Heart & Sole - The Blog

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Taking Success 'One Step at a Time' - Literally...

posted Nov 7, 2018, 9:11 AM by Walk Strong Calgary

Success in your health journey starts with a single step. Walk Strong Calgary (a division of Witness 4 Fitness) is committed to helping you reach your fitness goals through walking-based group exercise programs... we take the phrase 'one step at a time' literally!

Many people are very uncomfortable with the thought of working out in front of others, for various reasons. I actually used to be very self-conscious when it came to exercising in public. I would run early in the mornings so there was less chance of anyone seeing me. The thought of exercising in a group... was very intimidating. What if I was the only one who didn't know the moves? What if I couldn't keep up? What if I didn't wear the right clothes? What if... I couldn't do it? What if I was so uncoordinated that I throw others off? What if... What if... What if... The beauty of my classes is that if you feel that way, too... I've BEEN THERE and I understand!

What worked for me was when I discovered the Walk at Home DVDs - I could work out in front of my TV where no one could see me (I used to close the drapes to make sure)! In no time I felt more confident as I learned the moves and figured out the coordination. There were times I would walk right up to the TV and say, "Leslie! How are you doing that?" - it's true! LOL! I came to love the program so much that I soon longed to teach others this great mode of exercise... and was certified as a Master Level Walk 15® Instructor. Today, I throw the drapes and the curtains open wide and hope neighbors will ask me what I've been doing in my living room for exercise... 'cause I wanna share this program with them!

From the moment the music starts in my class, I promise you, you'll feel part of the group because we all WALK to the beat! If you want to WALK through the whole class, you CAN! You can't do it wrong! There is no perfection expected... trust me, I'm not perfect either - "Oops, did I just say 'double' and I'm doing a single again?" (note the word 'again...' lol!) We don't focus on getting things exactly right - we focus on executing well, which you learn in time. Working out to music is very helpful because rhythm will help with your timing - it also makes the class seem to go by faster! In addition, I'm trained to help you figure out things such as getting the opposing limbs to work together, and if you do struggle with coordination, I can help you after class if needed - you don't get that kind of feedback and help from a DVD! So grab a pair of clean, dry fitness shoes, a water bottle, wear any clothing that's comfortable and non-restrictive, come on out and try a class!

Nancy Ehle is a Master Level Walk 15® Instructor certified through Walk at Home® as well as a Group Fitness Instructor through the American Council on Exercise (ACE). She also holds several specialties, including Menopause and Exercise, Postural Assessments, and more. Nancy's enthusiasm is contagious! Her encouraging nature is perfect for group exercise, and her love of music is a bonus - music selection is always upbeat and motivating... you may just find yourself singing along!

Self Care with Matthew Miller of NowFeelGood.com

posted Sep 23, 2018, 6:39 PM by Walk Strong Calgary   [ updated Sep 23, 2018, 6:41 PM ]

What an honor and a pleasure to have Matthew Miller, MSW RSW give a presentation to kick off our Fall classes at Woodcreek Community Association! Matthew provides counselling and therapy services to individuals, families and groups on a variety of life issues. For more information on Matthew's practice and to book a free 30-minute consultation, visit: nowfeelgood.com.  His talk was very informative and you can take it in below. Enjoy!


Over Stressed about being Overweight?

posted Sep 2, 2018, 1:40 PM by Walk Strong Calgary   [ updated Sep 2, 2018, 1:55 PM ]

Are you stressing about being overweight? Whether it's 10 lbs or 50+, many women feel ashamed of their bodies, and those feelings can hinder you from joining a fitness class.

"What if people come down on me because of my weight?"
"What if I'm the only one who doesn't know the moves?"
"I can't stand the way my clothes look on me - what will others think?"
"What if I can't handle it? I can hardly make it up the stairs."

If these kinds of thoughts and feelings of inadequacy are holding you back from trying group exercise, I'd like to encourage you to give me a call (see 'Contact Us') and let's talk about what a Walk 15® class entails. Sometimes getting to know a bit about your instructor beforehand can help build your confidence. It might surprise you to know, for example, that one of the reasons I never tried group fitness before my mid-forties was that I felt very insecure about how I looked and whether or not I'd be able to do the moves, and I had no idea what to wear to 'fit in...' and coordination is actually something with which many people struggle... myself included!

I love teaching Walk 15® in the community because I find that people are generally more comfortable in a community hall than they are in a health club setting. It's less intimidating, and something about the environment seems to take the pressure off. I always encourage people to do what they can in class, and if you keep the moves small, you might be surprised at how well you do! You never, ever have to follow perfectly, so if you go back to a walk when you need a couple of minutes of recovery, that's exactly the right thing to do!

