Fitness

Daily fitness is important for enjoying a overall healthy lifestyle.

What The Navy SEALs Can Teach You About Yoga

Strong Man Practicing Yoga bend over grabbing toes

The Navy SEALs practice yoga in a very specific way to create balance across their physical, mental, and emotional abilities. So should you.

While the Navy SEALs are some of the toughest, strongest, most resilient people on earth, Clair Diab, a former military yoga instructor notes, “they often need more flexibility and balance”, and due to the high-stress nature of their job, a lot of SEALs constantly battle anxiety, poor sleep, and potentially, PTSD.

Recently, the SEALs incorporated yoga into their training. But not just any yoga—they introduced a highly specialized practice with specific means to a specific end. They found that a sensory-enhanced yoga which includes a unique combination of physical yoga (Hatha), breathing techniques (Pranayama), meditation, and relaxation, not only improves flexibility, posture, and balance, but reduces anxiety, improves sleep, and helps the SEALs feel calmer. Additionally, they brought breathing, meditation, and visualization into combat-conditioning exercises to improve mental balance, focus, and control in all circumstances. Combining the physical prowess of a Navy SEAL with the mental clarity of a monk is a strong recipe for success. But it’s not just any yoga that drives these results, it’s a specific practice or combination of practices that led to their success, and the same should be true for you.

Explore the many varieties of yoga

Think of yoga as a tree. Its roots go back to India some 3,000 years ago when meditating monks noticed how stiff they were getting from sitting for long hours each day (sound familiar?). Observing how flexible the wild and even domestic animals were around them they started incorporating animal-like stretching. Hatha, or physical yoga, was born and became the first root of the tree. Over time, Raja yoga was developed with more of a focus on meditation, Bhakti yoga rested in the emotional and devotional sphere, Jnana yoga anchored in the scriptures and wisdom path, Karma yoga rooted with an emphasis on selfless service, and Tantra brings an esoteric and ritual approach to meeting the Divine in all aspects of life. These forms of yoga became the other roots of the tree.

Over centuries, Hatha yoga has evolved, and now incorporates a lot of the other, less physical, forms, and techniques. For example, Shavasana pose, where you lay on your back at the end of class and attempt to find complete stillness in mind and body, was not originally part of Hatha yoga. Today, this pose is included at the end of almost every yoga class. In the 1950s, Hatha yoga was brought to the west, and it’s evolution accelerated, morphing over the past 70 years into almost as many versions as there are types of fruits.

This evolution provides you an opportunity to do exactly what the Navy SEALs have done, and find or create a unique practice—one that will not only benefit your specific body, but also your specific mind, heart, and soul. Perhaps that is found at one studio, or perhaps you find a combination of two or even three practices that help you strike a balance and take your health to the next level. The teacher will be a key component to your safety, enjoyment, and health benefits, so don’t be afraid to try a few different classes to find a yogic style, and instructor, that is right for you.

Listed below are a few schools to consider as you build a practice that creates balance in your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health:

– Iyengar: fundamental beginners focus on holding and exploring the alignment and basic structures of the poses (asanas), gaining flexibility, balance, natural posture, and inner and physical strength

– Vinyasa: links asanas together with the breath into a gentle flow

– Ashtanga: adds a more athletic approach to the Vinyasa flow

– Bikram: a 105 degree heated room warms the muscles and adds sweating as a detox benefit to the mental and physical stamina gained from holding the same 26 poses each class

– Forrest: one of many ‘hot’ yogas but adds emotional exploration to the physical challenge

– Ishta: a flow sequence with added meditation, breathwork, and Ayurvedic cleansing techniques

– Jivamukti: a physically rigorous and intellectually stimulating focus with chanting, breathwork, and spiritual alignment to ‘non-harming’, supporting veganism and animal rights

– Kundalini: a rigorous collection of asanas, meditations, and intense breathwork designed to awaken ones psychoenergetic force (Kundalini) for spiritual elevation

So, while your local yoga gym may be full of lululemon-laden warriors pumping through a yoga class just to tone and tighten, remember there is a vast world of yoga out there waiting for you. A world that will lead to balanced health across your mind, body, and spirit. Take a step into the unknown and enjoy your exploration.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia and featuring daily sunrise yoga and night-time restorative yoga, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress, anxiety, and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

