POUND classes hosted at Hart House

New fitness class incorporates drumming

POUND classes hosted at Hart House

Upon arriving to POUND, I saw a few faces who had come to try something new, in addition to a few who had already heard about the new workout craze. The sun shone through the beautiful Hart House gym windows as we waited for the class to start. We were greeted by trainer Melissa Mazzucco, who instructed us to grab a mat and a pair of neon-green drumsticks.

If you’ve got no idea what POUND is, you’re not alone. The new fitness phenomenon combines the intense rhythm movement of drumming with common exercises, which makes the workout extremely engaging and helps one build their own sense of rhythm. POUND is an excellent substitute for cardio. It involves repetitive movement that takes place on the spot. This form of exercise is great for those who don’t want to get involved with running, which is a huge bonus for those who are wary about knee injuries.

This year, Hart House began hosting POUND as a part of its drop-in fitness programs. The class takes place every Friday from 9:10–10:00 am in the lower gym.

I’ll be honest — at first I expected actual drums, but I then realized that would have been way too heavy for the trainer to carry to class. The music started, a remix of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good,” and we began hitting our drumsticks together in unison with the beat. We then launched into a variety of movements up and down, side to side, and began hitting our mats by squatting and drumming at the same time. Many of the exercises involved lunging backward and forward, and side to side, squatting up and down, then eventually doing some core work. These exercises mainly tackle the leg, gluteus, and abdomen muscles. I was certainly very sore the next day, and I felt that this class effectively promoted us into doing many, many squats.

POUND was founded by former drummers Kirsten Potenza and Cristina Peerenboom. As Mazzucco told us, they were looking for a new form of exercise when they took it upon themselves to take their drumming skills to the next level. They began incorporating all forms of fitness movements with the use of drumming sticks, hitting off various surfaces while inducing movement and following the rhythm of the music. It turned into an international organization that continues to update its routines with new music and new moves.

A great quality of the class is that it’s in the morning – the perfect time for people to begin their day.

Mazzucco has a background in dance training, is certified in many forms of fitness training, and is certain to expand your knowledge to beyond that of the class alone.

Traditional gymgoers may hesitate at first taking one of these classes. I used to play a lot of intense sports and worked out occasionally, but once I took a Zumba class, I was amazed to see how tired I was afterward.

One can certainly equate the intensity of these rhythm classes to that of traditional exercises. POUND runs at an intense rhythm. Like Zumba, you are constantly moving to the beat of the music that won’t slow down until the end of the class. What’s great about both POUND and Zumba is that you feel like you’re dancing the entire time while getting in a great workout.

Overall, these classes are great for accommodating to the needs of people of all abilities and ages. The instructors insist on this to make sure that you don’t feel an absolute need to keep up with everything. The instructor will help adjust exercises in a manner that accommodates to any level one feels comfortable with.

What you need to know about circuit training

The popular and highly debated workout regiment aims to improve flexibility and coordination

What you need to know about circuit training

Circuit training has always been a hot topic within the fitness world, and it may just be worth sweating over. Circuit training is a rotation of repeated movements that maximizes cardio and strengthens muscle through sets and reps. The objective of circuit training is to train endurance as well as to strengthen and target muscles in order to improve an individual’s flexibility and coordination. Each training session typically includes a combination of both aerobic exercise and strength training.

The debate surrounding circuit training

Arguments against circuit training claim that it can limit the ability to increase strength and power, but it can also be interpreted as a workout that challenges the whole body. What you get out of your training depends on how you choose to structure it.

Circuits are designed to fit at least eight repetitions per exercise and per station. Because circuit training consists of various exercises and stations, each targeting different muscle groups, it may decrease the gains you would earn from a more specific muscle training workout.

Despite that, it is possible to do low-repetition, high-weight exercises during a circuit to include the strengthening component. The purpose of a circuit is repetition to increase endurance. Hardcore weightlifting exercises within a circuit can be too exhausting to complete in multiple rounds, especially when performed with little rest or recovery time.

How to effectively circuit train

While circuits can be tiring, an individual’s pace is important. People should be wary of the tendency to work harder and push themselves in the beginning, only to give in by the end.

