The 75 hard challenge: transformative or troublesome?

Dive into the debate behind this fitness frenzy. If Alix Earle is doing it, we should too… right?

The online wellness community is buzzing as the 75 Hard Challenge continues to garner attention from influencers and fitness enthusiasts worldwide. Created by author and motivational speaker Andy Frisella, this mental toughness program promises life-altering changes over a grueling 75-day period. 

However, as the challenge’s hashtag on TikTok gains popularity, boasting more than a billion views since its debut in 2019, a crucial question arises: is it a path to a healthier lifestyle, or does it border on glorified eating disorder behavior?  

The challenge lays out six stringent rules that participants must adhere to for 75 consecutive days: maintain a strict diet with no cheat meals, abstain from alcohol, consume a gallon of water daily, complete two 45-minute workouts and read 10 pages of a book each day, and take a daily progress photo. Failure to comply requires restarting the challenge from day one, adding an extra layer of pressure. 

I know, right? Exhausting. But influencers across social media are doing this challenge so it must be good for us… right? 

Social media “It Girl” Alix Earle’s account has blown up this year, racking in over six million followers on TikTok. On Jan. 2, Alix embarked on her truncated version of the 75 Hard Challenge, which she calls the “30 hard,” sharing to social media that the standard 75 days was too long for her. 

After completing the challenge, Earle made it clear that exercising twice a day was draining, and not something she planned to continue in the future. 

Skepticism about the practicality and impact of the challenge persists. I spoke to Alexandra Tverdokhleb, a first-year sociology student at Concordia, who first heard of the challenge last year and wanted to give it a go to kickstart a healthy new year.  

“I tried to do the 75 Hard Challenge and I think I lasted two days because I realized it was so unrealistic with my lifestyle,” Tverdokhleb said, a sentiment shared by many students with demanding schedules.  

I also got to chat with Michelle Itzcovitch, a spin instructor at Le Spin for the past six years. With a decade of experience in the fitness industry, Michelle had plenty to share regarding the 75 Hard Challenge.  

Itzcovitch emphasized the importance of fostering a positive mindset in fitness, advocating for exercise as a choice to feel good rather than a restrictive endeavor.  

“I don’t want [working out] to be something that we dread or don’t look forward to,” she explained. “I find when you have something that gives you that restrictive mindset like the 75 Hard Challenge, if you don’t meet these standards, it’s like you failed.” She believes the 75 Hard Challenge is “glorified eating disorder behavior.”  

Michelle’s opinion is a common one amongst people who criticize the challenge online. Yet the challenge’s reach continues to grow as popular influencers on TikTok and YouTube post about it left, right and center. 

Still, the lingering question is: can anyone really tackle the 75 Hard Challenge successfully, or is it all just harmful habits disguised as a health kick?


Update: Concordia’s downtown Le Gym will reopen, but the Loyola campus’ PERFORM Centre may reopen in October at the earliest

Campus gyms that do reopen this semester will need students to present double proof of vaccination

Update: According to an announcement published on Sept.27, Concordia’s downtown campus gym, Le Gym, will reopen on Oct. 4. This article published on Sept. 28 has been updated with the new information.

Concordia’s downtown Le Gym will reopen to all students on Oct. 4, with registration opening a few days earlier on Oct. 1, as the Loyola campus’ PERFORM Centre remains closed to students.

Le Gym will open at a reduced capacity, and there will no reservation system in place. Students can access the newly opened gym on campus from Monday to Friday 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on weekends from 8 a.m to 8 p.m..

With fall 2021 being the first semester with in-person classes since the beginning of the pandemic, many students were looking forward to taking advantage of the affordable university gyms, a service supported in part by tuition fees. Regular exercise has long been shown to improve mental health and strengthen cognitive abilities, all benefits in dire need of attention after a prolonged quarantine.

Loyola campus’ PERFORM Centre website features an outdated message:  “the University campus remains closed […] the gym will therefore remain closed as well until the campus is again open to the public”.

However, even though the campus has reopened, the PERFORM Centre has remained closed to students, with only Le Gym opening downtown.

Kevin Hammill, the service coordinator of the Loyola campus PERFORM Centre, said that they hope to open “sometime in October. Most likely, the vaccination passport will be required.”

