Blogs > Simply Fit

Simply Fit, by Cindy Haskin-Popp, will help you make physical activity a part of everyday life. The health benefits of regular exercise and overall daily physical activity will be discussed. Fun, practical and easy-to-follow tips on an exercise program will be shared, as will the most current research. Fitness tips for families and seniors, on fitness centers and on buying proper and affordable equipment will be regularly given. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Get to the Core of Beauty and Good Health

In Photo: Joshua Lipsey (PTS, CTS, PFS), founder and director of Core Concepts, Inc.

A beautiful physique and good health share a secret--a strong, stable core. That's right, a svelte and toned core not only bestows sex appeal, but it equips its holder with functional fitness. Nobody understands the importance of this winning combination better than the master of core fitness himself, Joshua Lipsey (PTS, CTS, PFS) --a former professional basketball player and model turned personal trainer.

Lipsey is the creator of a new way of training called Core Concepts, a.k.a.TransCOREmation, which he teaches at his Toronto-based studio, Core Concepts Inc. The idea of Core Concepts arose from Lipsey's own experience of dealing with a slipped disc in his back. He felt that the treatment that he was receiving for his back needed to be expanded upon in order to promote long-term health of his core; therefore, he set out to develop a series of exercises that would result in the ultimate enhancement and stabilization of the major core muscle groups--abdominals, internal and external obliques, glutes, and upper and lower back.

Take note that Core Concepts is not your standard abdominal workout. It's designed to prevent muscular imbalances in the major and minor muscles of your core, which could lead to injury if not corrected. Lipsey explains that his method is based on what he calls "core transitions," which involve stabilization and dynamic exercises, combination movements and holds. He notes that his training approach makes the exercises harder because it prevents neuromuscular facilitation or "muscle memory." In other words, our bodies have a wonderful way of adapting to and becoming efficient at performing repetitive movements; but, by constantly changing up the exercises, the muscles are continually challenged and unable to achieve this plateau. The result of the TransCOREmation process? All around satisfaction with your new physique and functional ability.

Lipsey states that the benefits of his Core Concepts method include a long and lean torso, weight loss, improved posture, increased core stability and gains in lean muscle mass. He has had one client lose 135 pounds since beginning his program in February 2011. A decrease in injury is another benefit, according to Lipsey. He states that 98 percent of injuries involving your core are the result of muscular imbalances. He also notes that the resultant improvements in your posture will increase the longetivity of your joints because of the shift in your center of movement.

Lipsey offers some tips for individuals interested in enhancing their core. He recommends performing variations of The Plank exercise. "The Plank is the most effective core exercise because it engages your major and minor core muscles," he explains. Lipsey notes that The Plank can even be done while at work by placing your arms on the desk and planting your feet on the ground. He also suggests that you perform about 10 to 15 minutes of core exercises prior to your lunch break. He says that you will find that you tend to eat less afterward because you have exercised the core muscles that also aid in digestion.

If you want to benefit from Lipsey's methodology, but do not live near his studio in Toronto, he has a TransCOREmation DVD series available for purchase from his website C2 Core Concepts. For more information about Joshua Lipsey and Core Concepts Inc., visit

"TransCOREmation is about being true to your best self. You can't change your bone structure, but you can create the illusion of a long, lean body because of the numerous angles at which the TransCOREmation exercises are performed," states Lipsey.

Phone Interview, August 22, 2011; Joshua Lipsey (PTS, CTS, PFS), founder and director of Core Concepts Inc., 446 Spandina Road Suite 208, Toronto, ON M5P 3M2, (416) 901-9160

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Get Sculpted at Home with Help from "Gym-Free and Ripped"!

Certified fitness trainer Nathan Jendrick helps you claim your health in his latest book Gym-Free and Ripped.

Is it possible to become a fit and healthy you without spending hours at a gym or popping the latest fad diet pill? Yes. There is no need for gimmicks, secret formulas or fancy equipment to achieve a fit body. You can get the desired results just by working against your own body weight; and, it can be done in the comfort of your own home. This is the message that fitness expert Nathan Jendrick conveys in his latest book Gym-Free and Ripped: Weight-Free Workouts That Build and Sculpt.

Jendrick is a certified fitness trainer whose clientele includes competitive body builders and Olympic gold medalists. In Gym-Free and Ripped, he presents more than just a fitness program, he offers a lifestyle. Jendrick recognizes that many people are confused about what is required to get fit and healthy. This confusion is due, in part, to conflicting health reports in the media and advertising claims made by wellness companies.  "Everyone thinks you need fancy equipment or a gimmick [and] this causes them to feel daunted and nervous. They don't know where to start.....[but] there is a simple process to being and getting healthy," he stated during our recent phone interview. That process requires only one thing--you.  "People are designed to be fit using nothing but their bodies," he noted in his book.

