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Showing posts with label Winter Activities. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Winter Activities. Show all posts

Toronto getting exercise after freak snowstorm + Snowshoeing

Last night the fiancée and I visited my future mother-in-law and the three of us watched the season finale of The Walking Dead - and marveled at the freak blizzard out the window. This is not so unusual for Canada, but it is unusual for April.

By the time we left to go home our car was covered (shown here on right) and the snow was falling so fast it was difficult to clean the car fast enough because the snow kept adding more.

When we got home I had to shovel the driveway out before we could even park the car, because it is on an uphill slope and it was too slippery to get the car up into the driveway properly until after it had been shoveled.

So thanks to the weather many of Toronto's residents are getting some extra exercise cleaning off their cars or shoveling their driveways.

Today is my day off so I am going snowshoeing for fun - in April.

If you have ever gone Snowshoeing before then you know it is an exhausting exercise. However I will point out that with modern snowshoes it is easier than the old fashioned snowshoes.

I will update this post later with some photos of my snowshoes in action. (See Update Further Below.)

Snowshoeing Notes and Tips

If you have poles, might as well use them. Keeps your arms moving = extra exercise.

Make sure your snowshoes actually fit you. I recommend trying them on inside before heading outside so you know how to put them on easily and that they do fit you.

Wear boots. Shoes won't do it. Maybe don't wear steel-toed boots like I do, but hey, I am used to them.

Dress warm in multiple layers. If you get too hot while exercising you can unzip or unbutton a layer.

Bring a drink with you. Water, tea, coffee, hot chocolate. Snowshoeing is thirsty work.

Pick a nice circular trail / route, possibly one with different options so you can pick and choose which way to go. Avoid steep hills.

Remember to wash off your snowshoes before storing them. 

The snowshoes in the photos and shown above, in case you are curious, are Yukon 930s (size large). Brand doesn't really matter so much so long as they work and do their job.

Update Below: Photos of my Snowshoes in Action.

Five Ways to do Weight Lifting Outdoors in the Winter

#1. Build your own outdoor gym equipment, including:

  • Bench Press
  • Bench with Free Weights 
  • Bulgarian Training Bag
  • Chin-Up Bar
  • Farmer's Walk Bars
  • Incline Bench
  • Kettlebells
  • Medicine Ball 
  • Obstacle Course (Strength Based) 
  • Parallel Bars (Gymnasts)
  • Rope Climbing / Rope Ladder
  • Rowing Machine
  • Stairs (for Leg exercises, or as an Incline)

eg. To build a rowing machine you will need: Rope, a wood or metal bar as a handle for pulling, a stationary metal bar that is elevated off the ground, a heavy weight attached to the far end of the rope, and something to brace your feet against.

#2. Shovel Snow out of the Driveway - and if you have extra energy, clear all the snow from the backyard and front yard too, so you have frozen grass to workout on.

#3. Fill sandbags with snow and build a wall of sandbags... Or a bench made out of sandbags, and use that bench as a bench press, an incline bench or for using free weights on.

#4. Build something out of the snow - snow man, snow fort, ice rink, hockey rink, ice sculpture. Does it really matter as long as you are exercising?

#5. Clean out the garage and turn your garage into a gym.


That old broken air conditioner? Use it as a weight for a rowing machine.

Old furniture / chairs? Add some wood and make a bench for using in combination with free weights.

Old scrap metal you aren't sure what to do with? Check out the dumbbells further below.

Old broken bicycle? Make a training bicycle for building leg muscle.

Old patio umbrella with metal pole? Get rid of the umbrella part and use the metal pole to make yourself a nice chin-up bar.

Old junk that you really are not sure what to do with? Take it to the curb for garbage collection. Clearly if you can't use it for weight lifting, then it probably isn't good for much else.

Winter Chin-Up Bar
Homemade Dumbbell
Scrap Metal Dumbbells

Archery Biathlon Training

Looking for something new to try this winter in Toronto?

How about Archery Biathlon?

Similar to rifle biathlon, archery biathlon is actually an ancient Nordic sport which was done by Vikings in Scandinavia. It was so popular in fact that the Norse god "Ullr" was basically the god of the archery biathlon. (See the images of Ullr further below.)

For those who are thinking of trying something new that is really challenging archery biathlon might be the right sport for you.

The sport builds the following:

Cardiovascular Strength (Heart and Lungs)
Back and Upper Body Strength
Leg and Lower Body Strength
Aiming / Accuracy Skills

For more information about signing up for Archery Biathlon Training or Winter Archery Lessons, see my previous post on the topic of Winter Archery Lessons.

And as promised, images of the Norse god Ullr below:

Winter is Coming! - Winter Archery Lessons in Toronto

Okay, okay, settle down. It is only September 15th, 2015. It is not Winter yet.

