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November 2017

Sara King-Dowling Member of the Month

By | Interesting Articles

Congratulations to Sara King-Dowling, our Member of the Month for November!

Sara joined Momentum in March of 2016 as a kinesiology graduate student who was slightly less inclined to have a gym membership. When she thought about gyms, her mind immediately went to all the gym stereotypes, and she simply wasn’t interested in being part of that culture. “If you could believe it, I think I was one of the only kinesiology students who didn’t have a gym membership.” Sara checked out a few different gyms before joining Momentum, and as soon as she walked in our doors, she knew that this would be the right fit for her. Conveniently, her lab was right across the street from our George Street location and one of her friends was already a member, which solidified her decision to join.

Breaking Down Barriers

A little over six years ago Sara began experiencing severe joint pain. After many years and numerous doctors she was eventually diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS), a type of inflammatory arthritis that attacks her spine and large joints. At this point, she was in so much pain that she could barely walk, let alone run and working out felt impossible because it was just too painful. She was told that her spine was progressively fusing together. Once she started receiving treatment to control the inflammation, she knew that getting and staying active would be the best way to prolong her mobility.

“When you think of arthritis, you expect that moving hurts more. For me, it’s the opposite. The more still I am,the more I seize up. This meant that I had to find a way to stay physically active, and also stay consistent with it. I knew I had to find something that I actually enjoyed.”

Shortly after joining Momentum, Sara started attending our classes on Frid Street and immediately fell in love with them. Now, she crushes at least 3 classes a week and never misses a beat.

“Momentum’s classes really help me because I need something that’s scheduled into my day. After a little while, I started to see familiar faces and then the more people I met, the more I felt like I was part of a community. Now I’ve built relationships with the other members and with Coach Brian. Being with other people I know is enough to make me feel accountable and never miss a class.”

Community Ties

Sara is currently completing her PhD in Kinesiology at McMaster University and has just submitted her thesis on the effects of motor coordination on physical activity and fitness in young children. She was considering moving to the U.S. to complete her post-doc, and as happy as we would have been for her, we were really hoping that she’d stay. “I’ve formed a life here and a community here. Momentum is a huge part of it.” Let’s just say that we lucked out big time that she decided to stay. Sara is an integral part of our community here at Momentum, and we value her friendship and her hard-working, positive energy.

Sara was also in our Climb Club with Coach Darren as well as Coach Jackie’s Breakfast Club on Thursday mornings at 6am. “The Clubs are great because they’re open to anyone – you don’t need to be a member to join. It’s the perfect way to get a taste for Momentum and become part of the community here.”

On top of attending Climb Club, Sara also came to the lululemon Climb at the Chedoke Stairs. She was at the Pop-up Climb for Cancer in October, and is a big supporter of the cause. “I loved doing the million dollar loop at the Pop-up Climb for Cancer. It was really empowering to climb the entire stadium. I think this is going to be the best year so far.”  Let us just say she crushes the stairs, clearly. After listing off everything that she’s involved in with our community, she couldn’t help but laugh. “Yeah, I guess I tend to do the stair climb events.” And if you ever see her flying up and down those stairs, you’ll completely understand why.

All About the Mission

Sara believes in making healthy choices and living an active life as a preventative measure against ailments, but also to combat illness.

“Momentum’s mission of making Hamilton the healthiest city in Canada is amazing. I think they’re doing everything they need to do to make that mission come to life. Momentum has had a huge impact on my life, I’m just really happy to be a part of that mission. It’s been part of the reason why I’ve become more fit, happier and healthier. But it’s the community that really makes the impact. I’ve made friends here, and I’ve been able to impact other people’s lives by integrating them into the Momentum community. That makes it all worth it to me.”

Sara’s biggest goal is to maintain her current level of fitness. Like she mentioned, the more sedentary she is, the worse her condition is. Staying active helps her to stay in remission, so to speak. She’ll do anything she can to stay at this fitness level. “Being part of Momentum and attending the classes has actually made me enjoy the gym – for the first time ever. It’s crazy, but I actually look forward to coming to the gym. And I’m not just saying that!”

Sara was reminiscing about the first few classes she attended, and you could see the nostalgia in her expression. “I couldn’t believe that I was coming to a fitness class and that people were actually welcoming me and taking the time to get to know me. That’s a pretty unique experience and I’ve only ever experienced it at Momentum. It’s one of the best things about it.”

Advice for Others

“My advice for other people is to just try it. You can’t come here with the idea that all gyms are designed the same way, because they’re not. Come here with an open mind, try different things, and just find something that motivates you. You can’t get motivation only from other people – it has to be intrinsic. You need to find what it is that motivates you and then stick with it.”

We’re so fortunate to be part of Sara’s fitness journey, but ultimately, she came to us with the strength – both mentally and physically – to do what she’s doing now. She’s a true testament of how hard work and perseverance can help a person overcome any challenge. She shows us that our only limit is ourselves, and Sara’s future is certainly limitless.

