6 Things to Consider when Choosing a Personal Trainer

Congratulations, you have decided to take your physical activity goals to the next level and start working with a personal trainer! Whether you are just starting your workout journey, looking for a little extra motivation and accountability, or taking your training to the next level, a trainer can be your ticket to success. But, with the unlimited supply of fitness centres, private studios, online fitness options, and the never-ending supply of “helpful” jacked guys at the gym; how do you choose? With a little bit of preparation and research you can make sure the time and money you invest into personal training is well spent. Here are some recommendations of what to look for:

  1. Credentials
  2. Experience/ reputation
  3. Specialties/ training philosophies
  4. Convenience
  5. Cost
  6. Personality and empowerment


When looking for a personal trainer one of the first things to consider is the individual’s knowledge base. Although in some cases, anecdotal evidence and concepts like “practice makes perfect” come into play, it is important that trainers understand why they are prescribing the exercises. Background education in exercise physiology, biomechanics, anatomy, and classes such as principles of strength training are great building blocks for understanding the “why” principle to exercise. So, if possible, looking for a University degree in the areas of physical education, human kinetics, kinesiology or any other related degrees is a good place to start. Second, it is valuable to know if the individual’s knowledge has ever been standardized or challenged by a national governing body such as Canadian Society for Exercises Physiology (CSEP), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), or the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Attainment of a recognized certification demonstrates that the individual has basic competencies in all areas related to physical activity and associated lifestyle factors and that the individual understands the risks of exercise and is insured.

Experience and Reputation

Often facilities will have one standardized price for the cost of a personal trainer regardless of experience level so it is valuable to learn a little bit about your trainers before committing to a long-term investment. Typically, an individual who has worked in the health and fitness industry for a prolonged period can pick up on movement errors and prescribe modifications or alternatives more quickly and simply from years of practice; often they have also had time to refine their cueing and explanations so you can understand the movements quicker. However, as with everything, experience doesn’t mean perfection, so if possible look for a referral and listen for the trainer’s reputation before committing. This at least lets you know that others have already been satisfied by the service. As a trainer, hearing that a new client has been referred to me is one of the best compliments I can get.

Specialties and Training Philosophies

If you are trying to achieve a specific goal, it’s of benefit to choose a trainer who area of expertise matches your outcome objectives. For example, if you are setting out to run your first 5km race, you will likely get a more refined and effective product from a trainer that specializes in running, as opposed to the body building expert or the powerlifting coach. Although most trainers will be able to give you a program for any variety of skills, it may not be of the same quality. There is a common saying “Jack of all trades, master of none” that describes this idea perfectly. With the broad range of objectives in physical activity it is difficult to master them all. Because of this, trainers tend to narrow their focus, style and training philosophies to a few types of training to perfect their art. Beyond the specific goals, knowing a trainer’s specialties and philosophies will give you insight into the type of workouts you will be doing. That trainer that specializes in running versus that power lifting coach are likely to approach a more generalized goal like weight-loss in a different way.


Paying to see a personal trainer should be convenient. Now that you have found a list of facilities that have trainers available that meet your demands of education and expertise, you want to make sure the sessions will align with your life. Is the trainer available at the preferred time of day, day of the week, and frequency that you want to go? Can you fit the commute time in, training session, and change time in that window of time you have available? Is the facility on the way to or from your place of work? Finding a personal trainer that fits your lifestyle best is the ideal way to keep you on track for your physical activity goal.


  • It is no secret; personal training can be expensive. When all things are considered you want to make sure personal training fits within your budget. There are a few things you can look for to help reduce the cost up front.
  • First, find out what is included. Is the session a full hour? Is the trainer going to give you a program to follow on your own? Does your session entitle you to use the facility outside of training hours? When you are comparing prices, make sure know how much your session includes.
  • Within the facility there may be cheaper options available. Is there a group workout option or a group exercise class that can offer a similar outcome? If you have a workout partner is it cheaper?
  • Can you buy in bulk? If you can afford to purchase multiple sessions all at once, do some math and figure out what number of sessions will provide you with the best deal per session. A lot of facilities offer discounts when sessions are purchased in bulk.
  • Do you have to be a member of the facility? In some rec facilities, the prices posted are only for members, so make sure you ask all the questions.

