Healthy Holidays Tips

Tips for keeping up with your workouts during the holiday:

Recruit a friend to help keep you accountable.If your gym is closed for holidays, workout at home or at the park.Try to incorporate some cardio into every day. Whether it is a brisk walk with the dog, or a few rounds of burpees in the living room, every little bit helps.Go for a walk before and after a dinner party.Come up with a reward for not missing a single workout, and use that as motivation.If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up, but don’t let it become a pattern.

Eating Your Favorite Foods Without The Guilt.

Everyone can agree, one of the best things about the holiday season is the food. From Halloween candy, to Thanksgiving dressing, to Christmas ham and New Year’s drinks, there are so many delicious options it’s hard to control the overwhelming urge to eat everything in sight. The problem with these situations is that our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. We get carried away with eating a little bit of everything, or a lot of everything, and we don’t recognize that we are full. There is nothing wrong with indulging on comfort foods once in a while, but a healthy balance is a must. Don’t deprive yourself of your favorite homemade goodies, but don’t overeat them either. Don’t forget the key to successful dieting is moderation.

A trigger for unhealthy eating habits during the holidays are the infamous pumpkin spice and peppermint. Each fall, pumpkin spice makes a raging come back and hangs around until the New Year. There are pumpkin spice flavored coffees, breads, cookies, and even gum. Then comes peppermint. These nostalgic flavors have us wrapped around their metaphoric fingers and we *have *to have them. If you become a frequent coffee shop visitor during these times, try to modify your favorite holiday drink with less sugar and fat. You might be surprised to find out how many pumps of these syrups are put into one small cup. Try cutting the number of pumps in half, opting for non-fat milk, and holding off on the whipped cream and crushed candy cane toppings. You don’t have to deny yourself these temporary indulgences, but you can help yourself out by making a conscious effort to create a healthier version.

Tips for eating healthy during the holidays:

Don’t go up for seconds. Stick to one plate of food.Don’t drink all of your daily calories or sugar intake. Choose water over juices or cocktails.Eat a healthy snack before a party to curb your appetite and keep you from overeating.Bring gum with you to help from continuing to eat.Don’t skip meals after a party because you feel guilty for overeating or eating unhealthy. Instead, eat small, well-balanced meals of fruits, vegetables, and protein.Hosting a Healthy Party.

If you are the host of a holiday party you should feel free to use it to your advantage. Don’t feel pressured to only serve the typical unhealthy holiday dishes and desserts. Get creative by offering healthy alternatives and introducing new recipes to your guests. This can be as simple as eliminating a sweet potato, brown sugar and marshmallow casserole with plain baked sweet potatoes. Or by not providing sodas and juices, but flavored or infused water instead.

Tips for hosting a healthier party:

Eliminate sugar or butter where it is not necessary. For example, don’t spread butter on bread or rolls, and don’t top desserts with more sugar or powdered sugar as a garnish.

Use skim or non-fat milk when possible.Try to use raw or unaltered fruits and vegetables as much as possible.Give away your leftovers, or freeze them for later use.

Focus on the guests! Have games or social projects ready to go so there is more to do than just eat.Cut dishes such as pies or brownies into smaller portions.

More Holiday tips n tricks to come

Coach Leigh

Leigh Richdale CONTRIBUTOR

Leigh Richdale CONTRIBUTOR


Wedding Planning is Causing Me to GAIN Weight: HELP!


Wedding planning causing you to pack on the pounds? Relax. Here are some simple things you can do about it.

Free glasses of champagne from the hostess. A complimentary dessert from a restaurant. Chocolate-covered strawberries sent from your boss. And don’t forget the flowers and wine sent from your very own parents.

Ah, the joys of getting engaged and the lovely loot from the people and vendors who are happy for you are never even in the same ballpark as healthy. Then the planning begins where you actually need to taste the food and drinks at possible venues for your reception and then at rehearsal party destinations as well. And it’s all free. How can you keep your wedding diet and exercise plan in check when all of this gluttony, this free, delicious, extravagant food and drink you would never be tasting if it weren’t part of the wedding process?

Here are some tips & tricks to keep you from gaining weight while you still enjoy your engagement. It only happens once, so you deserve to enjoy every moment. Here’s how to cope and have some fun at the same time:

Plan your workout accordingly.

Remember from the first part of the Wedding Chronicles: you have to PLAN. Plan for these extravagant meals (which always include wine, champagne, and even cocktails). Plan to get up early and work out hard. Add an extra 10 intervals to that morning workout, use the stairs only at your 7th floor job for the day, and go for a lunch time walk (eating your healthy salad at your desk). Get in your 10,000 steps and then some so that you feel downright virtuous when you indulge that evening at a potential venue.

Plan your day’s meals until that evening accordingly too.

Carefully plan your breakfast, lunch, and snacks right up until the evening event. What will fill you up with the most bang for your buck? Think lean, grilled chicken breast with just mustard and veggies; a veggie stir fry; a massive salad with chicken breast (no cheese or other heavy ingredients) and a dressing of just balsamic vinegar and spices. What will keep you full, give you nutrients and energy and keep your daily calorie total low so that you can enjoy your evening?

The answer is lean proteins and vegetables galore. Just be wary of heavy, calorie-hiding dips like hummus and ranch dressing; they turn vegetables into the devil before you can snap your fingers and say yes to the dress!

Indulge intelligently.

There are going to be drinks, appetisers, entrees and desserts. What is your favorite part of the meal? What part of the meal do you care most about for your guests? Budget your calories accordingly to what you care about for your big day. If you are a wine girl/beer guy save room for a few glasses and make sure to eat something to soak up the sauce. A dessert hound? Have bites of everything up until the dessert round and then indulge with abandon.

Talk to your partner prior to the event and strategise! Who will indulge in what? Then write everything down so that you can remember in advance. We, my fiancée and I, have even kept track of the servers/ bartenders we’ve loved so that we can request them for our events. Since we ended up going French for the rehearsal dinner, the evening was full of cheeses, pastries, and chocolate! I sure was happy I had run 6km that morning and worked out hard that whole week. I enjoyed every moment with my soon-to-be wife and tasted the richness of every bite, savoring every moment as well. Which leads into…

Take. Your. Time.

Rehearsal dinner and venue tastings are going to be rich, luxurious affairs where they want to impress you, as they should if you are spending upwards of the $5K mark at their venue! With that being said, foods and drinks you rarely imbibe in will be rampant. Flavours that are bold and rich will be abundant. If you take your time, savoring every bite and enjoying every moment, you will quickly find how full you are getting from the decadent morsels in front of you. Cheeses, croquettes, appetisers with layers, roasted meats… the list will go on and the dessert hasn’t even come yet. Take a bite of everything and savor it, you’ll probably eat less than you planned if you simply take your time and enjoy the sumptuous flavors.

Don’t overcompensate.

If you accidentally forget to workout and then eat with abandon at one of these events, don’t be tempted to overcompensate and run 2 hours on the treadmill the next day. You definitely don’t want to end up with an injury from overtraining. In other words: if it happens, it happens. Remind yourself of the tips above and be better prepared for the next venue with the support of your soon to be spouse. Get him/her to workout with you that morning so you don’t forget.

Divide and conquer the various tastes by writing them down and ranking them after 1 bite only. And if that fails once or twice, that’s totally fine… but be wary of the marathon workout sessions because you definitely don’t want to be hobbling down the aisle on crutches!

Being engaged is a blessing. It’s exciting, it’s fun, and it can be fattening if you don’t plan accordingly. Enjoy EVERY moment of being engaged. It’s special and it’s a time to bond forever with your future spouse. These are memories, people! However, don’t let it derail your quest for the fittest, most confident self that you can be and follow the above tips: plan your workouts, plan your nutrition, indulge smartly, take your time, and don’t overcompensate.

You will get there: the fittest self for your wedding, with a little determination and these simple tips!

Send me your stories on your wedding journey!

Til next time ..

Coach Leigh

Leigh Richdale CONTRIBUTOR

Leigh Richdale CONTRIBUTOR


Wedding Series Part 3: The Personal Trainer – To Invest or Not?

Welcome back to part 3 of the Wedding Chronicles! Part 1 was about how to get organised and part 2 was the breakdown of how to get fit for the big day on a shoestring budget and on a mid-level budget. Now, it’s time to take the plunge off the budget cliff.

Should you get a personal trainer and pay $60+ per session?

First, personal trainers are like hair stylists. You might find a budget gem, but in general, you get what you pay for. So while deal websites like Groupon might have some discount packages, just be wary that a discount can mean less personal attention, trouble scheduling, and less attentiveness from your trainer (s/he will probably take a hit in their commission from your session due to the deep discount). Like other service professionals, a recommendation from a friend (perhaps even a fellow groom or bride to be!) may go a long way for getting your proverbially bang for your buck.

Let’s now dive into the pros and cons of investing in a personal trainer. I firmly believe in ending on a positive note, so we will begin with the cons:

Con 1: The price.

It’s no secret that personal training is expensive. $60+ per session will break anyone’s bank, especially since your trainer will most likely recommend 2-3 sessions per week to jumpstart your program. However, again, you will get what you pay for and a good trainer will include home routines, routines for the days you aren’t with him/her, nutritional tips & tricks, motivation, answers to your fitness questions, and more. A great trainer will even tell you when sales are coming up and will respect your budgetary concerns (i.e. a great trainer will not “force” you into more than once per week if that’s all you can afford).

