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New Year, Same You?

Now that we’re a month deep into 2018, there’s a good chance one or more of your planned resolutions for the year have already bombed. Harsh, I know, but statistics for 2017 showed that only 58.4% of people had maintained their resolutions after the first month of the year and that percentage dropped another 13.6% past 6 months. Why is that? Well, there are a few plausible explanations.

Right from the get go, a New Year sets us up to set unrealistic goals. For many people, the month of December stands out as a time we are thrown off our usual routines. Holiday parties, festive dinners, additional time off of work separate December from the other 11 months.  Although the holidays aren’t a relaxing and recuperating time for everyone, the change of pace usually leaves us craving some sort of structure come time the last holiday event finishes. This desire for structure is liberating for many, especially coming from a place of exhaustion and burn-out after the past year of consistent hard work devoted to our jobs, families, and lives in general. The holidays oftentimes serve as a gas tank fill for our mental, emotional, and physical energy tanks left drained from the past year of, well, living on earth. So how does that set us up for failure? Well, this recharged state leads us to feeling on top of the world come January 1st (or maybe January 2nd, once the hangovers have subsided from your New Year’s Eve festivities). So, when you sit down to map out your goals for the coming year, you’re very likely to overshoot what you’re truly capable of and forget about all of the day-to-day stresses that are going to block you from achieving your shiny New Year goals.

So, let me ask you: Are your goals for 2018 realistic? Let me help you figure that out.

Imagine a week in 2017 where several things didn’t go as you planned. Maybe you got stuck in traffic for hours, you had to stay late at work, you forgot your lunch at home, your child played hockey 3 times per week, your basement flooded, your household got attacked by this year’s flu strain…..on, and on, and on!   With all of these events piling up on you, do you truly think you’d make it to the gym seven times for a 2-hour workout and manage to find a reasonable replacement for the healthy prepped meal you left at home? Chances are, your mind will tell you there’s no point in going to the gym because you don’t have the originally planned 2 hours in your day to dedicate to training after having to re-do the project your computer lost, and you’ll end up stress eating three donuts from the staff room because you got hungry and were too distracted to navigate your way to a healthier alternative. If that sounds like a familiar event to you, don’t worry – we’ve all been there.

So, during our time of lofty goal setting and 2018 resolution lists, we must remember: life happens. We all have things that throw us off course. It may sound totally achievable to get in 7 killer workouts and delight in your healthy meal prepped dishes every day when you’re glowing from the extra time off work and delicious holiday treats, but realize you aren’t always going to be living the post-holiday high. Sure, it’s great to aim high and have great expectations for yourself. However, a week where you’re blown completely off track is likely to damage your self-efficacy and confidence and, ultimately, derail your big plans.

So, next time you sit down to map out the steps you are going to take towards your goals, make sure you can check off those steps more often than you can’t. On weeks where you’re feeling on top of the world, do more! On weeks where life is a little more hectic, at least you have those small, achievable steps and habits you can still take towards the bigger picture.




SVPT Trainer, Kelly Gifford

Embracing Fitness at Every Level: Edmonton’s Premier Body-Positive Private Personal Training Facility

In south Edmonton, a private personal training facility stands out for its state-of-the-art equipment or top-tier personal trainers and its 15-year commitment to fostering a truly inclusive, welcoming, and body-positive atmosphere. This haven is where all ages, fitness levels, and body types converge to embark on a physical and mental well-being journey.

Why Body Positivity Matters in Fitness

Fitness is often misconstrued as a pursuit exclusive to those already in shape, but our private gym challenges this notion head-on. Body positivity isn’t just a buzzword here; it’s a core philosophy. We recognize that every individual’s journey to health is unique and deserves respect and support. Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast or taking your first step into a gym, our environment is designed to make you feel comfortable and motivated. Every age, every fitness level and every body is welcomed in the pursuit of mental and physical health.

Inclusivity at Its Core

Our facility thrives on inclusivity. We understand that the path to fitness is diverse and personal. Our best personal trainers in Edmonton are not just experts in physical training; they are empathetic guides who tailor their approach to meet your specific needs and goals. From teenagers looking to build confidence to seniors aiming to maintain strength and mobility, our personal trainers are equipped to assist all.

