5 Questions With: Emily Abbott, Canadian CrossFit Athlete

The CrossFit Games have become in the last couple of years, one of the most anticipated sporting events around the world. I have been attentively watching the female athletes compete for the past three years and was stoked to see that there are several Canadian women that make it to the games each year. One of which, is the amazing athlete Emily Abbott, from Alberta. She finished 35th overall at the CrossFit Games in 2014, then 8th in 2015, 20th in 2016 and 19th at the 2017 games. She will be competing in Costa Rica and then Dubai in December and will also be partaking in Wodapalooza in Miami before starting the sanctioned CrossFit season leading up the next year’s games. So incredibly stoked that Emily is sharing her journey with us today!

1) What first drew you to CrossFit?

I played basketball at a high level at University of Windsor for 5 years. Post Uni I was traveling throughout Europe…after eating and drinking to my hearts content I came back to North America slightly heavier and a little uncomfortable. My boyfriend at the time suggested I try this “CrossFit thing” as he thought I would be pretty good at it. I tried it out and loved how it sparked my competitive edge I had used for so long when I played basketball.  I also loved the nature of constantly improving or working on one’s weaknesses. When I first started CrossFit I couldn’t do a single strict pull-up. I was determined to change that. And I did.

2) The sport has evolved tremendously in just a few short years, how has that impacted you as an athlete who practices the sport at a high level?

I started training CrossFit seriously in 2013. The next year I made it to the CrossFit Games. My involvement in the sport has been that of rapid ascension. I got into competing at the right time. I was 24! Now I am 28 and I can sure notice a difference between me competing against someone who is 22. The sport is attracting younger athletes, athletes who start CrossFit at 16 rather than a washed up former college athlete. So my recovery game in between sessions has to be that much more thorough. Can’t smash training all day and have a few beers anymore… my discipline with the sport has definitely evolved because of that. I still have fun though. To keep things fresh I pursue other movement because I value athleticism- not just linear CrossFit. I bike, dance, surf, hike and try to move in all ways outside of the gym.

3) You have been at the CrossFit Games since 2014, what does a typical training week look like for you when gearing up for the games?

Regionals training is brutal. Games training is a blast/still brutal. I typically train 2-3 times a day. Each session I try to knock out in 2 hours so I can eat and rest in between. It is important to place time limits on yourself or next thing you know you have been at the gym all day and your training sessions way too long. Intensity is key. Eating food right after a training session is vital. My coaches will then throw in some surprise miserable workout just to see if I have the grit to power through. I also add in a lot of running, biking and swimming miles throughout the week. At some point you will hit this stage called “over-reaching.” It is at this point, mentally, that training becomes the toughest. You don’t want to do another burpee, another warm-up, another squat—you are SICK of working out. And that is when you know you are ready to taper, rest and go out to snap necks and cash cheques.

4) Do you feel that the sport currently supports and provides as many opportunities for women as it does for men?

CrossFit is one of the only sports I have competed in where I feel there is a solid platform for both female and male athletes alike. Same prize money, same sponsorship opportunities. The women’s competition this year was way more exciting than the men’s side- it was electric! If anything women have an easier time in this sport because we are a little more creative on the social media front. We have a little more fun with it. That being said, like in any sport, women are still objectified and hyper-sexualized. It’s a double edged sword because we work hard for our bodies (on the extreme fitness end- training like this isn’t for health and wellness- its for performance which can be a detriment to hormonal function, joints etc.) and should be proud to show the world strong, healthy bodies. On the other hand why the hell are we wearing booty shorts that ride up our asses to workout for time? Ahh such a conundrum but it is a tale as old as women competing in sport!

5) What is your favourite event to perform in and why?

Power output events. I am a pure power athlete. A short, hard sprint is what I do best in. Pure WORK- no skill haha. I am working my hardest to level that out however. I need to be more on the endurance end!

To follow Emily‘s journey, check her out on Instagram here.

5 Questions With: SriMati Aka Julie Piatt, Author of This Cheese is Nuts!

Photo by: Maclay Heriot

I first heard of SriMati, aka Julie Piatt, via her book, The Plantpower Way a few years ago but it was only in the last year and a half that I really started following all of the incredible things she has been doing. SriMati, is a mother, a yogi, a spiritual leader, a vegan chef, a podcast host and also the wife of renown athlete and podcast host himself, Rich Roll. She recently recently her latest book, This Cheese is Nuts!, and is already working on her third called The Plantpower Way; Italia, which will be released in 2018. She will also be leading her first solo retreat this October in Malta. I’m incredibly honoured to have her share some of her journey today with you all!