He added that prices for membership will be revised, “because you’re going to lose at least six weeks so we can’t charge the full cost — there will be reduced hours, reduced days, depending on research.”

Although gyms have reopened across Montreal, Hammill reminds students that the PERFORM Centre is primarily for research rather than being a traditional for-profit gym. Right now, only research study participants have access to the PERFORM Centre on Loyola campus. Regular students are at the bottom of this priority hierarchy.

Prior to the announcement that Le Gym was opening, Concordia students shared their frustration with campus gyms remaining closed.

Aedan Conlin is in the third year of his computer science degree. He was planning to attend Le Gym since most gyms near where he lives are not affordable.

“I was expecting my university to promote physical health, given the mental health benefits, but I had to scramble to find something,” Conlin said.

For many, the convenience of a gym that can be attended before or after classes is hard to replace.

“I used to work out and then do my schoolwork and it would really help me concentrate. It was very convenient,” said Ephrathah Hadgu, a student at the Loyola campus. “The worst part is the travel, not the cost.”

There is no guarantee the PERFORM Centre will reopen. “We don’t want to open and close two or three weeks later because we didn’t think it out well enough. It’s also contingent on society, if hospitalization goes up, if COVID cases go up — we’ll have to re-examine and reassess,” Hammill added.

For those looking for a gym immediately can access Le Gym as long as they can show double proof of their COVID vaccination. Another option is Éconofitness centres, which are relatively affordable and located throughout Montreal. The local YMCAs, although pricier, offer a reduced fare based on financial need. The application can be found online.


Photograph by Christine Beaudoin


The hidden joys of working out from home

An unprecedented year for fitness addicts can still be salvaged

COVID-19 has been a major hindrance for people accustomed to active regimes. The closing of most fitness institutions has caused a huge lifestyle transformation for many, leaving them to wishfully recall the physical and mental benefits of working out.

Despite the undesirable circumstances, perhaps there’s an obscured bright side that we’re choosing to omit. Maybe, habitual routines being put on hold can act as an enabler towards progressing our overall well being in the long run.

Sounds crazy, but hear me out.

The pandemic has left many fitness enthusiasts unhappy, but to argue there are no viable fitness substitutes would be erroneous. Even the greatest athletes have inadequacies, and for better or worse the opportunity has presented itself to potentially hone in on aspects of fitness that are unkempt due to general social negligence.

In essence, people are physically results-oriented in their training, meaning workouts that have the most tangible effects on appearance like weightlifting have become overly promoted and glorified. On the flipside, elements that are frankly more vital for overall fitness such as cardio and mobility are omitted by common gym practitioners.

Whether it’s exercise in the form of outdoor running that people tend to overlook, equipment-free calisthenic training that could — quite literally — be done anywhere at any time, or flexibility workouts, the assortment of choices are effective and generally free of charge.

There’s a common and unconscious misconception that the convenience of these workouts and the lack of equipment somehow makes them less productive. And while it’s more likely to see the world’s inspiring athletes doing extravagant workouts that inspire emulation, the reality is every single one of them does the less trendy work (listed above) behind closed doors just as often.

During the summer, I decided to stop my grumbling in boredom — video games could only take me so far — and made a personal decision to engage in three completely foreign activities. I decided to pick up a new sport (golf, in this instance), started to regularly run, and registered for independent online yoga classes that I participated in roughly four times a week.

Flexibility was a personal hurdle that I had previously willfully ignored throughout my training in favour of weightlifting and playing sports. In ensuring I follow through with the fresh routine, I aspired to engage in some of the activities I avoided most, hoping that by doing so I would challenge myself mentally while bettering my overall physical wellbeing.

My immobility from training incorrectly since my years in high school was frankly embarrassing, I quickly found out. Saying it was bad was putting it lightly; it was unequivocally ugly. As a result, the fear of being alienated in a yoga environment led to ignoring the issue altogether.

Having the classes online made the introductory sessions easier to digest. Independent yoga enabled me to be less concerned about having to perform certain poses and stretches as traditionally outlined, giving me leeway to progress at my own pace.

The routines themselves were a genuine challenge. It was a struggle to actively remain still at times. Using one’s own physique as a training tool is something I will retain for the rest of my life. Holding up the body in perpetual suspension was on par with some of my most strenuous workouts of the past — a humbling notion in itself.

