Pop quiz, hot shot:

Q: What is better than getting amazingly fit with the help of an award-winning trainer?

A: Getting amazingly fit with an award-winning trainer at 50% of the normal cost.


Q: What is even better than getting amazingly fit with an award-winning trainer at 50% of the normal cost?

A: Getting amazingly fit with an award-winning trainer at 50% of the normal cost…..and helping a beautiful family get out of Syria and settle in Canada.


Here’s the back story:

My friend Laura-Jean Bernhardson is the owner of Fresh Collective, a funky clothing store in Toronto.  She is also a mum.

Like all of us, she is devastated by the pictures of Syrian families trying to escape circumstances that most of us can’t even imagine.

Last January, Laura-Jean took action and organized a clothing drive,  where newcomers to Canada could try on and pick out a week’s worth of clothes as well as free winter gear. The initiative received some well-deserved media attention:


Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 12.32.32 PM
From a CBC story about Laura and some fellow volunteers.

And the publicity led to her getting a Facebook message from a stranger named Ramia.

Ramia is a mother of four living in a tent on the Syrian border who is desperately trying to get her family to Canada.

Ramia also contacted other Canadians who had been in the news for helping refugees: Siyar Abu Hantash, of Canada Today Arab news, and Zarah Tinholt, an advisor to Refugees Matter in Vancouver.

With limited English and patchy internet in a Syrian refugee camp, Ramia managed to connect these three random Canadian activists and implored them to band together and advocate on her behalf.

Which impresses the hell out of me.

…and makes me think of what I would do to get my kids out of danger and to a safer place.

Ramira's kids: Mohammed (11), Ghiyath (10), Sham (3) , Zein (2),
Ramia’s kids: Mohammed (11), Ghiyath (10),
Sham (3) , Zein (2),

So when Laura-Jean put a call out to fellow business owners to help her sponsor this family, I said I was in.

And I hope you will be in as well.  

For the rest of July, I will offering all new Bootcamp memberships at 50% off to raise money for Ramia to come to Canada.


  • You get a 50% discounted membership.
  • You get access to award-winning trainers, a meal plan designed by a holistic nutritionist and a month of fun, effective workouts.
  • You get to help someone who really needs a break right now.

Just go check out our Bootcamps, select the one that is right for you and use the discount code: TEAM RAMIA

the sunrise over Christie Pits in late summer
the sunrise over Christie Pits in late summer




Is this only for new clients?

This deal is for any new client or any previous Bootcamper whose membership expired more than 6 months ago.

I’m one of your awesome regular clients and I’d love to help out. What can I do?

Please share this page with all of those friends of yours who have about two glasses of wine and SWEAR they are totally going to sign up for Bootcamp someday. Hold them to it! You’ll be doing them a favour because:

  • You know that Bootcamp is awesome
  • Now it’s mega cheap
  • It’s for a wonderful cause.

If you live out of town and have a few extra bucks, you can go to Ramia’s Gofundme page and donate directly there – with my thanks!

I’d love to try Bootcamp and this deal is sweet but I’m away for the next little bit. Can I buy now and start my membership later?

Totally.  Go ahead and buy your membership and then send an email to: info AT fitfeelsgood DOT ca and let Michele know when you’d like to start.

Is the 50% discount available for the 10 class pass?

No- just for the monthly membership.

Can I drag my heels and avoid committing and hem and haw and think about it forever?

Nope. We have a deadline to get Ramia’s family funded by August. The fundraising efforts (and the flash sale) will be over by the end of the month.

You know, it’s actually not that easy to get refugees to Canada. Are you sure you know what you are doing?

The community sponsor for Ramia and her family is Community Matters, which has over two decades of experience helping newcomers get established in the St. James Town neighbourhood of Toronto.

All the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed. We just need to raise the money and get it into their competent hands . Hence the awesome flash sale. 🙂

Where can I learn more about Ramia and her story?