1) You recently released your book called This Cheese Is Nuts! to critical acclaim, why was the creation and publication of this book so important for you?

In my first book, The Plantpower Way, I included a foundational basic cheese section which contained recipes for absolutely delicious warm cashew cheese and brazil nut cream.  I knew I  had only scratched the surface of what I would discover would turn out to be an earth shaking evolution of what I like to call cheese 2.0.  This is a kinder, gentler cheese which is in alignment with health and wellness for body, heart and spirit.

2) When did you first get interested in adopting a plant-based diet and how has it changed your life?   

I began to eat more living vibrant foods when I began practicing yoga and meditation.  The desire to eat meat simply dropped from me as a by product of my practice.  Later I developed a golf ball sized cyst in my neck which I considered a gift and an opportunity to explore the reality of “Food As Medicine”.  I found it truly was, and my body healed itself with the use of medicinal ayurvedic herbs, a lifestyle reset and largely a plant based diet.

3) You are a woman of many hats. In addition to being a vegan chef, you are also the host of a spiritual and wellness podcast called Divine Throughline, a musician and a yogi, amongst many other things. What do each of these different disciplines bring to your life?

It’s true I have always been wired in a multi -dimensional way.  To me, 2+2 = 22 instead of 4.  I express myself in many mediums or channels for my creativity.  The reason I can do that is because I know that it is really just one thing expressing in many different ways; the force that is breathing all life.

4) In this fast-paced world that we currently live in, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and also uninspired to create but you seem to constantly be working on new creative endeavours. What is the key for creating successfully and not letting the outside world distract you from your mission?

At this point in my journey, I understand that everything in my life is simply by the grace of the cosmic Mother.  A human life is precious beyond measure and if I am here alive and in a body, then I will share my heart with all I have been given as an offering of devotion to life.

5) Meditation and mindfulness are hot topics these days. How can meditation help you navigate through every day life?

Yoga and meditation are ancient practices of connecting with life force that I have experienced to be shelter from the storm and grace in times of suffering.  They are the first things.  The essentials before anything else enters.

For more information on SriMati, check out her website here.

5 Questions With: Casey Brown

This week, I had the opportunity to try downhill mountain biking for the very first time at Crankworx in Whistler Blackcomb. One of the top athletes in the sport in British Columbia’s own Casey Brown. She was on the World Cup circuit for several years before continuing her journey with Crankworx and working on tons of rad creative projects related to the sport. She is just about to start filming a new project in the mountains around Revelstoke and will be heading to Italy for the last round of the Enduro World Series. She was also part of the Women in Action Sports forum presented by Red Bull just last night in Whistler and took some time to answer a few questions below.

1) What first got you interested in downhill mountain biking? 

What got me interested in mountain biking in the beginning was my brother, he was my main inspiration, I saw that mountain biking gave him so much freedom and reward with his progression and I wanted to follow in his footsteps.

2) You were part of the Downhill World Cup circuit for quite some time, how much has the sport and circuit evolved since you initially joined? 

I’ve seen a big progression in the World Cup circuit, on the female side the bar has been consistently rising and the way they ride has changed to be more aesthetically pleasing (chicks are riding with better style now).

3) You’re part of the Crankworx tour and though you won’t be biking this weekend due to an injury, how do you usually prepare for such an event? What does your training regime look like these days? 

For Crankworx my training regime is always changing for the events that are coming up. If I’m racing an Enduro, I’ll have to get my cardio up and if I’m doing Whip offs, I’ll need to spend some time on big jumps. I do incorporate yoga and gym time as much as I can.

4) Do you find there’s a growing and supportive community of women in the sport at the moment?  

I’ve seen a decent growth on the women’s side of the sport, when you see more chicks on big teams, it’s a good sign that companies are figuring out the value in having female influence.

5) For those who have yet to try mountain biking or for young riders, what is the one piece of advice you would give them? 

My one piece of advice is have fun with it, you don’t necessarily need to race or be the best, just have a good time with the wind in your hair!

5 Questions With: Steph Corker

Screen Shot 2017-06-18 at 1.21.58 PM

Photo by: Jon Chiang

A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend a really interesting panel organized by InnerVoice.Life in Vancouver, on storytelling and inspiration from endurance athletes. This is where I first heard of Steph Corker, a Vancouver athlete, business owner and all-around inspiring woman. She shared her incredible journey with everyone present in the room and I was immediately drawn to her no-bullshit #realtalk attitude. So I got in touch with her following the panel to find out more about her story and what led her to start up The Corker Co. as well as her thoughts on being the current Ironman Canada title holder.