As far as what to wear, really, as long as you've got the proper footwear (clean/dry walking or running shoes) and are wearing clothing that's comfortable for you and doesn't restrict movement, pretty much anything goes! Tee shirt, tank, sweatshirt, sweatpants, yoga pants, shorts - I've even had someone come in blue jeans, and in a corporate setting, someone came in a skirt once because she left her workout clothes at home. I once led a class in my business clothes - dress pants and blouse - because I forgot my workout gear!

It can also be comforting to know that no one in my classes (myself included) has 'the perfect body.' We come in various body shapes and sizes and at different levels of fitness. Everyone is welcome! As well, one of the great things about these classes is that if you can WALK, you can do it - the music starts and everyone in the room walks in place to the beat of the music until I give further direction - no one stands out and you feel an element of success immediately!

Try a Walk 15® class this week - you'll be glad you did! See Class Times, Locations & Cost for current class locations.

Nancy Ehle is Founder & CEO of Witness 4 Fitness located in Calgary, Alberta. Her industry certifications include Master Walk 15® Instructor (her specialty) through Walk 15®, Group Fitness Instructor through the American Council on Exercise (ACE), Health Coach, Indoor Cycling, and Pilates. Nancy has also taken many continuing education courses throughout her career, which currently spans 6.5 years. An encourager by nature, you'll find her upbeat attitude and energy infectious! Follow Nancy on Facebook: facebook.com/WalkStrongCalgary

When the Going Gets Tough

posted Aug 25, 2018, 1:59 PM by Walk Strong Calgary   [ updated Aug 25, 2018, 2:41 PM ]

As a Fitness Instructor, one of the most important goals I've set personally is to cultivate a safe environment for my participants. Feeling safe is a basic human need, and my desire is to know that people feel accepted unconditionally when they walk in the door, regardless of who they are, what kind of day they've had, or whether or not they're sticking to their goals. There is no judgment or comparison. I've had people tell me that they look forward to my classes because they always know they will be met with a smile... and sometimes that's the only genuine smile they've seen all day. As a health coach as well as an instructor, I'm also always willing to stay and chat after class if there is a need. Listening is a skill that seems to be lacking in today's society, but I understand how important it is for individuals to be able to express themselves at times and feel they're being heard and understood. They may not be looking for a solution to their problem... just someone who will let them talk about it openly - someone with whom they feel safe.

Sometimes things happen in your life, however, wherein the atmosphere of a class environment can't meet a much deeper need, as good as you feel when you attend. Life can be very stressful, and many of us face things such as ongoing anxiety, depression, struggles in a marriage or other relationships, stress on the job, dealing with a parent with Alzheimer's... the list goes on... Now and then it can be beneficial to speak with a trained professional who can provide some objective advice and counsel. This doesn't mean you're a failure by any means... in fact, recognizing that you need some extra help is a very positive thing!

I'm very pleased to recommend the services offered through NowFeelGood.com. Matthew Miller's approach mirrors my desires as stated above in that he offers a safe environment with no judgment. He is very skilled at helping you come to a deeper understanding of yourself and your current situation, whatever that may be. As Matthew states on his site, "it is healing and healthy for you to be validated and understood." His approach blends counseling (what you need today, in the present moment) with therapy (insights into the 'why' behind why you do what you do). Whether you are in the middle of a life crisis, hoping to understand how events from childhood are influencing your choices today, struggling with addictions or another life issue, Now Feel Good counseling may be just what you need. Matthew offers a free initial consultation by phone (up to 30 minutes). Give him a call and feel free to tell him I referred you.

e-mail: Matthew@nowfeelgood.com
phone: (587)220-1384
(please, absolutely no soliciting calls or e-mails)

Walking Speed a Predictor of Health Issues

posted Jul 12, 2018, 8:52 AM by Walk Strong Calgary   [ updated Jul 12, 2018, 9:22 AM ]

One of the unique features of our Walk 15® program is our "Steps to Miles" system, which uses the pace of the music to measure mileage. Even though each person in class remains within about a 30-40 ft2 area, by keeping on the beat, we can approximate the distance we've gone over time. On average, we engineer the music in a class for a 15-minute mile (hence the '15' in the 'Walk 15®' brand), which equates to a 4 mph pace. I often take my music outdoors onto the walking paths, and depending on stride length, 30 minutes of walking to the beat will put me around 2 miles from my doorstep. Walk 15® is a great way to measure walking speed; however, in our activities of daily living (ADL), we seldom walk to music. So how can we measure our walking speed as we go about our day... and does it matter?