Saver tip: Train with a buddy! Most trainers will give discounted sessions for 2 or more trainees! Get a friend or another bride to be to team up with you and save up to 50%!

Con 2: Variation in quality.

Let me interject a story: the first time I worked with a trainer, I was placed with an ex-Marine from Dallas, Texas, who never smiled, never told me good job, and made me do things that I said hurt (i.e. told me to finish a set when I was in pain) and I'm an ex Navy Diver and can push through a fair bit !

I paid $99 for 3 sessions. I was miserable. I got what I paid for.

Had I done more research or invested more time in finding the right one, I never would have spent $100 on sessions that made me feel miserable. The quality in trainers varies. From big box gyms that might have 20+ trainers on staff to private training gyms with a number of trainer contractors, sit down with a manager (or the owner!) and talk about what you want and why. Who would you do well under? Maybe you would like my Military Militant trainer. Maybe you’d be more like me who I knew I wanted a male trainer, but I wanted someone positive and “real” (i.e. will accept that I will never be 100% Paleo and I’m going to drink wine). Take the time to do you research; heck, post it on your Facebook for advice or go to Yelp and you will hopefully avoid this con.

The pros of having a personal trainer are many, but here are my favorite two:

Pro 1: Results & Accountability

Simply put, you will see results if you listen to your well-researched, qualified trainer. S/he will hold you accountable to show improvements, ranging from simple measurements to seeing your abilities increase week over week. If you do not see results, s/he is not doing their job – it is a results-driven environment and can certainly push a motivated person to see results that, simply put, are rarely achievable on one’s own. It will also hold you accountable if you are not progressing; why? How can your trainer help? A great trainer will motivate you, not belittle you, and turn your accountability into confidence-boosting motivation.

Pro 2: A Whole New World

A great trainer will give you fitness ideas that you have never seen before. Capoeira? Kickboxing? TRX? Bands wrapped around machines in intervals you’ve never heard of? A great trainer will expose you to exercises you never thought you could do, improving your confidence and maybe even unlocking a new fitness passion.

Personally, my trainer exposed me to fall in love with exercise bands, which is great for my small house and love of intervals. He also taught me how to use kettlebells safely- something I was previously terrified of but curious about. Kettlebells burn more calories than running but also can rip up your spine when done incorrectly. I might know a lot about fitness but once I heard about spinal injuries, I was terrified. Now, I am using a 30kg kettlebell on the regular; at 6 feet 2 inches, I NEVER would have picked up a weight that heavy. My trainer exposed me to a whole new world while keeping me safe and moving me forward towards my goals.

As you probably guessed from that last paragraph, as a groom to be, I gave a personal trainer another try after Military Militant Man. I found a personal training studio near my office that touted 20% off one’s first 15 sessions and that made the price easier to swallow. There is where I met Ross, my hero. I actually had my initial interview with him and told him about my Crossfit problems (I never have met a box yet where I am not totally intimidated and feel unwelcome by the community), my fear of kettlebells and box jumps, and my laundry list of injuries from years of playing sports, teaching BodyPump and more. I also told him the story of Military Militant Man.

We talked about me training with him or his colleague, and Ross’s schedule openings simply fit my work schedule better (a great sign – not shy to recommend someone but himself = humility!). Not only am I trying new exercises, I have fallen back in love with the gym, looking at it from a new perspective and feeling amazing while lifting heavier weights than I ever have without injury or fear. Results that I could never see on my own are slowly starting to show themselves (I’m about 4 weeks in) and I am constantly HUNGRY- which means my metabolism is humming, as Ross promised me it would start to. Finally, I feel confident again.

After a long year of 2 office jobs, freelancing, finishing my Master’s, and two family tragedies, I felt defeated and out of mental strength, which lead to even a fitness junkie like me spending more nights on the couch with a bottle of wine than in Pilates class. Finally I'm re inspired !!

No matter what your budget or your decision, remember- you can always change! If you decide in a month a trainer is not worth it, you can always change or save up your sessions. You’re in control here, much like the wedding planning. Stay confident, do your research, and get your fitness started for that big day!

Tweet me or email me your personal trainer stories.

Wedding Series Part 2: Fitness on a Budget


A range of fitness options for every budget in mind that will get you moving towards your most confident self for your big day.

As your big day comes up, both parties getting hitched are going to want to look their best. So you get on the internet and you think, ok, should I do Crossfit? Or yoga sculpt? Or Pilates? What will give me the results I’m looking for? And then you get dizzy from the information overload on body types, exercise kinds, studio passes and all of their rules, gym packages with lifelong contracts and you’re so tired you forget you were supposed to workout.

This is where investing in a personal trainer could be a good option for you. However, I’m going to list out a range of options for every budget in mind that will get you moving towards your most confident self for your big day. I will dive into the specifics of investing in a trainer next week.

For Budgeting Brides:

* Option 1: Electronic Trainers*

Believe it or not, you can get an excellent electronic trainer for free. Why? Because it’s all about the apps, baby! Want hardcore intense workouts for every level? Try the Nike Training Club app. It’s free, you can set the time, the experience level, and more, and it even includes video demos. The only downside is it’s quite a large download. Otherwise, it’s a bargain that will kick your booty and train you with what equipment (or lack theroeof) you have access to. There are also multiple Tabata interval timer apps out there, giving you an HIIT knockout body!

Want more zen? Try iYoga or Simply Yoga Free. Both are free (although the upgraded paid version of Simply Yoga is awesome and worth the few bucks) and both are full yoga videos to follow along with. It might be best to download this on a tablet so that you can actually watch the video (versus on your phone).

Don’t stop there though. You can also get a free Pilates app too. The simply named Pilates has videos focused on certain parts of the body. There are several others on the market as well, including Daily Leg Workout and Learn Pilates FREE.

With discipline and good form, it’s possible to get a well-rounded training program from online sources.

Option 2: Print-Out/ Magazine Routines

Of course, you can also use old-school paper magazine routines, costing you perhaps $5-$25/ month depending on which magazines you purchase.

Check out Inspire Support Evolve on Facebook for plenty of hints and tips ;)

For the Middle of the Road Bride:

Perhaps you know that you need to invest something in getting fit for your wedding but the budget is saying otherwise.

Option 1: Invest in Home Exercise Equipment & Videos

A step above our first section, investing in home exercise equipment and videos can be a great option for those with the living room space to workout at home. Used DVDs can be like new on Craiglist, Ebay, and Amazon. There are also great deals on equipment at websites like and the usually daily deals sites. Scour those sales!

Option 2: The Gym Membership

A logical investment in fitness is a gym membership. See if you can get a deal if you and your future spouse sign up together and always try to negotiate for no enrollment fee (January is usually a good time to finding deals!). Also, read the contract carefully and ask questions. Will you be liable if you want to quit? Does it include classes or are those extra charges? Ranging from the $19 gym box places with no showers to over $100/ month for luxury fitness centers with pools, you will want to investigate your neighborhood for the best deal and what suits your needs.

Option 3: Class Studio Memberships

Boutique studios that offer a specialty classes are quite popular right now. From yoga to Spinning to kickboxing, some studios offer a variety of classes and others have only one kind (i.e a Crossfit “box” will likely only offer Crossfit classes). If you have a certain kind of class that you love, like Spinning, getting a membership or class pack can be worth your bucks and ensure that you attend. One of my closest friends loves Spinning and made the investment in a 6 month membership (a whopping $800). She then bought a calendar to mark off the days she went and realized that if she went 3-4 days per week, it was a mere $8/class and well worth her initial albeit steep investment. She lost 20 pounds and looked FABULOUS for her big day!

Option 4: Become a Discount Site Diva

If you just like classes and are okay with a flavor of the month, become a discount email diva. Use sites like Groupon, Gilt City, Amazon Local, and Living Social to live off 1 month specials such as gym memberships and class packs. Just remember to read the fine print (most are for new clients only or if you have been inactive for a year) and then USE THE VOUCHER! Don’t let it expire or you’ll be paying just as much as the customer next to you. In a limited number of cities, there is also a service called ClassPass. For $100/month, you get up to 3 visits to every participating studio each month. What a deal!

Option 5: Kick Start with a Trainer (and then move to something else)

If you know you want a personal trainer, but can’t invest long term, most studios and the above discount sites offer 6-12 session packages (I’ve even seen 20 packs!) at 50% off for training. If you join a gym, there also might be some complimentary training sessions involved.

So there you have it. Options for every budget to get in shape, look and feel your best for your big day. You can pick and choose, and have a great time to boot while getting a great booty.

Next week, I’ll go into the Personal Trainer investment in depth. Feel free to Tweet me or email me your bridal fitness investment!

Til next time ...

Coach Leigh

Leigh Richdale CONTRIBUTOR

Leigh Richdale CONTRIBUTOR


How to Get in Shape For The Big Day


December and the preceding months are the most popular months to get engaged, according to several popular wedding websites. If you are one of the lucky couples, congratulations! Now comes the stress of planning the nuptials while also making the attempt to be the most beautiful self you can be for your big day. How can you both plan a glamorous affair (or a simple bohemian afternoon, whatever is your style) while also keeping zen, staying in shape, or possibly even losing weight?