This is a common mistake partly because participants may minimize or eliminate rest between stations. Participants are most effective when they use a work-rest ratio of at least 1:1. One good example is 30 seconds of work and 30 seconds of rest.

To help avoid fast muscle fatigue, you can structure circuits for strength training by alternating between low-rep strength and high-rep endurance exercises. You can also vary the muscles each station intends on targeting, which may allow you to have a more balanced full-body workout.

Research shows that this type of training is more effective than a regular workout. You can burn up to 10 calories per minute, and the afterburn effect will have you burning off calories for up to 48 hours after your workout ends. For those who lift weights, circuit training burns 30 per cent more calories than your typical weight workout and offers more cardio benefits.

The stations associated with circuit training also provide a way to organize an individual workout plan within a tighter period of time. Another point in favour of circuit training: you can do it at the gym or at home. By participating in a circuit, you’re guaranteed to hit every major and minor muscle group.

How to create your own circuit

First, create your own circuit by deciding how long you want your workout to be. Challenge yourself by taking part in this type of training two to three times a week by completing a full circuit of four to eight exercises.

Next, create your stations. You can start with upper body then work your way to muscles in the lower body. My personal favourites for upper body exercise are ab twists, pushups, or bicep and tricep curls with handheld weights. When selecting a lower body workout, you can include lunges, calf raises, or sumo squats.

The next exercise should be compound, combining upper and lower body. Some exercises can include jumping lunges, mountain climbers, and burpees. Keep each exercise on a 30-second rotation between performance and rest. Remember the 1:1 ratio of performance and rest.

Conclude the circuit with a one-minute cardio set. Your exercise choices can be jump rope, high knees, or stair climbing. Once completed, allow yourself one minute of rest as you gear up to work through another repetition of the circuit.

Like with any workout, you get out what you put in. In the end, it is up to you to give your best 30 seconds or let the 30 seconds get the best of you.

The mythical importance of sweating at the gym

Why sweat isn’t a determining factor for a productive workout

The mythical importance of sweating at the gym

When I’m at the gym or out for a run, I find the presence of sweat a strong indication of a successful workout. If I’m not drenched in sweat, then I think I didn’t work out hard enough. This is a common misconception many of us have.

I can’t even count the number of times I have been told by coaches, my parents, or sporting brand ads that in order to shed calories or fat or even gain muscle, you need to sweat after every workout. It sounds almost intuitive: you must be working harder than normal to sweat, which means that the more you sweat the more you’re burning.

On the contrary, almost all research done on sweating comes back with the same conclusion: a correlation between sweat and fat burn does not exist. So where does this myth stem from?

Our muscles do require a certain amount of calories, or energy, in the form of fat or carbohydrates. The harder we work out, the more energy we need. At certain energy levels, our body will need to work harder, which in turn will raise our bodies’ overall temperature and trigger a response from our sweat glands.

Sweating is an autonomic nervous system function that is triggered when your inner core temperature gets too high. Sweat is our bodies’ way of cooling off and maintaining a normal body temperature. Not only does sweat cool the skin as it evaporates, it also helps cool our inside core temperature.

Made up of water, sodium, and other substances, sweat helps cool your body. It makes sense to think that since working out increases our inner core temperature, the amount of sweat we produce is a good indication of how hard we work. As you work out harder, your body needs to pump more blood to your muscles, which logically increases the body’s overall temperature.

However, despite people having an average of 2–4 million sweat glands in their body, no two people produce the same quantity of sweat — especially not for the same activities.

Everything from gender, genetics, environmental conditions, age, weight and even fitness can drastically change how much a person sweats. Aspects like stress, anxiety, and hormones also trigger the stimulation of those sweat glands and have been shown to even alter a person’s body temperature.

Therefore, it is a major misconception to believe that the rate you sweat is only determined by fitness level.

Fit people do sweat earlier and more easily than most people. Individuals who are fit have bodies that are more efficient at not only sending motor and neuron signals to their muscles, but also are more effective at regulating the inner core temperature. As a result, individuals who are fit sweat much sooner, cooling down their bodies faster and for prolonged periods of time, to allow those individuals to work out longer.

