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Showing posts with label Unusual Exercises. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Unusual Exercises. Show all posts

A Beginner's Guide to Clout Archery

Look closely and you'll spot the arrows close to the flag pole shown in the photos on the right.

So what's the big deal?

Well, the flag is approx. 70 yards (210 feet) away from where the archery student was standing... And this was only their 5th archery lesson.

Oh and it was a tad windy that day.

That's why such results are worth taking photos of.

So what is Clout Archery?

Clout Archery is a long distance sport wherein archers compete to see who can get their arrows closest to the flag pole, which is generally placed really far away.

Usually 140 to 180 yards away, which are the competitive distances for Clout Archery.

However since the Toronto Archery Range is only 140 yards long (and lots of trees behind that) we have to use a shorter distance which is still challenging for a beginner, but also surprisingly a lot of fun.

Getting a cluster of arrows to land near the flag pole is also very challenging, even for experienced archers who are used to getting their arrows in clusters at shorter distances.

If you look closely at the photos on the right you will note that some of the arrows are touching or almost touching. That is some very good consistency for a beginner archer.

This isn't unheard of for my archery students however. I have periodically had students hit the flag pole or the flag itself at distances of 80 yards, 90 yards or more.

Getting to the point that you can do Clout Archery with this degree of accuracy isn't for beginners really. I generally only teach this to my archery students who sign up for 5 or more archery lessons.

When students sign up for 5 archery lessons they generally (I will sometimes customize the lessons for the needs of the student) get the following:

Lesson 1: Safety Lecture, Eye Test, Lecture on How to Aim Traditionally, Lecture on Proper Form, Field Archery Practice.

Lesson 2: Target Archery Practice, Lecture on Arrowheads.

Lesson 3: Long Distance Field Archery Practice, Lecture on Arrow Spine.

Lesson 4: Target Archery Practice, Lecture on How to Aim using Gap Shooting, Moving Target Practice.

Lesson 5: Clout Archery or Gap Shooting Field Archery (varies on the student).

Thus it really depends upon the student. Some students are more into learning Gap Shooting and others are more interested in long distance shooting.

Note - When someone signs up for 10 or more lessons I don't really have to choose so much. I will just teach them both, but I will still be customizing the lessons to the student's needs or interests.

Clout Archery Tips

Because the archer will usually have to aim at the sky in order to get their arrows to go that far you need to come up with a system for how to aim at the same spot on the sky.

Don't aim at clouds. They move. Instead you need to measure on the sky where you want to aim. I teach several different techniques for how to measure and aim at the sky so that students can choose which method works best for them.

Proper Form! If you don't know how to properly perform a shot then you should either get archery lessons or buy a book on the subject (I recommend "Precision Archery" by Steve Ruis & Claudia Stevenson).

And if you're in Toronto or the GTA you have no excuse not to get archery lessons from a dedicated professional like myself who teaches multiple different styles of archery and different archery sports like Clout Archery.

Browse the links below to learn more. Happy Shooting!

See Also

The Benefits of Clout Archery

Archery Lessons in Toronto

 

Horse Riding as Exercise

How many calories do you burn while riding a horse?

Well, the horse is doing most of the work... But the rider isn't exactly still either.

According to our sources - horseback riding calculators and magazines like Canadian Thoroughbred Magazine - an individual rider burns approximately 250 to 400 calories on average (varies on the rider's weight and level of fitness). This happens when riding at a slow speed. On the other hand, speedier activities like galloping tend to burn 550 to 700 calories per hour, but the horse can't really gallop for a full hour. It needs to stop and rest. You would have to gallop on a horse for as long as it can gallop, switch horses and repeat, and keep doing that for an hour. So you can't really gallop on a horse for a full hour.

All this goes to prove is the horse riding is great exercise.

It is also expensive. The vet bills alone for owning a horse is over $11,000 CDN per year.

But there is a solution!

If you really want to learn how to ride a horse (and get exercise) there are a variety of places that offer horse riding lessons or "trail riding days" near Toronto.

Places like:

  • Claireville Ranch
  • Caledon Equestrian School
  • Creditview Stables
  • Meadowlarke Stables
  • Benchmark Equestrian
  • Raynham Stables
  • Briarwood Farms
  • Quarter Valley Stables
  • York Equestrian
  • Forward Riding School
  • Well Dressed Equestrian
  • Pathways on Pleasure Valley
  • Silvercreek Riding School
  • Ajax Riding Academy
  • Stoneridge Farm

And more... Seriously. There's a tonne of them, and they cater to a variety of needs so you just need to browse if you want to find a fun place to ride horses (and get exercise). You want to find the kind of place that is right for you, in terms of the financial cost of riding lessons or "trail rides" and what you are looking for. Trail rides for example are typically less expensive, but they're not really teaching you anything. You are just expected to ride the horse as it follows the trail and you don't do anything else except ride (which is great if your primary goals are exercise and fresh air).

 

Not everyone wants trail rides however. Some people might want English-style riding lessons, or Western-style riding lessons. Some people might even be interested in show jumping or horse racing, in which case they would need to find specialized lessons for that sort of thing.


Some people might even want to learn how to ride bareback... on a beach. And while that sounds like a fantasy there are technically places that offer that. They're called resorts that have their own private beach and have horse riding lessons available for guests at the resort. Guaranteed you are paying a premium for that extra bit.

But if you do get into horse riding there are a number of physical health benefits for doing so, and a few mental ones too.

The benefits of horse riding include:

  • Strengthens core muscles. Core muscles are the ones that support your torso and help keep you upright.
  • Works your leg muscles.
  • Your arms and shoulder muscles get a workout.
  • Boosts heart health.
  • Improves balance and coordination.
  • Lowers stress.
  • Helps develop problem-solving skills.
  • Increases your bond with animals. 

So... Are you still procrastinating? You're not getting any younger. Go find some horse riding lessons today! It makes no difference to me. I mostly teach archery lessons. I just happen to like horses.

