Category: Liv’s Ramblings

Why Certification Matters and Red Flags for Health Consumers

As most of you likely know by now, I have become a PRO TRAINER for canfitpro. I’m quite proud of this as it was a huge amount of work as well as a very large investment. I take so much pride in what I do as a trainer. Especially when it comes to providing safe, effective workouts for my clients.

We have quite a unique situation here in the Kootenay’s. We are in need of Personal Training Specialists. This isn’t the case in the large centres, where there is an abundance of certification course offerings. I have so many contacts locally who are all crying for trainers. So, yay me! I see an opportunity, and I go after it! I’m going to train trainers! I love what I do and I want to share it!

Ok, well lets face it. Pretty much anyone can take a personal training course and get certified. With some studying and practical application, you can do it. Hell, I mentored someone who had never set foot in a gym as they had found a passion for fitness working out in their basement and now wanted to help people change their lives. If you think I’m kidding – I’m not. Unfortunately, this is a true story. This person went on to pass their theory and practical exam and was now ready to become a trainer. They were ready to take people’s bodies and get them into their best health. I hope you can hear the tone of my voice while reading this.

The fitness industry sucks. You see, there are people like myself who take their positions very seriously. I took my certification course, I wrote my theory exam, which I will brag that I got 96% on and then I went on to pass the practical exam with flying colours. I worked hard, studied hard, but my learning didn’t start when my course started. I was always reading and researching all things fitness, long before I became a trainer.  I had been a dancer until I graduated high school and then became an aerobics junkie during university because it was the closest thing I could find to dance.Think old school step class with some of the hardest choreography! I’m definitely dating myself.

My education didn’t end after my certification either. I do not remember the last time I read a book simply for pleasure. I fall asleep after reading some sort of book on fitness, nutrition, mental health, etc. I have built a very strong network right across the country and I continue to build. I am constantly asking questions. I am always curious. I can never ever get enough.

I don’t have a human kinetics degree or a phys-ed degree or a kinesiology degree. Just recently when advertising my new course offering, I received the response from a gym owner that they only hire registered kinesiologists. Wow… lucky for them! I can’t imagine what their rates are like. But, I’d like to quiz some of those kinesiologists on their anatomy that they likely took in first or second year of university [wink wink].

What I do have is a marketing research degree. That degree and my prior jobs have allowed me to build a very successful personal training business. An inquisitive mind can be a blessing and a curse. I am always researching “what’s out there” knowing that the fitness industry, especially since the emergence of social media provides a plethora of crazy shit to the general masses.

Shortly after I became a personal trainer, I also started noticing the myriad of different fitness companies that had their own certifications. This really confused me… So, I could essentially – with some really great ideas and knowledge and savvy business skills – put together my own certification program and sign people up online and charge them whatever amount of money I wanted and “x” number of months later they could call themselves [insert fancy title here]. Hmmm…

The fitness industry is completely unregulated. Actually, let me call it the “health” and fitness industry. A few years ago, I wanted to pursue some sort of nutrition training. Something that I also have a huge passion for. Again, completely unregulated – BUT – because I am an ethically and morally responsible person and abide by MY personal trainer code of ethics – WHICH includes not to provide nutritional programming other than basic nutritional advice for clients, I wanted something that would allow me to provide that service to clients. I spent HOURS researching which program to enrol in. My PRO TRAINER had a Holistic Nutrition Diploma for which she spent three years studying and a huge financial investment along with it, only to have the Alberta government strip her of her rights to use those letters behind her name. A retaliation of sorts from the registered dieticians who were frustrated by the same thing. No regulation. I understand, although unfortunate because I believe this program in particular is highly accredited. But, I just wasn’t willing to invest in three years and thousands of dollars. After deciding upon which program to take, I went with Precision Nutrition, which I am still happy with. It was very science based and mostly in-line with my own nutritional beliefs.

Doctors, accountants, nurses, physiotherapists, massage therapists, mechanics and financial planners all have colleges, associations and regulatory bodies that they must belong to that set standards and continuing education. Consumers have no protection within the health and fitness industry to guarantee that the person they hire to entrust their bodies with is competent in what they do. Oh, yeah – I’m certified. I got my certification online through [insert one of 800 online options]. Oh you tore your ACL last year – no problem, oh you have an artificial shoulder? Oh you have rheumatoid arthritis, a herniated disk, diabetes, high blood pressure – sure I know how to handle all that! I will fix you right up in no time – ok – start off with 800 jumping jacks, 500 power squats and oh – let me also sell you this shake.

