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enhance my life

i am quite excited to open the studio for COMPLIMENTARY workout time.

yes, it is sunday on the house!

it is sunday. sleep in. spoon a bit with someone warm and/or furry and/or virtual and/or reptilian — hopefully not all 4 at one and the same time. ewwww. sip a coffee. then get your relaxed backside out of bed and come sweat a sunday workout.


you know your inner fitness freak really wants to, so, how could it get any better??!

heck, bring your coffee with you and, yuppers, jammies really are workout wear!

the studio, there for your considerate and considered use, is:
– open to current clients and non-clients. you do not have to be a studio regular, past or present, or a private client to feel free to drop in
– all equipment will be available for use. well as long as you know how to use it and do so respectfully (you really don’t want to see my cringe-y face). kettlebells require specific instruction prior to on the house availability, so get in touch with me if you’d like some specific instruction
-workouts will be self-directed, that is, not led by an instructor, though i will be present and available for assistance if needed. also, if you’d like a workout template/program, i am willing to provide basics and progressions – you just need to request in advance

bebold1if there is interest, a sunday morning powerlifting group can be established. movement instruction and testing 1RMs would be done on specific dates and progression programs provided. let me know and we’ll set some dates.

and if you wonder why i’d open the studio door wide for most anyone, it is because the space is there and awesome and wants to be used. it is because you should be able to access stuff and space you need to enhance your fitness. it is because strong is good, very good indeed. it is because i need to get out of bed and travel into charlottetown one more morning a week. (if you can figure out which one of these reasons does not belong, i’ll buy you a coffee).

so, drop in. have fun. get fitter.



this painting of me is the amazing work of Renee Laprise of

this painting of me is the amazing work of Renee Laprise of

i have, of late, been giving quite some thought to the variety and breadth of kettlebell training that is around these days and what it is i offer to my clients and class participants.

i have taken a number of kettlebell certficiations, workshops, and courses and follow the work of a number of folks forging creative and awesome ways to train with kettlebells.  from the straight up hardstyle brought to north america by Pavel Tsatsouline to the girya sport style of Valery Fedorenko, from the mma blend of Joey Alvarado, to the group kettlebell programming of Ajamu Bernard, a myriad fitness kettlebell variations are available.

there are strong differences in training philosophies which give rise to all manner of stylistic variations and nuances across this kettlebell universe.

in my classes, i offer a variety of styles and sometimes a meshing of styles, in order to achieve certain class outcomes.  in my personal training, i coach hard style, or close to, or sport style depending on the goals of the client.

earlier this week in a class i taught, there was an interchange about the ‘proper’ performance of a movement.  it was a great example of stylistic differences and it related to the execution of the kettlebell windmill.

here, Shawn Mozen of Agatsu, coaches straight legs (his students coach locked out knees)


and here, Pavel Tsatsouline of StrongFirst, coaches a soft forward knee

the training philosophies of these two men are quite different (check out their websites to learn more). and, in the world of strength, conditioning and fitness, the same movement may be executed differently to address different goals.

a part of my job as a fitness service provider is to work fast and furious to stay at the edge of industry knowledge and practice;  to wisely and judiciously distill, synthesize and package that information; and, to deliver safe and effective services.

this week has been an awesome learning week!

i am indebted to the many brilliant minds with whom i have had the honour and privilege to study and work in the last dozen years. i am excited about the many courses and workshops i will be attending in the upcoming months. i am grateful for the challenges to my skills and knowledge offered by colleagues and the questions posed by clients and class participants.

move and be still, wendy


kbell jam banner

this dance with kettlebells began with an interview and photo spread of Andrea DuCane in Oxygen Magazine in 2005. it has whirled me through a half dozen training workshops and certifications. it has dervished me into opening a training studio.

and still, it cartwheels and sashays me in all sorts of fascinating and interesting and exciting directions.

like kbell jam.


one of this country’s finer providers of  kettlebell certification is the kbell training academy, run under the thoughtful and skilled tutelage of ajamu bernard. i took ajamu’s kbell trainer specialist cert a while back and have had some contact with him sporadically over the last few years.

about 2.5 months ago i decided to check out his kbell jam group trainer specialist certification. admittedly, it did not, on the surface, really seem like my kind of thing. i mean, he mentioned using music in a group kettlebell class. in my mind there isn’t much of a place, let alone need, for music when you’ve got a kettlebell in your hand.

