Workout Wednesday

PUBLISHED: Unique Vancouver Workouts

( IMAGE : Arno Schurmans / Athlete. Artist. Activist / )

(IMAGE: Arno Schurmans / Athlete. Artist. Activist /


An important part of The Life Delicious curriculum is movement in community, so of course I was thrilled to write about some awesome group workouts happening in Vancouver for Montecristo magazine!

Read Unique Vancouver Workouts at >>>

What are your favourite group workouts in Vancouver? Please Tweet me @LifeDelish or comment on #TheLifeDelicious Facebook page. Thanks for sharing!!

Workout Wednesday: 12-Minute Circuit

12 minutes, 3 exercises and 2 pieces of equipment for this fun, functional full-body circuit workout

You’ll need:

  • Jump rope

  • Yoga mat

Have you ever had one of those days where you just can’t gather the momentum for a workout? I have those days less and less as I deepen my understanding of the gift of moment and its incredible benefits for focus, creativity, energy, positivity and self-confidence.

I never feel worse after a workout, end of story. I know that it’s a super highway to feeling good, mentally and physically.

Yesterday, however, I was still in my bathrobe at 10am, having got up early to finish and submit a writing assignment for an awesome magazine. I was out of my usual routine of “wake, drink water, meditate, exercise” and having trouble gaining the momentum to get up and sweat.

The sun was making a rare appearance, amidst days of rain, so I knew I needed to get outside. I wanted something short and intense because I was planning on indulging that afternoon at Vancouver Magazine’s 25th Annual Restaurant Awards followed by dinner and movie with my husband.

I’m really fortunate to have a big patio and I felt like using my skipping rope – because even though it’s incredibly challenging it makes me smile like a big kid – so I came up with this little 12-minute workout that I’m excited to share with you!

By the way, how awesome are my snazzy new shoes? They’re the New Balance Minimus 10 Road. I love them! I got them from the amazing folks at Forerunners in North Vancouver. Ken Greenaway and Jerry Ziak are total pros who will make sure you’re in the proper shoes.    

The Workout

Throughout these exercises, focus on engaging your pelvic floor then your transverse abdominis as you exhale, spine elongated (maintain length between the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hip bones), chest lifted, shoulders back, and traps, neck and jaw relaxed.

Perform each exercise below for 1 minute with total focus on perfect form.

You can set your smartphone timer for 1 minute and reset between each exercise or use a free app like Ugi Fitness (read about the “hysterically hard” workout, which I love, here), and customize it to 1-minute intervals with no rest in between for 12 minutes (it also gives you a 10-seconds-to-go alert for each minute).

When you're done, make sure to take a few minutes to stretch. I like to begin with a couple of sun salutations for a gentle cool down and then move into some static stretches. Click here for more info on stretching and sun salutations.

1. Jump rope (nice and easy to start, shuffling from one foot to the other)

2. Squats

  • Inhale as you lower your hips back and down, engaging your glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves for a smooth, controlled decent

  • Keep your knees strong, without wobbling, and equidistant apart

  • Exhale as you raise your hips, squeezing your glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves for a powerful ascent

3. Jump rope (feet together, double bounce, still fairly easy)

4. Superman + shoulder blade squeeze

This is a great way to work your middle and lower back without any equipment

  • Lie on your front with arms stretched out to the side, elbows slightly bent, and thumbs up

  • Gently begin to slide your shoulder blades down your spine and then squeeze them together to lift your arms off the ground

  • Then squeeze your lower back to peel your chest off the ground

  • Be sure to keep your neck and jaw relaxed, and look straight down, keeping the length in the back of your neck

5. Jump rope (feet together, a little faster)

6. Squats (option: jump squats)

  • Make them jump squats for added intensity!

  • Be sure to land softly, absorbing the shock to protect your joints

7. Jump rope (feet together, see how high you can jump)

8. Superman + shoulder blade squeeze

9. Jump rope (alternating high knees)

10. Squats

11. Jump rope (slalom / side to side)

12. Superman + shoulder blade squeeze

Workout Wednesday: 20-Minutes of Treadmill Awesomeness

Treadmill workout | The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr It’s winter. In Vancouver that means rain, elsewhere snow. The bottom line is that running can sometimes feel like more work when it’s cold outside, and that’s when I turn to my trusty treadmill.

Actually, “trusty” might be a stretch – my current condo’s treadmill (and other equipment) is a POC (piece of crap) – but it’s better than nothing and it gets the job done!

Before you do any sort of running, it’s a good idea to do a little assessment of your joints, especially your ankles, knees and hips.