According to a growing trend in research, gait speed may actually be a better predictor of certain health issues than traditional measures such as pulse, breathing, and blood pressure. According to Professor Dina Katabi of MIT, "Many avoidable hospitalizations are related to issues like falls, congestive heart disease, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease which have all been shown to be correlated to gait speed." Measuring changes in a person's walking speed could potentially result in early detection and prevention, especially in the elderly. 

The research is based, however, not on the speed one would walk during fitness activities; rather, the key element is how our gait (or walking) speed changes over time in day-to-day life - walking across the room to grab a snack; walking to answer the doorbell, etc. According to researchers, changes in stride length may also help experts understand conditions such as Parkinson's Disease, one of the characteristics of which is taking smaller steps. Such changes could also be an indicator of an injury (and subsequent increased risk of a fall) and perhaps even serve as an indicator over time that an individual may be ready for assisted living. 

Going Wireless
A recent paper written by scientists at MIT proposes using a wireless device called "WiGait" to measure walking speed in the home. The system analyzes wireless signals that bounce off a person's body and apparently is 95-99% accurate in measuring gait speed, 85-99% accurate in measuring stride length. The device hangs on the wall (approx. size of a small painting) and there are no belt-packs, wrist devices, or other sensory devices to carry on the body, and it can even 'see' through walls.   It also emits 100 times less radiation than a cell phone. If privacy is a concern, rest assured, there are no cameras involved - merely moving dots on a screen. Researchers hope to eventually use the system to monitor people with MS, Parkinson's and even Alzheimer's to assist physicians in tracking the progression of their conditions and adjusting medications as needed. 

Nancy Ehle is Founder & CEO of Witness 4 Fitness in Calgary, Alberta. Nancy is certified as a Walk 15® Instructor, Master Level as well as a Group Fitness Instructor (American Council on Exercise) and has studied many specialties such as Exercise and Menopause, Conducting Postural Assessments, Chronic Musculoskeletal Challenges & Exercise, and more. She is also a Health Coach, artist, author, and amateur photographer. Follow Nancy on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/walkstrongcalgary 


"Heart & Sole" - the Magazine - Now Available!

posted Jun 24, 2018, 5:24 PM by Walk Strong Calgary

These past few months have been a blur of activity as I've been working hard in the background on a new wellness magazine published through a division of my company - Grace Productions. "Heart & Sole - Staying Fit & Fabulous at 50+" is now available! 

What began as a 16-page handout for the Calgary Woman's Show in April quickly ballooned into 36 pages as both personal and professional contacts stepped forward to contribute some great articles! There are a variety of topics to suit any age, from dealing with stress and mental burnout to the 'Entrepreneur's Corner,' and a great submission from a shy housewife who tells how she became an on-air host on a community radio station. There are several fitness-related pieces, of course, and a special series called "Tales from the Bright Side," wherein two Mom's of children with special needs share candidly about their respective journeys - one has a son with Autism, the other a daughter with Angelman Syndrome. Real people. Real life. 

Order a hard copy or ebook version here: Order Heart & Sole

The POWer of H20 - Cold-Water Immersion

posted Jun 5, 2018, 7:24 PM by Walk Strong Calgary

Have you ever splashed really cold water on your face first thing in the morning? It's something I've been doing for years and while it may seem a shocking way to wake up, it feels fabulous! International speaker and best-selling author Tony Robbins takes it a giant step further... his morning routine includes submerging his entire body in a pool of water that's at a temperature of just under 14°C (about 57°F). The average temperature of a swimming pool is 25-28°C (77-82°F). While it may seem a bizarre way to wake up, there are some surprising benefits to cold-water immersion, particularly when it comes to recovery after exercise. 

According to Tony's website(1), cold water immersion improves lymphatic circulation, boosts the body's natural healing powers (relieving symptoms of many medical conditions), can help treat depression, kicks up the metabolism (which means increased weight loss), and more. Australian Sports Conditioning examined the potential benefits of cold-water immersion as a recovery regime after exercise(2). Recovery is when our body repairs tissue and replenishes muscle glycogen. While the research indicated that immersion did not decrease the inflammatory response of muscle tissue to exercise, subjects did report a decreased perception of muscle soreness. In another study, subjects recovered force and power production more quickly than those who did not use the therapy. Other research showed improved lactic acid recovery when cold-water immersion was used following participation in an intense anaerobic exercise session. Researchers recommend 1-2 minutes of submersion repeated 3-4 times with 30-second breaks at a water temperature of 10-12°C (50-53.7°F). 