How To Reset Your Health In 48 Hours

a woman sitting on a hiking trail meditating
While you might be able to buy into the idea that spending an entire week eating healthfully, hiking through lush nature, sleeping well, exercising, and detoxifying will do wonders for your mind and body (what we do here at Mountain Trek on a weekly basis), you might be shocked to hear that with the right strategy and a little bit of motivation, you can make a profound impact on your health in just 48 hours. That means that in just one weekend, you can right the ship, take the reins, and restore the balance of your health. It’s not a walk in the park (well, you actually might take a walk in the park) but your body will thank you for dedicating just one single weekend to it.

We’ve been running our weekend-long Basecamp Retreats in response to COVID, where guests spend one weekend (Friday 4 pm—Sunday 4 pm) following our program and working, virtually, alongside our expert staff, and we have to say—the results have been absolutely amazing. Participants are feeling significantly lighter, recharged, and reset—genuinely excited to be back on the horse and galloping towards a healthier, happier version of themselves. We’ve distilled what happens during this amazing weekend into an easy to follow 4-step guide, so you can reset your health in the span of 48 hours, on your own, and emerge from a healthy weekend feeling like the best version of yourself.

Step 1) Make a bulletproof schedule

The last thing you want to be doing all weekend is constantly trying to decide “what’s next”. This will prevent you from fully sinking into the weekend. Sit down and write your 48-hour schedule on a piece of paper. Make sure to include the following critical elements:

  • Nutrition—eat 6 times per day, starting immediately upon waking, and consume your calories within a 12-hour window. Give your metabolism a break for the other 12 hours (Intermittent Fasting). Eat most of your calories early in the day and then taper off moving towards night-time. Eat organic, plant-based food when available, and avoid processed food, added sugar, and alcohol.
  • Fitness—move your body as much as possible throughout the day. We weren’t designed to sit, so let’s try to do as little of that as possible this weekend. Time your exercise for after your meals, to begin understanding the value of food as fuel, not a coping mechanism. Begin your day with yoga (after a smoothie), then after breakfast do a HIIT or other functional fitness class. After lunch, spend a long time outside in nature, walking for either 40 minutes at a vigorous pace, or 90 minutes at a leisurely rate. Then, following dinner, tackle one more functional fitness class and end your night with restorative yoga.
  • Sleep—after a full day of exercise and eating properly, you have some of the building blocks for great sleep. Go the extra mile to ensure not only enough sleep hours, but enough depth. Take a warm bath with Epsom salts and lavender oil 90 minutes prior to bed, don’t let your phone cross the threshold of your room, ensure your room is the right temperature and is dark, and do a relaxation technique while laying down. Read our full guide to great sleep for more tips.
  • Stress relief/management—make sure to include relaxation time. Mindfulness is a highly potent tool for stress relief. If you already have a practice, carve our a large chunk of time of your weekend to dive deeper than you have in the past. If mindfulness is new to you, take this weekend as an opportunity to dip your toes in. Schedule a couple of 5-10 minute guided meditations sessions, ideally early in the morning and then again before bed.

Creating a schedule can be difficult, so we’re happy to share ours. If you actually want to follow along, all of the recipes and exercises are linked (click the image first), and you can find a shopping list below

Step 2) Prepare for success

Once your schedule is in place, it’s time to commit and get ready to immerse in the weekend. There are three critical components to preparing:

  • Ensure you have the right equipment—for our schedule, you need the following:
    • Kitchen with basic cooking tools
    • Blender
    • Yoga mat
    • Yoga strap (could be a belt or tie, etc.)
    • Firm blanket or pillow (for morning yoga)
    • 3 large firm pillows (e.g. couch cushions—for restorative yoga)
    • Light weights (2-5lbs) or substitute (soup cans or water bottles)
    • Running shoes
    • A chair (used for stability during exercise classes)
    • Water bottle
  • Shop for your ingredients 2-3 days prior to the weekend—view a shopping list for our schedule.
  • Remove as many distractions as possible—carve out this time for you. It’s only 48 hours, so almost everything can wait. Tell your friends, family, and colleagues that you are going to immerse yourself into this experience and request they only call, text or email if it’s an emergency. This will reduce your stress and anxiety. Get baby sitters for the kids if you have them, or make a plan with your partner to watch them for the weekend. Be selfish for just this one weekend.

