes, if you're hoping to compete at the Olympics the more expensive equipment really does matter.

So how much does it cost to be an Olympic archer?

Aspiring to become an Olympic archer costs up to $25,000 annually in coaching, equipment, trips to competitions, etc. Success requires a rigorous work ethic of 250 to 1,000 shots a day, six days a week, plus a healthy diet, training in the gym and mental / breathing exercises.

Olympic archery equipment alone will cost you about $2,000 to $3,000 Canadian, depending on what you buy and where. eg. Shown below is a riser that costs $899.99.

Of course having the most expensive equipment doesn't guarantee you a spot at the Olympics. Only 64 men and 64 women compete at the Olympics every 4 years. The minimum age for an Olympic archer is 16, and there is no maximum age - and according to my research the oldest archers to ever compete at the Olympics were 48 (men's category) and 51 (women's category).

My advice?

Enjoy the activity of shooting for its own sake. Don't worry about competitions because winning competitions don't really matter in the long run.

And don't worry about how expensive your equipment is. Just shoot for the sake of enjoyment and exercise.

Age is NOT a barrier to what you can accomplish

Age is NOT a barrier to what you can accomplish

Thinking about raising my rates, demand skyrocketing

I am thinking of raising the amount I charge for my personal training services.

The reason is more of matter of time availability. Right now I am SUPER busy working my proverbial butt off for multiple clients, and while I am enjoying what I do work wise, I am discovering I have very little free time to relax, exercise on my own (without clients), and even find quality time for friends, family, etc.

eg. I want to go camping and canoeing sometime this summer but I am not sure how I am supposed to schedule a vacation when I have difficulty saying "No" to clients. (I am very customer oriented, always wanting to make sure my clients are happy.)

It really is an issue of "too many clients" so I am wondering if maybe I should raise my prices for personal training.

I don't want to raise my prices for archery, swimming, boxing lessons because I enjoy those ones too much. But I am very tempted to raise my personal training rates and see what happens.

Right now I am charging $35 per hour (but there are discounts if people buy packages of hours like 25, 50 or 100).

The other option is for me to simply stop accepting new clients. Unless its for a specific time slot I need to fill.

There are admittedly lots of other personal trainers in Toronto, and I suppose I could also turn clients away and send them to other personal trainers... But I've never seen those people work, I have no affiliation with them, and while I probably would earn a commission for every client I send someone else I just don't feel comfortable doing all that when I cannot guarantee the quality of the trainers I might be sending people to.

Another thing I suppose I could do is hire a secretary. That would lower the amount of work I need to do on the website, managing incoming requests, etc. And it would free up extra time for me to both manage my personal life and have more "me time" for exercising.

For now I think I will continue on "as is" and look into the secretary angle. I might raise my rates in August or September, but maybe by then demand may have quieted down.

Personal training is a bit of a seasonal occupation, I must admit. January is a good time to get new people who make New Years Resolutions, but it is the Springtime when people really start wanting to lose weight because they want to get ready for Summer.

For now I shall wait and see.

Weightlifting Split Squats and Side Squats

Split Squat

1. The weight can be placed in front or behind.

2. Place one foot forward and one back with the heel lifted. There should be about 2-3 feet in between your legs, and you should feel a gentle stretch.

3. Keep a tight core and bend both knees to descend. Keep that front foot flat on the floor at all times. The back foot's heel is lifted.

4. When you push back up focus on using both legs (quadriceps in the front, hamstrings in the back leg) to assist the lift, oppose to just the quads in the front.

Note! There is a difference between a split squat and a lunge. They do look very similar and some people actually do split squats thinking that they are doing a lunge. A split squat is an up and down movement only. A lunge moves with direction, taking steps forward and backward lunges. In a one leg squat you are simply dropping the back knee and bending the front leg. In the lunge you use hip flexors as you lunge and move forward with a longer back leg.

Side Squat

This exercise is also similar to a lunge except your feet will stay planted the whole time.

1. Take a wider than squat-normal stance with toes turned out slightly. The weight held behind. If using dumbbells, place them on your shoulders or at your sides.

2. With a very slight bend forward and a straight back, push hips back as you squat to the right. Keep both feet flat. Exhale on the way back to centre and repeat on the left side. That's 1 rep.

Repeat with the other leg.

Sunrise, Sunset, and Daily Weather Forecasts for Fair Weather Exercising

Are you one of those people who only enjoy exercising outdoors in the Summer when the weather is nice?

Well if you live in Toronto here are two handy links for determining when is the best times to schedule an outdoor workout.

14 Day Weather Forecast for Toronto

Hourly Weather Forecast for Toronto

This way you can plan ahead. And scheduling your workouts and exercise routine is a very handy way to make sure you keep exercising and stay motivated.