It’s easier than you think.

How do I know this? I’m getting married in 2016 ! I also work full time, do freelance assignments, have family & friends that require attention, and we're planning the wedding on our own. How do I manage it all while also having a life, attempting to become my fittest self, and staying sane? Read on, fellow brides and grooms , we are in this together!

Get organised.

It sounds simple, but I can’t emphasise this enough. Buying a wedding binder from an online store like Amazon has saved my world. My checklists with timelines, budgets, easy places to store business cards, and more are already pre-made by an expert and it cost me around $35 while saving me at least half of my sanity. Even my fiancé enjoys checking things off the list, and better yet, it gives me a place to point when she says, Ok, where can I help? Pure heaven. There are also some great websites/ apps to use for the same purposes, I simply enjoy crossing things off with a pen!

Get organised, part 2.

The organisation isn’t over. Now you need to sort your fitness routine around the myriad appointments you will now have with vendors, sites, and, of course, your daily life. My gym times have become just like doctor appointments; they are now unbreakable commitments to myself. I’ve had to change my perspective about “always” doing something; sometimes, I need to get up at 5 am if I am going to get to the gym before work in order to leave work early to see 2 wedding sites (not to mention the free drinks and food that go with viewing these places!). Get organised about your fitness- find a gym/ class studio that works with YOUR schedule, make it as close to work or home as possible, and get going. You can do this.

You need to invest.

Just like your 401K, your fitness & wellness while wedding planning needs an investment. Some, including myself, choose to work with a trainer and invest both time and dollars. Others, like my fiancé, choose to use free apps like MyFitnessPal and invest in a HIIT studio to go to 2-3x per week. Still others can save even more and work out at home (P90X, anyone?). Figure out what works for you and your budget, and better still, get your significant other to invest in some form of fitness & wellness with you. Lorraine and I compete on MyFitnessPal on exercise; we hold each other accountable to the investments we each made in purchasing classes/ training sessions since money is tight with wedding planning. We hold each other to not cancelling on our workouts because it makes us a happier, healthier couple and sets us up for a long, joyous life together. Not to mention, fitness infuses that sexy spark- confidence, endorphins, muscle tone… it keeps us closer, sexier, and more bonded than nights on the couch with pizza ever would.

Find your happy place.

No one can live & breathe wedding planning while life also continues to march on. The commitments you had before you got engaged are still there; how can you handle it all? In alignment with organising and investing, find your happy place. Right now, Fridays are the days where Lorraine and I take the day off of working out and have outlawed wedding planning. We come home from work, play board games, drink wine, and cook dinner. It is my favorite night of the week and I look forward to it like a relaxing bath- it’s my happy place and I know I have 24 hours of stress free rest for my body and my mind. I think we will keep this ritual long after we are married and even when we are a family to show our future children this kind of tradition. What is your happy place? Is it a yoga class together? A night of takeout and Netflix? Find it and honor it to keep yourselves in check with life and wedding planning.

Have some perspective.

Similar to a mother-to-be, a bride-to-be is subject to a lot of unsolicited advice from family and friends. My advice here is to nod, listen politely, and then do whatever it is you and your fiancé want anyway. Most advice givers just want their perspective to be heard, to help, or to simply feel a part of your big day. Let Aunt Louise tell you that your colour choice is wrong and you should go with magenta pink ruffles instead; listen with respect and then continue on with your color choice that you and your partner chose. As my father said when we couldn’t all agree on a date, “Leigh, you are not going to please everyone. You can’t in life and you certainly can’t and shouldn’t with your wedding. Remember this is about you and Lorraine.” Well put, Dad.

Wedding planning and being engaged should be some of the best months of your life. With organisation, a commitment to fitness, and some healthy perspective, you and your fiancé can have the wedding you want while keeping fit and having fun.

Also, you will have me to help you along this journey as this is now my journey too ,having just become engaged !! Feel free to reach out via email or social media to share thoughts or questions !

Til next time ..

Coach Leigh

P.S. If you need help planning your wedding, contact Harlow Garland - Auckland's premier wedding service for planning, styling and wedding florals.


Training For Your First 5K


Running is arguably the most hated and most loved form of exercise. Ever. It requires no costly memberships, no extra equipment, and can be performed anywhere. Yet, despite the low maintenance and great health benefits, many runners will admit they have a passionate love/hate relationship with the sport of running. And maybe that’s a good thing because if it were easy to love, it wouldn’t challenge us to push our physical limits.

What is Popular Right Now?

Themed road races have risen to fame in the young adult world. Why run in a mundane, ordinary 5K when you can run in one while getting paint thrown at you, or while being chased by people in zombie costumes? Although many fun runs do not actually record times, or even have a start clock, they are great ice breakers for brand new runners looking for their inaugural race.

Themed race or not, running a 5K is a huge accomplishment for many people, and a great starting point for future fitness goals. You do not have to be a former cross country star, or even have a background in running to have a successful 5K experience.

Before You Begin


It is important to have the right mindset and the right equipment. Begin with a positive outlook and a positive attitude. Envision yourself achieving this new goal and enjoying the entire process, even the worst days. And there will be bad days, very bad days, but you are the determiner of whether they will break you or make you stronger.

The Gear

It is equally important to have proper gear. Uncomfortable shoes or lack of support (ladies), will make for a miserable training program. Take a trip to your local sporting goods store and try on various shoes until you are completely satisfied with the feel, and of course, the look. Stop by the clothing section and buy yourself a few pieces of running attire. Surely it is a proven fact that a new half-zip pullover, or new pair of leggings can increase motivation.

Give Yourself Enough Time

If you have never ran a 5K before, or are new to running, it is a good idea to register for a race that allows at least two months of training beforehand. If you have already signed up for a race in the near future, or you think two months is too long to train, modify these tips to better fit your personal schedule and abilities.


Each training week should consist of six days, with one day of rest.

The first week is Welcome Week.

This week should focus on breaking through the mental walls and finding your stride. The most common mistake I see in brand new athletes, is their instinct to sprint everything. The words “jog”, “taper”, and “easy”, are lost on them. You cannot learn proper forms and techniques without slowing down and stretching out your stride. A jog should feel uncomfortable in the sense that you are, in fact, exercising and your heart rate is elevated, but you should be able to hold this pace for long periods of time. It will take a few runs to find the speed that works for you, so don’t become discouraged.

Start with a full five minute jog on Monday, and add 1 minute each day. By Saturday, you should be able to run ten minutes without a break.

The second week will focus on reaching one kilometre without stopping.

Using the same method as week one, start with a distance of .25 kilometres or .50 kilometres , and add a little bit each day. If you already achieved one mile during week one, that’s great! Use this week to improve your mile pace, and continue adding distance a little at a time.

Full weekly schedules will fluctuate, depending on how much training time you have delegated yourself. Continue with each week adding time and distance to your runs. Remember to take one day off each week for rest and recovery, as well as the day before the big race.

Finding a 5K to run will be easy, registering for the race will be easy, shopping for new gear will undoubtedly be easy, but crossing the finish line will require commitment, dedication, passion, and self-discipline. Before you begin, determine what your ultimate goals are. Implement these goals into every workout and every run, and you will be a skilled runner in no time!

Til next time ...

Coach Leigh

Leigh Richdale CONTRIBUTOR

Leigh Richdale CONTRIBUTOR


Why Women Should Lift Heavy Weights


Ladies, it’s time to step away from the two pound pink dumbbells: if you want to build sexy curves, lift heavier weights. You’ve already heard that strong is the new sexy, and it’s not just because being strong is awesome (which it is), but it’s also because strength training will totally transform you body in a good way. That is, it’s good if you like being lean and toned with sexy curves!

Many women start working out because they want to get toned. But what the heck does ‘toned’ really mean? For most people, being toned means being lean and having tight, firm muscles with good definition. A commendable goal, but how do you go about getting from where you are to the lean, toned and sexy sexier (you’re already sexy) body you want?

You grab the small pink dumbbells and bust out a thousand reps, right? Wrong, wrong, oh so wrong. You can do a thousand hours of cardio and no doubt about it, you’ll burn a lot of fat, but it isn’t going to get you toned. You need muscle to get muscle tone and as you know: cardio ain’t going to give you muscle! No muscle, no muscle tone (a.k.a. toning), no sexy curves!

Why are so many ladies scared to step away from the pink dumbbells? It usually boils down to a few things: fear of bulking, fear of the weight room and lack of knowledge. Some people may also be scared of becoming too sexy, but we’re not sure about that one.

I don’t want to get big and bulky!

We can just imagine the scenario: “Oh no! I did some heavy squats yesterday and now look at me! Muscles bulging from every inch of my bah-dee…. aghhhhhhhhhhh!”

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on who you ask) it just doesn’t work that way. We covered this in our fitness myths but it bears repeating: women don’t have anywhere near the amount of testosterone that men have, which means that even when they lift heavy weights for a long time, they still won’t get as big and muscular as a man.

The women you see who have absolutely huge muscles are professional bodybuilders, which means they: train for about 4 hours in the gym per day, often use performance enhancing drugs (human growth hormone, steroids, etc.) and are often genetically predisposed to muscle growth (which is rare in most populations). Even with all of that, it still takes tremendous discipline and focus to achieve those kind of extraordinary results.