Step 3) Instill accountability

We’ve talked the talk. It’s time to walk the walk. While investing in an experience like Mountain Trek and spending time with our expert staff, whether that be a full week at the lodge to really dive deep into your health transformation or just a weekend for a quick tune-up, will provide you the accountability you need to succeed, it isn’t always an option. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools and tricks to instill accountability on your own:

  • Form a “tribe”—the best thing you could possibly do is gather a small group of your closest allies and do the healthy weekend reset together. Sharing your experience with others has been proven to dramatically increase your chances of success and will make the experience more memorable and enriching. Create a group text thread dedicated to the weekend and have nightly Zoom calls to touch base and discuss your experience and progress.
  • Share your intentions—if no one is able to join you, share what you are attempting to accomplish with a close friend, family member, or colleague. Detail to them what you are doing the healthy weekend and what you are hoping to accomplish. Ask them to check in with you on Sunday about how it went. Just knowing that someone else is aware of your goals will hold you accountable.
  • Set a reward—completing your healthy weekend reset is a big deal and a positive experience. These accomplishments deserve rewards, not only to keep you working towards the goal, but to create a positive association with accomplishing such endeavors. Write your reward down prior to beginning your weekend and stick it on the fridge as a reminder.

Step 4) Turn healthy actions into habits

Once your 48-hours are up, you need to capture the momentum you worked so hard to create to ensure your health stays pointed in the right direction. A 48-hour reset is not a justification to go binge on bad habits—it is a leveling-up, a beginning of a new chapter, a fresh start. To keep your compass pointed towards your “true north”, we need to cement your new habits so they become part of your lifestyle. Building habits is a skill, and can be tricky at times. At Mountain Trek, we follow a six-step process to build healthy habits—ones that are truly sustainable:

  1. Identify your health and wellness goals—this one is easy. Just write down all of your goals. Try to be as specific as possible, however.
  2. Redesign your goals to optimize for success—make sure your goal is SMART; specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-anchored. Setting a SMART goal immediately doubles your chance of success.
  3. Simplify—pick a maximum of two goals from step 1.
  4. Set a weekly target—start small. Aim for doing your healthy action two, maybe three times each week, then grow from there.
  5. Monitor your progress and adjust if needed—write your goal down in a journal, keep a piece of paper handy with a tally, track it using your online calendar, or, you can use either Mountain Trek’s Health & Habit Building App, which will keep track of your progress for you, or our simple goal tracker. Whatever tool you decide to use, it’s important to monitor your activity, notice when you’re falling behind and congratulate yourself when you are achieving your goals.
  6. Reward your intention—whether you are successful or not, you need to reward yourself for your intention to do your best. Rewards can be small or big, simple or complex.

 

You now have a proven strategy to reset your health in the course of just one weekend. We hope you take the time to invest in your health, you need and deserve it now more than ever. Be compassionate to yourself throughout the process and don’t worry if it doesn’t all go to plan. There will most likely be hiccups along the way. The important part is that you committed to a healthy weekend—to yourself—and you made your best effort.

If the above is daunting to tackle on your own, we would be more than honored to have you join us for our next Basecamp Retreat, where our expert staff will do all of the work listed above for you, so all you need to do is show up and give it your best.

Good luck, stay healthy, and keep moving!


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

Q&A: What is a benchmark workout?

woman running outside with beautiful summer evening in the mountains

Q: What is a benchmark workout and is it important?

A: You’ve probably heard of the term benchmark. Whether it be CrossFit and maintaining a WOD, achieving a lower boy fat percentage on a body composition analysis, or a fitness test compromising of a series of bodyweight exercise repetitions to complete according to age/sex, benchmarks are simply the finish line. Benchmark is a term that factors in measurements regardless of the category. It can range from numbers on the scale, girth of your waist, or repetitions in your bench press.

Most can likely recall physical fitness testing in grade and high school. The 12-minute run, beep test, chin-ups, sit and reach, and body fat % to name a few. These kinds of values can give a starting point and upon working on our fitness level, can retest and compare to test for improvements.

