To detox or not?

Many of you reading this have probably encountered or even tried detoxing or cleansing the body. This is especially popular after the Christmas holidays and as many embark on New Year’s resolutions for a healthier lifestyle. The approach of choice may be influenced by the latest fad from celebrities (for example the “Tea Tox” teas used for debloating ) or  quickest results (e.g. juice cleanses for weight loss).


There are so many questions revolving around this topic- What is the difference between a cleanse or detox? What is the purpose behind them? Are they safe to do and how often? Do they work?


With little evidence from published scientific studies to help address these questions, it is no wonder that society is often confused as to what approach to take. Nutrition studies in general are hard to publish as results are often inconclusive due to the many compounding factors that can influence what is being measured.


Using my academic background and information gathered from the limited pool of published data and other resources, I shall attempt to address these questions. In addition, I would like to introduce you to a program that I believe is one of the more appropriate ones on the market if you are wanting to do a detox; one that is led by health care professionals, called “the Detox Passport”.


  1. What is the difference between a cleanse and a detox?  The purpose? Do they work?

Cleanse- a way of cleaning out the digestive track.

Detox- improving overall health of the liver and kidneys by “detoxing” the body of toxins.

A cleanse is often rich in fibre  and protein while low in refined sugars whereas a detox offers a more variety of methods that involve a change to diet and lifestyle including teas, smoothies, diets, saunas etc  1 .

Thus the purpose behind a cleanse versus a detox is different, so it is important than one understand these differences in order to meet the desired goals.

They both allegedly offer a variety of benefits including an increase in energy levels and mental health. Many will argue that our gut is the centre of our universe; if something is off there then the rest of the body will feel it. Thus helping to remove toxins or cleaning out our digestive track may help re-centre our gut.

Cleanses and detoxes also offer specific needs e.g.  for weight loss, a cleanse is more ideal due to high fibre allowing for increased bowel movements, as well protein intake to keep muscle mass  versus a night of binge drinking, a detox can help clear the body of ethanol and its matabolites that has built up in the bloodstream.


2.   Are detoxes and cleanses safe and effective? How often should they be done?

Klein et al conducted an extensive review on published detox diets and as the case with many nutrition studies, concluded that to date there is no randomized controlled trial assessing the effectiveness of detox diets in humans 2 .

What about the converse? If there is no benefit according to published data, can there be harm?  Yes there can be. If individuals are not careful doing cleanses and detoxes i.e. too often, not under the guidance of a qualified professional (e.g.naturopath or nutritionist ) then it is possible to cause harm especially if one deprives the body of the necessary nutrients,  become severe energy depleted  or participate in extended supplementation (laxatives etc).

In my opinion, I do not believe cleanses and detoxes should be used for weight loss, which is the reason many embark on this practice. Our bodies are equipped with a detoxification system on its own- our skin, respiratory system, immune system, liver, kidneys and intestines. There may be occasions, however, where the body may need some assistance. . If one is used to eating out, consuming processed foods, drinking alcohol frequently,  using products with toxins etc , then a detox may be of value.  With the number of chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis, there can be some benefit to the body 3. Currently there are some preliminary studies which suggest that certain nutritional components  (e.g.  citric acid and algae) posses detoxing properties 4.

How often should one do a cleanse? Online there is a variety of suggestions but on average many in the field recommend twice a year. HOWEVER, it is best you consult with your own health care professional as your needs may be different. You may not be a candidate to participate depending on your health and lifestyle.  With the right guidance, it is possible to participate in a detox program safely.

More research and funding is needed in this field so that consumers can be well informed about the potential risks as well as benefits of detox and cleanse programmes.


Detox Passport: Preventative Health

For many, the simple solution of eating healthier and minimizing products with chemicals isn’t so simple. They need guidance in how to change their lifestyle. This is the premise behind the detox passport program, created by graduates of Naturopathic Medicine (Emily and Erica)- to make preventative health accessible with herbal teas, recipe guidebook,  list of toxic ingredients to avoid in skincare, other useful resources as well as an online community of health conscious individuals with guided support from the creators.

The core of this program utilizes teas that are specifically targeted to cleanse first the colon, then the liver, then the kidneys and finally the lymph and blood. Drinking tea has been a healthy promoting habit since the ancient times. There is mounting evidence that supports the health benefits of tea, including disease prevention 5. It is important to note that many companies market herbal teas as tea, but the drink in question for health benefits are made from the plant camellia sinensis. 