How’s everything feeling?

If you have foot problems, misalignment can spread up to your knees and hips. That’s been the case for me in the past (I was the flat-footed girl with the nerdy, orthotic-accommodating shoes), but recently I’ve directed extra attention to thinking about and developing proper alignment, and not only gone without my orthotics but transitioned to minimalist shoes.

Dr Irvine's exercises for healthy feet

Forgoing orthotics or switching to minimalist shoes may or may not be the right path for you, but regardless of what’s on your feet when you run, I hope you’ll find value in the following interview with my former employer Dr Stacy Irvine of Totum Life Science in Toronto on CityLine with Tracy Moore. It’s really helped me beef up my knowledge and action on the foot-form front. Read about it here.

Now that you’re savvy on getting your feet strong and healthy, it’s time to run!

I’m a big fan of interval training but can’t stress enough the importance of developing proper alignment, significantly warming up, and directing all of your attention to form throughout your run.

No spacing out! No sloppy crashing around. Focus. Work on developing those neuromuscular connections so your likelihood of injury goes way down.

Here’s what I love to do to get nice and warm and then push myself with sprint intervals:

Warm Up: 10 Minutes

  • Minute 1 to 2: Walking at a brisk pace, do a full body scan focusing on proper alignment from head to toe
  • Minute 3: Keep walking and begin to focus on your breath, fully expanding your lungs from front to back, top to bottom, and side to side
  • Minute 4: Keep walking and do 10 shoulder circles forward, 10 shoulder circles backward, 10 right arm circles forward, 10 right arm circles backward, 10 left arm circles forward, and 10 left arm circles backward
  • Minute 5: Keeping the same speed, turn your body 90 degrees counter clockwise, hold onto the handrail with your right hand, and side shuffle to the right
  • Minute 6: Carefully rotate 180 degrees and side shuffle to the left, holding onto the handrail with your left hand
  • Minute 7 to 9: Increase speed to a jog

Sprint Intervals: 8 Minutes

  • Minute 10 to 17: Alternate between 1 minute of sprinting (fast enough to really challenge yourself but slow enough to keep perfect form) and 1 minute of jogging

Cool Down: 2 Minutes

  • Minute 18 to19: Decrease speed to a walk
  • Minute 20: Stretch!


Workout Wednesday: Core Strength for Stationary or Road Cycling

Indoor and Outdoor Cycling | Foundation Training | The Life Delicious

Tips on postural strength plus a motivating soundtrack for a 45-minute stationary spin

I’m a relatively new road cyclist and am still not completely comfortable riding around in traffic. When it comes to personal physical safety my motto is overzealous cautiousness.

In that light, I'm a huge fan of bike trainers. I’m building my cycling confidence, form and fitness while remaining totally safe. We currently have a bike trainer on loan from a friend and are trying to decide what type and brand to purchase for ourselves.

We’re really fortunate to have a large patio at our home, part of it covered, so even on a rainy day where I don’t feel like getting wet, I have no excuse not to get out there for a spin.

Cycling is a fantastic cardiovascular exercise and a great, no-impact alternative to running

As with every type of exercise – be it cardio, strength or flexibility training – I think focusing on form, incessantly, especially in the beginning, to create strong and optimal neuromuscular connections is vital.

Put in the time to create the muscle memory for ideal posture, and eventually it will become second-nature (just like playing scales on the piano or perfecting your golf swing).

Strengthen Your Posterior Chain

I discovered a kindred spirit when I discovered Dr Eric Goodman, a California-based chiropractor, speaker (check out his awesome TEDtalk, above), and author of the must-read book Foundation: Redefine Your Core, Conquer Back Pain, and Move With Confidence.

During my years working in a gym, I saw so many people focusing on their fronts, with endless sets of chest presses and crunches. I have nothing against those exercises but I noticed a large imbalance in the number of exercises most people were doing for the front of their bodies versus the back of their bodies, like rows, good mornings, deadlifts, and back extensions.

Because a very large percentage of the work force sits, likely all day at a computer – which creates an imbalance where the muscles in the front of the body (chest, abs, hip flexors) become shorter and tighter, and the muscles in the back of the body (rhomboids, spinal erectors) become longer and weaker – focusing on strengthening the back of the body, or the posterior chain, more than the front of the body is an excellent idea. It's an idea I drill into my clients' heads.

Foundation Training

Focusing on strengthening the posterior chain is precisely what Goodman preaches, too. “Foundation training is based on the simple but unique idea that strengthening the posterior chain allows the strong muscles in your back to do their job of supporting the weight of the upper body and propelling movement,” says Goodman.