Ok – you get my point. I’m feeling a little feisty today. Yes, there are other certification bodies than canfitpro that are very well accredited and recognized. NASM, ACE, BCRPA (as well as other provincial certs) are all very reputable. What I love about canfitpro is that it is nationally recognized. I attend their conferences, I receive newsletters with the latest trends and research. I’m required to update my knowledge and CPR on a yearly basis and it comes with a network of highly supportive teammates. Just yesterday I had a teleconference with another PRO TRAINER in Halifax who has been working in the fitness industry since 1986. She was so supportive, positive and excited to help me! I am so fortunate to be a part of a professional organization that lifts each other up and SHARES knowledge and support. Its a highly competitive industry, so to have others who are willing to mentor you [insert at NO CHARGE or MLM fee], is an amazing feeling. I get to interact and talk to REAL people, I get to go do conferences with REAL PEOPLE, I get to talk to so many highly energetic people face to face with the same passion for helping people that I have. Not online, in person. We need so much more of that.

Please do your research. When you are about to entrust your one and only body to someone – make sure they know their shit.


~xo Olivia


Stages of Behaviour Change…

Have you ever heard of the Transtheoretical Model of Behaviour Change? Its something that personal trainers refer to when assessing where our clients are at with their commitment to their fitness regimes. The interesting thing is that we can even place people in this model before we even meet them! Sounds like we are slapping a label on clients – but its not – its actually a really useful tool for us to support you in where you are at on this continuum of behaviour change.

This model isn’t used only in personal training! Its used in almost every aspect of behaviour. Maybe you’re looking to start a new career or embark on some new education – basically anything that may require some sort of commitment (commitment you might not even know about yet!).

I wanted to talk a bit about this model because I thought it might be interesting for you to know from my perspective that I understand and may be able to help you – before you even realize you need the support!

I get a TON – a TON of Facebook messages, emails, texts and the odd phone call – those ones always throw me off guard now a day – lol! People message me and it usually looks like this:

“Hi Olivia, I’m wondering if you can tell me more about, [insert training, nutrition coaching, life coaching].” Its a pretty broad question for me at first because I’m not sure how this person has found me. Maybe they’ve been referred, maybe a website search, maybe Facebook or Instagram. So I often will lead them to my website, which has quite a bit of information and ask them if they have any more specific questions, what their background or experience is (in terms of training), what other programs they’ve done (in terms of nutrition) etc.

Sometimes there is a lot of back and forth and I’m almost certain I’ll have a new client, which for me is always really exciting. However, sometimes and I will admit, more often than not, they are not ready to commit. This can be for several reasons. I’m quite fortunate that I have a degree in marketing and I’ve had all sorts of experience with how to close a sale. However, when it comes to people, I have never once looked at a personal training client or a nutrition client as closing a sale. In that respect, I kind of suck because we are taught a lot about how to close a sale as a trainer. I find that I’m quite soft when it comes to this industry. First and foremost because its a very vulnerable thing. Sometimes people don’t realize how vulnerable until they start. Second of all, its a big investment. One that I wholeheartedly believe is worth every single penny, but I completely empathize with the fact that personal training and nutrition coaching are only going to happen when all the bills have been paid, kids’ activities and supplies have been shelled out and there is food in the fridge and gas in the car. Life is expensive, I get it. Having extra funds to pursue training and nutrition is usually way down on the budget items. I take that fact very seriously and if someone does sign up with me – I ensure that their investment is returned in full.

So here is a little diagram that will show you this model I am talking about:

At the top – we have Pre-Contemplation. These are the folks that aren’t even thinking about a trainer or nutrition coach. They might not know that such a service exists or that it is something that could even be accessible to them. Sometimes these people have their interest tweaked by a family member who may be concerned about their parents’ or partner’s health or maybe has a friend with a bad knee who suggests that maybe they should think about getting a trainer to assist them.

Contemplation – this is the stage where I spend all that time messaging back and forth with clients. When I first started out as a trainer, I used to get super frustrated that I couldn’t convince these people to come work with me. Now, as I said above, I am very respectful of the fact that this is a very vulnerable thing and a big investment. Some people may just not be ready to jump in. I tend to be a bit impulsive and jump in with both feet with whatever I do. Something a bit of age and wisdom has taught be to slow down a bit with! lol! So I treat these messages as a part of my job. Something to have compassion about and to respect people’s need to make this decision.