For more studies on the benefits of tea, please refer to 5-12 of the reference section.

For more information about the detox passport, please check out the link:


Graduated of Naturopathic Medicine and creators of Detox Passport- Emily & Erica



  2. Klein A & Kiat H. Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence. J Hum Nutr Diet 2015; 28, 675-686.
  4. Zhao ZY, Liang L, Fan X et al., (2008) The role of modified citrus pectin as an effective chelator of lead in children hospitalized with toxic lead levels. Altern Ther Health Med 14, 34–38.
  5. Khan N & Mukhtar H. (2013). Tea and Health: Studies in humans. Curr Pharm Des 19 (34), 6141-6147.
  6. Adhami VM, Ahmad N, Mukhtar H. (2003) Molecular targets for green tea in prostate cancer prevention. J Nutr 133, 2417S–24S.
  7. Stangl V, Lorenz M, Stangl K. (2006). The role of tea and tea flavonoids in cardiovascular health. Mol Nutr Food Res 50, 218–28.
  8. Choan E, Segal R, Jonker D, et al. (2005) A prospective clinical trial of green tea for hormone refractory prostate cancer: an evaluation of the complementary/alternative therapy approach. Urol Oncol 23, 108–13.
  9. Sun CL, Yuan JM, Koh WP, Yu MC. (2006) Green tea, black tea and breast cancer risk: a meta-analysis of epidemiological studies. Carcinogenesis 27, 1310–5.
  10. Khan N, Mukhtar H. (2008) Multitargeted therapy of cancer by green tea polyphenols. Cancer Lett 269, 269–80.
  11. Sueoka N, Suganuma M, Sueoka E, et al. (2001) A new function of green tea: prevention of lifestyle-related diseases. Ann N Y Acad Sci 928, 274–80.
  12. Mukhtar H & Ahmed N. (2000). Tea polyphenols: prevention of cancer and optimizing health. Am J Clin Nutr 71, 1698S-702S.



** Disclaimer- while I have tried to provide academic references where applicable, this article was done on my own accord, and in some ways my opinion. It is not endorsed by any program. I have chosen to share Detox Passport because I believe they offer a unique concept with trained health professionals offering guidance. I was not asked to or paid to show my support for them.

TEA-licious: top Tea Cafes in Toronto

I frequently see blogs about coffee spots across the city, but not often do I encounter ones that cater specifically to TEA. If you are a non-coffee drinker like myself (never had a cup in my life), then tea may be your best alternative for a hot drink, especially on a cold winter day.

And just like my last blog post (top fitness studios in Toronto), I spent many months exploring cafes across the city as I compiled a list of my top spots. The places that I listed provided more than just a tea bag in hot water; I was looking for unique blends, tasty lattes, great ambiance and Pinterest-worthy decor.


  1. Early Bird Espresso & Brew Bar 

Located at 613 Queen Street West (Queen and Bathurst), Early Bird is one of my favourite cafes in the city. The patio upstairs is the perfect hideaway and the food is Instagram worthy AND heathy- double win.




The tea menu is your typical selection that can be made with water or milk (almond, regular, soy). Their chai lattes was my go to but as of this summer, I became obsessed with their charcoal latte (charcoal and milk; no coffee. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog about all the benefits of charcoal).



Charcoal Latte with Smoothie Bowl


In the winter or rainy day, the atmosphere is perfect for meeting a friend for a tea or doing some solo work with the many other entrepreneurs in there. You may get lucky and meet a new friend. I had an unexpected good chat with actress Troian Bellisario, who played Spencer Hastings on the popular show “Pretty LittleLiars” and wife to Patrick  Adams (Mike Ross from the  show “Suits”). In fact, I left her reading through my website so who knows, maybe she is reading this one too?



Chai Latte with Almond Milk


2. Forget Me Not Cafe 

This is one of Toronto’s hidden gems for a coffee shop. It’s part retail store (dishes, jewellery and other hand made items) and part coffee shop. I walked past it many times for years before I ventured inside 506 Adelaide Street West.