A shortcoming to remote lessons, though, is the lack of a professional mentor in the vicinity. While one might be doing their utter best to perform a movement appropriately, sometimes an in-person visual or physical aid is required to create the adequate sensation and accuracy. When I found myself stumped, I referred to online guides, but ultimately had to go out of my way to figure out an explanation that would have been instantaneous in a traditional yoga environment.

As of right now, I am pridefully average from a flexibility standpoint after nearly five months of deliberate practice. Additionally, my knee that has impeded me since college does not plague my mind as frequently as it did pre-pandemic. Ultimately, I found a way to avoid stagnation despite the untimeliness of the pandemic, which is what I am incontestably most proud of.

The meaning of fitness fluctuates from person to person, so consequently there is no perfect resolution to the COVID-19 workout dilemma. At the end of the day, my situation was simply an anecdotal experience that was not meant to boast my pre-eminence in any way, shape, or form, but hopefully to show that fitness can still be attained during these times, with or without the institutions that we have grown accustomed to.

By opening the mind to creativity and exploring fresh, though perhaps tentative, exercise avenues, athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike can continue to stay as active as ever.


Graphic by Taylor Reddam

Student Life

Wellness on a student budget

School can be stressful but taking care of your physical and mental health is crucial to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and practicing wellness. 

Students who are physically active tend to perform better on tests; it improves cognitive performance, according to the Centre for Disease Control’s website. Physical activity also helps reduce stress and anxiety as well as the risk of cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes, and more. According to a article, yoga and meditation also help reduce stress as well as chronic pain, inflammation, and could even improve sleep quality.

It’s clear that physical activity helps keep you mentally and physically in shape, but it can sometimes negatively impact your wallet. Gym and wellness studio memberships can be expensive for someone on a student budget, but many places around Montreal offer free trials and budget-friendly prices.

For fitness enthusiasts, if you’re on a tight budget, why not try out all the gyms for free?

Monster Gym in Dollard-des-Ormeaux offers a one-month free trial and the gym is open 24/7. The large facility includes a bistro, a hair salon, a supplements store, a boxing gym and even a yoga gym. While those are not included in the free-trial, other gyms like Econofitness, Gold’s Gym, and Buzzfit allow you to try their facilities out for a day. Buzzfit and Econofitness are also known for being on the lower-end scale for membership prices if you’re looking to stay committed to one gym for the semester or the year.

If you want something more challenging, CrossFit LaSalle offers a 14-day trial for the low price of $1. Crossfit is not your typical workout; it’s described as a “high-intensity fitness program incorporating elements from several sports and types of exercise,” in the Oxford dictionary.

For easy access, Le Gym on Concordia’s downtown campus (located in the basement of the EV building) offers a variety of classes under $50 per semester. There are several different types of yoga, spinning, zumba, pilates, aerobics, HIIT, martial arts, team and individual sports, and more. For a student-priced membership, Le Gym charges $30 for one month and $70 for four months. Loyola also has gym facilities you can join (the PERFORM Centre), although it requires a separate membership from Le Gym’s.

For those who prefer something more mindful and spiritual, Ashtanga Yoga Montreal offers free yoga classes from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at their downtown studio every Wednesday.

Spin Energie, a spinning studio, offers an unlimited introductory week for $45, or a two-month one class per week pass for $25. Students even get 15 per cent off prices for yoga, pilates, spinning and dance classes. Lululemon also has a varying schedule of free yoga classes at their stores. For the full monthly schedule, call your preferred location.

If you would like to avoid physical activity and/or are unable to do it, meditation is another great way to help heal your mind and spirit. can be used as a resource website to learn about meditation and find information about free meditation events held by the Sri Chinmoy Centre of Montreal, a centre dedicated to meditation teaching and practice. Free classes are offered on Monday nights from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. from Sept. 16 to Oct. 7. As a result of limited space, the site asks people to register first, and the location will then be confirmed to you personally.

Whether you prefer to sweat or sit still, Montreal has a ton of great budget-friendly alternatives to help keep in shape and practice well-being.


Photo by Laurence B.D.


The curious case of Diane Brown

How a 69-year-old personal trainer proves age is just a number

While most people spend their early 60s planning their retirement, Diane Brown decided to pursue a new career: becoming a personal trainer.

