Tammy Snow-Johnston Fitness
Women's Personal & Group Fitness Training, Barre, Yoga
Tammy's Fit Tips
Simple Fitness and Healthy Lifestyle Tips for Real Women
To Modify Does Not Mean to "Make Easy".
July 20, 2018
Why do so many people struggle through movements that give them pain during a workout? Is it because they have all heard the saying “no pain, no gain” or “sore today, strong tomorrow”? Honestly, while they make for great memes, they are untrue.
While movements should feel challenging, they should NOT cause pain. Muscles MAY be a little sore following a new or difficult workout (and they may not be... but that's a topic for a different day), they should NOT be in absolute pain. There are just too many people who do a disservice to themselves by thinking that a good workout is a painful one. I've heard people tell me that they absolutely “refuse” to use modifications when they are offered to them by qualified professionals... even though they are using terrible form that could cause them injury. They confuse the word “modify” with “make easy”.
Google dictionary defines the word modify as, “to make partial or minor changes to (something), typically so as to improve it or to make it less extreme.”. You can't always expect to absolutely nail a movement that is new to you on the first try. You have to start where you are to get to where you want to be in a safe and effective way.
Modifications do NOT mean you are “weak” and they certainly do not mean you are taking “the easy way”. Modified movements can be challenging... that's why they are offered. There is nothing gratifying to an instructor or trainer in offering you exercises that won't benefit you. Our job is to help you reach your goals, not to make it easy.
Please, do yourself a favour and listen to your body. Leave your ego at the door, focus on what is challenging for you and get yourself there one step at a time.
"Soreness" is NOT the measurement of an effective workout.
August 1, 2018
Muscle soreness can happen, generally, after you have changed something (but doesn't always depending on your muscles' rate of recovery or how you define "sore"). Whether that means you added a new movement to your workout or changed the weight, reps, tempo, etc. of the movement, something has changed. So if you have done a workout for the first time in days, weeks, months, or even years, you are likely to feel a little sore... although you also may not. Or if, for example, you've added a chest flye to your workout instead of just a chest press, you may feel a little sore in the muscles worked... but again... you may not.
Does not feeling sore after a workout mean that you haven't worked hard enough? Ask yourself this: Are you noticing the changes you want to feel in your body? Are you getting stronger? Are you progressing and making movements more difficult at a realistic pace? If your goal is fat-loss, are you losing fat (in combination with proper nutrition)? Do you feel like you are working as hard as you can during your workouts? How you answer these questions are the true measurement of how effective your workouts are.
As far as effectiveness goes, muscle soreness is not telling you anything other than you did something different that your body isn't used to.
Fitness Training Goals are Subjective.
August 7, 2018
Something about Fitness Training goals: It is a great thing to set goals for yourself, so please remember that they can be personal and completely subjective. There are many different elements that contribute to one's personal fitness and fat-loss is only one of the goals that personal trainers, group fitness or any exercise routine can help you to achieve.
My fitness journey started with a goal of simply feeling good and having more energy. I wasn't incredibly concerned about my weight (although I knew it wouldn't hurt to have a little more lean muscle). I had given birth to 2 babies, one with some health challenges, and felt exhausted all the time, not only from taking care of my kids but also my house, the office job I held at the time and of course trying to maintain a healthy marriage. All I wanted was to have energy again and when I finally felt ready to commit to making a change, I started a regular routine of attending group fitness classes (where, by the way, I met a whole community of women who had the same struggles I did).
Not only did exercise help me to sleep better, but I also started eating better for the purpose of fueling my body, so of course, I also started feeling more energized! Once I had energy again, with a little more work, other health benefits just fell into place: decreased anxiety, increased cardiovascular health, muscle tone, increased strength, increased flexibility...
My personal goal has never been to look like a bikini model (although that would be really cool), I started out just wanting to feel good and function better through life. My point is this: whether your goal is to lose fat, increase energy, increase strength, increase flexibility, increase bone health, decrease stress and anxiety... (the list goes on and on), it's not all about before and after pictures posted on social media. Fitness Training goals can be personal and completely subjective and you should own and be proud of the goals YOU set and achieve in doing something good for your body!
The Workout You Enjoy is the Workout You Will Stick With
August 28, 2018
Don't you find that you make more time for activities you actually enjoy?
When I first started working out, I didn't even like to use the term "working out". It didn't sound enjoyable to me and I didn't want to spend hours of my life doing something I didn't enjoy... especially given how little time it seemed I had for myself as a working mom!!
For one thing, I was determined to not do anything that involved counting reps. The idea of standing there counting bicep curls or squats seemed so daunting (to me), and I knew it wasn't going to be something I would stick with... that's why a started off with danced based fitness classes. I always do well in classes where the music drives the movement and I can indulge in my life-long love of dancing while getting a great cardio workout and toning my entire body.
There was also Yoga where I would get to focus inward, block out distractions and learn to listen to my body as I strengthened and stretched. Now, I also LOVE resistance training and working with weights, but I generally stick to circuits and work with a timer instead of counting reps. That way, I can focus on form instead of tracking reps (while listening to my favourite music of course).