And some of you may only like to go jogging / etc while it is still light out, or right around dusk. In which case knowing what time the sun rises and sets in Toronto can also be helpful.

Toronto's Sunrise and Sunset for the Coming Week

I use both of the above links when scheduling outdoor workouts with clients and also boxing lessons and archery lessons.

Also handy for scheduling tennis games with friends, picnics in the park, the optimal time to walk the dog, the best time to go hiking in Don Valley or a walk along the beach or cycling near the University of Toronto.

Just remember that scheduling your workout increases the likelihood of actually doing your workout.

May Exercise Motivation Quotes

"Do or do not. There is no try." 
- Yoda

"Training gives us an outlet for suppressed energies created by stress and thus tones the spirit just as exercise conditions the body." 
-Arnold Schwarzenegger

"It's all to do with the training: you can do a lot if you're properly trained."
 -Elizabeth II 

"In general, any form of exercise, if pursued continuously, will help train us in perseverance. Long-distance running is particularly good training in perseverance."
 -Mao Tse-Tung 

"On the mountains of truth you can never climb in vain: either you will reach a point higher up today, or you will be training your powers so that you will be able to climb higher tomorrow."
 -Friedrich Nietzsche"

You are your greatest asset. Put your time, effort and money into training, grooming, and encouraging your greatest asset."
-Tom Hopkins

"The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body, and polish the spirit."
-Morihei Ueshiba 

 "If you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up."
-J.M. Power

"One half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it."
-Sidney Howard

"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal."
-Henry Ford

"The important thing is to strive towards a goal which is not immediately visible. That goal is not the concern of the mind, but of the spirit."
-Antoine de Saint

"It is easier to go down a hill than up, but the view is best from the top."
-Arnold Bennett 

"You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it."
-Charles Buxton

"Act as though and it shall be.
The seed you sow today will not produce crop till tomorrow. For this reason, your identity does not lie in your current results. This is not who you are. Your current results are who you were."

-James A. Ray

"Physical fitness can neither be achieved by wishful thinking nor outright purchase."
-Joseph Pilates

"A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world."
-Paul Dudley White 

Anti-Depressants Vs Sports for Kids

America's children have an obesity problem... because they don't exercise enough.

America's children are frequently diagnosed with depression and prescribed anti-depressant medication... because they don't exercise enough.

Now you might have gone, wait, what does obesity have to do with depression? It has a lot to do with it actually. There has been a lot of health research done linking a variety of hormonal problems with obesity and depression, often creating a vicious cycle wherein the obese person eats comfort food whenever they are sad, which increases their weight and simultaneously the hormones which are making them feel depressed.

In contrast exercise is a natural anti-depressant.

So it stands to reason that if America's parents want their kids to be happy and healthy they need to get their kids involved in after-school sports and summer activities that will keep them active, engaged and having fun.

Now not all kids are cut out for baseball, basketball, soccer or football. Or hockey if you live in Canada. But there are plenty of other sports out there available for children which encourage weight loss while having fun.

#1. Archery - Its super popular right now and it combines resistance training with mental discipline.

#2. Boxing - Makes for a really cardio exercise, which can really shed the fat.

#3. Martial Arts - Lots of cardio and encourages mental discipline.

#4. Bicycling - Including downhill, rally, BMX and more.

#5. Bowling - Not exactly known for its benefits as a weighlifting exercise. Its basically a bit like shotput with a target.

#6. Cheerleading - Yes, it counts as a competitive sport. Gymnastics in general.

#7. Ballet / Dance - Very good cardio and also improves balance and coordination.

#8. Diving / Swimming - Good cardio and resistance training simultaneously.

#9. Fencing - Who doesn't love a good swordfight?

#10. Lacrosse - A brutal game at times, but definitely high in cardio.

#11. Rowing - Racing rowboats? Huzzah. That does sound like fun.

#12. Rugby - Like football, but without all the padding.

#13. Skating - If you have an ice rink handy nearby this makes for good cardio - plus the cold burns extra calories and forces you to move around more to stay warm.

#14. Skiing - Whether its downhill or cross country skiing makes for good cardio.

#15. Tennis - Want to sweat? Tennis will get you breathing and sweating hard.

#16. Wrestling - Olympic wrestling combines speed and strength to try and pin your opponent. Size is an advantage in this particular sport.

So there is really no shortage of sports out there for kids to enjoy if their parents make the effort to enroll them in such activities. The exercise and fun they have will boost their self-confidence and reduce any feelings of depression. Given time the weight will disappear, but they have to stick with it.

