Even a health fanatic needs help to stay strong and fit

Apr 24, 2014

Fit Ottawa

Since 1996, Claire has run Ottawa kitchen and dining ware shop Ma Cuisine. But being a busy and successful entrepreneur hasn’t come at the expense of her health.

“When somebody tells me they don’t have the time to get fit, I tell them, ‘you have to find what works for you” Claire said. “When it’s scheduled, when you have a trainer, you stick to it, you make it part of your agenda. You wouldn’t miss a meeting with your accountant or financial advisor, so don’t miss a meeting with your trainer. It’s not something apart from your work, it’s part of your work.”

Claire has always been “a little fanatical” about health and nutrition. Even at the age of eight, her favourite snack was sunflower seeds, her favourite vegetable was spinach and her favourite sandwich was salmon with mustard, rather than fatty mayo. She has also taught aerobics and always been quick to act on emerging health concerns, such as low-fat cooking in the early ’90s before it became trendy, and the risks of second-hand smoke while still a teenager.

“But I like the good things as much as anyone,” she said. “I love my meats, I love my sweets. I’m French Canadian – I love my brown sugar and maple syrup.”
Claire has always been self-disciplined, maintaining a fit, lean physique at home with a treadmill, free weights and her favourite Tae Bo videos.

Time for a change

But as she neared 50, Claire found the at-home routine was becoming stale. She also realized she was losing strength. While it’s easy to do cardio at home, she felt that she needed the help of an experienced trainer to weight train.

“Strength does not come naturally, and you can’t do strength training alone at home,” she said.

It was about this time that Free Form Fitness opened its Dalhousie location in the ByWard Market, near Claire’s home and business. For the past three years, she has worked out diligently with the FFF team to maintain and build her strength, as well as enjoy the other benefits that come of weight training, such as improved bone health and density.

Her husband, who has an equally busy schedule, works out five times a week. “When we travel, we always go to the gym, even on vacation,” Claire said. “We will take our workouts outside when the weather’s nice. We’ll do walking lunges in the park and see who’s going to die first, me or my husband.”
Not only is the guidance of an experienced trainer the best way to safely and effectively weight train, it’s also the best way to do it in the most time-efficient manner, Claire added. While many people find themselves spending 60 to 90 minutes at the gym on their own, a good trainer can achieve the same results in half the time.

“Most people don’t know how to do a half hour of weights on their own efficiently,” she said. “As business people, a half hour is nothing – you can always find a half hour.”

A trainer also ensures the right mix of exercises to ensure a balanced workout, to ensure all muscles are being worked evenly, and reverse the issues of poor posture and weak core strength that come of spending too many hours at a desk.

“People take better care of their cars than they do of their bodies sometimes,” Claire said. “It’s about quality of life. You have one body and you don’t have a second chance to take care of it.”

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