Personality and Fit

Arguably the most important consideration is whether the individual’s personality and training style will work for you. There are a lot of misconceptions out there that personal trainers are all the same. But, I promise you, not all of us personal trainers like to yell and make you do 100 burpees each workout. Personal trainer’s personalities need to align with your preferences; whether you want the in-your-face-motivator, the quiet-technical-correcting type, the overtly-friendly-conversationalist, or any other personality that may exist- it must work for you. The personality that works best for you may surprise you, but use your referrals and ask questions before signing up to ensure you are getting what you want. If after your first session you find that things are not going exactly as you expected, remember, personal training is a service. So, if you feel like you got a “lemon” and your trainer’s personality is not aligning with your expectations, speak with your trainer or ask about options to switching to someone else. Don’t let one bad experience sway you away from achieving your physical activity goals. Personal training should be an empowering experience that stimulates personal growth and independence not dependence.

Visit our website for our personal trainer bios and information on fitness program designs plus our new pricing model and incentive program for personal training.

4 Simple Nutrition Tips for Weight Loss

It’s no surprise that humans are habitual, and that it’s very hard to make a long-term change. Here’s some simple tips to help make the process easier!

  1. To lose weight, reduce caloric intake by no more than 500 kcal/day. This could be taking a latte out of your day, or having a smaller portion of fats or carbs at dinner.
  2. 1/2 of your plate should come from vegetables (Not starchy ones or grains like corn) 1/4 should come from protein, and 1/4 from carbs.
  3. Increase fibre intake, it will make you feel full and improve your digestion.
  4. Cook meals in advance and freeze them in portion controlled containers for dinners later. 



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Overhead Squat

Equipment needed: Wooden dowel or barbell

Muscle groups used:

Primarily: Quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, deltoids, trapezius

How to Perform:

  • Begin by placing your hands at a width that allows the bar to hang at the level of the hip pocket (spot where the hips form an angle when thighs are lifted) when standing upright.
  • Bring the bar into an overhead position directly above the glenohumeral (shoulder) joint.
  • Focus on “pulling the bar apart” to activate the upper body musculature for stability.
  • Slowly lower into a full depth squat, keeping the core tight, with the bar locked in the overhead position.
  • Return to your starting position by fully extending at the knees, hips and ankles.


  • To simplify – use a wooden dowel to learn proper form and accustom yourself to the feeling of having a bar overhead in the proper position
  • To intensify – use a barbell, and when the bar itself becomes too easily, add weights


The overhead squat is an important exercise to a true squat progression that is used when learning how to squat properly. Overhead squats are an exercise most people have never attempted. It’s a challenging full-body exercise that will test strength, coordination and stability, with the lower body doing the lifting while the upper body stabilizes. Be sure to have proper supervision to ensure the exercise is being performed correctly, to minimize any chance of injury.

Visit our website for our personal trainer bios and information on fitness program designs and individual and group personal training.

5 Ways to Maintain Fitness While on Vacation

Spring Break is upon us and that means vacations to warmer destinations with family and friends. For a majority, staying active on vacation is not the first thing that comes to mind. Relaxation, food, alcohol, late nights, and too much sun are all too common. Being proactive can go a long way, so here are 5 tips for staying fit to consider when going on vacation.