Another potential explanation for the sweat-fitness correlation myth could originate from the fact that a prolonged amount of sweating does make you lose water weight, since your body is producing so much sweat from your glands. You could appear to have burned fat and calories when in actuality you have only burned off water weight.

In other words, your rate of sweat and level of calorie burn are not synonymous. You could be sweating more than another individual not necessarily because you’re working out harder, but more likely because of different factors like a higher weight or higher level of fitness. To more accurately keep track of fat or calorie burn, individuals should focus more on heart rates and scale numbers instead.

Sweating out the fury

Breaking down the importance of channelling anger into a positive workout

Sweating out the fury

What if I told you that you could run your way to happiness, or that exercise could naturally allow you to burn away stress and anger and not just calories? Running and exercise reduce levels of stress hormones and boost the production of endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that fight pain and boost positive mood.

The correlation between moods and working out is a prominent one. Moods, goals, and mindsets all have an influence on an individual’s motives and desires. Research conducted by Jennifer Lerner of the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory found that anger can make people overconfident and motivated to take dangerous risks.

Many individuals look to exercise as an outlet to channel anger. Studies have shown that engaging in physical activity allows for anger to be released through the body’s movements, keeping stress levels and anger under control.

Aerobic exercise, which relies on oxygen to produce energy, increases the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and reduces anxiety. Walking, jogging, and cycling are all good examples of aerobic circuits. Taking part in team sports is another great way to get active, and cooperation with others can both reduce anger and stress.

Benefical stationary exercises include flexing and relaxing muscles and doing deep breathing exercises. These processes help relax your body, reducing your anger and anxiety.

Anger is more than just a mood that affects relationships or situations — it affects the body, heart, and mind. When anger is expressed as an action or emotion, many do not realize how detrimental it can be to an individual’s overall health and well-being. Many also don’t realize the importance of working out and how it reduces the buildup of anger, allowing you to feel recharged and positive.

Improving your physical condition is not only beneficial for the body but can help you better manage your emotions. Unhealthy responses to anger weaken the immune system and puts the body at risk. In a 1995 study published in the Journal of Advancement in Medicine, scientists found that an angry experience could cause a dip in levels of the antibody immunoglobulin A, which provides the first line of defence against infection.

Feelings of anger, stress, and depression can also have an impact on one’s life expectancy. A University of Michigan study conducted over a 17-year period found that couples who hold in their anger and repress feelings have a shorter lifespan than those who are vocal and express what’s on their mind when they’re angry.

Anger is especially damaging to cardiac health. When an individual is angry, their average heart rate of 80 beats per minute can drastically increase to 180 beats per minute. “In the two hours after an angry outburst, the chance of having a heart attack doubles,” Chris Aiken, instructor at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, told Everyday Health.

Repressing anger is when one holds back their feelings and allows anger to build up. It is when an individual expresses their anger indirectly, and it is closely tied to heart disease. To protect your heart, find an outlet to channel your anger and regulate stress levels; identifying and addressing feelings is important to controlling anger.

Constructive anger is being able to express your feelings directly and in a problem-solving manner. This is a healthy way of dealing with frustration and is not associated with heart disease.

The brain processes all emotional stress and is therefore the first to feel the effects of anger. This then causes the body to release stress hormones that impact brain productivity and overall performance of the mind, heart, and body.

Drop in to a healthy start

St. George campus is home to a variety of drop-in fitness programs

Drop in to a healthy start

Many of us want to return to summer ‘vacation mode’ — our annual opportunity to slack off on fitness, relax at the beach, or bounce around from barbecues to back porch parties. But now the reality of school, deadlines, and routines is sinking in — it’s time to get back into the swing of things.

The start of the school year is a great time to pick up some healthy habits and luckily for us, UTSG is well-equipped with athletics facilities for us to improve our health, like the Goldring Centre, Hart House, and the Athletic Centre. Hart House and the Athletic Centre both have a group fitness drop-in program. These classes are designed to offer a challenge to students, and with bi-weekly attendance you can achieve your athletic goals.

Recommended Classes

My experience with taking group drop-in fitness classes has motivated me and allowed me to get ahead on my fitness abilities.