In other words, you’re not going to get big and bulky from lifting weights. If you did put on more muscle than you wanted, all you’d need to do is switch to lighter weights, more reps and more cardio and voila, the muscle would decrease in size – it isn’t magically set in stone.

If you hit the free weights, lift heavy enough (progressive overload) and eat clean, instead of looking like She-Hulk, you’re more likely to end up looking (with dedication) like this:

Yo Lazarov

We don’t know about you, but we think she looks pretty good! And that awesome physique was attained with a clean diet, lifting heavy weights and believe it or not, no cardio! We still think you should include cardio into your workouts because studies show that resistance training combined with aerobic training works the best for fat loss

I’m scared of the weight room!

Many women (and frankly, a lot of men too) are intimidated by the free weight section of the gym. We don’t blame you: big, sweaty, muscle-bound dudes slinging weights around, few (if any) other women, and stacks of weights with no instructions – no wonder people get intimidated!

Fortunately, there are a number of ways for you to feel a lot more confident in the free weight section of your gym. The most important way is to be competent with the exercises. Like the saying goes: knowledge is power. There’s nothing that boosts confidence more than knowing exactly what you’re doing.

So how do you get to the point where you know what to do? The best way is to hire a good personal trainer for a few sessions (they can also give you an workout plan to follow). Of course, good personal trainers can be expensive and not everyone has the money to spend on doing that.

Lucky for us, living in the 21st century means you can watch videos on practically every exercise: how to do them, what to avoid, common mistakes etc. Best of all you can practice in the comfort of your own home (in front of a mirror if possible to check your form) before you hit the gym. Even better, there are only a few core exercises which you need to know to get started (we’ll cover those below).

Which brings us to another point: these days it’s cheap enough to set up your own home gym, that you don’t really need to sign up to a gym at all. Sure, you won’t have all the cool little extras, but by setting up your own small home gym, you’ll save a ton of money in the long run.

Home gyms have a lot of advantages over traditional gyms if you have the budget up-front and the space: convenience, cost (in the long run) and most importantly being able to do all those weird looking exercises you’ve always wanted to try, but were too embarrassed to do at the gym.

If you are going to the gym, the first time you step foot in the free weight section, you will feel a little awkward, but that will quickly fade as you get to know your way around – it will become so familiar that you won’t even remember that moment. As a woman walking stepping into the weight room, you will get some looks from guys, but as long as you’re there to work out, don’t just use the 5lb dumbbells and know what you’re doing (not expert level), then most of the time it will be out of respect. And the rest of the time it will be, well… ’cause they’re guys.

You could also buddy-up, which makes things a little easier. Whatever it is, do what you have to do to get yourself lifting, because the awesome results you’ll get are worth the initial awkwardness.

Why Lifting Heavy Is Awesome

Most people already know that resistance training is good for you. But if you’re not lifting heavy enough, then it isn’t resistance training – it’s cardio.

The question is: what is ‘heavy’? It’s another one of these words which, like toning, can mean different things to different people. You’ll see people talk about ‘heavy’ as being a percentage (70% – 80%) of your one rep max, but perhaps an easier way to think about it is: the weight which is challenging to you.

In other words, ‘heavy’ is the amount of weight which makes it a challenge (but not impossible) for you to reach the number of reps (e.g. 8 – 12) in a set. It’s all relative to you and what you’re currently capable of.

Now, why would you want to put yourself through challenging workouts like these? Simple: because you’re awesome! Not enough? Okay, here are a few more reasons:

Burns a lot more fat than cardio alone.Increases metabolic rate (i.e. burn more calories even when you’re not working out).Build sexy curves (i.e. muscle = curves).Maintain and strengthen bone density (i.e. help combat osteoporosis).Get some sweet muscle definition.Functional strength for when you need it (we’re not saying zombies…)Feel great, endorphins, serotonin, better mood.Many other health benefits (like a healthier heart).Booty, legs, abs and guns!Raaaaaaawr!

Those are just a few of the reasons, we’re sure you can find more (let us know in the comments).

The 7 Essential Resistance Training Exercises

The most important thing to get right as a beginner is your form. You want to get your form as good as possible using bodyweight only, a barbell or a broomstick. Once you’ve got good form without weight, you want to slowly start adding weight and making sure your form is still good. Slowly increment the weight to the point where you’re able to maintain good form and just reach your rep range. Exercise form is something you should keep coming back to and improving no matter how experienced you are.

It’s also important to remember that you won’t use the same weight for each exercise (that’s pink dumbbell thinking), but instead switch it up according to what you can or can’t do; remember, the idea is to lift as heavy as you can safely lift in order to hit your rep range – if you can do more reps, then you need to increase the weight; if you can’t reach the rep range then decrease the weight.

For example: most women can squat far more than they can bench press; which means you have to use a heavier weight for squats if you want to get great results. In addition to this, you need to keep the concept ofprogressive overload in mind; this is simply a fancy way of saying you need to keep challenging yourself with the amount of weight you lift.

Another example: if you’ve been squatting 70lbs for a month and you can comfortably do 3 sets of 12 reps, then it’s probably time to increase the weight. How much you increase it by is up to you, but it’s probably a good idea to go by 2.5lb – 5lb increments. Increase the weight to the point where you’re just able to reach your rep range; decrease it a little if you can’t.

Having said all that, there are only a few essential exercises that you need to learn in order to get started lifting. Here they are:

  • Squat
    • Deadlift
    • Overhead Press
    • Bench Press
    • Pull-Ups
    • Bent Over Row
    • Dips

That’s just for starters, there are dumbbell variations, cable variations, isolation exercises (the above are all compound exercises; i.e. they work multiple muscles at once, thus making your workouts more efficient) which you can dig into when you’ve got a bit more experience.

Once you’ve got those fundamentals under your belt, you’ll know enough to get started building sexy curves, burning away fat like never before (combine with cardio & clean eating) and building the best body you’ve ever had!

Til next time !

Coach Leigh

Leigh Richdale CONTRIBUTOR

Leigh Richdale CONTRIBUTOR


How Often Should You Work Out?


We all know that you need to work out consistently, regularly and intensely for the best results, but at the same time we also hear a lot about overtraining – most notably how it’s very bad for you – but is this an overblown concern; just how often can you safely work out?

As you probably suspected, it depends. A huge factor is your workout intensity; equally important is how adequate your nutrition is and lastly personal level of fitness and condition of health (we will be talking about a generally healthy individual, but this isn’t medical advice, so check with your doctor first). Then the question can be broken down further: how often per day, per week and per quarter.

So, intensity. Someone who is doing a very light level of exercise – e.g. hardly out of breath during the workout – can exercise every single day. In other words, low-intensity cardio can be done every day.

As soon as you up the intensity, though, things start to get a little more complicated. For example, with resistance training you need to have at least one days’ rest between body-part workouts. In other words, if you worked out biceps today, don’t work them out tomorrow. Nutrition starts to play an even more important role now because your body needs to repair and rebuild torn muscle fibres (that’s how you get more muscle).

Then you also need to ensure that you give your central nervous system a rest, as well as time for your bones, ligaments and tendons to get stronger – muscle increases strength a lot quicker, which means you can develop the capacity to lift weights the rest of your body isn’t yet ready for, thus the recovery time is important.

Of course, this too needs to factor in intensity. There’s a world of difference between slopping out a hundred reps with the pink dumbbells, versus giving it everything to barely hit ten reps with 80% of your maximum weight.

It’s quality that counts. Intensity is what makes a great workout.

Now, on the other hand if you’re using a high-intensity interval training protocol, because it’s more taxing on your CNS, you’re going to need to take more rest days – especially if you are combining it with intense resistance training. In fact, it would be better to combine intense resistance training with low-intensity steady-state (LISS) cardio – if at all.

Similarly, if you’ve been doing regular intense workouts it’s a good idea to take one or two weeks off – completely! – every four to six weeks.

What about working out more than once per day? This should be fine provided you’re not going for intensity with both workouts and your getting your nutritional needs met – which especially means getting enough protein and the other assorted amino acids required for repairing your body. You will also need more time to recover each week, anything from two to four days.

As you can see, there’s actually a lot more to this seemingly simple question than first meets the mind. To sum it up:

Pair high-intensity workouts with low-intensity workouts; e.g. strength training workout with LISS cardio; HIIT with low-intensity resistance training.

If you workout twice a day, make sure you get two to four rest days per week – assuming you are doing an intense resistance training workout as one of your daily workouts.

The more intense your workout the more rest days between working out that body part again. So, if you do an intense back workout, you should rest for one to two days before you work out your back again.

Take a workout break of at least a week, every four to six weeks.

And if you’re doing intense workouts – and you are, because you want to see those results, right? – make sure you remain alert for signs of overtraining (we’ll address these in another article).

Until next time !

Coach Leigh

Leigh Richdale CONTRIBUTOR

Leigh Richdale CONTRIBUTOR


Yoga For Happy Hips

According to the pop singer Shakira – our hips don’t lie. Especially if they are in pain, or really tight. Read on for fun facts about the power behind our pelvis muscles, and different ways we can lengthen and loosen up in the hips.

The hip flexors literally carry the human body all day, every day. However, due to the fact that our hip muscles are responsible for walking, sitting, standing they are constantly activated and at a great risk of being injured.

