Cool, Committed Canada
World Beat: When it comes to fitness, Canadians make it a priority.
Even though 2009 has been a tough year economically, Canadians are still willing to invest in fitness, as these days it is viewed more and more as a necessity, not a luxury. So says Peter Twist, MSc, president and chief executive officer of Twist Sport Conditioning, based in North Vancouver. Even the government is involved, setting a goal of increasing the physical activity level of Canadians 10% by next year and giving tax credits to parents who invest in their children’s physical activities and sports.
So what activities appeal to Canadians? “Classes that focus on movement and sport performance are growing. Training accessories and balance-integrated strength training are quite popular, which I attribute to an emphasis on play, body awareness and an ability to capture participants’ attention,” states Twist. “There is an increasing demand for youth sport conditioning and adult functional fitness. People here realize that you can’t accomplish anything without good health, and they want to be their best. There is also a growing ‘buy-in’ from the community on the efficacy of personal training, as people view it as a nondiscretionary service.”
Also seen in Canada is the fitness industry’s recent focus on anaerobic interval training, with its emphasis on short-burst, intense power output and high calorie expenditure. As a way to recover from strenuous workouts, exercisers are increasingly adding yoga to their regimes. Reflecting on private personal training and the current economy, Twist believes that participants will continue to look for the best value in fitness, which means more partner and small-group training and more outdoor activities. “On the (West) Coast, the population is very active. Rain or shine, there are always people cycling, running and inline skating along the beaches, and hikers in the mountains. Here in Vancouver, fitness is a lifestyle and an important part of the city’s culture. As a whole, the country understands the importance of fitness, as seen in the increase in participation by people of all ages.
“There is a shift taking place as Baby Boomers look for methods to improve quality of life and longevity—and [as we] enroll our kids in sport and fitness to inspire them to grow into active adults. Also, people are looking to stay fit or increase their levels of fitness as they age. For our athletes, the bottom line is performance—they want to jump higher, run faster or score more goals—injury free.”
Over the past decade, Twist has seen more similarities in the way men and women approach fitness. “Although women’s-only classes remain highly popular, the format of the classes is [now] based on athletic movement and strength drills. Women aren’t looking for a ‘softer’ approach; they want to be challenged.”
Even though Canada is not immune from the issues of childhood obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, Twist sees Canadians as aware of, and educated about, the link between exercise and health, and therefore committed to achieving a healthy lifestyle. With this hopeful attitude in mind, his message to exercisers everywhere is “Let’s achieve that together.” n
In the May article, “Japan Is Jumping,” the world map was inadvertently picked up from an earlier column on the Philippines. We apologize for the error—particularly to our Japanese readers.
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