Choose Healthy Fats

Unsaturated fats may help reduce inflammation and provide calories.

While fat is a primary fuel for aerobic exercise, we have plenty stored in the body to fuel even the longest workouts. However, getting healthy unsaturated fats helps to provide essential fatty acids and calories to keep you moving.

Healthy options include:

  • nuts
  • seeds
  • avocados
  • olives
  • oils, such as olive oil

Fuel up before exercise

When it comes to fueling up before or after a workout, it’s important to achieve the right balance of carbs and protein. Pre-workout snacks that combine carbohydrates with protein can make you feel more energized than junk foods made from simple sugars and lots of fat.

Consider stocking your workout bag and refrigerator with some of these simple snacks:


Bananas are full of potassium and magnesium, which are important nutrients to get on a daily basis. Eating a banana can help replenish these minerals while providing natural sugars to fuel your workout. For added protein, enjoy your banana with a serving of peanut butter.

Berries, grapes, and oranges

These fruits are all full of vitamins, minerals, and water. They’re easy on your intestines, give you a quick boost of energy, and help you stay hydrated. Consider pairing them with a serving of yogurt for protein.


Nuts are a great source of heart-healthy fats and also provide protein and essential nutrients. They can give you a source of sustained energy for your workout.

Pair them with fresh or dried fruit for a healthy dose of carbohydrates. However, test these options to see how they settle. High-fat foods can slow digestion, and they may make food sit in your stomach too long if your workout is coming up quickly.

Nut butter

Many grocery stores carry single-serving packets of peanut butter that don’t require refrigeration and can be easily stored in a gym bag. For a tasty protein-carbohydrate combo, you can spread peanut butter on:

  • an apple
  • a banana
  • whole-grain crackers
  • a slice of whole-grain bread

If you don’t like peanut butter, try almond butter, soy butter, or other protein-rich alternatives.

Don’t cut too many calories

If you’re trying to lose weight or tone your body, you may be tempted to cut a ton of calories from your meals. Cutting calories is a key part of weight loss, but it’s possible to go too far.

Weight loss diets should never leave you feeling exhausted or ill. Those are signs that you’re not getting the calories you need for good health and fitness.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood InstituteTrusted Source, a diet containing 1,200 to 1,500 daily calories is suitable for most women who are trying to lose weight safely. A diet with 1,500 to 1,800 daily calories is appropriate for most men who are trying to shed excess pounds.

If you’re very active or you don’t want to lose weight while getting fit, you may need to eat more calories. Talk to your doctor or a dietitian to learn how many calories you need to support your lifestyle and fitness goals.

Balance is key

As you settle into an active lifestyle, you’ll probably discover which foods give you the most energy and which have negative effects. The key is learning to listen to your body and balancing what feels right with what’s good for you.

Follow these tips:

  • Aim to make breakfast a part of your routine.
  • Choose complex carbohydrates, lean protein sources, healthy fats, and a wide variety of fruits and veggies.
  • Stock your fridge and gym bag with healthy workout snacks.

The right balance of carbohydrates, protein, and other nutrients can help fuel your exercise routine.


Breaking the fast. (2011).

Healthy eating plan. (n.d.).

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017). Carbohydrates: How carbs fit into a healthy diet.

Pendick D. (2018). How much protein do you need every day?

What is MyPlate? (2018).

What are red blood cells? (n.d.).

10 things pole dancing can do for you

Pole-dancing does more than just boost one’s self-confidence.

There are a range of health and fitness benefits linked to this type of dance, and shaping your figure is just one of them!

Pole dancing is one of those activities that targets your entire body but also happens to be good for the mind and soul. And as it becomes more mainstream, we take a look at the benefits pole dancing can have as a fitness regime and sport.

1. Core workout

“Pole is a fantastic core work out. You won’t ever have to do sit ups or crunches again, and with time, that six pack will be yours. As someone who did weights at gym religiously four to five times a week before I started pole I can confidently say that no amount of gym gave me the same toned body that pole does”, says Joanna Pawelczyk.

2. Cardio

At first glance, most people won’t consider pole dancing to get their heart rates up, but this is where they’re wrong because “cardiovascular activity is a key element to pole dancing routines. It can be quite an exhausting workout as you’re doing lots of hectic strength moves in a row for three to four minutes. It’s amazing for your body.

“If you want to whip yourself into shape just work on a routine for three months! That’s where competing is good because it gives you a solid reason to work hard”, Joanna advises.

“When training for a competition or show, running a four to five minute routine provides a great anaerobic cardio burst. Depending on one’s fitness levels, and the routine, a pole workout can easily provide you with the peak heart rate bursts you need for cardio health”, agrees Tarryn Knight.

“There’s nothing like doing a pole routine to get the heart racing. It’s not all just strength training, you build up a sweat very quickly if you keep moving around and on your pole”, says Sherry Bremner.

3. Tone up and lose weight

If a strong core and cardio workout is not enough to convince you then perhaps toning might.

Joanna explains that “pole fitness is a very upper body intensive sport so your arms, shoulders and abs will be the first to tone up.

“You won’t ever get huge or bulky though as you’re always working with your natural body weight. Your pectoral (chest) muscles develop with pole which is the same effect as doing lots of push ups, just not nearly as boring, and you won’t need a wonder bra for that extra lift”

She says that certain poses in pole work the inner thighs and quads as well but the real leg work out comes from doing dynamic stretching exercises, which not only works your butt fantastically but makes you more flexible at the same time.

With regard to dropping some kilos, Joanna says that pole fitness “can definitely help with weight loss as well but like any other form of exercise it’s not going to make you shed weight if you only do it once a week. I recommend three to four times a week minimum, and naturally, a healthy balanced diet.”