The iliopsoas muscle (psoas for short) starts from the low back area then travels through the pelvis, attaching to the thigh bone. It is almost always involved when there is pain in the hip flexor region. This muscle is also known to be one of the ‘tightest’ muscles in the human body.

Symptoms of a tight psoas:

  • Lower back and or abdominal Pain
  • Leg and or groin pain
  • Pelvic discomfort
  • Trouble standing/sitting
  • Inability to perform sit-ups

Causes of psoas pain:

  • Sitting for extended periods
  • Sleeping on the side, or fetal position
  • Excess weight
  • Running excessively
  • Climbing large amounts of stairs
  • Performing high number of sit-ups or leg ups (repetitive strain)

Due to the fact that the psoas is largely responsible for keeping proper posture, it is wise to include regular hip opening and lengthening in our daily exercise routines. Healthy hip muscles (not tight) can reduce many age related issues and assist with an upright posture well into old age. Targeting the iliopsoas with Yoga postures is easy, and rather fun to do. Regular practice of these hip opening postures can greatly reduce wear and tear on the hip joints, spine and knees.

How to Release the Psoas (Constructive Rest Position )

Lay on your back, with a relaxed spine, find a neutral and restful position.Bend the knees and place the feet hip width apart on the floor. Your feet should be 1 or 2ft from your buttocks.Keep gazing towards the ceiling and avoid moving your pelvis in any direction, nor flatten the spine. Optional, you can place a pillow or yoga blog between the knees, and you can cross the arms over your chest just under the neck.Hold this position for 10 or 20 minutes.

This will help loosen the psoas, creating a supple relaxed muscle.

Yoga Postures for Psoas Release

The following Yoga asanas, also known as poses, help to engage, lengthen and release the tight iliopsoas muscles. Practice each pose regularly to obtain supple psoas muscles which will help to prevent pain, strain or future injury to the hip flexors.

Reclining Big Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana)

This pose helps to elongate the hamstring muscles and spinal column.

While laying flat on your back bring your right leg upwards.Use a Yoga belt around the balls of the feet just under the toes, or grab onto the right big toe with your index finger and attempt to straighten the right leg foot up to the ceiling. Keep the left leg straight and strong, pressing the back of the knee into the floor to assist in opening the lower spine.Keep the head and neck relaxed but long.Hold for 5-10 breaths then switch to the other side and repeat.

Boat Pose (Navasana)

This pose helps strengthen the abdominal muscles, hip flexors and spine. Start by sitting on the floor with your legs extended out in front of you.Engage your abdominal muscles, keep your spine long then begin to raise both of your legs up in the air at the same time.Relax into the pose by drawing the lower rib cage closer to the spine.Keep the jaw line parallel to the floor.The legs should be held firmly together, gently gaze forward and hold this position for 5-10 deep breaths.

There are many other poses than can assist with opening the hips and loosening the infamously tight psoas muscles. If you would like to take your hip flexor stretches to the next level, try Pigeon Pose for extra lengthening. Lastly, to relax after an intense happy hip opening yoga class, enjoy a Supine Spinal Twist which will aid in easing the psoas muscles back into a busy day.

Til next time ..

Coach Leigh

Leigh Richdale CONTRIBUTOR

Leigh Richdale CONTRIBUTOR


Why Sleep is Important for Muscle Recovery


Whether you agree with it or not, everyone needs to build muscle and gain strength. Not everyone has to do an iron pumping bodybuilder workout to gain Hulk like muscles. You just want to build muscle and strength and maintain it, especially as when you get older you start to lose strength and muscle mass. Once you lose muscle mass it can take a lot of time and effort trying to regain it. A lack of muscle strength makes you more susceptible to injury and you don’t want that.

If you are currently doing a strength building routine there are other things you need to do to maintain the muscle. Sleep is one of the essentials. It was important for you as a kid, and is just as important for you today as an adult.

Muscles Break Down

Not many people are aware of this, but when you workout you are actually breaking down your muscles. Cardio junkies especially like to sit on the treadmill or elliptical building endurance and strengthening their heart, which is great; however from time to time stepping off the machine and lifting weights to build muscle is important, (aim to include strength training in your workout schedule at least a couple of times a week) too much cardio can see you lose muscle mass as your body can start to use it for energy. Cardio may be the favourite for burning fat but strength training and the result of building muscle is what gives you the toned and shapely look to your body. On a side note, strength training will actually help you burn fat faster so don’t believe that cardio is the be all and end all for a fantastic physique.

When you lift weights, your muscle fibers are breaking down and tearing – it is the repairing of those small tears that makes the muscle stronger. Therefore in order to help those muscles repair themselves you need to do a few things.

Aiding Muscle Recovery: Nutrition

One of the things you can do before you get to sleep is replenish your body with nutrients with a post workout snack or meal. A protein shake is an easy and quick way of doing this – 30 minutes to an hour is the window you have after your workout to help restore the nutrients lost during your workout so if you are going to eat after a workout (whether a snack or a healthy meal) this is the optimal time for you to do it.

Sensible Scheduling

Another way to help the muscles repair is to give them ample time to recover. Ensure when creating your strength training program that you allow for recovery – if you are working all muscle groups (full body workout) you leave a day of rest between workouts (these days can be used for cardio). If you have only worked your upper body then you can work your lower body the next day, the aim is not to work the same muscles two days in a row.


Ensure you get enough sleep, when we sleep our body uses this time to rejuvenate – as discussed in further detail below.

What Does Sleep Do For You?

Sleep is essential for growth. Do you remember when you were a kid and your parents would tell you to get some sleep so you can become big and strong? Well despite how you felt about your parents intelligence, they were absolutely right. Sleep does factor into your size and strength, or lack there of.

When you sleep, growth hormones are produced, muscles are repaired and even brain cell restoration happens. These things happen in the later stages (3 & 4) of sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep you don’t get to complete the phases needed for the muscle repair and recovery. So if you are getting only 4-6 hours of sleep over time you’re cheating your body from major gains from your hard work.

There are four stages of sleep. Some very important and interesting things happen during sleep stages three and four.

Stage 3

During stage three of sleep your muscles become more relaxed, tissue growth and repairs occur and energy is restored.

Think about it like charging your phone. When you charge your phone to 100% you get the full use of it and it runs faster. The same goes with our body. If you let it recharge completely and into a REM cycle you’ll be more effective the following day and during your workouts.

Stage 4 counts for 25% of your sleep.

During this stage energy is restored, to both the brain and body. Your muscles are also turned off and you are completely relaxed.

Hours of Sleep

The National Foundation of Sleep suggests a “rule of thumb” amount of sleep which many doctors and scientist have agreed on 7­8 hours a day of sleep.

Sleep is not only essential for muscle growth but your overall health. If you are in the habit of only sleeping for short periods of time you may be interested to know that laboratory evidence shows short 4-5 hour sleep durations have a negative physiological and neurobehavioral consequence. Some areas that that sleep deprivation has been linked to is as follows:

  • Increased risk of drowsy driving

  • A greater likelihood of obesity due to an increased appetite caused by sleep deprivation

  • Increased risk of diabetes and heart problems

  • Increased risk for psychiatric conditions including depression and substance abuse

  • Decreased ability to pay attention, react to signals or remember new information


A good way to judge if you are getting enough sleep is to pay attention to and listen to your body. If you constantly need coffee as soon as you get up in the morning ‘in order to be able to function/start your day’, or have trouble remembering things, lack of energy etc this may be because you are not getting enough sleep and therefore you mind and body aren’t running as optimally as they could be.

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Leigh Richdale CONTRIBUTOR

Leigh Richdale CONTRIBUTOR


Easy Tips to Make Your Run More Interesting

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Running is one of the greatest, most effective and accessible workouts around. But even the best workouts can leave you losing interest if you keep repeating them day in and day out. To get the best results out of any workout it’s beneficial to gradually and constantly change up your routine. The same goes for running, too!

There are plenty of ways to make running more challenging, more fun, and therefore keep the calorie-blasting, fat-burning benefits coming. A simple change in scenery or a fresh, upbeat playlist can help spark a brand new interest for the same energizing sport. Read on for our list of 5 easy ways to make your run more interesting!

Find a need for speed.

Including quick speed intervals into your regular run can help bust boredom and burn extra calories and fat. Start with 2 minutes of jogging at your normal pace, then pick up into a fast run or sprint for 30-60 seconds. This type of interval training increases your calorie and fat burn much more than a lower intensity, longer duration run. You’ll even be burning mega calories after your workout is complete as your body brings itself back to it’s pre-run state. Repeat these intervals during your run and you will be shocked at how quickly time flies by!

Work your entire body - Try toning it up!

Every quarter of a kilometre, take a break from running and complete this circuit: 10 squats, 10 pushups, and a 30 second side plank on each side. Including this total body strength training in your running workout will help you tone up from head to toe. Your body will be burning extra calories from the strength training, and you may be able to run a little faster than normal due to the short distance run before each strength break. Give it a try or include any other go-to strength training moves!

A simple change in scenery can make all the difference in the world!

Make your run an adventure and research local trails, paths, or metroparks to explore near you. Exploring new locations can bring a new thrill to running that you may not have experienced if you stick to the treadmill or the same path around your neighborhood. Be sure to do your homework ahead of time; research the path, the distance, and whether or not there are drinking fountains close by.

