Make winter your healthiest season with these holiday fitness tips.
‘Tis the season to be jolly and oh so busy! Don’t forget to put your health on your holiday list too. Whether you’re an avid athlete or new to fitness, there is no reason you can’t enjoy all of the perks of holidays while keeping your heart healthy.
We asked fitness experts from a range of disciplines for advice on how to maintain your current fitness regime, add something new or kick start your New Year’s resolutions.
Elana Liberman, group fitness instructor, Halifax
• TRY IT AND STICK WITH IT! Get excited about trying something new before or during the holidays. Set the momentum so you’re ahead of the New Year’s resolution game. Indoor cycling (spin class) can be the perfect combination of strength and cardio training. Why not try at least four classes before you decide if it’s for you. It will be tough at the beginning – that’s what makes it such a good workout.
Seek out modifications and ask questions. And remember, you are in control of tension and speed – so go at your own pace but be sure to challenge yourself! In spin class, don’t worry about how hard others are pedaling; looks can deceive and bikes can vary. Focus on doing the best that you can do, that day, and walk away with a huge sense of pride.
When Elana isn’t at Cyclone Group Fitness, she is giving back to her community – from rescuing animals at Beagle Freedom Project to providing fitness opportunities for those who do not have easy access to fitness classes. Elana has two fun-loving sons and a husband with whom she wants to travel the world and watch every HBO series ever made.
Danna Hanas , yoga instructor, Edmonton
- FIND BALANCE. Taking care of yourself will put you in a better position to take care of your loved ones. Take a few minutes before a trip to the mall or a holiday party by nibbling on some veggies or making a smoothie before you leave your house. It will keep you feeling satisfied so you don’t overindulge while you’re out. Notice the word over. It’s OK to indulge a little! Need to re-centre after that hectic shopping trip or party? Before bed, try this wide-legged child’s pose. Kneeling on your yoga mat or floor, take your knees mat distance apart and bring your forehead to the mat. Arms are long in front of you with elbows, forearms and palms resting on the ground. Breathe slow full breaths as you belly falls to the ground on your inhale; with your exhale find release in your shoulders. Forehead to the ground signals your body to slow down, and the deep breathing will calm your body and mind before bed.
Danna has been a teacher at Moksha Hot Yoga Edmonton for more than five years. Next to yoga,
her other loves are her husband and her two-year old daughter. In addition to her yoga practice and fitness regime, she also enjoys snowshoeing.
Jean-Luc Mejane, running coach, Montreal
- SHARE YOUR PASSION. Use the holidays as an excuse to inspire others to try running – or whatever physical activity you love. Shop for gifts with a running theme (books, accessories, perhaps a certificate for a training session). You’ll be giving a gift that provides a step towards improved health. Also this year, you might consider inviting friends, family and neighbours to join you in an athletic challenge such as a fun run before your holiday meal. It could be the perfect day for a jog, enjoying the beauty of your neighbourhood under a soft blanket of snow. If running isn’t accessible to everyone, try fitting in a walk and some fresh air after dinner.
Jean-Luc channeled his passion for triathlon to create TRIPLEACTION. He also trains the McGill University triathlon team in cycling and running, as well as a group of cyclists and triathletes at the Downtown YMCA in Montréal.
Jean-Marc Beauchesne, personal trainer, Summerside
- WORK OUT AT HOME. The kettlebell is one of the most versatile pieces of fitness equipment you can buy, allowing you to do hundreds of exercises at home. Kettlebells offer a dynamic, whole-body exercise routine that incorporates cardiovascular, resistance and range-of-motion training into one workout. The best part is that a good routine shouldn’t take much more than 30 minutes, leaving you with more time to enjoy the holidays. Start off by learning the basics such as squats, shoulder presses and deadlifts. Then combine them; for example, you can combine squats and presses into one movement for an added challenge. Kettlebells come in a variety of weights so you can increase your weight as you become more comfortable with your new at-home routine. That should help burn off the fruit cake.
Jean-Marc has been a personal trainer for more than three years, specializing in kettlebell and yoga. He can always be found at The Fit Stop at Credit Union Place in Summerside, sharing his passion for training.
The holidays are a time for family, friends and festivities. Don’t feel guilty about enjoying them. Know that it’s OK to skip a day at the gym or have that extra glass of wine, but make sure to put your heart into it when it comes to your holiday fitness schedule. If you can establish (or re-establish) a routine, give it 100 per cent. Your heart will thank you.