“I had never thought of pursuing it before,” said Brown, now 69 years old. “I was a single mother when I was younger, and after that, I was always worried about providing for my child.”

Brown worked random jobs most of her life in order to pay the bills. At the age of 61, Brown realized she wanted to transform her passion for health and fitness into something she could monetize––and consequently, do for a living. Today, she’s a personal trainer and also works as a floor clerk at a Jean Coutu Pharmacy, where she’s been for the past 20 years.

Diane completes sit-ups at the fitness centre in her apartment in Downtown Montreal. “I feel young,” she says.

“I don’t want to stop working,” Brown said. “I thought I’d want to retire, but really, I won’t retire until they kick me out,” she said with a loud chuckle. As a personal trainer, she has trained many people, whose ages ranged from 30 to 80.

“I don’t think age should be a factor in terms of whether or not you exercise,” Brown said. “The way I approach fitness is it’s a way to be the best version of yourself.”

For Brown, anyone can step forward and try their hand at working out—she believes there are no excuses. “Age really isn’t an excuse,” said Brown. “Neither is time. If you tell me you’re too busy to work out, I’ll tell you about a seven-minute power workout that strengthens your core. If you tell me you can’t afford the gym, I’ll tell you how to turn your living room into one. There’s really no reason not to be the best version of yourself.”

When Brown decided to become a personal trainer, she wondered whether her age would make clients hesitant about working with her. But she quickly realized that her fitness level coupled with her age was the very thing that attracted clients to her.

“I guess they could tell I was the real deal,” Brown said with a laugh. “But to be honest, I don’t really like being told I look good ‘for my age,’” she said. “I look and feel good––doesn’t matter how old I am.”

Doctors have told Brown that her body functions as if she’s 35 years old. “I feel young,” she said. “But of course, there are days where my body tells me, ‘Okay Diane, you need to take a break.’” Sometimes, her toes ache; other days, her mind will want to lift weights, but her body won’t let her. “I have the hardest time stopping,” she said. “I’m working on that.”

Diane flips through pages of her old binder, in which she keeps notes on the human anatomy. “I taught myself everything. Never went to school. Just read.”

Brown tries to give herself time off when she can but finds it hard to pause her passion. “I just genuinely enjoy it,” she said. “I love helping people realize their full potential, and I love working with others. I want to help them—it’s as simple as that.”

Brown’s passion for helping others with their fitness goals also stems from a certain place: control. “I couldn’t control most of my life,” she said thoughtfully. “Things happened to me, and most of them were bad. But with fitness, I have power—I can control how I treat my body, and as a trainer, I can exert what little control I do have to help someone become better.”

Yet, Brown still hopes she can learn to let some control go. “I’m a Libra after all,” she said. “I’m all about the balance. I just have to give myself a few talks sometimes. I’m still learning,” she laughed. “After all this time, I’m still learning to be the best version of myself.”

Brown learns from continuous reading

While Brown helps others, she also partakes in numerous competitions—specifically bodybuilding competitions.

“I came in third place last year at the International Drug Free Athletics awards, for bodybuilding,” Brown said with a proud smile. “I work hard, and I definitely want to be acknowledged for that.”

With a learning disability, it was difficult for Brown to retain complex information about the human anatomy. “I had a hard time passing my fitness test so that I could become a personal trainer,” she said. In her cluttered apartment, she digs through piles of books and finds a binder, filled with pages about the human body. “I studied this day and night,” she said fondly as she flips through the thick pages. “I taught myself everything. Never went to school. Just read.”

Brown credits numerous health and fitness magazines as her source of knowledge. “I buy them and read them, cover to cover,” she said. “That’s how I learned everything—from my own fitness to how to train others to attain theirs.”

Photos by Sania Malik.


The ultimate hockey workout to improve lower-body strength

Here are some exercises to increase your speed on the ice this hockey season

In hockey, speed kills. The sport is punishing to say the least, so being able to keep your legs moving at high speeds is an important skill.

In 2005, the National Hockey League (NHL) implemented a new set of rules to speed up the game, such as eliminating the two-line pass rule and penalizing holding and hooking infractions. Since then, the grinding style of play, which rewarded slower but stronger players, has begun to go out of style.