A benchmark is also considered a milestone, synonymous to a goal, the means to the end of the achievement. This is a great way to improve current fitness levels because the body is constantly adapting to new stimuli. What once was difficult, say running a mile, after time becomes an easily achievable parameter. Just don’t set your sights too high from your current level. Be realistic and meet your body where it’s at.

An important factor to consider is your level of fitness. If you have been sedentary (a couch potato, if you will) you can simply set a goal for how many times a week you break a sweat or participate in continuous activity. According to the American Heart Association and American College of Sports Medicine, guidelines recommend that all healthy adults 18-65 engage in either 30 minutes of moderately intense cardio 5 days a week or intense cardio for 20 minutes 3 days a week. So for a beginner, these benchmarks could be a great starting point. At Mountain Trek, we recommend upping that to 40 minutes and shooting for a “perceived rate of exertion” of between 6.5-8.5 out of 10. That means you are exerting between 65% and 85% of your maximum output for 40 minutes straight. This will go beyond just maintaining your cardio health and will give you the opportunity to get to a “fat-flush” state, where you will reduce your body fat percentage.

There are a number of physical factors you can test, mainly: strength, endurance, flexibility, balance, and body composition. Average norms can be found for comparative values. For example, the Mayo Clinic uses the push up for the Muscular Strength and Endurance Test. They also provide “good fitness results” for both men and women according to age. So for a 45-year-old woman, 14 push-ups and 16 for a man would be considered “good muscular strength and endurance”. They also suggest retesting yourself on physical parameters every 6 weeks to check for improvement. Again, at Mountain Trek our goal is to push you past “maintenance” and into “growth” so we can increase muscle mass and help balance hormones, especially as we age, so we might raise the bar on these standards, again.

A franchise that loves their benchmarks WODs (workout of the day) is CrossFit. Named after traditional women’s names such as Fran and Angie, these workouts have very specific parameters and standard units of measurement, so strength and endurance can easily be measured and compared over time. The workouts hold space for improvement from beginner through advanced by adjusting the workout through duration, weight, or reps. Each successive benchmark workout should surpass the last—that is when you know you are making progress.

Elite athletes also use benchmarking as a way to monitor improvement over time. Standards specific to any sport are available at all levels, including World, Olympic and National records that they can use for comparison to train for competitions.

In summary, a benchmark is a standard exercise that you repeat in order to measure progress. Benchmark workouts should be very personal, and regardless of the category of fitness you fall under, it’s all about setting both short-term and long-term goals and reaching them all in the name of health and fitness progress. Whatever the goal, it should be relatable to your life and needs, whether it be being able to pick up the grandkids or benchpress 250 lbs. To learn how to set a good goal, read our article, How to Build Healthy Habits in 6 Steps.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

Struggling With Your Fitness + Nutrition Regimen? Ask Yourself These 6 Questions.

Oftentimes conversations about health focus solely on physical needs, but in order to achieve true vitality, we must look beyond the basics of water, food, shelter, and sleep. Humans have mental needs (creativity, learning, meditation), emotional needs (relationship, sharing of feelings, feelings of belonging), and spiritual needs (need for inspiration, contemplation, beauty, and context). Checking in with the self to gauge whether your emotional, mental and spiritual needs are being met is a crucial step in achieving total wellness.

Without a solid emotional, mental and spiritual foundation, even the best, most well-organized nutritional and fitness regimens can become totally ineffective. If emotional, mental and spiritual needs are not being met, you’ll feel stress and a lowering of willpower. Anyone that struggles with emotional eating can attest to that!

If you have a stressful job and like to unwind with a glass (or three) of wine each night, you might be negatively impacting healthy sleep and healthy weight. However, if the mental and emotional stress of your job doesn’t change, how can you expect this pattern to? Often, people are too hard on themselves, and understand their coping mechanisms as failures. All humans use coping mechanisms to deal with stress. Getting to the source of those stressors is the key to unlocking true vitality.

If you’ve been struggling with “staying on track,” ask yourself the following questions.

Mental Health
Do you have a creative outlet of focus that brings joy to your daily work?
Are your ideas and talents welcome in your line of work?

Emotional Needs
Do you have people in your life with whom you feel close enough to share your dearest hopes and fears?
Human contact is incredibly important to wellbeing — are you getting touched, whether through intimacy or massage?

