Keep The Momentum Going!

Today is March 1st. Exactly two months ago; every single gym across the world experienced the “New Year’s Resolution Rush” to some degree. MORFIT was no exception. It was the first time that we started to see all our treadmills in use at one time. The Zumba mob prompted me to double our shoe rack capacity. Many former members renewed for the 2013 season; and many new faces signed up for the first time.

That was two months ago. Expectedly, some of those resolutions didn’t make it this far. Some gyms count on and look forward to this happening. Mais pas ici! This is MORFIT’s official “Keep The Momentum Going!” campaign. I will do what I can to make it a successful one:
1) Link you to a wonderfully thought out video called “23 1/2 hours”
2) Start you off with a Motivational Poster every day throughout March
3) Continue to provide for you a beautiful gym with supportive staff to provide for you the best gym experience we can
4) Offer a “Keep The Momentum Going!” promotion for those looking to renew their membership

That’s about all that I can do. The rest is up to you my friends. The warmer weather will be upon us shortly. So whether you do it here at MORFIT, or out in the beautiful streets of Winnipeg… Keep the Momentum Going!!!

– Stuart

Shoeless Army

It was a cold winter’s night, which I was looking forward to retiring with a movie and a friend after a long Saturday’s work. My friend and I had stopped by a grocery store to pick up food for dinner leaving only with a large bag of discounted brown bananas. We pull into the parking lot to the gym, which I had just locked up twenty minutes earlier. A quick bathroom stop would be our last one before heading home to make dinner (of banana bread and shakes apparently).

We walk up the familiar staircase passing the bowling lanes as I’ve done probably thousands of times over the past year. As I unlock and walk through MORFIT’s red door, something is amiss… The floor by the entrance is not barren as it should be, as I had left it twenty minutes ago. Instead, the carpet has completely disappeared under an army of empty shoes and boots. Before I could figure out who had broken into the gym and respectfully obeyed the “No outdoor shoes past this point” sign; I turn my head to see the shoeless army standing in the dark of the gym, waiting for me. At that moment, in perfect unison and a beautifully harmonic key of C,  they all exclaim…”Happy one year anniversary MORFIT!”

We officially passed 365 days on December 10th, 2012! MORFIT has been a wild roller coaster ride since the start. Deciding to open a fitness facility from scratch with no business experience was very ambitious.  But I had a vision in mind. If you would like to see what that vision is; stop by 255 Tache Avenue someday. You’ll see the beautiful gym that we built from four brick walls and you’ll meet some of our amazing members, many of whom were out that cold winter’s night to celebrate the first of many years together.

~ Stuart


Finish Strong

“I’m proud of you, I love you, you finished strong”

I’ve received a lot of positive feedback on the last MORFIT Blog, “More Than A Healthy Body”. I wanted to take this momentum and write a follow-up article. Today we are going to talk about increasing your fantasticness so that you can finish strong in life.

We all have or have had people in our lives that stay close to our hearts and are responsible for making us want to be a better person. This may be a friend, parent, teacher, stranger, co-worker, or sometimes someone we never even get the chance to meet. Regardless of who they are, they’ve left an impression on us, and we will never forget them. If you made a Fantastic People List of people that have truly inspired you over the years, how many names would you be able to write down? This is my first challenge to you today.

More important than how many names are on your list; how many lists do you think your name would be on? How many people think of you as an inspiration in their life? One? Five? Twenty-five? Hundreds? We already know from the last blog the amazing potential of inspiring and being inspired by others. How satisfying would it be to improve yourself as a person, increase your fantasticness, and start getting your name on more peoples’ lists?