A Comfortable Space for All Fitness Levels

The thought of entering a gym can be daunting for many. Recognizing this, we’ve designed our space as welcoming and non-intimidating as possible. Our private training area allows for focused, one-on-one sessions with your trainer, ensuring privacy and a sense of ease during your workouts.

Inclusive Approach to Mental and Physical Health

Our philosophy extends beyond physical fitness; we deeply value the connection between mental and physical health. Our trainers are skilled in creating regimes that build physical strength and enhance mental well-being, resulting in a more inclusive approach to health and well-being.

Personalized Training for Every Body

Personalization is key to our approach. Our formally educated personal trainers are well-versed in various techniques, from strength training and cardio to mobility and rehab exercises. They work closely with you to develop a program that aligns with your lifestyle, body type, fitness level, and personal goals, ensuring a personalized, safe and effective workout experience. We meet you where you are at right now.

Community and Support

At our gym, you’re not just a member; you’re part of a community. The support from trainers and fellow gym-goers creates a unique, encouraging environment where everyone’s achievements are celebrated. This sense of community is vital in keeping motivation high and making the fitness journey enjoyable. Fitness can be much more enjoyable when surrounded by people who celebrate your wins and encourage you to keep pushing through the challenging times.

Safe and Professional Environment

Safety is paramount. Our personal trainers are the best in Edmonton and are committed to ensuring that each session is conducted with the highest level of professionalism and safety. This commitment helps build trust and confidence among our clients, making them feel secure in their fitness journey and investment.

Accessible to All Ages

We proudly cater to a diverse age group. Our personal training programs are designed to be adaptable, catering to the vibrant energy of youth as well as the specific needs of older adults. This inclusivity makes fitness a family affair, welcoming parents, children, and even grandparents to join in.

A Revolution in Personal Training

Our private personal training facility in Edmonton is more than just a gym; it’s a movement towards a more inclusive and body-positive approach to fitness. We welcome everyone, regardless of age, fitness level, or body type, to join us towards better mental and physical health. Here, wellness is for everyone, and every victory, big or small, is celebrated.
SVPT is not just about achieving fitness goals; it’s about transforming lives. We invite you to experience the comfort, support, and excellence that make us the best in Edmonton for personal training for the last 15 years.

Contact Us to Set Up a FREE Assessment to see if we fit you!

Why Starting with a Personal Trainer Before January is a Game-Changer for Your 2024 Health and Fitness Goals

As the year winds down, many of us start to think about our New Year’s resolutions, with health and fitness often topping the list. However, there are better approaches than waiting until January to start working on these goals. Here’s why starting with a personal trainer before January, especially at a private facility like SVPT Fitness & Athletics, is not just a smart move but a game-changer for your fitness journey.

1. Getting Ahead of the Curve

Starting early means you’re ahead of the game. While others are still pondering their New Year’s resolutions, you’re already making strides toward your health and fitness goals. This head start can be incredibly motivating and set a positive tone for the year ahead. Building gym confidence and improving health now rather than later will help ensure long term success.

2. Beating the Holiday Rush

Gyms are notoriously crowded in January. By starting in November or December, you get the luxury of less crowded facilities, and more availability of personal trainers. Many people get so busy over the holidays that fitness and health take a back-seat. This is a great time to capitalize on the calmness of a less busy training environment.

3. Navigating Holiday Stress

The holidays can be a stressful time, with overindulgence in food and drink and reduced physical activity. Having a personal trainer during this period can help you maintain a balance, keeping stress at bay and keeping you on track to your fitness goals.

4. Customized Training at SVPT Fitness & Athletics

Private training facilities like SVPT Fitness & Athletics offer a more personalized approach than standard gyms. Your personal trainer will design a program tailored specifically to your needs and goals, taking into account any previous injuries or specific concerns you might have.

