As a former CPR instructor, I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to get you to brush up on your CPR skillz with this sweet-ass rap video!
Here’s the story behind it:
I was watching my son play in the sandbox one day when I started to think up these dorky rap lyrics (it’s not the first time it’s happened, and it probably won’t be the last).
Later that week I had beers with my friend (and Canadian Comedy Award winning comic) Sara Hennesey and rapped it to her at the bar. This was her reaction:
Sara contacted her friend Jeremy Mersereau, who recorded it my vocals in his living room, laid down some sweet beats and added that awesome guitar riff (it’s actually from “All I Need is The Air That I Breathe” by the Hollies. You see what he did there?). The intro voice is from an old educational video about CPR. Probably this guy:
Sara then got her filmmaker friend Tristan Gough to direct and put a call out to her comic friends, asking them who wanted to donate their time to get dressed in silly costumes and be in a CPR rap video.
So now I get to watch this video and recognize all these incredibly successful and talented people who agreed to spend a day FREEZING their butts off in the alley behind my house in exchange for some Tim Hortons coffee and bagels.
Every now and then a client will go AWOL. They stop coming to Bootcamp, they keep cancelling their Personal Training sessions. When I check in I will often hear “I just can’t. Life is too crazy right now. It’s super stressful”. And I get it. I really do. I know that when the shit hits the fan, the last thing you feel like doing is a workout. But here is why I want to go and kidnap those stressed out clients and piggyback them to the gym:
A solid workout will re-direct that frenetic energy in a health positive way so you don’t end up stress fighting with your family or stress drinking or stress eating an entire Deep and Delicious while crying at 3am. Don’t get yourself in this cycle:
The workout will distract your brain and give you a break from cyclical, negative or unproductive thoughts. This works best if you choose something that challenges you physically and mentally (like learning dance choreography or a boxing combo or a new sport)
The workout will flood your brain with endorphins, which will make you feel calmer and happier.
If you stay consistent with your exercise, it’s one less thing to feel stressed about. I was jogging with a friend of mine the other day and we were talking about our stresses and challenges and she said
‘at least this is one thing I don’t have to worry about. I always exercise. No matter what.’
So what kind of exercise should you do? What are the best ways to physically combat stress?
1. Site specific tension release.
We all have areas where we physically clench when we are stressed. Common ones are the jaw, the temple, the upper trapezius (neck/shoulder) and the hips. Figure out where yours are and when you feel the stress rising, give those areas a little bit of love with a massage or a stretch.
2. Add some breath
When you coordinate breath to the movement, you connecting to your parasympathetic nervous system (the part of your brain that allows you to chill). When we think of breath-connected movement, we always think of yoga but you can use it during your resistance training (exhale on the concentric movement, inhale on the release) or even during a walk (breath in for 4 steps, breath out for 4 steps)
3. Shake it off
I actually do want you to put on the Taylor Swift song Shake It Off and freak out for 1 min. But if you can’t deal with teen pop, do any kind of intense cardio for 1 min. When you are done, the rush of oxygenated blood and endorphins will make you feel like a human again.
4. Fake it until you make it.
I love this so much that I actually wrote a paper about it during my M.A. There is a ton of evidence to show that we can influence our emotional state by re-arranging our body physically. You might have heard of all the studies in the 1970’s and 1980’s about the act of smiling inducing feelings of happiness. Try it now: roll your shoulders back and puff out your chest and feel a little surge of confidence. Try softening the space between your eyes and notice if you feel a little less stressed. You can’t Shake it Off on the commute home but you can always smile.
If you want a few specific exercises to apply to your stress, check out this segment I did on the Steven and Chris show. It’s basically a video version of this post.
A few thoughts on this segment:
I know the sound is a bit messed up at the beginning. Hang in there – it fixes itself.
The producer wanted me to stuff a whole bunch of information into this segment so if it looks like I’m interrupting them all the time, that’s why.
Every time I watch this, I have serious outfit regret, which is weird because SKIN TIGHT LIME GREEN ACID WASH LYCRA USUALLY LOOKS SO GOOD ON EVERYONE.
I am, however, pretty proud of the way I catch my mic when it falls off and keep doing high knees. Despite technical glitches, FITNESS MUST GO ON.
Let me know what you think in the comments below and what you do to beat the stress demons!
This workout was inspired by the beauty of Toronto’s largest park in the fall. October is my favourite month in Toronto and it feels like a CRIME to spend any of it in a gym when the sun is shining through the colourful trees. Especially as we Torontonians know that soon it will be all freezing rain and wet snow. This workout is tough but I offer modifications so you can adapt it to your abilities. The best thing is that it’s a full body workout that requires no equipment at all and it can be easily adapted to do in almost any park in the world. I designed it to include:
• Low Intensity Steady State (LISS) Cardio: This will improve your endurance and give you an energy boost • High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): This is a great way to rev up your metabolism and burn the maximum amount of calories in a minimal amount of time • Strength Training Circuits: Circuit training keeps the heart rate elevated throughout your strength work, so you get additional cardiovascular benefits while adding lean muscle.
So download your PDF here and get to High Park!
At the parking lot at near the south entrance to the Zoo. Marked by an X on the map. We start with a slow and steady warm up jog. Head north through the zoo. Say hi to this guy.
Be prepared for a slight incline through the zoo and then a steep hill at the end. Props if you add a burst of speed to get to the top (like my Not So Early Risers Bootcampers did)
Once there, you should see the Grenadier cafe directly in front of you. Resist the urge to stop and get a beer and instead turn right and keep jogging down Centre Rd. The sidewalk is on the left hand side of the road but keep an eye out for a trail on the right. It looks like this:
Follow the wooded trail and have fun jumping over logs and roots and you’ll eventually get spit out in a picnic area in front of the parking lot where you started. Jog through and make a left at the road to turn towards the Jamie Bell Adventure Playground.