“Nia” is a dance-based drop-in with a blend of yoga and martial arts. It’s a soulful workout and art form that leaves you feeling strong and motivated. You can attend Nia classes at Hart House or the Athletic Centre.

“Core Fusion-Balance” — my favourite fitness class — is hosted at Hart House and taught by Trainer Amanda Wolfson. The movements stem from balance training and pilates for an effective next-day feel. The class is targeted to build stability and strength in your core muscles with the use of weights and equipment.

“Movin’ Muscle” is a great way to get active. This class consists of light cardio with a main focus on toning muscle. The training involves the use of light to medium weights, according to your preference, which are incorporated in choreographed movements. Group Excersise Supervisor and Trainer Martin Phills at Hart House makes it a fun space and enjoyable workout.

The benefits of exercise

Committing to a healthy way of living will improve the quality of your life. Working out has tremendous benefits not only for the body but also the mind, and if strapped for time, working out between classes has its benefits. The Canadian government recommends that adults get two and a half hours of moderate to vigorous activity per week and that children get 60 minutes per day.

Not only does working out boost energy, but it has benefits for your mental health and can improve mood as well. Different workouts affect the body and mind in seperate ways. Aerobic exercise and strength training work to improve your mood, and physical exercise in general reduces stress levels and anxiety. Taking part in physical exercise increases the production of serotonin, which is a critical neurotransmitter in the brain that is associated with good health and mental well-being.

Working out can also improve memory and learning ability. Physical activity affects the brain by increasing the amount of blood flow, therefore enriching the mind with oxygen and glucose. Cardio activities and exercises like running or cycling will increase the heart rate, which helps pump oxygen and glucose to the brain.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia also found that taking part in vigorous exercise boosts the size of the hippocampus, which is part of the brain responsible for memory and learning. Although many of us dread cardio, it does have its benefits. However, resistance training, balance, and muscle toning exercises did not appear to have the same results on the brain.

The body, inside and out, is shaped by working out. Not only does getting active and toning muscle lead to looking good on the outside, it also contributes to overall health and wellbeing on the inside. Obesity, anxiety, and depression are a few conditions that can be managed by exercise.

Go big or go home

Students and their love of supplements

Go big or go home

Professional athletes and weightlifters have been using supplements to increase muscle mass and help with recovery for a long time. ‘Iron Guru’ Vince Gironda was known to drink a concoction of raw eggs, protein powder, and heavy cream after working out, and athletes like Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook and professional race car driver Danica Patrick are both spokespeople for the supplement brand Six Star Pro Nutrition.

Although you’d be hard pressed to find a student who drinks raw eggs, U of T does have a multitude of students who use supplements like protein powder or creatine as well as other pre-workout and post-workout blends. Bolstered by the popularity of protein shakers, the supplement industry is booming and students are some of its top customers.   

Realizing that the student demographic is increasingly in-demand of workout supplements, Jacked Scholar an e-commerce supplements provider has created a place for students to shop for, and buy their favourite supplement brands. 

Travis McEwan, founder of Jacked Scholar admits that, “the market in this demographic has never been bigger.” Jacked Scholar has even gone so far as to employ more than a hundred “campus ambassadors” for the company. 

According to the global consulting firm McKinsey, knowledge-based consumers are driving the recent attention to supplements. In their study of supplements, the company notes that 96 per cent of adults who use the Internet have used online resources to help them make decisions about their health and fitness choices. 

Companies like Jacked Scholar target the university demographic, hoping to entice students with cheaper prices on name-brand goods, and out-compete both local supplement stores and chains like GNC. It makes sense because e-commerce can provide a better price on a given line of products for students. 

Annette Latoszewska, a U of T student and former Jacked Scholar U of T representative, uses various supplements when she has the time to commit to a workout routine. “I like to complement [my routine] with supplements. Cellucor C4 pre-workout, not picky about my protein so it’s whatever is decent and cheap for post-workout and then I’ll use Cellucor SuperHD twice a day for fat burning,” she said.

Latoszewska also explained her duties while affiliated with the company; she was tasked to “promote the brand to generate sales. When your discount code is associated with the sale online, you get the credit [commission].”

