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Swim Workout

Swim Workout
By Stephanie McEnery

Swimming is a great way to get fit and workout your entire body. If you already know how to swim find a local pool and follow the workout located below.

For the experienced swimmer:
All workouts are counted in meters.

Workout 1 – If you’re getting back into the pool after taking some time off and want to boost cardio and build muscle. This is a 1000m workout. It can be doubled for more of a challenge.

200 free – easy
100 pull
100 free – hard
50 kick (flutter kick, or whip kick)
200 free
100 pull
200 free
50 kick
200 free – easy

If you are familiar with swimming but you’re not a freestyle champion start out slow and follow these instructions to perfect your strokes. “Free” or “free style” is swimming lingo for front crawl. Watch the video below to see an example.

Here are some key things to remember when swimming front crawl or free style

• Keep your fingers together, not apart. If fingers are apart your arms won’t pull you through the water nearly as fast.
• Flutter kick must be continuous; a lot of people take a pause in kicking when they breathe. This is slow you down and won’t be as effective.
• Blow bubbles. After drawing a breath in and putting your face back in the water, make sure to blow out as much of your air in the water before taking the next breath.
• Breathing should occur on every third stroke.
• The head should remain pointed facedown, with the nose pointed toward the bottom of the pool. When taking a breath roll head to the side so ear is resting on the arm.
• Breaths should be taken quickly and arm movements should continue.

Image courtesy

Image courtesy

If swimming seems like a foreign idea and you’re not quite sure if it’s for you try taking swimming lessons. Many people are intimidated by the idea of taking adult swimming lessons, but it is a fun way to get in shape and learn a new skill. Most pools offer adult swimming lessons and your instructor can tailor a program to suit your needs. Call around to your local pools and see what they have to offer


Race Season Training

Race Season Training
By Stephanie McEnery

The Season is Upon Us. Race season that is. With the weather getting nicer each day it’s time to stop hibernating and start gearing up for spring time race events. Running, biking and triathlons are all great ways to stay in shape and have fun throughout the spring and summer. Looking forward to participating in any one of these activities can also keep you motivated while you slug away in the gym or slip and slide down icy sidewalks.

The first step is finding a suitable event. Here is what to look for:

  • Distance. How many kilometers can you run/bike/swim right now? How long will you have to prepare for the race?
  • Location. Are you prepared to travel? How far?
  • Gear. Do you have the necessary equipment to participate? Can you afford to buy a bike? What type: road or mountain? Running shoes are an easy purchase as is a swim suit if you’re opting to do a tri.
  • Date. Make sure you’ll be available on race day and will have ample time to prepare and get in shape before hand. It would be ideal to have a friend who isn’t racing accompany you, have them drive you home after the race in case you sustain an injury, intense muscle cramping, or most likely are just plain old tired!Once you’ve considered all of these details it’s time to pick your poison. To find the race that suits your needs start with google. Searching the internet is the easiest and fastest way to find an event. Here are some great options in the Burlington-Hamilton-Oakville area.
  • Around the Bay Road Race. The 30k is currently full, but the 5k race is still available. This is North America’s oldest road race.
  • Binbrook Triathlon/Duathlon & Give-it-aTri. HSBC series race.
  • Toronto Island Triathlon Weekend. Another HSBC series race.

    Once you’ve picked the race, it’s time for the tough stuff. TRAINING! If you’re going to be doing a triathlon you have a lot more training to take on than if you’ve chosen a run or bike.

    The best source for information is a personal trainer. Paying for numerous personal training sessions doesn’t fit into everyone’s budget, but paying for a single session to have a workout plan designed for you can be very beneficial. If you’ve stayed consistently in shape and have raced before you should be fine on your own. If this will be your first race talking to a professional, especially someone who has triathlon experience can make your training less confusing and more effective.

    Consulting websites is also a great way to find workout plans and learn more about the sport. Figuring out common pit falls of training, possible injuries, and signs of over training are a must for any of the three sports.

    Websites dedicated to triathlon training provide a wealth of knowledge about all three sports.

  • Beginner Triathlete
  • Manitoba Triathlon Training
  • Ontario Woman’s Triathlon Series are several great opportunities in Burlington-Hamilton-Oakville area for training. Many recreation clubs offer triathlon training. The Swim Academy in Oakville has a program dedicated to training for the swim portion of a tri. The Oakville, Hamilton and Burlington YMCA’s all host similar programs that focus on training for each leg of a triathlon.
  • The Swim Academy
  • YMCA of Hamilton/Burlington joining a club isn’t for you get outside and practice. Each city has a long stretch of trails with some hills and stairs that are perfect for prepping for a tri or running or biking event.

    Other links : Oakvile Cycling Club
    The Running Room
    HSBC Triathlon Series

  • How to cut gym jitters

    How to cut gym jitters
    By Stephanie McEnery

    It happens to everyone, that nervous, unsettling feeling. You want to be fit, you know you need to go to they gym, but there is always that worry that you’ll be leaving the gym, sore, possibly bruised from some freak accident, and probably embarrassed.
    When you’re new to a gym it’s easy to get confused or feel lost. No one likes to be out of their element. The worst part is first getting to a new gym. You look around at all of those crazy workout machines and feel completely lost. “I felt awkward and out of place. I was so worried that everyone was going to judge me and they could tell I wasn’t overly gym savvy,” said Brock student Jessica Charbonneau.
    There are ways to curb these gym anxieties and make your trip to the gym easier and stress free. Working out is supposed to be good for you after all.