Forget Me Not makes one of my favourite tea lattes year round. In the summer I order an iced almond tea latte made with almond tea from the brand “Tealicious” (it gives it the pink colour pictured above) and almond milk. In the winter I order the same as a hot drink. And it tastes as yummy as it looks pretty.


3. Calii Love 

Calii Love is known for their Poke and smoothie bowls. During the opening week at the King Location, the owner made a tea latte for me that was unique and became a favourite of mine- coconut latte.




They have a list of teas from the brand “Serenitea”, one of which is called “coconut dream”.  He made this for me with coconut milk and it was one of the tastiest tea lattes I have ever had. It’s not on the menu so you will have to ask for it explicitly, but the staff are always agreeable to making this tropical dream.




4. Sud Forno 

Sud Forno has a few spots across the city, but one of my favourite locations is on Queen street. They carry the “Sloane Fine Tea Merchant ” brand with flavours like Rouge Provence (rooibos French florals), Ginger Twist, Jasmine Snow Dragon, to name a few.

I usually grab the tea to go as I roam Queen street,  sit in Trinity Bellwoods or hang out in the back patio of Kit and Ace (pictured below).


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5.Cafe Cancan

This place blew up instragram this summer for its decor and cute patio. And I admit that I jumped on that bandwagon. While many frequent here for a meal, I think it would make the perfect tea date.




They carry the Pluck brand tea, which you can request with milk for a latte or with water. I ordered an Earl Grey tea latte, pictured below.




6. Simit and Chai

I go to this authentic Turkish cafe on 787 King Street W for a Simit (Turkish circular bread that I get with olive paste and prosciutto) and a Chai. On occasion, however, I get the Turkish black tea , which has a unique yet rich taste that I enjoy.





7.Maman Tea

I first stumbled on this cute cafe in NYC and was pleasantly surprised to find out that they have a location in Toronto at the First Canadian Place on King Street. The decor of Maman is top notch including their bathroom!






Maman  carries the Sloane brand tea. But they are also known for their Blueberry Lavender Loaves. I am not a fan of pastries and cakes, especially if they haven’t been made with minimal processed ingredients. However, this loaf is one of the few pasties I enjoy and I usually compliment it with the “Rooibos French Florals”  tea latte.




8.Jacked Up Coffee 

You can’t venture into Yorkville without noticing this bright blue truck parked on Yorkville Avenue. Jack, the owner, is often manning the truck during the weekdays and brings with him some serious barista skills from many countries (Australia, England).




While Jacked Up Coffee is known for their coffee, they also sell tea (by the Genuine Tea Company). The atmosphere there is perfect for grabbing a cup of peppermint or English breakfast tea while people watching.


9.The Poet Cafe 

This Persian inspired cafe is located on King East and offers customers an atmosphere  reminiscent of Old Tehran. I’m a huge fan of unique business, and while many boast of the cuisine here, I love the vibe the Poet cafe brings to the city.




One of my favourite chai lattes in the city comes from here as they make an in house chai syrup consisting of saffron, rose, cardamon, black tea and honey.


10.Rooster House Coffee 

With a few locations across the city, Rooster house is becoming one of the more popular coffee shops in the city. I’ve gone to both their King and Jarvis locations a few dozen times and I have never seen it empty (even at opening and closing time).



The Jarvis location remains one of my favourite decorated cafes. I love the old English vibe that makes me feel like I am trapped in time.




They are also one of the few cafes that has more than a chai tea latte on the menu. Two of my favourites tea lattes from here are the Ginger Honey Tea Latte (perfect if you are feeling sick) and the Toasty Almond Latte.


11.Music Garden Cafe 

Music Garden Cafe is a quaint little spot on the Harborfront. I used to live in the area and love the decor (especially at Christmas) which made me feel like I was sitting at my grandma’s home. Also, the location is perfect for a grab-n-go tea followed by a stroll along the waterfront.




They cary the brand “Two Leaves and a Bud” tea with a variety of flavours but my go to is usually the organic mountain high chai.


12.Versus Coffee

I am obsessed with the minimalist look so I was instantly drawn to Versus. The customer service and the fact that they are an independent company were also bonuses for my attraction towards them.




Versus also carries the Genuine Tea brand, my favourite of which is the vanilla rooibos flavour. I rotate between getting this as a latte with almond milk or with just water.