As you can imagine, it can be a challenge to condition your body to handle cold-water immersion. It makes me think of swimming in the lake up north when I was a kid. That initial plunge was the hardest... but once you got up the nerve and just went for it, it was invigorating! Before you fill up your bathtub with cold water after your next workout, however, check with your doctor to see if cold-water immersion is for you. 

Nancy Ehle is Founder & CEO of Witness 4 Fitness in Calgary, Alberta Canada. She holds several certifications in the fitness industry, including Group Fitness Instructor, Health Coach and Master Walk 15® Instructor through organizations such as the American Council on Exercise and Walk at Home®.  Walk Strong Calgary is a division of Witness 4 Fitness, focusing on low-impact group exercise programs suitable for all ages and fitness levels. 
Follow Nancy on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/WalkStrongCalgary/

(1) https://www.tonyrobbins.com/health-vitality/the-power-of-cold-water/
(2) http://www.australiansportsconditioning.com/articles/?article5/cold-water-immersion

H20 - Cold vs. Room Temp - Which is Better?

posted Jun 5, 2018, 6:02 AM by Walk Strong Calgary   [ updated Jun 6, 2018, 5:09 AM ]

There's nothing like a nice tall glass of cold water on a hot day. It refreshes, energizes and cools. But is cold water better than warm for the body (or vice versa)? As with many fitness & health-related topics, experts are divided on the topic. According to Columbia University's 'Go Ask Alice'(1) column, cold water is absorbed more quickly from within the stomach than warm water. In researching this, it seems many other experts agree, though some argue that the reverse is true. Either way, whether you should opt for warm or cold may in part come down to timing and/or the purpose of your water consumption.

When exercising, for example, although research is limited, according to a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition(2), participants who consumed cold water during their exercise sessions "were able to delay their increase in core body temperature for at least 30 minutes." This same study showed an increase in performance in participants who drank cold water compared to those who drank it warm, but it depended on the mode of exercise (bench press results indicated a slight decrease in performance). Overall, the study would seem to support the hypothesis that drinking cold water while exercising provides some benefits. Bear in mind, however, that environment can be a factor - other researchers have found little benefit to drinking cold water while exercising in a cold environment, as stated in this same study.

Drinking to hydrate - As stated above, many experts agree that cold water is absorbed more quickly than warm water. It may well come down to preference, though. Some people prefer one over the other, and if you have sensitive teeth, for example, you might naturally go for warm over cold. Either way, drink up because it's all good for hydrating the body!

Weight Loss - Is cold water better if you're trying to lose weight? There's an excellent article(3) on Jillian Michaels' website that addresses this topic. Drinking cold water does result in your body burning extra calories; however, it may not make a significant difference, especially if you're not addressing bad food habits. Check out the article on the link below. It's a great read!

Overall, it's really up to you which you choose, and both are the RIGHT choice. We need the water either way. Chug-a-lug! 

Nancy Ehle is Founder & CEO of Witness 4 Fitness in Calgary, Alberta Canada. She holds several certifications in the fitness industry, including Group Fitness Instructor, Health Coach and Master Walk 15® Instructor through organizations such as the American Council on Exercise and Walk at Home®.  Walk Strong Calgary is a division of Witness 4 Fitness, focusing on low-impact group exercise programs suitable for all ages and fitness levels. 
Follow Nancy on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/WalkStrongCalgary/

H20 - Remembering to Drink!

posted Jun 4, 2018, 6:05 AM by Walk Strong Calgary

Do you have a hard time remembering to drink water? I certainly do. My days can be hectic and when I'm focused on a project, whether at home or in the office (I work part-time at a print shop). It's amazing how quickly time can seem to fly by when you're concentrating on the task at hand - the next thing you know, 2 hours have gone by and I haven't moved from my desk. Or maybe it's a matter of distractions throughout the day... Children requiring your attention off and on, or multiple errands throughout the day. Let's face it, we've all got very busy lives these days!