  1. Airport fitness – When you get to your gate and are waiting to board, stretch, and when you land-stretch. You could be sitting for a long time so focus stretching on the hips, shoulders, pectorals and thoracic spine mobility. If you have a long layover get your steps in by walking from one end of the airport to the other. For increased intensity carry your bags.
  2. Pack gym clothes and shoes – Exercise clothes and shoes have become so light there should be no excuse that they take up too much space in your carry on. Pack 1-2 workout shirts and 1-2 pairs of pants/ shorts and make sure your hotel has laundry. If there is not a laundry facility you could always hand wash your clothes in the tub or sink. Athletic clothing is light and dries quickly so you should be good for the next day’s workout.
  3. Fitness centre recon – Call ahead to fitness centres near your hotel to see what the cost of a day pass is. Many gyms often have a free trial pass you can take advantage of for the day. Ask if they have a drop-in fee for any classes they offer. If the hotel fitness room is your only option, you can get creative with equipment available or see a personal trainer for a plan for while your away. Always have the mindset that something is better than nothing.
  4. 10,000 Steps – Minimize the use of transportation and try to walk to your destination. The daily minimum recommendation is 10,000 steps. You would be surprised how much ground you can cover with two feet and an open day to discover a new city. Incrementally increase the amount of walking you do leading up to your trip to acclimatize your feet and legs. If you do not have a smart device that counts steps, try to get a minimum of 30 minutes of light to moderate activity daily to reach your daily goals.
  5. Eat and drink smart – While traveling and eating out, be mindful of portion sizes in new places. Stay hydrated while in hot destinations. If you are making trips to the all-inclusive bar, make every other stop a top up of water. Fluid replacement must take place before, during and after exercise, especially in warmer climates. Consuming 0.5 L of fluid 2 hours before activity will provide adequate hydration. During activity, you should start drinking before sensing thirst and continue to do so at regular intervals.

Nutrition: Simple Nutrition Tips for Weight Loss

It’s no surprise that humans are habitual, and that it’s very hard to make a long-term change. Here’s somesoup_NL simple tips to help make the process easier!

  1. To lose weight, reduce caloric intake by no more than 500 kcal/day. This could be taking a latte out of your day, or having a smaller portion of fats or carbs at dinner.
  2. 1/2 of your plate should come from vegetables (Not starchy ones or grains like corn) 1/4 should come from protein, and 1/4  from carbs.
  3. Increase fibre intake, it will make you feel full and improve your digestion.
  4. Cook meals in advance and freeze them in portion controlled containers for dinners later.

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Side Plank Variations

Target Muscle Group:

  • Strengthens: Shoulders, wrists, arms, legs, obliques, chest and back
  • Stretches: Intercostals
  • Improves balance and concentration

Performance Points:

  • Begin in plank pose.
  • Inhale and reach one arm up, rolling onto the sides of the feet.
  • Continue reaching, stacking the feet.
  • Breathe into sides, waist, ribcage and chest.  Lift through the hips to avoid excessive strain on the shoulder.
  • Repeat on the other side


  • Kneeling side plank.
  • Use your fists for wrists in kneeling position only.
  • For more of a challenge, try lifting the top leg and taking the index and middle finger to grasp the big toe.

Check out Sport and Wellness classes such as Sattva Yoga and Pilates or Student Only Gentle Yoga, and Spin & Yoga!

Visit our website for our personal trainer bios and information on fitness program designs and individual and group personal training.

by Cindy Hunt

Cindy Hunt is certified with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiologists as a Certified Personal Trainer.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree and graduated with Honours from the NAIT Personal Fitness Training Program.  She holds numerous group fitness certifications.  Her passion lies in motivating others to get active and pursue a healthy lifestyle.  She has worked with athletes, dancers, aquafit participants, pre and post-natal woman, older populations and anyone who is looking to reach their fitness goals.


Exercise for Depression Problems and Solutions

Most people within a lifetime will experience depressive-like symptoms, 1 in 5 according to Statistics Canada. This becomes a problem with persistent time and severity of symptoms, further developing as Major Depressive Disorder.

Since depression is one of the more common mental health disorders, many therapies have been developed in order to improve symptoms. This includes drug therapy and psychological treatments. However, exercise has been gaining attention as a new treatment, as more research has been done in the field. Since exercise as therapy is a newer concept, we need to be cautious of claims and other issues with treating depression with exercise. One of the most concerning claims is: you don’t need medication for depression. Just exercise.

It’s no surprise that humans hate taking medications, but I would say this is quite short-sighted as we don’t have enough data to prove that exercise works better than medications. There are other major problems with this argument.

