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With an impressive Instagram following, Toronto’s Greta Epstein and Jamie Milne — the girls behind Cleaneatz — are quickly becoming the go-to source for healthy inspiration online.
Long before “juicing” became a verb and health gurus with strong hashtag games took over our Insta feeds, Ruth Tal had a novel idea: create a travelling juice bar. That was back in 1990—a time when the Atkins diet was considered cool and vegans were considered extreme. But clearly Tal was onto something. Her juice-bar concept was so well received, it quickly became a Queen Street fixture, eventually evolving into a full-blown vegetarian restaurant—replete with juice bar—now called Fresh.
Remember when step classes were the workout-du-jour? “A-step! Grapevine! Around the world!” the perky instructor would yell into her mic (I’d finally get the hang of ‘basic left’ as the rest of the class cooled down). Thankfully, those torturous days are over with. We’ve seen dozens of fitness trends come and go since: Jazzercise, Zumba, Tae Bo a la Billy Blanks. And who could forget Suzanne Somers’ ThighMaster? (Oh, that Chrissy Snow.)
These days, we’re working out smarter. Gone are the days of marathon treadmill sessions. Now it’s all about science-based evidence—in other words, what gives you the most bang for your gym-membership buck. The latest buzz term on everyone’s radar? Functional fitness ((a.k.a. functional training). Think of it as exercises that mimic everyday, real-life activities such as carrying groceries or shoveling snow. Unlike some trends of yesteryear, functional fitness is here to stay. Here’s everything you need to know about the popular workout technique.
Spynga is special. It’s so much more than a studio to take a yoga or spin class. Spynga is a community of people that care. I’ve learned this first hand while undergoing breast cancer treatment over the past several months. I felt like I had my very own cheering squad, pushing me through to the end of my treatments. There would be days when I would not feel great but I knew that if I could make it to a class, I would always feel better. Clients and staff would always offer words of encouragement, share personal stories and ask how I was doing. This caring community spirit helped get me through one of the most difficult periods of my life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
I was in the best shape of my life when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had spent the previous two years getting “fit for 40”. My plan was to spin, sculpt and sweat my way into the next decade. My birthday came and I never felt better. I had achieved my goal! I was fit at 40!
However, a few months later my world would be turned upside down when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. At my annual physical my doctor found a lump and a biopsy was done the next day. Five days later I received my diagnosis and I was in complete shock. I was scheduled for surgery and was told that I would be undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments. I couldn’t understand how a fit person that has a healthy diet and feels great can be diagnosed with breast cancer. My oncologist told me that because I was younger than the average patient and because I was physically fit I would have an easier recovery.
I would soon come to realize that achieving my “fit for 40” goal would mean much more than looking good in a pair of skinny jeans. Being fit provided me with the foundation for a quick recovery from major surgery and the ability to tolerate months of cancer treatments.
Moms are heroes. Remember those pesky little things called pregnancy and labour? Remember how much reading and preparing we did for those things? Well, creating a human inside you then pushing it out through a tiny hole is just the beginning. It’s the beginning of something harder, something you can’t prepare for, something that requires on-the-job, minute by minute training. Oh, and also, it starts right after you create a human inside you and then push it out through a tiny hole. You’re freakin’ tired, your body aches, your abs are torn apart, you might have staples in places a stapler should NEVER be and it starts whether you’re ready or not. Looking back, this is the easy part. Soon they’re walking, then talking (probably talking back) and the next thing you know they want nothing to do with you, and they leave to go to a party where you’re worried they’ll get pregnant because you probably gave them self esteem issues. (Just a little glimpse in to my scary mommy brain…)
There are a few things new moms want to be mindful of when returning to a fitness routine after having a baby, particularly after consecutive pregnancies. 30-40% of mothers still experience symptoms of pelvic dysfunction one or more years after giving birth (i.e. diastasis recti AKA abdominal separation, pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, etc). This a significant chunk of the maternal population to be experiencing a sub-optimal recovery experience, the symptoms of which are not inconsequential.
I am one of these mothers. For me, my postnatal pelvic dysfunction was characterized by severe difficulty regenerating core strength, which as a woman who prides herself and relies upon my physical strength to live life effectively, has been devastating. I’ve also experienced stubborn knock-on effects from inadequate postnatal care that are very hard to undo. Don’t make the same mistakes I have!
Statistically I am not alone, but the sad thing is that many women suffer in silence because there is not much support or information that is readily available. Our capability, wellbeing, self-esteem and long-term health as mothers becomes compromised because we haven’t had the opportunity to recover as fully as we might have.
Food Blogger, Spynga Mom and Cook, Rachel Barbaro shares her ideas for easy, healthy and delicious weeknight fare for the fit folks on the go!
I used to take such pride in making beautiful meals and new recipes every night. And then motherhood hit me with all its love and awe and exhaustion. A few months in, it was time to stop calling for take out and get back in the kitchen. Sharing my favourite meals from my blog Friendly Food Snobs that are little weeknight wonders. They’re quick to make, high on veggies and protein and fabulous as leftovers.
Flank steak tostadas got me dreaming of a trip to Mexico. My best kale ceasar salad gets in those daily greens but in a yummy way. I love these coconut peanut butter protein balls as a snack on the go, or to nibble on when you crave something sweet as they’re high in protein, good fats and free of gluten. And to start the last of winter’s snowy mornings slow cooker steel cut oats require minimal prep but deliver a delicious breakfast as the slow cooker does all the work.
Pregnancy took my belly for a big, bumpy, RIP roaring ride. It never occurred to me that as the baby (and your belly) grows, the chances of tearing your abdominal muscles grow as well. With each pregnancy (there were 3) my #DiastasisRecti (DR) expanded and 6 fingers deep to be precise! For those of you who haven’t heard of the DR, it is defined as a separation of your rectus abdominis, AKA your six-pack! When the abdominal muscles move aside, your uterus, bowels and other organs have only a thin band of connective tissue in front to hold them ALL in place. After baby, this condition causes your belly to stick out (yes, just like it did when I was about 5 months pregnant). I was so excited to feel good in my own body again, however, this unfortunate symptom has been quite hard at times on this mama’s soul. People (mostly women) constantly ask me if I am pregnant again. “So…you are going for the fourth?” and “When are you due?” are the most frequent questions that I get. Being a fitness instructor and wearing spandex for a living doesn’t allow me to wear “looser” attire!
I remember when I began falling in love with vinyasa; not just the style of a vinyasa yoga but the beautiful sequence that is inserted between postures, that fosters heat in the body, the intense flow from the strength demanded, and the feeling of space as the body is rinsed of residual sensations from holding the previous posture. When I first began practicing, each vinyasa felt like a treat for my body; the dessert after releasing (sometimes escaping) from a series of long held postures to wash out whatever sequences we did, like they never happened but you can continue to build and feel the effects within. It was my opportunity to feel every muscle and joint working to support each other in this dance with breathe.
For clarity, the vinyasa sequence itself is low push up (aka Chaturanga), upward dog and downward dog that you will no doubt repeat 50 times in a typical power, vinyasa, Ashtanga or any other “flow” style of yoga these days.
These are 3 separate postures, merged together into a three-way relationship that not only build strength but opens the front and back body sequentially.
Each posture, with its own nuances, alignment, muscle actions, and kinesthetic qualities, that when joined together, asks us to see how they compliment each other through the use of breath and movement.