Action – this is when I’m actually working with clients. My favourite part. I love working with clients. I learn so much from each single person I work with. Whether its different health issues that I have to research in order to know what a person is dealing with, mental health issues, previous injuries, current injuries, getting ready to run a mud-run or obstacle course, maybe a first 5K – this is where the action is at!

Maintenance – ok – I lied – THIS is my favourite. This should be the goal of EVERY SINGLE TRAINER!!! There is NO better career satisfaction than to have trained/coached a client and to have them go off on their own and continue with their commitment to their health. To see that their investment has completely paid off. They know that they need to exercise and eat right in order to live their fullest life. If you have had a trainer that isn’t encouraging you to let their reigns free from you and help you get away from you (lol!) – but not kidding – then that trainer is likely in it for the money and not for the love or passion of what they are doing.

Relapse – no no no!!! But yes, yes, yes… Oh, unfortunately this is my least favourite. Especially when I’ve worked with a client for a long time. I get to know them and their life. A lot of times, at least in my experience, this comes with women (and men too) that put themselves last. Their family, their work, their whatever keeps getting pushed in front of their own needs. This one is the one that makes me bang my head (literally) on the wall. I see so many amazing people who have the hugest hearts and are so smart and giving and awesome who train with me and I think I have them all set and ready to go into maintenance… and then… it happens… they fall off the wagon. For a long time I took this quite personally. How dare they not listen to me!? lol! But you know what? I can only assist and support – I can’t do it for them. My only hope is that these people sometimes hear my little (evil) voice nagging them to get moving or drink their water or get their protein in! Maybe one day they will come back to me to get back on that wagon… but this is life – real life. It happens – I get it.

Ok – so a post that is a bit out of the ordinary – but something that might help explain how a trainer/coach sees our clients from a more “technical” standpoint. But also so you can see that we get it – no matter what stage of change you’re in – and we can help and support you no matter where you’re at!  When you’re ready – I’m here!



For Our Young Athletes


I came across this great article a couple days ago and I really wanted to share. Both of my daughters take part in competitive sports and YES, I definitely consider both dance and figure skating sports! The amount of strength, coordination, balance, agility and cardio-vascular endurance plus the conditioning of the anaerobic systems of both of these activitiesjicetest is incredible.  Both of my girls train upwards of 12 hours per week at their sports.

The past couple years, my older daughter, who is a figure skater began having trouble with her knees, which unfortunately for her is very genetic through her Dad’s side. Right away I had her at physio and she was taught to foam roll, stretch and tape. It lasted a while but without prompting, the routine was quickly lost.

This summer when her training started up again and I saw issues surface again but worse, I decided it was time for some good talks and some further steps, especially since it was declared in typical teenage melodramatic style that, “acrogI WOULD RATHER DIE THAN NOT SKATE!”.

On our first road trip a few weeks ago, I finally had her “trapped” with me in the car and fortunately/unfortunately having a Mom as a personal trainer she got an earful and I think she actually heard me. I explained how training in one area multiple times per week, year after year takes its toll on the body. Also, with skating and the amount of jarring with those crazy, powerful jumps and fall after fall after fall can mis-align the body and create issues. We also talked about how skating trains the quad muscles, which pull on the knees and about tight IT bands which all create those knee issues. I told her how her strength in her hamstrings and core need to be included, how she needed to take care of her body with her stretching and foam rolling.  I explained to her that if she would, “rather die than stop skating”, then she would have to take her training to a new level and do some very hard work. Of course, I added in the nice motherly threat that if I sajandafunrunw her knees digress any further, she would be off the ice, as somegballetday when she was my age, she may actually want to do other activities that involve her knees!

So with that, she has been working with a personal trainer of her own. No, not her Mom, as I learned very early on, kids learn much better from outside influences than their parents. A quick failed attempt of us trying to teach them to ski at age three was all that was needed! Her trainer is amazing – huge shout out to Sarah at Core Fitness. Just last week, my daughter was sitting doing her homework and she said, “Mom, I am starting to notice I’m getting stronger, especially with my jumps.”  I almost started crying! FINALLY – I did something right!! You parents of teenagers can empathize with that one!

I challenge parents to keep an eye on your kids’ bodies and immune systems. Especially the sports that are run by volunteers. These coaches do their best but might not have the right knowledge to be handling the accessory work that goes along. I’ve heard some nightmare stories of coaches taking their teams out for long runs and making them do a full-on intense workout only hours before a big game. Someone with proper fitness knowledge knows that only light warm-up and training should be done prior to an event that will demand huge amounts of energy stores from the body. jsupersThe focus should be on fueling those bodies, topping up glycogen stores, hydration and warming up the bodies. I know a few teams in town are super lucky to have PT Mom’s who do their off-ice training and conditioning, somehow I bet those teams are the ones killing it on the ice!