1) What first got you interested in competing in Ironman and why?

Ironman was a super bucket list item — I wanted to finish my first IM by the time I was 60, because I thought it would take a full life time to build up to that crazy distance! When I moved west from Toronto, I immediately fell in love with watching IM Canada in Penticton, BC. I guess you could say the rest was history…

2) After finishing 16 Ironman races as an amateur athlete, you decided to go pro this year for the very first time. Why was it important for you to make that transition? How much has it changed your life as an athlete?

I took up the sport of triathlon as I like to call myself — a tri-hard! I wasn’t very great at riding or running, but did have a swimming background. So I would swim relatively well and then spend the rest of the day “trying-hard!” It was through some great races and many not great races that took me to the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Truth be told, I haven’t yet had an awesome race in Hawaii — it is sort of the elusive goal of many of us. However, I thought I could continue to race at the top of the amateur field and continue working toward Hawaii, or I could take a super leap of faith and see what trying hard with the pro girls was like. This transition was important to me because I’m a raging feminist in all things – business, sport and life. I think we owe it to each other to show up – win or lose – and be a female on the start line! 

In terms of changing my life as an athlete, I do think my training intensity/volume has gone up this year — because, it has to in order to compete with the full time athletes that I now race with. Yet more importantly, it has me eating humble pie every darn day. My first pro race, I finished last (as a pro). I mean, I guess there is only one place to go from there, right? 🙂

3) You are the current title holder of Ironman Canada, what does a typical week of training look like for you? How do you balance training with owning your own business? 

I did win the amateur race at Ironman Canada in 2016, however, there was no female pro field. So 2017 is going to be a really sweet return with such a large and awesome group of pro women. My training is rather intense leading up to an IM race — I swim nearly every day, I log 2 long bike rides each week and run 3-4x/week. To be honest, it is not the training that requires as much balance as the sleeping, eating, maintaining daily necessities that consumes time in my life. I’m not sure I really balance anything particularly well, instead I think I’m ruthlessly focused and only allow so many things to be in my life at one point in time. I start work 4 days a week at 10AM and try really hard to get to bed early — that is the best version of balance I have found in work and sport.

4) What has been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome in your career as an athlete and how were you able to overcome it?

I don’t think this is spoken about enough and I’m happy to be at the front of this conversation — but body image is a really big deal to me. I do not look like 90% of the triathletes in the sport. And I especially do not look like a runner. This can be really easy to hold onto as dead weight (no pun intended!) and feel really inferior on the start line. My biggest practice has been in ensuring that the food I eat gives me fuel and the self-talk I tell myself gives me wings! Women come in many different shapes and sizes, and my work, my obstacle has been to remind myself that no one can see the size of my heart or the guts of my mental fortitude. Most importantly, my work is to surround myself by the people who believe in possibility….regardless of how we look.

5) How has support for women in the sport evolved over the last couple of years? Are there more women partaking in the sport nowadays?

Ahh, I’m so passionate about this topic yet to be honest, I’m not super well versed in the true stats behind it. If anything, I’d say it appears there is a decline in women participation, yet I could be so wrong about that. My first race of the year there were 20% females/ 80% males – if that is any indication, I just wish the numbers were skewed differently. 

I think it is really important that women show up to sport to encourage more women to also show up — I think we like to see examples of what’s possible and then ask ourselves: could that be me one day? I hope so!

You can follow Steph’s journey and upcoming races on Instagram and on her website.

5 Questions With: Simone De La Rue of Body By Simone

SimoneDeLaRue-FINAL-3212
Photo by: Tony Felgueiras for WINNERS

Dance and fitness are two of the things I love most. Most people don’t know, but dancing was a huge part of my life growing up. I started dancing at the age of 2 and danced for 23 years, even teaching dancing and doing a bunch of dance contracts as a professional dancer throughout my teens and early life. So when I found out that celebrity dance fitness trainer Simone De La Rue was coming to Canada, I had to chat with her about her ultra popular method called Body by Simone

1) What inspired you to start up your own training method – Body By Simone?

After 18 years of a professional dance career, I was ready to move on and the question I always got was: how to get a dancer’s body? It’s simple, the answer is: dance!

