Challenge Yourself and Stay Motivated this Winter and Holiday Season!

 

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Winter is coming, we all know it. The days are getting shorter, and colder. It is during this time of the year that I find motivation to do any sort of physical activity other than Christmas shopping or baking, to be at an all time low. I used to work at an all women’s gym, and during this time of year it was basically a ghost town. Especially after work! This was because the majority of the clientele were moms, and moms have the special task of making Christmas happen for their families. I’m the biggest fan of Christmas! However, I do know that it can be a very stressful time of year. This is why keeping up with your exercise during this time of year is so important, and I’m here to give you some ideas on how to do just that!

I do understand that it’s cold outside, there’s less light, and this can all have an affect on your energy levels. However, there is nothing better than exercise to help with your stress, fatigue, and overall mood. Here is an idea on how to keep yourself active during this time of year:

Sign up for, or create your own fitness challenge! 

I have personally signed up for a fitness challenge this Christmas Holiday with two of my good friends from university. I have my own personal fitness goals that are forever changing to help me grow as a person, and as a fitness professional. I also think it’s important to try new things, and to meet new people. Plus, signing up for a fitness challenge with friends holds you more accountable to your goals, and to the challenge itself! If you’re wondering what challenge I signed up for? It’s the BOND X RIDE CHALLENGE. It’s a  5 week challenge that started on December 1st. Basically, you have to complete one 5K run, and one cycle class a week for 5 weeks. Now, this may seem really easy to some of you, and you’re right. It’s not a super hard challenge to complete. However, I personally hate running, and I’ve never done it in the winter. To me, that is a challenge! In addition, I picked this challenge because it’s fun! And because it’s totally possible to complete it during the holidays! There’s no reason why I can’t fit one class  and one run outside with BOND running a week.

So, my advice to you is sign up for a challenge this winter! A lot of gyms and studios run challenges during this time of year to help keep members motivated and engaged. If you’re not a member of the studio or gym, sometimes they have discounts to join the challenge, or other incentives. If there isn’t a challenge available to you at your local gym or studio etc, then create your own! Challenge yourself to attend at least two fitness classes a week for the next 5 weeks, or to go for two runs/walks outside. It doesn’t matter what the challenge is, just pick an activity that you enjoy doing, one that gets you moving, and make sure that you are making it a priority to complete the tasks you have set out for yourself every week. Also, it is much more fun to conquer any challenge with a friend, but if you can’t find someone to commit? Then commit to yourself! Make this a Christmas gift to you! Because you deserve to make yourself a priority!

I’m sure we have all at least thought about our bodies recently, and the effect the holiday season has on it. Or maybe we have fitness goals of our own, and we’re afraid of getting derailed? At the very least, I know that many of us have weight loss goals for the New Year, but why wait until then? Start working on your goals now! If you can commit yourself to your goals now by creating or joining a fitness challenge for yourself, there’s no reason why you can’t achieve those New Years Resolutions! Especially if you complete the challenge! Now, don’t expect miracles for yourself this holiday season. Pick or create a challenge that is “challenging” for you, that is totally possible to complete, and that it is something that you enjoy doing! You will not make time for your challenge if it doesn’t meet these requirements! Also, if you are creating your own challenge? Have a reward for yourself at the end! If you worked hard, and met all the requirements of the challenge, then you deserve to celebrate!

To recap, these are the things you need to motivate yourself to stay active this holiday season:

  1. You need a goal, or a “why.” You need a reason why doing this challenge is important to you. Maybe you have an overarching goal, like to loose 10 lbs and completing this challenge will bring you one step closer to that goal. Or maybe the goal is to keep your sanity this holiday season? Whatever the goal it needs to mean a lot to you.
  2. Pick an activity that you ENJOY! It can be anything! But you have to like it enough to want to do it more than once a week. If you don’t love the activity, you may find things that you like about it. For example, you may like the music the instructor plays, the instructor themselves, or the people who attend the class. Either way, there has to be something that motivates you to do it in the first place.
  3. The frequency and time frame for your challenge needs to be realistic for your current lifestyle. If you haven’t set foot in the gym in months, then don’t think a 30 day challenge where you have to go everyday is going to help. Choose a frequency that is challenging for you, but that you are capable of adopting into your current fitness regiment or overall schedule. I would say you should be doing this activity at the very least, twice a week for about 4-6 weeks. That will give you enough time to maybe see a difference in your fitness or to find yourself a new hobby. The idea is to continue being active once the challenge is over…
  4. Schedule out your activity into your everyday life. You need to make it a priority by adopting it into your current schedule and holding yourself accountable to that appointment. You are far more likely to be successful if you make the time for your physical fitness. Plus the entire holiday season will seem a lot less overwhelming if you set a schedule for yourself, or at least daily tasks to complete.