My second challenge to you today is to fill out the ‘Fantastic Lifestyle Questionnaire‘ which can be downloaded from the following link:  Fantastic Lifestyle Checklist

This questionnaire will give you a score out of 100. Regardless of what you score; you should be proud of your strengths, and excited to start working on the weaknesses. It doesn’t matter what part of your life you decide to work on first; as long as you pick something that will require some effort and be realistic. Increasing your fantasticness is not limited to the lifestyle choices listed in the questionnaire. Below are just a few of the MORFIT challenges that I and some friends have been working on over the past couple months:
– Chip-free till 2013 (eating no chips until January 1st, 2013)
– Eating vegan once per week
– Stop biting nails
– Calling a different person every day for a month to tell them how much their friendship means to you
– Drinking only one cup of coffee per day

Some challenges only last one month; while others are permanent improvements on our fantasticness. Even the short term ones help to re-affirm how strong we can be, and give us confidence to tackle yet another challenge.  Should you decide to take action after reading this article, and you continue to improve yourself as an individual, it won’t be long before you start setting challenges that aren’t focused on you, but on the people around you. When these people can see that you are taking steps in life to become a better person and improve the lives of those that surround you; you will start to inspire more and more of them. And that is how you will get your name on more Fantastic People Lists.

These challenges have even further reaching benefits. As you succeed in accomplishing them, you may find that you start to set more challenging goals for yourself. You’ll start to surprise yourself at how strong your will and determination can be when you set your mind to it. Over time, other tasks and problems in life will be easier to overcome and manage because you have been training your body and mind to overcome adversity.

Every day we are faced with decisions to make. Some of them are easier than others; most of them do not have a pivotal effect on our lives longterm. But now and then, we come to a crossroads that will forever change the landscape of our lives. It is common for these big decisions to be a bit of a paradox. Many times the path that is quicker and easy to navigate doesn’t get us to where we want to be. The path that leads to our happiness is longer and requires much more work to get through. We all have the will and determination to work towards our happiness, we just need to believe that the arduous trek to get there is worth the challenge. Perhaps getting to that point starts with a simple challenge that you start today…

I started this article with a quote that I heard from someone who has inspired me tremendously for over ten years. She heard the quote from someone who greatly inspires her. He heard it from someone who greatly inspires him, who in turn heard it from someone of great inspiration as well. Every single one of these individuals has failed at different times in their life. They are no different than me or you. Yet they continue to inspire those around them because they don’t always take the easy path; and they are always challenging themselves to be a better person for themselves and the people in their lives.

If you’re not sure what to do for your first challenge; I encourage you to try this one:
Live and love your life, so that if today was your last, those that you leave behind will say to you; “I’m proud of you, I love you, you finished strong”.

Beyond a Healthy Body

Our previous articles have provided useful tools that can be applied in the gym. Today, it is my goal to keep you out of the gym.

Maintaining a strong physical body is only part of living a healthy life. Cultivating the social and mental aspects of your life are just as important for your well-being. As far as I know, there is no step-by-step guide to a chiseled inner-self. We are all strong in some areas socially/mentally; and we all have areas that could use improving.

(Disclaimer: The remainder of this article is not founded from my education, but from human experiences that often surpass the limited depths of education).

The potential influence of a single interaction is staggering. You never know when a simple act of kindness, a lesson learned, a phone conversation, or simply a smile will forever imprint itself in your mind. Typically, we aren’t aware of how these interactions help cultivate the way we live, but sometimes certain interactions stick out in our minds. Most of you may be able to think back to an event or conversation that happened in your youth;,which has carried forward and influenced the way you live your life today.

When I was 18 and living in Southern Alberta, a friend that I had only known for a couple months lent me his  car to drive in to work (standard transmission + Stuart at that time = bad idea). I made it three streets before I broke his car. I don’t know much about vehicles other than they’re not supposed to smoke. I was expecting an appropriate reaction of anger from my friend. Instead, he smiled, told me not to worry about it, and drove me to work on the back of his motorcycle. I couldn’t believe that this 17 year-old who I’d known for two months, with just as much money to his name as I did (not enough to repair the car), would react with such kindness and forgiveness.