If it was up to me I would opt for the trail riding because I have already had horse riding lessons when I was younger. Getting riding lessons and repeating a lot of the stuff I already know is useless to me. I just want to go riding.

But I do foresee getting my son riding lessons, and possibly my wife if I can get her to agree to it, in which case that list of places above could be handy.

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.

Easy Ways to Exercise in Front of Your Screen

Whether you’re someone who uses phone apps to simplify your schedule, a parent who juggles tablet time with your kids, or newly working-from-home, modern life has much of our daily life centered around a computer screen. Finding ways to stay active while at home can be hard but with the right posture and practices getting that exercise at home is easier than you think. In fact, the best adjustments you can make will be while sitting right in front of your screen!

Remember to always consult your doctor before introducing any new exercises to your routine or if you’re experiencing any pain or discomfort. All of the exercises and recommendations mentioned here should be low-effort and easy to modify, so you shouldn’t experience any pain while performing them. If you do, stop immediately and seek the opinion of a medical professional.

Proper Posture

First things first, consider how you’re sitting right now. If you’re sitting at a desk, how’s your posture? Are your shoulders rolled forward or are they situated over your hips? Is your back hunched or are you sitting up straight? If you’re using your phone and standing or sitting in a recliner, is your neck crooked or are you giving it enough support?

These kinds of positions can cause tension to accumulate in your body throughout the day, especially if you spend long hours sitting in one spot. Take short breaks every hour or so to think about how you’re positioned and do some of these quick exercises to give your muscles a break and reset your posture.

Neck and Shoulders

Stretching your neck and shoulder muscles will help relieve tension that can cause headaches. Start by very gently dropping your chin down and rolling your head from shoulder to shoulder, keeping your chin against your chest. Try and keep your shoulders relaxed and down while you do this. Don’t over-extend or roll your head past the half-circle of your shoulders otherwise, you could put too much strain on your cervical spine.

Sit up straight and shrug your shoulders up and down, extending the top of your shoulders straight up towards your ears. Pull your shoulder blades together behind your back before relaxing them again.

Eyes

Your eyes are a muscle just like your neck and your shoulders, so make sure to give them a stretch when you take a break too. Spend time focusing on something other than a screen for at least five minutes every hour. Try focusing your eyes together, first to the left and then the right. Then up and down, and finally in a clockwise circle and then a counterclockwise circle.

Wrists

When you think about posture your hands might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but it’s important to remember to stretch your wrists too if you use the computer a lot. Loosen your wrists and shake your hands out very lightly to release the tension. Raise your arms, lifting your hands so your palms are facing each other, and gently press your palms together. Press and release several times to give your wrists a light stretch.

Picking up the Pace

Stretching and maintaining posture will help with long-term wellness, but you can also get your heart rate going in front of your desk or while sitting on the couch. Taking cardio breaks will keep your blood circulating and the exercise could even help with productivity. The best part is you can do most of these while waiting for a screen to load, listening in on a conference call, or even while watching a favourite movie again and again.

Seated Exercise

While sitting upright, lift one leg until it is parallel with the floor and hold it for ten seconds before gently lowering it back down. Then do the same with the other leg. You can increase the number of repetitions as you build your strength, and if you need a challenge you can even add an ankle weight or loop a bag on your foot for some added heft.

Doing this same exercise but with no weights, a bent knee, and a little extra speed will help get your heart rate going. Make sure to keep your spine straight so you’re targeting your abdominal and leg muscles and not straining your back.

Standing Exercise

Using the edge of a desk or the back of a chair (not a rolling one!) to brace yourself, you can do a standing push-up to give your upper body a workout. Put your arms about shoulder-width apart and move your feet back until you’re at an incline, palms firmly on the desk. Breathe out and gently lower yourself as far as you can towards the desk before pushing yourself back up. Don’t lock your elbows or lower yourself further than is comfortable--you don’t want any unnecessary strain on your joints.

The “invisible” jump rope is a great low-impact cardio exercise since all you’ll need is yourself and a small space to be able to run in place. Imagine that you’re holding a jump rope--yes, this is also a thought exercise--and skip rope. It’s that simple. Try alternating footwork, jumping on only your left or only your right foot, or changing your pace. However you do it, it’ll get you up and out of your chair and you don’t have to worry about accidentally flinging a jump rope at your computer.

The Extras

Some gadgets that can encourage you to be active in front of your screen and that may genuinely help, like standing desks, pedal machines, and yoga balls. But before you throw money at a solution you’re not sure you’ll like, try making some of these simple adjustments first. The hardest part of starting a routine is making something a habit, so the most important thing to do is stick to it. You don’t have to do it perfectly every time, you just have to do it.

 


 

Hedge Mazes for Exercise

Want an unusual way to get exercise?

Take a group of friends to a hedge maze and have a race to see who can get to the middle first - and part 2, who can get out first.

I took the following photos on September 1st. I took the photos on the way in, and then my wife and I had a race on the way out.

But in theory you could do it multiple times, in and out, until everyone is tired and wants to do something else.

The place we went to also sells homemade ice cream, so not exactly the healthiest post-maze option. But certainly tasty.





Underwater Archery

TORONTO ARCHERY LESSONS

As unusual exercises and bizarre sports go, Underwater Archery should certainly rank up there.

It is certainly feasibly to do, but the range a person can achieve accuracy, the speed of the arrow, and even visibility is significantly reduced.

The problem is that the density of the water (as opposed to air) slows the arrows down significantly, so the distance a person can shoot is immediately hampered during the release, and the arrow slows quickly.

The usable range would be similar or less than a speargun or harpoon gun, which have an operational range of about 10 meters.

So do people compete at Underwater Archery?

Nope, not yet.

Could someone organize an Underwater Archery tournament? Probably someone could do it as a joke. It would be more amusing than anything else.

