Reducing the Risk of Strain at the Gym

Having been a professional athlete for most of my life I have suffered several injuries. Broken ankles, torn shoulder, chronic wrist pain. The list goes on. But whether you are a professional athlete or just an active person, there is always a risk of injury. Most of this doesn’t come from obvious risks like falling over or mishandling weights, but from muscle strain (something that I am very very familiar with). If you’re experienced muscle strain before, you know it can greatly hold back your fitness potential and keep you out of the gym for weeks. Here are some ways to prevent it.

Photo by Karl Solano from Pexels

Recover and recuperate

First of all, if you’re currently healing from a strain, you should make sure that you recover fully from it before you get back into working out. You can help your road to recovery with the help of things like massage therapy and a physiotherapist. You should pay attention to your delayed onset muscle soreness, as well. It doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is wrong, but not giving yourself the time you need to relax and recover between workouts can put way too much pressure on your muscles.

Prepare effectively

If you jump right into working out intensely, then you are very likely to end up pulling something. Have a full workout routine that starts with a series of full-body stretches. You should stretch your body more thoroughly before working out than after. Some light warmups to help your muscles get limber and flexible are going to be crucial, as well.

Wear the right gear

Well-fitting gear that allows for a good range of motion is crucial in preventing all ranges of musculoskeletal injuries. If your clothes are too tight, then you’re working against your clothes as well as against your own body’s lack of agility. I learned this the hard way when I was training for my first half marathon.  A good pair of fashionable leggings does more than making your thighs look great. They can aid in both strain prevention and even in recovering from existing strains.

Feed your muscles

Most people who work out are very used to the idea that nutrition is key to staying healthy.  In most cases, you might think that this means upping your protein intake. Protein does help your muscles rebuild after the natural wear of exercise, but you should also try incorporating potassium-rich foods into your diet, as well. Potassium, which can be found in things like avocados and bananas, can help prevent the muscle fatigue that leads to more easily straining them.

Slow it down

Sometimes my body just tells me it needs a little time out. That doesn’t mean a day completely off, but maybe just a less intense workout. If you have been pushing yourself super hard lately, then you should think about taking it a little slower. This doesn’t mean that you should skip a workout (unless you’re in need of the extra recovery), but that you should try lighter workouts you can do at home, instead. Having lighter workout days and more intense workout days is a part of most training programs, and only working out at the highest intensities is going to put you at a greater risk of a tear or strain.

When in doubt, you should listen to your body. If your muscles feel too taut or in any way “weird” or have sharp, shooting pains, it’s time to take a rest.

Here is to staying healthy, active, and pain free

xo friends,

Mia

My favourite at home workouts

Ok I will be the first to admit I haven’t done the best job at keeping fit during this pandemic, but it finally hit me just how bad I have been. I tried to put on my “fat” jeans and they are on the rather tight side. And despite BC entering phase 3, and more gyms and workout studios are opening up, you may not be at that comfort level just yet. So I decided to test out a few online workouts and wanted to share some of my favourite that are helping me get back into not just my fat jeans but my skinny jeans too.

 

Breathe at home

I was going to Breathe Studio daily before the COVID 19 shutdowns, and I was very impressed at how quickly they were able to transition online. They started offering the same classes they did in studio through instagram live, facebook videos, and even zoom classes so the teachers could watch and interact with you. I have always loved the high energy of these aerobic, HITT, and yoga classes, and was surprised to find that same energy online. I love sweaty along to the feel good classes at home.

Yoga is the perfect exercise, whether you’re at home or in the studio. There are so many benefits to a yoga practice including increased flexibility, and improved mental health. Yoga can help you to perfect your posture, improve your balance, and tone up. Dynamic classes can help you to get your cardio fix, while gentle classes can help you to relax. When you’re experiencing aches and pains, try a yoga class or two. If you’ve recently experienced an injury, it’s best to see your Physio before attending a class.

 

Lilly Sabri 

A girlfriend of mine told me about Lilly Sabri, and I was hooked after the first class. I love that she posts daily workout videos including 7 and 14 day challenges that target all of your muscles and help both slim you done and tone your body. Along with her full workouts, she also offers lots of 5 and 10 minute videos that target specific muscles and areas.

Daniela Dib Fitness 

 

I always made sure to book Daniela’s classes when I was going to soulcycle. She is uplifting, encouraging, motivating, but also HARD. There were times I thought I was going to collapse right off of the bike. Because of this I was super excited when she decided to migrate and start her own online business. On her public page she offers a few IGTV fitnesses challenge videos, but the real workouts are on her members only page. Just a small paypall donation gives you access to some incredible pilates and fat burning classes, and trust me, her energy is so contagious you won’t even feel like you are working out (well you will because you will be sweating buckets).