I think back to this experience often, and have no doubt that it has shaped both the way I treat others and the way I try not to value material things too much. It’s nice to be on the receiving side of these positive experiences, but it’s always more satisfying to be the one that gives. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to work with amazing people every day, positively influencing them through our friendships and exercise. As a result, I have the satisfaction of seeing them become healthier and happier, which makes me feel proud of their hard work and my small contribution.

A good friend of mine is an elementary years school teacher. Her heart was perfectly created to do her job. Many of the children she works with are less fortunate than other kids in the city. Where many teachers would be disheartened or unsympathetic working with these children, my friend turns every moment into a positive interaction. She has the wonderful opportunity to not only brighten her own day, but to shine on the lives of all her students.

Not everyone will have the opportunity to work at a job where his or her social/mental well-being will be adequately nourished. This is where it becomes important to find an activity, group of friends, or some type of outlet that will expose you to these interactions. Throughout different stages of our lives, these outlets will change. You may find that your old group of friends is not as supportive of your healthier lifestyle habits as you would have hoped. When your weekly night out no longer consists of going out for drinks, but going to a park for a bike ride, you may find yourself looking for someone aligned with the same interests. Having a family, discovering religion, picking up dancing, or joining a boot camp are all examples of ways that some people might strengthen their inner selves.

If you feel as though you do not currently have such an outlet, I strongly encourage you to do some personal reflection. Determine what type of human interaction will help develop your mental health and positively affect others around you at the same time. Your physical body might be the temple; but it’s the people around you that fill the temple with meaning and love.


Building Muscle – Don’t Worry About the Speeding Ticket

We’ve been focusing our recent articles on weight management; specifically from the fat loss perspective. We will continue with weight management this week; but from a muscle building angle. If you’ve ever wondered just how quickly your body can realistically put on muscle mass; then the following article is for you. I decided not to re-invent the Mona Lisa this week by referring you to a wonderful article researched and written by Christian Finn, a personal trainer who holds a master’s degree in exercise science.

He does a great job at dispelling myths on muscle building, while providing well researched explanations of the different factors that contribute to how fast or slow our bodies put on muscle mass. There is also a neat little video that you should watch if you’ve ever been tempted to buy a product based on the advertisement’s Before & After pictures….

Christian Finn’s, How Fast Can You Build Muscle… Really?



Metabolism & Diet, with a Pinch of Exercise, pt. 3

Time for our third instalment of Metabolism & Diet, with a Pinch of Exercise. In our first two articles, we explored energy output, where I used myself as an example for some tangible numbers. Today’s article will address the opposite side of the equation; energy in. Let’s get right at it!

We previously determined that I expend around 3,291 calories every day. Now let’s explore how I can manage my weight by adjusting the amount of calories I consume.

From our current understanding of thermodynamics; if we consume more energy (calories) than we expend, the extra energy is stored in our bodies. Any additional energy stores will result in more body weight. If we take in less energy than we expend, our body needs to pull the deficit from stored energy, and the net loss results in weight loss. If I were to make sure I ate 3,291 calories every day, I would maintain my body weight. If I consistently ate over that amount, then I would gain weight. If I ate under that amount, I would lose weight over time.

A fairly typical weight-loss goal is losing one pound of fat every week. This is a healthy rate to lose fat, and with the right dedication and guidance, an achievable goal. There are 3,500 calories in one pound of fat. This translates into a caloric deficit of 500 calories per day. You could either achieve this through diet modification, exercise modification, or, ideally a combination of both.

Let’s Get Practical
Back to my example. If I wanted to lose one pound every week, I would have to eat 500 calories under my daily output; which would mean I would need to eat an average of 2,791 calories every day. There are many great online resources these days that will track how many calories you’ve eaten (calorieking, fitday). Tracking everything you eat every day gives a fairly reliable indication of how much you’ve eaten. If you’re determined to meet your weight-loss goals, you will find this to be a valuable process. For those of you not prepared to count calories, you can start working towards your goal by making modifications to your diet. I won’t go into specific strategies here, as I have touched on this topic in a couple other articles (Goal Setting, Portion Control Strategies). Once you’ve determined how you plan on managing your intake, you’re ready to get started on your weight-loss lifestyle!