Years of dancing gave me an understanding the body and anatomy, which brought me to the fitness world. I had a desire to bring dance to the everyday woman and help her achieve a dancer’s physique. Hence Body By Simone was born five years ago!

2) What would you say is the main component that separates your method from other dance-cardio fitness classes?

Our dance cardio features interval training and the choreography is more athletic so it appeals to even the most uncoordinated of clients.

3) What are your thoughts on the current state of the fitness industry and particularly the focus on women’s fitness these days?

I think we are really moving into boutique fitness. People are stepping away from traditional gym workouts towards group classes. People want to spin on Monday, do BBS on Tuesday, Yoga on Wednesday.

It’s great for your body and helps keep your mind and body stimulated so you won’t plateau. I think that particularly for women who might be intimidated by traditional gyms and machines, classes like BBS are accessible and appealing because they only require your own body weight.

4) What are some of your favourite songs to dance to at the moment?

  • Show me love 2015-Orignal Mix By Sean Finn
  • Pony (Jump On It) Sick Individual’s Remix By Tough Love
  • Needs to 136 BBM or more!

5) Over the years, you have worked with a handful of high-profile and celebrity clients, what has been the most rewarding part of your journey thus far?

The most rewarding part is working with clients towards a goal, like a movie premiere or red carpet for the Grammys, Oscars etc. It’s really wonderful to see them on film and see our hard work come to life (and my name come up on the screen!). I started off with 5 clients and to see that grow to 5,000 is thrilling!

For more information on Body By Simone, go here. Thank you to Winners Canada for setting up this interview.

5 Questions With: Alex Mazerolle of Girlvana

Girlvana _ Class 1

If you’re part of the fitness community here in Vancouver, then you’ve probably heard of Alex Mazerolle or @allymaz on social media. She is an inspiring entrepreneur who co-owns Distrikt Movement in North Vancouver and who also founded both Ladyvana and Girlvana Yoga. The work she does with teen girls through Girlvana has had an incredibly positive impact on girls and women here out west. She was kind enough to take a few minutes out of her busy training and travel schedule to share more about what she does with Girlvana.

What is Girlvana and what inspired you to start this program?

Girlvana is a global movement empowering girls through yoga, meditation and mentorship. I started the program because of the way yoga had changed my life in my early twenties. I knew that if girls had access to the powerful tools of mindfulness at a younger age, it could drastically shift the way they viewed themselves and their bodies. Beyond yoga classes and events that happen in different cities, we also bring teenage girls together from all over the world for week long yoga retreats that dive deeply into self reflection and self love supported by a team of women that can relate and support lovingly. For us, it is all about creating safe space for girls to be heard and seen without any fear of judgement. Our goal is to let girls be who they are, exactly as they are and have them truly see their value and worth.

What are some of the things you offer and teach teen girls about in the program?

We talk about real life and the rawness of what it means to be female. The topics can range anywhere form depression, anxiety, stress, consent, bullying, equality etc. Being a teen girl can be very tough as you navigate through your body changing, hormonal shifts, the pressure to look a certain way and to choose your path post high school. We find giving girls the tools to connect with their own voice and intuition through yoga, meditation and mentorship can make these years go a lot smoother. We use the mindfulness aspects to get girls centred and at ease and then our dialogue and writing portions to get girls to share and open up to other girls. We create support networks and connection so girls don’t have to feel so alone. 

Who were some of your female mentors growing up and how did they positively affect your life?

I did’t have a lot female mentors growing up and this is one of the reasons why Girlvana exists. I had dance teachers who taught me to dance but not a lot of guidance was there in terms of life. My mom was as incredible listener and did so much for me but at the end of the day what 15 year old really listens to her mom? I find as Girlvana mentors and teachers we bridge that gap offering wisdom and advice from an unbiased and non judgemental place. 

Why do you think Girlvana is important for teen girls in 2017?

I think it’s always been relevant but now more than ever given the political climate and where the world is at.  It is a powerful time for girls to find their voice and now we have such a powerful medium to express it. Inequality, rape, lack of education for girls in developing countries are still such prevalent issues and the more we empower girls and women the more global change we will see. 

What have you learned about yourself through your journey with Girlvana?

I have learned to stay accountable to the way I love, care and listen to myself. Empowering girls keeps me true to my own path of finding deeper acceptance and honesty with myself. I can’t tell girls to love themselves if I am still at war with my own body and mind. I have had the privilege to listen to so many girls share their stories with me which reminds me how precious this one life is. That we are all dealt a hand that we had no control over and its our job to elevate and evolve. There is such beauty in exchanges like these. I have learned to live for these moments. These raw and true moments where the essence of a young woman comes through unbounded by who society or her parents want her to be. There is so much power in listening to another’s story and truly hearing and seeing from your heart.