But I am already looking forward to teaching archery lessons during the 2015/2016 winter season. Maybe too much sun has fried my brain and I am now yearning for the cold?

Normally I only teach archery lessons from March to October, but last year and the year before I also taught a few - literally just a few - Winter Archery Lessons to those few Torontonians who were that crazy that they wanted winter lessons.

The start of the 2014/2015 Winter was quite mild last year, but then we got record breaking cold temperatures in late January and early February - so most of my winter lessons last year were done during December / early January or late February. The coldest part of the winter was just so ridiculously cold and snowy and there was no point being out there.

So I do have some rules regarding Winter Archery Lessons:

#1. Must be 16 years old or older.

#2. You must dress warmly - multiple tight fitting layers are best, including long johns, ski pants, hoodie, tight fitting winter coat, nice warm hat, etc. [Myself I am going to be purchasing a new pair of ski pants and a "heated hoodie" for this upcoming season.]

#3. You must bring a thermos full of a hot drink with you. Trust me, you will want it. [I recommend the "24 Hour Thermos" made by Thermos Ltd.]

Winter Archery Gloves will be provided. They work well and are surprisingly warm.

All other archery equipment is provided. If you wish to bring your own equipment please send a description of your equipment when you contact me via email.

Winter Archery Lessons Rates

1 Student
$90 for 90 minutes; 3 Lessons - $255; 5 Lessons - $405; 10 Lessons - $780.

2 Students
$120 for 90 minutes; 3 Lessons - $337.50; 5 Lessons - $540; 10 Lessons - $1050.

3 Students
$150 for 90 minutes; 3 Lessons - $427.50; 5 Lessons - $675; 10 Lessons - $1320.

To sign up for Winter Archery Lessons send an email to

New Winter Archery Logo


For my purposes "Winter" officially starts when there is either snow on the ground or the temperature dips around 0 degrees Celsius or lower. That means I may start charging the Winter rate in November if the temperatures are that low.

The upcoming Winter will also give me more time off to work on my upcoming archery book, the 2nd archery book I have written (the first is "Dreaming of Zen Archery"). The upcoming book will be a how to guide to recreational archery, as I have determined there are many books on the topic of competitive archery, and quite a few books on bowhunting, and even a bunch on the history of archery - but I have found zero books on the topic of recreational archery, or as I like to call it "archery for archery's sake". Recreational archery is not meant for competitions, not meant for hunting, it is purely for those people who do archery for the sheer enjoyment of the sport.

Oddly enough over 90% of archers are recreational. Less than 9% of archers are bowhunters. Less than 1% of archers actually compete. The vast majority of archers are those who do it purely as a recreational hobby, so I find it strange that nobody has written a book on this topic.

5 Exercises to do in March

So March is here and warmer weather is just around the corner. Here are 5 exercise ideas for people to do during March while the snow is melting and it isn't quite warm enough to do other more summer-oriented activities.

#1. Shovel Snow out of the driveway. Chances are likely you will need to do this anyway, but if that is already done you can also:

Make one last snowman before it melts.
Have a snowball fight with friends / family before it all melts.
Move all of the snow on your property into one corner and let it melt there, so that the grass can start growing sooner.

#2. Go Snowshoeing, Skiing, Snowboarding or Ice Skating one last time.

Or if there isn't enough snow left to do those activities, go for a hike instead. Take the dog with you!

#3. Stay inside and exercise like you did in January and February. Maybe you dislike cold weather entirely and have no interest in going outside when there is still a wisp of snow on the ground, in which case staying inside might be more your thing... But that sounds awfully boring so why not change it up a bit? You could:

Get a gym membership for 1 month only.
Get a membership at a yoga studio for 1 month.
Get a membership at a rock climbing studio for 1 month.
Get a membership at a boxing gym for 1 month.
Sign up for 1 month worth of martial arts lessons.

#4. Try an Extreme Sport that is either outdoors or indoors. Examples:

Sign up for archery lessons in Toronto.
Join a paintball organization so you can run around and shoot friends with paint.
Try "Archery Tag" at one of the various locations in Toronto that offer it.
Join a club that does Parkour or Freerunning (hopefully you are under 30 and already reasonably fit).

#5. Spring Clean your Home. Cleaning things is actually very good exercise and your home probably needs a good cleaning anyway. Listen to music while you clean, take your time doing it, work up a sweat, and remember to take a break every so often. Have fun!

The Benefits of Exercising NOW, before Winter begins

"Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise." - Benjamin Franklin.

Every winter I create a weightlifting exercise program for me to do indoors during the winter months. This year I have decided to start early. What is nice is that even though I started on Wednesday, I am already seeing results by Monday.