Please re-read the following fine print as many times as it takes to fully appreciate it’s contents. Everything we have just talked about regarding energy in and out (thermodynamics) is true. However, the human body is very complex; and many things that we have not talked about play a part in how our bodies process and adapt to energy surpluses and deficits. Everything from hydration, to hormones, to fidgeting, to efficiency of food digestion will add clutter to our very clean energy balance equation. This is important to consider in case you’re finding that the weight loss is not happening as quickly (or more quickly) than you anticipated. To get a nicely written rundown on the factors that will affect your hard efforts , I will refer you to Lyle McDonald’s article, The Energy Balance Equation.

Homework of the Week
I challenge everyone in the next couple days to write down everything they eat for one typical meal. Then go to an online site and determine approximately how many calories were consumed. Try not to pick that dinner where all you had time for was a salad and glass of milk.  After you’ve determined your calories for that meal, relate it back to your numbers from all the articles.
A little food for thought…. A typical fast food meal (loaded burger, large fries, drink) can easily put you over 1,000 calories; up to 2,000 calories. If you’re female, chances are your total caloric output was around 2,200-2,500 calories. One fast food meal and your day is almost done! And if you think homemade burgers on the grill is any better…. do a little research, and watch the calories climb as you start to add the chips, cheese, and beers to that extra-lean beef burger….

Hurray for BBQ season!


Metabolism & Diet, with a Pinch of Exercise, pt.2

Welcome to part 2 of 3 for our Metabolism & Diet, with a Pinch of Exercise series. Last week you figured out what your basal (resting) metabolic rate was. If you missed the first article, please read it here.
ADL’s Are Your Friend

Our next step is to get an approximate idea of how many calories you burn doing activities of daily living (ADL’s). There are two ways to accomplish this step. We could either break up every day into specific activities, determine the amount of calories expended per activity, and add up all your ADL’s to have a fairly accurate account of calories burnt throughout the day. Or, we could save you a few hours of work; and categorize you based on your perceived level of activity. Think about how active you are on an average day. Consider everything from how you get to work, the type of work you do, how often you go out with friends, how much TV/computer you do, etc. Don’t forget about our first article, be sure to leave out scheduled exercise. We are only looking at activities of daily living! Now you will decide which of the following categories you fall into:

Sedentary    (0.2)
Light    (0.375)
Moderate    (0.55)
Hard    (0.725)
Non-Stop    (0.9)

Beside each category is a number. Take your basal metabolic rate (from the formula in the first article) and multiply it by the corresponding number beside your category. The result is a predicted number of calories burnt from ADL’s in one day. Please note, this is a broad estimation, and by no means meant to be taken as accurate. It is based on an average healthy population. But it at least gives us a starting point. For the remainder of the articles, we will make an assumption that the #’s for metabolism and ADL’s are accurate (just to make life easier).

Take the two numbers you’ve calculated thus far (basal metabolic rate and total ADL’s), and add them together. You will most likely have a number between 1,600 and 2,800. This is the number of calories you burn off on an average day, before doing any scheduled exercise. In other words; if you did not do any scheduled exercise, you will still burn that many calories every day. To illustrate this, I will walk through my numbers:

Age: 28          Ht: 188 cms           Wgt: 79.5 Kgs
BMR = 66 + (13.7 x 79.5) + (5 x 188) – (6.8 x 28)  =  1,905 calories/day
ADL’s =  1,905 x 0.55 (moderate lifestyle) =  1,048 calories/day

BMR + ADL’s = 1,905 + 1,048 =  2,953 calories/day
Pinch of Exercise

Remember the pie chart from article #1? We’ve already filled the two larger pieces with BMR and ADL’s. The last piece of the pie is our scheduled exercise. Let’s say I go to the gym four times every week. I run on the treadmill for 40 minutes at a speed of 6.0 mph and a slight incline of 2.0. Based on my weight and age, I would be burning 14.8 calories/minute . This results in 450 calories every time I go to the gym. Averaged over a seven day week; I’m looking at 338 calories every day. Compare that to my 2,953 calories from BMR & ADL’s. Now we can see why for most people, exercise is the smallest piece of the pie!