5. Accountability and Consistency

One of the biggest challenges of maintaining a fitness regimen is staying consistent. A personal trainer provides that much-needed accountability. They ensure you stick to your schedule and maintain the momentum, even when motivation wanes.

6. Safety First

Starting your fitness journey with professional guidance ensures that you’re exercising safely. Personal trainers teach proper form and technique, reducing the risk of injuries and making your workouts more effective.

7. Setting Realistic Goals

A trainer helps you set realistic and achievable goals. This is crucial, especially if you’re new to fitness or have had challenges in the past. Achievable goals keep you motivated and prevent the frustration that often comes with unrealistic expectations.

8. Overcoming Plateaus

It’s common to hit a plateau in your fitness journey. A personal trainer can help you navigate these standstills by adjusting your training program, ensuring continuous progress towards your goals.

9. Mental Health Benefits

Regular exercise is known to improve mental health, and having a personal trainer can amplify these benefits. Regular exercuse can help manage stress, anxiety, and depression, especially important during the hectic holiday season.

10. Building a Sustainable Lifestyle

A personal trainer helps you see fitness as a journey, not a destination. This perspective is crucial for building a sustainable, healthy lifestyle, rather than chasing short-term gains.

11. Education and Empowerment

A good trainer does more than instruct; they educate. This fitness, nutrition, and healthy living education empowers you to make informed decisions about your health, even outside the gym.

12. Social Support

Working with a trainer, especially in a private setting like SVPT Fitness & Athletics, can provide a sense of community and support. This social aspect of fitness is often underestimated but can be a significant factor in long-term success.

Starting with a personal trainer before the new year allows you to pre-emptively tackle your upcoming fitness goals, manage holiday stress healthily, and set the stage for a successful, healthy new year. Facilities like SVPT Fitness & Athletics provide the ideal setting for such a start, with their personalized approach and focus on individual goals. By beginning your journey now, you ensure that you’re not just ready for the new year but already on your way to a healthier, fitter you.

Contact Us to Set Up a FREE Assessment to see if we fit you!

A Day in the Life of a Private Personal Training Session with Your Personal Trainer: Tailored Fitness in Edmonton

When you show up for your personal training session at our private personal training facility in south Edmonton, you embark on a journey meticulously crafted for your unique needs, goals and lifestyle. Our sessions, led by formally educated and certified personal trainers, are more than just workouts; they are an inclusive approach to fitness, combining expertise, personalization, and a deep understanding of the individual. Let’s walk through what a typical session looks like.

Initial Assessment: Understanding Your Unique Needs

Every fitness journey with us begins with a thorough assessment of your biomechanics, history, lifestyle, needs and goals. This isn’t just about measuring physical capabilities; it’s about understanding your daily routine, habits, past injuries, and personal fitness goals. Our trainers, equipped with formal education and experience in fitness and health, use this information to create a training plan that’s as unique as you are.

After assessing you, our personal trainers create a training plan tailored to you, but that encompasses our training philosophies and systems – building a foundation with safe and effective exercises that will not only get you to your fitness goals, but help you live life beyond the gym walls.

Warming Up: Laying the Foundation

A warm-up is essential, and ours are tailored to prepare your body for the specific workout ahead. This might include dynamic stretching, light cardio, or mobility exercises. The aim is to increase heart rate, enhance blood flow, and prepare your muscles and joints for the session, reducing the risk of injury. We also focus on your movement patterns. Our personal trainers help you refine your technique for the exercises to come, ensuring that you perform each exercise correctly and effectively. This is crucial, as proper movement forms the foundation for more advanced training, ensuring you progress safely and efficiently.

Power Training: Staying Fast

Power training is where things start to intensify. Depending on your fitness level and goals, this could involve plyometrics, throws, or explosive weight lifting, which is progressed and/or regressed to cater to your current fitness levels and abilities. The focus is on improving your speed and power, which are crucial for fitness performance and functional daily activities. For every year we age, we lose power and the ability to move quickly. It is essential to keep this function so we can prevent injury and falls. Power training is always modified for your age, fitness level and goals.