besides, for no good reason, i have an aversion to shortening ‘kettlebell’ to ‘kbell’. did he have to call this whatever-it-was-program kbell jam? i never find myself saying dbell (dumbbell) or bbell (barbell) or cbell (clubbell). really? kbell? there is only one additional syllable to stumble over if you were to say kettlebell. really.

of course, i couldn’t allow such an insignificant issue to influence me. with a bit of mental tap dancing, i shoved myself past the kbell induced glottal balking. i wanted to remain open and i was intrigued.

off to toronto i jetted.

it was a weekend without regrets.

kbell_jam_ad_flatkbell jam, the world’s #1 group kettlebell training program, is about to launch in pei!

so, what the heck is kbell jam?

  • it is a 12 week pre-formatted program
  • 4 weeks focus on edurance
  • 4 weeks focus on strength
  • 4 weeks focus on power
  • regression and progression sequences make it suitable for most fitness levels
  • music may be used (i’m still debating this!)
  • it is a group, a community, of like-minded folks getting together to dance their lives in healthy directions
  • and, in the studio, it is an exciting 8 or 12 week event; a shared experience where personal awarenesses may shift and shake and shimmy

and, from the kbell jam website:

kbell jam is a functional fitness program based on the principles used to develop young athletes. participants will develop the skill to successfully perform kettlebell lifting techniques in a fun group environment. in kbell jam, performance and body transformation go hand-in-hand. as you master the skill of using your entire body to move a kbell weight, you will see tremendous improvements in your core strength. as you develop the stamina to complete a kbell jam workout, body fat will melt away.

the result is a sleekier, sexier you with more energy and more strength.

i am really excited to be launching kbell jam in two and a half weeks. i got so psyched by the potential of this group kettlebell format that i rolled out a broadly-based health & wellness challenge as part of the launch.

you can find program details on the facebook event page: kbell jam transformation – 8 or 12 week challenge programs for 2013

the 6:00am spaces are filled. but there are still a few spots open in the 6:00pm group.

this may be the place where your wellness needs and goals find partnership with healthful habits, fitness and fun to trip the light fantastic.

Boot Camp style fitness programs are all the rage these days. Here in Prince Edward Island, there are so many on offer it is hard to keep track. This style of exercising is popular because it offers variety and challenge to participants in a format which requires commitment.

Some programs are competitive in nature, encouraging competition between participants and/or competition between groups. You can find programs based solely on bodyweight training while others might employ obstacle course training or use built and natural environments to work the participants. You might have to supply some of your own workout equipment. Nutritional counseling can be included, weigh-ins and before/after pictures might be part of the package.  The boot camp can be indoors or outdoors. How frequently the program runs per week is another variable.

I’m engaged in my second spring/summer/fall of outdoor boot camp programming. I love offering outdoor workouts … for so many different reasons.

1. Taking folks outdoors and having them experience engagement with our natural world.  Exercising outdoors has demonstrated physical and mental well-being benefits.  Increased energy and greater enjoyment, as compared to indoor exercise, is documented. Enhanced engagement and greater likelihood of repeating the activity; decreased tension, depression, anger and confusion. This is without mentioning the fresh air, the stunning sunrises, the brisk breezes, the inspiring vistas, the refreshing rains, the early spring and late fall invigorating bite. Put your bare feet, or bare hands in grass or on the earth and feel the connection with the natural world. These connections offer undeniable wealth to our lives.

2. Camaradarie & building relationships within the group. Running a boot camp on a session basis (as opposed to drop-in) allows for the building of relationships, the development of a group identity, built-in fun competition, a sense of sharing, accountability and obligation. I have the great good fortune of watching relationships build and flourish amidst burpees and sprints. The desire to encourage, support and be inspired by each other is evident every day.  And, every one fits in: folks who need to be quiet and reserved , those who are more boisterous and convivial; folks who are fit and fast along with those who are just (re)venturing into fitness, others who are nursing injuries or coaching chronic health issues.  To a person, the boot camp experience is inclusive and rewarding.  This cohesiveness and sense of team can’t be achieved when there is a drop-in option to boot camp participation.

