Gravity and Movement

Gravity and Movement

Written by: Paul DeAngelis

What is the most important factor in movement? If you come from a traditional fitness community, you might be tempted to say “strength”, or “power”, or even “motivation”. In actuality, it’s gravity.

Gravity is one of the first challenging forces we encounter as we grow up, since literally all movement is directed by it. Newborns trying to crawl, trying to stand, or trying to walk are facing it head on. Remember that movement, in essence, is the shifting of body weight in order to change from one position to another. What are you working against in order to complete these shifts in body weight? Gravity.

You can try to use as much muscular energy as you like, working only to bulk up and gain mass. But until you understand that gravity dictates all possible movements, you won’t be able to become faster, stronger, or more efficient.

So how can you harness the power of gravity and increase efficiency? One way is to watch and analyze the world’s top performers (something I’ve spent a lot of time doing); the reason they’re the best movers in the world is because they use gravity to their advantage, strategically making each movement easier for themselves. The way they do this is “falling” from one position to the next, using as little muscular energy as possible during the fall stages, and only re-engaging to assume the next ideal position.

A great example is to look at dancers. They make it look easy, right? That’s because their entire skill set is based on using gravity! The flow between steps and positions is actually them “falling”; shifting their body weight, then reassuming positions on cue. They’ve figured out how to work WITH the laws of nature, not against them.

Another example is children; the most natural movers in the world! The fantastic thing about children is that they don’t know their own limits because they haven’t hit them yet. They reach their top speeds, smiles plastered across their faces, genuinely enjoying dispersing energy. They’re masters at falling when they move without even thinking about it, so they’re able to do it for hours on end.

So how can YOU learn to harness gravity the way children, dancers, and Olympians use it? Two words: let go. You can’t get comfortable throwing your body weight around if you’re constantly fighting against it. Gravity is going to be around forever, so you only stand to benefit learning how to use it!

POSE Running Clinic!

POSE Running Clinic!

Every spring, Head Coach Paul DeAngelis holds an incredibly informative clinic to help clients with their running technique. He shows everyone how running can be invigorating WITHOUT any risk of injury! It’s a skill that will last you your entire life.

If you’re passionate about running, this clinic is for you! Register today by clicking the image below!


Limitless: The Stuntman

Limitless: The Stuntman

Written by: Paul DeAngelis

I had the incredible opportunity to work alongside the folks at Ford Mustang to give James, an aspiring stuntman, the experience of a lifetime. Ford set up an intensive training session for James and I, nailing down the fitness fundamentals, and ensuring he’s got the head start he needs for a future as a stuntman. In their newly released Limitless episode, you can follow James on his personal journey towards his career goals. What a fantastic program!

Watch the full episode, directed by Alec Bozzo here:


My CrossFit Endurance Seminar Experience

My CrossFit Endurance Seminar Experience

Written by: Victoria Parker

I’d like to think of myself as a relatively savvy mover; in school, track and field was my bread and butter, and I was never one to shy away from a long jog every now and then. I’d tie up my cushioned running shoes, hop onto the pavement, and run until my shins ached. That’s how running is, isn’t it? Aren’t you doing it wrong if it doesn’t hurt every joint in your body?

After attending an enlightening seminar with Head Coach Paul DeAngelis, I’ve learned that this is most definitely NOT the case.

I entered the Academy of Lions early on a Saturday wide-eyed and ready to be a fitness knowledge sponge. Right after placing our things down, Paul sprang up and urged us to get ready to move. Outside. Right now. So out we went, rounding the side of the building, lining up on the far end of a colourful alleyway at Paul’s request. Each of us took a turn running past him while he had his phone out in front, filming. I was immediately self conscious, thinking to myself “Alright Victoria, just pretend you know what you’re doing.” I ended up out of breath by the second round.

After the filming had finished, we filed in and took a seat. It was time to learn how movement SHOULD be. Paul opened up the seminar by asking us to think of the best runners in the world. Who were they? How did they achieve the fastest running times in human history? Paul had spent hours and hours pouring over the technique of each of them, and spent the morning explaining how it was done. It turns out the answer is gravity! The runners were falling in order to accelerate without using up muscle power! Sounds easy enough to emanate, right? Turns out, each of us had quite a few years of incorrect programming to undo. Which is definitely NOT easy. After watching our videos and pointing out exactly what needed to be fixed, the group was revved up and ready to go.

So to begin the undoing process, we spent the remainder of the day running through a gamut of drills and exercises, pairing each one with an explanation of how it will help our running technique. This is what’s known as the POSE method. With a cadence beeper prompting us to hop at 180 steps per minute, we ran back and fourth, focusing on 3 things: Pose (assuming proper running position), Fall (getting comfortable falling out of that position), and Pull (switching feet quickly, and pulling back into the running position). The day finished with a 12 minute Cross Fit circuit, with a section dedicated exclusively to working on our POSE running. Needless to say, I was EXHAUSTED, but inspired.

Day 2 was FULL of movement! The morning was spent discussing injury prevention, and introducing the class to a host of exercises to help relax muscles, and build strength. At one point, we had to massage our “fascia” (that’s the connective tissue around muscles) using a lacrosse ball. “Sure” I thought, “This won’t be a big deal. My muscles feel fine.” They were so NOT FINE! Paul explained that this was an often neglected practice, but is totally necessary to increase flexibility. And it was true! After running the ball over our feet and calf muscles, every single participant was able to touch the floor from a standing position. Who knew!

After a brief run though of nutritional information, and the revelation that my cushioned running shoes were doing more harm than good, we got right back to running drills. One in particular was especially fun. And scary. But mostly fun. Each of us found a partner, and were asked to gather on one side of the room. Our partner held our hand, and guided us to the other side, while we ran with our eyes closed. This was to encourage “falling”. Bizarre? Maybe. But the improvement in our technique was absolutely undeniable.