It doesn't make sense for fishing either. Bowfishing is easier to do from the surface when you are shooting at fish that are in relatively shallow water, that way the arrows are not slowed down too much upon impact.

As demonstrated below Underwater Archery is mostly for the purposes of photography.






How I used personal training to help my infant son roll, crawl and walk faster, Part Two

PART TWO

By Charles Moffat, Toronto Personal Trainer

 April 25th 2018.

It has been 6 months since I wrote PART ONE of this series of posts. My son Richard is now 10 months old and he can now roll over with ease, is crawling, cruising and even walking small amounts independently.

Last time we covered the following topics:
  1. Tummy Time
  2. Assisted Rolling
  3. Assisting Sitting Up / Assisted Sit Ups
  4. Assisted Standing
  5. Assisted Squats
All of which gave Richard the ability to roll over sooner than other babies would normally be able to (on average), to be able to sit up on his own sooner, stand up, squat down to pick things up, and do a variety of tasks.

The normal ages for doing the various activities are as follows:

The normal ages for rolling over, sitting up, crawling, standing up, and walking are as follows:

Rolling Over - 4 to 6 Months
Sitting Up - 4 to 8 Months
Crawling - 7 to 10 Months
Standing Up - 9 to 12 Months
Walking - 9 to 15 Months
Now with Richard being 10 months old, he has long since mastered rolling over, sitting up, crawling, standing up, cruising (walking by holding on to things), and is walking independently short distances. He has also learned how to walk up and down stairs, with assistance.

Today we are going to talk about other topics, including:
  1. Assisted Walking, Two Hands
  2. Assisted Walking, One Hand
  3. Assisted Stairs, Two Hands vs One Hand
  4. Independent Walking
  5. Letting Go, Letting Them Fall
#1. Assisted Walking, Two Hands

Walk around your home with your baby for about 5 minutes at a time, holding your baby's hands or fingers by both hands.

I say 5 minutes at a time because doing this for an extended period can become painful for your back if you are constantly bending over.

Note - While there are gadgets for this, such as Jolly Jumpers, Walkers, etc - those are useful, but they will never replace the physical action of walking around your home, local park, library, etc for a few minutes at a time to build of the muscles in your baby's legs. The Jolly Jumper for example does allow your baby to stay suspended in the air, with no fear of falling, but unfortunately in practice is often more like a swing than a walking device. Various walking devices are designed to be pushed around while the baby holds the handlebars, but unfortunately babies don't inherently know they are supposed to do that and so with Richard (for example) he is more likely to just flip the walker over and play with it.

Update, October 2018 - Richard didn't really start using the walker until 14 months, roughly 3 months after he had mastered independent walking.

#2. Assisted Walking, One Hand

Walking with two helping hands is really because your baby hasn't yet learned how to balance themselves and will fall over easily. Walking with one hand means that they have already learned a degree of balance, and is now progressing to being able to walk independently - but for safety reasons and a little added balance the single helping hand is there so your baby has someone to cling to if need be and should a fall happen.

#3. Assisted Stairs, Two Hands vs One Hand

I started Richard going up and down stairs at a very early age, at the same time we were doing assisted walking. If we were doing assisted walking and came to stairs, the natural thing was to simply help him walk up the stairs - something he seems to find hilarious.

The same rules apply, but I do recommend a firm grip on your baby's hands and lots of patience as babies like to take their time on the stairs.

Walking up and down stairs with one hand helping is something Richard now does regularly. Every time we go outside is another chance for him to use the stairs. Thus my recommendation is to see every staircase as an opportunity for your baby to practice walking up/down stairs.

Update, October 2018 - Richard can now climb stairs independently, but for safety reasons I usually hold 1 hand just to be safe.

#4. Independent Walking

There will be times when your baby shoos your hand away and just wants to walk on their own. Just let them do it on their own. Be there in case they fall and keep constant supervision.

With Richard he seems to be magnetically drawn towards cars and traffic, so I am constantly putting him in the middle of the park, far from traffic and then herding him like a collie herds sheep in an effort to keep him away from cars.

With the independent walking I also keep track of the number of steps he does, as a way of record keeping his progress. When he sets a new record for the number of steps, I make a note of it and tell the wife "Richard walked 17 steps today. New record!"

Thus every day you want to allow your baby to play in some sort of safe play area - could be the living room floor, a large play pen, the local park - and just let them walk around on the grass / floor for 30 to 60 minutes every day as they get better at independent walking.

Having a large play pen or play area in your home is also handy.

#5. Letting Go, Letting Them Fall

For a parent learning to let go and let your child fall can be a bit challenging, but it is something you need to do. Your baby needs to learn how to fall, how to land, and how to get back up again and keep doing it.

Learning how to fall safely, take the hit, and get back up is an important skill for babies to learn.

Update, October 2018 - Richard recently discovered he can spin himself in circles and make himself dizzy, and then fall down. He thinks it is hilarious. Clearly falling and getting back up is not a problem for him.

For the parent your goal needs to be there to observe and not to interfere. The only times you should be interfering is when there is danger to your baby, which should be mitigated by simply picking safe places for your baby to practice walking.

eg. A large football field or baseball field is pretty good. Lots of grass to soften falls and the distance to any danger (eg. traffic) is significantly further away and hopefully blocked by fences.


Update, December 2018

Richard is 17.5 months old now and walks independently all the time, except when on a sidewalk near traffic and near other possible dangers (rivers, lakes, pools, etc). He can go up stairs independently, but we usually hold his hand for safety reasons.

He has also:

  • Mastered the buttons on automatic doors.
  • Figured out the buttons on elevators.
  • Figured out escalators.
  • Learned to steal remote controls and cellphones/tablets and press the buttons.
  • Climb up stairs for a slide, sit down and slide down it.
  • Push chairs and other obstacles out of his way.
  • Mastered clapping, high fives, patty-cake, peekaboo, hiding under blankets, kicking things...
  • Crawl underneath furniture or between gaps sideways to escape.
  • Climb up on to furniture (to steal the TV remote).
  • Can spin to make himself dizzy.
  • Figured out this new thing called jumping.
  • He can move surprisingly fast, not quite running yet, but soon enough.