Spiritual Wellbeing
Do you set aside time regularly for solitude and contemplation?
Does your daily life contribute to a larger vision you have for your life?

If you want true change and balanced health and the journey towards transformation, it starts with this self-reflection. If you answered “no” to any of the above questions, take 20 minutes to journal about what you could do to create more time for yourself. Could you benefit from going to a painting or dance class? Taking more time to connect with loved ones? Thinking carefully about whether your work aligns with your personal values? If you want true change and transformation, begin this journey of introspection and self-reflection.

Much of Western culture teaches us that tending to the self shouldn’t be our priority. However, when we honor our own mental, emotional and spiritual needs, we unlock access to our wisest, truest selves. This self-acceptance and self-love is the most solid foundation available to us for a lifetime of health and wellbeing.

Time for a more immersive return to the self? Join us in gorgeous, vibrant fall for some of the best foliage views in the world at our health, wellness and stress retreat. Click here for rates and dates and to plan your trip!

Our Favorite Bodyweight Exercises

As we all experience, it’s a difficult task to prioritize time for exercise and maintain fitness. Between work responsibilities, balancing home life, children and travel, it’s easy to de-prioritize exercise. And when people do think about exercise, it’s often cardio. To be sure, cardio is an efficient calorie burner. However, don’t forget stretching and support body strength. Many people are intimidated by free weights at the gym, but exercising needn’t always take place there! Here are some of our favorite exercises that you can complete almost anywhere — at home or on the road.

  1. Plank

This classic bodyweight exercise strengthens your abdominals and your pelvic floor. Your body’s core is the foundation of a person’s strength: your core muscles support your spine and pelvis and are crucial for balance.

Start on your hands and knees on the floor in a neutral spine position. Lower to your forearms, shoulder-width apart, and make sure your elbows are directly under your shoulders. Step your feet back, one at a time, so that you’re on your toes and from heel to neck, you form a straight line. Make sure you keep your hips high. Squeeze your abs and hold the position for as long as you can before your form breaks.

Plank

  1. Traditional Squat

Strength training builds the muscles we need to burn calories and also helps counteract osteoporosis and the effects of a catabolic (or decay) metabolism. The glutes are the largest and most powerful muscle system in the body! The traditional, unweighted squat is an excellent strength challenge for the glutes, quads and hamstrings — it even strengthens your lower back and abdominals. As such, it’s an incredibly efficient body weight workout.

Stand with your feet a hip’s width apart, with your toes facing forward. Relax your shoulders away from your ears and hold your arms by your sides. Then, lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor, almost like you’re sitting down into a chair. Keep your chest high and your weight in your heels (not your toes!). Slowly raise yourself to standing. Make sure your pelvis is tilted forward to keep any strain off your lower back.

Challenging yourself? Try jump squats — squat deep, and on your way back up thrust yourself into the air, pointing your toes.

  1. Standing Hip Stretch

Flexibility is so important, especially as one ages. If we don’t continue to lengthen our muscles, we’ll end up with less range of motion. Stretching should occur right when you wake up, intermittently throughout the day, before and after workouts, and just before bed — even if just for 5 minutes. When stretching, be mindful, focusing on the muscle you’re working. Relax with each exhalation, and don’t push too hard — this risks overextension. Ride the line of challenging yourself without putting yourself in pain.

One of our favorite stretches can be done anywhere, even at your desk! Find a desk or table that is hip height. With hands firmly placed on the desk and your feet a hip-width apart, walk your feet back, creating a 90-degree angle in the body. Extend your sitting bones back, opening the armpit area and lengthening the spine. Take three big, deep breaths, and slowly walk yourself back to standing position. This stretch counteracts the rounding of the back that occurs while sitting at a desk.

 

If you have any injuries, please consult with your physician before incorporating these bodyweight exercises into your fitness regimen! Download our app for more fitness videos and tips from our Fitness Director Cathy Grierson.

 

 

Jenn’s Favorite Pre- and Post-Workout Snacks

1970

We know how critical what we eat is in energy management: Making sure to plan snacks well will make sure you’re properly fueling your body and optimizing your nutrient intake! One of the questions we most often hear is when and how to snack, especially before and after workouts. Our head of nutrition, Jennifer Keirstead, offers some tips below for making the most of your workouts with strategically timed snacking.

