Playground Workout

I have been reading a lot of adult play (check out Stuart Brown’s TED talk on why play is vital at any age); all the benefits it brings and how somehow we lose it as we grow older. Play is seen as silly or unproductive or a waste of time, but yet think of the last time you ran around and played frisbee or hit the swings – it feels good, uplifting and free to goof around.

Today I decided to take Lily to the playground for a workout – maybe I should change that to “playout”. Her and her little pal Amelia are our cheer leaders as their moms grunt and puff during the playout. I suppose if you truly wanted to make this play, there would be no purpose for the exercises, no reps, no times, but I kind of like structure, so we added some reps and sets to the sequence of exercise.

Run about to warm-up and cool-down for at least 5 minutes each. Do 3 sets of each pair of exercises, with descending reps for the first move and 30 sec for the second move. After you have completed all 3 sets, run about for 1-3 minutes before tackling the next pair of exercises.

1. Lumber Jack squats – start tall with your arms overhead as if you are holding an axe, as you squat down bring down the axe. Do 20 / 15 / 10 for each subsequent round. + 30 sec of sprinter jacks – like running on the spot but more “bouncy and fun”

2. Swing rows – 20 / 15 / 10 + 30 sec of swing knee tucks (place your shins on the swing, hands on the ground and draw your knees towards your chest)

3. Plank with leg circles – raise one leg off the ground and draw 20 circles. Repeat with the other leg. Decrease by 5 for following 2 rounds + 30 sec of bench jumps

4. Jumping pull-ups (kids make these look so easy!)  – 15 / 10 / 5 + 30 sec swing v-sit leg cross-overs (sit  in the swing, raise your legs and lower upper body slightly to form a “V” and scissor your legs out wide and cross-over in front)

5. 1 leg T-raises (thumbs to the sky) – balance one leg, fingers facing the ground. Pinch your shoulder blades together as you lift your arms up. Switch legs half way through the reps 30 / 20 / 10 + 30 sec 2 foot side to side plank jumps – hold high plank as you jump both feet together side to side

Have fun!!!!

Save 15% off classes in January at Total Body


Come and check out Pura Vida at it’s new location at Total Body – 888 Short Street near Uptown Centre. Starting January 6, we will be offering our signature bootcamps with the same great team of instructors, just at a new location.  Lots of great deals to be had over the holidays. Give your family and friends the gift of health this season – a Pura Vida membership!

Winter Soups – Roasted Squash

As soon as the longs days leave us, I start to crave soups to leave that warm feeling all throughout my body.  Roasted squash soup is probably one of my most favourite recipes.  Not only is it thick and delicious but simple to make as well. This recipe came to me from Naturopathic Doctor Kim McQueen

  • 1-3 lb of any flavourful winter squash – peeled, seeded and cut into cubes (you can do this step before or after roasting. I hate dealing with the hard peels on squash so I usually remove it after it’s been cooked when the flesh is soft)
  • 3 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 3 tsp salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 onion
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 1 Tbsp fresh sage (ground works fine too)
  • 6 c chicken broth

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss squash with 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper (I add dried sage here too). Roast for 30 minutes or until carmelized, turning half way through.

In a large soup pot heat butter and remaining oil.  Add onion, celery, sage and saute for about 10 min. Add squash, broth and remaining salt and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for about 30 min. Remove from heat and puree. Serve warm with fresh sage on top.


Healthier Holiday Challenge – Week 2 Activity Challenge

Making exercise a regular part of your day is the key to maintaining optimal health and wellness.  Some of use (myself included) have the mentality that if we can’t get in at least 45 minutes of exercise, then what’s the point? Well even adding in as little as 10 minutes a day can have health benefits as well as stop the slippery slope that some people slide down when they fall off the exercise wagon. Simple things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or parking at the far end of a parking lot to make a difference. Your challenge this week is to incorporate exercise into your daily routine even if you only have 10 minutes.  Try this quick little routine:

  1. Front plank x 30 sec
  2. 20 squats with arms overhead
  3. 20 lunges with rotation over your front knee
  4. Front plank x 30 sec (if this is easy extend the time and/or lift alternate legs)
  5. 20 push-ups
  6. 20 supermans ( lift opposite arms and legs slow and controlled)
  7. Front plank x 30 sec

Here are some TabBody-Sculpting-Tabata-Circuit_thumbata sequences that only take 4 minutes each that you can easily sprinkle in to your day as well.