If you would like to learn more about Ramia’s incredible story, see the Facebook massages she sends to her sponsors and more pictures of those gorgeous kids, check out Laura-Jean’s blog and the GoFundMe campaign.

Where can I learn more about these Bootcamps you speak of? Like, are they super scary? Is someone going to yell at me?

No one is going to yell at you! You are committing to improve your fitness and help out a family in need. We love that!  You can learn more about why we were voted ‘Toronto’s Best Bootcamps’ and get all your questions answered on our Bootcamps page.  Once you’ve found the time and location that works for you, just click to register and at check out enter the discount code TEAM RAMIA to apply your flash sale discount.


The first 10 people to sign up for Team Ramia will also get a sweet ass Fit Feels Good burpee T shirt:2015-09-14 14.13.51


Around this time of year, a bunch of my clients will be a little more lax in their workout program. But  they’ll assure me that they are getting tons of exercise because they are cycling, like, everywhere.

In many ways – I LOVE THIS.

I love this because it’s actually bonkers that our everyday lives are so sedentary that we need to carve out special allocated time to move our bodies. Could you imagine explaining a treadmill to a pioneer?

You wha!_


When we cycle to work or to generally #gsd, we are integrating movement into our daily lives in a way that is natural and useful. It’s good for us and the environment and saves us money and makes so much sense.

Here’s some other good news about cycling:

  • It’s easier on the joints than running
  • Many people find it much more enjoyable than other forms of exercise
  • Like any other form of cardio, you are going to burn calories, get a rush of endorphins, release stress and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • It’s great training for the lower body – particularly the quadriceps.

So what’s not to love!?!


Now for the not so great news.  There’s a lot of reasons why cycling shouldn’t be your only exercise:

1.You are still basically sitting.

And, for most of us -the last thing we need to do is sit more.

Although it’s fantastic that we are getting blood to the legs by pedaling, we need to get up on our feet and get out of that position as much as possible.

2. It doesn’t help with bone health.

Many people choose to start cycling because they are getting to an age where they are starting to feel discomfort in the joints after a lot of impact exercise.

If that’s the case, you are getting to an age where you should be caring about bone health. Bone density is increased by weight bearing exercise so cycling doesn’t really help.  Impact and strength training exercises will help with that. (see below!)

3.You probably aren’t burning many calories.

If weight loss is a goal for you, it’s about killing more calories than you consume.

As I’ve mentioned before, that’s really best managed by consuming fewer calories  in the first place than trying to burn them off through exercise.

However, if you are looking for the most caloric bang for your buck (or your butt) than you have to consider that cycling for 30 mins will burn about half the calories as much as running for 30 mins as most of your weight is supported by the bike (assuming equal effort).

4. You aren’t getting a balanced workout.

You aren’t even really working the entire lower body.  As you can see in this gif, the primary muscles used are the quadriceps and hamstrings.


And not even really hamstrings. The hamstrings help you pull the pedal back up to the top but unless you have clips, it will mostly be the quadriceps on the other side doing the work.

You’ll get the glutes a little bit when you push the pedal forward at the top of the clock but most of the resistance comes when you push down, which is all quadriceps.

Psst…If you want more glutes, that’s all about hip extension, so get your butt out of the seat and think of pushing right from the hip.


So do I want you to stop cycling?

Hells no!


There is no better way to get around. I just want you to supplement all your cycling with the following workout routine for maximum fitness and foxiness:

Save the Cyclist’s Workout to your phone or computer

Not only will it balance out the work you are doing on the bike, it will also make you a better and stronger cyclist so you can #gsd like a boss …. and be the only cyclist you know with a 6 pack.

I was so ugly before I did Oonagh's workout for cyclists


Do 2-3 rounds of this circuit after cycling. Should take 10-15 mins.


20 reps

The quintessential compound upper body movement will strengthen your chest, shoulders and triceps. That way you can show off your sweet tricep while you are riding.