    Bring a buddy
    • Working out with a friend is a sure fire way to feel more comfortable at the gym.
    • Creating a work out ahead of time will give you a goal and will eliminate standing around and feeling lost.
    • Try starting out with some light cardio and then move on to some weights you are comfortable with.
    • If weights aren’t your strong suit check out the workouts posted on the site for some easy ideas.

    Get suited up
    • Go out and get some nice work out gear. Looking the part will help you feel more confident
    • If excessive sweating is a concern, bring a towel or wear dark clothes or dry fit shirts that will absorb sweat.

    Take a tour
    • Gyms want you to be successful and have a good time. Take a tour when you first sign up. That way you will know the lay of the land and will know how to use the stationary weight machines.

    Buy a personal training session
    • If you can afford the sometimes pricey training sessions get as many as you can. Trainers have valuable knowledge and information that will make your gym experience great.
    • If getting multiple sessions isn’t an option, purchase just one session. Make sure you know going into it what your workout goals are and inform the trainer of any injuries. They can show you around the gym and help you create a plan that suits your needs.

    Be confident!
    • Remember that most of the other people at the gym feel the same way.
    • If you feel awkward about working out in front of members of the opposite sex opt for a female’s only gym.
    • Know that it’ll get easier every time you go and stick with it.

    You should also remember that everyone has been there. No matter how silly you make think you look at the gym, the other people around you probably feel just as awkward.

    Long time YMCA gym attendee Katie Blasko has had some pretty rough gym moments. “I once fell off an exercise while in front of the entire cardio section of the gym. Therefore I felt it necessary to bring the ball back that had flown out from under me and do some really intense looking sit ups as fast as I could. I figured that way I could show everyone I wasn’t just the idiot who fell off the ball, I was someone fit who fell of the ball.” It happens to everyone, so please try not to worry and just have a good time.

    Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

    191575001If the average size of a woman is a fourteen, why then, are so many women and young girls struggling with eating disorders?


    I think it’s safe to say that the majority of images we see on in the media are of beautiful, very thin people.


    This is pleasing to the eye, but can be extremely destructive to a number of people.

    Young girls in particular tend to be extremely affected by these images. Not only do they idolize the women they see on television, in the movies and in magazines, they often make the mistake of believing they can be just like them.


    In a recent study, young girls were quoted as saying they would rather have cancer, lose both parents, or live through a nuclear holocaust than be fat.

    If this is true, we have a very serious problem.


    As unrealistic images have become more prominent in the media, the number of girls with eating disorders has risen, while the average age of girls afflicted with the disease has dropped.


    In the past, most girls with eating disorders ranged from 13-17, this statistic has now dropped to girls aged 9-12.


    Most celebrities fall in the under weight category, but this fact is little advertised. Those who are brave enough to be what is considered a normal weight are often chastised for being so.


    The recent case of Jessica Simpson’s weight gain is one example of why young girls are striving to be so thin.


    A woman who has always struggled with her weight, Jessica got very thin while playing Daisy Duke in the ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ movie. This image was plastered all over magazines and t.v. for quite some time as ‘the body’ to aspire to.


    A couple of years later, she gained about ten pounds. This image was then plastered all over the media as a ‘disgusting’ representation of a woman’s body.


    In reality, she would be about a size four. This is still significantly below the size of an average woman.


    The representation of a celebrity’s physical appearance is about as accurate as it is their life.


    Though we may want to look like these people, the most important quality in life is our health.


    So eat healthy, exercise regularly and take care of your mind, because the truth is, being your best self always feels better than trying to be an imitation of anybody else.

    Fertile Freeze


    How to have a baby another way

    How to have a baby a different way-Courtesy

    By: Lara O’Keefe


    At twenty-three, I didn’t think I would have to worry about getting cancer, or what would happen to my reproductive organs if I did have such a disease.


    Then came the day my doctor and I had “the talk.” Also known as a five-minute conversation, which scared me straight into submission.


    The talk went as follows; “Have you ever thought of your chances of getting cancer?” I looked at her; blank-faced and thinking this must be a rhetorical question since the last two generations of women on my Mother’s side have contracted ovarian cancer.


    “Well, yes.” I replied. Much to my dismay, this was not the end of the discussion. She continued, “Well, I’d like you to have some tests done.”


    At this point I felt the air contract around me. I watched her scribble something in typically messy doctor scrawl. I looked down at the green slip she handed me. Pelvic exam and transvaginal exam were checked off. Neither sounded particularly pleasant, especially given the fact that I would have to hold a litre of water in my bladder for an hour before the aforementioned pelvic exam. Most people would find this mildly uncomfortable; I find it entirely unbearable due to the fact that my bladder is approximately the size of a pea.


