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flexibility and strength are highly compatible skills when you know how to develop both without sacrificing either.

this is precisely what Jon Engum of Extreme Traininga 7th Dan Kukkiwon Certified Taekwondo Grandmaster and Hapkido and Kumdo Master,  had in mind when he developed the Flexible Steel program. His Flexible Steel approach to training draws on his considerable and measured knowledge of movement potentials and how to unlock them.

FLEXIBLE STEEL allows you to be both STRONG and FLEXIBLE!

the bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists   ~ japanese proverb

in this Certification Course you will learn how to use the 3S’s – strength, space, spread – to make and/or coach substantial gains in flexibility. you will leave with hours of personal practice and detailed instructions to work on flexibility specifics by following a particular order of stretches.

move your body into greater flexibility. coach your clients into greater flexibility. do not let your strength be compromised as you do.

this course is offered by Flexible Steel Instructor Specialist Louka Kurcer of Hardstyle Kettlebell Mtl. Louka’s command of body strength and flexibility matters is inspired and inspiring. his coaching skills are outstanding.

come join him and the first cohort of Eastern Canadians certified as Flexible Steel Instructors.

this course has been approved and recommended by Pavel Tsatsouline.

april 16th, 9am – 4pm

the whole way health & fitness studio

306 university avenue, charlottetown



a KETTLEBELL SKILLS CLINIC  teaches you the basic movement patterns of kettlebell training. Once you execute the movements properly, you’ve given yourself the gift of an amazing new training method.

KETTLEBELL TRAINING provides cardiovascular conditioning, strength training, power training, endurance, flexibility, balance and core conditioning all in one intense workout.

if you’re looking for metabolic conditioning with endless variety, this is where you’ll find it!

if you’re looking for small group classes with loads of coaching and personalized feedback, this is where you’ll find it!

if you’re looking for a casual and supportive group of participants, this is where you’ll find it!

new year. new training method. new energy.

swing a kettlebell. it might just change your life.

don’t miss a beat after ringing in 2015!

love_kettlebell_in_red_aluminum_license_platekettlebell skills clinics are scheduled for:

6pm monday, january 5th


9:30am saturday january 10th

call me at 894.8943 or email me at to register.

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


toasting each other in morocco

writing love letters in the sands of the maggies

This is a guest blog post by Udo Krautwurst.  Udo is my partner in love and life, my guru.  He is an amazing dad to our children, a university professor of anthropology, a german-for-rent and one of the best things that has ever happened to me.  I am more than thrilled that he capitulated to my harassment and finally got fit.  I need him that way as we get old together.  Kettlebells have helped change his perspective on healthy living.

OK. Over the last weeks and months you have known me as ‘He’, usually, and ‘Him’ occasionally. When She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed instructed asked me to write a guest blog post about how She hounded coaxed me into a healthier lifestyle, I felt I was hardly in a position to refuse. (Rider Haggard’s less than flattering colonialist tale of Africa can be somewhat forgiven for having come up with such a descriptive title.)

Long, long ago, in a province far, far away we were young twenty-somethings living the usual lifestyle of personal invincibility. In other words, we smoked. A lot. We ate crappy food. A lot. We ate lots of good food that wasn’t good for you. A lot.

It’s a recipe for hedonism, not longevity. We didn’t realise then that the two things were not necessarily opposed where food was concerned. But I’m ahead of myself.

Since She has already shared her story, I’ll pick mine up when I’m 35ish. Our youngest was somewhere between mental and physical conception, but certainly not yet part of our world. “Get the sperm into that Woman” the oldest demanded of me, in delicious anticipation of having a sibling to boss around. But I digress. At the time I was a 1½ pack a day nicotine addict. Filterless plain cigarettes, complete with orangey-yellow stains on my left middle and index fingers. It had to stop before the youngest was born, and it did.

How to occupy those hands that seemingly had always known how to pass 7-9 minutes instead of just learning to be for 7-9 minutes? Learn to cook. Which is a good thing. Sort of. It was too much of a good thing, combined with smoking cessation metabolism changes. Each year the belt loosened a little more, pant sizes grew, and I stopped wearing striped shirts. You get the idea.

A decade passes and the scales tip 200 lbs for the first time. By then She had already re-invented herself. She was positively energetic in a way I was not. She was, as always, encouraging and insistent. “Let’s play racquetball… let’s go for a bike ride”.  “C’mon, you’re almost there.” For those of you who know Her, you know what I’m talking about. Imagine living with Her 24/7!