20 reps

Rows work the opposing muscles to the pushups – your back and biceps. They are especially important for cyclists as we tend to hunch over the bars and this will balance out those muscles patterns so you aren’t a grotesque hunch back later on in life.




1 min

This is an impact exercise that will increase bone density, burn calories and isn’t especially quad dominant. If you don’t have a rope just mime one (but don’t forget about the little arm turns – you’ll eventually feel them in your biceps and triceps)



20 reps

Notice how this movement is the opposite of all the hunched over sitting we do. Take these slow and focus on squeezing every muscle in the back body as you exhale into the movement.



Glute bridge:

20 reps

This is to make up for the relative lack of glute work in our cycling. When the quads get too strong, they tend to take over all our lower body work, which will mean you will eventually end up with a flat bum, massive quads and creaky knees. No thanks.

glute bridge


 1 min

This will train your transverse abdominus, which will keep your belly tight and help you avoid lower back pain – both on and off the bike.


Also make sure you stretch the following muscles as well.



Don’t forget to download a copy of the Cyclist’s Workout to your phone so you can get the most out of all your cycling activity.

Save the Cyclist’s Workout to your phone or computer

But remember – sometimes it not really about the workout at all:


Happy cycling!!

Did you enjoy this post? If so, let me know by leaving a comment and share it with your friends!

A few times a year, we run fitness assessments at our Bootcamps, and my fellow trainers Scott and Trevor and I have a little meeting about who is showing a lot of improvement.

The person who has demonstrated the best effort and improvement will get to be the keeper of the coveted Fit Feels Good trophy until the next round of assessments so the stakes are HIGH:

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 4.28.41 PM

We all had hero stories from our classes and then Trevor mentions that ‘Chris is basically a beast now’.

I was a little surprised. I remembered Chris as hilarious and enthusiastic with a great attitude but not BEASTLY.

I had totally forgot about it until I went to visit our East End Early Risers Bootcamp in Riverdale park the other day and there’s Chris, arriving early and making me smile because he’s wearing a shirt that had originally been made for my MOTHERFUNK! dance class for mums with babies:


And then we start to work out and yeah…he’s totally a beast now.

Not only that, but he’s taken on a leadership role in organizing a Fit Feels Good team to run the Pride Run this weekend, to raise funds for charitable organizations whose aims and activities benefit the LGBTQ community.


And then during our cool down, the East End group just spontaneously started to tell me how much Chris inspires them to work harder and how keeping up with him is their new goal. How they had thought he had been Bootcamping for years instead of months.

In Trevor’s words:

I am so glad Chris joined our boot camp this past October. His energy and sense of humour, combined with his awesome work ethic make him an amazing person to be around.

I agree wholeheartedly.


Here is Chris’ Fitness Story!






Project Manager

How long have you been training with us?

8 months (my first class was a Hallowe’en-themed, trick-or-treat workout. Weird.)


Were you always an exerciser? What did you do for your fitness before signing up with FFG?

After  high school – where I owned the nerd side of “jocks vs nerds” – and undergrad – too busy studying/drinking – I’ve done weightlifting and jogging, on and off, for over 10 years.

Last year, I signed up for the 6-day, 600+ km Friends for Life Bike Rally, and the weekly training rides got me into fantastic shape.


It got me thinking about whether more cardio and lighter weights would suit me better.

What made you sign up for a FFG Bootcamp?

After the Bike Rally, I returned to 2.5 months of a stressful project at work and decided to prioritize work and sleep over exercising.

Towards the end of the project, there was a beautiful Saturday afternoon and I said eff it, went for my first jog in several weeks, and jogged past a lamppost on Broadview with a FFG poster.

totally the only time these posters worked.
totally the only time these posters worked.

It sounded like exactly the mix of cardio and strength training I was looking for, so I signed up for a trial week.

How has being an FFG Bootcamper changed your life?

It’s severely cramped my Sun/Tue/Thu-evening social life

and I’ve really declined in my my ability to overeat and drink alcohol

… and it has me in the best shape of my life.