Another huge factor to consider is your kids’ nutrition. As busy parents running multiple children from activity to activity a lot are quick to grab something that will simpljsurfy fill their bellies. But again, oh my goodness, these are little athletes and they need proper nutrition. Once, I walked into the skating change room and there the senior girls sat eating a box of sugar cubes! I almost died! They all quickly got a lecture on nutrition and then a longer one when I had them in lock-down at their off-ice session.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Eat to Perform”? Its a big one out there in the fitness world and one that I often use with my own clients. We quickly learn that if we are up for an intense workout, we won’t make it through the session with full-strength and stamina without proper fuel. I’ve had many clients light-headed and unable to finish a workout because they didn’t have the nutrition to back them. So how are you fueling and hydrating your kids before their activities? I know first hand, that if you have two or more kids in activities such as dance, figures skating, hockey or gracebikegymnastics, you are already close to a second mortgage! Time to start thinking of your kids as an investment! You must keep those little wallet-draining, money-suckers in tip-top shape. Since you’re already spending THOUSANDS on them – make sure you make the extra investment in their nutrition and health.  Keep an eye on them. Are they sick a lot, sore a lot, tired a lot, having trouble concentrating? Think about your own body – do they need a massage? Do they need a chiropractic adjustment? Those little bodies get a lot of trauma. Sorry to bust those bubbles – that tropical vacation is going to need a backseat for another…. well, probably 15-20 years!  Good luck parents! Stick together and all that hard work and investment will pay off!





Doing weight-loss the “right” way…





I’ve decided over the next while to incorporate more nutrition information into my blog as time and time again this is the missing link for many when it comes to weight-loss and general healthnutrition1. As a society we have over-complicated nutrition with mass amounts of information thrown at us daily regarding diet and health. Its time to get back to basics.

The majority of my personal training clients want to lose at least “some” weight. In fact, I would say around 85% come to me with that goal. I also have nutrition clients who come to me solely for nutrition plans and coaching. I often give my personal training clients nutrition suggestions and a macro-nutrient breakdown to follow. I am able to do this because I have nutrition coaching certification. Otherwise, as a personal trainer, I would be breaking my association’s code of ethics. Something to watch for if you are shopping around for a personal trainer.

The clients who follow my nutrition advice to the letter lose weight. You’ve read the statement, “abs are made in the kitchen” or “diet is 80% of the weight-loss equation”. Its true. I have nutrition clients who do not exercise or exercise very minimally (although I strongly encourage them to exercise for health reasons). These clients have more success with weight-loss than my personal training clients who train two to three times a week (plus do extra activity on their own) but do not follow my nutrition advice.

My methods are simple. No tricks, no fads. Just plain, basic, simple nutrition. Often times, I do not need to drop calorie levels, but the opposite – bring them up slowly. Much of the time, its as simple as changing the foods that are being eaten and playing around with ratios of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. This dnutrition3oes require knowledge how to calculate ratios, which is where my certification comes in. However, over time, I have gained a lot of experience working with clients one on one to develop their “magical” formula.

Women are extremely stuck with a low-calorie, low-fat mentality. Often I will ask women to track their foods and quantities for three days and bring it back to me before developing their nutrition plan. What I find 90% of the time is that they are eating 1200 calories or below. Now, if you put that into perspective, the lowest calorie level someone should be on (or what would be considered a “low-calorie diet”) would be 10 calories per pound of body weight. Clients are often blown-away by how much MORE they should be eating. If you are exercising and strength training, there is no possible way to gain lean muscle mass on calorie levels this low.

I also FIRMLY believe that it is NOT a simple equation of calories in versus calories out. What about the woman who has been slim and trim her entire life, who then enters menopause annutrition4d all of a sudden is carrying 5, 10, or 20 pounds around her mid-section? She no-doubt is feeling down, less confident, not to mention frustrated and confused. This woman has never “dieted” in her entire life and while she wants to lose this extra weight, she has no idea where to start so she does what the media has told her to do – drop calories and exercise more. Of course this may work for a while but over the long term she is now miserable because she can’t even enjoy a glass of wine, dinner out with friends, or a piece of birthday cake without worrying that she will gain her weight back. She is also exhausted all the time due to the over-exercise and under-nourishment. Sound familiar?

