Why Fitness Intensions Work Better than Willpower?

Here we are in the third week in January and (if you’re like most people) your New Year’s resolutions/goals are being challenged by your everyday routines. I’m supposed to go running today, but it’s icy and -21C, so that’s not going to happen. What is going to happen instead?

I’ve set myself a 2021 fitness goal of losing my Covid weight and running a half marathon in June. I’ve got a fitness plan and a back up plan (for days I can’t run). This isn’t my first rodeo. I know there are going to be many days in a Canadian winter where I will need the backup plan instead of running outside.  

What I’ve also figured out is that we all need motivation to show up day after day. I’ve trained a lot of people and the ones who succeed tend to have better motivation than the ones who are there just to lose weight.  A lot of people think motivation comes from will power, it really doesn’t. Motivation is the reason you show up to work out. Goals are the what, fitness plans are the how, and motivation is the why. 

The why is going to get you out of bed, off the couch, or look up from your screen. The big trick to finding your why is to have it emotionally connect with your goal. I don’t really have a reason for running a half marathon in June. I’ve done it before. I know it’ll be fun, but that isn’t going to get me out of bed in the morning. 

My reason for signing up for the half is that my New Year’s intention for 2021 is to Explore. I’m lucky enough to have moved to the Rockies in 2020 and I want to be able to explore it. The only way I’m really going to be able to do that is to be in better shape. The trails are long and steep to the summits and I want to Explore as much of it as I can. The most efficient training plan for me to become a better hiker is to train for a half marathon.

My favourite motivational reason from a client is “To Be Able To Say Yes”. She is a mom and wants to be able to say yes to whatever opportunity comes along. She was tired of being too tired to do things at the end of the day.

How do you figure out your fitness intention?

1-Assess your fitness goal. Why did you choose it? The why is your motivation.

2-Is it the right goal for what you want to accomplish? You can always reset your goal for something more in line with your intention. 

3-Try it out. Bring your intention out into the world. Write it down where you can see it. Put it on a sticky note on your computer. Use the word in your planner where you’ve scheduled your workout. I like to think about it in the last minutes of my workout when I really don’t want to do the last set of reps, or run the last km.

Let me know how it goes. What Intention did you set? 

Intensity Zones

Hi Everyone,

A lot of people are wondering how to ensure they’re working out at the correct intensity. Many of us have heard about training zones but don’t really understand the length of time they need to be in each zone or why it matters to their workout. Training Zones are Heart Rate Zones. In simple terms your heart rates should be in the correct zone to get cardiovascular results of the workout.

Heart Rate Intensity

I use the app Zones for my Apple Watch to see where my heart rate is at any time in the workout. My Fitbit also tracks heart rates. Sometimes people get confused by the zone named Fat Burn in their apps and think they want to stay in this light heart rate zone. You will see tons of results in this zone if you stay there for a long time (minimum of 60 minutes, but for most of us will need closer to 120 min to get results). People will sometimes go the other way and think the need to always be in the red zone to get results. The truth is a mix workouts in all the heart rate zones will be most effective.

1: Recovery-Light yoga or stretching session. This is great for your mind and body but doesn’t count as a cardiovascular or a strength workout. It’s in the name, we all need to ensure we’re recovering between intense physical sessions.

2: Endurance-Long slow cardio sessions such as walking or biking on a flat terrain. This kind a workout needs to be over 60 minutes in this heart rate zone to see results.

3: Aerobic-This is the intensity most of us should be working out in for at least 150 min a week.

4: Threshold-This is the push zone (more on this zone in the workouts below). This is where you need to push yourself to in order to get stronger, fitter, faster. Ideally the bulk of your workouts are spent in the Aerobic and Threshold zones.

5: Maximum: It’s in the name. Most of us shouldn’t spend too much time in this heart rate zone unless we are competitive athletes. Your body will not enjoy sending time in this zone, you may feel nauseous or out of balance. However; this can be a great zone to approach for a brief moment in a HIIT workout.

Here are a couple of sample workouts for you try out Heart Rate Zone training

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) Tabata

This is easiest to execute on a bike. Repeat 4-6 of the 5 minute session.

20 sec on (sprint) 10 sec off (slow) for 4 min with 1 minute recovery (total 5 minute session). I find it easiest to listen to a Tabata styled song for these workouts, that way the timing is built into the songs.

Push I like this workout protocol as it builds endurance. Most of us start out strong and find our intensity fading in the last quarter of a workout. This sets us up to go stronger for longer. You can use any form of cardio workout for this protocol. The goal is to go faster as you go longer. Ideal for any new cardiovascular form of exercise.

10 min: Endurance Heart Rate

8 min: Aerobic Heart Rate

5 min: Threshold Heart Rate

2 min: Maximum

I hope you found this information helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions.

How To Maintain Your Fitness Routine?

Hi everyone, 

I know a fitness routine seems a little trivial with all of the rapid changes and stress we are all currently facing but I know routine and movement are the best way for us all to cope with stress. I’m going to expand on the American Council of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines, as well as tell you what I’m doing, so you can see how this routine fits into a weekly schedule.


Moderate intensity done more frequently

This is moving your large muscle groups in steady pace movement such as walking. The goal is to get your heart rate elevated for a minimum of 30 min. The guidelines are 5 times a week at a moderate pace for 30-60 minutes. I have been going outside 5 times a week for a long walk. I’m using sidewalks so I stay away from the crowded trails. I also use walking poles for my longer walks to get my upper body a workout too.

Vigorous intensity done less frequently

This is the hot sweaty mess experienced in HIIT or spin classes. 20-60 minutes of elevated heart rate that can be achieved through most cardio classes (SVAC is posting them on youtube). I’m lucky enough to have a Peloton which is how I’m getting it done. 

Strength Training

It is best for home workouts to do full body routines using lighter weights with higher repetitions. This will minimize risk of injuries and can be done in smaller spaces. Guidelines are 2-3 times a week 8-20 repetitions for 1-4 sets.


This can be done everyday (especially after an intense workout). It should be a focus 2-3 times a week holding each stretch for 60 sec per major muscle. Yoga and Pilates classes both cover this need (if you find it difficult to stretch after your workouts). I teach online pilates training with my clients so I get a lot of stretching through my work, as well as doing a weekly tune up roll out on Sundays with my hubby (joys of living with a trainer).   

Neuromotor Training

This type of training is usually included in a workout created by professionals. It will include agility, balance, and stability movements. The guidelines recommend these intentional movements 2-3 times a week. Most classes will cover these types of movements. It is the types of movements that we lose as we age and we need to intentionally add back into our exercise regimes.

Here is my routine for next week (I’m booking it into my schedule to give myself accountability). The weather doesn’t look great so I’m scheduling 3 vigorous cardio sessions. I’ll still go for little walks but for my mental health- not workouts. ST is strength, Cardio V-30 is vigorous cardio for 30 min.

ST:DB FlowCardio V-30 PilatesST:DB FlowCardio V-30
ST:DB FlowCardio V-30