By the time I’m 47 I’m to the weight room in the gym 2 days a week. She puts on her personal trainer hat and sets up a weight training program for me. It feels like a duty and obligation. I’m there ‘cuz it’s good for me. So there. Hrumph! Somewhere in there She says She is going to change how She eats. Less fat, less sugar (and more recently, less carbs). I’m of course free to do whatever I want. As designated cook I can make as many personalized meals as I feel inclined to make. Or I can cook the same thing for everyone. You see the evil she works here, don’t you?

So, the pounds slowly begin to leave. The gym thing ain’t so bad, really, so I shift to three times a week. (Some of the fat loss was replaced with muscle… groovy!)

udo & his kettlebells

I was just starting to play with kettlebells when I was in a car accident that messed up my shoulder. It wasn’t until I was 48 that I seriously took up the kettlebell again. By then She had gotten her certification. The more I did, the more I liked it. The intensity. The diversity of routines compared to the same ol’ same ol’ in the gym. The necessary mental focus and body awareness. The positive energy and camaraderie in classes, where support is usually in the form of group sympathy grunting peppered with the odd complaint directed at Her and Her smiling autocrat directives (one of my favourite parts).

As time went on I started to replace the weight room with the kettlebell. What used to be 3X a week in the gym became 2X and a kettlebell class, became a 2X and 2X, became 1X in the gym and 3X kettlebell.

Over the years the energy has returned. I feel better at 50 than I did at 30. Way better. Really! And not just because I’m her partner and was made wanted to say that. Nonetheless, there are still goals to achieve too. I’d be happy to drop another 10-15 lbs. As my shoulder issues get resolved I start thinking about shifting up to a 40lb kettlebell. I think about how hard She made me work to shift from a 12kg to 30lb to 35lb/16kg kettlebell and oddly, relish the thought of doing it again. It must be some form of evil magic.

the day wendy turned 50 years of age

So, She’s here in Toronto at some fitness druids convention concocting new ways to direct us, individually and collectively, to want to make ourselves healthier and happier people. The sorceress’ trick is that she’ll try to convince you that She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed  had nothing at all to do with it. That you did this all on your own initiative and volition. Don’t be fooled. That’s that whole ‘eye-of-newt’ thing at work. She’ll try them all out on me before she assaults introduces you to those new techniques that somehow we enjoy and want to do repeatedly, even when they leave us breathless. Or maybe, because they leave us breathless.

Imagine living with Her 24/7!  I can’t imagine living without Her.

Moxham Fitness Centre is located in a building which, years ago, was a school.  I attended that school in 1968 for my grade 5 year.  Barry Gwynn is part owner of the facility.  Though I do not know Barry, I attended high school with one of his younger sisters, and enjoyed a chat with him this morning before my workout.

The fitness centre was originally located on property which had been occupied by Moxham Castle.   It moved 5 years ago to its current location.

Anyone growing up in the Sydney area of Cape Breton prior to the eventual destruction of the castle in the mid 60’s will have fond memories of its archetectural grandeur and perhaps some magical childhood fairytale-like fantasies will linger still.  The castle was owned for a period of its history by a first cousin twice remove of mine, M.R. Chappell.  (M.R. must have had a little-boy-seeking-adventure in his soul as he also spent a lot of his time and money pursuing buried treasure on Oak Island).  This week I will eat my last Christmas meal from a lovely solid oak table – the same table off of which I ate most of my growing years meals – that once originally sat in Moxham Castle.

Moxham Fitness Centre has everything you need for a great workout.  Today I ran quarter mile sprints on the StarTrac at 6.8mph with 5.3mph recoveries.  I completed four sprints and found myself working at the very edge of what I could accomplish.  Then I hit the weights for chest and triceps training.

With the general sloth and repose of my holiday hours, I’ll have to visit Moxham’s one more time.   It was fun to workout in a place with so many connections to my past.

my orange aid asics

my orange aid asics

Week 5 already!

14.09.09 w5 d1

This is a Rest Day.  What could be better than a training program which starts with a rest day?

This week is the first week of fall classes at the studio and I anticipate being crazy busy.

15.09.09 w5 d2

Sprints! The number of intervals continues to climb:  7x 400m today.