I make this exercise program for me to do every Winter because I know I won't be outside as much exercising during the Winter. Thus I have to compensate for my lack of outdoor exercise by doing more indoor exercises.

When choosing which exercises to do weightlifting makes good logical sense because it requires less space to do properly when compared to jogging, running, swimming, tennis, golf, archery, boxing, etc. In some cases even less equipment, because I don't have an indoor pool handy. :p

So what exercises do I do?

#1. Chinups using a chinup bar installed in a doorway near the washroom. This guarantees I am building biceps in a hurry.

#2. Dumbbell exercises designed to target the shoulders, triceps, and pectorals.

#3. Old School Exercises like Sit-Ups and Push-Ups. The sit-ups target the abdominal muscles and the push-ups target pectorals, various back muscles, triceps and shoulders.

#4. Jumping Jacks - I love jumping jacks while listening to music. This is a quick indoor cardio that burns a lot of calories in a relatively short time. The more you do the more you burn. It also builds strong calves and ankles.

#5. Squats with Light Weights - This is for targeting my thighs and calves. Stronger leg muscles builds better balance and makes you faster when you need to run in a hurry.

The other thing I want to get back to is the concept that there are benefits to be reaped NOW by getting into exercising right away instead of postponing it for later. As a personal trainer Winter is the slow time of the year for me, which means I would normally be exercising less. But because I like to maintain my physique and improve upon it I complement my workout in the Winter with the weightlifting and old school exercises. Last year I didn't start my weightlifting routine until December - when there was already snow on the ground. Partially because I moved in November last year and was still sorting through boxes.

But this year I am all settled in and I felt a sense of urgency to get back into it early this year so I started my new weightlifting regimen on Wednesday October 1st. I didn't set out to pick that day, it just happened to be that day. So I did weightlifting on Wednesday, Thursday, took a break on Friday and Saturday to let my muscles relax, then again on Sunday, and now it is Monday... and I am seeing some fast results.

I am not just talking extra muscles either although I am definitely feeling more buff. I am sleeping better too. I am going to bed earlier, getting up at 6:15 before my alarm goes off at 7 AM, I feel well rested and alert, my appetite is up, and I am feeling super positive about myself.

And according to my bathroom scale I have put on 4 lbs very recently - which will be mostly muscle and increased bone density. (For record keeping I have gone from 190 to 194.)

I should point out that normally people don't put on a lot of muscle in a hurry unless they have the right combination of metabolic rate, exercise, protein/nutrient intake, etc. If you are interested in this topic of how fast muscles can grow I suggest reading the following two articles:

How Fast can you Grow Muscle

Two Alternative Models for Predicting Muscle Growth

If you read the 2nd article I have posted my own model for predicting muscle growth which takes in factors like Height, Shoulder Width, Metabolic Rate, Dietary Sufficiency, Gender, Exercise Rate, and Training Category - which makes it the most comprehensive method of predicting muscle growth.

There is also the Muscle Memory factor - which is difficult to calculate. Basically what that is is when a weightlifter gets sick for a long period of time they lose a bunch of muscle mass, but when they get back into weightlifting again - even after years - they are faster at putting on the muscle because the old muscles retain the memory. This is likely the biggest factor for me right now, allowing me to build up muscle a lot faster than I normally would.

My goal this Winter is to put on at least 20 lbs of muscle and weigh 210 lbs by mid-March.

And if sleeping better and feeling healthier is a side benefit, so be it. Those are benefits I like having.

Note - This Winter I also going to be doing Archery Biathlon (combo of cross country skiing and archery) once there is snow on the ground, which combines a high intensity cardio exercise with a resistance training exercise.

New Archery Biathlon Logo

Winter Archery Practice

During January and February I sometimes go to the archery range to get some personal practice in. I don't teach archery during the winter, but whenever there is a day where the weather is nice it is fun to go and get some extra practice in.

The trick about practicing archery in the winter is whether or not your aim is good enough that you are not missing any shots and having to search for your arrows in the snow.

If you're lucky the snow will have a thick icy layer on top and your arrows will just skitter across the top.

Another problem is that there is no winter maintenance of the target butts - which means they look pretty decrepit during the winter. You have to aim your shots in the corner so you aren't aiming near the softer middle sections of the target butts - where there is often either a gaping hole or material so soft your arrow goes straight through and keeps going.

Because it is so cold outside I strongly recommend wearing multiple layers of clothing. eg. On this particular day I was wearing a t-shirt, a sweater, a hoodie, an outdoor vest, a jacket, a neck warmer, hat and gloves.

Alternatively you can also go to a longer range - 50 yards for example - and practice there instead. But you had best have really good aim if you want to be shooting at that distance and hitting the target with tight clusters.

