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Singer Suzie McNeil

chris young The Globe and Mail

Before she met her fitness trainer, Suzie McNeil, pop singer and judge on YTV's The Next Star, followed a cardio plan. Now the 31-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., is on a promotional tour for Dear Love, her fourth disc, rocking out to her new single Drama Queen. But our expert says cardio fitness only improves with a specific type of training.

My goal

"To be fit, healthy and comfortable in my body to feel great in everything I do, including being active on stage and singing through a whole show."

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My workout

"When I was going on Rock Star: INXS [in 2005] I worked out in a gym because I thought, this is my big opportunity to have my dreams come true. I told [trainer]Jasen Miller I was going on TV in less than four weeks and right then and there he started training me and I was my fittest and leanest I've ever been.

"Since then I do Bounce at Libra Fitness four times a week; it's similar to working out on a trampoline. It's low impact and you can do weight training, push-ups and lunges, but the best thing is it's fun. I'm a kid again jumping on it, and then you have a 45-minute workout and you're sweating buckets and I'm laughing all the time."

Mr. Miller, who designed Ms. McNeil's program, shares details.

"An example of a Bounce workout for Suzie would be this circuit done three times: 40 wide- legged jump squats, 60 seconds of a basketball agility drills, 30 squat and pulls with both the Bounce and the TRX system [suspension training gear] 30 side- trunk flexion, 100 posterior pelvic tilts, and 30 push-ups."

My lifestyle

"I don't abide by three meals a day; I eat when I'm hungry and that maintains my weight. I'm lactose intolerant. I found that out a few years ago and I dropped five pounds after I stopped drinking milk. I have two meals a day, I don't get hungry enough [for more meals] Today breakfast was granola and yogurt. Lunch was spaghetti and meat sauce with asparagus.

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"Food choices are hard unless you can travel with a chef. I work hard to get the balance of everything I need, so I keep power bars in my car."

My motivation

"The best way for me to achieve my goal is to be held accountable. To keep it up, I enjoy group activities or with one partner or a trainer. I get my sister to come to class. I enjoy classes because it holds me to a time. I work well under that regime."

My anthem

" Dynamite by Taio Cruz."

My challenge

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"Alcohol. I'm constantly doing dinners and parties, and it's better to not drink at all, but I like red wine."

THE CRITIQUE

Improve endurance

According to Jason Gee, a Toronto-based strength and conditioning specialist, Ms. McNeil would improve her cardiovascular fitness and endurance for singing if her effort during Bounce classes reached and maintained a target heart rate of 75 to 85 per cent of her maximum intensity.

Adds Mr. Gee: "I recommend Suzie do military planks 20 to 30 times every day to tone her core and arms, which would help her [muscular endurance]during her guitar performances. She could also add hammer curls and triceps extensions to shape and definite her arms."

Reduce sugar, increase fibre

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Mr. Gee, who holds a bachelor's degree in health and physical education from the University of Toronto, says many granola and yogurt brands contain almost 30 grams of sugar per serving and lack enough fibre, essential for digestive health.

"Suzie should look for yogurt brands with less than 10 grams of sugar per serving and cereals that have at least 10 grams of fibre. And I suggest she choose a power bar between 180 and 220 calories, that's low in sugar. As for pasta, she should try flax or whole wheat because they have more fibre, which helps the body lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease."

These interviews have been condensed and edited.

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