Moving to a new city or have recently moved to somewhere new? The best way to get to know a new place is to start running. Since I started running two years ago, I have been able to get to know the places I travel to or reside in remarkably better. It has become my go-to way to explore neighborhoods, landmarks and also a great way to meet new people. Here are my three tips for running your new town!
1) Join the city’s run clubs. One of the best ways to make new friends, find like-minded people and discover your new home is by joining the city’s local run groups. They are usually pretty easy to find, either online or via social media. Another way is to look up running-specific stores or brands that make running apparel, as they often have local run groups as well. These run clubs are mostly free and you can drop in at any moment, so it is easy to run with different clubs all around town.
2) Sign up for local races. Local races always showcase some of the best running routes in the city. It is also a fun way to see some of the city’s attractions and get a feel for the running community in your new home. It will also allow you to meet new people and stay on top of our fitness goals, all at once!
3) Research different running routes. Before going out for a run, map out your run online or search for some alternate routes. Long runs are especially fun to plan out because they allow you to cover so much ground in the city. I sometimes even stop at certain points of interest to take photos or take mental notes of places I want to come back to after my run.
One of my new favorite areas in California is SLO County. Located in this beautiful county is the historical town of San Luis Obispo, which almost halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco and nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Lucia Mountains. There are lots of great things to see and do in the area, so here are five travel recommendations for your next trip.
1) Get your morning caffeine fix at Scout Coffee. Owned and operated by husband and wife Jon & Sara Peterson, Scout Coffee is a super cute coffee shop and the hotspot for pastries and coffee. It’s a great place to meet locals, enjoy a relaxing beverage or bring your computer to work. Their two locations are incredibly charming and offer some of the most delicious treats.
2) Hike at Montaña de Oro State Park. Located just 20 minutes from San Luis Obispo, the Montaña de Oro State Park is a stunning park where you can go for a walk, hike, bike ride or even camp overnight. The park’s rugged cliffs, canyons, plains and beautiful beaches make it the perfect place to visit all-year-round. There is also a lot of local wildlife and beautiful flora to see while you explore.
3) Grab an açaí bowl at SEEDS. Though it may also be a juice shop, SEEDS makes some of the most delicious açaí bowls I have ever tasted. Their selection of fresh fruits, nuts and seeds added to their delicious custom bases make them the best mid-day snack or healthy breakfast option.
4) Spend the afternoon at Avila Beach. You will find the cutest little oceanside community called Avila Beach just a few miles from downtown SLO. This small waterfront community (now part of the greater SLO County) is a great place to spend an afternoon. Whether you’re interested in surfing, relaxing on the beach, shopping, eating or just walking around on the boardwalk, it’s a great place to spend a few hours.
5) Go wine tasting at Wolff Vineyards. Located in SLO County’s Edna Valley, Wolff Wineyards is a family-run winery that produces a wide variety of wines including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah and more. They have super friendly and knowledgeable staff on-site for wine tastings. You can walk around their property or even just set up for a picnic on their outdoor patio.
This past year, spin has become one of my favorite activities. I love outdoor cycling and love great tunes, so I’ve thrown myself into spinning and have loved every minute of it. One of the things I love most about this activity, is finding out great new studios and instructors to spin with whenever I travel. Since I’m spending a little while in Vancouver, I thought I would explore some of the city’s greatest studios and share my top 3 with you.
RIDE was the first studio I tried out when I arrived in Vancouver. I was immediately drawn to their sleek looking space. In addition to their Vancouver location, they have just opened up a brand new studio in Toronto. The studio’s founder Ashley explains below the idea behind RIDE and what sets them apart in the city.
What made you want to open up RIDE? What is your mission at RIDE?
I created RIDE because of my love for music, sweat, and community. RIDE brings all of these together. Every time I take class I get to let go of the outside world. I love how the music guides your body and takes you into a different state of mind (if you let it…).
What is your mission at RIDE?
To create a sacred space where RIDERS can let go and push themselves mentally and physically. A workout that takes their day from ordinary too extraordinary and to build a community of like minded people.
What separates this spin studio from others?
Every studio has their own vibe and product. RIDE’s not easy. It’s a challenge for even the best of RIDERS. My partners and I have been RIDING for over 10 years and we still feel challenged. We love the MUSIC and we love to PUSH one another to be better and stronger.
How important is the communal aspect to RIDE?
Community is everything. Without our riders we would have never been able to accomplish what we have today. As soon as you step into the studio you can feel the comradery, you see an incredible pack of sweaty like-minded people working together, inspiring one another, riding in unison to the beat of the music. That right there is our COMMUNITY. We sometimes refer to it as “CHURCH” a space where we all believe in one thing and belong to something together.
Tell me a little more about the gear and clothing that you guys sell?
We currently partner with Lululemon and we have a collaboration with Toronto based KOTN dropping shortly. We also sell custom RIDE gear. We are currently setting up our e-comm so stay tuned for online sales.
