Tosca's Tips for Summer Workouts

Posted on July 13 2016

By: Tosca Reno, for Miik

Maintaining your dream gym body while on vacation is a possibility, despite numerous lakeside beers paired with even more numerous potato chips. No gym equipment required!

I am putting this theory to the test, fully and completely, while vacationing at my brother’s cottage in Ompah, Ontario. The goal? To improve my freestyle swim, perform the Tabatas my personal trainer has prepped for me on the regs, and to make the boat-access-only rocky island location work for me as my gym-away-from-home.

The pristine freshwater lake itself, where the rugged cottage is situated, provides the perfect place to practice my freestyle stroke and improve my cardiovascular endurance. Swimming is one of the most demanding sports one can do. There are ideal smaller islands to swim to from the cottage, giving me the opportunity to mark off a manageable distance and head out. I use open water swim safety gear—a brightly coloured balloon-type device attached to my waist—to provide safety and visibility while in the water. I also wear a neon swim cap. The more boaters can see me, the better! When possible, I coerce my nieces and nephews to paddle alongside me, or swim with my much faster brother who is preparing for an Iron Man. I do not try to keep up with him!!

The island upon which this cottage sits is essentially an enormous hunk of granite, deposited here by the great glaciers that scraped clear the Canadian Shield, in the geographical area called the Eastern Great Lakes Lowland Forests. I can sprint from the dock up to the top, about 50 metres, shuffle down and make a figure 8 several times, testing my hill climbing ability and my heart/lung engine. It’s better to do sprints up, down and around to get the maximum effect. Once I have exhausted myself there, I plunge into the lake for a cool down. 

When I want to mix it up, I work on the Tabatas provided by my personal trainer, Sue McHardy. Owner of Sue’s Ignite Fitness in Caledon, Sue’s philosophy is very much based in short, explosive bursts of training. Using anything from bender and fit balls to weights, boxes, TRX and more, Sue helps me dig for the maximum performance I can deliver. When we have tired out one body part, she moves quickly to another to begin its exhausting work. Then we circle around for more. Every second she calls out “belly button, butt, squeeze, breathe!” her verbal reminders of what my body should be doing throughout the workout. I leave her studio disheveled and saturated with sweat every time, but completely satisfied with my effort. 

On the island, I will endeavour to continue the hard work we have started, doing Jax (Sue’s words), weighted burpees, mountain climbers, her special mix of ab pain (well, ok, it’s pain but I love the result) and more. It is refreshing to take my workout outside, feeling the fresh lake winds grazing my skin as I train. The pungent fragrance of cedar and spruce, the call of the loon and the warmth of vitamin-D-inducing sun upon my skin make my vacation workout feel like heaven!

Later, when the beer comes out, I won’t feel bad about enjoying it. I know I have kept myself fit and fine in the sunshine!

Keep yourself in shape throughout the summer months by following my 8 tips:

  1. Take your workout outside, rain or shine.
  2. Use the terrain of your vacation destination to create a new workout space for yourself.
  3. Hydrate correctly—water is North America’s #1 nutritional deficiency.
  4. Mix up cardio with intervals, sprints, weights, Tabatas and your own personal preference of physical pursuits.
  5. Eat Clean after your vacation workout, refuelling on clean protein, healthy fat and plenty of complex carbs.
  6. Grab a friend or family member to enjoy the work out with you. Chances are, they just need to be invited.
  7. Practice safety in your new locale. Plan routes that are safe and known to others, letting them know if you are going on a long run or otherwise. Wear bright colours, carry your cell phone (if you are in a zone that carries a signal) and leave a note stating where you are going and when you are planning to return.
  8. Breathe, enjoy and make the most of your physical self. You will feel so good in your own skin; it will remind you of the joy of physical wellness.

Happy and safe summering everyone!
I am always listening,


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