If I add both numbers together, I end up with a total of 3,291 calories expended daily!

Now that we’ve taken care of the energy out; we’ll have to make sure we’re managing the energy in. In our next article, we’ll focus on our diets to make sure we’re on the right path to achieve our weight loss/gain goals.

Your Homework: Just to show you the importance of staying active throughout the day; try placing yourself in a different ADL category (sedentary, light, moderate, etc). See how much your calories expended per day drops if you go down a category; and how many more calories you’d burn if you increased your ADL’s to the next category. Pretty interesting stuff…. 


– Stuart

Metabolism & Diet, with a Pinch of Exercise, pt.1

It’s good to be back to blogging. MORFIT has been open for two months now, and it’s about time we continued to bring you posts on everything health & fitness.

Behold the first of three parts to our Metabolism & Diet, with a Pinch of Exercise series. Over the next few weeks you will develop the tools needed to determine your approximate daily caloric balance; thus giving you an idea of whether you’re on track to lose or gain weight. Here we go:


The Pie Test
We are constantly burning energy (calories) throughout the day. Everything we do requires our bodies to burn off calories. We can group these calorie-burning activities into three categories: Exercise, Metabolism, and Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s).
Exercise refers to planned activities that considerably increase heart rate and perspiration for an extended period of time.
Metabolism  refers to all processes of the body required to keep you alive. This includes cell metabolism, tissue repair, digestion, maintaining body temperature (thermoregulation), etc.
 refer to all the activities you do throughout the day that are not scheduled exercise. This includes going to work, working, going shopping, housework, etc.

These three categories fall into the pie chart below; representing total calories expended per day. The blue portion (#1) contributes to the most calories burnt, followed by the green portion (#2), and finally the red portion (#3) contributing to the least amount of calories. Here’s your challenge: Place the three categories of caloric expenditure (exercise, metabolism, ADL’s) into the right piece of the pie.






Most of you will have put exercise into the blue portion, the biggest contributor of caloric expenditure. Here’s the answer.
1. Metabolism (biggest contributor)
2. ADL’s (second biggest contributor)
3. Exercise (smallest contributor)


This may be startling information for some of you, but fear not, information is power. If exercise accounts for the least amount of calories burnt throughout the day, then that must imply that managing your weight does not rely on busting your butt in the gym seven days/week! And such is the case. Over the next two articles, we will explore the role of exercise, lifestyle and diet in weight management. But don’t go anywhere until you’ve finished your homework. Below is a formula to determine your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which we are referring to as a generalized metabolism in this article. Put your age, weight, and height into the gender-appropritate formula to determine how many calories you burn per day just by living. (If you don’t like math, you can use this online BMR calculator instead).

Women: BMR = 655 + (9.6 x Kg’s) + (1.8 x cm’s) – (4.7 x age)
Men: BMR = 66 + (13.7 x Kg’s) + (5 x cm’s) – (6.8 x age)

Next week we’ll put this number to work. Until then; why not glance at some food labels and pay attention to how many calories you might be taking in compared to how many calories your metabolism  is burning.



The Skinny On Stretching

Since your first soccer practice at age five, people have been harping on you to stretch before and after activity. However, at your current stage in life you’ve given up all aspirations of being a world-class gymnast and, let’s face it, you probably don’t stretch as often as you should. Perhaps not at all. So what’s the big deal? Why all the fuss over stretching, anyway?

DOMS Reduction

Flexibility aside, there are other, more immediate benefits to stretching. DOMS – Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness – is that tenderness in your muscles you’ve felt the day after a good workout or boot camp. It has been said that by stretching after activity, you can decrease the intensity of your DOMS.