In professional hockey today, every team is looking for players who have the speed necessary to accelerate past defenders. Connor McDavid, one of the fastest and most skilled players in the NHL, is proof of that. To get that fast, he has been training every summer since high school with former player and renowned fitness guru, Gary Roberts, according to the Globe and Mail. Roberts has trained elite players like Steven Stamkos and Phil Kessel, whose games are focused on speed.

Here is a list of some of the best exercises you can do to increase your leg strength, balance and speed to be just like the pros.

Hill Sprints: This exercise is the perfect way to build up explosiveness in your legs. Being able to draw power from your quads, even while exhausted, is a way to gain an advantage over opponents in the final minutes of a game. Former Edmonton Oilers captain Andrew Ference told the Globe and Mail this exercise helped him improve his athleticism. “I pick the steepest hill I can find,” he said. “It teaches me to deal with tired legs. I will never feel that exhausted in a hockey game.”

Squats: This relatively simple exercise is integral for building lower-body strength. Its many variations can isolate specific muscle groups or simply add another layer of difficulty to a workout. For example, the one-legged squat not only works on building the quadriceps but also develops balance. Jaromir Jagr, the oldest active player in the NHL at 45 years old, has been doing 1,000 squats everyday since he was seven, according to the New York Times.

Box Jumps: This is another exercise designed to help build powerful leg muscles. New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider, known for his ability to beat opponents in open ice, uses this in his workouts. His trainer, Ben Bruno, told Men’s Journal that this helps make Kreider’s legs “as strong and powerful as possible.” Bruno added that the box jump exercise “improves his conditioning so that he can express that strength and power over the duration of a long game and a long season.”

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth


Finding your athleticism

Keeping physically active is all about discovering the activities that excite you

When I was in high school, I was never one to get grass stains on my knees. I cringed at the squeak of running shoes across the gymnasium floor. If you asked me how I felt about gym class, I would tell you I’d rather be solving the equation of a line.

Like many high schools, my P.E. class curriculum was predominately team sports-based. Throughout the school year, we would rotate between different sports, from soccer to basketball to rugby to floor hockey. A big chunk of students—the jocks—would excel no matter what sport they played. As much as I wanted to fit in with them, I didn’t have the hand-eye coordination or the natural talent to make a great pass or score. As team members were being chosen by captains, I’d twiddle my thumbs and stare at the floor, knowing I’d be one of the last invited to play.

I was labeled one of the lazy girls. And to be honest, at the time, it was true. I was unfit. Unmotivated. Occasionally, my teacher would allow me to walk laps around the school instead of playing sports with the others.

What I have learned since then, though, is that I didn’t hate gym class because I hated exercising. I hated it because I never got to discover a type of physical activity that brought me joy and excitement.

Over the last four years, however, I found my place in the world of fitness. For me, it’s really been all about trial and error. Even today, I continue to discover more about my athleticism and physical capabilities.

There are a few activities where I feel in my element, such as running, spinning and biking. I discovered these activities through gym classes in CEGEP or by hanging out at the park and observing how others were being active. But more recently, bootcamp classes have really changed how I view physical activity. For over a year now, I have been a member of KinéKat Santé, a workout studio in the borough of Lasalle.

Graphic by Florence Yee

According to Kathy Landry, the owner and main trainer at the studio, bootcamp is a form of interval-based training which targets muscular and cardiovascular endurance, as well as agility and coordination.

During each class, we complete a series of four exercises at specific intervals, repeating the entire set three times. Then, we complete a second series of four different exercises three times again. At first, I thought the exercises would get boring after a while.To my surprise, every time I’ve attended, Landry has come up with new exercises, making the course fresh and exciting. Personally, that’s one of the aspects that makes the course so entertaining for me—you never know what you’re going to get.

It would take the entire word count of this article to list all of the exercises I have done through bootcamp. We do a variety of planks, squats, lunges, push-ups, agility exercises, weights and a lot of work with bosu balls, a dome-shaped exercise ball.

Bootcamp can also easily be done at home using minimal equipment. A few weights and a mat are all it takes to get you started. But, for me, being part of a class is more motivating, as I feed off of the energy of others without it getting competitive. Classes are also a reasonable size—eight to 10 people. While Landry has several other classes, such as zumba, yoga and POUND, bootcamp is the class I keep coming back to. It is impossible to leave without sweating your butt off.  It is challenging and energizing. I feel my muscles tightening with every sequence, and it’s rewarding. I started out not being able to do a single push-up or hold a plank for more than 20 seconds—those days are long gone.