Despite the fact the Latoszewska did not purchase supplements from the company, citing “cheaper options” she does admit that there is earning potential for those willing to put in the requisite time and effort. 

Nevertheless, McEwan is confident that the market at universities only has more room to grow. “We’re getting to the point where we can be pickier about the type of students that we accept into the campus rep program,” he explained. 

Another advantage of having supplements on campus is that it provides for an innovative testing lab. According to the McKinsey study, “new products will be offered as fads [and] go in and out of vogue.” Because U of T is like a Mecca for diverse groups of people, campus-specific supplement companies have the perfect ecosystem to observe what supplements work and what supplements don’t. 

Whether or not students will be interested in the long-run is an entirely different matter. Danny Lee, an economics student at U of T is aware of the campus presence and is firm when he advises students to “follow a workout schedule and eat right. Protein powder is like icing on top of the well-disciplined cake.” 

Supplements represent more of an idea to students than a reality — the idea of what’s possible. The truth is in the name. These producst are intended to supplement your normal, healthy diet, not replace it. So at the end of the day make sure that what’s at the end of your fork is more important than what’s at the bottom of your supplement bottle.

New Year’s Fitness Resolutions

How to ensure another resolution doesn’t go out the door by mid-February

New Year’s Fitness Resolutions

Now that it is the end of January, many of us will have realized that the resolutions we made in the lazy haze of the holidays aren’t exactly coming to fruition: the chances of someone following through with their New Year’s resolution for an entire year is slim. The most commonly broken resolution is losing weight. At U of T it’s easy to fall into a routine of going to class, studying, eating out, and staying up late — conditions that aren’t exactly conducive to keeping up a health-related resolution.

If you’re serious about improving your health and bettering yourself for next year, while still maintaining a steady GPA, here are some tips and tricks to help you make the most of your 2016:   

1) Join a fitness class

It’s okay to step out of your comfort zone by joining a new club or fitness class to change up your workout routine. U of T’s athletic facilities offer different types of classes like: kickboxing, yoga, Zumba, pilates, and many more. Changing up the traditional free weight and cardio machine workouts can also help your body resist plateauing, and if you take a Zumba class, you may even dance away with some new moves to show-off the next time you go out.

2) Hire a personal trainer

If you’re excited about working out but the thought of going into the gym without knowing what to do sounds about as appealing as cutting your own arm off, then U of T’s personal training services can help. U of T athletic services offer one-on-one sessions with personal trainers who are certified, and usually U of T students. Their job is to help you develop a workout routine that suits your personal needs and goals. They will also show you how to use the different machines in the weight room, guide you through cardio exercises, and give you pointers on eating better, and help you adjust to a healthier lifestyle.   

3) Say no to junk food

Probably the biggest hindrance to your weight loss and fitness goal is your diet, so cutting back on buying fast food is crucial. Although this is probably one of the hardest changes to make, eating healthier doesn’t have to constitute a complete dietary overhaul. Try packing a lunch or a few snacks that will come in handy when you have a long day on campus. Start off with once or twice a week, and work your way up to packing a lunch daily. Invest in a good quality water bottle and take it everywhere; this will help you cut back on sodas and juices, plus you can make use of U of T’s hydration stations. 

4) Set goals 

There’s a difference between a resolution and a goal. Resolutions are more generic — for example, lose weight or become fitter — whereas goals are smaller milestones you can set in order to fulfill your resolution. Achieving small goals makes your resolution more attainable, because seeing regular progress can be the best form of encouragement. It can also be helpful to keep track of your progress by using a fitness app or journal; writing down your progress will get you that much closer to achieving your goals. Talking about your future goals with people that are close to you can also help you keep them.

5) Buy workout clothes

A trick that works especially well for broke university students is investing in workout clothes. For most university students, money is scarce and OSAP is cruel, so the thought of wasting money is sickening. Buying workout clothes will motivate you to go to the gym — not because you’ll look good, but because you don’t want to waste the money you spent on those Lululemon or Nike leggings. A good workout apparel starter-kit includes: running shoes, thick socks, leggings, and a T-shirt.