For those of you who are leaning more towards hibernation this winter season, I strongly urge you to resist! You will most likely regret it. Just because winter invites you to hide behind a frumpy sweater, doesn’t mean you should! Exercise shouldn’t just happen during the months when people are more likely going to see your body in public. Yes it’s cold outside, there’s less light during the day, and this can all affect your energy levels and your mood. But exercise is the best method to combat these issues! Exercise boosts your mood, your energy levels, you will sleep better, and you will perform better during the day. If you’re already stressing out about all the obligations you have this holiday season? Then you need to make self-care a priority, and I am looking at all of those moms out there! Trust me, you will be better able to take care of everyone else once you have taken care of yourself first! But enough ranting, some form of physical activity everyday is important for maintaining or improving your overall well being. Get moving this winter, I promise you won’t regret it!

 

 


I want to exercise, but where do I start?

When I was a kid, I wasn’t super athletic. I was actually such a girly girl, a chubby princess if you will. I did do skating lessons, and before things got serious with figure skating, I quit that to pursue dance. I never danced competitively, and looking back now I wish I did. I think I would have done well in competitive dance, but hindsight is always 20/20. My point is, I wasn’t that great at gym class in elementary school, and because of this I only took gym in grade 9 in high school. I did do competitive cheerleading for a year in high school and loved it! But I wasn’t that experienced at tumbling and therefore not that good of a cheerleader. To be quite honest, I was much better at dancing, and putting on a show. This is why I believe that if I were to be in competitive dance I would have a much stronger skill set to accompany my talent for dancing, and my love for the stage.

It wasn’t until my second year of university that I discovered fitness. After my first year of university, where I wasn’t dancing, I wasn’t cheerleading, and the gym scared me because I never used that type of equipment before, I had gained the torturous “freshman fifteen.” It was terrible. I had dedicated my first year of university to school, a new boyfriend, and partying. Basically everything else except for myself. When I looked in the mirror at the beginning of second year, I couldn’t recognize myself! I was not happy. This was not the person I wanted to be, and so I discovered the Group Fitness Classes at Laurier’s athletic complex. I loved these classes and I made a point to go to a class every single day. I would do a cardio class one day, then a weight training class the next. I wold do this from Monday-Friday and most of the time on Saturdays as well. Attending Group Fitness classes, made me fall in love with health and fitness. And most importantly, it helped me to fall in love with myself again. Group Fitness helped me get back into shape in my second year, and then some! Once I started to see results, I started to feel empowerment of fitness. I felt great, and I looked better than I ever have before! Since I was exercising regularly, I was sleeping better, and I really started to take a vested interest in nutrition. It was in second year, that I realized the importance of taking care of yourself, and how much better you perform in the rest of your life when you feel at your best.

After second year, I loved fitness so much, I decided to become a Group Fitness Instructor myself and the rest is history! From there, I went on to become the Group Fitness Coordinator for two years at the university’s athletic complex, and then into personal training and so on. I personally think that Group Fitness is a great gateway drug to other types of fitness. I think that it can be a good way for people to get comfortable with working out, and once they feel comfortable in the realm of fitness, they can then start to develop a more regimented training regime. The gym can be a very intimidating place for a lot of people! I mean I remember how intimidated I was in my first year of university walking into the school gym, but I felt at home in the group fitness studio. With group fitness it’s a very social environment. You can bring your friends to help make the whole experience that much more comfortable and fun! There’s usually some upbeat music, and the best thing is, you don’t have to think about your workout! A fun, safe, and effective workout is already planned out for you!