Strength Training: The Core of Your Workout

This is the heart of your session. Our personal trainers guide you through a series of strength training exercises and functional exercises, chosen to align with your specific goals. Whether it’s weight lifting or bodyweight exercises, each movement is selected to maximize your strength gains and overall physical development.


The session concludes with conditioning work to improve your ability to tolerate more work. This could range from high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to endurance exercises, depending on your needs, goals and abilities. Conditioning is vital for improving your cardiovascular health, stamina, and overall fitness.

Customized Training Plan: Beyond the Gym Walls

Our responsibility doesn’t end when the session does. We provide you with a customized training plan, including exercises and routines that you can do outside of our private personal training sessions. This “homework” ensures that you continue to progress, even when you’re not in the gym.

Continuous Assessment: Tracking Your Progress

In subsequent sessions, we continuously assess your progress, tweaking and advancing your training plan as you evolve and progress. This approach ensures that you are constantly challenged and progressing, and that your workouts remain effective and engaging.

A private personal training session at our Edmonton facility is a comprehensive, personalized experience. From the initial thorough assessment to the customized training plan and nutritional guidance, every aspect is designed to cater specifically to you. Our certified personal trainers are not just instructors; they are your partners in this fitness journey, dedicated to helping you achieve your best self physically and mentally.

So, whether you’re looking to start your fitness journey, break through a plateau, or reach new heights, our private personal training sessions are the key to unlocking your potential. Join us and experience the difference of a truly personalized approach to fitness.

Contact Us to Set Up a FREE Assessment!

Celebrating 15 Years of Raising the Bar: SVPT Fitness & Athletics’ Best Personal Training in Edmonton

Not all gyms are created equal when it comes to achieving your fitness goals. We’re proud to say that after 15 years of successful operation and growth, our facility remains a benchmark for quality personal training in the Edmonton fitness community. The secret? Our unwavering commitment to raising fitness industry standards, private and partner personal training, superior customer service, and a foundation built on real formal education and continuing education. We are constantly getting better for our clients.

Customer Service Beyond Compare

We understand that personal training is more than just about dumbbells and treadmills; it’s about relationships. Our customer service reflects this core belief, setting our business apart from generic and big-box fitness centers and gyms. Customer service isn’t just a department in our gym; it’s ingrained in our culture. From the moment you step into our facility, you’ll notice the difference. Our friendly and knowledgeable team of certified personal trainers makes it a point to know your name, your goals, and how best to assist you in reaching them. We aim to create an environment where you feel at home, supported, and motivated to give your best in each session.

Industry-Leading Personal Training

Our reputation as a personal training powerhouse doesn’t just come from excellent customer service but from the customized personal training itself. The SVPT team consists of certified professionals who bring experience and cutting-edge methodologies. Whether you are a professional athlete or taking your first tentative steps into the world of fitness, you will find a trainer and a program that is right for you.

Our team doesn’t offer one-size-fits-all workout regimens; each program is custom-designed around individual clients’ unique goals, abilities, and life circumstances. A personalized training plan is tailored to deliver fitness results and exceed expectations. Support does not end when you step out of the gym; the SVPT team is always available to answer questions, offer advice, provide homework for you to do independently, and give you the extra motivation you might need.

Setting High Fitness Industry Standards

In a world where fitness fads come and go, we’ve always been steadfast in our mission to set high fitness industry standards. How do we achieve this? It starts with our team of certified personal trainers who have undergone extensive formal education in exercise science and biomechanics. These professionals aren’t just certified; they continually advance their knowledge through seminars, workshops, and research to ensure that our training methodologies are evidence-based and effective. Our approach to long-term health and well-being sets us leagues apart in an industry often focused solely on aesthetics and short-term results. Furthermore, in a field often plagued by misinformation, our focus on real formal education serves as a cornerstone of our gym’s philosophy.

We want you to leave the nest and learn and be empowered enough to train independently. Many clients stay with us for upwards of 1 year, but many have been with us for ten years, as they prefer to have consistent accountability and to have their programs constantly monitored and progressed as they progress. We have some clients who only stay for a while to learn enough to train on their own confidently, and we love that. We have always been about educating clients so they know better. When you know better, you do better.