For me often the hardest part is motivating myself to switch gears to ‘exercise’ mode, but when I do for these short little bursts I am left feeling more energized and definitely stronger over time!  Give it a go this week!



At Home Chai Tea Latte

It’s that time of year for me when more and more comfort foods start to appear on my menu at home. I love that feeling of being warm and cozy. Here is a great recipe for a Chai Tea Latte that you can easily make at home that is perfect for a lazy afternoon treat or a pick me up as your energy might be waning. I have adapted my recipe slightly from the original which comes from Peggy Kotsopoulos‘ book Must Have Been Something I Ate.

  • 1 Rooibos vanilla or chai tea bag
  • 1 Tbsp almond or cashew butter (Peanut butter tastes weird… I’ve tried it)
  • Boiling water
  • Shake of cinnamon and nutmeg
  • Splash of warm almond milk (I like to froth mine and put it on top like the pros) – If you want a richer drink use more milk then water

Soak the tea bag for about five minutes. If you are using almond milk warm-up it up in the microwave or on the stove top. Put all ingredients in a Magic Bullet or blender and blend until you have a frothy latte!

Simple Yoga Series to Improve Digestion

December already?!  For many of us, it’s a big month of friends and family.  And feasting!  Instead of stretching out on the couch after those big meals, how about stretching out on your yoga mat?  Sound radical?  It doesn’t have to be.  There are some simple postures, accessible to all of us, that may bring some relief from the indelicate results of overindulgence: bloating, gas, constipation, overall yuckiness (not that I have any personal experience with any of these ;-)

In very general terms, yogic wisdom says that we can support and stimulate our digestive system by alternately restricting and invigorating the flow of blood to the abdomen.  We achieve this with abdominal compression (as in forward folds), spinal extension (think back-bends), and twisting right and left.

With these principles in mind, here are a few short sequences to support your digestive organs.  Hold each pose for 5 – 10 full, even breaths.  You may practice each series on its own, or in true bootcamp style, group the sequences together as a ladder: begin with the reclined series, move to the kneeling series, then to standing, back to your knees, back to the floor.  1-2-3-2-1.  Always finish with Savasana.

1.  Reclined Series
Begin by lying on your back.

For abdominal compression, simply hug both knees comfortably into your belly.  The Sanskrit name for this pose is Apanasana, which translates as “wind-relieving pose”.  Uh-huh.  You may want to encourage your partner to practice this one, too.

For extension, follow Apanasana with Little Bridge pose.  Still lying on your back, release your knees and take your feet flat to the floor, hip distance apart and quite close to your seat.  Press your triceps into the floor and bend your elbows to 90 so that your fingers point straight up to the ceiling.  With your knees extending straight out from your hips, inhale to press the soles of your feet into the ground and lift your hips towards the ceiling.  To come out, exhale and slowly lower back to the floor from the top to the bottom of your spine.

For your reclined twist, bend your knees to 90, shins parallel to the floor.  Shoot your arms straight out from your shoulders like a capital T.  Then simply drop your knees to the left, turn your head and look towards the right.  To go a little further, cross your bottom (left) leg over the top (right) leg, and let the weight of that leg bring you deeper into your twist.  On an inhale return the knees to centre and repeat on the other side.

2.  Kneeling Series

Kneel to sit on your heels.  If your ankles are tight, place a rolled up towel on the floor under the fronts of your ankles.  Find a neutral pelvis (tipped neither forward nor back), and extend your spine long.  Relax your shoulders away from your ears and lift through the crown of your head.

For abdominal compression, come into a variation of Child’s Pose.  Simply hinge forward and drape your torso over your thighs.  Rest your forehead on the floor.  Your arms can extend out in front of you, palms down, or hang back by your hips, palms up.

For extension, draw forward to Sphinx pose – a gentle backbend.  To get there, walk your hands further forward and bring your belly to the floor, activate your legs straight out behind you.  Place your elbows under your shoulders, forearms and palms pressing in to the floor.  Focus on moving your sternum forward and up, bringing your shoulder blades together on your back, and engaging your core muscles to support the extension in your lower back.