I know this is a difficult time right now, but I have found that keeping up with exercise has kept me as sane as can be through it all. I hope that you will also find some enjoyment through these amazing workouts, or please feel free to share some of the online classes you have really been enjoying!!

Stay healthy my friends,

xo

Mia

My experience with Pure Barre

My Experience with Pure Barre

I have been an athlete my entire life, but as a tennis player a lot of my focus was on speed and endurance. Since quitting tennis, I have been trying to keep my fitness up, but to me a  workout always meant cardio. That is why I was a little skeptical when a friend of mine invited me out to a barre class at Pure Barre fitness in Yaletown.

When I thought of barre classes, I thought of them as a sort of ballet class that wouldn’t really be much of a workout. I was completely wrong.

While I might not of gotten the sweat that I get in cardio classes, I got a workout unlike any other. The barre class was so much harder than I thought it would be because the class focuses so intensely on specific areas like core strength, stabilizing muscles in the shoulders and hips, and enhancing flexibility. This is reached by isometric exercises and continuous small moments that “burn out” the muscles. Because you are constantly moving and engaging small muscles you that you are really working deep in the muscle and targeting trouble zones like your hops, thighs, glutes and core.

Within just minutes of my first class my legs were shaking uncontrollably and the next day my body was so sore. As I said, it was so much more of a workout than I originally expected.

After a few weeks of combining barre into my weekly cardio routine, I started to notice a difference. I was already looking more toned in my arms and thighs and my posture was noticeably better (something that I thought was impossible). I have really fallen in love with my barre classes.

What to expect from class

You start the class with a light cardio warm up that targets everything from your toes to your fingers.

Once the warm up is done, it is straight to weights to target your arm muscles. You use one set of lighter weights and one heavier and again constant movement targeting shoulders, triceps, biceps, and upper back, while also moving into lunges and squats to make sure your entire body is engaged.

After weights it is straight to thigh work. To really “burn out” your thighs you use a combination of band work, ball work, and resistance against your own body weight.

This will be the moment when your legs really start to shake as you focus solely on one side of your body for several minutes before giving it a break.

There isn’t much rest for your legs as you transition quickly into seat work, targeting the glute muscles again using the band and ball for resistance.

Once you have really got a shake going in your legs (and as they say, embrace the shake), you make your way down to the floor for a very intense ab workout.

While it might be short, it is anything but sweat. You will once again use the ball to target both your lower and upper abs.

Finally you end the class with some back work and bridges before a very thorough stretch.

Types of classes 

Pure Classic 

The class that I have been doing the most and what I described above is the classic barre classic. The classic class is the original barre class that utilizes the ballet barre to perform the small, isometric movements I spoke about which are good for burning fat and sculpting muscles.

Pure Empower 
Looking for a bit more of a cardio workout? Look no further than the empower class. This is a more fast paced and dynamic workout that is 45 minutes long. It is definitely a challenging class that is more cardio centric but at the same time there are modifications for all fitness levels.
Pure Reform 
This really is a total body workout and is focused on more resistance based strength training as oppose to just body weight. I loved that it combined elements from Pure Barre classic, but had the added element of resistance bands and sliders to just give you a bit of a different workout.
Overall I am really loving my Pure Barre classes. After just a month of taking these classes I am seeing a difference when it comes to my arms and glutes. I am seeing my body becoming more toned and lean, and again my posture has improved ten folds. I am excited to see where these classes take me as I continue to mix them into my weekly workouts.

For more information about their classes make sure to check out their website;  http://purebarre.com/bc-yaletown/

Happy workouts my friends,

xo

Mia

 

Fab fall workouts around Vancouver

I know that it is time to kiss summer good-bye and say hello to PSL, cozy sweaters, Halloween candy, and everything fall but that doesn’t mean it is time to say good-bye to our summer bodies. How I look at it, this is my time to shine at the gym so that I can have that extra slice of Thanksgiving pie, am I right.

I get it though, as soon as you put those bathing suits in storage the couch potato comes out in full force. The good news, I have found some incredible gyms in Vancouver that will help you stay motivated and in shape. They are fun, intense, and will make sure those abs will survive the winter.

Here are my top five workouts and gyms in and around Vancouver

1) Soulcycle 

I have absolutely fallen in love with Soulcycle recently. This isn’t your average spin class. It is a dance party on a bike but it is also a motivational and meditative workout that gets you sweating but also thinking about all the things to be grateful for in your life. The 45min spin class plays some amazing music, mixes different choreography, and has a weight track to make sure you work your entire body. It is also in a dim lit room so even if you cannot figure out the sexy corners, no one can see you so you can just have fun with it.  While you will be dripping with sweat by the end of this class, you will also feeling motivated and inspired thanks to the amazing instructors that really make you think about the positivity in your life. While the amazing workout will have you feeling great about your body, the class will have you feeling gratitude all day.

