Category Archives: life & wellness coaching

The Benefits of a Regular Yoga Practice

I am often asked by new students how many times a week should they practice to “nail” their chaturanga, arm balance or inversion.  My answer is always the same. Be safe and start slow. Practice once or twice a week, see how the body feels and increase the days of practice from there. The benefits of a regular practice go far beyond perfecting a plank, crow or handstand.

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Training Pairings: What to eat after your favourite workout!

You exercise hard you, take care of your body but you are still stuck with what the heck to eat after your spin class, yoga class or strength training session. All that hard work won’t pay off if you just throw back a macchiato and an energy bar. This is not how you “get in shape”. Your results will only surface if you eat what your body actually needs and what it will thrive on after your workouts.

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10 Healthy Living Tips from the Girls Behind Cleaneatz

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.

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Spynga #Girlcrush: Fresh Restaurant Founder Ruth Tal’s Top 5 Travel Essentials

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.

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TREND REPORT: Why functional fitness is the best full-body workout

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.)
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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.

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My Breast Cancer Journey

Spynga Toronto my breast cancer story part i

Diane has been committed to her weekly workouts at Spynga during her chemotherapy treatments. Diane finished her treatments in April 2016

Part I

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.

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The Most Unusual Piece of Advice I Got Before Becoming a Mom

Shannon and Baby BriarMoms 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…)

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Why the Benefits of Returning to Fitness with Caution after Baby Are Lifelong

core restore post natal recovery spynga toronto

core restore post natal recovery

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.

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Confessions from a Broken Belly Mama

Casey with her middle son, Billy

Casey with her middle son, Billy

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!

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My Cleanse for Life Story

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My Cleanse for life story starts before I met Dr. Jodi Larry.

In April of 2014 I began spinning at Spynga as a way to train for the Ride to Conquer Cancer. Spynga gave me a comfortable place to workout. The exercise felt different. The space felt warm and welcoming and I wanted to be there. I spent time on the bike thinking about my intention, I yearned to do yoga, but truly felt I couldn’t. In spin class I was hearing about gratitude and setting intentions, and I was finding that my mind was thinking about these ideas as well as patience both on and off the bike. I was starting to think more about how I could take care of myself, and what I really needed to do for me.

That summer I began following Jodi’s posts. Friends of mine had participated in the Cleanse for Life program and said it was great. I thought that maybe it would help me lose unwanted weight. Like yoga, I was pretty sure I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t give up sugar and crackers and cheese – not even for 10 days. But, somehow I found the courage and I signed up to cleanse.

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