I have even made a series of fun videos of myself doing archery in the winter, shown below, wherein I was shooting a snowman for fun.

Ice Storm Exercises in Toronto

Hello fellow Torontonians!

Wow that was quite the ice storm last night. Here is some exercise and safety tips for things for you to do today!!! Stay safe and don't drive today.

#1. Clear the ice off your car.

#2. Clear the ice off your driveway.

#3. Clear the broken ice covered branches off your lawn and streets near your home.

#4. Avoid downed power lines. Leave those to repair crews.

#5. Watch out for falling ice. Avoid walking under large trees that have lots of ice covered branches on them that are creaking under the weight.

#6. Walk to the local hardware store for supplies. Don't drive! The roads are too icy!

#7. Walk to the homes of elderly neighbours and see if they need anything. Be helpful!

#8. Clear the sidewalk of ice.

#9. Take the dog for a walk and take photos of the ice storm wreckage.

#10. Dress with lots of layers with warm gloves, hats and more!

8 Christmas Day Exercises for the Whole Family

Looking for something fun to do on Christmas Day that is also exercise for the whole family?

#1. Go for a walk in the neighbourhood and go carolling. Find some Christmas songs online, print them out for the kids, take candles with you - and take a walk around your neighbourhood and visit all the neighbours you know and like (and even a few you don't like). With any luck other neighbours might join in!

#2. Take a Winter Hike - If the weather is reasonably tolerable, pack up the whole family, get lots of warm clothes on, and head somewhere hike-able and scenic. It doesn’t have to be a mountain - maybe just a hill or a neighbourhood with lots of pretty Christmas lights on houses. Getting outside and getting some fresh air will feel good. Remember how endorphins make people happy? Go out and get some endorphins!

#3. Ice Skating - Many ice rinks are open to the public on Christmas Eve and / or Christmas Day. You will need your own ice skates (or find a rink that rents ice skates).

#4. Snow Ball Fight - Remember no throwing ice at each other, that could hurt. But throwing packing snow or fluffy snow at each other, perfectly fine. Just don't forget to dodge and run around things to protect yourself from flying snowballs.

#5. Build a Snowman, the BIGGEST one you can! Rolling giant snowballs is hard, but it makes for great exercise.

#6. Skiing / Snowboarding - Whether you go cross country skiing, downhill skiing, or snowboarding you will get a good workout. If you have small kids stick to the smaller hills / easier routes.

#7. Go Sledding - Dragging a sled up a hill again and again is great cardio, and the ride back down is certain to be fun!

#8. Build a Snowfort - Like building a snowman, building a snowfort can be a fun challenge for the whole family. Be certain to build it in a safe manner so if you have small children that there aren't any pieces that could fall on them. You can even decorate your snowfort using food colouring!

Build a Beach Perfect Body - In The Winter!!!

It is November and it is starting to snow in Toronto maybe once per week. By December it will be snowing more regularly. By January there will be a foot of snow on the ground.

But if you count the months until mid June (the start of swimsuit season) then there is November, December, January, February, March, April and May - 7 months to get prepared if your goal is to lose weight and look fit for swimsuit season.

Now pay attention... most people only start trying to get fit a month or two before swimsuit season - and most of them FAIL to meet their exercise / weight loss goal.

The reason why is because they are focusing all of their exercise goals into a month or two month period and then wonder why they failed. When asked why they will point to reasons like not enough time, the workouts were too difficult, they fell off the wagon diet wise, lack of motivation and so forth.

I argue that they need to change their approach.

#1. Stop trying to do everything a month or two before swimsuit season. Start exercising NOW, many months before swimsuit season is even close. Thus their excuse that they didn't have enough time will be null and void.

#2. By doing the first it also means the workouts don't need to be quite so intense. People burn out and lose motivation if their workouts are too intense. In contrast if they start exercising over a 6 month period their workouts will be about one third the intensity of a 2 month workout regimen designed to accomplish the same goal. Thus the second excuse about workouts being too difficult will likewise be null and void.

#3. If you are going to make lifestyle / dietary changes you need to make permanent changes that you can stick with it. Now I admit that means making changes during the Christmas holiday season - a season during which many people are prone to binge eating on chocolate treats, xmas dinners, etc. But it can be done and you can do it if you give it an honest try. Start by making the switch to dark chocolate only (70% or better) - no more sugary chocolate or "white chocolate". Eat more veggies during xmas dinners and make fruits and vegetables part of every meal you eat, and every snack. Find the fruits and veggies you love and stock up on healthy foods you love.