I don’t sleep much during the night and think, for a second week in a row, that the next 45 minutes or so will be grueling.   Given my lack of time for proper eating yesterday, I munch half a banana and 3 sharkies (watermelon scream) 15 minutes before heading out.

It is 5:00am.  Dark.  Wispy clouds float across the clear crescent moon and the stars are bright.  I stand for a moment in the dark with my neck craned, feeling the pulsation of the universe.  I can feel it expanding and I am moving outward with it.  Within this infinity of beinglessness I push my stopwatch and become not-a-runner of the universe.  I am sure I can reach my hands overhead as I run fast, and they will trail through the deep, rich plush of velvet above me, slipping over the silken hardness of embedded sequins.

I do all my sprints today on the decline.  This is a good decision; I feel strong through each interval, even the last few.  On my third recovery, my partner pulls out of the driveway on his way to his Tuesday workout.  I momentarily linger in the missing of our shared early morning workouts but quickly come back to being present in the sprints.

Sprint number 5 is toughest, and I get a bit of a side stitch part way through.  The recovery, though, resolves this and I finish the sprints.

As I head up the driveway, the horizon is relaxing its hold on sunrise and I am feeling groovy.

Today I am 51 years old, the turnaround point of my life.  I plan only two things: making the next 51 years pretty great and treating tonight’s kettlebell class to a celebratory workout.  Both thoughts put a smile on my face.

16.09.29 w5 d3

I arrived home last night sore from classes, as I knew I would b.  A full 45 minutes of lunging and squatting made the 40 minute drive home challenging.  My hips were sore and right side sciatic pain, a familiar life partner, was sending a distant electrical storm down the back of my leg.  This morning I am stiff and achy as I get out of bed.  I contemplate the installation of an escalator, but the morning run is not negotiable.

It is very early and there has been a heavy rain.  I step out into the haze of the rainblack nightmorning.  My pal Hal gives me about a four foot visibility and beyond that Amelia Earhart lingers.

I have 6.4k to cover today.

I take my first steps.  Oh, these legs are heavy and unresponsive.  Large congested thighs, the consistency of concrete powder, like the bags in my garage which have never transformed themselves into patio stones.  Now they are strapped to my legs.  My hips are on fire and the adductors of my inner thighs sqwak.  Loudly and with frowns of disapproval.

The air has so much moisture in it, I am drenched in minutes and it feels like ocean spray across my face.  I run close to the centre line of the road and my entire existence is pain and breathing in the LED glow which moves with me.

I am just over a kilometre into the run when the skunk frolics begin.  I am only 4 or 5 steps from him when he enters the front edge of my 4 foot universe.  I stop fast!  I can hear his claws scratching on the asphalt as he runs and he is out of my visibility.  I move slowly, panning my light to and fro and see no skunk.  Just as I relax and begin to push off, there he is again!  Ahead of me just those few paces, moving along the centre line in the same direction as I.  I skirt around to the edge of the road and talk to him, though he is no longer visible to me.  I walk perhaps a hundred metres, slowly and on high alert, assuring him of my noble intentions.  No skunk.  I begin running.  A  dozen steps or so and…there’s the skunk!  Really.  He’s still running ahead of me!  I allow skunk the right of way and I do a 180.  My run will happen in the opposite direction.

Now I have to estimate my distance as I don’t have it marked on this westward course.  It is still so very dark and I think every shadow has skunk qualities.  Several times more I come to abrupt stops as I think a skunk is in my path.  My imagination is as fired as my left glute medius, which is now sounding like a fiddle being tuned in an oil drum.  The screeching of my muscles fills my ears and absorbs my full attention.

Arriving home is such a relief.  I pull off my wet clothes and hobble up the stairs to the shower.  It is not a pretty sight. The steamy water brings relief and I relax, knowing there is not a skunk in sight.

Later in the day I measure the distance and am pleased to find I covered 7k.

17.09.09 w5 d4

Tempo Run of 40 minutes. Jacket, gloves and hat.  There was an overnight frost and it is really cold.  It is that kind of crispness you get when the stars are very far away and the moon has an aura.  It is a lovely moon.  Honey coloured and only a slip of a crescent, like a curled orchid petal resting above the treeline.

My lower body is still sore from Tuesday but the cold biting my fingers distracts me.   I wonder what I am doing out here, turning this thought over in my mind for a few minutes and then let it go, watching it drift away.