Where would you like to see Girlvana in 5 years time?

World domination. Girlvana programs all over the world. I’d like to write a lot more books. A retreat center that houses 20 plus retreats a year. Thousands of Girlvana teachers worldwide. I would like to have a seat at some pretty important tables having pretty important discussions about girl’s education and rights. 

 For more info on Girlvana Yoga, go here.

5 Questions With: Christina Culver of Culver City Salads

unspecified
Photo by: Valerie Legere

Young female entrepreneurs are a plenty here in Vancouver. Christina Culver is the brains behind the ultra popular Culver City Salads, Vancouver’s first completely plant-based and gluten free mobile salad company. Started back in 2012 as a delivery service for friends and colleagues, in just a few short years, the company has grown exponentially. I sat down with this inspiring boss babe to talk about her mission and how it all started.

1) What inspired you to start Culver City Salads?

I have worked in a million different jobs in my life. Six years ago, I was running a high end photo studio and was an artist booker, so was booking hair and makeup, stylists, etc. I also worked as a nail artist. After a year and a half, I couldn’t do it anymore so I quit and my plan was to go do nails full-time but wasn’t making enough money. So one of my really close girlfriends and her boyfriend at the time, called me and pitch at me. They said that since I was always making food for everyone and that all of my friends really liked the food that I cooked, they suggested I just bring it to their office and they’d pay me for it.

So I went out and bought a bunch of tupperware and a ton of produce and started off with a Facebook Fan Page, email and text. It started off with my friend group and of course, being in Vancouver, a lot of them worked at Lululemon HQ and all the local startups. I did it out of my apartment for over a year and always thought that this was just a means to an end. I was still doing nails but then I got an offer for a partner and stuff just got real. I decided to get a kitchen and also start branding. Then, the Juice Truck started selling my salads on their truck. We had the same branding team and they thought that we would be a really great fit. That really started building momentum. Also at that time, we had Shopify set up so that you can order salads online. I was making all of the salads myself, trying to borrow my sister’s car if I could or taking the bus to deliver everything, running around town with the Ikea bag filled with tupperware. The cool thing is that I would take the tupperware back from them, wash it and re-use it, always trying to keep my imprint really small. Not too long after, we decided to get a food truck and that’s when my sister came into the picture. She’s a trained pastry chef, ski instructor and was in holistic nutrition school at the time. We ended up getting our food truck permit and it was go-time. The truck is in its 4th year but everything keeps evolving and changing all the time. 

2) What are some of the goods that you offer now?

We retail with The Juicery Co., they are basically our market place as they sell some of our dehydrated crackers, cookies and homemade dressing by the bottle. We’re also trying to work on more of that now. We also do a fair amount of catering and retreat work. We just got back from Guatemala where we just did 4 days in the Yoga Forest in San Marcos, making salads for a 50-women gathering. I really love that kind of stuff. I also get hired as a private chef for events or photoshoots. 

3) You seem to collaborate a lot with local fitness studios and athletes, why is that important for you to be a part of?

I grew up in a family where we were all competitive athletes. It’s part of our foundation and Culver City Salads was created with that in mind. Also, we are plant-based and we’re seeing it more and more now, that plant-based performance food. That’s something that I always strive for, I want to show people that you can be successful on a plant-based diet. The Tight Life Challenge at Tight Club at the beginning of the year was something I actually created with them, it’s the perfect trifecta of what is important when you’re trying to make a real healthy change in your life. I want that to carry on. I love working with athletes, it’s so cool to get feedback from them and just be in that world. 

4) How important is the community aspect in what you do?

Honestly it’s everything. I’m a firm believer in strength in numbers. This scene in Vancouver is pretty new but I haven’t met anyone that is on the same “mission” that isn’t awesome. The Juice Truck is the perfect example, we worked in the same kitchen together for over a year. It is also super cool to have the possibility to be able to call someone else in the community and ask for advice or help. I can’t even imagine it being any other way. I think if we’re all in the same direction, we can help each other. Everyone shouts each other out and I think it’s the best way to be. I’m so grateful it exists. 

5) Where would you like to be in 5 years time with Culver City Salads?