15 Years and Counting

After 15 years in the business, our commitment to raising the bar in fitness industry standards remains as strong as ever. Through our focus on private, partner and semi-private personal training, exemplary customer service, and an educational foundation emphasizing real formal education and continuing education, we have set ourselves apart as the best in Edmonton. While it may sound like we are tooting our own horn, we are celebrating the growing pains, successes and failures in an industry that has so many gyms come and go. We have beaten the odds!

Whether you’re brand new to fitness or a seasoned athlete, we invite you to experience the difference that a truly personalized approach to wellness can make. Join us and become a part of a community that values quality, expertise, and a relentless pursuit of excellence.


Exercising vs. Training

As summer winds down, and we approach ‘fall back to fitness’, many will be seeking the fitness routine they had before summer shenanigans. So as you get back into your routine, ask yourself – are you training or are you just exercising?

Exercise and training might often be used as synonymous terms, but there are a few important distinctions between the two. Exercise can best be thought of as physical activity that serves an immediate purpose and effect. It is done for its own sake, whether that is during the workout or immediately after. This “effect” or “purpose” can include burning calories, getting a pump on, getting sweaty, or as a way to blow off steam & de-stress. Training, on the other hand, is utilizing physical activity to achieve a definite performance objective, which is often long-term. The difference between exercise and training is a question of intention.

Training is a process designed to achieve a specific result. It is a pre-determined progression of activity designed to satisfy a long-term performance goal. Training is less about the workouts individually than it is about the process of utilizing the workouts to reach the ultimate training goal, or the cumulative effect of the individual workouts. The results are reached by progressing week after week, tracking progress and adjusting as needed. Training is about long-term improvement for a specific purpose, which often means displacing the immediate feeling of having achieved a goal until that goal is realized down the line.

The primary goal of exercise is, generally, to keep you healthy. Exercising can produce immediate results, and results over the long term even; however, training is deciding on a goal and using physical activity to achieve that goal. Long-term results from consistent exercise are a welcome by-product but are not the outcome of intentional physical activity. Any program that features exposure at random to various types of physical stress cannot produce a specific physical adaptation. Past a certain point the adaptation that occurs naturally with exercise will stop, a point that occurs relatively quickly.

Should we all be training? Not necessarily. It’s more about your specific goals. If the goal is to maintain health, exercising might be sufficient, and the most important thing would then be to choose exercise options that motivate you to continue and be consistent. Jumping from program to program or choosing random workouts can be a great way to exercise without getting bored. For those who have specific goals, a long-term training program with trackable results is more appropriate.

SVPT Fitness & Athletics

Steady State or interval cardio

Steady State or Interval Cardio?

There are two types of cardio people: those who choose aerobic exercise (i.e. running, jogging) and those who choose anaerobic exercise (i.e. HIIT, intervals). Although both are technically cardio, doing just one type is not enough and a well-rounded program will include both types.

Generally, exercise done in short bursts up to two minutes in duration will utilize the anaerobic system primarily. This includes any short burst of activity that can only be maintained for about two minutes, usually referred to as intervals. Exercise for an extended period of time at a slow or moderate pace, will utilize the aerobic system primarily, and is often referred to as “steady-state cardio”.

Those who prefer aerobic exercise (aka runners and cyclists) tend to neglect interval training, while those who prefer interval training (aka metconners) tend to neglect doing steady-state cardio. If cardio is cardio, why should it matter if I prefer hard and fast or long and slow?

Whether you should focus on anaerobic or aerobic exercises is entirely dependent on what your goals are. Ideally, you’re doing a mix of both in a balanced program. Aerobic exercise will help build endurance and increase cardiovascular health overall, while interval training will enhance muscle strength, power, size and speed.   Aerobic exercise helps build a bigger window in which you can perform intervals, or a aerobic base.  Without an aerobic base, you won’t be able to do a lot of intervals.