3. Early morning workouts. All sorts of time and frequency options exist for boot camp. I’ve been involved in boot camp programming as part of a larger picture of service, rather than as the primary service. So, when breaking in to the boot camp scene in PEI one of my primary goals was to not compete for the same participant market as the existing boot camps. At the time, the earliest programming was at 7am three times a week in an 8 week format. Thanks to a wonderful Personal Trainer, Boot Camp Instructor and, most importantly, incredible friend, I picked up, with permission, a model she offered in Camden, Maine which was not being offered in PEI.  Four mornings per week for four weeks — I went for a 6:00am offering. I am grateful to JourneyFit Boot Camp (formerly BodyQuest Boot Camp) for allowing me to use their model of programming.

I am a morning person and have my best energy early in the day. For those who can fit a 6:00am workout into their lifestyle, this boot camp model serves them well. Get a jump start on your day, complete your intense workout early on, and have loads of energy for the day ahead of you.  I love it.

4. Creating the workouts.  Aside from the relationships amongst and with boot camp participants, this has to be my favourite part of running a boot camp. I relish structuring the workouts each week. Researching agility drills and sprint training protocols, ensuring a balance of muscle groups worked in an hour, running burnouts on particular muscle groups, mixing in active recovery activities, building in intensity and complexity across the weeks…and the many other factors which go in to 60 minutes in the park over four weeks. The technical aspects of training have always engaged me and I love spending hours each week on the layouts, creating the intensity and balance of work to recovery, being mindful of overtraining issues and taking in to account the fitness levels and health issues of the participants.

I love finding a spark in an odd place, something that will trigger a theme or flow for a morning’s program. Searching out novel ways of using the body and creative ways of using the environment can pass happy hours for me.  Each program I run has rhyme and reason.  I make notes following the workout about how it flowed, what needs tweaking, how well it served the needs of the participants. It is a tremendously satisfying endeavour for me.

So, don’t hesitate to seek out a boot camp fitness program which will meet both your training goals/needs and your life. They are so plentiful and varied right now that it is like picking from a tree laden with juicy, luscious cherries…reach out and find your sweet spot.  I hope taking boot camp training is as fun for you as offering it is to me.

If you’re interested in this particular boot camp, MOVE IT! Outdoor Boot Camp has a tab at the top of my blog…click there for more information.

Dara Torres.  An inspiration.  A role model.

In her book Gold Medal Fitness, Dara talks about mental strength and how to harness it.  Here’s her best advice:

  1. Keep Your Focus. Unlike shopping or house cleaning, you cannot let your mind wander during training.  The more presence of mind your bring to each exercise, the more your mind can enhance your body.
  2. Stick To Your Routine. Following a routine reinforces and strengthens your commitment to your goals and to yourself.
  3. Practice. Practice breeds trust and muscle memory.  It hones your skills and allows you to control your nerves on game day.
  4. Do Your Best. During performance, competition and practice.  Give every effort your all.
  5. Manage The Pressure. Getting anxious about your workouts/performance?   Take a deep breath and look off into the distance.  Shift your attention from your feelings of nervousness.  Take your body away from your anxiety.  Let the feeling pass.
  6. Develop A Strategy. Become familiar with your exercises and direct your workout.
  7. Be Efficient With Your Energy. Don’t dally and shit around.  Manage your time, get through your workout, move wisely and with intention
  8. If You Feel Tired, Ill, or Injured, Back Off. Don’t push through pain or workout as a cold is taking hold.  Let your body rest when it needs rest.
  9. Create Your Own Support Team. Surround yourself with people who believe in you, who cheer you on, you trust you and help you to stay focused.
  10. Relax And Have Fun. Don’t be fully caught up in winning.  Practice and working out can be enjoyable and fun.   Relax into it!

Can you find yourself in here?  Can you take any of these bits of advice and apply them to your own life?  Please do.  Come out ahead!


How’s your back?

Chances are you’ve experienced the symptoms of a sore back at least once in your life.  After all, in Canada 4 out 5 adults have, and it is one of the most common chronic conditions in our country.  More than 60% of people with low back pain experience it for a lifetime!   That is one heck of a lot of distress.

Pain, muscle stiffness or tension, a burning or tingling sensation which sometimes moves down the legs and is characteristic of sciatic pain. 

That’s back pain.

Back pain is usually caused by mechanical issues — that is, by faulty movement patterns — but such pain can be related to medical conditions or trauma.  Causes such as degenerative disc diseases, herniated discs, and other diseases of the spine are readily identifiable.

Somewhere around 85% – 90% of low back pain occurs without an apparent cause.  Of course, the operative word here is apparent, as back pain is the common end point of an accumulated history of  poor movement patterns and compromised postural alignment.