It’s so hard to say because so much just happens with flow and things will come up all of a sudden. I would love growth, whether that’s building the brand or obvious things like having a cookbook. We’re always toying with the idea of opening a storefront. I would also like to get the crackers that we’re making into grocery stores. Also, more travel for sure!

For more info on Culver City Salads, go here.

 

 

5 Questions With: Rebecca Gentry for The Speed Project

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

Last week, over 150 runners made the incredible trek from from Santa Monica to Las Vegas on foot for the third annual The Speed Project. They left the Santa Monica pier at 5am on Friday March 10th and in relay form, raced to the world famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign. Rebecca Gentry was one of those athletes who flew all the way from London just to be a part of the journey. She was one of only two women in the winning team so I wanted to chat with her about her experience and what it was like to be a part of such an epic undertaking.

1) For those who aren’t familiar with The Speed Project, can you share with us what that is?

Aside from insanity, it’s a 340 mile relay race starting from Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles ending under the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign in Vegas! Is crosses the Mojave desert and involves continued running through day and night with the support of a crew in an RV. Each team member runs more or less an equal distance, and you high 5 your team mate to make the exchange between yourselves. It’s all about strategic, fast running though varied terrain battling sleep deprivation and hunger!!! 

2) Why did you want to partake in this event? Was it your first experience?

It was my first time racing TSP. I was asked to join the Original team by one of the co-founders Blue Benadum. Blue and I met just over a year ago in Berlin through our mutual work with Nike+ Run Club. I’d followed his journey of the event in 2016 and when he asked me to join the team I knew it would be an incredible challenge and experience for myself as well as an insane way to work hard amongst a great team who were heading out to break records. Furthermore being a runner from London, I thought it would be quite amusing to be cruising through the desert in very high, dry heat – when do you get handed an opportunity like that and turn it down?!

3) What was the hardest part of the journey?

My first leg was actually the hardest. The pressure of being on the team defending the title, and ideally breaking the record, was mammoth. The nerves got the better of my and dealing with a decent incline and LA heat beating down on me as I pushed on the edge of the freeway I felt the pain. I was convinced I was going to let everyone down, but pushed on as hard as I could trying to silence the demons, and was pleasantly surprised when i checked my pace once on the RV! I changed my mindset immediately after that and positively reinforced my mind  with reassurance that I had trained very hard for this and I was doing the best I could. 

4) In addition to running in The Speed Project, you are also the Nike+ Run Club Coach in London, you work as a fitness instructor at Equinox and you are also a fitness model. Do you find that there’s a real supportive women’s fitness community out there?

Massively. In London the awareness of Women’s running has grown exponentially over the past couple of years. I feel that women are becoming stronger and more fierce within the industry. We are busy people and work hard to incorporate fitness into our daily lives for aesthetic reason and health reasons combined. 

At NRC I see groups of women coming to the sessions together. They support one another by making the runs their social time together, they have it in the diaries and they rely on each other to show up. It’s that sense of community and friendship which encourages the progression and growth of each runner. 

In my Equinox treadmill sessions I see majority women attending my classes and they’re always asking my advice of how to stay strong and fit along with how to run faster. There’s certainly an understanding that you needn’t be a) male or b) whippet thin to be a fast successful runner.  Everyone woman pushing the boundary inspires so many more to do the same which is just awesome. 

5) What is the next goal that you are setting for yourself?

Haha well my coach – Blue – would be happy to read that I’ve secured myself a marathon bib for May this year as I’m determined to break 3 hours. As yet I’m still seeing where I could race (I’ve love a bib for Copenhagen) but aside from that, I’m waiting to see what crazy race pops up in my world and I’m sure I’ll be on the start line!!! 

TSP_phildauria_73

5 Questions With: Christina Disler of Werklab

WERKLAB-48

March is mindfulness month so in my hunt to find great people to feature, I stumbled across Werklab, a beautiful and mindful co-working space in Vancouver that was founded by Christina Disler. They recently celebrated their 1st anniversary and have already had a very positive impact on the local entrepreneurs and working community here in Vancouver. We had a super enlightening conversation that lasted far longer than I expected so I’m sharing with you today some excerpts from my great chat with Christina, who shares her inspiration for the space and their mindful mission.

1) Can you give us some background on Werklab and how it all started?