#4. Find ways to motivate yourself. Music I find is a great motivator. Another way to motivate is to use fun activities that you enjoy doing. eg. Ice skating, downhill skiing, or just plain going for an afternoon walk and taking your camera with you.

Wait, its cold outside! I hate going outside in the cold!

Then invest in some thermal underwear. Learn how to layer clothing so you don't feel the cold. Get tight fitting clothes that fits really well and keeps you warm. Wear 3 or 4 layers under your jacket, get good thermal gloves, a neck warmer, hat, thermal longjohns for wearing under your pants/jeans, warm boots, thick socks - and voila! You will probably be so warm you will be unzipping layers!

Dressed like that and you can go jogging / winter walks / ice skating / tobogganing like when you were a kid and you won't really be bothered by the cold at all.

Next you need to avoid the temptation to just relax all winter indoors watching cable television, mucking around on Facebook and nonsensical videos on YouTube. Cancel the cable (33% of it is advertising anyway), take a vacation from Facebook, and go outside and make your own winter oriented videos and then post them on YouTube instead of watching other people's junk.

Things To Do This Winter!

#1. Cross Country Skiing - burns a tonne of calories! Burns 500 to 700 calories per hour depending on your weight.

#2. Take Up the Biathlon - cross country skiing with a rifle on your back! Yeehaw! Who says cross country skiing isn't a manly sport???

#3. Archery Biathlon - don't like guns? Take up the archery biathlon. Basically the same idea, but using a bow and arrow.

#4. Snow Shoeing - also burns lots of calories. Good for balance training too, plus it doubles as weightlifting for your legs. Try it and you will see how hard it is.

#5. Snowboarding - Good for cardio and balance. Works your abs too!

#6. Downhill Skiing - Same as snowboarding, makes for fun cardio.

#7. Ice Skating - Great cardio and balance training.

#8. Hockey - On skates or as Road Hockey, this sport will get you outside and having fun while also providing great cardio. Just don't forget to shout CAR!!!

#9. Shoveling Snow - Okay so technically it is not a sport... but it is very good cardio and weightlifting exercise. Shoveling snow is very hard so if you have a poor heart be certain to take it easy while shoveling snow because it is so difficult people are known to have heart attacks.

#10. Taking the dog for a walk - Seriously. Pets need to get outside and exercise too. So take the dog for a walk as often as you can. Or better yet, try competitive dog jogging.

Revamping Your Workout

Every winter I change up my exercise routine.

2 winters ago I was doing lots of situps, pushups, jumping jacks and a variety of body weight exercises for building core strength. Because I love using traditional exercises.

Last winter I was focusing on upper body muscle gain - shoulders, triceps, biceps, etc.

This coming winter I want to focus on my abs.

Which means a combination of cardio exercises (likely utilizing the Afterburn Effect so I can shed a few extra pounds and avoid the post-Christmas paunch) and ab workouts.

I also want to focus on upper body strength again this year, but this time doing more pushups to target my pectorals, triceps and back muscles.

However knowing how to revamp my workout in this way takes years to determine what "B" exercises I need to do in order to get "A" results. (And what kind of "C" diet I should be eating.)

And this is just one of the many services a personal trainer can help you with. (Hint hint, hire me!)

So what are the results I am looking for? Nicer abs and pecs. I am easy to please that way. But it will also up my archery form by giving me better mirror muscles - right now I have overdeveloped back muscles and I need to fix this by working on my front muscles more, namely the abs and pecs. The overdeveloped back muscles is because I have been doing archery almost every day this Summer.

So what will my personal workout look like this winter? (I say winter, but I am starting this workout in Autumn.)

Well I am still fine tuning it, but here goes...


High Intensity Jumping Jacks, 3 times MAE (Morning, Afternoon, Evening). 200 each time.

2 sets of 25 pushups, 3 times MAE.

YOGA, 20 minutes in the morning.

Pectoral and Shoulder focused weightlifting, afternoon.

Situps with Weights and resistance bands, evening.

Oblique Twists x 100, afternoon.

Squats x 100, evening.


Now you might go, wait, music? Yes. Music. I do all my weightlifting, yoga, etc while listening to music. I have gotten bored of the songs I was listening to last winter so it is time to revamp my playlist so I feel more revved up while exercising. Gonna Fly Now will still be on my exercise music playlist however, as will Eye of the Tiger.


Diet wise I have increased my green tea intake (for its anti-toxin properties), and I want to explore new vegan recipes this winter. I am not fabulous in the kitchen, but I can follow a recipe. I want more vegan recipes because I am no expert at cooking veggies and I want to increase my veggie intake.

Last winter and the year before I was experimenting a lot with high protein pancakes and that is too high in carbs (although I was getting a lot of protein from them), so this year I want to explore more low carb alternatives that are still high in protein. Less flour and more eggs.