Honestly, if you take your eyes off of him for a few seconds he can run off in a different direction and you have to chase him. He loves to explore.

Thus physically he is now highly capable, so my big challenge these days is to supervise his activities and teach him new things. Every day it is something new.

How I used personal training to help my infant son roll, crawl and walk faster, Part One

By Charles Moffat, Toronto Personal Trainer.

Okay so my infant son Richard is roughly 3 months and 2 weeks old, and he is already rolling over from his back to his belly, and vice versa. He did his first complete roll yesterday and did several more today.

Now to be clear, being able to roll over by himself is a huge stepping stone for a baby. The normal ages for rolling over, sitting up, crawling, standing up, and walking are as follows:
Rolling Over - 4 to 6 Months
Sitting Up - 4 to 8 Months
Crawling - 7 to 10 Months
Standing Up - 9 to 12 Months
Walking - 9 to 15 Months
Call me impatient if you wish, but I have become determined to help my son reach the various milestones slightly faster than other babies. (For context he said "Daddy" back on August 31st, when he was just 2 months and 1 week old - and he was 2 weeks early popping out of his momma, so clearly he is also impatient to do everything in a hurry.)

Every day I get my son exercising. But the exercises he does differ from what most parents normally do.

#1. Tummy Time

Usually such exercising is referred to as "Tummy Time", which is included in what he does. Tummy Time is typically laying the baby on his or her tummy so they can practice lifting their head up.

Tummy Time is important for building neck and upper back muscles, in addition to arm muscles, leg muscles, abdominal muscles - all muscles your baby needs to start building.

Tummy Time is an exercise that all babies should be doing, every day. So it is strongly recommended parents take the time to have their babies do 10 to 30 minutes of Tummy Time per day.

#2. Assisted Rolling

In addition to Tummy Time I also help my son to roll over - to the point that he can now roll over onto his side - and from his side to his belly - all by himself.

We accomplished this by doing the following:
  • Assisted rolling by helping him move his arms and legs into the correct positions for rolling over and then helping him push himself onto his side, and eventually on to his belly.
  • Laying him on his side so he can practice rolling on to his back or towards his belly, unassited
Now that he can roll himself under his own power he is less vulnerable to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). A common cause of SIDS is a baby suffocating on something because they were unable to roll away from the object they were suffocating on. Even being able to perform a half-roll on to their side could end up saving their life.

#3. Assisted Sitting Up and Assisted Sit Ups

This I accomplish by placing him in a sitting position and supporting his back and chest with one hand. As he gets better at it however I have started removing the hand supporting his chest, and even switching to having both hands holding his wrists instead of his torso - this way he still gets support if he needs it, for safety reasons, but otherwise is practicing holding himself upright in a sitting position.

I find you have to kind of steer him using his wrists and arms because his lack of balance will cause him to leave forward or to the sides more often.

The second part of this is holding his hands and helping him to perform a basic Sit Up. He starts from a laying position, holding his wrists I help him into a sitting position - maintain that sitting position - and then help lower him back down into a laying position. I repeat the Sit Ups 10 times before giving him a break.

#4. Assisted Standing

Using my hands under his armpits to support him, I lift my son into a standing position. I then reduce the amount of pressure I am using to support him, forcing him to exercise his leg muscles in order to maintain standing.

Doing this exercise every day, I find it allows my son to build stronger legs so that he is now able to stand for longer periods with very minimal support (mostly for balance and safety purposes) from myself.

Sometimes I will also help him by supporting his hands instead of his arm pits, so he is more under his own power.

#5. Assisted Squats

Since his legs are getting stronger every day, I have also started helping him to do squats. Squats builds his leg muscles even faster than standing does. The method is similar to the assisted standing above, but I reduce the amount of pressure I use to support him so that he is forced to either stand on his own or is reduced to a squatting position and then he has to use his own power to stand back up again.

He hasn't reached the point like the baby below has with the squatting and lifting weights, but nevertheless.



 Your End Goals

The ultimate goal of all of these exercises is to improve the survivability and strength of your baby.

If your baby can roll over by themselves that is a very important step, but being able to sit up independently, crawl away from danger, or even stand and walk away from danger - those seem like important skills to me.

As my son gets older I will also be making sure he learns how to swim and a variety of other useful skills.

Doing all of this in a supervised manner is safer in my opinion.

Doing the things mentioned above may seem like "no brainers" to some people, but I am also applying personal training concepts to his exercises, things like:
  1. Repetition - He does every exercise 10 times or more, or for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Exercising Daily - He exercises every day, even when Papa is tired or busy we still make time to do the exercises.
  3. Do Every Exercise - We don't skip any exercises. 10+ minutes of Tummy Time, 10 Rolls, 10 Minutes of Sitting, 10 Sit Ups, 10 Minutes Standing, 10 Squats. Total time - About 35-45 minutes.
  4. Break Times - So he doesn't get exhausted.
  5. No Exercising on a Full Tummy - Want to see the baby spit up? No? Then wait at least 30 minutes after feeding before doing any exercises.
  6. Nap times are also good, not just for baby, but for everyone.

As your child grows they are going to be exercising constantly. Remember to hydrate and feed them regularly. Sleep. Nap. Rest breaks.

Avoid too much TV, computers and cellphones. If it feels like they are watching screen too often, it is time to go outside.

Remember to have fun outdoors!

Don't Expect This To Happen

How to use a Rowing Machine Safely and Efficiently

Guest Post by Scott Murphy.

