Sweat Equity

How to build your perfect routine — and a sense of community.

Keep it Healthy

You’ve decided to invest in your wellness and well-being, but instead of focusing on inches or pounds to lose, simply focus on committing time to fitness. “We know this now, but everyone should be doing exercise as preventative, not necessarily for weight loss or gain,” personal trainer Chris Tse says. “That should be everyone’s key goal, to stay healthy, to feel better. I think for the most part when we’re focused more on those non-numeric goals, it makes things easier. Not setting goals gives you more of an opportunity to find something you really enjoy doing.”

Love What You Do

If the idea of going to the gym and figuring out how to use weights doesn’t sound appealing, know that it’s not the only option for fitness. Tse encourages people to find workouts they actually enjoy — even if they’re something unorthodox like beer yoga or the Obstacle Course Conditioning Class offered at City Fit Shop. “Constantly check and reassess yourself to see how you’re enjoying the particular type of exercise.
If it’s not working for you, move on to something else. We have such an availability of fitness programming in Edmonton and all sorts of classes.” And this doesn’t have to be a costly endeavour; many studios offer free or low cost first classes and introductory rates.

Set Up For Success

You’ve found a workout you like — now what?

1. Put it in your calendar.

“Give yourself the same sort of mutual respect you give meetings and your kids’ activities and make it a routine,” Tse says. “Make it part of your schedule. Don’t treat it as optional.”

2. Set realistic goals focused on wellness.

“Think about regularity. If you’re usually an inactive person, if you can get 20 minutes of activity two to three times a week, that’s great.”

3. Make it a group effort.

“Try and go to a class that you really love on a regular basis at the exact same time, because you’re usually going to find that the same group of people come and you start to form a little community, you look forward to seeing these people every week,” Tse says. “Or bring a friend from the start and keep each other accountable. If you prefer working out by yourself, you can definitely still have your own time in a group fitness class without having to make friends with everyone.”

Triple Threat

Mixing up your workout routine is appealing because it keeps things fresh and interesting, and now it’s easier than ever with one-stop shops and classes that will guide you through all the workouts. “High-intensity interval training is definitely still popular in 2019, but what we’re seeing is an evolution of those businesses, they’re now offering hybrid classes,” Tse says. “Instead of straight up spin or rowing, we’re seeing row-strength-boxing hybrids.”

Community Club

With a number of amenities, from fitness centres to swimming pools, private clubs are great places to mix up your workout routine. And, they offer unique social spaces where you’re as likely to find a new lifelong friend as you are a workout buddy.

“One of the nice things about belonging to a club like ours is the sense of community that you have,” says Jim Hope, the general manager of Derrick Golf and Winter Club. “It’s an environment where the whole family can participate and feel comfortable. There’s a feeling that when you walk through our door, you’re in your second home.”

Hope says that the club staff do their best to introduce members to each other, to encourage conversation and connections. “It’s not hard to see parents strike up a conversation with another family, and then, a week later, you see them coming to the pool together with their children. It’s not just about recreation and athletics, but it’s a social hub as well.”

When it comes to fitness classes, Hope says that programming is based on the feedback of their members — one of the more popular additions recently has been Parkour classes for children and teens. “We try to stay ahead of their needs by finding out what the athletic communities are doing. If our members request something they’ve seen in another facility or in a gym, or that they’ve heard about from their friends, we try to implement it in the club.”

Likewise, at Royal Glenora Club, there’s truly a class and a community for everyone: CEO Dustin McAvoy says that the club’s oldest member celebrated his 100th birthday on December 26, 2018, and the same year celebrated his 60th anniversary as a member, predating even the rebrand to Royal Glenora Club in 1961. “He does aquasize twice a week. At any stage of life there are things for you to do at the club.”

Many children are part of the Royal Glenora Club before they’re even able to walk, thanks to the popular childcare program, which has been managed by Jocelyn Morrison for over 20 years. “She’s starting to see the kids that she once looked after bringing their own kids into childcare, which is amazing,” McAvoy says. “The familiarity of our crew is a big selling feature.”

When members’ children are old enough to start enjoying the amenities, McAvoy says that members enjoy the convenience of having multiple programs simultaneously under one roof.

In addition to all of the individual programming, McAvoy says that the Club is a great place to meet others and establish long-term bonds, and to create a social lineage for your family. “When a member joins, it’s not just an application form to join this club. You’re joining a family.”

Work-Life Balance

Danielle Murray knows it can be hard to integrate fitness into our schedules, so she’s working to integrate it into the thing we spend the most time doing: Work. Murray has been a yoga facilitator for over 10 years, is a Lululemon ambassador, and you’ll find her working at Yogalife, participating in Lululemon’s Run Collective, or, lately, in an office. In May 2018 she joined Holos Productivity, a local company that develops wellness programs and strategies for corporate environments, from small businesses to large corporations. Through the classes and retreats she designs and facilitates, Murray wants businesses to rethink their approaches to their employees’ physical and mental health.

“People talk about productivity and return on investment and increasing your bottom line, but I think it’s good for everyone if your employees are healthier and happier,” Murray says. “I feel like right now that we as a society are on the brink of a really big shift in corporate culture and acceptance of the approach that we’re taking.”

Murray doesn’t think a “one size fits all” approach to corporate wellness, like a health spending account, is effective, because the employee might not be motivated to use it if he or she is intimidated by places like the gym. “Part of what we like to do is educate people so they feel they can access wellness programs on their own and make a real lifestyle change. We create experiences and provide strategies that businesses can use to empower their employees,” Murray says. And her tips go beyond the gym—through corporate retreats, Murray likes to introduce people to workouts that can be done in parks and mountains. “There’s a lot of intimidation about not quite knowing what to expect, what to bring, where to go,” Murray says. “So that’s one of the things that I really love about our approach [at Holos] is that we give people an introduction to the outdoor lifestyle and appreciating all that Alberta has to offer and maybe even creating some new healthy habits in their lives.”

Bust the Meditation Myth

Regardless of whether Murray is taking a group of colleagues out for a hike or leading a yoga class, she always incorporates some moments of mindfulness and meditation into the experience. She doesn’t want people to think meditation is just for “yogis or hippies,” but rather an accessible stress relief tool. “I think people would feel so much better about meditation if they knew it’s not about turning off your brain and having this empty head where there’s no thoughts, no feelings, or sensations. For me, meditation is just simply a practice where I take the time to stop and check in. And then without judging or labeling my experience, I just notice what my authentic experience of the moment is that day, and think about how I’m feeling.”

This article appears in the February 2019 issue of Avenue Edmonton.

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