Mmm... Chocolate!

On the topic of dieting I will admit I do have several Achilles heels.

#1. Bacon. That is a whole other topic but basically I practice only eating bacon in small portions and as part of a balanced diet.

#2. Chocolate. The topic of this post.

I started limiting my chocolate intake many years ago when I learned that 90% of the world's chocolate is made using child labour in Africa - and if you know anything about that topic then you know child labour is basically child slavery.

Chocolate sold in North America is often very high in sugar. Especially so-called white chocolate and milk chocolate. White chocolate has zero cocoa in it. And milk chocolate often doesn't even have milk in it - and is just very high in sugar.

So when I do buy chocolate I often aim for dark chocolate (preferably over 70% cocoa) because it is healthier - and fair trade chocolate that wasn't made using child labour.

Cocoa in small doses is good for you health wise. It boosts your metabolism, gives you pleasant feelings, encourages weight loss and a host of other health benefits. Dark chocolate is - without a doubt - the healthiest way to consume cocoa.

It is when you start consuming chocolate in overly large doses - especially chocolate which is high in sugar - that it becomes a danger to your waistline.

In the winter I recommend eating a small dose of dark chocolate before going ice skating or doing other outdoor winter activities.

Bored of exercising indoors? Time to find a friend and try something new!



I am bored of exercising indoors. I have been stuck inside most of the winter and Spring doesn't seem to be coming fast enough. However I hate exercising outside when its so cold outside. What can I be doing instead?

I’m an avid runner/cyclist – anything outdoors - but only when it is warm enough to be doing so. How do I stay motivated to train despite the cold?

- Angela W."


Hello Angela!

I empathize with you. I don't even bother to bicycle during the winter and I do cycling outdoors (those people who take spin classes and cycle at gyms are crazy in my opinion). However never fear! I have a couple of tricks that I use to motivate myself to train during the winter. You are welcome to use these ideas to help you train during the winter.

#1. It is always more fun to train with a friend, regardless of the season. It will help keep you motivated even when it is freezing cold outside. Try enlisting an exercise buddy or hiring a personal trainer here in Toronto (hint hint). If you can find a friend the two of you can motivate each other - plus twice the brain power means you will come with extra exercise ideas together - like going dancing or taking dance lessons together. It gets you out of the house, it is still technically indoors, but at least you are out trying something new as a cardio exercise.

Even if you don't have a friend to go with you dance classes can be a great way to exercise as a group and meet new friends.

#2. I like to remind myself of how great I feel after a workout. I know that any workout, even an indoor workout, will make me feel better than no workout. Relish in that feeling. It doesn't matter whether the workout is cardio, yoga, weightlifting or even a series of stretches. The more wonderful I feel after I have a workout the more likely I am to stick with it and keep exercising.

#3. Schedule it. I find this helps regardless of what the weather is doing. By having a specific spot in my schedule where I know I have to do something - even if its laundry or washing the dishes - any kind of chore, exercise, task, etc should be scheduled to make sure you do it. I personally have multiple alarms during the day reminding me to do every thing from get up, go jogging, do my daily exercise routine, go to events with friends. Each alarm on my phone has a different song that plays for each task. That way I know what it is and it reminds that it is time to do that task.

#4. I also like to remind myself that having a break between my work periods is beneficial. Sometimes I even have afternoon naps (siestas) to replenish my energy.

#5. Next I challenge myself to do activities that I am not as familiar with - such as trying new exercises that I find online. YouTube is a great source for new exercises, but I also have a lot listed here on CardioTrek for you to browse.

#6. Set a goal. It will help motivate you to stay active so make it a good goal worth aiming for - and make it realistic over the long term so you know you have to stick with it to achieve it. It might be as simple as a big number like aiming to do 10,000 push-ups in 3 months (roughly 112 push-ups per day). That is a completely realistic goal - but imagine how much more fit you will be after completing 10,000 pushups over a 3 month period. Other goals might include 100 yoga classes, running in a marathon, competing in a bicycle race (you don't need to win, you just need to show up and complete the race), trying a new sport like speed skating. Lots of options out there.

Speaking for myself my current goal is to strengthen all the muscles I need for my new 45 lb recurve bow for archery. It is 11 lbs harder to pull than my old 34 lb recurve bow.

If you can't stay away from cycling and running completely, then go ahead and do indoor versions of each. Run on a treadmill, take spin classes or use a bike trainer. I may personally think those things are ridiculous, but for the people who can't stand the cold weather they are certainly an option.

The bike trainer is a fantastic route, because it allows you to put your actual road bike on a stand and cycle. Whenever we get nice weather then you can cycle and run outside when possible (March is sketchy at times that you will sometimes have a hot day when you can do that.