After years of being unnoticed, it’s now time for that weird exercise machine collecting dust in your gym corner to take the stage. The rowing machine, or ergometer, has become increasingly popular recently, and for good reason, too. It has been proven that an hour on the machine can burn up to 800 calories. Also, since it puts almost all the muscles in your body to work, using the rowing machine is of the most effective workouts.However, it takes a bit more knowledge and skill to use this piece of equipment.

When used properly, rowing machines can prove to be powerful workout tools, strengthening your core, legs, arm, shoulder, and back muscles. But, effective workouts can only happen when you know how to use your resources properly. So here are a few tips to help you use the rowing machine safely and efficiently:

1) Start with your legs.

The common misconception with most people is that rowing is all about using your arm muscles, but it’s actually about 60 percent legs, 20 percent core, and 20 percent follow through with the arms and shoulders. As you push off the footplate, concentrate and start with your leg muscles, really using your hamstrings.

2) Go skin-tight.

If you’re someone who’s acquainted with the sport of rowing, then you must know about the spandex unisuits rowers always wear. These skin-tight outfits aren’t worn merely to give you a chance to put your toned body on full display. The form-fitting clothes are meant to keep you safe while performing the exercise. Loose shorts are something to watch out while you’re on the move since they have a tendency to get caught in the slide.

3) Get your feet locked in.

Before you begin rowing, make it a habit to lock your feet by strapping them into the pads on the machine. Pull the straps across the top of your foot, tight enough so your feet will not slide around on the footplate.

4) Don’t row only with your arms.

Pulling the handle with only the strength of your arms will cause serious injury to your body.

Rowing requires 60 percent of your power to come from pushing with the legs, 20 percent from using the core, and another 20 percent from pulling with the arms. Keep in mind how important it is in each stroke to use the power of your legs as you push against the panel or foot stretcher where your feet are strapped in.

5) Keep your shoulders working.

In the finish, keep your shoulder blades together and focus on how your core muscles are helping you maintain your body in that slight angle. A word of caution is to stop rowing if your shoulders begin to hurt. Listen to your body and don’t overexert yourself.

6) Beware of blisters.

If you don’t want any blisters and callouses on your hands, keep a relaxed grip on the handle.

Many beginners tense up during the exercise and grip the handle too tightly, leading to discomfort and an inefficient use of energy. Taping can also help prevent and treat these injuries.

7) Don’t push the resistance.

Indoor rowing machines are what rowers use to help them prepare for the real boat race in the water. While your erg’s fan can be set at a higher resistance, most professional rowers stick to the lower settings. Keeping the fan setting between 2 and 3 replicates actual water resistance.

Very few rowers train at a fan setting higher than 4 because it runs the risk of injury. So, don’t get cocky and adjust the settings at a level your body can’t handle.

Back when Jogging was Weird

Back in the 1950s and earlier jogging was something only soldiers, athletes and weirdos did. Although to be fair, the whole idea of "exercising for the sake of exercising" (or fitness / health reasons) was considered weird back then too.

And to shine a light on this check out the video below I watched yesterday which chronicles the rise of jogging as an exercise activity. It shows how jogging was once considered an oddity.



And to be fair, the whole modern idea of exercising is really a 20th century invention. Prior to the last 117 years, people rarely exercised for the sake of exercising. Sure, people competed in athletic competitions, but the idea of training, practice and maintaining a constant level of exercise - even in the winter! - was considered to be a weird idea and unnecessary.

That was before the advent of professional sports and sportsmen earning an annual salary for being a professional athlete.

Before bodybuilding became a competitive sport.

Back when bicycles were called Penny Farthings, had no brakes and the only way to stop was to crash it. (And usually had mustaches they combed with beeswax.)

It would take decades for many sports to reach a pinnacle in which a person could become a professional in their chosen activity and make a decent living doing it.

Even now many Olympic athletes still have to beg money from their governments and work full time / part time jobs in order to support their athletic endeavours.

Jogging is just one of many activities that were once considered strange and unusual.

Take archery for example.

While it is generally accepted that a person must practice regularly to be good at archery, it was usually a pastime in recent centuries thanks to firearms and only a rare few people did bowhunting. During the last 100 years archery and bowhunting has seen a resurgence in popularity and people can now be:
  • Olympic Archers
  • Professional Bowhunters
  • Archery Instructors
So it is now possible to make a living doing archery in a variety of ways. Even former Olympic athletes can presumably become coaches when they retire from competing.

Making a living by jogging, well that is the stuff of:
  • Professional Marathon Runners
  • Olympic Joggers (5 KM, 10 KM, etc)
  • Personal Trainers who teach people how to jog, train for marathons, etc.
So a lot has changed. Jogging is just a prime example of how things have changed.

And much more is still waiting to be changed. I am still waiting to see a professional women's hockey league in Canada to get televised coverage on the CBC.

Women sports (and televising them) has a huge potential to grow in the 21st century. Not just in North America where professional athletes are more common, but globally.

Six Exercises for Bowhunters

So you're thinking about becoming a bowhunter eh? Or maybe you are already into bowhunting, but want to get better at it by getting a physical edge? Note: If you are looking for compound bow archery lessons in Toronto, please contact me and I can help you out.

Well, lets get started.

#1. Push-Ups, builds the arms, shoulders, pectorals, back muscles and core muscles. A good overall exercise. Also goes well with sit-ups, chin-ups, jumping jacks and other old school exercises. The great thing about old school exercises is that require almost no equipment to do and rely on body weight instead of free weights or exercise machines.

#2. Rowing Machine, this specifically targets the back muscles, which is very beneficial for archery. Gives you a steadier pull and that increases accuracy when shooting.

To make your own rowing machine it isn't difficult, you really just need a metal bar, a rope and a suitably large weight on the end of the rope. You could easily accomplish this in the garage, over a tree limb in the backyard, in the basement, etc. You don't need a fancy set up like the illustration of a rowing machine shown on the right, you could accomplish the same thing with zero woodworking skills. A wire cable over a pulley can do the same job, although I do recommend making a wooden handle for pulling with.