It’s virtually common knowledge that being physically active reaps significant benefits, not only physically, but mentally. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, keeping active regularly can improve self-esteem, reduce stress, increase energy levels and overall happiness, all while reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

I can attest to the fact that being physically fit has made me happier and more confident. The key, in my experience, is finding activities you truly enjoy—ones that don’t feel like work—that you’re motivated to do. Year-round, I workout four times a week—through bootcamp, biking or running.

It is easy to feel like you are just not meant to be fit, or just not good enough for sports. If there is any advice I can give to anyone in that predicament, it’s to be curious. Try new activities, and go into them with an open mind. More importantly, don’t get discouraged if you dislike something. Of course, there are days where, no matter what, even a workout you enjoy will feel like work. But it’s when you don’t mind that grass stain or the squeak of your shoes against the floor that you know you’ve found an activity worth sweating for.

Student Life

Working up a sweat has never been more fun

Not only can you smell the sweat but the energy is at high altitudes at extreme trampoline centre, iSaute. Featuring 10,000 square feet of interconnected padded trampolines, it is a jumper’s paradise.

Photo by Jonathan Panetta

iSaute is the first indoor trampoline facility in Québec however according to their website, they will soon be opening other locations in the greater Montreal area.

In the large open jump area there is a trampoline dodgeball stadium, basketball dunk centres, foam pits for aerial jumping and a slack line.

I headed straight for the foam pits and didn’t hold back on embarrassing myself. I gained some momentum on the trampoline and then belly flopped — that’s right, the most awkward and unathletic of jumps —  straight into a pit of foam that felt more like quick sand. The easy part was the jump, it took me close to five minutes to remove myself from the pit. Needless to say, it was cause for a good laugh.

Trampolining is an activity that almost everyone can enjoy because who doesn’t like the idea of springing into the air without the fear of getting hurt. The little kid inside is sure to come out at iSaute.

On Saturday nights there is an over 16 policy so the place isn’t crawling with too many young-ins.

Every Friday and Saturday iSaute turns into ClubJump. The lights are turned down and on come the lasers and black lights. It definitely makes the experience more fun and slightly trickier. Wear white to be more visible to the other jumpers so they don’t tramp your style.

Adding trampolines to a game of dodgeball is probably not good for anyone who can’t do two things at once. Jumping and dodging is not only challenging but will most definitely leave you heaving and begging for water.

According to iSaute’s website, “If you can walk, you can jump and chances are you’ll want to.” iSaute is a great alternative to the typical night out with friends and won’t cost you much either. It is $14 for the first hour and $8 for the second hour. However, special group discounts are available and checking in on Facebook or instagramming a photo will get you a couple dollars off.

iSaute promises to be as entertaining as it looks but readers beware, you’ll feel muscles you never thought existed.

iSaute is located on 2045 Dagenais Ouest, Laval.

Student Life

The 30-day fitness challenges: bogus or bootylicious?

The new year often brings with it a set of preconceived expectations and motivations to make the next 365 days better spent than the last. Usually, these expectations include resolutions like,“This year, I will get into shape!” Full page spreads in The Globe and Mail advertise local gyms and “Reasons You Should Get In Shape This Year,” below images of perfectly tanned and toned female bodies. Online, on Pinterest and Tumblr, infographics advertise 30-day challenges that can be as specific as “squat for your life” or simply a before and after shot of someone who has successfully completed a 30-day yoga challenge. Are they safe? Are they healthy? Well, that depends on a lot: motivation, the kind of person the participant is, and the goals that he or she sets.

Kim Donaldson, certified personal trainer at Le Gym on the Sir George Williams campus, says, “in a professional environment, [challenges] can be done safely.”

The hardest part of starting anything new is commitment.

“It’s very difficult to adhere to a new exercise program. People generally drop out of physical routines probably 30 days into it,”says  Dr. Lois Baron, retired professor from the department of education at Concordia and volunteer at the Loyola Campus Perform Centre.

