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Nikisha Reyes-Grange works with owner/trainer John Vivian of Toronto's Crossfit January 6, 2010. Reyes-Grange is shown doing squat weight training.

Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail/Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail

Nikisha Reyes-Grange

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Nikisha Reyes-Grange, 33, of Toronto had a noble goal to improve her 5K time, yet she followed an exercise routine that didn't suit her personality. After hearing a friend rave about an ever-changing workout, Ms. Reyes-Grange (the producer of, an initiative to help aboriginal, visible minority and disability communities become more engaged in public policy), found a regime that finally brings out her athletic best.

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My goal

"I want to be as strong, capable and functional as I possibly can. I'm able to do a pull-up with no assistance. But I want to hit 10 by the end of the year. I want to be able to back squat 200 pounds by April."

My workout

"Two days of CrossFit, two days of weight training and then one day of power yoga. The CrossFit gym I go to is a modified one with a workout of the day, but we also have the metabolic conditioning portion. We sprint 800 metres and then we do walking lunges with 50 pounds of weight on you, abs, then you drop and do 20 push-ups, and repeat this as many times as you can in the 20-minute window. But every single workout changes."

My lifestyle

"I wake up at 5:15 in the morning, drink 12 ounces of cold water and take fish oil and vitamin D caplets, and then I drink another 12 ounces with my Greens+ mixed into it. At the gym I work out at 6 a.m., I'm done at 7 a.m., drink a protein shake, and then get ready for work.

"I refuse to follow the paleo diet. I don't believe in anything that doesn't include sugar. Lunch tends to be a salad and I try to avoid red meat, so sometimes I add chicken. I am at home at least two days a week. Dinner tends to be brown rice or quinoa and stir-fry veggies and some sort of grilled meat. No fish or seafood."

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My motivation

"Weight training gives me both the immediate challenge and reward because when you set a new personal record or lift a heavy weight there's an immediate 'Yeah' - a gold star and happiness comes with that."

My anthem

"There tends to be a lot of angry rock and then randomly some pop music like Beyoncé and Black Eyed Peas."

My challenge

"To figure out ways to get more cardio into my life that doesn't involve standing on a treadmill for 45 minutes."

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Special to The Globe and Mail

The critique

Vary cardio exercises, mix up tempo

Barrie Shepley, founder of Personal Best in Toronto and a former Olympic triathlon coach, has clients who do CrossFit and says it is great up-tempo resistance training for strength and anaerobic fitness. But Ms. Reyes-Grange could benefit by adding in some lower aerobic exercise.

"This could be a swim (low impact and great range of motion), a spin class (social and as challenging as she wants to make it) or Nikisha can add steady-tempo running outdoors for 20 minutes before her organized classes."

Add weekend workouts

Mr. Shepley says the CrossFit sessions will elevate Ms. Reyes-Grange's anaerobic power, and that by adding two, 30-minute easy runs on weekends she could run a new 5K personal best.

Furthermore, he prescribes incorporating fun, yet demanding activities, which also take advantage of the seasons as they solve her challenge.

"Nikisha could use the weekend to get some longer endurance into her fitness regime. A cross-country ski in the winter or a rollerblade in the summer is advised."

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