The body’s natural response to prolonged stretching (i.e. holding the stretch for more than 20 seconds) is a reduction in muscle tension. By doing this after a workout, when muscle tension is high, you may increase your odds of getting out of bed the next morning.

Injury Prevention

There is much debate, especially among the running community, over whether stretching can decrease your chance of injury. The short answer is: that would depend on the type of injury.

If you’re jogging at dusk and roll your ankle in a pothole (rare as they may be in Winnipeg…) increased flexibility is unlikely to prevent that sprain from happening. If you’re playing street hockey and someone slap-shots the puck straight into your thigh, again, having nice loose quads won’t stop the bruising. These are what we call acute injuries. Some outside force is acting on your body over the course of a few seconds to produce injury.

Chronic injuries are a different story. A chronic injury is one that comes on slowly over an extended period, like carpal tunnel syndrome. It could take days, weeks, even months of repetitive stress on a body part to produce this type of injury. Chronic injuries are very preventable, and stretching is often a key component in their prevention and rehabilitation. Stretching the calves, for example, can keep conditions like Achilles tendonitis at bay. Even some kinds of headaches result from muscle tension in the neck, and can be managed with stretching.

The problem with chronic injuries is that they can take as long to heal as it takes for them to develop. So make your stretching proactive, not reactive! Stretch to treat the injuries that aren’t slowing you down yet.

The Method

Any stretching that you do immediately before exercise should be brief – hold these stretches for about five seconds. For the sake of performance, you don’t want to cause too much relaxation in those muscles before you make them work.

After activity, you should hold each stretch for at least twenty seconds. At this point you are trying to achieve muscle relaxation, and perhaps even see some long-term flexibility gains. Remember; stretching should never be painful. Pull just until you feel a light stretch and hold at that point.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Nope! The nice thing about stretching is that, when performed properly, you can do it as often as you like without negative effects like DOMS. For folks like the afore-mentioned world-class gymnast, hyper mobility in the joints caused by being too flexible can be problematic, but the average person doesn’t need to worry about becoming overly flexible.

~ Amanda

Running for Fitness: What’s Your Excuse?

You’ve seen them. We all have. Whether sweating their skins off in the summer or bundled-up beyond recognition in the winter, the runners are out there. Maybe you’ve called them “crazy” (or something even less polite). Maybe you’ve envied their single-minded dedication to their physical well-being. And maybe, just maybe, you’ve even considered giving running a try yourself…

“I could never do that. I’m not a runner…”

Sure you could. How do you think early man got around? Our bodies evolved to run; they did not evolve to sit at a desk all day. Will it be easy? Not at the start. But it will get easier if you stick with it. Maybe your first run will only be five minutes long. Maybe you need to run one minute and walk the next. Do whatever it takes to get you moving.

And the day you do, you’ll be a runner.

“But I don’t have the time!”

Oh no? You can’t spare twenty minutes a few times a week? If the answer is no, perhaps it is time to look at why fitness is not a priority in your life. Why do you want to run? Weight-loss, health gains, even just to get out of the house… these are all worthy causes. Does looking and feeling better mean more to you than, say, catching the next installment of Desperate Housewives? To achieve consistency in any exercise program, fitness needs to be a priority, whatever your underlying motivations. To put it bluntly, you need to make time. Scheduling your runs each week will increase your odds of actually getting out there to run.

“But I don’t have fancy shoes!”

While a slick pair of running shoes might make you feel cool, they aren’t crucial when just starting out. Make sure that the runners you do wear on those first outings fit well to avoid getting blisters. If you decide that running is something you want to do regularly, a good pair of shoes is a sound investment, especially if you are prone to foot problems like plantarfaciitis. Be sure to select the pair that fits and feels the best, which will not necessarily be the pair that looks the best. Your running shoes should be about function, not fashion.

Just put one foot in front of the other…

And repeat. In the end, it really is that simple. Your feet will figure out what to do.

– Amanda