Group Fitness is excellent for beginners, for people who don’t exercise regularly to start moving. It’s relatively safe (unless you’re doing something more complicated like Cross Fit) but generally speaking most group fitness classes are cardio based with relatively light weights. I think Group Fitness is great to get people into the gym, and hopefully to come on a regular basis. I don’t think that people should stay forever in the realm of group fitness. It is very important to venture off and to learn how to train properly! And what I mean by that is this: first of all you don’t get too much attention in a group fitness class and therefore will not be able to properly perfect your form. Secondly, it is difficult to have a focused training regime when taking group fitness classes because these classes aren’t tailored to you, and they may be different from class to class. Group Fitness is great to get people exercising, but once you’ve been exercises regularly, it is important to start training. You must not develop a program for yourself to really focus your workouts, and to measure your success. Training gives you a set timeline, and goals. Everything you do in the gym once you’ve started training has a purpose to it, and you’re no longer exercising for the sake of exercising. This is where a personal trainer like myself, or a coach comes into play. No matter if you’re experience in the gym or not, a trainer can really help to bring your workouts to the next level. They can help you perfect your technique, and who doesn’t need a good spot in the gym right? But nevertheless, group fitness is how I got my eyes opened to the world of fitness. It was my gateway drug, and I think it could be yours too! There’s so many types of classes out there, that I’m sure you can find something that peaks your interest and gets you moving!

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Some of the bikes I use in my Spin Class at Bayer on Tuesdays 🙂 


Giving Back to the school where my fitness career began…

A couple months back my old boss Jennifer O’Neil, who is head of the recreation department at Wilfrid Laurier’s Athletic Complex invited me to host the Group Fitness Staff’s training today March 13th 2016. The vast majority of the Group Fitness Staff at Wilfrid Laurier University are students, it is where my passion for fitness and my career in fitness first began. So, when she asked me if I would be interested in coming to give a presentation and teach a Group Fitness class, I jumped on the opportunity! I was so excited to have the chance to give back to the same place that gave me so much.

So my best friend and number one fan Thansha joined me to visit the school where our friendship, and my fitness career first started. We got there early, so we decided to drive around to see where we used to live, and to take a walk around campus. It was so weird to see how much Laurier has changed, but also how much of it stayed the same. I mean it even smelled the same, as weird as that sounds! Walking through the concourse and the dinning hall brought back so many memories of the best 4 years of my life. It really felt as if we were coming back home in a way. This school has given me so much more than just an education, it gave me a passion for fitness, my closest friends, and so many life lessons that had shaped me into the adult that I am today. I think it’s good to remind yourself of where you started. We so often forget how far we’ve come in life because we are always so focused on how much further we need to go. We can so easily become disappointed with ourselves because we don’t feel as though we are where we’re “supposed to be.” Today was a great reminder to me of my purpose, or the reasons why I love what I do. I feel as though I got just as much from giving my presentation and class to the students at Laurier as they did. Or at least I hope they did…

So here is the Coles notes version of my presentation today… Basically, when I entered my second year of university I no longer recognized myself. I had gained the so called “freshman 15” because I stopped dancing and cheerleading in first year, and I was no longer the active person that I used to be. The traditional gym setting however, was intimidating to me at the time because I was so used to training in a studio setting. I had absolutely no idea how to use the machines. So, I decided to join the group fitness classes. It felt like home. I loved the classes so much, I found them motivating, empowering and inspiring. So much so, that I included a fitness class into my daily routine Monday to Friday and even sometimes on the weekends. I started to see results from joining the classes, so I decided that because I was feeling so good from working out, I should translate this into my nutrition as well. So I started really researching, and looking into how to improve my health through my diet. This is where meal prepping was born for me. At the end of second year I decided I wanted to be an instructor. I was hired, and I got my certification that summer before third year. I even went to the Canfit Pro Fitness Conference in Toronto all by myself that summer. Even though I’ve never taught a single class, or knew anybody there, I wanted to learn as much as I could before going back to Laurier so that I could be a good instructor. After a few months of teaching classes, I knew I wanted to be the Group Fitness Coordinator. So I met with Jenn and asked her what she was looking for in the student leader position. I even met with the current Coordinator at the time and asked her what she did to prepare for the interview. I knew I was an underdog because it was only my first year teaching, but I was determined to get the position. I even wrote a full proposal for my interview outlining exactly how I would hypothetically run the program. It was because of this proposal that I got the Coordinator Position for my 4th and 5th year at Laurier.