I’m not used to so many compliments about my appearance!

For instance, I recently posted a picture of myself on facebook which I meant to be a jokey-sexy, and some people commented that it was actual-sexy.


What do you do when you are not Bootcamping?

My job is managing medical imaging device development projects; I spend my personal time biking around the city, meeting with friends for board games / room-escapes / gastro-pubs, and being on the lookout for interesting/weird concerts and events in Toronto.

What’s your major fitness goal right now?

I’ve set an ambitious goal for the 5k Pride & Remembrance run on Pride weekend.

The last time I ran it – in 2014, when my training was mainly about eating take-out and jogging twice in the month leading up to it – I finished in 400th place in 30 mins.

This year, I’m aiming to finish in the top 100 and, as a stretch goal, finish in under 20 mins.

What about coming to Bootcamp makes you jump out of bed at 5am singing the Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Music?

My trainer, my classmates, and the results!

Good times with the East End crew, stair drills with an upper body and core circuit. mmmmmm
Good times with the East End crew, stair drills with an upper body and core circuit. mmmmmm

What exercise or drill makes you cower under your bed covers and pretend you don’t hear your alarm?

I can deal with burpees and hill runs – it’s the abs workouts that really slow me down.

Best/funniest bootcamp moment?

During a recent FFG fitness-assessment class, I planked for just over 5 minutes, and I thought, “holy crap, I’m that guy.

(Oonagh’s note: Chris did a 5 min plank and yet he says it’s the abs stuff that really slow him down.)

What advice would you give someone who is just starting out with FFG Bootcamps or just thinking about it?

Sign up for at least a full month!

One class or one week will make you think that FitFeelsBad.

It took me a couple months to get past surviving class to really feeling like I was keeping up and could push myself to do better.

What is the accomplishment or personal milestone you are most proud of?

Maybe “that I’m most grateful to FFG for” would be more accurate:

At the end of January, I went on a G Adventures tour called Peru Multi-Sport.

We hiked/camped the Inca trail (max altitude 13,000 ft),


kayaked Lake Titicaca (altitude: same),

went mountain climbing (and I was scared for 2 hours straight),

and more, and it was HARD… it was an incredible trip andshudder to think of how it would have gone down if I didn’t have a few months of FFG under my belt to build my fitness and resilience.

This is what I’m talking about. We don’t do burpees so we can get better at burpees. We do burpees so we can get better at LIFE… and do awesome stuff like Chris does.

Is anyone else totally jealous of Chris’ amazing trip? Anyone curious as to weather he met his goal at the Pride run? Leave a comment below and congratulate Chris on all his hard work!

The Cottage Workout 2.0

You know how you go to the cottage… and there’s nothing to do but sit around and drink beer and eat chips?

And you keep thinking,


And you’ve already done The Original Cottage Workout so many times?


Welcome to the Cottage Workout 2.0! It’s another full body workout using only items you will find at most cottages. You will need:

  • An old life jacket
  • A boat bumper
  • A ladder
  • A solid chair
  • Your Cottage Workout 2.0 PDF

Click here to download the Cottage Workout PDF

Make sure you warm up first – a 5-10 swim or a jog would do the trick. Alternatively, do 20 jumping jacks and 20 alternating lunges four times each to lubricate the joints and get the muscles warm and ready for action.

Then, do 20 reps of each exercise in a circuit, keeping the transitions between the exercises quick so your heart rate stays elevated. You should be huffing and puffing the whole time.

If you can repeat the whole circuit four times, you have definitely earned your Miller time.


Station 1: Ladder Dips

Station 2: Life jacket Lunges


Station 3: Ladder Pull Ups

Station 4: Bumper Wall Sit


Station 5: Muskoka Mountain Climbers:

Station 6: Bumper Plank Roll Outs

So what do you think? Is The Cottage Workout 2.0 as hard as the Original Cottage Workout? Are you inspired to bring your runners next time you head up north?  Leave a comment below and don’t forget to bring your PDF!(click below to download)

PS- If you liked the Cottage Workouts, you should check out the accompanying Cottage Menu by guest blogger Joy McCarthy from Joyous Health:



What Everyone Should Know About Weight Loss

So. You want to lose weight.