13.The Place 

I was turning around the corner from the Flat Iron Building off of Church street when I randomly stumbled on The Place- a flower shop complimented with a cafe. French music played in the background of this fairly quiet cafe, which immediately drew me in.




Their signature latte is the rose latte- but it is coffee based. Seeing that I wanted to try these rose petals but omit the coffee flavour, the barista created a unique latte for me that I must share with you – a cinnamon tea latte garnished with rose petals. It isn’t on the menu but I encourage you to request it if you go.


14.Her Majesty’s Pleasure

One of the most popular spots in the city for a bachelorette or birthday, Her Majesty’s pleasure is often sought out for their cocktails and spa services. But the bright atmosphere, leaf-printed cushions and metallic decor just screams for you to come in and enjoy a spot of tea. It is called Her Majesty, after all.




As with many of the places that carry the Sloane tea brand, you can enjoy as a latte or with hot water. And maybe as a bonus while you sip away, you can book yourself a quick manicure.


15.Kitten and the Bear

This tiny little tea room in Queen West offers only 2 seating arrangements for a jam and tea service – a 2 seater and a 3 seater table. I am a huge advocate for balance so I had no problem enjoying their freshly made scones with gelatin-free all natural jams to compliment my Sloane tea.




They don’t take reservations so be sure to visit off peak hours or take your chances coming down there. The quaint atmosphere and intimate service though will make it worth your while. You can however grab a tea to go, but I would recommend sitting down for high tea.





Plentea is almost exclusively just teas- probably  one of the few cafes heavily void of a coffee selection. Hello Tea heaven!




This spot is another one of my favourite spots namely because they offer a large variety of tea and tea lattes . Some of my recommendations here include coconut cream, black velvet, and for the fall flavours like numeric milk and pumpkin.




17.Infuse Cafe 

Another unique tea only spot is just steps away from Eaton Centre. So this Christmas while you are doing your shopping, be sure to check this cafe out. They also serve iced teas so the perfect spot year round

Their teas range from herbal, green, black, organic milk, white and oolong.

Some of my favourites include: apple pie, scarlet rose, turmeric ginger, chocolate chai and marshmallow smores.




18.Strange Love Coffee

With a couple locations in Toronto, the Spadina one became increasingly popular this summer namely because of its pink instagrammble “Toronto” sign mural painted outside the cafe.




They serve gelato and coffee, but the teas shouldn’t be ignored. Specifically if you are a matcha lover, then you will want to try out their seasonal “gingerbread matcha latte”.




19.Fika Cafe

Fika is a Swedish word, meaning “to have coffee”. So it is no surprise that someone was bound to name a coffee shop “Fika”.




Fika is nestled in Kensington Market and is one of my favourite cafes in the city (I am aware I wrote that a lot but when there are hundreds of cafes, have a handful of favourites is inevitable). It takes the cake for decor, atmosphere and teas. I am yet to figure out how or why, but their chai lattes are the best. They use the Genuine Tea brand but the baristas admit to adding both honey and cinnamon to the milk, giving it an even more enjoyable flavour.





In the hustle and bustle of the Financial district, Dineen offers many city goers coffee both on the go and in store. It is rare to find it peaceful in there as the energy of Toronto is evident. And one can’t help but feed off of it.




My go to at Dineen is the Chai latte. I admit that this place is a high contender for atmosphere and decor. Many bloggers and instagrammers are often seen taking photos of their drinks showcased above the patterned tiles (case in point below).  Often in the summer I will sit on the road side patio with friends or people watch.




21.Light cafe 

Light Cafe is a Taiwanese inspired cafe that takes pride in their decor (green plant covered wall) and presentation. They stand by an interesting philosophy ” Eat fresh. Live true. Stay hungry”.




While they are known to many for their charcoal waffles and cotton candy coffee, they do make some pretty tasty teas including their Earl Grey Rose latte.


22.Balzac’s Coffee Roasters

Balzac’s is growing coffee company with 13 locations across Canada. They are highly rated for their coffees, and this summer they became known for serving coffee in a cone!




Their teas are not to be overlooked. Specifically they serve an organic chai tea, which unlike many places, is not too sweet (I like to taste the spices in my chai latte, not the sugar).


Pumpkin Spice & everything nice

IMG_1787 2 copy


It’s that time of year again here in Canada and many other countries. The time where we start adding the layers of clothing, see the leaves changing colours and resume our obsession with everything pumpkin.

