Winter Fitness and Exercise Therapy with Sarah Zahab – Kitchissippi Times

Sarah Zehab poses for a photo at her gym.  She holds weight.
Sarah Zahab is a registered kinesiologist and co-founder of Westboro’s Continuum Fitness. Photo provided

By Zenith Wolf

Registered Kinesiologist Sarah Zahab is getting Westboro residents moving again.

Zahab opened Continuum Fitness in 2011 to provide one-on-one fitness coaching services with a focus on improving the quality of movement in active individuals. They have grown to add athletic therapy, registered massage therapy and registered physical therapy.

The Kitchissippi Times sat down with Zahab to talk about why exercise is important and how to stay fit in the new year.

KT: Tell us about your fitness journey and how it led you to founding Continuum Fitness.

SZ: I was always an active kid and this turned active in my university years. I used to dance competitively as a child and after I stopped dancing I looked for other opportunities to get active. I came across fitness competitions and decided to compete.

But most of all, I really enjoyed my studies in human kinetics and kinesiology. I started working during university in a gym. In a few years [the job]it felt like a seamless transition to open Continuum Fitness with my husband, who was a strength and conditioning coach.

We co-founded [the gym] to help our local community and offer services from educated and experienced practitioners. Westboro is home to us, so it was very important to provide services here.

KT: What kind of feedback do you hear from the community members you train with?

SZ: We have a number of success stories. We work with many people who have discomfort or limitations: maybe they can’t run or walk without pain in their knees or back. With our multidisciplinary approach, we are able to help people move optimally and exercise safely.

KT: How does it feel to see these success stories come to fruition in your own gym?

SZ: There is nothing more satisfying than hearing someone say “I can run again when they told me I could never run” and getting them back to the activities they enjoy.

KT: Why is exercise so important?

SZ: Canadian guidelines recommend getting 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week—plus two strength sessions—for overall health. What’s really important to understand is that these recommendations are for optimal health, not aesthetic purposes.

It’s to improve our cardiovascular health, our muscular systems, our lymphatic systems. It’s to help us do the things we want without hurting ourselves. [It’s] for our mental health.

KT: It’s that time of year when people struggle with the winter blues, the cold and windy weather, and going back to work. How can people stay in shape given all these factors?

SZ: Starting small and staying consistent is really important. For many people, walking is very affordable. You might not be able to walk as far or as long because it’s cold, but you can still go for a walk. We are very fortunate in the Westboro community to have the Kichi Sibi Trail for hiking and skiing.

Do indoor workouts, follow a virtual class, and discover the activities that bring you joy [can also help].

KT: People are also starting to act on their New Year’s resolutions. What advice do you have for someone who has set a fitness resolution?

SZ: If you are going to set a resolution, I would suggest that it be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Make sure you are doing an activity that you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life.

And start slow. In my 22 years of practicing kinesiology, the most successful people are those who started slow and progressed slowly but remained consistent. I can’t stress the consistency enough.

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