Today wasn’t a “Jess” day in the typical sense. I woke up feeling pretty low energy and not particularly excited about hitting the gym at 7:30. Nevertheless, I did it. After all, my clothes are feeling more comfortable and my energy has been through the roof.


I’ve been back on the tennis court after a shoulder injury kept me on and off for quite sometime. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Striation 6’s co-founder Sam Trotta and I aren’t just training in the traditional sense. We’re Striating, meaning every detail in my overall wellness regimen has been attended to. Part of the process, in addition to weight training and nutrition, is Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT).


This week, I came back from the holidays feeling somewhat low. At Sam’s suggestion, I started my New Years wellness revelation prior to Christmas in anticipation of standard January moodiness. I’m so glad I did! I not only got into a new routine that allowed me to start 2015 with healthier habits and looser jeans, but I also developed an appreciation for exercise that I’ve never previously had.


Plus, in spite of some December gorging, more and more people have been commenting on the recent change in my figure. It’s funny because while the scale has moved a bit, my clothes feel so much more comfortable, which is a reminder that a transformation isn’t purely about “weight loss”. For me, this is a revelation.


Easing back into the process has been seamless. With that said, I explained to Sam that my shoulder was acting up at the beginning of January. And so, rather than launching into a weight training/ISOPHIT session, I hopped on the MAT table. After a combination of checking my range of motion, manually testing me to check for muscular instabilities and a combination of (let’s say) interesting pokes on various parts of my body, I felt huge changes in both my pain levels and my ability to move my shoulder. Here’s the kicker: he actually didn’t even touch my shoulder. According to Sam, “I know your shoulder feels like it’s screaming for help right now, but it’s actually your spine that’s whimpering silently in the corner that seems to be causing this whole mess.”


Two days later, I was back on the gym floor, feeling like I hadn’t skipped a beat. The Welcome Back session went like this:
– A total body ISOPHIT warm-up to get my blood flowing and my muscles prepped for movement
– ISOPHIT Leg Presses supersetted with Machine Leg Press – S6’s new machines are from this killer company called Keiser and they are AWESOME!
– ISOPHIT Rows supersetted with Bent Dumbbell Rows
– Kettlebell Swings


This is a little less than we would normally do, but it was a perfect way to get back into my routine – just enough squeeze to get my workouts for the year started off right.

Continue Reading


Jess’ Fitness Transformation Continues


Have you ever made love to your lats and glutes? As of today, I have.


The thought of working out before the sun hasn’t even risen can be daunting. And yet I don’t dread Striation 6. Sam Trotta, co-founder of the Toronto gym, has become my personal lifestyle coach. He’s taught me to not only enjoy being at the gym, but to get the absolute most out of my body without wanting to die.


So back to the sweet, sweet love affair that I had with my lats and glutes today. We did shoulder-bag lunges (I’ll get a video for everyone ASAP – this is a Sam original and it’s awesome!), bent rows using a DynaBell (click here to check these babies out. Striation 6 is the first facility in Canada to have them.), KettleBell deadlifts and super-slow lat pulldowns using a very specific intention (Sam usually cues me to do these exercises in a way that I’ve never felt before – you have to experience it for yourself to understand). This is fully in addition to working on the ISOPHIT before and in between these exercises. There is no doubt in my mind at this point that I’ve built a ton of muscle, given the fact that I’m getting significantly better at using the machine.


I feel my body getting stronger and more responsive with every session. And, while Sam always works my muscles to failure, he’s like a ninja — I don’t even know what hit me until the next day when my muscles are fired up in all the right places. At that point, I hit one of Colleen McCay-Gagnon’s epic spin classes, a super-fun dance class with Dammecia or Robert’s full-body-burn yoga.


With each visit, I can feel myself understanding the virtues of Isometrics. They seem to be involved in every aspect of my workout. Sam implements them in the warm-up phases of our sessions; he uses them to intensify sets of movement-based exercises; and,we often spend significant chunks of time in our workouts using the ISOPHIT as the unique, high-intensity fat incinerator that it is. This thing is serious, and I am seeing the difference that isometrics can make in my body.


Post workout, I now meet with Colleen, who is studying to attain her Registered Holistic Nutritionist designation once or twice a week. She is training me to eat like a healthy, balanced human being. Much like you, I’m busy. Unless I have a lunch meeting, food is not my priority throughout the day. The problem is that I gorge at night, which, as we all know, is a Food 101 no-no.