That’s not even a question – this is pretty much a given these days. There is the assumption that if you don’t look like this:




…then you should want to. And you are kind of lazy if you aren’t working on it.


Don’t get me wrong. As a society we ARE kind of lazy. We move too little. We eat too much crap. And we do it mindlessly in front of the TV. There are rising rates of obesity and Type 2 diabetes in children. But in between this:


And this:



There is a lot of room for….being normal. Which is totally healthy.




I know. It’s crazy. Just stay with me here.

Let’s have a look at this traditional BMI chart. As you probably know, BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It’s really just a ratio of your height to your weight and it’s generally the way doctors will first screen you for an unhealthy body composition.

Unfortunately, it’s not a very good tool since muscle is very dense and heavy. In fact, when I taught the Personal Trainer certification course, most of my (extremely fit)  students measured as having being obese or overweight on the BMI chart.


Body Mass Index


As you can see – the ideal BMI has always been between 18.5-25.

But Stephen J.C. Gaulin, Biologist & Author of “Why Women Need Fat” is calling that out:


Many M.D.s have bought this fallacious line that the optimal weight for women in terms of their health is what M.Ds call normal weight, a BMI between 18.5 and 25. And they have thought this to be true because women with higher BMis exhibit a series of physiological measures that are indeed risk factors for disease in men. But they are not systematically risk factors for disease in women. If you actually look at the data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and data from studies done in other countries, the optimal weight for women who have had a kid is what doctors currently call ‘overweight’.

(If you want a tool to measure whether your body fat is in the ‘unhealthy’ zone a much better tool is your waist to hip ratio or body fat percentage.)

But let’s say for the sake of argument that your muffin top isn’t really that unhealthy.

But you don’t like the way it LOOKS.

Well – one option is to wait 10 years and maybe your body type will come back in style. Remember – this was the original fitspo:



And even in my tender young life time, body trends have varied wildly. I can remember times when Kim Kardashian’s bum would have been an embarrassment.

I clearly remember waves of wanting to look:

  • diminutive (but top heavy) like Winona Ryder in Reality Bites:


  • gaunt and vulnerable like Kate Moss in Calvin Klein


  • powerful and badass like Linda Hamilton in Terminator….

I swear the minute we all manage to get that champagne glass balanced our our butts, they are going to announce that it’s time for us to look like Twiggy again:


100 years


So now you see that body trends are as transient and fickle as the butterfly collar or the plucked eyebrows of the 90’s that we all regret.

whoopsie daisy
whoopsie daisy

But let’s say you still want to lean out.

That’s ok! That’s not BAD by any means.  Heck,  I’m all for setting hard goals and trying to accomplish them. And if having a 6 pack is on your bucket list, than let’s do it! I’m not going to lie – I still kind of want to be Linda Hamilton from Terminator.

fuck yeah

But let’s be realistic about the effort required.

Below is one of my favourite graphics from Precision Nutrition. As you can see – it’s not that hard to move from having an unhealthy amount of body fat to having a healthy body composition. But to get from having a normal amount of fat to being super ‘cut’, it’s a serious amount of effort:




So what if:

  • Your body fat is not that unhealthy and totally within the range of normal
  • The body type you desire is just a trend that’s likely to go away in a couple of years
  • Getting leaner would be possible … but maybe not worth the effort.

….what if you decided you weren’t trying to lose weight?


What kind of space would that free up in your life?

Would it create room for other meaningful self improvement projects?

Would you stop punishing yourself with exercise and start participating in movement that you love?

Would you start focusing on other health metrics – like sleep, stress reduction and maintaining positive social connections?

Leave a comment below and let me know what NOT losing weight would mean to you…