When Toronto-based Samantha Pynn, contributing design editor for Style at Home magazine and host of TV's Pure Design, takes on a fitness regimen, expect a modern twist. By rotating heart-thumping cardio with flowing power yoga, she brings her low-impact workout up to date. But she wants more. She wants to master the side crow, a difficult balancing pose with hands on the ground, legs raised and twisted, knees resting on one arm.
"I need to keep my head clear."
"I first came to yoga over 10 years ago to improve my posture. I practise Ashtanga and Vinyasa three times a week at EnergyXchange. I'm at Level II. My favourite pose is dancer [known as nataraja-asana]
"I spin two to three times a week at Energia Athletics. I like the butt workout when you're 'digging in the mud' [exercising slowly with resistance on the fly wheel] I can tolerate spin because there's great music and the 45 minutes is up before you know it. The first time I tried it and I thought I was going to fall of the bike, I thought, 'Okay, there's something wrong if I don't have the cardiovascular capacity.' So the next time I was giggly, and then I got better, and now I'm fit.
"I lift arm weights maybe once every four days."
"Right now I'm shooting an HGTV Christmas special for 2011, and then I have to shoot 14, three-minute webisodes, and then another one-hour special.
"Breakfast is a green juice: parsley or kale or dandelion or spinach with celery or cucumber, ginger and lemon. After my shower, I eat low-fat yogurt with almonds and chopped-up spinach and raspberries.
"For lunch, I eat a piece of salmon or halibut, but if I'm in a pinch I eat a can of sardines, with a giant, giant, salad so big that I'm eating it for a long time. I have a gluten sensitivity. That's why I don't eat bread and pasta. I try to eat raw, alkaline food.
"For dinner, I'm a regular at Fresh, Juice for Life or Live, and I eat at sushi.
"For snacks, I eat lots of cut vegetables, grapefruit, green apples, almonds, and SunButter bars. I drink kefir every other day and take fish oil. I do love a really good piece of fair-trade dark chocolate with almonds."
"I'm foggy and I don't think clearly if I don't eat this way. And I love going to places with classes and a great vibe and community."
"Instead of mantras in yoga class, I like Across the Universe by the Beatles. This is very spiritual in a modern way."
"I'd like to get stronger to do more strength poses such as side crow."
Add triceps endurance exercises
Blair Larsen, fitness director at the Adelaide Club in Toronto, observes that the type of yoga Ms. Pynn practises requires triceps strength and endurance, which she can develop through training. Samantha can do the close push-up - assuming a push-up position with hands around her armpits, elbows at her sides. To mimic the duration of contraction that side crow pose requires, Samantha needs to move slowly with a tempo of 10 seconds up and 10 seconds down."
Strengthen core with an exercise ball
Many other factors such as the twist and shoulder opening are equally important in order to master the pose, says Mr. Larsen, who suggests Ms. Pynn add in this core exercise: "Get into a plank position with hands on the floor shoulder-width apart, place feet on the ball. Bring knees into the chest and hold for three seconds; extend legs and repeat. Samantha should do three sets of 15 reps three times a week, working toward a pike position, instead of bringing knees into chest." Assuming she gets the correct muscle engagement in each activity, Ms. Pynn should notice strength improvement in a few months.
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