How about all the people on medications? Anti-depressants, anxiolytics, anti-inflammatory drugs as well as mamy others all have an effect on metabolism. This is one of the most frustrating factors of all. Very little research has been done on the effects of various medications on metabolism. Our doctors often tell us, “well, your less depressed now, so you’re appetite is back” or something of the like… but we know, we are not eating anymore than we did before but somehow, we very quickly put on 10, 20, 30 plus pounds only a few short months after starting medication. So here we are now, feeling more mentally stable – but now depressed in another way – our clothes don’t fit. So here we go again, cut calories and exercise more… but it never seems to work long-term.

The third scenario I see is simply genetics. How can anyone dispute this fact? Some families have long and lean genes where they can eat whatever they want and not gain and ounce – or they just simply don’t have an “interest”  in food. They eat because they have to – the term eat to live rather than live to eat! What about the family you see where the grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents and kids are all more than a little overweight? Are you quick to judge and say, well, they are fat and lazy and eat junk food all day? If so, you definitely need a wake up call and maybe a punch in the throat. These people battle food every day of their lives. They genetically have a slower metabolism and they are likely battling food addictions. The biggest problem is that unlike drugs or alcohol, they need food to live. If you haven’t read Food Junkies by Vera Tarmen, I highly recommend it. Its great knowledge for any person to have and a very easy read.

So now here is the question I get A LOT… why do I not promote or belong to a nutrition MLM company? Many personal trainers need supplemental income to make a go of it if they don’t have nutrition certification. I chose to invest in the education rather than an MLM start-up. This part will have many throwing fire-laden arrows at me – but hey – this is my blog and I get to say what I nutrition5want! I DO NOT believe in replacing meals with shakes and supplements. Oh and yes, I’ve read it all and I’ve had the pitch several times. “But the food we eat is filled with pesticides and herbicides and its not the quality that it used to be” and “blah, blah, blah”. There is definitely truth to it and I’ve read a lot of the self-funded third party studies reported by these companies that claim to cleanse and provide optimal nutrition. Here is the thing, there is a simple joy and pleasure that human beings get from eating food. It has been that way from the beginning of time. In the bible, many stories include breaking of bread and drinking wine in times of celebration. I also believe that you can save a whole lot of money and tailor your nutrition requirements to YOUR body without meal replacements. Yes, it takes more work but in the end I can guarantee it is sustainable for your entire life. You can go on vacation and know how to eat and what foods to pack with you. You can navigate pot-lucks, family dinners and summer barbecues without your shaker bottle and enjoy it too!

Now, with that being said, I do believe in supplements. But I believe in them in such a way that is based on getting to know your body intuitively and what nutrients you are lacking. This often takes some investment in being in tune with how you are feeling and learning ways to experiment with supplements that work for you. Again, there is not a one-size-fits-all pill to pop. I don’t believe that everyone needs a multi-vitamin. If that is the case, your daily nutrition needs a make-over. The exception to this is if your job or life requires you to travel a lot. Things to watch for? Perhaps you feel fatigued a lot – have you had your iron checked? Do you suffer from a lot of stress? Have you had your adrenal glandnutrition2s checked? B-vitamins can combat fatigue and stress as well as Vitamin C – but maybe “brand x” makes you feel nauseated but “brand y” makes you feel like you can conquer the world! Its all about doing what makes your body feel best, finding what you need and doing it in a way that doesn’t break the bank.

I also believe in supplementing with protein powders -NOTE: protein supplements NOT meal replacements. Another area where you can find what works for you and your digestive system and not a one-size fits all scoop. Most women simply do not or cannot fit enough protein into their daily diets in order to get enough protein to build lean muscle mass. This is my top discussion with my female clients. Eat the WHOLE chicken breast, eat the WHOLE can of tuna, eat an egg and add some egg whites to the omelette for extra protein. Many women are shocked at just how much protein they do need and how little they are eating. When they start replacing other foods in their diet with more proteins and healthy fats, many of those cravings for “junk-food” dissipate.

The take away that I’m trying to give is that diets don’t work. They are always temporary and they almost always leave people gaining weight back. We need to get back to basics. Basic nutrition, how to eat foods that nourish our bodies that fuel our performance and needs and that don’t create a viscous circle of crave and cave (if you haven’t watched the Hungry for Change documentary – you need to). How many thousands of dollars have you spent and wasted on dieting? Its a multi-billion dollar industry for a reason. If there were an easy answer, we would have it by now.

If your interested in a nutrition plan and coaching please contact me. I have very limited space for nutrition clients but accept clientele on an on-going basis. At this time, all of my in-studio personal training sessions are full.