While each type of exercise will build and produce different results and develop different skills, the two types of training can function together to make you faster, stronger, and healthier overall. Training exclusively by one type of exercise will limit the progress you can make, and actually increases your chance of injury. Incorporating anaerobic training into an exercise plan that is mostly aerobic will lead to increased speed, power output, economy, increase VO2 max and decrease the chance of injury.

The way to improve cardio performance is to train at and above your threshold. This means to improve aerobic capacity (read: become a better runner) you need to incorporate training intervals that mean you’re working near your current aerobic threshold. On the flip side, those who only train using intervals will not increase their steady state endurance. What this means is that the metconner who also does steady-state cardio training will be able to work harder for longer (read: get more done in each interval).

Both interval and aerobic exercise should be incorporated into a balanced exercise plan. This balance will allow the two systems to complement one another and will maximize results and increase overall health, while minimizing the chance of injury.


Training Through Injury

So, you’re injured. Now what?

While it’s true that the first priority should be recovery, this doesn’t mean that you should stop training altogether. Sometimes injuries are caused by overuse or overtraining, which means you might need to back off on your training. In this case, your body isn’t able to recover properly resulting in a chronic injury. If the injury is acute, that is caused by one incident, this means that the affected area should rested, but you can continue to train around the injury.

If you’ve injured yourself, talk with a physician or physiotherapist first. Get your injury diagnosed by a professional who is qualified to advise you whether or not you can continue training. Don’t Google your injury and self-diagnose. Having a proper diagnosis will mean that a trainer will have a better idea of the course of action to take post-injury and will also inform how the injury should be rehabilitated. Better yet, having your trainer and physiotherapist working together will ensure a more complete approach to recovery. Knowledge is power – take the initiative and be active in your own recovery by getting assessed properly right away.

If you choose to work around an injury and continue to train during your recovery, then truly work around the injury. Don’t do things that “sort-of hurt” or get better after a warm up set. If there truly is pain during the first movement, you’re doing more damage than you are helping yourself. Adrenaline and endorphins can make you feel better when you’re actually doing damage. If you’re hurting, you’re not healing. Bottom line: if it hurts, stop.

Be careful not to allow this to create other injuries from compensating or only training one way. It’s fine to train one side when the other is injured but be aware of compensating patterns and how the movement will affect other areas. For example, if you have injured one shoulder, you can train the other but be aware of how this constant unilateral training will affect the neck and back on both sides of the body.

Injury recovery can be separated into two aspects: physical and mental. The physical component of recovery is the physical healing of the injured tissue. Whether you’ve suffered a strain, sprain, dislocation or fracture, the injured tissue needs to heal, meaning it must be rested. The mental component of recovery is training the brain. When we are injured, our brain flags whatever movement resulted in the injury, and usually also flags movements that resulted in pain after the injury. What this means for many people is that the movement triggers a feeling of pain long after the injury has healed. The brain needs to be retrained to learn that these movements are safe again. Typically, this can be done by completing the movement under control, slowly, under different types of load and through the full range of motion repetitively. This process involves learning to differentiate between pain and discomfort. You can train through discomfort, but never train through pain.

At the end of the day, recovery is almost always an active process whether you’re training your body or your mind. Don’t let an injury get in the way of your goals, just adjust your course of action.


Functional Fitness

All fitness is functional.  All exercise is functional.

All exercise will help you do daily activities with greater ease, and therefore allow you to live a more full and adventurous life.

When most people see the words “functional fitness”, one of two things usually comes to mind:

  • Some type of circus-act exercise that makes you look absolutely ridiculous.
  • Exercise that looks exactly like the movement you will be doing in life.

We have all seen the crazy circus-type exercises on social media. Cringe.  And I am sure you have seen our commercial, where you will see people doing exercises that mimic everyday activities.

Sled pushes will help you mow the lawn, but so will any well-rounded fitness program that includes general lower body, upper body, and core strength exercises.  Landmine squats with a press will help you lift your child over your head, but so will dumbbell presses and squats, performed independently as part of a complete workout plan. Farmer’s carries will help you carry your groceries, but so will planks or chin-ups.  What we are trying to say is – full disclosure – the people in that video do other exercises too! And those other exercises are no less functional than the exercises they so expertly demonstrate for us on camera.