My sister, who is an artist (all the artwork in the space is hers!), was living in Amsterdam before and had told me about the world of co-working. A few years ago, I went to an HR conference and found this stat has stood out for me. The stat said that by 2020, 40% of the work force will be freelancers, contractors, temp workers and that the work force will change. It was a statistic that rocked my world because I realized that 2020 wasn’t that far away. It was at the end of 2015 when the idea came up. The stat was becoming more and more real and the fact that we’re in a tech hub and the real estate’s high, I really looked at it from the light of social impact and almost from a light of project instead of a money-making business. I will admit that I come from a privileged position where I loaned money from my dad to do the construction. I’m also not trying to squeeze every penny out of this whereas I think that for a lot of other spaces, it’s hard to have integrity with building community when there’s really high bills to pay. We have a good rent here and at the end of the day, once you pay your membership fee, you’re part of this community, we don’t pinch you for anything else.

WERKLAB-45

2) How does Werklab work?

Some spaces do daily drop-ins, here we’re completely membership based. You don’t have to be here full-time. You can start off with just 5 days a month and work your way up. It’s hard to build community when you have all these transient workers signing up online for only a day. How do you foster trust, safety and vulnerability when you don’t know who the next person is that is coming in? We also have a vetting system, we interview people before they enter the space to ensure that they align with our culture and what we’re trying to do. We don’t just want someone that’s going to come in and just use it as an office, we want someone who wants to sign on and be a part of this community.

When I opened Werklab, I didn’t study the best co-working spaces, I studied the best places to work. At the end of the day, someone can come up with a fancier place to work at and more gadgets, but what people are here for is an intrinsic value. It reminds me of working at some of the cool companies; they aren’t necessarily paying you the top dollar they’re offering you an experience. What do you feel when you’re coming through the door? What’s the energy like? All those things are important. 

WERKLAB-13

3) What separates Werklab from other co-working spaces?

We actually don’t call ourselves a co-working space but rather a modern day work club because everything is membership based and we’re a mindful space. We have yoga classes and we hold events. For example, we’ll have someone from a natural cosmetic shop come in or we’ll have lunch and learns on health, etc. At the end of the day, the way we work has totally shifted because of technology, even when you leave here you’re still working in bed. So we’re trying to infuse and offer you things that you wouldn’t maybe have time to go out and do because you have so much work or are working on a big project deadline. We want to bring those things to you.

We have 73 members now and we try to get at least once a week, something going on in the space. We want to bring people together with the more natural human stuff, I want people to have real authentic talk in this space. 

Also, with the design of the space, we wanted to offer different areas for you to move around. People think that only graphic designers or coders, those are the creative people that are not working 9 to 5. But in reality, a lot of people work remote. You don’t have to be an “in your face creative” to be in a space like this because at the end of the day, creativity is in everything we do – it’s in problem solving, it’s thinking outside the box, it’s critical thinking, etc. It doesn’t mean that you need to be the best artist in order to be creative.

A lot of the time when we get stuck on a road block with work, movement – moving into a new part of the space, standing up, meditating on our bean bag, being able to stretch out on the couch or just having a quick chat in the coffee area, can all of a sudden reset you.

WERKLAB-43

4) Who are the people that have been drawn to the space?

The demographic is a total range. I thought we’d have a lot of people from the neighbourhood because we’re the furthest space East in downtown Vancouver but we have people driving all the way from Kits and all over town to come here, which is pretty special. Right before people start, we send them a questionnaire that has nothing to do with what they do – asking them where they grew up, where they were born, what’s one thing people wouldn’t know about them, etc. So even before people come in for orientation, we try to find links and connection with others in the space so that they already feel like they belong on day 1, even if they don’t know anyone. I really try to make an effort to go around with them and be there to support them. People call this home, it’s funny but true.

WERKLAB-33

5) A lot of the people in the community seem to really help each other out here in Vancouver, what does it mean to you to be a part of that and how has it helped?

I think the more as a business we become authentic and the more it is aligned with who I am and who I stand for, all of a sudden all these pieces start falling into place and just feels so serendipitous. There’s something really special about people on the west coast, following their crazy independent paths. It can sometimes feel so alone on the journey and can sometimes be really challenging but there’s so much support for Vancouver as a whole. I don’t know if it’s always been that way but that’s how things are shifting. I was talking to another local entrepreneur – Sonia from Woodlot and we were chatting about how expensive Vancouver is, so a lot of people have side hustles to make extra cash on the side. And all of a sudden, those side hustles start doing really well so they run with it. We’re all trying to survive together and there’s a really beautiful energy around this community. 