During my time as Coordinator I felt as though I really exploited my resources and tried to learn and gain as much experience as possible, because I knew then that I wanted to make fitness my career. I wanted to share with the world how fitness empowers me, and how it can empower them as well. I taught at several gyms in the Kitchener/Waterloo area. I was the Recreation Assistant for a summer. I made two Zumba DVDs and sold them to the Zumba following I built while teaching at Goodlife and Laurier. In my 5th year I was teaching 6 Zumba classes a week, 8 classes in total! Crazy right?! That was while I was still in school, managing the Group Fitness Program, and I still managed to have a social life. I did an Aerobathon for mental health awareness for a Student Presidential Campaign. I really did try to get involved with the school as much as possible, and tried to bring fitness to the general population of Laurier through the friends that I knew in the Student Union. There are so many more little things that I did, like participate in flash mobs on campus, but you get the idea. It was at Laurier that my passion for fitness was born, and it was through the mentorship of the staff at the Athletic Complex like my boss Jennifer, that really allowed me to feel safe to take the risks that I did to grow within the fitness industry. To be honest, working for Laurier as the Group Fitness Coordinator, outside of having my own business right now, was my all time favorite job! Not only was Jenn the best boss I ever had, someone who was so caring and easy to talk to, she really gave me a lot of autonomy which gave me plenty of room to grow within the role, and as a person. I will never forget the opportunities and experiences I gained while I was at Laurier and I was so happy to be able to give something back today. I really do hope that I inspired some of the students today to continue teaching fitness outside of Laurier, or even to just stay fit for themselves. Either way, I’m happy to have had the opportunity to meet some new generations of golden hawks, and to be able to re-visit the same gym that changed my life for the better. Thank you Jennifer for inviting me, and Thank you Laurier for the adventure of a lifetime! I’m so proud of what I did while I was there, and I’m so proud of how far I’ve come, and how much further I’ll go? I guess we just have to wait and see 😛

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Me giving my speech and presentation to the Group Fitness Staff in the Hawk Lounge at the Athletic Complex March 13th 2016 🙂 

 


Day 10 of the Twelve Days of Fitmas!

Merry Fitmas and Merry Christmas Everyone! I’m sending out all my love to all of you! My family and I are celebrating Christmas Eve together tonight, and I hope that each of you are spending your Christmas with the people you love the most. This is my favorite time of the year, and I’m so grateful for those of you who have been following my blog. Thank you, and best wishes to you and your family!


Fitness and Christmas, two of my favorite things!

A few weeks back I was invited to participate in the Oakville Santa Claus Parade by Brian, who’s studio Sweatshop Union Fitness, has their own float in the parade! I immediately said yes! I mean, who doesn’t want to be in a Christmas parade right?!?! I was so excited! I knew it was going to be an absolute blast!

I could tell by the way Brian talked about the plans for the parade, and all the cool things that we get to do, that he was super in to Christmas too! I love meeting other like minded people, who are just as passionate about Christmas, Fitness, and giving back to the community! Every time I saw him leading up to the parade, he’s enthusiasm grew! I knew that this was going to be a day to remember! Finally, the day of the Toronto Santa Claus Parade, I got a phone call from Brian asking me if I would be interested in dancing Zumba on his Sweatshop Union Float for the Oakville Parade. I could not have been more honored to have been asked to dance on a moving platform before LOL I obviously said yes! This was not my first rodeo LOL I’ve danced in public many times before, so this was going to be a cake walk haha BUT I have never danced on a moving float… either way I couldn’t have been more excited!

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Brian came to join us girls on the float near the end of the parade LOL

My sisters, my mom, one of my biggest Zumba supporters and now friend Wendy, as well as my cousin all came to be a part of the parade as well. The Oakville Santa Claus Parade was this past Saturday, and even though I don’t live in Oakville, I was so happy to have had the opportunity to bring my passion for fitness, and dance to the Santa Claus Parade! I really enjoyed putting a smile on the faces of children and parents alike! Not only did I bring some of my talents to the parade, but I got to spend some time with family and friends, where we made some unforgettable memories! Thank you Brian for inviting me and my Zumba team to dance on your float! I know I thanked you already so many times, but I don’t know if I could thank you enough?! LOL I got so much out of being on that float, that I just need to take this opportunity to share it with the world!