    Regardless, the terror truly struck me as I read her writing.  Two words stating something that I couldn’t make out followed by “ovarian cancer.”


    I tried to breathe as I walked out of the clinic that day, barely making it to my car before bursting into hysterical tears. My thoughts rallied between ridiculous and rational, with ridiculous winning out at first.


    I thought of my hair falling out, and then thought of the fact that Britney Spears had managed to survive after shaving her head.


    I thought of my parents, the worry this would cause them while they were already coping with my Mother’s cancer.


    Then I thought of my would-be children. I’ve never been one of those women who always wanted children. In fact, I still don’t know if I do. But that doesn’t change the fact that I wanted the choice.


    I couldn’t help wondering what would happen if a tumour showed up in the test. I already knew the procedure. I would have to have a hysterectomy, or an oovarectomy at best. Either way, it meant my baby making organs would be removed.


    My less than rational thoughts returned then, as I began to feel jealous that my boyfriend’s ex had already been able to give him a child.


    Granted, this was not a planned child, but he loves him all the same, and has expressed that he wants more.


    Feeling hopeless and full of dismay, I called my support system, my Mom.


    An avid reader of Chatelaine, she had recently come across an article about freezing your eggs.


    A woman by the name of Liz Ellwood was featured in the article. She had discovered that she had cancer at the age of 24, and much like myself, wondered what would become of her future offspring. So she started Fertile Future.


    The foundation serves to provide support and information to women and families facing fertility risks, as well as keep an up to date database of fertility centres across Canada and the services they provide.


    Perhaps the most disturbing part about cancer is its ability to make you feel as if the future is dim, if there’s a future at all.

    Luckily, my results came back clean, but though I am safe for the time being, Ellwood’s foundation will be kept safely in the back of my mind.


    Though cancer remains a terrifying ordeal, fertility doesn’t need to be.  Organizations such as Fertile Future provide a way around that seemingly huge mountain, and more importantly, a renewed sense of hope.

    For more information about Fertile Future, visit  


    How To Sleep Easy


    Rest easy tonight

    Rest easy tonight-Courtesy

    By Lara O’Keefe


    Wake up this morning after another sleepless night? You’re not the only one. A whopping 3.3 million Canadians, or one in seven, suffer from insomnia.

    Many different factors can cause insomnia, but one thing is for sure, for anyone affected, it is a stressful and exhausting disease.

    If you are one of the 3.3 million Canadians who suffer from severe lack of sleep, here are ten ideas to help you hit the sack and slip into a blissful unconscious.


    1.     Read a book- relaxing in bed with a good book will help take your mind off trying to sleep, not to mention that your eyes will become tired from doing so.

    2.     Try drinking a warm glass of milk-it contains a natural sedative that promotes sleep

    3.     Only try sleeping when you are actually tired

    4.     If you can’t sleep, get up and do something small such as cleaning the kitchen counters, then go back to bed again

    5.     If you are sensitive to noise, try sleeping with soft earplugs to block out the noise

    6.     Play a cd of soft noises such as the ocean

    7.     Make sure your bedroom is dark enough. Any light coming in could obstruct sleep

    8.     Exercise more during the day-studies have shown that more physically active people have an easier time falling asleep

    9.     Make sure your room is the perfect temperature-if it is too hot or too cold, it could be keeping you awake

    10. Try using essential oils-lavender in particular encourages relaxation


    If all else fails, it may be time to pay a visit to your doctor. Insomnia could be caused by another problem such as depression.

    Good luck and happy sleeping!

    BPA: The Hidden Chemical


    Plastic water bottle

    Plastic water bottle

    By: Lara O’Keefe


    For years now, water has been conveniently contained in a plastic container; ready to use whenever we choose.


    Plastic water bottles were invented in 1947, but began to gain popularity during the 1960’s when they became more affordable.


    A cheap material, plastic took over many glass containers and has been an overwhelming presence in our society since then.


    From shampoo bottles to juice bottles, plastic can be found everywhere, and up until lately, this was never an issue.


    Scientists recently discovered a chemical called BPA or Bisphenol A, a chemical predominantly used in polycarbonate plastic containers in order to make them hard and translucent.  


    Though BPA may be handy in production lines, it is anything but healthy for our bodies.


    Perhaps most disturbing of all, is the fact that not only has BPA been found in baby bottles, scientists also found that the toxic chemical is released fifty five times faster when exposed to heat.


    If this statistic doesn’t give parents reason to pause before putting that baby bottle in the microwave, studies have already shown that BPA can disrupt the hormones and cause prostate cancer, not to mention contributing to ADHD, feminization of males and decreased sperm count.


    There is good news though. With an increase in research, also comes an increase in alternative consumer products such as glass baby bottles. Websites such as offer a number of different types of bottles, nipples and children’s cups, all BPA free.


    Metal canisters are becoming popular as well, as they prove to be an equally convenient, yet safe way to carry water.


    Though we can try to reduce the amount of BPA in our lives, it is near impossible to live an entirely BPA-free lifestyle. With so many popular products still using the chemical, it often ends up leaking into our water sources and unfortunately, into our bodies. 

    For more information about bisphenol A, visit