Train for a race!

You can find local races of all distances; 5K, 10K, 15K, mini and half marathons, full marathons, and so much more! Themed races are popular right now, too. Zombie races, color runs, charity races, and everything in between can help motivate you to get moving and have a good time! There are also plenty of running groups that focus around training for a local race. Check out running stores in your town and ask if there are any local groups training for anything upcoming. With the new motivation to improve your running, a goal in mind, and new friends with similar interests surrounding you, training for a race is one of the best ways to mix it up!

Music makes a difference.

If you’ve been hitting “play” on the same old playlist for quite some time, or you can guess which song is coming through your headphones next, it’s time for a change! The right tunes can increase your speed and push you through that extra mile. Make a new playlist each week to keep your brain guessing and looking forward to new songs. A great resource that lists songs based on your desired run pace is Many fitness sites and magazines offer free or downloadable playlists. You can also skim through iTunes top hits to get ideas for what to add to your list. Browse through some new songs and update your tunes before heading out on your next run.

Running will always be a free, fun workout. So, do what you need to do to keep things fresh and exciting each and every time you lace up and head out the door. Your body will thank you for the good-looking benefits and your brain will be happy you beat the boredom!

Catch you next time !

Coach Leigh

Leigh Richdale CONTRIBUTOR

Leigh Richdale CONTRIBUTOR


The Need For Speed: 8 Running Tips


It’s running season – time to celebrate!

With so many races coming up right around the corner, of all kinds of distances, there are more runners than any other time of the year lining up on treadmills and hitting the sidewalks and trails.

While running can really be as simple as putting one foot in front of the other, everyone always has room for improvement. Check out these 8 ways to increase your speed and nail your best time yet!

Interval Training

One of the best ways to increase your speed is to incorporate interval training. Alternate between 2 minutes of sprinting and 1 minute of recovery for 20-40 minutes. If you have a goal pace in mind for a future race, aim for 0.5 kph faster than that pace during the speed interval. To recover, walk or jog, whichever feels best, but is also still challenging to your body.

Practice makes perfect, so perfect your form.

Stand tall and relax your shoulders, keep your arms swinging back and forth as opposed to out to the side, and land on the middle of your foot with your feet directly under your hips. Focus on your form during your next few runs and watch your times improve! Inhale, exhale.

Focus on your breathing!

To be sure that your muscles are getting enough air to power your body through your fast-paced run, inhale and exhale through both your nose and mouth. Taking deep breaths through both the nose and mouth will allow your body to deliver the maximum amount of oxygen possible to your body, fast! Oxygen is like food for your muscles, so those quick legs will thank you.


Stretching keeps your muscles flexible and injury free. So, be sure to stretch after each run for at least 5 minutes. Target your hip flexors, quads, hamstrings, and calves. Holding each stretch for 30 seconds on each side, at least twice, will help you recover and take on your next run with fresh legs.

Grab a six pack.

Abs, that is! Incorporating more core work into your routine can help increase your speed. A strong core is the key to proper running form. Add 5 minutes of core work (abs and back) into your routine every other day to start seeing and feeling the benefits. Hit the weights.

Strength training will increase the power in your legs, giving them more ability to propel you through your run.

Focus on your large muscle groups like your quads and hamstrings, but don’t neglect your inner and outer thighs to protect yourself from injury. Just two strength training sessions a week can be enough to make a difference in your run times.

Have yourself a cup of coffee an hour before your run and watch its surprising effect on your time!

Caffeine has been shown to increase speed and coffee is one of the healthiest forms. If you’re really getting serious, don’t fret, caffeine is still a cleared performance enhancing substitute. Elite athletes and weekend runners alike can benefit from a hot cup o’ joe!

Refresh your gear and treat yourself to a new pair of shoes.

Your shoes take quite the beating when you’re logging serious mileage. A good pair of running shoes won’t last much longer than 300-400 kilometres. Keep track of your mileage to be sure you do your feet a favour and replace your shoes on time. If it’s been a while since you’ve rotated in a fresh pair, you’ll certainly feel the difference!

Start incorporating these small changes into your running and watch your times decrease slowly but surely. Increasing your speed is no easy feat (no pun intended!) but it can be done. Be patient and consistent and your hard work will pay off when you cross that finish line!

Leigh Richdale CONTRIBUTOR

Leigh Richdale CONTRIBUTOR


Why the Gym Helps More Than Just Your Waistline


Working out and being fit is important for not just your waistline, but also your confidence.

*Connect Your Workouts to Your World – Why Hitting the Gym Helps More Than Just Your Waistline. *

Everyone has those days; the bad hair days, the bad skin days, the days where none of your clothes seem to look right. You have a day that starts that way and then your confidence plummets. Your performance at work that day stinks (and you’re grumpy). Your workout that night tanks and every rep feels like you’re moving through sludge. Why do you hit the gym at all, you wonder, if you feel like you still look like a beached whale?

Simply put, if you didn’t, it would be much worse.

Working out and being fit is important not just your waistline but also FOR your confidence. It’s important for your ability to problem solve, be capable on your relationships and be a good person overall. Why? Not because of your slimmer waistline or toned thighs.

Working out does more than just help you reach your body image and weight loss goals.Working out lowers cortisol (a stress hormone that contributes to belly fat and anxiety). Working out lowers adrenaline (in the long term, burning it up like a candle that needed to be lit but not excluding it from lighting in the future). Working out provides confidence in one’s self; why? Well, let’s explore that.

What is the workout “high”? It’s the inexplicable feeling that you get after doing an incredible workout. We’ve all been there too (like the lows listed earlier). We’ve all had the treadmill "10 kilometers" or “I went for an hour!” feeling. We’ve all had the super-human feeling of a high from a marathon exercise session where we can’t explain why we could do more than a cardio session, yoga class, and then wanted to lift.

So how does this tie into confidence? It’s simple really; it’s the basic known fact that when you feel good, you feel really good; this translates to confidence in other areas of life such as career satisfaction, relationship happiness, and financial stability.

When it comes to career satisfaction, working out can help.How? Why?

Career ambitions are directly tied to confidence, as is working out. Remember that “high” you had from a great workout? How did you feel when your boss complimented you, when you nailed a big project, when you got the signature from a huge client? It’s all the same to your body; the rush of adrenaline, cortisol, and then the satisfaction from success are all similar to the hormonal and emotional rush you might get while on the treadmill. When you complete a task professionally, your confidence is boosted just like when you complete a task in the gym. However, the hormones involved are the same- so if you work out before a big meeting or presentation, count on reaping the benefits of the upped confidence and hormonal shifts in your favor to ace that meeting!

When it comes to relationship satisfaction, working out can help.How? Why?

Similar to the above career scenario, when you take care of yourself and your career, it flourishes. When you don’t, it dwindles like a plant that one forgot to water or the cashmere sweater one forgot to dry clean. Relationships require cultivation and confidence; cultivation is important to maintain and grow a bond between partners but confidence is required to make that bond worth its weight in salt. When partners work out, independently or together, they reap the benefits of the confidence boosting habits stated above. This leads to more honest conversations, more open communications, a better proven ability to manage grief, hope, faith, love, finances, and more that are encompassing a relationship.

When it comes to financial stability satisfaction, working out can help. How? Why?

Did you see the movie “The Wolf of Wall Street”? Do you think the main character was a confident person? Yes, he was. Too much so, really. But how does working out tie into financial stability? Simple- it is the rational decision to take control of one’s life. Like fitness and wellness, financial stability is something relatively in our control (once we know our budget and income). Once one realizes something is in their control, confidence comes into play. Financial stability, like relationships and careers, requires a confidence that can be brought on by a balanced life, which involved working out and stress relief.

Working out provides an outlet that had been proven to reduce stress hormones, which regulate other biochemical factors in the body, which regulate impulsive actions with one’s career, relationship and finances. When you workout, you provide yourself a base of care- that results in a base of hormonal stability, good decision making, and a confidence boost that you can control on your own.

Let’s take an example from a normal day:

Monday #1: you go to 7 am Power Yoga; work from 9 am -5 pm; cook dinner and relax.

Monday #2: you skip yoga to sleep in; work from 9 am-5 pm; order food because you feel like it’s a “lazy day”.

If your dream job manager came up to you that day on the street and asked for your resume, how would feel on Monday #1 versus Monday #2?

If your dream partner asked you on a date, how would you feel on Monday #1 versus Monday #2?

If you had to do your taxes or meet with a financial advisor, how would you feel on Monday #1 versus Monday #2?

Exactly. Monday #1 will always lead into a more confident meeting, whether it be with your dream job, relationship or finances.

You might not even be able to explain it; the science is there hormonal and chemically to back up the result. Today, we are here for you to connect that working out leaves you nothing to lose- your health improves (obviously), your confidence in decision making improves from this shift in hormones that comes with working out (which leads to better decisions). This can all lead to a happier, healthier life expanding to career, relationships and finances.

Does this sound bogus? Try it. Tell us your story. Let us know how consistently working out changes your life on every level. We welcome the feedback!

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Leigh Richdale CONTRIBUTOR

Leigh Richdale CONTRIBUTOR


Shin Splints: Treatment and Prevention


Shin splints, medically known as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), refers to pain in the shins - the front lower legs. It is an inflammatory condition of the front part of the tibia. The pain is brought on by strenuous activity, more commonly in stop-start sports such as squash, tennis or basketball. Running too much on hard surfaces is also a common cause of shin splints.