We’re quite honoured that Sara gave Momentum and Coach Brian acknowledgement in her thesis for the impact that he’s had on her life. We wish her all the best in her thesis defense, and can’t wait to see her grow in her career.

Congratulations again, Sara, on being our member of the month! Thank you for sharing your journey and your experience with our community.

9 Healthy Work Habits You Can’t Live Without

By | Interesting Articles

9 Healthy Work Habits You Can’t Live Without

If you want to live a healthy life, your good habits need to follow you to work as well. Whether that’s in the office, on the road or on the job site, these are habits you can’t live without. Despite the office snacks and the after-work happy hours, you likely spend a good chunk of time at work, and the choices you make throughout your workday can affect all areas of your life. From food to movement and mental health to at-home prep, here are the best tips and local resources for maintaining healthy habits at work.


  1. Try a walking meeting to combat afternoon fatigue

Sitting all day is not only unhealthy for you, but it can cause pain in your back, shoulders, hips and neck. To alleviate this issue, encourage your colleagues to lace up their shoes and join you in a walking meeting. Studies have shown that you’re more creative when you’re walking, so if you’re brainstorming a new initiative or trying to solve a problem at work, take a walk.

Now, we understand that not all workplaces are conducive for strolls, so why not get out of the office and head over to the FirstOntario Centre Walk / Run Track? This is a great way to stay out of the cold but still keep that heart pumping and the creative juices flowing! We invite you to join us each week while we’re leading Momentum Mondays from 12:30 – 1:30pm at the FirstOntario Centr Walk / Run Track. We’ll have opportunities for ‘walk and learns’, fitness Q&A’s, prizes and more.

We know that people who fill their morning routines, lunch breaks or happy hours with physical activity tend to be more engaged and energetic on the job than those who stay glued to their chairs. Getting a move on throughout the workday improves overall cardiovascular health, provides a healthy distraction from stressful office situations, and can even enhance workers’ capacity to handle physiological stress.

  1. Sit up straight

The not-so surprising reality is that many of us spend more time with our work computer than with anybody else. This means that you should make sure that you sit the right way during these long hours of friendship. What you need to pay attention to is the position of your neck, elbows, back and knees – they should be straight or at right angles. If you’re finding these areas to cause you pain, there’s probably something wrong with the way you’re sitting. Try adjusting the height of your chair, or add an ergonomic back support.

  1. Take a stand against office norms

Even if you’re just tackling some emails or short to-do lists, spend at least 30 minutes a day standing at your desk. We bet you it’ll boost your energy and be the exact remedy you need to stay focused and on task. Sitting at a desk all day is a thing if the past, but if your office doesn’t have a place where you can work standing up, consider requesting a standing desk.  Alternatively, you can simply just make sure that you’re physically standing up and stretching at least once every hour.

  1. Deskercise!

While you may be an Excel champ by day and fitness junkie by night, recent research suggests that the recommended 30 minutes of cardio five times per week may not undo the health risks of a sedentary lifestyle. Yikes! This means that it’s up to you to add those healthy habits into your workday.

Step Up

First things first: Take. The. Stairs. Avoid the elevator small talk in order to elevate that heart rate! Once you’re feeling comfortable, challenge yourself by stepping two at a time, every other flight, in order to feel the burn.

The Patient Printer

Why lackadaisically stand by the printing pages when you could be sculpting your calves with calf raises? Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, stand on your tippy toes, pause at the top, then lower back down. Repeat 12 times, pause for 20 seconds, then repeat again. Or just go until the printing, faxing, or scanning is done. Ready to level up? Try raising only one leg at a time.

The Seated Leg Raiser

Believe it or not, some deskercises can be kept under wraps. While seated, straighten one leg in the air and hold it for 5-10 seconds. Then switch legs, and repeat for 15 reps. If you’re not feeling the burn, loop a purse or briefcase over your ankle for extra weight.

For more movements that you can do in the office, check out these body weight exercise videos.

  1. Unplug

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, which means that you should unplug, unwind, and de-stress every single day. That means phones, laptops, tablets, smart watches OFF. Unplugging is an important part of your stress recovery, and although we may resist it, we really do need down time after work to mentally recharge for the next day. Not to mention, studies have proven that multitasking doesn’t actually work. Toggling back and forth between emails, spreadsheets, cooking and being with the kids isn’t really an effective way to manage your time. So, unplug in the evening and take the time to do some breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, or even a yoga to truly unplug from the day.

  1. Avoid the office snack tray

Have you ever thought to yourself, “Free office cake makes me crash like a Google Chrome window with too many tabs open”? Yeah, we get that. The alternative? Keep a healthy snack at your desk at all times. Bring a piece of fruit or some cut up veggies from home, or leave dried fruit and nuts in your desk. No matter what you choose, just make sure it’s healthy, and aim for something that isn’t pre-packaged. By planning ahead, you’ll nip those temptations in the bud and find it easier to avoid the sweet, sugary snacks.