Sticking to a motivation, such as a 30-day fitness challenge, is difficult at the best of times. Around the start of a new year, pressure to fit an idealized model that not many people can fit, seems to act as motivation enough to get them into the gym. However, there is very little research available as to whether or not making the motivation a 30-day challenge actually makes the participants of such fitness challenges more likely to continue having healthy habits.

The trick to completing any goal is setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, which stands for goals that are specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and time-bound. By this standard, setting a 30-day challenge as a physical goal means that it’s very likely for a participant to complete it.

“You should make both short and long-term goals that are easily measurable and easily achieved,” says Dr. Baron, in support of the S.M.A.R.T. goal system. “Reevaluate at the end of the challenge. Develop other short-term goals. Ask yourself, what level can I continue to pursue physical activity in a healthy way?”

“Challenges are a great way to stay focused and motivated,” says Donaldson. “[They] are necessary to see improvements and gains.”

However, Donaldson also gave this warning: “Increased pain or discomfort means the goal of the challenge may need to be re-evaluated. This doesn’t mean the participant has failed, but a new goal must be set to increase the overall health.”

Health is an important aspect to consider when it comes to physical goals. It’s very easy in Western culture to get wrapped up in the idealized body that’s advertised through the help of photoshop. A lot of people see themselves as having to compete with these apparently perfect figures. If a participant has set a goal to look like women in the magazines and is willing to push through pain despite risk of injury, that’s a sign of an unhealthy goal. However, this doesn’t mean that the challenges are inherently competitive.

“It’s very typical to idealize,” Dr. Baron adds. “But I don’t see it [as competitive]. It can be motivating in a positive way, but sometimes the body image [of advertisements] is not one that many women can attain.”

All in all, 30-day challenges can be completely healthy, but it depends on how the participant views it.

“Nothing is black and white,” says Dr. Baron. When it comes to fitness and challenges, it’s important to understand how one works in a given situation and to listen to what your body tells you.

“Overall health is the most important,” explains Donaldson.

If you’re considering starting to work out to achieve a healthier lifestyle, Concordia is home to two well-equipped and well-staffed facilities on both the SGW campus and the Loyola campus. Fitness classes and term long memberships are available at affordable prices for students. For more information on Concordia’s athletic and recreation facilities, visit:


ARTiculate: Survival lit for university living

 The ‘freshman fifteen’ is the colloquial term for the unfortunately common occurrence of weight gain during your first year at university. It is usually caused by academic and social stress, increase in the consumption of alcohol and the sudden freedom of being able to eat whatever, whenever, without parental intervention. And yes, it can happen to you.

But never fear, literature is here! The following are several books to help you cope with stress, eating healthy, staying healthy and finding time to exercise during a busy school day.

1. I’m freaking out! Nobody can escape stress, especially when papers are due, exams are looming and your hangover has kept you in bed until noon. Nonetheless stress is manageable and if you’re looking for tips and tricks to keep you from pulling your hair out, then Stress Management For Dummies by Allen Elkin is your go-to guide. Touted as being “better than a psychiatrist” by reviewers on, this book is full of tips and techniques for deflating your stress. It’s also light on the wallet; Chapters Indigo is currently offering the trade paperback for $3.99 on their website.

2. Food is everywhere and lots and lots to drink! Montreal is brimming with great places to eat and drink and many are open all night long. So how do you fill your stomach without filling out your waistline? I recommend David Zinczenko’s best selling book Eat This, Not That! 2013: The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution. “It’s like a cookbook, grocery list, and takeout menu drawer rolled into one book,” say reviewers. Packed full of nutritional information and tips for making food choices, this book is an essential guide to eating with pleasure, without the weight gain.

3. But I have no time to exercise! School, work, study, social life, sleep, there’s just so much to do and so little time. How in the world do you expect me to go to the gym with all this going on? Well, do you have 15 minutes? Quick Fit by Richard Bradley provides fifteen minute, no-sweat workouts that you can fit in anywhere, anytime. “The simple instructions, clear illustrations, motivational plan and convincing testaments from DOT (Department of Transportation) personnel who have adopted the routine should inspire readers, whether they be habitually sluggish or simply sorely pressed for time,” wrote Publishers Weekly in their 2003 online review.*

4. Funny but true, it’s all in the poo! There is nothing more crippling to your academic year than being sick. However, there is doctorless way to check up on your health and its sitting in your toilet (hopefully). Did you know that the shape, texture, color, size and the way your poo floats can tell you a lot about the state of your health? It’s true and if you want to know what your poo can do for you, you’ll need the ultimate guide. What’s Your Poo Telling You by Anish Sheth and Josh Richman. Lisa Susan on says; “This book was quite interesting and unusual! While it was humorous, it also has a serious side that tells the reader exactly why your stool looks the way it does. It contains numerous interesting stool trivia. Once you’ve read this book you, too, will be looking at your poo in a whole new way for the rest of your life.”