So far the weather in Toronto has been pretty horrible, but cheer up. I am sure the weather will start to get better soon!

Working Out Despite the Winter Blues

Not everyone wants to run outside, wearing 4 or 6 layers, a face mask and boots in the winter.

To be fair I hate running in the winter. I stick to the indoors, doing jumping jacks, yoga, weightlifting and other activities to stay active in the winter. Jogging can wait til Spring arrives.

Being a fair weather runner is nothing to be ashamed of. Some people just don't like the cold, but that doesn't Winter should spell the end of your exercise activities.

Yes, you could go brave it in the chilly and freezing Winter mornings, pounding the pavement... But there is nothing wrong with choosing a treadmill instead.

Many fitness enthusiasts dread the cold weather because their exercise options become limited, and let's face it, jogging on a treadmill can be really boring!

Four Winter Workout Suggestions

#1. Step up the weight routine
Winter is a great time to focus on weight lifting - That was my big thing this winter, I did a lot of weightlifting at home this winter. Strength training has so many benefits, and it's an exercise that can be done alone, in a class or with a friend. It's also a great perk that it shows results relatively quickly in terms of muscle growth!

#2. DVDs / YouTube
There are plenty of yoga, strength and cardio DVDs out there - many of them are dirt cheap, because who uses DVDs these days when YouTube offers the same stuff for free? You can find lots of exercise videos to help keep you occupied during the winter on YouTube alone, so you don't really need to invest in DVDs at all.

#3. Wii Fit

Exercise oriented video games (especially the high cardio ones) are a great way to get yourself moving a lot more in the winter. Avoid the more lazy games that don't actually get you moving. Stick to the games that actually cause you to lose your breath, sweat and become tired. That way you know you are getting a workout instead of just moving your arm around a little bit.

#4. Hire a Personal Trainer/Build a Home Gym

One way to never feel the dread of the upcoming cold months is to build your own gym at home. Even a small set up consisting of free weights and a stationary bike will go a long way toward keeping/getting you in shape. Make better use of your equipment by hiring a personal trainer (like me if you live in Toronto) to show you fun exercises, and to develop a plan to follow on your own.

Winter Weight Gain - What to do about it!

Okay so you've put on some weight during the Winter - especially around the Xmas Holidays.

But now it is February and its time to start thinking Spring - and Summer is mere months away!

Isn't it convenient how the holidays are right before New Years? Not really, because most people break their New Years Resolutions in the first 2 weeks - and a bunch of people will never even start! After indulging for a few days they eventually just forget about any resolutions they might have had... and then in March they start to panic when they realize the weather is getting warmer and they've gained 10 or 20 lbs during the winter and have done nothing to shed it.

If you are one of those people who gain weight every Winter and then - hopefully - lose it by Spring/Summer then I have a little advice for you - Start exercising now! Because the older you get the more difficult it will be keep up that routine. Yes, the idea of resolutions are quite motivating, but if you don't actually DO them whats the point?!

So its time to accelerate your weight weight loss - start thinking in terms of the following: Exercising 1 hour per day is only 4% of your day. And that is all it takes to make a huge difference in your waistline.

TIP #1. Increase time and/or intensity

If you have already been exercising, and your calorie intake has been greater than expenditure, then your usual workout routine will not speed up the weight loss process because you're eating too much junk and not exercising enough. You need to pick up the pace for a week or two.

Ways to do this? Keep the amount of workout time the same, but increase the amount of reps you do by taking less breaks between exercises. If you're lifting weights, decrease the weight but increase the reps a lot. eg. Lets say you are usually lifting 20 lb weights during your exercises and you do 30 reps at a time. Decrease the weight to 15 lbs, but lift 50 reps instead. Doing the math that is 20 x 30 = 600 Vs 15 x 50 = 750. That simple change increases the intensity by 25%. You won't build muscle as quickly, but you will burn fat faster by increasing the reps dramatically. (Weightlifting doesn't really work to burn fat that well unless its more like aerobics with weights added.)

Alternatively, if you have the extra time to exercise longer, then do so. Increase the amount of time you exercise by 25 to 50% longer than your normal workout and use that time to do more cardio / aerobic activities.

TIP #2. Change Your Workout

Many personal trainers (including myself) advise that surprising the body into sudden changes is something to be considered all year around. Sticking to the same routine every time you work out results in plateaus wherein you end up maintaining a specific weight and you aren't challenging yourself any more. If you want to see progressive results then you need to be constantly changing and progressing your workout to a higher level.