“Whilst I have always been blessed with an athletic physique, I can certainly confirm that my muscle definition is much more pronounced when I’ve been training. I’ve seen my pole fitness friends develop defined abdominals, biceps and triceps. Even the conditioning exercises that we do off the pole are a very good workout for all areas of the body”, confirms Tarryn.

4. Strengthen your back

In addition this, “pole fitness moves will develop your back muscles to be very strong. This, combined with a strong core, means reduced injuries from everyday life. You won’t need a man to carry your groceries or move your couch – you can do it yourself!” says Joanna.

5. A healthy metabolism

“My pole friends swear that they burn food more quickly when they are training for a show or competition. Since one of our pole friends owns a bakery, an increased metabolism is a welcome side-effect because we always have her delicious cupcakes backstage!” confesses Tarryn.

She says that pole fitness has given her ‘hobbit eating habits’, especially when she is training extra hard. “I eat breakfast and second breakfast, a pre-lunch snack, lunch, a pre-tea time snack, tea, my 4 o’ clock snack, pre-dinner and then dinner. Sometimes I have an after dinner snack if I am still awake working.”

The pole athletes eat regular meals but try to keep it healthy, with lots of fruits and vegetables and proteins.

6. Coordination and balance

Pole fitness also requires an incredible amount of coordination and balance. Learning to control spins, turns and pivots will strengthen muscles throughout your body.

“Back and core strength are required for pole fitness and these same ingredients enable good posture. Good posture is important for optimal lung functioning, healthy digestion, a healthy spine and an alert, engaged mind”, says Tarryn.

7. Flexibility

Because Twirling yourself around a pole involves quite a bit of stretching, your flexibility will also reap the benefits.

Tarryn explains that flexibility is so important in aerial arts because there is often nothing off of which to leverage. Leg extensions, aerial splits, back bends. . . all pole poses and moves have to be performed with a person’s own ability to create the shape without any leverage or assistance.

She reminds us that flexibility has undisputed benefits for injury prevention, recovery, general muscle and joint health.

8. Body confidence

In addition to all of these fitness benefits, Joanna says that “pole fitness also gives you a sense of confidence, independence, sexiness and strength that no other sport can do. It isn’t just amazing for your outer body but for your inner self too.”

It has helped Joanna and many other women with “body acceptance”, she explains:

“When I first started pole I was horrified at the thought of having to wear shorts in public, being exceptionally shy about my legs and my pale skin. It was less than two weeks of classes before I owned my first pair of pole shorts and would happily walk about the studio in them. I very quickly realised that no one in a pole class judges you! Everyone is there to learn and be challenged and it unites you in a common cause. You learn to accept your body for what it is and turn your focus away from appearance and on to achieving that new pole trick you saw on Instagram. It’s incredibly liberating. Of course, being such a great form of exercise, you start feeling stronger and more confident, and suddenly can’t understand why none of your jackets fit anymore”, says Sherry.

9. Endurance

“Pole, and the expression of dance, is so much fun that it’s easy to lose track of time. When you don’t realize how long you’ve been training for, your endurance increases with little effort. It’s also possible to become so distracted by the determination to get a new move that one doesn’t realise how much muscle power they are using. It’s only the next day or two when your body feels stiff that you become aware of the good workout pole fitness provides.” says Tarryn.

10. Laughter is the best medicine

“The best part of pole is that it’s incredibly fun – you don’t even think you’re exercising. This also makes it easier to keep going and not give up,” says Joanna.

All the fun and laughter that comes with pole fitness allows you to tap into the mental and physical benefits to laughter – stress relieve, heart and general health benefits.

Article Credit: Pole athletes from X-Pole SA Tarryn Knight, Sherry Bremner and Joanna Pawelczyk /

The Advantages of Group Exercise Classes

Group exercise classes are more than the loud music, fast movements and shouts of encouragement that are seen and heard in a fitness room.

These one-hour blocks of time offer social inclusion opportunities, health benefits and psychological support. From kickboxing and step aerobics to boot camps and indoor cycling, your fitness instructor will challenge and improve your body.

Social Opportunities

Attending a group fitness class gets you up off the couch and out of the same four walls of your home to meet people in your community. You are likely to have more fun exercising in a group than working out on your own. Fitness classes are a wonderful place to meet people who have similar lifestyle goals and needs. Make friends, have adult conversations and discover solutions to problems as you talk with other participants before and after class.

Motivation Boost

Participating in a group exercise class challenges you to work out beyond your perceived limitations. The instructor observes your body for signs of fatigue and pushes you to your limits. You are likely to work out harder, as everyone is exercising toward the same goal than you would on your own. A group fitness instructor explains the benefits of each exercise, which increases your reasons to complete the workout and keeps you returning to class.

Health and Form Benefits

Group exercise class are available in a variety of workout styles. If your goals are a cardiovascular improvement and weight loss, select aerobic-based classes such as dance aerobics, indoor cycling, kickboxing or step aerobics. Select weight training, callisthenics or boot camp classes if you also want to improve your muscular endurance and strength. If flexibility is your goal, a stretching or yoga class is a nice option.

Additionally, certain forms of exercises, such as spin, yoga and strength-training, benefit from using proper form. As a newbie, you might not know the proper form to use, which increases your risk of injury. In a class, though, the instructor will spot-check you, correcting your positioning if necessary.

Accountability Support

A group exercise setting helps keep you accountable to attend the class. When the instructor and other participants ask why you were absent, they generally are concerned for your well-being, and you will not want to have an “I sat on the couch” answer. If you are required to prepay for a group class, your accountability also increases. You have a limited number of classes that you paid for and are more likely to attend.

Article Credit: Lisa M. Wolfe /



Sign up for all the latest fit fam goss and events