Student Life

Get Sweaty and Get Social

Concordia grad David Sciacca co-founded Training Mobs in 2011.

While lifting weights at the gym to a personalized playlist may be the ideal workout for some, others need a little change in pace and scenery – a feeling David Sciacca and Jonas Caruana understand all too well.

What started as a long distance friendship eventually grew into a shared apartment and a business plan. With a mutual passion for fitness, Sciacca, 30, and Caruana, 29, launched Training Mobs in January 2011, a fitness community website that lists and promotes great local group workouts.

“We really wanted to bring back the social aspect of fitness,” said Sciacca. “Make it easy for people to go to whatever workout they want and not have to be members there.”

Aside from being extremely practical for the fitness community, Training Mobs gives that extra nudge of encouragement to its members, a sense of inspiration that Sciacca and Caruana were searching for themselves not too long ago.

After graduating in finance from Concordia University, Sciacca worked three-and-a-half years in investment banking, a job he had no desire to keep.

“I realized very quickly that I wasn’t doing something I was in love with and I got tired of that,” he said. “To be completely honest, I had no idea what I wanted to do.”

His epiphany led him to Costa Rica where he extended an invitation to his Australian friend, Caruana, who shared the same dismay for his management job. The two had met seven years ago during a university exchange program in Budapest.

“We were surfing and we started complaining about how hard it was to find a great workout wherever we were and how hard it was to coordinate workouts with friends while we were working,” said Sciacca. “We thought maybe there was something out there that would help fix this. When we looked into it and didn’t find anything, that’s when we said, ‘Well this doesn’t make sense.’ So we created Training Mobs from that.”

Committed to finding great workouts for their members, Sciacca and Caruana reach out to independent studios and gyms that offer more intimate experiences bigger gyms sometimes fail to provide. Apart from the free exposure, Training Mobs allows smaller autonomous gyms to connect with their target audience all the while offering a variety of workouts to their members.

“People who have opened an independent gym tend to do it out of passion because everyone knows that opening a studio is probably not the fastest way to get brilliantly rich,” said Sciacca. “When you’re doing something you love, you’re more committed to it – you build a community around you and people enjoy that kind of experience.”

Everyday, Training Mobs offers a fresh list of diverse social fitness classes at a discount rate, from circuit training on Mount Royal to hot yoga in the West Island. No matter the time, location or workout preference, anybody can sign up for a workout on a whim.

While Training Mobs continues to spread across Canada and the United States, Sciacca and Caruana are creating new ways to connect their studio and gym partners with their members. One in particular that is gaining some attention is the MobPass.

“We think the MobPass has potential to change the way people think about fitness,” said Sciacca. “We believe in group fitness because it’s more fun and there’s that social accountability.”

With a monthly purchase of $9.95, the MobPass offers access to every Training Mob gym, studio and trainer at a ten-class-pass rate. Suitable for travelers or anyone with a hectic schedule and an interest in trying new workouts, Sciacca describes the MobPass as being a universal gym membership to all the best independent studios from Montreal to Toronto to San Francisco.

“Why are we preventing people from getting access to these small studios that are specialized by restricting them to one type of workout?” he said. “There’s got be people out there that like variety, that would appreciate flexibility.”

Aside from expanding their fitness community and spreading the word, Sciacca and Caruana are constantly trying to keep an open conversation with their partners and members. They share a blog with their members and encourage people to post videos and messages of their great workouts, and to show newcomers that working out doesn’t have to be intimidating.

“This is a community of real people that are going out and getting active,” said Sciacca. “Training Mobs belongs to the community and we always wanted it to be that way. If you had a great workout experience and want to tell the world about it, let us know and we’ll be happy to shoot it out to the world.”

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