With personal trainer Peter Park, Goodman “joined forces to develop a series of exercises designed to change destructive movement patterns and build a powerful posterior chain, which begins with a strong lower back.”

Pick up a copy of the book for a detailed explanation of the basic Foundation workout, a moderate and intense workout, bonus exercises, and a foam roller workout (Goodman calls foam rolling the "poor man's massage").

Quick Workout: Postural Strength for Improved Cycling

Check out the video below with Goodman and Park demonstrating a quick workout, aimed at cyclists, for developing postural strength

Spin workout music mix

Click here to check out my latest spin mix, with a nice long warm up followed by a slow and steady climb, sprinkled with a few steep sections. Enjoy!


Workout Wednesday: 10-Minute High Intensity Interval Training

Workout Wednesday | The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr

You don't need any equipment for this 10-minute high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout.

Do the following 11 exercises for 30 seconds each, with a 15-second rest in between each exercise. This will take you 8 minutes.

Throughout each exercise, focus on keeping your transverse abdominis engaged (suck your belly button in), spine elongated, chest lifted, shoulders back, and traps, neck and jaw relaxed.

Warm up for at least 2 minutes before you begin. Here are some ideas:

  • March on the spot alternating between pumping arms, forward-circling arms, and backward-circling arms
  • Free-style dance party to your favourite motivating song
  • Wide side steps with side-to-side swinging arms

And don't forget to stretch! Scroll to the bottom of this page to see a few of my favourite stretches.

1. Jumping jacks

Jumping jacks | The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr

  • Land as softly as possible, absorbing the shock to protect your joints

2. Push ups

Push ups | The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr

  • Whether you're pushing up from your knees or toes, focus on distributing the weight evenly through your palms and fingers
  • Or try these inchworm push ups!

3. Lateral hops

Lateral hops | The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr

  • Pay attention to your foot and ankle position throughout this exercise – land with a strong ankle and engaged foot, weight evenly distributed between the heel, base of the big toe and outside edge of your foot
  • Powerfully swing your arms in the direction of movement to help propel you side to side

4. Triceps dips

Triceps dips | The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr

  • You can do this exercise on the floor or make it more challenging by placing your hands on a secure ledge or chair seat to increase the range of motion
  • Don't let your shoulders creep up toward your ears

5. Squat jumps

Squat jump | The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr

  • Get nice and low, like you're compressing a powerful spring , and use both arms and legs to shoot yourself straight up in the air, as high as you can go
  • Play close attention to your alignment on the descent, landing softly with equal pressure around the periphery of each foot

6. Dynamic lunges

Dynamic lunge | The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr

  • Begin in a lunge position with both knees at 90 degrees and spring straight up into the air, switching legs at your highest point, and landing softly with both feet at the same time

7. Superman

Superman | The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr

  • Start laying flat on your front and push your pelvis into the ground as you slowly lift your upper and lower body up in unison

8. Run with high knees

High knee run | The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr

  • Powerfully drive your opposite hand and knee up into the air as you run on the spot
  • As with each jumping exercise, be sure to land with control, absorbing the shock by landing as softly as possibly and keeping feet and ankles in proper alignment

9. Plank with knee tucks

Plank with knee tuck | The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr

  • Engage every muscle from head to toe, as though you were a rigid board, as you alternate bringing your right knee to your right elbow and your left knee to your left elbow

10. Burpees

Burpees | The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr

  • Begin with knees slightly bent and arms recoiled behind you, and jump straight up into the air as high as you can 
  • Land in a deep squat and immediately place your hands on the ground right in front of your feet
  • Shoot your legs straight back into a plank position
  • Do a push up and at the top of the movement, jump your feet back behind your hands, and jump straight up into the air as high as you can

11. Russian twists

Russian twist | The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr

  • Sit on the ground, lean back slightly, suck your belly button in, contract your rectus abdominis to flex your spine, and lift your feet off the ground
  • Hold this strongly engaged core position as you twist to look over your left shoulder and then over your right shoulder

Workout Wednesday: Yogalosophy

Yogalosophy | The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr

In August, I read celebrity trainer Mandy Ingber’s book, Yogalosophy: 28 Days to the Ultimate Mind-Body Makeover. This is how much I liked it: I bought it after reading my library copy cover to cover.

It's a pretty big deal for a book to make it onto my sacred bookshelf. Only the best get a coveted spot.

The book is full of inspiring quotes and anecdotes, is rooted in self-love, and combines yoga and strength training moves in multiple sequences for an awesome, challenging, energy-enhancing, grace-building workout.