  1. H2O is your new bffl

It’s no news to you that water is extremely important to keep our bodies healthy. But did you know that even just mild dehydration can cause fatigue, moodiness and problems focusing? And that coffee actually dehydrates you? All of that sounds like a recipe for disaster at work! Ideally, you should aim to drink about 8 – 10 glasses of water every day (AKA about 2L of water). Start off by sipping on water every 15 – 30 minutes – you can set a timer if you need to. Eventually, you’ll create a habit that you’ll be able to build off of and before you know it, you’ll be drinking 2L of water daily!

  1. Meal prep

Let’s be honest, it’s really hard to make good, healthy choices when you’re hungry or when you’re eating out. So, by packing your lunch and bringing it to work with you, you’ll have better control and actually eat food you like to keep you on track. The most important thing is to make sure that some part of your lunch feels like a treat. Whether you pack your favourite drink, make a new recipe, buy a cute lunch bag or find a new spot to eat, it should always feel like you’re treating yourself.

  1. Talk to management

The easiest way to succeed in wellness at work is to create an office culture of health. Many of our members have formed a committee, set office-wide rules, or asked HR specifically for what they want: healthier snack options, nutrition education, office-wide challenges, or wellness programming. If your work-world is in line with your goals, you won’t be constantly fighting a battle. Not to mention, many workplaces are adding wellness into their mandates – because a healthier team is a happier, more productive team, which is a win-win for everyone!


Good habits are not always so easy to create, as it takes months to introduce a new one, but they do pay off. If you have any questions about creating healthy habits during your own workday or across the office, we invite you to connect with who would be happy to answer any and all of your questions!

5 Tips for Goal Setting

By | Interesting Articles

Focus Your Goals

Almost everyone joins the gym with a specific goal in mind. Whether you want to lose weight, gain muscle, increase endurance, lower blood pressure, or simply become healthier, it’s important to really work out the details of that goal in order to achieve it.

If you set a goal, you have to ask yourself what you’re actually, critically going to do in order to achieve it. Many people come into the gym saying that they want to get stronger, so we follow up by asking them further about how they intend to achieve that goal.

When setting goals, it’s important to think of them in terms of SMART goals. A smart goal can be broken down like this:






Set a Specific Goal

In order to achieve your goal, it should be as specific as possible so that you know exactly what you’re working towards. The goal ‘get stronger’ is too vague when it comes to SMART goal setting. Really, you need to ask what do you want to achieve, and how do you want to achieve it? Why do you want to do it, and how will it benefit you? Once you work out the specifics, you’re on your way to setting your SMART goal!

Make Goals Measurable

If your goal isn’t measurable, you won’t know when you’ve reached it. Whether it’s lifting weights or changing how your clothing fits, setting a measurable goal is an important part of achieving it. In saying this, it’s important to consider what a healthy rate of progress is.

An other benefit to creating measurable goals is that you can give yourself little milestones along the way. By breaking the larger goal into a smaller, weekly goal, it gives you something to work towards and celebrate each week. Not only will this keep you feeling motivated, it will make the larger goal feel even closer in reach.

Be Accountable

Have you ever tried to create a habit, but stopped after a few days? A lot of that has to do with accountability. When you’re only accountable to yourself, it becomes easier to give excuses and let your goals slip. When you’re accountable to an other person or a team of people, it physically alters the way our minds process the work that goes into achieving the goal.

Having a BFF (best fitness friend) or a Personal Coach to be accountable to is a great way to make sure that your commitment level stays strong throughout the entire process. Setting regular workouts, meetings, phone calls or appointments to touch base with that person will be an important part of the process.

Set a Realistic Goal

When setting a realistic goal, you need to ask yourself two series of questions:

1. Ask yourself how committed you really are to achieving this goal. Are you willing to make small sacrifices in order to achieve this goal? Will you go to bed earlier, drink more water, and make other healthy choices in order to meet this goal? Are you willing to stop making excuses and prioritize this goal in your life? Be realistic with yourself.

2. Find out what a healthy, realistic goal is for your age and physical ability. If you aren’t sure, you should consult with your physician or a Personal Coach to help you figure it out. Is increasing your muscle mass by 10% an achievable goal? Absolutely! Is doing it within the next 5 days realistic? Probably not. Try running your goal past a professional who can lend their knowledge and guide you down the right path.

By setting a realistic goal, you’ll feel much more empowered as you come closer to reaching your goal.

Have a Timeframe

Now, this is the real money maker! In order to see success, you need to know the timeframe for your goal. The timeframe gives you a target date to work towards, and helps you breakdown your big goal into mini, weekly goals. The timeframe will help you stay motivated throughout the entire process and will make sure that you keep your eye on the prize.

Now that you have a better understanding of how to set your next goal, get started with this SMART Goal Setting Worksheet.

An example of a SMART goal is:

Exercise with a friend 3 times a week in order to gain 5% muscle mass and feel stronger by March 31, 2017.