Functional fitness is typically considered to be less about isolation and more about integration –   all the body parts and systems working together seamlessly to accomplish a task. The more you can train your body to work as a whole, the more you will benefit in everyday life and the more injury-resistant you will be.  When you work your entire body in multiple directions of movement and ranges of motion, you can avoid overuse injury in a single direction or range and instead allow your body to be strong and functional in all of them. This style of training prepares you for anything unexpected that might occur in your day-to-day life. It’s about being proactive, rather than reactive.

Isolation exercises such as bicep curls are often criticized for not being ‘functional’, but if your biceps are a weak link in the chain of your body, then they might be an incredibly functional exercise for you. What counts as functional exercise all comes down to the individual – what is functional for one person might not be for another.  Getting an assessment from a qualified trainer to find anything that may be preventing your body from working as a strong, complete unit – and finding out what exercises are therefore ‘functional’ for you – is a great idea.  Eliminate the guessing game, save time and invest in a proper program (Shameless plug: svptfitness.com)

All consistent fitness and exercise will help you fend off those injuries that happen simply because your body is not strong enough or fit enough to handle the activities you are trying to do every day.  For some, like an older population, that means preventing falls and creating physical independence, and for the younger population that might be preventing a knee blowout at a weekend flag football game, or on that impromptu ski trip.

Finally, functional fitness is a bit more fun and a lot less boring than bicep curls!  Exercises that tend to involve more movement, in multiple directions and range of motion, can add more challenge. Because let’s face it, moving all the parts of your body at once is harder! Think about a bear crawl – fun but hard, and working EVERYTHING – co-ordination, legs, shoulders, arms and all the core in the land.  Does a bear crawl translate into everyday activity? Not straight across (unless you have to bear crawl for a living), but all the things happening when you are doing it will help you – carry groceries, play with your kids, go for a hike, help a friend move…all that great stuff.

So is running on the treadmill or sitting on the bike functional fitness?  YES! Cardiovascular health is super important for heart health and the ability to be able to sustain physical activity and daily activities longer (i.e. mowing the lawn without breaks ). Is chest and bicep day functional fitness?  YES! If upper body strength is your weak link, chest and bi’s will certainly help you in that regard. Of course, what would be even more optimal would be to include additional training that ties those muscles in with the rest of your body.

The takeaway point is – all fitness is functional and all fitness will improve your quality of life!

Shara Vigeant, BA, CPT, CFSC

Exercise Won’t Give You a 6-Pack

Weight loss (fat loss) is the #1 reason people seek out a personal trainer. (Note: there is a difference between weight loss and fat loss, and most people want the fat loss, so we will continue with that phrase). And we will also note that everyone has a 6-pack, it’s just a matter of if we can see them or not.

If your goal is fat loss, a good personal trainer will stress that fat loss starts in the kitchen, and exercise should supplement your fat loss goals. We stay in our lanes. We are not registered dietitians, and while we can give general advice on how to improve your nutrition (drink more water, eat less processed foods, cut back on sugar, eat more whole foods, fruits and veggies), we are not experts in what exactly you need to create the safest and most effective environment in your body for fat loss.

(Side Note: In my opinion, if a trainer pushes you to try the latest and greatest diet trend out there – Keto, Paleo, etc. – or pushes you to buy some type of shake they sell – RUN for the hills. Personal trainers should be teaching you exercise, fitness and physical activity – not selling you diets and shakes.)

So with nutrition being the single most important variable in fat loss, why is there such a focus on exercise? People are misinformed thanks to the internet, and continually think that they can out-train bad nutrition. You can’t. Exercise isn’t going to burn off the bad food or excess calories you ate. In fact, the whole “burn up to 600 calories” per workout (and for 72 hours after!) is bunk. It’s misleading and has been proven by science to be inaccurate for years…decades, in fact.

This is why you see so many personal trainers peddling nutrition, because they KNOW that it’s crucial in their clients’ journey to getting results (fat loss). You often see “fat burning workouts” or the best “fat burning exercises” all over the internet. Well, sorry…but it’s all BUNK.

