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Danielle Lapierre is participating in the Tough Mudder, a 12-mile obstacle course and extreme challenge based on the training regime for the British Special Forces, with her son in August. July 16, 2012: Danielle Lapierre, Vice President and GM of Polar runs along the Ottawa River in Ottawa. DAVE CHAN for The Globe and Mail (Dave Chan/Dave Chan)
Danielle Lapierre is participating in the Tough Mudder, a 12-mile obstacle course and extreme challenge based on the training regime for the British Special Forces, with her son in August. July 16, 2012: Danielle Lapierre, Vice President and GM of Polar runs along the Ottawa River in Ottawa. DAVE CHAN for The Globe and Mail (Dave Chan/Dave Chan)

VP’s genes help her stay lean but aren’t a ticket out of exercise Add to ...

Danielle Lapierre, vice-president of Polar Canada

In preparation for a summer filled with physically challenging events, Danielle Lapierre, 45, wants to strengthen her upper body without weights.

Ms. Lapierre is lean and looks healthy despite her diet choices – she can eat fast food and not gain fat – suggesting several genetics factors are at work. But for stronger arms, the Ottawa-based vice-president of Polar Canada, a health technology company that makes heart-rate watches, cannot rely on DNA. She needs a conditioning plan if she wants to spend the rest of the summer riding along red rock landscapes and climbing the limestone canyons of Arizona.

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My goal

I exercise to enjoy recreational and planned activities.

For the first time, I will be mountain-bike riding the Moab area in Utah, with my husband.

In August, near Toronto, I’m doing the Tough Mudder, a 12-mile obstacle course and extreme challenge based on the training regime for the British Special Forces, for my first time with my son, who put a team together.

Then, I’m hiking the Grand Canyon with my husband in September.

My workout

I cross-train by running hill workouts and cycling in Gatineau Park in Quebec near Meech Lake. I run four times a week between eight and 10 kilometres. I cycle twice a week for about three hours. I do staircases – I live on the 11th floor of my building, so I take the stairs up and elevator down – to train for the hike.

I follow heart-rate-based training. Before my workout, I find what my optimum zone is, and then a monitor gives me the range where I should exercise during my workout. My area of concern is overtraining, so I let my monitor tell me how effective my workout was.

I also have a stability ball for ab pulls and crunches, and I do two-minute plank holds every second day.

For my upper body, I do dips and push-ups in a circuit of 30 reps, twice.

When I stretch, I do basic yoga.

My lifestyle

Nutrition is my biggest, biggest, biggest weakness because I don’t drink recovery drinks and I don’t use power gels or mix up whey protein. I try to make up for it naturally with a trail mix of nuts, but when I travel it’s impossible.

My biggest meal is breakfast and I have pasta with a tomato sauce or smoked salmon – I don’t like toast and cereal. Sometimes I have a McDonald’s burger for a late breakfast around 11:30 a.m.

For lunch and dinner, there’s a truck stop across the parking lot from where I work. Again, it’s a red sauce with pasta and salad.

My original motivation

My daughter, who is my second baby, was colicky from six weeks on, and for two years she was the biggest influence.

There was nothing that worked to calm her and I needed that moment to regroup. For me it was running. The first time I ran, I ran for nine minutes, and then ran out of breath. But I liked it. I built upon that.

My temptation

I love dark chocolate Reese’s peanut butter cups and I can only get them in the States, so I bring back a whole bunch to keep me going for months.

My anthem

Eminem’s Lose Yourself.

My challenge

It’s typically time and nutrition. But I’ll be biking in the desert, so my challenge will be drinking while there, because I’m a minimalist. I never bring water with me when I exercise, but I may bring a CamelBak hydration pack, so I don’t forget.

The critique

Phil Ortwein, who holds a bachelor’s degree in health sciences from the University of Western Ontario, says Ms. Lapierre can get the stimulus for muscle growth to develop the strength she wants from tools other than dumbbells.

Pack travel fitness gear

“Danielle needs a set of resistance bands with up to five different tensions that can be used at home or packed into a suitcase when travelling for business. For $25, the set should have a door anchor and include an exercise chart.”

Do an express upper-body workout

“Two times a week, Danielle could do 20 to 30 reps of each exercise : push-ups, band rows, plank for a two-minute hold, band chest presses, side planks for one minute each side, band triceps overhead press, band core twists (which involve standing perpendicular to the band, extending arms in front of her body and twisting away from the door), and then band biceps curl.”

This interview has been condensed and edited.

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