In order to have a successful journey toward better health, Jendrick explained that you need to personalize your diet and exercise plan because every one's body responds differently. The gym-free approach serves as a base and he encourages you to make adjustments to it according to what works best for you. "No exercise program or practice or diet plan works for everyone, but there is one constant--everybody can find what works for them and be able to take control of their life with dedication," he stated.

The gym-free mindset is about empowerment and claiming your health. In order to do that, you have to become equipped with the know-how. In Gym-Free and Ripped, Jendrick teaches you how to effectively implement a healthy lifestyle. He clarifies the process by providing you with detailed instructions and photographs depicting how to perform weight-free exercises that can be done virtually anywhere. Furthermore, Jendrick presents exercises that can be performed with fitness accessories, such as a fitness ball, for individuals who are interested in adding variety to their routine or who want to make it more challenging. He also offers advice on nutrition, along with giving you recipes to help you incorporate healthy foods into your diet. Without proper nutrition, your body is unable to build muscle and burn fat.

Although regular exercise and eating a healthy diet are important for good health, so is adequate rest. To function at your best, your body needs to be able to recover from the demands placed on it. Jendrick stresses this point during our interview. "Being active isn't when you are putting on muscle. It is when your body is at rest that it is able to shuttle nutrients to the muscles and repair the broken down tissue," he noted. A lack of sleep can lead to a slower metabolism and thyroid issues, according to Jendrick. "Getting enough sleep is one easy step to incorporate in your life that will do so much more than you can imagine," he stated.

To be healthy, you need to adopt a lifestyle that promotes well-being. It takes dedication and effort and an understanding of what works for you. Jendrick's Gym-Free and Ripped book provides you with the ins and outs of this process, guiding you every step of the way.

Phone Interview, August 15, 2011; Nathan Jendrick, fitness trainer and author of Gym-Free and Ripped: Weight-Free Workouts That Build and Sculpt

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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Take the Pledge to Walk and Earn a Chance to Win a Free Pedometer!

I am a big fan and supporter of the Every Body Walk! campaign launched by Kaiser Permanente in January 2011 to get Americans up and moving in order to combat the ill effects of sedentary living. Their message is simple and their suggested exercise is easy to perform--go for a walk to promote health. Research from the American Heart Association shows that as little as 30 minutes of walking per day (which can be broken up into 10 minute bouts) can improve your heart health and lower your risk for diabetes, depression and certain cancers. wants to help you take a step toward better health. Take their Walking Pledge found on their Facebook Page and earn a chance to win one of 5 pedometers that they will be giving away every day from now until August 19, 2011.  Because Simply Fit is a blog partner with Every Body Walk!, two of my readers are guaranteed to win, but you must include the entry code "simply8" to increase your chances. Visit to enter and then go take a walk--your health depends on it.

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Friday, August 5, 2011

MEN'S FITNESS Takes You Out of the Gym and On to the Playground for a Workout that is No Child's Play

Hawaii Five-O star, Alex O'Loughlin, shares his secrets to living a fit and healthy life in the August Issue of Men's Fitness for sale on newsstands now.

If you have been cramped in an office cubicle all day, the last place you want to be after work is a stuffy gym jammed with sweaty people waiting for the next available piece of equipment; but, staying in shape is top priority. Fortunately, Men's Fitness has the solution--head outdoors to the playground. In their August issue (out on newsstands now) Men's Fitness outlines a no-nonsense workout plan to get you seriously buff while you de-stress in the great outdoors. Below, you will find a few sample exercises taken from their program, which is based on a descending rep scheme. Plus, you'll get the scoop on how Alex O'Loughlin, Hawaii Five-O star and Men's Fitness cover guy for August, lives a healthy life. Then, additional outdoor body building exercises recommended by Michigan-based personal trainer, Nick Penokie, will be presented.

Sneak Peak into Men's Fitness "The Playground Workout"

Men's Fitness has you using your own body weight for strength gains in their program that involves performing variations of pull-ups and dips, among other exercises. For the full workout plan, including the protocol for sets and reps, pick up a copy of their August issue for sale on newsstands now or visit them online at for other fitness programs and tips.

Muscles Worked: Back, Shoulders, Biceps (front of upper arms)
Technique: Grab a jungle gym bar or sturdy tree branch with an overhand grip (thumb and fingers should be on the same side of the bar). From a dead-hang, pull your body up while stabilizing your core until your chin is above the bar (avoid swinging your legs). Hold for a one-count and then lower your body in a controlled fashion back to the start position. Note: You can vary the width of your grip from close to wide on the bar to target certain muscles (e.g., a wide-grip pull-up forces your back muscles to do more of the work).
Personal trainer Nick Penokie performs a wide-grip pull-up on a city park fitness station.