  1. Exercise therapy is NOT currently covered by healthcare: If this is a treatment alternative, we must start treating it as such. While going for a walk or run is free, there are lots of people out there who could benefit from a professionals’ guidance.
  2. Exercise professionals are not psychologists: Certain problems cannot be solved by exercise. While we can certainly help a client feel better about their skills and their body, that may be just the tip of the iceberg behind someone’s depressive symptoms.
  3. More research is needed: Currently they have found moderate improvements in depression symptoms while treating with cardiovascular fitness, but more must be done to determine dosage, and how exercise like strength training can help.[1]


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Diets and Consistency

January, the month of fresh starts, forging new lifestyle habits to carry on for the rest of your life. The percentage of people that follow through with maintaining their new habits is relatively small. My own observations over the last five years indicate just after Valentine’s day is when most people fall off their new-found habits. Trash magazines will have all the fitness tips and trends for a better you in 2018. Guess what? They are the same as last year and the year before that. One word to remember for your fitness new year’s resolutions, consistency.

  • Consistently be active. Show up on a consistent basis, whether it’s the gym, yoga, martial arts, court sports or running outdoors.
  • Go to bed at a consistent time. Lack of sleep affects your diet, your energy and your metabolism.
  • Consistently prepare your own meals. People who make their own meals consume less sugar, fat and calories.
  • Consistently take time off. Your body and muscles need time between workouts and exercise to recovery and recharge.

I am a huge fan of the Joe Rogan experience. He occasionally has on academics from the health and fitness world to give insight into interesting topics. Recently he had Dr. Shawn Baker on to discuss his carnivore diet. If you are vegan/vegetarian you may not want to read any further. The carnivore diet is exactly what you think it is, a diet consisting of just meat. After further reading into it they have a challenge that does allow certain exceptions such as eggs, cheese, tea and coffee. This is a lengthy subject but I will do my best to summarize what I have found.

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Dancer’s Pose

The Sanskrit name for this pose, “Natarajasana” (NOT-ah-rahj-AHS-uh-nuh), comes from three words:

“Nata” — meaning “dancer” or “actor”. “Raja” — meaning “king”. “Asana” — meaning “pose”

Target Muscle Groups:

  • Strengthens: back           
  • Stretches: hips, shoulders, hamstrings and quadriceps
  • Improves: balance and concentration

Performance Points:

  • Begin in mountain pose.
  • Balancing on one foot, grabbing the inside of the ankle with the same hand as foot.
  • Reaching the opposite arm towards the ceiling.
  • Pushing the foot into the hand and hinging forward from the hip.
  • Holding for several breaths.
  • Repeat on the other side.

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How to Enjoy the Holidays- Enjoy It

The year’s end is fast approaching, which means our annual cycle for maintaining a healthy lifestyle gets thrown out the window. January will follow and for most of us that means pulling up our socks and getting back in to a healthy routine. Christmas and holiday parties are around the corner and that means excess food, those pants feel a little tighter and those nights get a little later. Although, we tell ourselves we will try to monitor our intake, the sheer volume of events, food, alcohol and stress can throw a wrench in to our plans. Here’s how to approach the Holidays- enjoy it!

There are going to be thousands of articles titled “Do this, not that” “Eat this, not that” over the next month. For those of you that are trying to make a conscious effort to limit excessive calories and watch your body composition, avoid getting caught in a vicious cycle of obsession over managing the “good” and the “bad” over the holidays.

This time of year, means something different to everyone. Instead of focusing on what you shouldn’t be doing and getting caught up in the guilt, focus on what you could be doing and enjoy it while it lasts.

Whatever the holidays mean to you here are a few things you should be enjoying:

  • Spending time with family
  • Family traditions
  • Soul filling foods
  • That first smell of dinner when you walk in the house
  • Holiday cheers with friends over a seasonal pint or favorite holiday drink
  • Decorating trees

This article contains no healthy recipe for you to try, or judgement in your decisions this holiday. That is not what we are here for. We are here to answer questions and help give you the best direction possible to achieve those goals. I for one will be enjoying real short bread cookies with flour, butter and sugar, visiting family and enjoying all the wonderful food associated with it.

I hope to see you all in the new year happy and healthy ready to get back to work.