There are so many ways to make "working out" enjoyable. If dancing or weights aren't your deal, try rock climbing, hiking, horseback riding, swimming... there are lots of things you can do to keep active while enjoying your life and the bottom line is, you are unlikely to stick with a workout you don't enjoy.
Find and Embrace Your Tribe
September 21, 2018
Over the years I have been extremely blessed to work on a regular basis with strong, focused and amazing women who take time for themselves, even if only for an hour per week, to do something for their personal health and well-being. Whether it be in a Barre Class, Yoga, H.I.I.T, Zumba or small group training, I look forward to seeing their beautiful faces each and every class as they feed my soul... sometimes even more than the workout does!
One-to-One Personal Training is a wonderful thing (and I highly recommend it), but there is also something wonderful to be said for a group of women who share a similar interest, face similar struggles and want to achieve similar goals, working together. I find that in most areas of my life, results are best achieved when I've got "my tribe" surrounding me. They offer support, encouragement, accountability and sometimes even some tough love. I especially find that to be the case with group fitness, both as an Instructor and a student.
If you are struggling to take that first step to do something wonderful for yourself and get your body moving, I encourage you to find a friend(s) who understands and will take that step with you. Show up for each other, motivate and encourage each other! Find and embrace your tribe!
3 Ways to Eat Healthier Over the Holidays... and all other days of the year!
December 24, 2018
It's Christmas Eve!! Time to get into full swing celebrations with the people I love, but not before leaving you with 3 quick tips for healthy holiday eating (that apply all year round):
1. Fill up on colourful salad, fruits and veggies first.
2. Stay hydrated.
3. Don't feel guilty about enjoying your favourite holiday foods... just do so in moderation. Recognize the feeling of being full and stop there.
Merry Christmas to all... and best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year!! 🎄
3 Simple Baby Steps to a Healthy Lifestyle
February 5, 2019
While we all know that physical activity is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle, we also know that it is not the ONLY component. There is an endless amount of information out there to help us get on the right track and that's great... but instead of overwhelming yourself with information or attempting drastic changes in lifestyle, might I suggest that you just keep it simple? A great way to get started is with just a few basic baby steps that can make a world of difference.
Step #1: Eat well. Eat less from a bag or box and more fresh foods (veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, eggs, chicken, fish, etc.). Pretty simple advice... wouldn't you say?
Step #2: Get quality sleep regularly. Research suggests that getting too little sleep can slow down your metabolism AND increase appetite. Aim for 7 - 9 hours of quality sleep nightly.
Step #3: Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Drinking enough water throughout the day has numerous health benefits, including regulating body temperature, lubricating joints, flushing out waste, helping the body to absorb nutrients, and increasing the look of healthy skin. How much water you will need depends on your body weight and level of activity, but I always shoot for a minimum of 8 cups per day.
* Keep in mind that lots of fresh foods contain water as well, so if you are eating plenty of water-rich foods throughout the day, try not to get too hung up on the number of cups of water you are drinking per day.
I like to think that these 3 steps are pretty easy to tackle, even if you just tackle them one at a time. When you eat healthier, get a good night's sleep and stay well hydrated, you will be more likely to have the energy and focus to move more throughout the day and therefore reach your healthy lifestyle goals!
You Have One Body. Love it... exercise it!!
September 5, 2019
Exercise is not meant to be a form of torture, a mechanism of punishment for a weekend of off-track eating or a way to "earn" an extra helping of dessert (and doing exercise well should NOT make you feel sore all the time).
Exercise comes in all kinds of forms and can (and should) be enjoyable. Exercise is an empowering way of taking care of the one body you have been given in this life and helping it to function at it's best throughout your time on this earth.
If you are looking to lose fat or "tone up", Prioritize Resistance Training
September 24, 2019
When women tell me that their goal is to change their bodies by "toning up" and losing weight (fat), I recommend a program that prioritizes resistance training (weights, resistance bands, bodyweight resistance). Almost 100% of the time the response I get is "But if I want to burn fat I'm going to need cardio, aren't I?" or "But I don't want to get bulky."
As for getting "bulky"? Only in very rare instances do women get "bulky" without the help of supplements, a very strict and strategic diet and a tremendous amount of time and specialized training in the gym. Women generally don't have enough testosterone to "bulk up" naturally, even lifting very heavy weight.
What I'm saying ladies is this: Don't be afraid to pick up the weights... especially heavy ones! You will still get your heart rate up, work up a nice sweat and find yourself feeling noticeably stronger!
* Note: None of this is to say that cardio is bad. Cardio is great if you enjoy it and I always encourage at least sprinkling it in every now and then for a well-rounded training program... but if fat loss and a toned look is your goal, you need to prioritize resistance training.
October 1, 2019
Have you ever heard the saying "a comfort zone is a beautiful place to be, but nothing grows there" (or something to that effect)? I believe this to be true.
Often, people get very comfortable with their workouts and that's great... it's good to know what you're doing and feel comfortable with the movements, but if you stay comfortable for too long, you stop seeing the results you are working to achieve or maintain.
Don't be afraid to change things up a bit! Try a heavier weight, work a different exercise into your program, take a new walking route, try a new fitness class, try progressions of the movements you already have in your program... You don't have to all this at once, but keep moving forward... you'll feel so happy that you did!