‘We have innovated physical activity out of our lives’

This is a guest post by Andrew Evans, a fitness advisor at New Westminster’s Canada Games Pool who also writes a blog called Fit New West. Andrew holds a Human Kinetics Degree from UBC and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Andrew offers Personal Training services for Health and Performance in New Westminster, B.C. He can be reached at FitNewWest@gmail.com.

Canada Games Pool
New Westminster’s Canada Games Pool. Photo: Will Tomkinson

In North America (New Westminster included), we have innovated physical activity out of our lives. This is trouble for our bodies that require physical activity to function properly. You only have to look at the health section of the news to see the health issues caused by physical inactivity. In response to this concern, I hope to offer some practical advice and renew your thoughts on fitness.

You are constantly bombarded with messages about fitness. Weight loss, gym memberships, shoes that make your butt tight, machines that give you six-packs, belts that sweat your fat away, 3 minutes a day, 10 minutes a day, and so on. These messages are money makers and most of the time marketed as quick and easy. Promoters of these messages even make them look fun from looking at the huge smiles on their model’s faces. I don’t know how someone could smile with some oddly shaped contraption wedged between their legs while they squeeze it a thousand times!

My view is this. Fitness is not quick and easy. It is every day life movement that should be fun and enjoyable. It comes simply by being active with your body, getting it moving every day. There are three basic areas to train for fitness. Cardiovascular (heart and lungs), Musculoskeletal (muscles and bones) and Body Composition (lean tissue vs fatty tissue). Along with proper nutrition, training the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems will produce a healthy body composition.

Some people are naturally active with their bodies daily, for example, active stay at home parents who play with their kids, retirees who garden and clean daily or people with manual labour jobs. These people are up and down, lifting, running, walking, lunging, sweating , breathing heavy, simply using their bodies in a physical way.

On the other hand are people crammed for time in a sedentary job and busy life. Sitting in front of a computer (I am trying to wrap this post up so I can get moving) for hours at a time, spending more time sitting while commuting, and then wanting to relax, feeling worn out and drained from sedentary work. I know I feel horrible after working on the computer for a while and my body and mind just want to lay down. However, I know that if I do something active, I will break the cycle of feeling like garbage, and perk myself up and feel great.

For those who fit into the description of the second group, you probably have to input physical activity into your life artificially. One way of doing this is going to the gym and follow a program. At the Canada Games Pool, they have fitness advisors (DISCLOSURE: I am one of them) free of charge, who can spend about 20mins getting you started on a program, showing you some exercises or answer any questions you may have. If you need more help than that, you can shop around for a personal trainer and have them work with there.

In my opinion, the best way to pursue fitness is to pick an activity and train to excel at it. For example you can choose to run a 10km race annually (The Sun Run) and follow a training program that will help you reach your potential.

You will not believe how enjoyable it is to continually see improvements in your physical abilities and achievements, your health and appearance if you train regularly. When physical activity becomes part of life, everything gets easier mainly because you feel better in body, mind and spirit.

Questions from readers: Why so few adult-oriented classes at NWPR?

Recently, we put the call out to our readers to submit the questions about local matters that have you stumped. Today, we’ve got the answer to a question from Kathryn Berry: “Why are there are so few recreational classes offered by NWPR for adults, such as dance classes? There are lots for children and for seniors, but there seems to be a paucity of physical recreation for the adult crowd.”

Here’s the response we got from Jason Haight, manager of building operations at New Westminster Parks, Culture & Recreation:

Thank you for your question. Parks, Culture & Recreation does offer a wide range of adult fitness based activities (physical recreation) through drop-in programs for skating, swimming, hockey, karate, soccer, volleyball, badminton, gymnastics, group fitness and fitness centres. We also offer a number of registered adult fitness programs for yoga, walking and running. All of these services are outlined in our Winter Active Living Guide.

With respect to dance classes we offer several older adult dance classes, geared to the 40+ or 55+ age groups but we do not currently have adult specific dance classes. History has told us that these classes struggle with registration. Combined with space limitation and not wanting to duplicate services and compete with New Westminster continuing education programs and local private sector dance companies, we only offer adult dance intermittently.

I hope this answers your question.

A lack of demand is a disappointing but expected answer to Kathryn’s question. The private sector dance companies he’s referring to include Dance With Me Studio on Front St., Latin Beat Dance Club lessons at Douglas College, Ammara Dance on Sixth St., Boswell Dance Academy on Blackford St, and The Dance Matrix on Agnes St.

If you’re interested in the NWPR drop-in programs, you may be interested to read Will’s post about taking advantage of the on-site childcare to do some time in the weight room at Canada Games, followed by daddy-son pool fun with our toddler, or Clara Cristofaro’s post on her blog about the laughably hard “Workout Lite” program.

Update: Jason tells me program suggestions can be directed to nwparksrec@newwestcity.ca or by calling 604-527-4567.