Hybrid Meets Foundational Training

Written by Rhonda Liston


Society’s exercise needle has been swinging wildly across the multitude of possible physical activities. We’ve been flooded with so many opinions that deciding whether to focus on strength or on cardio is confusing, at best.


As a personal trainer and health coach for more than 20 years, I have seen many trends come and go. There is however, no question that following some kind of exercise regime is essential to warding off many health risks and enabling you to maintain an active lifestyle.

As the 45-year-old mother mother of five, I understand the importance of maintaining my health, but it has taken me years of study to find what works best for women despite the myths.

There is a huge misconception surrounding what strength training will do to our bodies, but belief that, “Weights are only for men” has thankfully shifted.

More women are doing away with the elliptical and treadmill, and are getting more comfortable in the weight room. Instead of the emphasis being on dieting and the scale, the focus is now building strong, athletic and sexy bodies.


One of the concerns I hear most frequently is, “I don’t want to look like a bodybuilder or a man.” But it’s important for everyone to know that women actually can’t build muscle mass like men without taking testosterone shots.

Our bodies actually start the aging process at 30 and hit their peak for bone mass. It is at this age that deterioration begins. But there is good news: research suggests strength training is the only form of exercise that can make a substantial difference in our bone mineral density.

Our bodies begin to weaken even more after menopause, with some research suggesting nearly 50 per cent of women have the beginnings of osteoporosis.

The concern is, when we think of aging, we associate it with walkers, canes and immobility — but it doesn’t have to look that way. What if I told you there was a form of exercise that could actually slow down the clock and the aging process, add years to your life, and even make the aging process more enjoyable?

Strength training has proven to have multiple benefits on our health that far surpass body image. Due to the release of endorphins, strength training has been shown to decrease the severity of anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.

After years of experimenting, I could appreciate that individual types of exercise had their place in professional sporting goals. And yet, for simply being strong and capable of performing regular life tasks, such as gardening and hiking with my kids, I often felt something was missing.

This is what inspired me to combine all areas of sport. I have the primary goal of building strength, but with that, I enhance my abilities for optimal daily living and aging.

At the beginning stage of your lifting life, you might have two main questions when it comes to weight training:

  1. How much weight should females lift, and does how strength training affect my health?

The resistance used in weightlifting forces your body to adapt by growing new muscle cells, remodeling bone tissue, using stored fat as fuel and strengthening nervous system communication networks. There is a reason it is called the “Fountain of Youth.” Several things control the way that your body adapts to exercise, one of those being your hormonal system.

  1. How often should I lift?

There are no limits when you’re under the guidance of a professional, who will be able to ensure proper form.

Due to the decrease in estrogen as we age, we’re at greater risk of heart disease, osteoporosis and irregular hormone function. The good news is that strength training has been shown to stimulate the production of estrogen. So, what style of training is best?

Foundational training gives us the means to change the way we move and correct the imbalances caused by modern habits that cause pain, deterioration and inefficiency.

Hybrid Training means you excel in both strength and endurance activities.

Foundational Training Meets Hybrid Training is where multiple worlds collide. I started using this approach when many of my clients’ needs couldn’t be met by conventional bodybuilding. I knew there was a lot missing from other areas and wanted to bring everything together. So, I created workouts geared to it all: flexibility, endurance, strength, posture, agility and mindfulness.

I found there was a need for diversity and advantages to incorporating multiple techniques to build a foundation, while focusing on strength and development. The bonus is the perfect combination for optimal body composition, fat loss and mental health to maintain active living and aging.

Working with clients to achieve optimal health is my passion.

Oftentimes, an exercise plan is used as treatment for illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or weight loss, but recently, I’m happy to see an increase of people using it as a means of prevention.

Regardless of what path you choose to take, being mindful of your goals over what may be trending will always lead you in the right direction.

When it comes to our health, hiring a professional is vital, and making an investment in long-term health is something we should all consider.

We are stronger than we think!


Spark SLC