Colleen immediately determined that I’m not snacking enough. This was after she disposed of 20 Halloween chocolates she saw peering out of my handbag. After just one meeting, she’d pinpointed which supplements I need to be on, the kinds of foods that will work with my schedule/lifestyle and a slew of recipes based on my “likes”.


The number one trick has been carrying around protein shakes and almonds to grab when I start feeling peckish.


Heading into my third week. Until next time!

Continue Reading


This morning, at the crack of dawn, I had a major wake-up call: the dreaded “before” shots. I know my bod isn’t as kickin’ as I know it can be, but the pics don’t lie. Mama’s got some work to do.


The good news is this: I’m slightly older (and perhaps a smidgen wiser?), so my reaction to seeing the truth was positive. I didn’t break down. I didn’t feel discouraged. I felt f—–g motivated.


I’m approaching this fitness transformation the same way I approach my business. At Cursive, when we onboard a new social media client, negativity is checked at the door. There’s no dwelling on the past. There’s no kicking the tires. The focus is on sculpting a new and improved path and hitting the ground running.


Today, at Striation 6, Sam Trotta — my personal Gian Lorenzo Bernini — and I did a little bit of role-playing. It was all about King “TUT”. Except rather than acting out Pharoahs of the 18th Dynasty, we focused on Tissue Under Tension. According to Sam, the main focus of this workout was to create metabolic activity based on contracting my muscles in a focused way and recognizing that burning calories and building lean, beautiful muscle tissue has far less to do with rep counts and speed than it does with actually subjecting your muscles to focused, intense and appropriate levels of stress. TENSION RULES!!!


The second Sam saw me, he shrieked, “Let’s get still!” That’s my cue to hop onto the ISOPHIT machine. It looks like a mash-up between a Pilates device and “The Machine” (see The Princess Bride). Even the thought of mounting this thing is intimidating. But if I shied away from everything that intimidated me, I’d be living in a box on the street. What Sam didn’t mention before we started on the ISOPHIT is that it’s freaking hard. But, as he reminded me, if you give this machine your all, it will return the favour.


The ISOPHIT, created and patented by Striation 6 co-owner Brad Thorpe, is the world’s first total-body isometric training device. In other words, again according to Sam, the machine allows me to exert force and simultaneously prevents me from moving. The ISOPHIT mixes efficiency, safety and effectiveness, ultimately leading to a better bod in less time with no damage.


Here’s what Sam led me through:

– Three minutes on each side: Standing hip abduction. Picture a leg-lift, but standing, with the lifted leg pushing into a bar. Killer on the glutes!
– Three minutes on each side: Standing hip flexion. Picture the hamstring stretch you do with your leg up on a chair, only rather than being on top of a chair it’s underneath that same bar as in the last exercise. Killer. Period.
– One three-minute ISOPHIT leg press, which is exactly like a leg machine you’d see at a typical gym, only this time there is no movement, just pure tension. I can honestly say that I’ve NEVER felt a burn in my butt or thighs like this in my life.


After we finished with the ISOPHIT, Sam took me through a movement-based workout that focused on my upper body. (I’m thinking he took pity on my legs at that point). We focused primarily on my triceps and shoulders. For my triceps, he had me alternating between a cable pushdown, where his queuing was incredibly precise and the movement was almost uncomfortably slow, and isometric tricep contractions on the ISOPHIT.


For one of the first times in my life, I could actually feel muscle tone in the back of my arms. I was surprised that this could happen so quickly, but when an exercise professional like Sam mindfully approaches a client with wisdom and humility, good things can begin to happen quite quickly. Initially, it’s about getting people to realize that they have ownership of muscles they didn’t know were there. Once that happens, tone comes.


What I appreciate and admire the most about Sam is that his approach is not one-size-fits-all. He knows me well enough to know that certain exercises make me throw up and stress yawn. Naturally, we stay away from those. Also, there’s NO treadmill involved in this scenario. I don’t know about you, but I am NOT a runner. I’m curvy and busty, which means awkward and bouncy at high speeds. Plus, why be a rodent when you can be a lion?


Shout-out to Sam and the entire Striation 6 crew on the floor today for motivating me to stay positive and mindful throughout our session — which I didn’t just “get through”. I dominated. And I can’t wait to do it again tomorrow.

Continue Reading