Surprisingly, my legs feel strong and I run fairly hard for the tempo.

I am grateful for the warmth of home and for the power of my breath as I wrap my hands around my mug of green tea.

18.09.09 w5 d5

Rest Day.  But, only from running.  It is a filled day which starts without electricity and ends with a shared laugh.

19.09.09 w5 d6

When I wake in the morning, I am well rested and all residual pain has left my body.  I take time to have a light snack while I wait for the sky to brighten a bit.  I put on gloves and long sleeves and pleasure in the dawn shades as I walk down the driveway.  This is a 9.6k run and I am feeling good about it.

There is a rather stiff west wind, gusting from time to time.  Wow.  Running in to the wind is hard and I struggle to find a rhythm, to settle my breathing and smooth out my stride.  By the 2k mark my left tib. ant. is cranky and just keeps winding up for a full blown tantrum.  I briefly stop a couple of times to stretch my lower leg which only provides momentary relief.

The next 2.5k are not at all pretty.  I make 5 stretch stops and a 6th stop to retie my runner.  On two occasions  I walk for a bit.  It is the first time in this training that I have walked.  I reflect on how good I felt heading out of the house just 20 minutes ago.  Shifts can happen so quickly.  I think about cutting the run short and decide I will do the distance even if I walk most of the way.

At the turnaround I begin to feel better.  The wind is behind me, the sun is climbing in to the sky and my tib. ant. finally lets go.  I hoof it home.

75 minutes of yoga later in the morning considerably helps with my running tightness and forces my shoulders into ranges they resist.

20.09.09 w5 d7

Okay.  Today I can run EZ for 40 minutes.  So, I do.  It is a beautiful morning.  A touch cool and with a strongish wind, but on the horizon of the morning sky are banks of clouds, softly gray topped with frothing blue white mounds topped with soft corals shot through with blue grays — shades for which I do not have words.  An amazing array of diversity overhead.

The run, otherwise, is uneventful.  I ponder, as I run, how much challenge this week was and I head home for a big breakfast.

CanFitPro Atlantic Canada Conference

This weekend I attended a Group Fitness, Personal Training and Mind-Body Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia hosted by CanFitPro.  CanFitPro, a division of Canadian Fitness Professionals Inc., is a national certification and continuing education organization.  I have some very firm opinions about the training, certification and ongoing credentialing of fitness professionals and this is my chance to air a few of them.

First, let me summarize some of the sessions in which I particpated.

Tracy Cipryk is one largely talented, energetic and savvy fitness diva.  In the premiere session of my day, she got my heart pumping and glands sweating with some cool cardio/interval with resist-a-ball choreography.  Later in the day she worked the room well with a fusion with resist-a-ball session.  There were some inspiring moves in the session and the opportunity to really put one’s own spin on the choreography.

Darren Steeves, a veteran class instructor and personal trainer who works for Dalhousie University and owns Steeves Training Systems, handed out all kinds of great information about corporate wellness programs.  For those of us looking to expand our work into an area where there is a large and meaningful impact to make, corporate wellness requires a planned and skilled approach.  Darren has cut a path for us and was generous in sharing.

I absolutely love Nathalie Lacombe.  She does the stand up schtick for all of us who are closet fitness comedians.  Thanks be to her energy, her ability to loosen up a group (of fitness professionals), and her way of  finding and elucidating  the pith of what we do and putting it our face in a fun and ah-ha kind of way.  So, we feel much better as a professional, as people who have worked hard to earn and keep our creds, and as movers in the world of health and fitness.

St. Mary’s University was a great place to host the conference — great spaces, great parking, lovely balloon guides.

So, why does a fitness professional attend a fitness conference?

Quite frankly, until this conference I personally had not given much thought to this question, beyond the obvious benefits of learning new information/skills/moves, staying on the forward edge of the industry, interacting with like-minded others, meeting presenters who are at the top of the game.

Fitness is not, unfortunately, a regulated field.  So, as a consumer of fitness services it is important to be cautious and inquisitive.  There are a number of highly reputable organizations which provide certification programs to fitness professionals and, after certification, require the accumulation of continuing education credits (cec’s) each year to remain current.  This is a good thing.  However, I only today realized that some people calculate exactly how many cec’s they need, set out to get them, and then do nothing beyond that.  The bare minimum.  Nothing more.  Is this the person you want to trust with the future of your health and fitness? Conference attendance only to obtain cec’s, rather than to learn and grow within the field is, to me, a very sad statement.