Eventually, we made it back outside for a final run around. It was time to get a second film to see how we improved!

And did we ever improve. Even though it had only technically been a day and a half, EVERYONE was running better, running faster, and running efficiently. Paul did mention that the best results would take 6 weeks or so of consistency, but that these small improvements were paving the way for the bigger ones.

Needless to say, I’ve got a brand new pair of light-weight shoes, and am ready to start the retraining process. The CrossFit Endurance seminar was educational, motivational, and inspirational all in one!

Understanding Fear

Understanding Fear

Written By: Paul DeAngelis

As people get older, they solidify; they’re set in their habits, and aren’t likely to change in major ways. They hurt a lot more, they’ve experiences failures, and they’ve been through the ringer. They know what it’s like out there in the real world, and that a lot of it involves some level of fear.

It’s understandable to have fear; we all do! It’s human. It’s ok to be comfortable, but not all the time. Not if you want to progress and remain healthy in mind and body, as we are meant for constant adaptation. It’s the expectation of fear that makes it so hard for people to alter their habits. People, understandably, have a tendency to prefer all things comfortable. This means that they also expect change to happen in their preferred comfortable circumstances. Unfortunately, this isn’t how it works.

Our bodies and our minds were meant to adapt! It’s part of our biology! This is what I try to keep in mind whenever I develop training programs.

What are the best places to hit during training? Weaknesses. You have to start with the weakest parts of yourself to lay down a solid foundation for improvement. The only problem with this is that it’s an uncomfortable process; people might be embarrassed about their abilities, or want to avoid any kind of discomfort. There’s an element of fear here too; the fear of change, and the fear of feeling exposed. This is almost universally what holds people back.

Think about what movement really is. You establish a balanced position, fall out of it, and then reestablish a new one. That moment of falling is scary for some people! It’s something we’re even warned against as children: “Don’t climb too high, don’t go too fast, you might fall”. But that’s exactly what movement is! Have you ever watched children playing in the yard, or at a playground? They are totally unrestricted, free from the weight of life.

Good training protocols are meant to elicit that spark in your life, the same one you felt when you were experiencing the essence of movement as children, in order to move you forward. The fear doesn’t have to hinder you. Good training involves the understanding of the fear, and understanding that falling is a natural part of the process!

RBC Small Business Award Nomination!

RBC Small Business Award Nomination!

Written by: Christine De Bellefeuille

Building Total Balance was, and continues to be, such an exciting journey for Paul and I. What started out as just an idea has blossomed into a well-established community of fitness enthusiasts from all walks of life. Our purpose, our main goal, is to ensure that every client who walks through our doors leaves feeling like an improved version of themselves. It’s what we strive for!

A few clients took note of our passion, and have nominated Total Balance for RBC’s Small Business of the Year Award! After the years of hard work, this is an indescribable honour!

Voting will commence in the coming months; we will keep you informed, and let you know where you can vote as soon as it is possible. Your support is endlessly appreciated.

Once again, thank you so much for considering Total Balance for this distinction; it means the world to us to know that our clients share in our devotion to health, wellness, and self-improvement.




Innerfight Podcast Feature!

Innerfight Podcast Feature!

Paul DeAngelis, head coach of CrossFit Endurance was featured in a renown podcast last week!

Paul had the amazing opportunity to speak to the folks at Innerfight all about the CrossFit endurance program, as well as the up and coming event in Dubai.

Topics covered include:

  • How to use CrossFit in Endurance sports correctly
  • Exposing mental weakness
  • The major issues in running and their solutions
  • Do you need to be stronger to run faster?

Download the full podcast HERE, TODAY!


The Intelligence of Your Body

The Intelligence of Your Body

Written by: Christine De Bellefeuille

I have a saying that I use in each of my classes: “Listen to the intelligence of your body”. Often, when we are engaged in physical activity, we have a tendency to misuse our vessel. Many of us still abide by the old adage “If it hurts, it works”, or “No pain, no gain”, pushing the limits of our bodies to a point of injury.

This is a terrible idea. If it feels wrong, it is wrong.

The key to knowing whether or not your movements are detrimental is being present with your body. During your classes, it should never be a case of going through the motions; you should always be paying attention to what your body is telling you to do, or to stop doing. You need to establish a strong neural-muscular connection to ensure each message your body is sending you is received, and understood.

How can you strengthen this mind-body connection? Firstly, you need to leave whatever’s happening outside; thinking about conflicts, to-do lists, or even groceries can distract from what your body is doing. Second, slow down. Everything is go-go-go these days, from texting, to e-mail, to fast food. Take a moment, breathe deeply, and you will feel everything just a little bit more. Give yourself time to reflect on the subtleties of your body. Lastly, remember “No Pain, More Gain”. When exercising, you want to feel the challenge in your movements, but you always want to stop before the point of injury. I want my clients to consistently walk out of their classes feeling better than when they walked in.

You must be an active participant in communicating with your muscles; you are the one in your own body, so you must decide if what you’re doing is positive or negative. You should constantly be asking yourself “Am I feeling something because I’m tight, or because I’m going to injure myself?” Asking yourself (and your coach!) these questions makes you more aware of your body, your positioning, and your limits.

In my days of professional dancing, pain used to mean that I was doing something the way it was instructed to be; few things are as painful as pointe shoes! Now, however, it’s all about quality of movement over quantity.

The clients who feel their very best after years and years of exercising are those that have developed the mind-body connection. It might not have been there initially, but through years of listening and learning, it has been established. The more you practice paying attention, the more the connection will improve! As I always say “Practice makes better”.