Kneeling Series - sphinx

Kneeling Series – sphinx

For your kneeling twist, press back to your knees and sit on your heels as you began this series.  Recreate the length in your spine and exhale to gently twist to the left, bringing the right hand to the outer left thigh for gentle leverage.  Unwind, extend the spine long again, and twist to the other side in the same manner.

3. Standing Series

Lunge with a twist to help with digestion

Lunge with a twist to help with digestion

If you want to get a bit more active with your digestive practice, take a few rounds of Sun Salutations “A”.  This traditional sequence is full of repeated compression and extension (forward fold – half-way lift; down dog – up dog).  Make the sequence even more potent for your digestive system by adding some closed twists to your lunges.  From your lunge, lengthen through the spine and then revolve towards the bent leg.

For a great demonstration of the entire Sun Salutation “A”, check out this podcast by my Yoga for Athletes mentor, Sage Rountree.

Don’t forget to follow any yoga practice with a few minutes of conscious relaxation in the final resting pose, Savasana.

This is December – make merry, for sure!  But around and about all of your merriment, remember to set aside some time especially for resting and digesting.

If you have any questions about these or other yoga poses, come to one of my classes at Pura Vida, or contact me at

Healthier Holiday Challenge Week 1 – Drink Lemon Water!

4-lemon-infographicThe Holiday season can be a time of over indulgence. Starting your day off with a cup of warm lemon water helps to rid your body of toxins and flush your system. Simply squeeze half a lemon in a cup of warm water as soon as you get up in the morning. Not only is lemon water a natural detoxifier but it is high in vitamin C which can help to boost your immune system and keep winter colds at bay. Your nutrition goal for week one is begin the habit of starting your day off with a cup of warm lemon water.

Healthier Holiday Challenge Week 1 – Get Outside!

hiking-in-woods-big.jpgLiving an active lifestyle is not just about getting to the gym a certain number of hours or running so many kilometers each week it’s about moving your body on a daily basis. Movement can be in the form of gardening, household chores like putting up Christmas lights, walking at lunch time or hiking.

This week’s activity challenge is to get outside of the gym and go for a hike with loved ones. Getting out in the fall leaves and crisp air makes for a rejuvenating experience. Choose a local park (a couple of my favourites are Mt. Doug, Mystic Vale and Gowland Todd) and drag your friends and family out for a walk in the woods. Unsure about parks in your area? Check out the website

Share with us what park you discovered this week.

Healthier Holiday Challenge

Give back to yourself this December by taking the 21 day Healthier Holiday Challenge. You can start anytime in the first week of December and you decide what YOUR challenge is going to be by making a goal of how many classes a week you want to come to. Join in with others as you try to meet YOUR goal and have fun with weekly fitness and nutrition bonus challenges and draw prizes. You will also have the option to start the month off by having your body measurements taken if losing inches is part of YOUR challenge. The more classes you attend each week, the more you will save off your January membership;

  • 2 classes a week save 10%
  • 3 classes a week save 15%
  • 4 classes a week save 20%
  • 5 classes a week save 25%
  • Most classes over 21 days = January for free!

You can also earn “bonus” classes each week by completing special fitness challenges and bringing in donations for our food hamper. Finish off 2013 feeling fit and sign up today! Cost is $79 for 3 week of unlimited classes – that is just $26 a week! Send us an email or register online for 1 months unlimited and enter promo code HOHOHO.  This special price is only valid for classes from December 1 to 22.  Already have a membership with us? No problem, we can put your current membership on hold until January 6, 2014 so you can take advantage of this great price.

Simple Holiday Workout

November 4 for $40 special

We have 2 different classes that you can sign up for 4 for $40 in the month of November! You can mix and match between the 2 classes, but all punches must be used up by November 22.

Cara & Harold in side plank

Sweat ‘n’ Flex with Tracey Cooke – New! Bootcamp & Yoga combo class!

  • Nov 1-Nov 22
  • Friday 7-8am
  • $40/4 classes or drop-ins welcome.

Beach Blast at Gonzales Beach – the perfect outdoor workout for you non-early birds out there!

  • Oct 29 – Nov 19
  • Tuesday 9:30-10:30am at Gonzales Beach rain or shine!
  • $40/4 classes or drop-ins welcome