Here's a simple trick that may help you remember to drink more. One of the things that I personally find very effective is to have a glass or water bottle next to my computer. I find that if there's something there, my hand automatically reaches for it, especially if I've added flavour to the water, which can trigger a 'pleasure response' in the brain. When it tastes good... my body seems to crave more. Here's a good example... I finished my first cup of coffee about 30 minutes ago... and suddenly I am craving another cup... It tasted soooo good! Lol! I have a dual-walled, stainless steel thermos at the office that holds about 16 oz and keeps my water nice and cool for several hours (I'll address water temperature in a future post) and I love it! I add a drop or two of lemon or lime (sometimes both) essential oil to my H20 for a little kick... and when that thermos is empty, I am more likely to get up and refill it because of the 'treat factor!' At home, if I place a glass in a prominent position, such as in the middle of the kitchen counter, it serves as a reminder - and it has been very effective these past few days as you've seen if you've been following along on Facebook! Find a trick that works for you - sticky notes around the house? A calendar reminder on your cell phone or on your computer at the office? Carrying a water bottle with you when you're out and about (you'll get into the habit of making note of where the public washrooms are when shopping... lol)? Anything goes! Chug-a-lug, Chug-a-lug!

Nancy Ehle is Founder & CEO of Witness 4 Fitness in Calgary, Alberta Canada. She holds several certifications in the fitness industry, including Group Fitness Instructor, Health Coach and Master Walk 15® Instructor through organizations such as the American Council on Exercise and Walk at Home®.  Walk Strong Calgary is a division of Witness 4 Fitness, focusing on low-impact group exercise programs suitable for all ages and fitness levels. 
Follow Nancy on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/WalkStrongCalgary/

How Much Water is Too Much?

posted Jun 2, 2018, 4:00 PM by Walk Strong Calgary   [ updated Jun 4, 2018, 5:35 AM ]

Water... One of the most basic elements necessary for our very survival. Every cell in your body requires water in order to function properly and it can be found both within the cells themselves, and surrounding them. Water acts as our body's cooling system, just one of the many important functions of this luscious liquid. 

According to the Mayo Clinic(1), our body weight is composed of approximately 60% water, and as you know, we are continually losing water throughout the day through our normal bodily functions such as sweating, waste removal, vomiting, and even breathing. There is no hard and fast rule about how much water you actually need to ingest daily - it will actually vary by individual.  Factors such as body size, diet, activity level, health status and even climate can all play a role in your individual hydration requirements. While you can certainly look to alternative sources for water (fruits and veggies, teas & other beverages), if you are specifically drinking to hydrate the body, your best bet is good ol' H20 straight up. It's the original zero-calorie drink and the perfect choice if you're trying to lose weight and/or keep it off. 

Is it possible to drink too much water? That's a great question, and the answer is yes! Overhydrating is a condition called hyponatremia, but not to worry, you're only likely to be in danger of this if you are drinking extreme amounts in a short period of time. In fact, there have been deaths attributed to 'water intoxication,' such as a 28-year old mother of three who participated in a water-drinking contest in 2007(2). In such an extreme case, inundating your body with an unusually high volume of H20 in a short window of time can cause your blood sodium concentration to drop below 135 millimoles per litre (normal levels range from 135 - 145). Imagine stirring half a tsp of salt into a tall glass of water and tasting it. You'd no doubt taste the salt. Now take a 10-gallon pail of water and add half a tsp of salt. You'll likely not notice a difference at all in the taste. Trouble is, your body needs that sodium, and diluting it in such an extreme way can certainly be very dangerous, taxing the kidneys - if the kidneys aren't given enough time to flush the additional water out, it's got to go somewhere... first to the blood, which becomes waterlogged, and then to the cells, causing them to expand and swell like tiny little balloons. While most cells in the body do have some room to enlarge, when it comes to the brain cells, there is precious little room (if any) for expansion(3).
Generally speaking, unless you are an elite athlete participating in arduous workouts or endurance events (wherein the athlete may consume copious amounts of water in a short time in an attempt to stay hydrated), you are in very little danger of experiencing hyponatremia. The Mayo Clinic's recommendation to ensure you are safely hydrated is to drink a glass of water with each meal, one between each meal, drink water before, during and after exercise, and when you experience hunger (which can often be confused with thirst)(1)

Nancy Ehle is Founder & CEO of Witness 4 Fitness in Calgary, Alberta Canada. She holds several certifications in the fitness industry, including Group Fitness Instructor, Health Coach and Master Walk 15® Instructor through organizations such as the American Council on Exercise and Walk at Home®.  Walk Strong Calgary is a division of Witness 4 Fitness, focusing on low-impact group exercise programs suitable for all ages and fitness levels. 
Follow Nancy on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/WalkStrongCalgary/


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