Shin splints have two main causes:

  • Exerting excessive pressure on the lower leg muscles
  • Excessive impact on the muscle

Pain is usually felt early on during the physical activity, dies down somewhat, and then returns later on, sometimes during the same exercise session; this may occur during a long run. The pain can gradually become so bad that the activity has to be abandoned altogether.

A serious mistake is to try to "run through the pain" if it is a shin pain. This type of pain usually means there is injury to the bone and/or surrounding tissue. Forcing it more may worsen the injury and make the pain more intense and longer lasting.

What are the signs and symptoms of shin splints?

The pain can be on either side of the shinbone, or in the muscle itself - this depends on the cause. Signs and symptoms related to shin splints may include:

  • Pain along the inner part of the lower leg
  • Tenderness or soreness along the inner part of the lower leg
  • Moderate swelling in the lower leg
  • Feet may feel numb and weak, because swollen muscles irritate the nerves

What are the treatment options for shin splints?

The best treatment for shin splints is rest. It is not one of those leg pains that recovers faster with physical activity. In the majority of cases the doctor will recommend two weeks' rest. This means no running or taking part in any kind of sport linked to higher shin splint risk. However, gentle activities, such as cycling, swimming or walking are probably acceptable (check with your doctor or physical therapist).

Raising the leg and applying an ice pack to the affected area can help reduce the swelling.

To alleviate pain, an OTC (over-the-counter) analgesic, such as paracetamol (acetaminophen, Tylenol) or ibuprofen may help. Check with your doctor first.When to do exercise againIn most cases, the individual can return to normal physical activity within two weeks, unless the doctor or physical therapist says otherwise. Ideally, you should start slowly and gradually build up your speed and intensity. Make sure you are warmed up before exercise.

How to avoid shin splints

  • Use proper fitting shoes with good support
  • Make sure the insoles are shock-absorbing.
  • If you have flat feet, good insoles are vital
  • Increase your intensity gradually
  • Make sure you warmed up properly before doing exercise

Coach Leigh

Leigh Richdale  CONTRIBUTOR

Leigh Richdale



Strength Training for Runners

With this simple strength training routine, you can build the muscles a runner needs to stay injury-free and even increase your speed and endurance.

Spring is upon us (finally!) and many runners will be itching to dust their outdoor shoes and gear off after what was an averagewinter throughout the New Zealand . If you kept up your running practice indoors on a treadmill, good for you. If you converted to another type of cardio while in hibernation, props to you. If you bought all of the polar gear and ran outside this winter speechless!

Regardless of your winter workout habits, it’s time to dust off those trainers and get ready for running season! The half marathon and marathon registry emails are starting to clog our inboxes. While all of these races and ambitions sound great and come from a wonderful place, how can one stay safe and injury-free during the running season?

Two words: Strength. Training.

When one dissects a runner’s gait, the power muscles for a great stride might surprise the common runner: glutes, hamstrings, and core.

First, the glutes are the largest muscles of the body and propel one’s stride. They consist of 3 layers that expand out into the hip and strong glutes will equate to strong hips which leads to less knee injuries, alleviated knee pressure, less ankle injuries, a stable lower back/ pelvis, and increased running speed. The 3 layers of the glutes are the maximus, medius, and minimus and are named so due to their size. The glute mediius and minimus are traditionally weaker as they are more utilized in lateral and external rotation movements, which are movements we don’t use naturally in our day to day lives. However, strengthening these muscles will be key to injury prevention and will also improve running speed/time.

Try the following glute exercises 3 days per week:

Equipment needed: resistance band (loop form)

Travelling side squats

  • Wrap band around ankles. 
  • Keeping core pulled in and knees behind toes, step out wide to one side and squat to comfort.
  • Step the opposing foot in to meet the stepping foot (hence, the travelling name for these squats).
  • Do 10 to one side, 10 to the other side, and repeat 2-3 sets. This should be felt in the hips, core, and possibly quadriceps (thighs).

Rear leg raises: 

  • Place elbows or hands on a sturdy surface such as a wall, couch back or countertop.
  • Position body so that you are in an L shape (face & stomach towards floor, legs straight).
  • Pull core into spine. Take your right leg and lift it up to hip height, keeping toes towards floor (no hip rotation), repeat 15 times and at the 15th rep, pulses at the top for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat on left side. Perform 2 sets on each side. Ankle weights can be added for an extra challenge.

Next, for the hamstrings:

Single leg bridges

  • Lay on back as if you were about to do crunches. Instead, with your knees bent, bring legs/ knees/ ankles together (feet are still on ground). Engage core by tucking tailbone under and pressing lower back into the mat.
  • Take your right leg and point it up to the ceiling; left leg holds firm to the floor. Lift your glutes and lower back off the mat, using just your left leg.
  • Raise up and down with control 10x and hold for a count of 10 on the last rep at the top.
  • Repeat twice on each side.

Butt kickers

Get into a hands & knees position with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Engage core and pull belly button into spine. Lift your right leg back, toes facing to floor and then hold it straight behind you. Take your right leg and bend your foot towards your glutes 10 times; on the 10th rep, hold the right leg in a bent position and pulse foot towards sky for a count of 10 (like you were trying to stamp your footprint on the ceiling). Repeat 2-3 times on each side; bonus: shoulder and arm work!

Finally, for core strength:


Lay face down on mat or floor. Place hands or elbows (either works for plank) and lift body up into a straight line, as if you were about to do a push up. Keep the tailbone tucked under and feel this move only in your core (there should be NO back pain). Look in a mirror to ensure form is a long line from crown to heel. Hold 3 times for as long as you can with good form and no back pain. For more advanced: add in a leg lift (hold the plank with right leg lifted 2 inches off floor and switch halfway). To make it easier: place knees on ground during holds.

Side plank

Lay on one side on the floor or mat. Place bottom elbow or hand under shoulder on same side and lift body up into a side-facing version of the plank (much harder than a normal plank, do not get discouraged). Like the normal plank, placing knees on ground is a good modification. Hold 3 times on each side for as long as you can without pain in spine. Bonus: extra hip strengthening!

With this simple strength training routine, you can build the muscles a runner needs to stay injury-free and even increase your speed and endurance. Strengthening your glutes, hamstring, and core will change how you run and will make you feel stronger, faster, and ready to take one a race.

Have a great running season!

Leigh Richdale  CONTRIBUTOR

Leigh Richdale



5 Great Ways to Exercise in Water


Swimming can be a great alternative to running, and here is how and why

I´m not sure if I have ever mentioned this before but I am not in love with running. However, I have found a liking to it, so I spoke to a triathlete friend and she explained why runners can benefit so much from swimming. Even if you prefer your feet on dry land, consider swimming for some great cross training.

The more I listened to my friend speak the more I realised swimming is a brilliant form of exercise. Swimming not only benefits the body and the mind, but it is a great way to give your legs a well deserved break from the high impact of running.

It also serves as an ideal form of active recovery and to boot, it increases endurance and oxygen capacity! If you are recovering from a running related injury, it is a great way to maintain your fitness during your recovery period, because the resistance of the water makes the muscles work hard without the strain or impact that is experienced on land. There are different movement patterns in swimming that allow you to put your focus on neglected muscle groups, for example, your upper body.

In addition to specific movements, you can also use devices, such as a pull buoy, that put even more focus on these muscles. A pull buoy ( is a floating type device that allows you to exclusively work your arms and back. It is called a pull buoy because it is a buoy that you pull! Go figure!!!

Getting Started

There are so many options of water exercise! Here´s a list of some of the options you have available.

Lap Swimming

Swimming lengths for a given period of time, using different styles of swimming (freestyle, breaststroke, butterfly or backstroke).

Water Yoga and Relaxation
Easy flowing moves using water as a relaxation medium.

Deep Water Running/Pool Running
Using flotation devices in deep water, you simulate land running; your feet do not touch the bottom of the pool.

Water Walking
This is done in waist-deep or chest-deep water. You can move forward, backward and sideways, using regular, short/long steps.

Water Toning
Upper and lower body exercises designed to strengthen and sculpt the muscles using water resistance or water exercise equipment.

In the recent weeks I’ve focused on analysing strokes and which muscles are felt. So now I can pinpoint the muscles that hurt post workout, here are the types of strokes and the main muscles used with each.

Types of Strokes and Muscles Used

Freestyle/Front Crawl
It is a great stroke for those of you that prefer a more fast-paced swimming, since it generates the most force of any stroke. The main muscles used in the freestyle stroke are the chest and lats.

This one is my favorite! It does require coordination and skill since you have to move your lower and upper body in sync. However, this stroke is not typically performed at great speed, so it’s better for overall strength building and cardiovascular exercise. Its focus is put on shoulders, chest and arms.

By far the hardest and most intense of all the strokes and the most difficult to master. A terrific benefit is that it kicks fat burning into high gear! It boosts your metabolism and is perfect for interval training sessions. You will most certainly work your chest, shoulders and your back muscles.

Like you are sleeping in water! No, not really, but it is the least intensive of all the strokes and is best for a recovery swim. As the name implies, the main muscles used are your back/lats and your hamstrings.