I was caught off-guard by this approach to ‘professionalism’ today.  I urge you to talk to your personal trainer, group fitness instructor, nutrition and wellness specialist, or other certified service provider to determine, for yourself, why they do what they do.  The personal trainer who does not have her own regular weight training program, the yoga instructor without his own regular yoga practice — these are strange and irregular beasts of the field.  Your time, your financial resources, your health deserves so much more than this.

Be an informed consumer.  Your fitness professional should be:

  • properly certified, through a nationally recognized certifying organization
  • cpr certified annually
  • properly insured in order to protect you in the event of injury
  • obtaining ongoing training and upgrading — beyond basic requirements and not from a magazine or from attending someone else’s class/program and then implementing it as their own

If you are in doubt or confused, contact CanFitPro and get information about what you should be seeking for your fitness investment.

Admit it.  At the end of a long day, don’t you love to kick off your shoes and wiggle your toes and stretch your ankles?  Is there anything better than feeling the coolness of grass on the soles of your feet or the warmth of a sand beach between your toes?  These are some of my favourite experiences.

What’s the issue with shoes?

The foot is an amazing part of the body.  Each foot is made up of 26 bones, 33 joints, more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments, and a wonderous web of blood vessels and nerves.  A complex design which, when working properly, we take for granted.  We give little thought to how we keep our feet physically active and fit.

There was a time in history when we all would have been barefoot and moving only on natural landscapes.  The biomechanics of the foot were regularly used, the muscles and connective tissue were constantly challenged so our feet were kept strong and flexible.  We had feet with integrity!

Then came the shoe and manufactured surfaces like concrete and asphalt on which to live and move.  Our feet were tucked away for protection, comfort and support.  Ironically, this was the advent of foot problems; 80% of us will have a foot problem at some point in our lives.

It seems our technically designed shoes may actually give us too much support, cushioning and stability.  Thought has it the muscles and neuromuscular pathways of the foot and ankle have become weak, lazy and are crying out for some loving attention.


Why barefoot?

Aside from how great it feels to free your feet, there are a number of potential benefits to barefoot training:

  • balance and agility are enhanced — the neuroreceptors in your feet are engaged with your environment.  They can feel the surface below you, sensing changes in eveness, stability, density and they can send this information to your brain.  The richness of this sensory information helps create additional neurological pathways.  This means you get smarter about balance and agility and postural alignment.
  • no high heels — the cushioned heel of most runners puts your body at a postural disadvantage, especially when you are performing activities other than running such as weight lifting or functional fitness training.  Keeping your heel on the ground allows for maximal hip and spinal alignment, decreasing low back pain.
  • spreading out in the world — your toes are no longer contained in a toe box.  They are allowed to move at the joints and use up as much space as they like
  • stronger foot muscles — when the muscles in your feet can move in the way they are designed, they grow stronger.  The feet, the ankles and the lower leg muscles all respond to barefoot activities, improving general foot health and reducing the risk of injury.
  • barefoot feels good — what a simple way to create pleasure in your life.

Barefoot training ideas

It is easy to increase your foot health during daily living activities. You can free you feet at home.  Ditch those house shoes and become more intimate with your floors.  Leave those garden clogs on the rack and truly connect with the world in your yard.  Be kind to your feet and they will serve you well.

Barefoot running is a possibility.  You can find information onwebsites and weblogs devoted to barefoot running, such and  Good research on running barefoot is scant.  Studies show barefoot running decreases energy needs by 4% over clad feet and a series of Canadian run studies concluded that heavily cushioned shoes were more likely to cause injury than simpler shoes.   These same researchers give us food for thought in their finding, though inconclusive, that more expensive athletic shoes accounted for twice as many injuries as cheaper shoes.   You can check out the summary of research here.

If barefoot running is a bit of a stretch for you, try a non-impact or low-impact activity first.  Yoga, pilates and tai chi are wonderful barefoot activities.  Jumping rope and kettlebell training are both well-suited to an unshod experience.  Beach running provides for less impact than running on other surfaces and is an outstanding activity for low leg and ankle strengthening.

The foot is our connection to the earth.  It is the point at which we are grounded and rooted, the nexus of our exchange of energy with this glorious planet.  The foot is our base in life.  Free your feet and you will reap the benefits.

class schedule