Here is the good news:  lifestyle issues are common contributory factors to back pain.  I say this is good news because we have control over most lifestyle issues and so can make choices which will prevent, improve or eliminate back pain. Poor muscle tone, particularly in the abdominal muscles and back muscles, poor posture, obesity, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle and, most especially, improper or heavy lifting are the primary culprits.  Both depression and chronic stress appear to play contributory roles as well.

Back pain will surely affect your quality of life.  It disrupts sleep, affects expressions of intimacy, limits activities of daily living, curtails sports and fitness endeavours, leads to loss of work hours, and has an impact on healthcare dollars.

So, with lifestyle issues having such an influence on back pain, much can be done to prevent or alleviate this discomfort.  Losing weight if obese, quitting smoking, and getting regular exercise are all great starting points.  It is important to strengthen back and abdominal muscles, and to develop and/or maintain a healthy postural alignment.  Proper lifting techniques, on the job, in day to day activites, and in the gym are all vital.  Avoiding standing or working in any one position for too long can also be helpful.

When it comes to caring properly for an injured back or compromised posture, it is important to seek out qualified assistance.  After seeing your integral or allopathic health practitioner,  look for an exercise program which will help.  A yoga instructor whose certification is recognized by the Yoga Alliance, a Stott certified pilates instructor, a personal trainer whose certifications qualify them to work with such challenges are all great starting places.  Make sure you ask about the individual’s credentials for meeting your unique needs.

my back a while back

In the meantime, three simple poses can help you prevent or relieve lower back pain.  Make this a 10 minute routine three times a week for lengthening and strengthening of muscles.

  • knee-to-chest – lie on your back with both legs fully extended.   Take one knee to your chest and hold it with both hands for 3 – 5 breaths.  Switch legs and repeat.  Repeat five times on each side
  • half locust – lie on your stomach with your chin on the floor, arms alongside your body palms down.  Point toes and lift your right leg a few inches, hold for several seconds and then slowly lower.  Repeat this five times and then switch to left leg.
  • supine tuck & curl – lie flat on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.  With slow movements, slightly tilt your hips up off the floor and then lower them.  Repeat this five times.

half locust

You and I both know that exercise is good for our body. It makes our hearts stronger, improves oxygen delivery throughout our bodies, provides us with stronger, faster muscles, stokes our metabolic processes and nourishes all our joints and connective tissues.  This, by itself, is sufficient evidence to want to just get out there and bust a move.

our amazing brain

our amazing brain

Intuitively we know the goodness of exercise goes beyond the physical, extending to the cognitive, the emotional/mental and the spiritual.  It feeds our soul, enhances our alertness, and creates within us a cavalcade of neurophysiological reactions which make us smarter.  Really!  Exercise is good for our brains.

For some time, researchers have known that exercise changes the structure of the brain and affects thinking. Ten years ago scientists at the Salk Institute in California published the groundbreaking finding that exercise stimulates the creation of new brain cells.

The ability of the brain to generate new brain cells, neurogenesis, was ground breaking knowledge when it was discovered.  Previously it was believed we were born with a finite number of brain cells and, as these cells died off, they could not be replaced.  I recall, as a teenager warnings about sending brain cells down into the sewer system every time I consumed alcohol and subsequently flushed.  I believed these admonitions.  What a relief to find out that brain cells do, indeed, regenerate.

It would be fair to say that any form of regular exercise, if it is aerobic, should be able to maintain or even increase our brain functions.

What more do you need to know?  Not only will your body work more efficiently, with less effort for a longer period of time, your brain will stay sharper, process information more effectively, have higher responsiveness.

Exercise is the whole packageDo not hesitate:  get out there.  Now.  Move and keep moving. You won’t ever have to look back.

planks stress core, pec, triceps and delts

planks stress core, pecs, triceps and delts

You’re a runner, staying generally fit with 2 – 4k runs 4 times a week.  You’ve been enjoying your running for a couple of years.  On Tuesday you attend your first ever fitness class. The class is based on body weight exercises; there are plenty of lunges and squats completed in long sets (check out Power & Grace). On Wednesday, you wake up a bit sore — the thighs and backside are talkative and you particularly notice this on the way downstairs to breakfast.  As the day wears on, your discomfort level increases and stairs become dreaded.  The pain is relatively intense and sitting, particularly in the bathroom, is torture.  With dismay, you awake on Thursday even more sore than the day before!