Parallel Bar Hand Walk:
Muscles Worked: Back, Shoulders, Chest, Abdominals (core stabilizers), Biceps (front of upper arms), Forearms
Technique: Grab the first bar with both of your hands using an overhand grip. As you lift both feet into the air, reach for the second bar with one hand, allowing your body to swing forward. Continue swinging from bar to bar, alternating your hands until you reach the end of the row.
Keeping your knees bent while you swing your body forward will prevent your feet from dragging on the ground. (In photo: Nick Penokie)

The benefits of outdoor exercise are multitude. Outdoor activities can clear your mind, increase your cardiovascular endurance and enhance your muscular strength. Best of all, the natural world provides you with free exercise equipment, such as sturdy tree branches, stumps and large rocks. Hawaii Five-O star, Alex O'Loughlin, couldn't agree more according to his interview with Men's Fitness. "I much prefer being in the canyons or the hills or the ocean--being outside and using the resistance of the earth and gravity and my own body weight," he tells the magazine. In addition to regular exercise, O'Loughlin follows a healthy diet that includes drinking a lot of water (about two gallons per day) and eating foods that provide a good balance of protein and carbohydrates. To learn more about O'Loughlin's healthy lifestyle tips, visit

If you need a change of pace from the indoor workout grind, consider visiting your local park. In addition to playground equipment, many parks and recreation areas have fitness stations along their trails. Below are five outdoor fitness station exercises recommended by personal trainer Nick Penokie to bulk you up.

Hanging Knee Raise:
Muscles Worked: Abdominals (arm muscles are used as stabilizers)
Technique: Grasp the rungs of the monkey bars with your palms facing each other (the distance between your arms is dependant upon your height--the taller you are, the wider the distance). Contract your abdominal muscles to raise your knees to a 90 degree angle to your body. Hold for a one-count and then slowly lower your knees back to the starting position. This exercise should be performed in a slow, controlled fashion for maximum benefit. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
The focus should be on contracting your abdominal muscles to raise and lower your knees during this exercise. Avoid using your upper body for momentum. (In photo: Nick Penokie)

Hanging Leg Raise:
Muscles Worked: Abdominals (arm muscles are used as stabilizers)
Technique: Grasp the rungs of the monkey bars with your palms facing each other (the distance between your arms is dependant upon your height--the taller you are, the wider the distance). While keeping your legs straight and feet together, contract your abdominal muscles to raise your legs until they are perpendicular to your body. Hold for a one-count and then slowly lower your legs back to the starting position. This exercise should be performed in a slow, controlled fashion for maximum benefit. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
The focus should be on contracting your abdominal muscles to raise and lower your legs. Avoid using your upper body to provide momentum. (In photo: Nick Penokie)

Feet-Elevated Inverted Row:
Muscles Worked: Upper back and Back of the Shoulders (the abdominals, lower back, hamstrings, glutes, and upper arm muscles work as stabilizers)
Technique: Grasp a rung of the monkey bars with an overhand grip. Lift and swing your legs up to a rung at a distance that allows your legs to be straight with the balls of your feet resting on the rung. In the starting position, your arms should be straight and your head below your feet. While stabilizing your core and keeping your legs straight, raise your chest to the bar. Hold for a one-count and then lower your body to the starting position. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions. Note: Do to the difficulty of this exercise, beginners should not attempt. For safety, advanced lifters should perform with a second person acting as a spotter.

In the start position of the feet-elevated inverted row, your head should be below your feet. (In photo: Nick Penokie)

Avoid arching your back while performing inverted rows. (In photo: Nick Penokie)

"Bench" Dip:
Muscles Worked: Triceps (back of upper arms)
Technique: Place your hands closely behind you on a bar or bench and extend your legs out in front of you with your heels on the ground. Keeping your body close to the bar behind you, lower your body while you bend your elbows until your upper arms are parallel to the ground (note: your elbows should not be higher than your shoulders). Hold for a one-count and then slowly extend your arms back to the starting position. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
To prevent injury, keep your body close to the bar or bench behind you. (In photo: Nick Penokie)

To avoid injury, do not allow your elbows to go higher than your shoulders when performing this exercise. (In photo: Nick Penokie) 

Decline Push-Up:
Muscles Worked: Chest, Front of the Shoulders and Triceps (back of upper arms)
Technique: Start by elevating your feet on a bench or bar with your hands on the ground approximately shoulder-width apart and your back straight. Slowly lower your chest toward the ground and then press your body back up to the starting position. Avoid snapping your elbows as you return to the start position. Perform 2 sets of maximum repetitions.
Keep your back straight while performing decline push-ups. (In photo: Nick Penokie)

Avoid raising or lowering your buttocks when performing this exercise. (In photo: Nick Penokie)

The important thing to remember is that you do not need expensive gym equipment to get a good workout. Using your own body weight can build your muscles just as effectively as weight machines and free weights. The best part is, you can perform body weight exercises virtually anywhere, including the playground.

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