Do you burn calories when you workout? YES. But not as much as you think, and not enough to be your one and only fat loss strategy. The quantity of calories you actually burn in a workout session is lower than you’ve been led to believe, and the extra calories you burn from exercise only account for a small part of your total energy expenditure during the day – somewhere in the range of 10-30 percent. The remaining 70-90 percent comes from your resting metabolic rate, the energy used to carry out the host of physiological processes that are constantly occurring in the body. (Be wary of activity trackers, as they tend to overestimate the caloric burn from these processes.)

Do you continue to burn calories for many hours or even days after your workout? NO. Depending on the specific type of training you are doing, your metabolism stays elevated post-workout for about the length of time you trained, but not much beyond that. And certainly not for days! And at this point, I am sure HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) has come to mind, which is one of the most popular fitness trends being marketed as purely a fat burning workout, especially in the Edmonton fitness scene. The science has been out that true HIIT can definitely improve V02 max, and improve blood sugars. However, the energy expenditure is just not enough because of the duration of the session. True HIIT sessions (and that is where you are literally working at your MAX heart rate for the work periods) are only meant to be done for anywhere from 10-20 minutes. While many studies show that HIIT can help with fat loss (negligible) than other forms of exercise, the biggest factor in that was, of course, nutrition and appetite suppression (nutrition!).

I would add (as a shameless plug) SVPT Fitness + Athletics has NEVER ever marketed or sold so-called fat burning workouts, fat burning exercises, weight loss shakes, or any kind of supplements. We have never made false claims about training to entice clients into our gym. And we have been successfully in business for 10 years.

We take pride in refusing to spread inaccurate information. We don’t even believe in putting an emphasis on exercise for burning calories. We put the emphasis on quality movement that will benefit your health and your life. We know that if you want to lose fat or have long term weight loss goals, it is all about the food! This is why we partnered with dietitians to help our clients navigate those waters. It’s the best way for them to learn the most effective ways to lose fat and keep it off over the long term.

BUT WAIT…does this mean you don’t have to exercise to lose fat? NO. You still need to exercise so you can do ALL the things you want to in life. So you can be independent. So you can prevent injury. So you can golf into your 70s, or hike into your 60s. So you CAN LIVE A FULL LIFE. Exercise shouldn’t be a punishment to burn off something you ate, or earn something you want to eat. Exercise should be your tool to live life to the full. Exercise GIVES life. Exercise improves health. And when you improve health, you improve quality of life.

Here is why you still need to exercise, regardless of your goals:

  • Joint health
  • Muscle strength, growth and maintenance\
  • Improve blood pressure
  • Improve blood sugars
  • Improve mood
  • Decrease stress, anxiety, fatigue
  • Improve attention
  • Improve sleep
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Prevent disease and illness
  • Resilience
  • Independence
  • Longevity
  • Vitality
  • Resilience

….the list is extensive and can go on even further. Essentially, we just move less than we did 50 years ago.

Exercise is excellent for health and wellness; it’s just not that important for fat loss. So don’t expect to lose a lot of fat by ramping up physical activity alone. If your workouts are soul crushing every day in an effort to “burn more calories” or “burn fat” to get to your fat loss goals, you are actually doing yourself a disservice. Not just that day or that week, but long term. The hormonal ramifications of soul crushing workouts every day are huge, not to mention that you are also risking burnout and injury.

With all of that said, it’s still awesome to challenge yourself with a really tough workout every once in a while. It simply has to be programmed properly – both to occur at the right time, and to include movements that won’t get you hurt. This is where seeking the advice of a fitness professional can help you.

If weight/fat loss is your goal, please seek the help of a registered dietitian to learn about food, proper eating habits, and your caloric range to help you get to your fat loss goals safely and effectively. At the same time, realize the genuinely incredible health benefits of exercise. While exercise is still an important part of the fat loss puzzle, remember that it shouldn’t be the ONLY piece.

Shara Vigeant, BA, NSCA-CPT*D, CFSC