Many kids quit sports because they feel they aren't cut out for it physically or feel uncomfortable in a team sport environment. That is why other sports like archery and boxing work better for some children because they have to learn self-reliance and patience instead, but also benefit from a less stressful atmosphere because they can do such sports for fun instead of for competitions.

Note - The above list of sports is equally good for adults who want to lose weight and have fun doing so.

10 Weightlifting Tips for Archers

Weightlifting is a great tool for people who take their archery skills seriously and want to get an edge on the competition. (I also strongly recommend Yoga for improving balance and core muscles, and Meditation for improving your mental approach.)

Physical Strength is all important when it comes to the physical ability to string a bow, draw a bow, and hold it steady. Balance is great for holding your body still while trying to aim, but if you can't even draw the bow and hold it steady your sense of balance will be somewhat useless. (And your mental game even more useless if you can't draw the bow.)

Thus to make any use of the bow you first need to be able to physically draw the bow you are using. For this reason it is best to start with a bow you can already draw. The bow in question may not be that powerful or accurate, but at least you can draw it and hopefully hold it steady.

Progressing to a more powerful bow is a stepping stone for many archers. It shows that they have worked very hard, grown more muscle mass, and now have the physical strength to draw a more powerful bow. In ancient mythology only the strongest heroes were able to string and draw such bows.

An archer can become stronger simply through regular practice in archery, but lets pretend they only visit the archery range once per month or once per week. Well they aren't going to get stronger very quickly then, will they?

No, they won't. But if they complement their archery practice with a weightlifting regimen (especially during the winter months) they can continue to grow stronger and stronger and reach a point where they can draw the more powerful bows and hold them steady.

10 Weightlifting Tips for Archers

#1. Always lift something at least 10 times. If you only lift it 5 times you won't get much benefit from it in terms of endurance. Aim for 10 to 15 repetitions and do 5 sets.

Note - It is important to practice proper weightlifting form when lifting so you are targeting the muscles properly. Whatever weightlifting exercise you are using, research it so you know how to do it properly. This is beneficial both for faster results, but also to prevent injuries.

#2. If you are struggling to reach 5 you are trying to lift too much. Choose a lesser weight.

#3. Don't ignore basic old school exercises like push-ups and pull-ups. Those are both very handy. Sit ups won't help you much because that is targeting your ab muscles, but push-ups and pull-ups are great for targeting the muscles involved in archery.

#4. Don't do only one kind of exercises. Do a huge variety of exercises so you can target multiple muscles groups. Yoga is an excellent example because the different poses target different muscles.

#5. If you start feeling pain in one muscle group its time to switch to a different muscle. "No Pain No Gain" is only partially true. Too much pain means you are overdoing it.

#6. Think Progressive Loading. You want to lift 75% of your maximum lift and then aim for repetitions. As you grow stronger you can increase the amount you are lifting so it is still 75% as your maximum lift continues to go up.

#7. Don't forget stretches. I have an older post on Archery Stretches you will find useful. Isometric Stretches and Body Weight Exercises are very handy for increasing your strength while simultaneously maintaining your flexibility.

#8. Aim for exercises you can use for cross-training the same muscle groups that are used during archery. eg. Boxing and rowing both use pulling motions with the arms and a tensing of the upper back, which will improve both your triceps and back muscles (rhomboids).

#9. Over time you will want to increase the number of repetitions you are doing of each exercise. If you start off doing 10 reps of each exercise you will want to gradually raise the number of repetitions to 20. After you reach 20 continue doing that for 2 weeks and then increase the amount of weight you are lifting and start back at 10 repetitions.

#10. Remember to have recovery periods between sets of repetitions and also between days when doing weightlifting. You have to give yourself time to grow new muscle tissue. Overuse of the muscles on a daily / constant basis will cause muscle fatigue.

BONUS! Remember to focus on the following muscle groups which are commonly used during archery:

upper back and shoulder muscles to draw the bow;
upper and lower shoulder muscles to control the draw arm;
arm muscles to extend the bow arm;
finger muscles to hold the bowstring.

The finger muscles will be most difficult to strengthen. You will need to pull things using those three fingers and hold them in a steady position. In theory one of the best ways would be to string your bow at home and practice pulling the bow and holding it steady every 2nd day.

ANOTHER BONUS - Remember to include both right and left hand sides to maintain a balance of muscle strength.

WAIT, ONE MORE! - Do squats and similar exercises to improve the upper and lower leg muscles which are used to control balance, do twists and yoga to improve the lower back and waist muscles to control a steady stance.
Looking to sign up for archery lessons, boxing lessons, swimming lessons, ice skating lessons or personal training sessions? Start by emailing and lets talk fitness!


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