I saw one once which used an old bicycle wheel (minus the tire and inner tube) as the pulley, a wire cable, a wooden handle, and old weights from a weightlifting set.

#3. Rock Climbing, beneficial for any bowhunter who wants to be climbing trees and setting up a tree stand. Tree stands are sadly one of the norms of hunting these days, so few people stalk or use ground blinds. However many hunters fall out of the tree due to having a lack of a safety harness, usually preceded by a comment something akin to "I don't need no stinking safety harness!" And then they fall and hurt themselves. So why not take up rock climbing and see just how easy it is to fall and why even experienced rock climbers always wear a safety harness.

Fortunately in Toronto there are many rock climbing gyms to choose from. A quick Google search will find you a local rock climbing gym not that far from where you live. "Wow. I didn't know there was one so close!" you might exclaim. Toronto is rife with them. Even if you don't like in Toronto chances are likely you can find a rock climbing gym or a rock climbing club in your area you can join.

#4. Hiking, beneficial for those bowhunters who enjoy stalking their prey. While do this I recommend doing several things:
  • Wear the boots you would normally wear while hunting in.
  • Carry a backpack with water / snacks in it to simulate the extra weight you would be carrying while hunting. Add additional water for weight even if you don't need it.
  • Bring binoculars or a camera. If you spot a deer or smaller critter try to get as close as possible and get a photo, this is your chance to hone those stalking skills.
  • Pay attention to the plants, tracks, droppings, smells, and wind. Learning extra woodsman skills are beneficially to hunting later.
  • Practice walking quietly. Try to make a habit of it. Avoid making loud noises that scare away animals.

#5. Jogging, for endurance. Oddly endurance is a big factor for hunters of all stripes, especially if you have to carry/drag a heavy dead animal out of the woods so you can eat it later. Jogging builds your lung muscles and increases your lung capacity. It also makes your heart stronger, able to pump more blood faster, which in turn gives you more energy.

#6. Cycling, again for endurance, but also handy to get deeper into the woods faster. If your chosen site for hunting in is really far into the woods having a bicycle means you can get there faster, and relatively quietly. Make sure your bicycle is in good working order and quiet before taking it into the deep woods. Tip: A good bicycle for the woods is one with thick tires, as these can handle bumps easier and gives better traction in muddy / dirty conditions. A road bicycle with skinny tires would be comparatively more likely to break.


Gardening - A Weight Loss Exercise Plan + Diet

Gardening can be a fascinating topic for some people - or really boring to anyone who has zero interest in plants. But if you are fascinated with the idea of growing your own food, I want to propose the following Exercise Plan / Diet.

The goal essentially is to grow your own food in your backyard. This will require lots of work (exercise), careful planning, time, cooking/baking skills, and a dose of determination.

I recommend planting the following, which I have listed in order of spectrum because I think it would be nice to have a garden that is ordered by colour:

Red Beats
Radishes
Tomatoes
Raspberries (Requires more space.)
Strawberries
Mini Red Potatoes (Smaller than regular potatoes, but tastier.)
Red Peppers
Carrots
Orange Peppers
Yellow Peppers (Because it is nice to have variety.)
Sweet Corn (Requires more space.)
Green Beans
Broccoli
Peas
Lettuce (There are many different kinds of lettuce, I recommend planting 3 different kinds so you have variety.)
Watermelons (Green on the outside, red on the inside.)
Herbs (There are likewise many different herbs, such as basil, parsley, cloves, dill, etc. They are commonly used as spices, not as a main dish.)
Cucumbers
Blueberries
Purple Cabbage
Purple Cauliflower
Eggplant
Garlic
Onions
Mushrooms

I recommend against planting anything huge like squash or pumpkins, because those plants take up a lot of space. So unless you have tonnes of space, you should focus on plants that produce more food for their smaller area. This is similar to the Sweet Corn above, which does take up more space, except that pumpkins and squash take up a LOT of space. Also don't expect to be growing any huge "prize winning pumpkins" on your first try. Most likely they will be quite small. (Also who wants to eat that much pumpkin???)

I also recommend against planting white or yellow potatoes, which contain a lot of starch and starch is fattening. I includes the Mini Red Potatoes above for variety and also because they taste better.

Baked mini red potatoes are also very tasty. Just bake on a pan, add some spices and yum!


Once you've got your garden growing your next step is to eat what you've grown. Some of that may require learning some new cooking / baking skills, but honestly the internet and youtube has lots of recipes for you to explore. Make a mistake? Oh well, you will know better next time.

The end goal is that you will be eating more healthy food that you've grown yourself - which often tastes better than anything found in a store.

All that exercise from tilling, planting, weeding, harvesting means you will have shed some pounds over the course of Spring to Autumn. Once you've harvested the food at various stages during the year you will reap the benefits of eating lots of healthy vegetables - whether they be the form of salads, stews, soups, berries with yogurt, on pizza, juicing, or whatever recipes you decide to cook up with them.

The end result is if you treat your garden as both an exercise plan and a diet plan, you are guaranteed to become a healthier weight / a healthier person in the process.

I also recommend weening yourself off sugary drinks and high sugar / high cholesterol snacks. Some foods are so addictive that people will get into a habit of eating them at a specific time every day and if they do not then they get cravings for sugary things at that time of day. (This happens to me every year when I visit my parents and my mother sends me home with bags full of cookies, squares, etc - and I end up developing a sugar craving during a particular hour of the day afterwards due to snacking on them that part of the day. Fortunately I eventually run out of them and the craving is forced to go into decline.)

There are three ways to ween yourself off addictive foods:

1. Eat less of them and stop buying them, you will eventually have to stop because you run out.

2. Go cold turkey, meaning cut yourself off from them completely. This is trickier because if they're in your cupboard / freezer you either have to ignore they are there or thrown them out. Option 1 suddenly looks more appealing, yes?

