Alberta Cancer Foundation

What’s Your Personal Workout Style?

Illustrations by Kaley McKean.

There’s no “right” workout — only what’s right for you. Getting in your 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week, a target amount recommended for adults by the World Health Organization, will feel fun if you love the activity that gets you moving.

According to Dr. Margaret McNeely, the Edmonton-based lead of the Alberta Cancer Exercise program (ACE), all exercise is valuable for health, although different kinds of exercise may offer different benefits for symptoms and daily life.

“Aerobic exercises help to strengthen your heart and lungs, which will give you more energy, help you think more clearly, and may offset many chronic diseases,” says McNeely. “Resistance or weight training will help strengthen your muscles so that you can, for example, more easily lift or carry objects and climb stairs. And programs such as yoga, Tai Chi and dance are excellent ways to maintain mobility and balance.”

Not sure where to start? Choose your workout style and get motivated to get moving, try a new exercise or work toward a new goal.

1. The Social Butterfly

You’re committed to wellness, but it’s easier to get motivated and get your sweat on with a friend by your side — and you hold each other accountable. Maybe in the past you’ve enjoyed Zumba or spin classes. Your goal now is to exercise consistently, and without sacrificing social outings.

The Workout

Join a boxing studio: In an encouraging group setting, learn to jab, hook and cross while working on your cardiovascular fitness and strength. The upbeat soundtrack and flashy lighting that often accompany a boxing workout make the whole thing feel like a social evening out at a nightclub. Have friends join you at two high-intensity boxing sessions per week and add in one short recovery run to reach your 150 minutes of weekly exercise.

Where to try it: Undrcard Boxing Studio in downtown Calgary offers group boxing sessions and boxing-yoga hybrid workouts. It’s designed to be social: a coffee shop is located right inside the studio so you can catch up with your workout pal over a smoothie after
the session.

Consider this: Many boxing studios are social places with an encouraging group dynamic. You might even form some new friendships there.

2. The Self-Motivated Keener

When it comes to getting your weekly workouts in, you’re totally self-motivated. For you, endurance exercise is a kind of meditation, and working toward a big goal is satisfying. Perhaps you’ve already got some 5-kilometre running races under your belt and are looking for your next challenge.

The Workout

Register and train for a running race: You’re dedicated and consistent, so now increase your distance. Slowly build the distance you run each week and incorporate some weekly interval sessions to focus on speed. To enhance your training, download a running app. Use Runkeeper, to discover new training routes, get motivational cues and track your progress. Download Strava or Nike+ Run Club if you like to compete against other app users.

Where to run long: In Calgary and Edmonton, the Bow River, Elbow River and River Valley pathways are ideal for all-year training and you can easily increase your long-run distance by heading slightly further down the pathways each week. You’ll also get faster by incorporating stair running (try the Wolf Willow Ravine stairs in Edmonton) into your weekly workouts.

Consider this: The Alberta Cancer Foundation is one of the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon’s official charities. Raise funds and complete your first 10K (or half marathon, marathon or 50K) on May 26.

3. The Adventure Seeker

You’re not intimidated by muddy trails. You’re not scared of heights or disheartened by fitness challenges. You thrive in new environments and feel energized when you try something adventurous. Maybe you’ve already dabbled in obstacle course training and trail running and are now searching for a new thrilling activity.

The Workout

Indoor bouldering: For something that’s always a little different, head to an indoor bouldering facility for a full-body workout. Bouldering walls are shorter than rock climbing walls — usually no higher than 15 feet — because there are no ropes or safety harnesses. The concept is the same as rock climbing, but there’s more risk: you select a “problem” that’s been set and try to make your way to the top using only the specified holds.

Where to try it: Edmonton is home to Blocs, the biggest bouldering-specific gym in Alberta. The more than 12,500-square-foot facility has a range of climbing routes, meaning it’s suitable for all levels. As you progress to climbing more difficult routes, you’ll also be strong enough to use the gym’s climbing-specific training apparatus to enhance your strength workout.

Consider this: Know that most indoor facilities offer beginner courses and teach safety essentials like how to fall and how to progress in the sport.

4. The Lifelong Learner

You value your health, but maybe it’s been a little while since you’ve made fitness a priority. Perhaps you’re a little intimidated by some fitness classes and you’re not quite sure where a beginner should start. You know that fitness is for life and you’re looking to achieve a solid foundation so you can try new workouts in the years to come.

The Workout

Find a personal trainer: When you work one-on-one with a qualified trainer at your local gym or YMCA, you’ll be guided through a training program that is specifically catered to your fitness level and goals. Aim to work through a tailored program twice a week and you’ll quickly see improvements in your cardiovascular fitness and strength. This will give you the confidence to join in any group fitness class you’ve
been eyeing.

Where to try it: SVPT Fitness and Athletics is a private gym in Edmonton that specializes in personal training. The 5,300-square-foot space has a range of fitness equipment that the trainers will teach you to use. For those in Calgary, consider working with a personal trainer out of the Brookfield Residential YMCA at Seton, the world’s biggest YMCA.

Consider this: Don’t want one-on-one time? Ask your gym if they offer semi-private personal training or join a group training session, where you exercise with a few other individuals with similar fitness goals.