This works with sports too. Someone new to boxing won't be able to do 15 three-minute rounds - they just won't have the stamina for it. That is something for professional boxers only. Amateur boxing matches for teenagers start at 3 rounds, with 1.5 minutes per round... and depending on their age can go for up to 4 rounds at 2 minutes per round. (Amateur boxing has a lot of rules.)

TP #3. Detox Time!

Cut out smoking, alcohol, caffeine and anything containing toxins. At least until you achieve your weight loss goals.

Nutrition plays a big role in accelerating your weight loss and intaking toxins will only slow down your progress. Your body stores toxins in fat cells and then refuses to use those fat cells because your blood toxicity is too high - thus making "Stubborn Fat" that refuses to go away no matter how hard you exercise. The only way to get rid of it is to detoxify.

It is not simply a matter of avoiding sweets, rich cheese, crackers and big dinners, the weight will start to drop if you can watch your calories and remove your intake of toxins. Start by going on a "mini detox diet" wherein you stop eating junk food and avoid cigarettes/alcohol and caffeine for at least 5-7 days. If you can go longer than that, do it. The first three days will be the hardest if you are a cigarette smoker / alcoholic, but once you get over the three day hump you can do it.

To help you detoxify faster eat more green vegetables, as the alkaline in the greenery will help neutralize the toxic elements in your blood. Go lighter on carbohydrates too and aim for more protein (eggs, lean meat) in your dishes to make up for it. Drink plenty of water and green tea, and don't wait until you are starving to eat. Instead eat lots of healthy snacks as often as you can.

eg. I never get tired of carrot sticks. I am eating some right now.

TIP #4. Open the Window Drapes and Go Outside More

Vitamin D from the Sun kickstarts your metabolism, gives you more Happy hormones and causes your body to stop storing so much fat. The simple act of opening the window drapes really wide so you get more sunlight on your skin helps you to lose weight. Going outside and getting more sun helps even more.

You can also get more Vitamin D by eating various foods like fish, eggs and mushrooms - or take Vitamin D supplements. See my post Vitamin D, Essential for your Winter Diet.

TIP #5. Take Up a Winter Sport

Get ice skating lessons in Toronto, take up snowshoeing, snowboarding, cross-country or downhill skiing, go tobaggoning with friends, go jogging on any day that it isn't snowing, do volunteer work, shovel snow from your driveway AND your neighbours driveways - basically do anything that gets you outside and exercising so you get both more exercise and more Vitamin D in your system.

TIP #6. Get a Part Time Job that gets you Exercising Outside

Nothing is more motivating than getting paid to exercise. It might be simple like holding a sign and directing traffic around construction workers on the roads, or you might be painting houses or moving furniture. Either way if it gets you outside more often and gets you working hard you will see the benefits both in weight loss and muscle growth.

TIP #7. Go for Walks with your Camera

Snow is beautiful. So is ice. Take your digital or old manual camera and go for a walk. You can make art and get exercise at the same time.

TIP #8. Become an Ice Sculptor

Another way to get exercise in the winter (and make art) is to make ice sculptures. It doesn't have to be fancy or professional. It might be a funny looking snowman or Lady Godiva on horseback... it doesn't matter so long as you have fun doing it.

TIP #9. Hire a personal trainer!

Seriously. If you live in Toronto and you have $30 you can spend on a personal trainer once per month, hire one so you can an once per month session which will help keep you focused, exercising and motivated. Think of it like a monthly checkup and in 3 months you will be seeing results from the extra advice and motivation.

TIP #10. Get your Bicycle out of the Snowbank ...

And clean it! No time like the present. Get it cleaned up and ready for Spring so the first warm day you can go cycling ASAP. You can even take it to your local Toronto bicycle mechanic and they will clean it, repair it and store it for the rest of the winter until you are ready for it again.

How to Stop on Ice Skates

You can't really learn how to skate by reading, but the instructions below should help teach you how to stop on ice skates the next time you go skating. Remember, practice makes perfect. While not easy, once you learn how to pull it off you will never forget.

Method #1. Make an upside down V by pointing / angling your skates together. This will cause you to slow gradually to a stop. This is sometimes known as a "V Stop".

Method #2. While skating forward at a medium or slow speed bend your knees a bit like you're going to sit down. Keep your knees about shoulder width apart. Then turn sideways about 60 to 90 degrees from the direction that you were going before and the action of changing direction will cause your skates to drag on the ice and slow you down. While doing this you will also lean away from the direction you were going. This is sometimes referred to as a Side Stop or Snow Plow.

Practice both of these methods of stopping while ice skating and with time you will be able to stop easily.

Once you have mastered both methods 1 and 2 you can attempt to learn more difficult methods of stopping - such as spinning 180 or even 360 degrees - but don't expect to do that if you can barely skate in the first place.

For private ice skating lessons in Toronto you know who to call!

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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