I personally do not like coffee so the infamous Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte, or PSL according to some, never excited me but I am obsessed with pumpkin – pumpkin pies, pumpkin smoothies, you name it. Most of it I have to make on my own though as I don’t enjoy processed foods so over the years I have tweaked some of the popular recipes to replace butter, sugar and white flour with healthier options.

This year I have decided to share some of those recipes. AND I have formed a collaboration with some of my Instagram friends to also include some from them.

I hope you enjoy these recipes.

Leave a comment if you have any suggestions or future requests!

Also, I have created a Facebook page called “Scrubs2Sweats”. I would like to invite you to follow so you can be notified on any new posts- fitness, wellness or travel oriented including blog notifications.



  1.                    Pumpkin Pie





Pie filling:

  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2  cup egg whites
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1.5 cups almond milk



  • 3 cups coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup almond milk



  1. Mix wet ingredients together for pie filling
  2. Mix dry ingredients together for pie filling
  3. Mix wet and dry ingredients together to form the pie filling batter
  4. For the crust, spread out the coconut flour in a pie pan. Mesh together using a fork to form a crust. Slowly add in drops of coconut oil and almond milk to “stick” the flour together. If you have access to a pie impression mould, you can use it to flatten the flour and create the pie crusted edges shown in my photo above.
  5. Refrigerate the pie crust for about an hour
  6. Preheat oven to 425F
  7. Pour the batter into the pie crust
  8. Bake at 425F for 15 minutes
  9. Reduce temperature to 350F for 45 minutes
  10. Let pie cool for about half hour. Ideally put in the fridge for another hour before serving.
  11. Serve with tea or your favourite gelato. Enjoy!


Contributor: Jessy

Instagram: @scrubs2sweats

Facebook: Scrubs2sweats



2.                   No Bake Pumpkin Chocolate Energy Balls





  • 1/3 cup pecans
  • 1/3 cup cashews
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3 tbsp. hemp hearts
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 medjool dates
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cloves and nutmeg
  • pinch of ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp of sea salt


Added later:

  • 5 tbsp. rolled oats (use gluten free if necessary)
  • 2 tbsp. chocolate chips



  1. Add all of the above into your food processor until the mixture comes together.
  2. Refrigerate this for about 20 minutes so they can harden a bit.
  3. Add the rolled oats to the mixture and pulse until they are combined.
  4. Move the mixture to a medium sized bowl and add the chocolate chips.
  5. Roll into balls and keep them in the fridge.


Contributor: Jaclyn Irwin

Instagram: @holistic.foodie 




3.                       Pumpkin Spice Energy Balls 





  • 10 dates
  • 1/2 cup organic puree
  • 1 tbsp organic maple syrup
  • 1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
  • 3 scoops Arbonne vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 pecans



  1. Blend all the ingredients together in food processor
  2. roll into balls
  3. Refrigerate for 1 hour


Contributor: Steff Sullivan, RN, BScN, DM 

Instagram: @fitnursepreneur 

Website:  to order Arbonne protein powder check out 



4.                       Creamy Pumpkin Pie Smoothie





  • 1 cup of Almond Milk
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 scoop of plant based vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tsp. hemp seeds
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Vanilla extract
  • Optional: handful of spinach


Blend all ingredients together and enjoy!


Contributor: Amanda Bottiglia, RHN

Instagram: @amandabotnutrition




5.                                Pumpkin Pie Smoothie




This recipe is very similar to the one above by Amanda, with minor variations.


  • 1 cup cashew milk
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2  cup fresh pumpkin (boil then blend to puree)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup  dates
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 scoop vanilla plant based protein powder


Blend all ingredients together and enjoy!


Contributor: Jessy

Instagram: @scrubs2sweats

Facebook: Scrubs2sweats



6.                        Paleo Pumpkin Coffee Cake  





Crumb topping :
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup


Coffee cake:

  • 1 cup pure pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 325° F
  2. Line a square baking dish with parchment paper.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the crumb topping. Mix until all dry ingredients are moistened. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the melted coconut oil, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and pumpkin. Mix well.
  5. Add the eggs and mix until blended well.
  6. Then add the almond flour, coconut flour, cinnamon, pumpkin spice, baking soda, and salt.
  7. Mix until completely blended.
  8. Pour into prepared pan and sprinkle the top with the crumb topping.
  9. Bake for 50-55 minutes.