3. Eat berries. Berries have natural sugars in them, so they will fulfill your craving for sugar but you are switching your addiction from one food to a different food. Other foods that are also higher in sugar are: grapes, mangos, bananas, cherries, apples, pears, kiwis and pineapple. By replacing your addiction with something healthier this is a good way to ween yourself off sugary foods and make a gradual switch towards healthier options.


Bras Vs Bust Firming Exercises

According to a study that came out of France in 2013, bras don't actually alleviate back pain in women and don't do anything to prevent women's breasts from sagging. In fact, the study says that it actually makes back pain worse and the breasts to sag more.

Of course, anyone familiar with Bust Firming Exercises already know this. Marilyn Monroe knew this and she has been dead for almost 54 years.

While she was living however Marilyn Monroe did a number of daily exercises in order to stay in shape and keep her famous figure.

They included:

Push-ups - which act as bust firming exercise, increasing the strength of the pectoral muscles on the chest, which hold up the breasts and keep them from sagging.

Weightlifting, including Chest Flyes (below) which also work the pectoral muscles.


Jogging, for the legs and arms.

Archery, for the back muscles and arms.

Swimming, good as a full body workout.

Stretches (some of which look suspiciously like yoga).


And while she may have occasionally worn something that looked similar to a bra (due to society's convention against women appearing topless in public), she almost never is shown wearing a bra. Many of her iconic pieces of fashion went in quite the opposite direction. No bra at all.

And she certainly did not need to wear one either. Due to her regular exercises and specifically bust firming exercises, she had no need of wearing a bra which at the time conventional thinking was that women needed to wear bras in order to prevent back pain.

According to the 2013 French study, everything we've ever been told about supporting the upper back has it all wrong. Wearing a bra does nothing to decrease back pain, and the support offered by a brassiere actually encourages the breasts to sag. The study was a lengthy one too, starting in 1997 and ending in 2012, before being published in 2013. 15 years of women in the study group either wearing a bra or wearing no bra, and comparing which ones had back pain and which ones did not, and measuring how much sagging was really happening.

Led by Jean-Denis Rouillon, a sports scientist from the University of Besançon in eastern France, he found that "bras are a false necessity."

"Medically, physiologically, anatomically — breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity. On the contrary, they get saggier with a bra," says Rouillon.

Rouillon spent a decade and a half measuring the changes in breasts of hundreds of women using a slide rule and caliper at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in Besançon. The participants were all between the ages of 18 and 35.

Of the braless women, the researchers concluded that "on average their nipples lifted on average seven millimeters in one year in relation to the shoulders." This meant that they effectively became "perkier" over time as their pectoral muscles became stronger from the added weight, as opposed to the extra strain going to the shoulders and back muscles instead.

According to one 28-year-old woman who took part in the study she hasn't worn a bra for two years now, and doesn’t expect to go back. "There are multiple benefits: I breathe more easily, I carry myself better, and I have less back pain," she says.

So less back pain, less shoulder pain, stronger pectoral muscles, better posture, stronger lungs. Lots of benefits. Learn more about Bust Firming Exercises.

Note, men who want larger pecs / chest muscles can also benefit from these exercises. eg. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a huge advocate of Chest Flyes, shown below, for its benefits of building huge pectorals on men.

Using Exercises to Keep Warm

Winter is coming.

Which for Toronto means we are usually in for 3-4 months of miserable cold weather. But it doesn't have to be miserable if you don't want it to be.

Winter should not be an excuse to not exercise either. After all, exercising keeps you warm.

We have all seen the crazy joggers out there in the harshest of weather, apparently unaffected by the extreme cold.

HOWEVER, jogging is not the purpose of this post. The purpose of this post is actually on the topic of KEEPING WARM for survival purposes - or at very least comfort levels. It has been my experience that the simple act of "rubbing your hands together" really only works for your hands, and if you want to stay warm and comfortable sometimes it is necessary to do more full body exercises.

For example one of the things that I sometimes do is I miscalculate how cold it is outside and I don't wear enough clothing. Thus I end up freezing my proverbial behind off, but I do have a trick to prevent it...

I do 100 jumping jacks. Takes about 2 minutes to do, but 100 jumping jacks later and I am cozy warm because my blood is now pumping energy from my fat stores and invigorating my body. Burning the fat off in such an aggressive manner warms the muscles, warms the blood, and ultimately warms the whole body.

Jumping jacks are not the only exercise you can use to keep warm however...

Five Ways to Keep Warm using Exercises

#1. Weightlifting

You don't need the ghetto weightlifting set like the guy below, any weights will do. Backpack, suitcase, whatever you have handy.


#2. Body Weight Exercises or Calisthenics

Pushups, chin-ups, wall push-ups, situps, it doesn't matter. Any old school body weight exercise will do. Even the simple act of climbing something, such as stairs, can keep your body warm. If you are athletic enough you could even do hand-stand push-ups.

The trick with some of these exercises, eg. chin-ups, is that you need something stable that isn't going to break under your body weight. Pick something big and stable.

The young woman on the right for example chose the underside of a bridge to exercise on, but the basic concept is there. Something large, heavy, durable, won't tip over / rock back and forth. It also shouldn't have sharp edges, spikes or anything dangerous like that in the vicinity.

The video below shows a young woman demonstrating a number of different body weight exercises outdoors.



#3. Yoga

You don't even need a mat to do winter yoga, the snow is your nice soft mat. But in the event you are surrounding by cold harsh ice, a blanket would also do. Helps if you are already familiar with yoga, but if you are not please read my posts on the topic or check out the thousands of free videos on YouTube.


#4. Squats or Squat Jumps

Squats are not hard. You just squat down part way, keep your back aligned straight up and down, and then stand back up again. Do 20 of those and your legs will be warmed up significantly.

For extra challenge, do the squats while carrying a weight (perhaps a backpack full of books), or try squat jumps - wherein you squat down and then stand up so fast that you jump into the air.

