Exercise is for Everyone! Get Moving Today!


When you are starting anything new in life we understand that it can be intimidating and confusing at the same time. This applies to starting a new exercise routine but shouldn’t discourage you or prevent you from starting. Below is an article that Flex Fitness personal training is featured in, written by Winnipeg Free Press reporter Declan Schroeder. The article highlights that exercise is for everyone and what the benefits of having a personal trainer are. Book your consultation today and we can help you overcome the obstacles that have prevented you from success in the past.

Personal trainer Alistair Hopper says fitness goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and have a time frame.

2019 is here and the pants are a little tighter. Keeping those healthy resolutions will require discipline and commitment, experts say. Here’s to a...

‘NEW year, new me,” is the mantra of many at this

time of year.

Making a vow of self-improvement

— a New Year’s resolution — is a common thing to do as the calendar flips to a fresh year.

Some of the most common and popular goals are to lose weight, exercise more, and eat better.

Not surprising when people real ize their festive feasting and Christmas cookie consumption have left their sweaters fitting snugger and the numbers on their scales soaring ever higher.

The path to healthy living can be steep, arduous, confusing, and too much for many who dare to travel it’s winding roads.

Thankfully, the path does not have to be travelled alone. Throughout Winnipeg, there are many who have the expertise and training to help people achieve their goals; Sherpas who lead people from the base camp of bad habits to the summit of svelteness.

Alistair Hopper, a personal trainer who’s been helping people slim down and bulk up for 15 years, is one of them.

A muscular man whose dedication to his body is evident at first glance, Hopper owns and operates Flex Fitness, a modestly sized but well equipped Sargent Avenue fitness studio.

The first thing a beginner should do before embarking on a fitness journey is consult with a professional, Hopper says.

“The professional” is going to get them on the right program, keep them accountable — accountability is number one.”

“The number one reason people don’t exercise is time,” Hopper says. “That’s why a personal trainer is great, because (they will) hold that person accountable for that time... they have that onus to me, right? I’m messaging them ‘Hey, where are you?’ and working with them on their diet. We will basically cater to what their needs are.”

In addition to in-studio training, Hopper and fellow trainer Jessi Montgomery offer in-home sessions.

“If I’ve only got half an hour, but I can have someone come to my home, it’s extremely convenient,” Hopper says, noting there’s a lot of exercises that can be done with little equipment in a six-by-10-foot space.

Having someone literally knocking on the door also cuts down on people’s propensity to make excuses to bail on their workout, Hopper says.

Many people abandon their health resolutions because they take on too much all at once instead of setting realistic, sustainable goals, Hopper says. This causes them to burn out quickly. “Think small goals,” Hopper says. “The small goals will take care of the bigger goals.”

“When I meet with people I use the acronym SMART,” he explains. “We want our goals to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and have a time frame. Realistic to me is the biggest one.”

Hopper recommends beginning with one or two workouts per week, then increasing the number gradually.

“If you’re starting from zero, it’s not realistic to go with six times a week.”

Hopper says being consistent and having discipline — rather than motivation — is key, as motivation wears off quickly.

“Motivation is great. You can have all the motivation in the world. “I wanna be a millionaire. I want a six- pack,” he says. “But you gotta put that work in, right? Having the commitment, the consistency, the discipline to stick with it over the long haul is something not everyone can handle. “Discipline is a tough one and it’s not easily attained, but with the help of a professional, or even a friend or a workout buddy, you can help motivate each other to be disciplined.”

Hopper works with people of all experience levels, from fitness competitors to first time gym goers, from young athletes to seniors.

Dale Bially has been training with Hopper for 15 years. He says Hopper has helped him understand his body, develop discipline, and reach his goals.

“He was always available for that extra push when I was not motivated and my goals were always front and centre when we worked out,” Bially says.

Bially lost 20 pounds of fat and put on eight pounds of muscle in his first year training with Hopper.

“He keeps abreast of fitness and nutritional trends and has learned what motivates me to meet my goals,” Bially says.

As important as exercise is in becoming healthier, eating right is even more important. Hopper regards diet as “50, 60, 70 per cent of what your goals are,” whether it’s fat loss or muscle gain.

“If you’re only working out once or twice a week and eating like a fool, you’re not going to get the results you want... (diet) is a huge part,” he says. “You can’t outrun that fork.”

Registered dietitians like Susan Watson, owner of A Little Nutrition — whose staff provide nutrition coaching and counselling — can provide expert advice on eating in a balanced way.

“Exercise is definitely important for part of wellness, but when it comes to managing your health and nutrition and feeling fuelled and energized, what you’re putting in your body is very important as well,” Watson says.

“We want to eat things that are good for us in the long term, not just for... looking good on the beach or building muscle”, Hopper says. I want my clients to be doing the same things they’re doing today twenty years from now. Quality of life in the long term.”

One of the first thing Watson gets new clients to do is start a “food and mood” journal — simply a record of what they eat — so they become aware of their choices and what they eat regularly.

“A lot of time some people reflect back on a food journal and don’t real- ize that they’re having five cans of Coke a week,” she says.

Keeping such a log can help people determine what they can cut down or swap out for a healthier choice, and get them more attuned to the satisfaction of eating healthier foods. Another key to healthier eating is meal prepping — cooking and freezing healthy meals in advance — so that when life gets hectic, one isn’t reliant on restaurant meals or convenience foods.

“We want to get (clients) back in the kitchen, eating whole foods first,” Watson says.

Lean meats and fresh produce can often be expensive compared to fast food or prepackaged snacks, but Watson has a number of tips for eating well on a limited budget.

She recommends buying frozen vegetables, especially during winter, and canned proteins — such as beans and lentils — to add convenience and reduce waste.

“They’re washed and chopped and ready to go!” she says.

Like Hopper, Watson recommends breaking down “big, lofty” goals into smaller, more attainable ones.

People “are often focused on the end goal, the big picture, final outcome,” Watson says, but don’t actually know how to start building better habits. “They’re optimizing for the finish line versus the starting line.”

For example, simply vowing to start prepping meals is not a good starting point.

“If you don’t even have containers to portion out your food into, or even a lunch bag to take your lunch to work, that’s going to ultimately be a good place to get started,” she says.

Watson teaches clients to be permissive — rather than restrictive — with their food choices. When people start designating their food choices as “good” or “bad” or completely banish them from their diets, it actually makes those foods more tempting, she says.

“Eating shouldn’t be a moral decision,” she says, calling many people’s relationships with food “distorted.” “You should be able to have some Doritos or a doughnut and not be a bad person,” she says. “You didn’t commit a crime.”

Watson says allowing for the occasional indulgence can help people learn to be satisfied with a small portion of a less healthy option and avoid bingeing.

Hopper agrees there’s nothing wrong with an occasional treat.

“If 80 per cent of the time you can eat healthfully, you can exercise regularly, then still go enjoy vacations,” he says. “Still go enjoy a pizza on the weekends.”

Another thing Hopper and Watson agree on is it’s never too late to get healthy.

“Fitness is for everyone,” Hopper says. “And it should be, because it’s good for you — mentally, spiritually, physically, and emotionally.”

Follow the link here to view the article through the Winnipeg Free Press website:


Written by: Declan Schroeder

Photo Credit: Phil Hossack