2)  Barre Fitness 

This is Canada’s original barre class and by far my favourite barre class in the city. What I love about Barre Fitness is that even if you aren’t a professionally ballerina with amazing co-ordination like myself, you can still have an amazing workout. Don’t expect intense cardio, instead this class focuses on working every inch of your body through movement with light weights, a bar, and bands. You will honestly tone muscles you didn’t even know existed, and will be feeling amazing after an hour long class.

3)BOX at Studeo Vancouver 

Every since I moved to Vancouver I have been trying to find a great boxing class and my prayers have officially been answered. This class is not for the faint of heart but it will get you moving and sweating instantly. The instructor will take you through a series of punches and then call out different combinations to target both strength and speed. In between your boxing sets you will do other cardio that targets legs, arms, and abs. It is a full body intense workout and I am officially obsessed.

4) Moksha Yoga

I must say I have never really been a fan of yoga. As a former professional athlete my coach used to make me take yoga for stretching, but I never really considered it a workout until now. I started taking the Moksha Power class and it has really changed my outlook on yoga as an exercises. The Moksha practice combines therapeutic and traditional yoga and the power class in particular really challenges you to keep you flowing with breath and observe your body and mind.  The hot part helps your body detoxify. It is an amazing workout.

5) The Practice at the Practice Studio 

I have talked about my love for The Practice Studio before. This gym really helped me change my life through their whole life practice. While they offer some amazing classes, The Practice is by far my favourite. This is their signature class and basically it consists of about 40 different stations of exercises that target your entire body. Everything from burpees to squat jumps will be covered. This truly is the perfect full body workout.

I hope that you will enjoy these classes as much as I do and be inspired to stay fit even during the winter.  I would also love for you to share some of your favourite workouts with me. I am always looking to mix up my fitness routine.

xo

Mia

 

 

Real Talk: Let the Personal Training Begin

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The wake up call. The moment of truth. The moment where everything I had been trying to hide, throw under the rug, put off until tomorrow can flying directly towards me for a face to face encounter. It was week one of my Whole Life Practice at the Practice Studio call and it was a very rude awakening.

We started the journey with a scan. A full body scan to tell me my body fat percentage, where I carry my weight, and areas I need to target. The test came back with a sad reality. I was 20 pounds heavier then when I played competitive tennis. I was still under average for body fat, but in North American. I wasn’t my best self. I had a lot of work to do and now it was all on paper. There was no more hiding.

My first session with my personal trainer, Simon, was more about setting goals and coming up with a game plan. After the scan, the number one goal was evident, I had to bring my body fat down. We made the target 5% in three months. Some of our other goals were building up my endurance for my upcoming Ride to Conquer Cancer, and working on getting in more weekly fitness classes. However, our goals kept coming back to a common theme; feeling positive about my body again so I could be more confident in myself.

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“I want to get my bikini body back”

“I want my jeans to fit properly”

“I want to be comfortable in a dress again when I go out”

“I want to feel comfortable going out”

“I want to love my body and myself again”

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It was saying this last goal out loud that broke me. I started crying in the middle of my session. There was no more hiding how unhappy I had become with myself. It was all out in the open.

Working on camera and as a host, people seem to see one side of me. They see the happy enthusiastic side. They see the confident side. They see the professional side. What people don’t see is how hard it has been to look back at myself on camera lately. Looking it my overweight arms and my thick legs. I had lost my self confidence and in this personal training session it was my first step at taking it back.

Simon made some light of the situation and actually got me to laugh through the tears. Yet his confidence in me and in my ability was relieving. He never said these goals were unreachable or unachievable. He took them all in, he made notes, and he said “we can do this.”

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We started the actual workout this week, focusing on high intensity rounds with rest in-between to maximize fat loss. Already today I beat two personal records. It felt good to get the ball rolling.

Already I have made my goals a priority. Three workout classes in one week has already got me feeling a lot better, healthier, and stronger. I didn’t use the, “I am too busy”, or “I will do it tomorrow” line. I got the job done. But this is just the start. The journey is going to be long. There will be twists and turns, and mountains to climb along the way, but I know Simon believes in me, and I know deep down I believe in me too.

To anyone who is having a similar struggle and a similar journey, just know you are strong enough. You can do this. We can do this together.

xo

Mia

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