Once there, you should feel pretty warm and ready for your 7 Station Strength and High Intensity Interval Circuit. It looks like this:
1. 10 Pull-Ups.
You will be working your back, biceps and abdominal muscles. There are three options here: Easiest: Jump and hold yourself up as long as you can. Harder: Jump and hold yourself up and bring your knees to your hands (crunch) Hardest: Jump and hold and bring your toes to the bar.
2.100 Toe Taps:
This is High Intensity Cardio. Bring your toe to the curb and alternate quickly. 100 reps as fast as you can!
3. 20 Push-ups off the bridge.
This is working your chest, triceps, shoulders and core. The wobbly bridge adds a stability element (like a bosu ball), which activate the core more than a regular push-up. This is Drake demonstrating and Adrienne providing an extra stability challenge:
4. 10 wind sprints from the castle to the bridge.
This is High Intensity Cardio. Party.
5. 20 Bulgarian Lunges off the Swing (each side).
You are working your glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps here and you also have the added core element with the stability training. This can be tricky so if it’s not happening ( for example, if you are feeling instability in your ankle or your hip is too tight,) just do regular lunges. (Note the guest appearance by Drake in the video and how I had no idea)
6. 2 Stair runs.
Cardio! Try leaping up two at a time to really get the heart rate up and feel a burn in the glutes.
*** repeat the circuit 2-3 times with minimal rest ***
Bonus cardio finisher:
Head back to the picnic area across from the parking lot and you’ll see a BIG staircase. Ninety-seven steps, to be precise. To finish off the legs, challenge your stamina and elevate your caloric burn for the next 24 hours, try for FIVE rounds of sprints of the stairs (2 at a time if you can) and walk recover down. OUCH. Check out these rock stars:
What do you think of the High Park Workout? Let me know if you try it, if you do the bonus finisher and if you adapt it to another park somewhere in the world.
And then let me know if your legs are killing you the next day after those stairs – mine were!
Any trainer will tell you that their clients are always asking for more core and glute training. We try to talk to you about flexibility and functional training and teach you about your rhomboids and you respond like you’ve just spent $200 to go see Van Morrison and he wants show you his new stuff and refuse to play Brown Eyed Girl. So for those of you who just want us trainers to stick to the hits, I give you the Butts & Guts Challenge.
But this is a Butts & Guts Challenge with a twist. We all know that you can’t ‘spot reduce’, right? RIGHT? If you’ve read a magazine in the past 15 years you will have heard the news that crunches won’t give you a six pack, dips won’t get rid of the fat under your arms, the Thigh Master won’t slim your thighs (sorry, Suzanne):
To achieve all of these desired results, you must reduce body fat. You reduce body fat by consuming fewer calories than you expend. So I’m afraid you just have to to ‘eat right and exercise’ – which is the most unwelcome fitness advice ever (and doesn’t sell SHIT. Suzanne knows it). So this Challenge adds the ‘eat right’ to the ‘exercise’, including a nutritional component to the four week progressive glute and core training program. So not only do you get stronger glutes and abs…you actually have a chance of actually seeing a difference in your body. How’s that for a hit?
Save the Challenge to your phone by downloading here:
I eat one-legged Glute Bridges for breakfast. How can I make this harder?
I’m so glad you asked! If you are an experienced exerciser, I want you to double the number of sets and do 10-20 jump squats in between each round. The jump squats are great plyometric training for the glutes and the high intensity cardio is going to rev up your metabolism and keep the calories coming off.
I’m scared. How can I make this easier?
Take your time to get through each exercise. There is no benefit to rushing and you’ll get better results by going slow. Take more break days and repeat the first week until you are ready to move on.
What the heck is a Bug Crunch?
Videos of me crunching and planking and kicking all below. 🙂
If you have any other questions, leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you. And feel free to forward to anyone who likes a good challenge!
Most of you know that I have the very fun job of being a Fitness Expert on the Steven and Chris show. As you will see in the video below, I absolutely love it. The silliness of the show is totally my vibe and Steven and Chris are just as hilarious to work with as you’d imagine.
So the way it works is that the producer will call me and say “Oonagh, we’re doing on show on stress reduction. Can you do a segment on exercises that help with stress?” And I’ll say sure and send the producer a few ideas. We’ll work together to come up with content that is entertaining enough for viewers to sit and watch on their couch but also gives them very practical and usable fitness tips. I’ll memorize a loose script, get my hair and makeup done and then then a couple of months later, my aunts who live in the prairies will be excited because they saw me on TV and I pretend to be all cool about it.
But I’ll be honest; when the producer called me and asked me to do an segment on exercises for better sex, I was immediately struck by a horrific premonition of me doing Happy Baby Pose on international TV.
Regular exercise creates lean muscle, increasing your testosterone and therefore your libido
Exercise can help prep you for the physical demands of sex. For 180lb man, 1 hour of sex is equal energy expenditure to 21 mins of boxing
Activity improves blood circulation to ALL areas of the body
Exercise reduces your ‘sexual age’. Sixty-year-olds who exercise frequently report having the same amount of sex and sexual pleasure as people decades younger.
Being fit increases confidence
Exercise itself can be very sexy. It’s thought that 5% of women orgasm during exercise. Sometimes called ‘coregasms’ (clever), most of these women report it happening during abdominal exercises. Like this:
I wasn’t super keen on demonstrating the coregasm on Steven and Chris. Instead, we went for an approach of specific exercises that would train the muscles primarily working during sex. Obviously, it got goofy…
(Let me know what you think in the comments below and feel free to share with all your sexy friends!)