Pre-Workout: Fruit + Protein Source

Says Jenn:Pairing a piece of fruit with a protein source is a fantastic pre-work snack. The sugars in the fruits act as a quick energy source, and since protein digests a little slower, combining these two helps stabilize blood sugar levels — this supports longing lasting energy (for example, an apple with almonds). Or try a homemade Coconut Apricot Bliss Ball — recipe below!

Do your best to consume a small snack within an hour pre-workout — this way you’ll be sure to have quick energy available to burn.”

Post-Workout: Fruit or Vegetable + Protein Source

Post-workout snack is similar to the pre-work snack. Either a fruit or veggie, paired with a source of protein. An excellent example would be a sugar snap peas with a hard-boiled egg.

A smoothie is another great option for post-workout — try mixed berries with cashew butter. Eating every 3-4 hours will support energy not just for exercise, but for sustaining energy levels throughout the day.” Click here to learn more about our approach to nutrition.

Coconut Apricot Bliss Balls

This protein-packed and calorie-conscious snack is great for pre- or post-workout fuel, and is the perfect replacement for highly processed, sugary “energy bars.”

Ingredients 

1/4 cup almond butter

2 tbsp hemp seed butter

1 cup chopped dried apricots

2 tbsp dried cranberries

½ tsp (scant) powdered ginger

1 pinch cardamon

1 pinch sea salt

1 zest small orange

Orange juice, to moisten

Directions

Using food processor, chop nuts and apricots finely. Add butters and remaining ingredients. Form into balls with small scoop and refrigerate or freeze.

Craving more nutrient-packed spa cuisine? Download the Mountain Trek Health Guide In Your Pocket App for a full library of amazing recipes — as well as help sustaining healthful habits and some of our favorite, high-impact workouts.

 

Engaging Your Core For Fitness

Engaging your Core

As the name suggests, our core is integral to every movement we make. It's a complex series of muscles that extend well beyond your abs and include everything except for your arms and legs.

In this article, and in the video below, Mountain Trek's fitness director Cathy Grierson talks about how to engage your core for whatever it is you're doing, whether you're walking, working out at the gym or even just sitting at your office desk. This information goes hand-in-hand with our other article called "Cathy's Core Workout," which describes how to strengthen your core muscles. (You can see all of Cathy's videos and more by downloading our Health Guide in Your Pocket app.)

Before we begin, however, let's look at what exactly the core muscles are. Most of us believe they're the six-pack abs you'll find on male underwear models but that's the the case at all. Your core extends far beyond your abdomen and include two types of muscles: stabilizers and movers. To give you a sense of just how important they are: our stablizer and mover core muscles are integral to almost every movement of the human body! Many of the muscles that make up our core are hidden beneath the exterior musculature of our bodies and include the multifidus, transverse abdominals, diaphragm and the pelvic floor among others.

In this video Cathy explains how to engage your core, our stabilizer muscles no matter what activity you're involved in by using a sequence called "The Wave." 

Whether you're an athlete or someone who's interested in getting back in shape and engaging those core muscles again, we recommend you book Mountain Trek and enjoy Cathy's fitness direction in person as well as all the amenities our all-inclusive resort offers: complimentary massages, delicious boutique spa cuisine, natural hot springs, infrared sauna, outdoor hot tub and cold plunge pool, plus a luxurious lodge in a natural setting far away from urban stressors.

You're also guaranteed to reach your fitness goals with our program that's tailored to each individual. You can keep to your own pace but we'll make sure you get results. We hope to see you soon!

Staff Picks – Best Workout Music

Mountain Trek's Staff Workout Songs

It's no secret that music has a massive effect on our mood. If you're feeling low, an upbeat song can lift you right up. Or if you're feeling stressed, a relaxing tune can help soothe the soul. By coordinating the music you’re listening to with the mood you’d like to be in, you can train your brain to engage in positive vibes.

To that end, we asked the staff at Mountain Trek what kind of music they like to listen to when exercising. We all know it can be challenging to get up off the couch sometimes and what can help the process is cranking some tunes to get you motivated.