Contributor: Diana 

Instagram: @dianashealthyliving 



7.                 Chocolate Coated Pumpkin Pie Truffled 


image1 9.12.41 PM


  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp each of ginger, cloves, all spice
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil



  1. In a food processor, pulse the first 5 ingredients until well combined. Then roll into balls and freeze.
  2. Melt the chocolate and coconut oil together.
  3. Dip each ball into the chocolate sauce and lift out using a fork. Place on a lined cookie sheet.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. Enjoy!


Contributor: Jessica Urack 

Instagram: @healthyhabits.byjess 




8.                 Pumpkin “cream” filled Muffins





  • 1.5 cups coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup blended zucchini
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence


Cream filling:

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice



  1. Preheat oven to 300F
  2. Mix wet ingredients together
  3. Mix dry ingredients together
  4. Mix wet and dry together to form a batter free of clumps
  5. mix together ingredients for filling
  6. Pour batter into muffin pan (coated with coconut oil) half way, then layer with the filling before topping off with another layer of batter
  7. Bake for 20-25 mins
  8. Cool for 5-10 minutes before serving


Contributor: Jessy

Instagram: @scrubs2sweats

Facebook: Scrubs2sweats











Creating Autonomy for Fitness Clients

AUTONOMY- What is it? And how does it relate to fitness and training of clients?

Autonomy means to create independence with one’s own thoughts or actions. Many of us developed autonomy as a result of parents/guardian-child or teacher-student relationships. We are taught a certain task and then given the free reigns to apply those tools so that we can learn to master the said task on our own. For example, learning to ride a bike. We are shown how to do so and with practice over time, we can ride a bike without help from others.

The concept of autonomy has been adapted within many other professions. In health care, creating patient autonomy is a huge initiative to reduce medical costs and allow patients to have more control and say in their treatment. Several studies have been conducted in support of patient autonomy. For example, published papers by Elwyn 1 and  Entwistle 2 encourage enabling and providing support which allows patient to be better informed and manage their treatment.

This movement isn’t as prominent in fitness outside a regulated health setting (i.e. sports medicine, rehab etc) but it also isn’t a novel idea. Unfortunately many fitness businesses rely on the clients depending on their trainers to navigate their sessions and thereby create a dependency. From a business model it makes sense to have this type of dependent relationship. But if the purpose is to truly promote a healthy lifestyle, then helping the client create the foundation for proper movement is imperative. Thus creating client autonomy.




Client autonomy isn’t just about teaching the client what to do and expect them to perform the task on their own. IDEA Fitness Journal defines autonomy for clients as one where the individual engages in exercise because they choose to do so 3. They state that the trainer can do the following to create client autonomy:

  1. offer the clients exercise they will choose to do
  2. help them redefine what exercise means to them (i.e. that doing certain exercises at the gym on x day for y sets for z time isn’t the only exercise they can do. If the client feels restrictive then the drop out rate will likely be high.)

But in order to create client autonomy, other elements must play a role for it to be effective. The self -determination theory is a contemporary theory of human motivation and it comprises of three elements, one of them being autonomy.

  1. Autonomy- a desire to engage in an activity of one’s choosing
  2. Relatedness- feeling connected or belonging to an environment
  3. Competence- feeling desired to interact effectively with the environment




Teixeira et al  conducted a systematic review of the literature looking at exercise, physical activity and self-determination theory. Amongst the 66 empirical studies, the literature demonstrated the importance of client autonomy in fostering physical activity.

Further to that, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM’s) Health and Fitness Journal published an article suggesting that if the exercise environment is rich in autonomy support, structure and interpersonal involvement, then the needs of autonomy, relatedness and competence will be supported 4. This would thereby allow health and fitness professionals to empower their clients to take ownership of their exercise and subsequently achieving the benefits associated with an active lifestyle.

There are some fitness establishments that take pride in creating client autonomy. Bang Fitness in Toronto, for example, offers “Hybrid Training” whereby the client gets the best elements of personal training and group fitness. They get an individualized program design, nutritional counselling and 1:4 ratio personalized coaching.