In the case of pool running I have to say it was a bit tricky at first but a great cross training option. First of all, selecting the right floating device is key!!!

Before you get started however I have to point out that I do not recommend this type of workout for anyone with a hip flexor injury, since it can be aggravated by the increased resistance of the water as you bring your leg up. By the way, my big assumption here is that you can swim. This isn’t like a cycle class where you don´t need to know how to ride a bicycle, in this case, I am all for you knowing how to swim before you try pool running in deep water, or you may get to know the pool attendant better than you may want hahahah.

Having said all those things, here are some tips and tricks to making your first pool run a positive experience.

Go To The Deep End – that´s right.

The very deep, you don´t want to touch the bottom of the pool for this which takes me to the next point.

Floating Device

There are different types of floating devices, from a belt to a vest. If you´re a beginner, such as myself, I’ve found the vest to provide better flotation (although there could be some forearm chaffing) and allows me to have better form. I have been told I will soon feel comfortable enough to graduate to thewater belt or maybe go directly to pool running without a belt. Super challenging!!!

Your Form

Your body should remain as vertical as possible in water. Avoid leaning forward at the chest, your arms and legs should be pumping like pistons. Like you would outside of the water.

So that´s really it. For now, go to your nearest pool and give pool running a try, you will see the benefits in your land runs.


Leigh Richdale



5 Ways to Stay Healthy and Active While Travelling


At home it is easy to stay fit and healthy because we get into a routine. But what happens when we leave the routine and go on a holiday? Do all those healthy meals and hours in the gym go out the window or do you try to maintain what you have achieved so far but compromise your enjoyment? You can have both, maintain your health and enjoy your holiday.

Well with these 5 travel tips you can maintain what you have achieved while still enjoying your holiday. There is nothing to say that you can’t still eat what you want, do what you want and have an absolutely fun holiday. So even though you won’t have your local supermarket and favourite gym around the corner, you can maintain everything that you have gained. Plus by keeping healthy while travelingyou will be less likely to catch any sicknesses, have more energy and see some things you wouldn’t usually get to see.

Choose the Healthy Food Option

One of the best things about going on holiday is that you don’t have to cook. But eating out does not mean that you have to choose the unhealthy options. Most places are still going to swap chip for veggies and deep fried for grilled. Just ask and you will be surprised. You can still have a few treats, just minimize your sugar and fat intake as much as possible. For example in Italy have chicken pasta instead of cream pasta, in Thailand have Tofu Pad Thai instead of Green Curry and in Bali have chicken satay instead of dumplings.

Incorporate Active & Fun Exercise

There are always fun and active activities to do on holiday. Take a bike ride around town, go surfing at the local beach or take a walk around town. Doing something active is a great ways to see your holiday destination, you might even find that you end up in places you wouldn’t normally visit. You could also book an active holiday instead of a beach holiday like trekking in Nepal, yoga retreat in Peru, skiing in Veil, or cycling on Easter Island.

Book With a Hotel Gym

To make life easier, why not book your hotel with a gym. This way you can get in a workout whenever you feel like it. Plus because you are on holiday you don’t have to worry about finding time to exercise, you will have all day. All you need is a 30 minute workout per day to maintain your health.

Pack Your Food

If you are worried about fitting in your 3 meals and 2 snacks then pack on-the-go meals. This way you will never go hungry or have to choose from poor food options. You could pack sandwiches, protein bars, fruit, tuna and so on. Your hotel might even be able to make a packed lunch for you from foods of your choice. There is always a way to eat healthy.

Count Calories

If you really want to stay healthy on your holiday then you can count your macros. You might need to improvise at times if you don’t know exactly what is in your food, but apps like myfitnesspal can really help. Sticking to your required calorie intake is a sure way to maintain your weight while you are traveling. However it can become quite tedious.

By using these 5 tips while you are traveling you will be able to maintain your health and weight without compromising your enjoyment. Just remember that everything needs to be in moderation.

Leigh Richdale    CONTRIBUTOR

Leigh Richdale



6 of the Most Common Fitness Mistakes Women Make


We all make mistakes, as Sophia Loren said: “Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.” When it comes to fitness, it’s no different! The trick is not to keep making the same mistakes over and over again – that’s a recipe for staying stuck where you are. But you can only stop making mistakes when you know what they are, so here are 6 of the most common fitness mistakes women make (and some things you can do instead) – correct these and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your results improve!

Obsessing Over the Scale

Although weight is one factor in determining health, and fitness; it is in no way THE indicator of health, and fitness. In fact, on a regular basis I have asked my clients NOT to routinely weigh themselves. This mistake is one that is a common obsession with many women. The number DOES NOT define your health status. With that said, neither does the BMI most doctors prize. The BMI is inaccurate at best. It does not take into consideration frame, bone size, muscle mass, and much more.I could get on a soap box about the fact that they have routinely introduced to flawed idea of the BMI into the school system. I actually had a mother come to me with her 8th grade child who had been given a high BMI number. This child was very athletic, and FAR from obese. However, her BMI had her listed as obese. Just think about how many eating disorders can come from this. It burns me up!

Unrealistic Expectations

The single most damning part of a failed fitness plan is having unrealistic expectations. Yes, you may want to look like Jillian Micheals, but that does not happen overnight. By putting too much pressure on yourself you are actually making your efforts far less fruitful. Set a realistic goal, and give yourself the time to get the results. I recommend setting these goals in small manageable steps to give yourself the motivation to continue. Giving yourself 6-8 weeks to see results toward your goal is realistic, and once you begin to see your body change it will motivate you to continue.

Cardio Overdrive

Sure cardio is good for the heart, body, mind, and soul. Cardio helps burn unwanted fat storage, helping people lose weight. However, there is a point where enough is enough. Doing cardio day-after-day does not burn the calories like occasional cardio does. Our body gets used to the cardio when it is a routine thing, therefore it requires less energy to do it.While it is fine to have the occasional long run, or other form of long cardio; for the most part it is best to do short cardio workouts. For fun, and to keep the body guessing, try new things lie kickboxing, Zumba, and the like.

Forgetting Less is More

This kind of intertwines with mistake No.3, however this is probably THE most common fitness mistake that I see. For many women once they get into the idea of working out, and begin to see results they kick into overdrive. This is a mistake. More is not always better. Making the most of your workout is great. But you can overdo it. I knew a woman who worked out 3 times a day, 7 days a week with no added results. Why? Because her body was worn out and in freak-out mode – over-training, spending countless hours in the gym can also lead to injury.

Using Dieting Gimmicks

You cannot flip through a magazine, or turn on the television without seeing an ad for the newest “sure fire way to lose weight”. In fact, most women have tried specific diets, and/or diet pills before. The problem is that most of these products are ineffective at best. Some are even dangerous. With that said, many people have seen results from specific diets, such as low carb. However, controlling the diet in this way is not necessary. Fats, carbs, and other specific parts of the diet all have their place. It is best to remember that constructing your eating around real food is the way to not only lose weight, but improve your health as well.

Loading Up On Carbs

While I do not believe in having a no carb diet, I do believe in a careful carb diet. Many women (and men) falsely believe that they need to load up on carbs before a work out. While your body does utilise carbs for energy (they are ideal sources) you do not need a ton of them to get that energy. To get a lean body you need to moderate your carb intake. Good options for this are sprouted grains, fruits, and vegetables. With that said, a great pre-workout food should be comprised primarily of protein and fat.

Leigh Richdale    CONTRIBUTOR

Leigh Richdale



Strength Training - Reps & Sets


When looking at what exercises to do in order to build muscle there is a variety of terminology so I will start with explaining what they mean to avoid any confusion.

  • Resistance Training
  • Weight Training
  • Strength Training
  • Muscular Conditioning
  • Muscular Endurance

Resistance Training

Any training that uses resistance (effort against an opposing force) to develop the strength and size of muscles.  The resistance can be either isotonic (when the body moves against the force) or isometric (body stays still against the force). Also known as Weight or Strength Training.

Weight Training

To develop the strength and size of muscles.

Strength Training

To develop the strength and size of muscles.

Resistance/Weight/Strength Trainingare the same thing but they are different from weightlifting, bodybuilding or power lifting which are all sports.

Muscular Conditioning

The process of conditioning the body to be able to perform the exercises. So conditioning the muscles, bones, cartilage, ligaments and tendons to reduce the risk of injury. Intensity and volume will be low to begin with and ill gradually increase.

Muscular Endurance

The ability to sustain effort against an opposing force over an extended period of time.

Benefits of Strength Training: Increase in muscle mass and strength, increase in muscle power, increased bone density, stronger ligaments and tendons, increased metabolic rate, reduced body fat, improved posture and appearance, injury prevention.


As you can see, there are many great reasons to do strength training.

The next step would be to determine how many reps and sets you need to do. This will depend on what you want to achieve. An example of how many sets and reps you can do for different phases is to the right.

When choosing what weight to use, you should choose the weight which will allow you to only just complete the number of reps in a set whilst still having good form. Ie, if you are doing 12 reps, then the weight should be enough that when you get to that 12th rep you can complete it, but you could not do another- at least not without losing form. If you can do more than your desired number of reps, then increase the weight.

When starting any type of exercise programme your diet is also important, you will need to eat the right foods to encourage muscle repair and growth.

Leigh Richdale    CONTRIBUTOR

Leigh Richdale