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Santa getting a little too cozy with Mom before the parade! LOL

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An action shot of us dancing on the float 🙂

Since I have started my own fitness business, and teaching classes for myself out of Sweatshop Union, I have met so many fantastic people who have been so helpful to me! I’ve gotten so much support, advice, and opportunities like this to help me grow in my business, and as a person! I can’t wait for Christmas! And I can’t wait for the exciting opportunities that lay ahead of me! This is just the beginning! Just wait guys, there will be many exciting posts coming this holiday season! I’m a little crazy when it comes to the holidays so stay tuned for some awesome recipes, workouts, and much more! Just because Christmas is coming, does not mean that you should stop taking care of your fitness and health!

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays guys! So much love that I’m sending your way!


Do you like to Dance? If so, why not come join me?!

I like to dance, and I’m pretty good at it. When I was still at school at Wilfrid Laurier University, and I was working for Goodlife Fitness at the time, I was asked to start teaching Zumba. Let’s just say, it was a natural fit. I started out with one Zumba class a week that grew to 6 Zumba classes in my last year at Laurier! I still teach Zumba, and because Zumba is my most popular class (other than Bootcamp) it makes sense that now that I’m starting my own business, I would start with 3 Zumba classes a week. I actually blogged about this before when I did my Halloween For Hunger Zumba Food Drive. That was me putting myself out there, and letting the world know that I was planning to launch my own business of group classes, and personal training.

If you’re interested in coming out to try a class, let me know! I would LOVE to see you there! I teach Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:30 pm and Sundays at 10 am, at Sweatshop Union Fitness in Oakville. The address is 2857 Sherwood Heights, Oakville Ontario. Leave a comment or email me at fitnesswalex@hotmail.com for more information!


Halloween For Hunger, Zumba Class Food Drive

I have finally decided to take the plunge and start my own business! It’s called Fitness with Alex! I’ve been blogging for about 2 1/2 months, and it’s been going so well! I just started a YouTube channel with one video, and more on the way, and now I am teaching 3 Zumba classes a week out of Sweatshop Union in Oakville. Today was my first day of teaching classes for myself, and it was awesome! Thank you to all the ladies who came out to show me support!

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First Day of my new Business and Halloween Food Drive @Sweatshopunion October 25th 2015

This week, I am just getting the word out about my classes. Admission to my class is a canned or boxed food item for the Mississauga Food Bank. Anyone is welcome to come and join my class so please invite your friends and family! And if you haven’t been to any of my Zumba classes before, let me tell you that you’re in for a real treat! I have always had a strong Zumba following, ever since I first started to teach it while I attended school at Wilfrid Laurier University. My following was so strong that I made two Zumba DVDs to sell to a mailing list of clients that I developed while teaching in the Kitchener/Waterloo area. I don’t know why I didn’t try to start my own thing sooner, but here I am and I couldn’t be more excited! I will be starting off small, but as I build my following back up my class schedule will continue to grow. I will eventually add more classes to the schedule like Bootcamp classes, Cycling, TRX and more! So far, my Group Fitness Schedule at Sweatshop Union is as follows: Sundays at 10 am, and Tuesday and Thursday nights at 8:30 pm. Starting in November you can attend my classes by purchasing a 5 class pass for $20 or pay a drop in fee of $10 to attend the class.

I still Personal Trainer, and I do still offer Nutritional Coaching as well. All of these services will all be available to clients under the umbrella of my own personal brand “Fitness with Alex.” I have a website in the works, and I will still continue to blog, and create videos. Thank you for all the support that I’ve received so far! This is just the beginning guys! I am so excited for what the future holds! I am jumping in with two feet into my business and I cannot wait to see you in my classes or as one of my Personal Training clients! Thank you for reading my blog, and stay tuned for more updates on my business, bodybuilding, and for more tips, recipes, and fitness advice!