Plus, each chapter ends with an action checklist. I love taking action and I love making checklists! This woman is awesome.

10-minute Yogalosophy Workout

Here’s a fantastic video from PopSugar Fitness – a great resource for workout videos and fitness information – where Ingber (she’s Jennifer Aniston’s trainer! Have you seen Aniston’s body?!) leads a fun but tough little 10-minute workout. Hope you enjoy!

Workout Wednesday: 20-Minute Skip, Strength & Stretch

20-Minute Skip, Strength & Stretch | The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr

Follow these 10 steps for an awesome quickie workout.

You'll need:

  • Jump rope
  • Pair of 2- to 5-pound dumbbells
  • Yoga mat
  • Foam roller

Throughout these exercises, focus on keeping your transverse abdominis engaged (suck your belly button in), spine elongated, chest lifted, shoulders back, and traps, neck and jaw relaxed.

1. Sun salutations – 3 minutes

Sun Salutations | The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr

2. Jump rope – 3 minutes

Jump Rope | The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr

  • Land as softly as possible, absorbing the shock to protect your joints

3. Bodyweight squats – 1 minute

Bodyweight Squat | The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr

  • Inhale as you lower your hips back and down, engaging your glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves for a smooth, controlled decent
  • Keep your knees strong, without wobbling, and equidistant apart
  • Exhale as you raise your hips, squeezing your glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves for a powerful ascent

4. Dumbbell reverse flys – 1 minute

Dumbbell Reverse Flys | The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr

  • Focus on sliding your shoulder blades down your back and squeezing them together
  • Flex your rhomboids (the muscles that move your shoulder blades), and lock your elbows at a slight bend, before you begin to move to help isolate those muscles
  • The movement should come from your back muscles not your arms – keep your arms as relaxed as possible
  • P. S. These flys, done in a squatting position, follow the bodyweight squats on purpose for the added leg work. Enjoy the burn.

5. Inchworm push ups – 1 minute

  • Thanks to Katya Hayes, yoga and CrossFit instructor at Mountain Trek (an incredible hiking and wellness retreat I attended earlier this year near Nelson, BC), for showing me this one!
  • Inchworm push ups are an awesome exercise that’s halfway between a knees-push up and a full-push up

6. Jump rope – 3 minutes

  •  See above

7. Bodyweight squats – 1 minute

  •  See above

8. Dumbbell reverse flys – 1 minute

  •  See above

9. Inchworm push ups – 1 minute

  •  See above

10. Stretch – 5 minutes

These are a few of my favourite stretches that focus on the chest, spine, hip flexors and hamstrings. Add a few of your favourites too, and spend about 45 seconds on each stretch.

Chest & shoulder stretch | Foam Roller | The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr

Chest & shoulders

Chest & abdominal stretch | Foam Roller | The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr

Chest & abdominals

Hip flexor stretch | Foam Roller | The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr

Hip flexors (repeat on each side)

Hamstring stretch | The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr

Hamstrings (repeat on each side)


Workout Wednesday: Ugi

Last January, the lovely Dawn Chubai told me about a new workout called Ugi. I went to investigate for myself and co-founder Sara Shears led me through a workout at her former studio in South Granville, which I wrote about for Read the full story here.

The Ugi at home system – currently on sale for$169, regularly $189 – has quickly become my go-to workout. I love how challenging it is (I call it hysterically hard), varied it is (the DVD and workout book have 5 different workouts), it only takes 30 minutes, and I can do it in my living room or anywhere I can carry the Ugi ball to.

Here are some highlights from the story:

  • Developed by Vancouver celebrity trainer Sara Shears
  • 30 exercises, 30 minutes, and just one piece of equipment – the Ugi ball
  • Barefoot training is encouraged to challenge the underused muscles in the ankles and feet
  • Ugi stands for “you’ve got it!” You’ve got the tools, you’ve got the power, and now you’ve got it, so show it off!
  • The at home system includes a Ugi ball (which comes in six fun colours and 6-, 8-, 10- or 12-pound weights), a DVD with five total body workouts (drawing from 140 exercises), a Ugi workout flipbook with pictures of the exercises, a healthy eating guide, access to Ugi’s online exercise library, and a smartphone app that provides an interval timer for the workouts
  • The initial intention was solely an at-home workout but the concept proved so popular that Ugi has taken off and landed in studios, gyms, bootcamps, schools, and even seniors’ centres around the world

Visit the Ugi Fit website or the Ugi Studio website for more information.