#5. Stretching and Scratching

Sometimes the simple act of stretching, touching your toes, flexing various muscles, can also warm you up. It doesn't take much, and it is far less obvious what you are doing if you have a crowd of people staring at you. If you are standing on a cold train platform with lots of people around, they may get weirded out by someone who suddenly decides to do 100 jumping jacks - but someone who is just stretching won't get a second glance.

The second part is this last tip is that you can also warm your skin by scratching it. Scratch your back, your arms, your chest, your legs - it might look you have a rash to a passerby, or it might look like you just have an itchy arm and that is no big deal.

If it truly is a survival situation then embarrassment isn't a factor any more.

Have a great winter and stay warm!

Kicking Exercises and Tips

Kicking Exercises are just what they sound like - fast paced kicks in an effort to build fast twitch muscle fibres in your legs. However done improperly they hold the potential to injure yourself.

I should also note that the primary purpose of these kicking exercises are for EXERCISE, not for self-defense or fighting. I will note the various uses of some kicks, but please remember the primary goal here is to promote kicking as a form of exercise.

With that in mind I am going to be teaching 3 different styles of kicks you can try at home. Shin Kicks, Side Kicks and Back Kicks.

#1.

Use a large open space that has no obstacles or walls nearby. Accidentally kicking a wall and hurting your foot would be counter-productive.

#2.

Next you should be doing some stretches. Because you are going to be doing an exercise that explores the limits of your flexibility I want people reading this to make an effort to stretch before you begin any workout that contains kicking.

Start by sitting on the ground and doing a variety of poses that explore the limits of your flexibility, similar to the poses mentioned in the How to do the Splits post.

#3.

Warm up your leg muscles by doing about 30 to 60 seconds worth of jumping jacks and another 30 to 60 seconds worth of squats (or jump squats if you want more of a challenge).

#4.

Don't worry about height when you kicking. Stand upright and start by doing low kicks in the air aimed at an imaginary target about 1 foot off the ground. This is known as a Shin Kick. It may not look like much, but aimed at someone's leg it would be difficult to block and successful contact means the other person will be in pain and possibly have difficulty walking.

When doing Shin Kicks your legs should be spread further apart with your leading foot pointed towards the imaginary target. Your kicking foot will be spaced further back and the foot should be angled off to the side for extra stability.

Every few minutes you should switch sides and practice kicking with the other foot. Try to focus on the quality of your form and accuracy, not your speed.

Shin Kicking can also be used for tripping an opponent, except instead of kicking the person with the toe or the base of the foot you are instead angling your foot in from the side in an effort to knock them down / make them lose their balance. This is demonstrated in the graphic below.

In a situation where you feel threatened, kicking someone in the shins and then running away is a fairly effective means of self-defense. The other person could be potentially prone if you tripped them, or they might simply be unable to run quickly due to the sudden pain. The pain would be temporary however, so if your plan is to run do so quickly.

#5.

This is not the impressive Side Kick you may have seen in the movies. You need to work up to that.

Instead your goal here is to kick sideways and hit something that is approximately at groin level. eg. An opponent's family jewels.

To do this kick you first need to be facing towards your target, your feet slightly spaced apart and your leading foot slightly off to the side for extra balance. During the kick you will first raise your knee up towards the target, and then in one motion you will kick outwards while rotating your body. Use your arms to maintain your balance (potentially you could use one arm to perform a simultaneous punch like in the image below, but your primary goal should be to maintain your balance).


Done properly a sidekick should be both accurate, fast and with minimal loss of balance. These three things are important because:

  • You actually want to hit the target properly so it does more damage.
  • Your kick should be fast enough that your opponent cannot catch and twist your foot, leaving you at a disadvantage.
  • You don't want to lose your balance. If you fall the fight is practically over.
My tae kwon do instructor in South Korea taught that you never want to kick an opponent unless you either already have the advantage or if you can be absolutely certain of your success. He argued that kicking an opponent too aggressively and without a degree of caution was too risky, especially against any experienced opponent who knows how to counter such a kick and turn it against you.

For our purposes however side kicks still make for great exercise - both for muscle speed and strength, but also as a balance exercise.

#6.

The third and final kick I am going to teach today is the Back Kick.

Similar to the Side Kick, you start by raising your knee up in front of you and then kick backwards at an imaginary target at roughly groin level. Your primary goal during this kick is to learn how to maintain your balance, so note how your arms stay tucked close to your body and most of your balance is achieved not with your arms, but with your torso / core muscles.

7.

Don't over do it with any of the above kicking exercises. Focus on form and balance, not speed. There is no point hurting yourself by trying to kick superfast. Speed will come with practice.

After completing your kicking exercises for the day I also recommend doing a series of exercises such as:

Lunges
Sit Ups
Push Ups
Squats
Jump Squats
Jumping Jacks
Skip Rope or Skipping
Yoga
Etc

The goal here is to build up your leg muscles and also your core muscles (abs, lower back, etc). That way the next time you practice kicking exercises the muscles in question will be stronger and you will have better balance.

Happy Exercising!

10 Exercises to do with your Pets this Summer in Toronto

#1. Take your dog jogging!

#2. Take your dog to the beach - go swimming and play frisbee!

#3. Doggie Weightlifting - this is you lifting your dog up in an affectionate manner and rubbing their belly, then setting them back down, and repeat. You dog will think it is a game.

#4. Take your dog cycling in High Park.



#5. Join a Meetup Group for people who enjoy dog-related activities. Learn more by browsing the different meetup groups for Toronto dog owners.

#6. Competitive Dog Jogging. (Yes, that is a real thing.)

#7. Mountain Hiking with your Dog.

#8. Canoeing or Kayaking with your Dog. (Get your dog a special canine life jacket.)


#9. Dog and Owner Hurdles.



#10. Play a Classic Game of Fetch with your Dog. (Even more fun with water.)


BONUS

Dog Yoga in the Park


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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