Here are our staff's picks for best workout music:

Jennifer Keirstead – Nutritionist and Guide Jennifer Keirstead, Nutritionist at Mountain Trek

"These are the songs I like to play when I wanted to get pumped up! LOL. That said, I know everyone's taste in music is different but I think a lot of people will agree these songs definitely inspire you to move around."

  1. "Sinnerman" – Felix da Housecat Mix feat. Nina Simone
  2. "A Song for Our Grandfathers" – Future Islands
  3. "Every Other Freckle" – Alt-J
  4. "Is This It" – Asaf Avidan **Kulkid Remix
  5. "I Don't Feel Like Dancing" – Scissor Sisters

Cathy Grierson – Head Guide & Fitness Director Guides, Chefs & Staff

"I like listening to music when I work out in the gym but it's a good idea to remind everyone to take the headphones off when hiking in nature so as to enjoy the sounds around you. Here are the songs I love best to workout to when indoors:"

  1. "In2ition and misirlou" – 2 Cellos 
  2. "Jai ho" – Mumbai Dolls
  3. "Running down a dream" – Tom Petty
  4. "Runaway" – Ed Sheehan

Kirkland Shave – Program Director & Lead Guide Guides, Chefs & Staff

"These are the songs that pump me up!"

  1. "Pump It Up" – Elvis Costello & The Attractions
  2. "Chuis Bo" – PZK (feat. Dogg Soso)
  3. "Jump In the Line" – Harry Belafonte
  4. "Pipeline" – The Piperiders
  5. "Eternal (Jusqu'au matin)" – Le Weekend
  6. "Gumboots" – Paul Simon (with The Boyoyo Boys)
  7. "Mr. Saxobeat" – Alexandra Stan
  8. "Whip It" – Devo
  9. "Mambo Con Dancehall" – Brooklyn Funk Essentials
  10. "Sweet and Dandy" – Toots & The Maytals

Krista Van Ee – Hiking Guide Guides, Chefs & Staff

"These are the songs I like to listen to when running or working out":

  1. "I've Got Your Fire" – Jenn Grant
  2. "Happy" – Pharrell Williams
  3. "Disperate Youth" – Santigold
  4. "Beings" – Madeon
  5. "Kamikaze" – MO
  6. "Famous" – Charli xcx

Simon Shave – Sleep Specialist & Hiking Guide Guides, Chefs & Staff

"There are so many songs out there that get me moving but these are definitely my top five favourites right now."

  1. "Move On Up" – Curtis Mayfield
  2. "Behind the Mask" – Micheal Jackson 
  3. "Lose Yourself to Dance" – Daft Punk
  4. "Runnin' (Bit Funk Remix)" – The Pharcyde 
  5. "Todd Terje" – Inspector Norse

And in case you want to have a listen for yourself. We put all these great songs into one easy playlist to help fuel your next workout.

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Back pain? Read This Before Getting A Back Brace

Suffering from back pain?

Recently our fitness director Cathy Grierson was asked by a guest who suffers lower backpain whether he should get a back brace for his workouts. Cathy has been asked this question before and she's certain seen her share of people in the gym wearing them. However, a back brace may be doing them more harm than good. Here is her response to whether you should wear a back brace or not.

Nearly 80% of North Americans will suffer back pain at some point in their lives. For many, the injury is triggered by a strenuous activity, like gardening or weight lifting. Others simply bend down to pick up a pencil and their back gives out.

Although the pain may have started after gardening or a long workout at the gym, the strain that caused it has likely been building for years as most people have weak core stability muscles, leading to poor posture when going about their daily activities, putting unnecessary strain on their backs. You can increase the pressure on your back by 50% simply by leaning over the sink incorrectly to brush your teeth. Keeping the right amount of curvature in the back by having strong core muscles takes pressure off the nerves and will reduce back pain.

At Mountain Trek, the guides and fitness staff are constantly encouraging Trekkers to have good form and to “engage their core”; to protect their backs, maintain balance and increase power. Check out the guide section of this APP to view the video “engaged core” that explains how to engage and strengthen your core.

As to a brace, if you wear one the muscles which should be providing stability, weaken and you will have less core strength, so I don’t recommend them. Having said that if you have a back injury that your Doctor, Physical therapist or health care professional has recommend you wear while you heal then it’s best to follow their instructions which usually includes using sparingly and for only short periods so your muscles don’t weaken and you become dependent upon it.

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