The past year has been a wild ride. It’s this living and breathing organism that changes shape every day but you just have to be present with it. It has been quite the mindfulness task in itself to let it happen. 

For more info on Werklab, go here.

5 Questions With: Ashmore Ellis of Babes Ride Out

_YVE7673

Photo: @yveassad /Yve Assad

If you were to ask me who are some of the women I look up to the most at the moment, these two ladies would without a doubt make my list. Ashmore Ellis and Anya Violet are the founders of Babes Ride Out, a community of female motorcycle riders and enthusiasts that put on a series of moto camping events throughout the United States and around the world. This year, they are celebrating the 5th anniversary of their inaugural Babes Ride Out event in Joshua Tree in October. They will also be putting on a handful of other experiences that have as a goal to unite and celebrate the camaraderie of women on two wheels. I was thrilled that Ashmore was willing to answer a few of my questions. I hope you’ll be inspired to check them out or one day attend one of their events. My goal is to become a good enough rider to make this year’s BRO event in October!

1) What drew you to riding motorcycles? 

I love being outside more than anything. Unplugging from the world and its noise has brought me more mental peace than anything else. Riding motorcycles forces you to live in the present as all of your senses are activated at once as you connect with the elements around you.

2) Babes Ride Out is celebrating its 5th anniversary this year. What can ladies who take part in one of your events expect? 

Babes has its 4th birthday coming up in June and will be celebrating our 5th desert campout this coming Oct in Joshua Tree CA. You could say it’s grown quite a bit and Anya and I are forever humbled by the ladies who commit, take the time off work, spend the funds to get there, and are open to experience this makeshift world we’ve created for a weekend. Our ethos focuses on creating an experience based event structure. You won’t see brands vending, rather giving an experience to each attendee. Each brand we have on site and that is a part of BRO is truly invested in this for the right reasons as they aren’t able to profit, rather really connect and get to know this community on a deeper level. As always, this is and will remain a riding event. No one hangs in camp during the day as we shut it down and hand out multiple maps of riding destinations that range 40-300 miles. Sure, we throw one hell of a party at night but during the day we expect everyone to get out and ride their motorcycles and enjoy the environment.

3) What do you attribute the success of Babes Ride Out to? 

Oh man! We get asked this a bunch and I truly feel its several reasons but the biggest reason is because of the quality of ladies who attend. These women come from all over the world and are open to experience this and share their enthusiasm which has made the event grow at an exponential rate. Their excitement is contagious and spreads like wildfire. Ladies who come solo come back with 5 people next year and so on and so on. I feel its Anya and my job to ensure they have the best time while they are with us so we spend hundreds of hours planning every detail, listening to feedback, etc to make the event better. I have 0 problem admitting we’ve made mistakes along the way but man, we’ve learned so much which makes those mistakes priceless to me. Every single lady that buys a ticket to any of our events deserves our absolute best efforts so we do everything in our power to make sure they get an experience of a lifetime.

4) Do you feel that the attitude towards women riders has evolved much in the past five years? How much has the community grown? 

Ladies have always ridden bikes, so have men. We aren’t doing anything new or super skilled over here so I don’t see any attitude personally. If it’s there, it’s not even worth mentioning. It is pretty cool to see other events pop up and brands putting more efforts into catering to the ladies with new products. Anya started a gear line with some friends which make some insanely beautiful technical gear. It’s called ATWYLD and they are really making a dent in the industry right now with their beautiful and functional protection. I am so proud of them!  

5) What have you learned about yourself through riding? 

I’ve learned how to be extremely self-sufficient and have had to tell myself on many occasions on the road “You are a grown ass woman, you can figure it out”. I’ve learned to find the joy and excitement of being a minimalist while traveling on two wheels. I’ve had to learn to problem solve on the fly, follow, lead, all sorts of things which I feel makes me a better person.

6) Where would you like to see Babes Ride Out five years from now? 

Five years ago Babes Ride Out wasn’t even a thing so looking into the crystal ball is so hard to do at the moment. We want to keep our events growing in the right direction and hold tight to our values of being a true riding event where ladies can connect in a unique environment. We’d love to grow our East Coast event and continue to grow West Coast. Our dirt bike learning event, Babes in the Dirt, has really taken off as well. We currently have almost 1,000 ladies signed up. Sure, not all 1,000 will show up as it’s a free event so no pressure, but 1,000 signed up and said “I AM INTERSTED IN THIS” which is mind-blowing and a big deal to us.

Tickets for EC2 are now on sale. For more info or to purchase tickets, go here.