kettlebells - a full body workout

kettlebells - a full body workout

You are an active person and love to exercise.  You’ve been doing something cardio 5 times a week, at least, for as long as you can remember.  You like lifting weights in order to maintain your fitness levels and have been hitting the weight room about 3 times a week for a few years.  You’ve been curious about those things called kettlebells and decide to give them a go.  You attend a ‘skills clinic’ and spend about 40 minutes with the instructor learning the basic movements:  swings, cleans, presses, snatches and a few other moves you can’t really recall right now.  You take note of the challenge and find this surprising given your exercise history.  The next day you ache all over and have to forgo your morning run.  The day following that, you are still tender through your inner and rear thighs and between your neck and shoulders.  You have to prevail upon your willpower to go for a light workout in the weight room.

What is going on here?

muscle soreness

muscle soreness

The pain, stiffness or discomfort being experienced here is called delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS for short.  This muscular soreness is frequently experienced when you add something new to your workout regimen or increase the amount of weight you are moving in the weight room — in short, when you increase intensity, duration, introduce unfamiliar movements, or perform eccentric muscular work such as downhill running or plyometrics.  You might also have some swelling in the muscles.  The symptoms usually sets in 12-24 hours post-exercise and can last up to 72 hours.

The mechanisms causing DOMS are not fully understood.  In order to create muscle growth – strength, size or both – stress needs to be placed on the muscles.  Push ups, kettlebell swings, lunges.  The repertoire of stressing exercises is limitless.  These stresses create microscopic tears in the muscle fibres and the fibres, upon repairing themselves, become stronger and/or larger.  Muscle protein breakdown is also a suspected mechanism.

Some folks think it is these microscopic tears and the consequent repair work which causes DOMS though the exact mechanism is not understood.  I like to take comfort in the fact that our bodies are exquisitely complex.  We can put a person on the moon but not fully understand why we experience a burn in a muscle which is working hard.  We can split an atom but not have an explanation for DOMS.  This wonder which is our body and our consciousness and our spirit defies easy explanation and demands utmost respect.

DOMS is.  We shall coexist.

What can we do about it?

To date, research does not give us a fast and straightforward answer to treating DOMS.  Advice like massage, continued activity, hot baths with or without Epsom salts, rest, ice, compression, stretching, exercising lightly, etcetera, etcetera have not provided substantial relief.

Time, however, does provide full recovery.  It also seems that some light activity on day two encourages a return to a normal state of affairs.  So, an slow easy run or a yoga class, a pleasant walk or a light weight training session might be of some benefit.

Prior to a workout, warm up properly.  A five minute general warm up, where you increase body temperature at low intensity levels and a warm up specific to the muscles/muscle groups which will be used, might be helpful.  Introduce new exercise gradually and increase intensity in a slow, incremental fashion.

A Hot Soak

A Hot Soak

Though popping an ibuprofen or two seems to make sense, don’t bother.  No research supports the use if anti-inflammatory drugs, antioxidant supplements, ointments or creams in the prevention of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

Muscle soreness is a ‘normal’ part of many exercise regimens.  Your chest is likely to be sore after first introducing pushups into your program, your thighs and glutes will be sore if squats or step ups are new to you.  Your triceps may talk back after your first set of body dips.  Swinging and lifting a kettlebell, joining a Jazzercise class, or running bleachers can all be harbingers of DOMS.

I’ve had clients tell me they couldn’t brush their teeth or lift their arms to their keyboards the day following training without discomfort.  I once thought I’d not be able to get off an airplane.  DOMS can be quite debilitating, for a short period of time.  If the pain extends beyond 2 or 3 days, it is possible that something else is going on.  Check with a trainer or your physician if this is the case.

Such sequelae are a normal response to unusual exertion; it is an adaptation process that leads to greater strength once the muscles recover.

As a fitness instructor I experience muscle soreness when I move into new schedules.  Adding classes I haven’t taught before or in a long time or just increasing the sheer volume of weekly classes can do me in for a few days.  I can recall adding 2 lunchtime core classes to my duties and being unable to stretch long for a few days.  Even rising from bed in the morning provided a strong reminder of new activity.

This week it has been the addition of two full-body classes which has gifted me with DOMS.  Today I feel strong after recovering, but I am grateful for this poignant reminder of what participants in my classes experience, or suffer, as the case may be.

class schedule