Example of the Hybrid Coaching- A few clients training independently and one Fitness Coach on hand to provide guidance


As I was curious about this style of training, I sought out more details from Founder and Head Strength & Conditioning Coach Geoff Girvitz. He described the Hybrid approach as one where they “bend the system to fit the person”. He explained that they believe in creating a meaningful process with long term goals in that the client can learn proper biomechanics so that later on in their lives they can remain durable and better aware of their body’s movement i.e. a concept rooted in movement.



Geoff Gervitz- Founder and Head Strength & Conditioning Coach at Bang Fitness in Toronto


Initially the clients are shown the proper techniques, and instead of micromanaging them for the hour, they are given their program and left to train on their own but with their trainer present. This allows the clients to train independently and show their trainers what they know, and the trainers can subsequently correct the clients when the biomechanics are off. It’s a concept which truly empowers the clients to take ownership in their training.

I encourage those of you reading this article who desire a more independent style of training, especially for longevity, to seek out fitness professionals willing to create a program or system that promotes autonomy in training.


For more information on Bang Fitness, please check out their site:


** All photos depicted in this article were taken at Bang Fitness, with permission of Founder Geoff Gervitz




  1. Elwyn D. Advocating mandatory patient ‘autonomy’ in healthcare: adverse reactions and see effects. Health Care Analysis 2008; 16: 315-28.
  2. Entwistle V. et al. Supporting patient autonomy: the importance of clinician-patient relationships. J Gen Intern Med 2010; 25 (7): 741-5.
  4. Edmunds J et al. Helping your client and patients take ownership over their exercise: fostering exercise adoption, adherence, and associated well-being. ACSM Health & Fitness Journal 2009; 13 (3): 20-25
  5. Teixeira P. et al. Exerces, physical activity, and self-determination theory: a systematic review. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 2012; 9:78-108.



Colour Your Water – Infused Recipes

It is said that you can go 100 hours without drinking water at an average temperature outdoors, according to Professor Claude Piantadosi of Duke University. That is approximately 3 days.  We therefore have 3 days before severe dehydration sets in and if not reversed, death can kick in.


Okay so enough with the dramatics (although it is all true). We all know water consumption is really important and yet we struggle to drink enough of it.  The Institute of Medicine recommends an average intake of 13 cups (3L) for men, and 9 cups (2.2L) for women a day. As one’s body weight would alter that approximation, the recommended way to calculate water intake is to divide your body weight in half. That number is the amount of ounces of water you should consume a day. For example, if you weight 200 pounds, you should be consuming 100 ounces of water per day.

For many of us, it’s difficult to drink that much water. If it was a glass of wine or a chocolate milkshake then no problem, but water for some reason is difficult for many to drink the required amount. To help with that issue, one can add a variety of fruits and herbs to bring flavour to the water. Water infusion bottles are also quite popular now (they are the water bottles that have an inner container which holds the fruit, preventing them from going to the bottom of the bottle). Places such as David’s Tea, Walmart, Winners, Lose and so forth are selling such bottles.


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Strawberries & Mint


Here is a list of infused water recipes:

  • cucumber and mint
  • watermelon and basil
  • cinnamon and pear
  • cranberries and oranges
  • rosemary and blueberries
  • blood oranges, lemon and rosemary
  • strawberries and mint
  • lime, strawberry and mint
  • oranges, cinnamon, cloves and cardamon
  • cucumber, mint and jalapeno
  • lemon, cucumber and grapefruit
  • pineapple and oranges
  • cucumber, orange and mint
  • ginger and lemon
  • ginger, honey and lemon (especially with hot water)
  • ginger and peaches
  • kiwi and strawberries
  • apple and cinnamon
  • lime and strawberries
  • fennel and pear
  • orange and blueberries
  • rosemary and grapefruit
  • jalapeño and pineapple
  • honey dew melon, mint and honey
  • lemon and thyme
  • blueberries, strawberries & raspberries
  • mangoes, strawberries and blueberries (especially if frozen)


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Bottles left to right: Peach & ginger; Lemon, oranges & rosemary ; lavender and blueberries


It is best to soak for a few hours to let the flavours diffuse into the water. If you can, prep overnight and refrigerate. Some additional alterations you can do include using frozen fruits in the summer or hot water in the winter (especially with any lemon recipes).