For more information on RIDE, go here. Check back next week for my 2nd spin studio recommendation in Vancouver!
Store up to 10 currencies and travel worry-free with the new CIBC Air Canada Conversion Prepaid Visa
If you’re a frequent flyer like myself, you know that one of the hassles of travelling to the United States or Europe on a recurring basis is having to exchange currencies every time you leave on a trip. I used to run around Toronto to try and get different currencies before my trips, or would get to the airport earlier just to ensure I have time to go to a currency exchange bureau before my flight. But I now no longer have to, thanks to my new CIBC Air Canada Conversion Prepaid Visa .
The new CIBC Air Canada Conversion Prepaid Visa , the first-of-its-kind in Canada, allows you to purchase foreign currency whenever you need and manage it simply via a mobile app on your smartphone 24/7 from anywhere around the world. This reloadable prepaid card allows you to store up to 10 currencies at once on just one card. What’s great is that your exchange rates will automatically be locked in so you won’t have to worry about fluctuating exchange rates and carrying large amounts of cash in multiple currencies on you all the time.
The card is equipped with chip and pin security as well as tap and pay for fast and easy payment. You also get one free ATM withdrawal per country each month, which is key when you travel from country to country frequently. The card also provides a payment method that is not linked directly to your primary bank account, providing a little extra peace of mind on the road.
As a cardholder, you are not charged any additional fees while using the card (excluding ATM fees), so you can keep track of your balance easily. The card can be used anywhere that Visa is accepted around the world, and it offers an Emergency Card Replacement Service and an Emergency Cash Service Protection, for worry-free travels.
This fall has been filled with a lot of international back-to-back trips, starting in Hawaii, then France and Portugal followed by California before I head back up to Canada in the new year. The CIBC Air Canada Conversion Prepaid Visa , has been a game-changer for me, allowing me to travel in peace knowing that I am not carrying foreign cash in my wallet all the time. I have used it not only on-site but also to reserve some of my hotels and activities in advance online and over the phone.
The card is free of purchase and can currently be used in 45 countries, but CIBC will add more currencies in the future. Current currencies available are: US Dollars, Euros, British Pounds, Australian Dollars, Japanese Yen, Hong Kong Dollars, Turkish Lira, Swiss Franc, Mexican Pesos and Canadian Dollars. Each currency has a limit of $3,000 CAD per load with a total currency capacity for the card at $20,000 CAD, thus making it the go-to travel companion!
Meditation has become an important part of my life these past couple of months. If you’ve been following this website, you may have seen some of my previous posts on leading a more mindful life. I was thrilled to find out that Vancouver has a great new space called Moment Meditation,located right in downtown. I wanted to find out more about this meditation oasis so I sat down with one of Moment’s co-founders Anita Cheung this week. I hope our conversation will inspire you to check them out!
1) What was the inspiration behind this space?
There are three founders, Evian, Hiroko and myselF. We all found meditation through various points in our life but we found each other in a really interesting way. Moment the brand, the concept as it is, is a drop-in meditation studio, which was technically started almost two and a half years ago. I had this crazy idea to open a drop-in meditation studio as a pop-up for a week back in 2014. This was in Chinatown, it was a street front retail space that I took over for a week and ran it like I do Moment. You could come in and do audio-guided meditations, there were group classes and at night we had speaker events and mindful dinners. That was completely self-funded. I felt so compelled to do it because meditation had a really huge impact on me, it helped me come out of depression. It was one of the long-lasting tools that really stuck. I am very passionate about it and wanted to share it with the world.
But at the time, I didn’t think there was a living to be had from meditation, it didn’t feel right. I focused on my other projects and left Moment as it was. Not this past December but the one before, it crept up again and I had this desire to create a mobile meditation space. The opportunity came up for a one-day pop-up because a friend had a trailer I could borrow. That got a little bit of press because it was right around Christmas and everyone is stressed out during that time but now they had an oasis right in downtown Vancouver to take a moment. The next day Evian called me, I didn’t know him but we started talking and he said I have this idea and you’re doing it, can we partner? So we met and chatted a little bit and the next time I met him, he was with Hiroko and they had already been talking about. It was serendipitous because they were talking about it and the next day Evian saw it in the newspaper. Our original intention and still our intention now is to create a mobile fleet of meditation spaces. Our intention is to have one in Chicago, LA, London and here. We opened this space as a pilot for our project. We got the keys to this place in September, now just hired a bunch of teachers and now it’s out in the world.
2) What are some of the services and classes that people can come and take at Moment right now?
Right now we have a class schedule that is similar to a fitness studio; early morning, after work and a few in mid-day. They are 45 minute classes except for lunch, who are only 30 mins. All of our classes are structured around different parts of the brain that are trained or activated when you meditate. Hiroko’s background is in content development, she’s a psychologist expert in all-things brain. She has created the program around Calm, Focus and Happiness, because those are three distinct parts of the brain. So people can choose those three classes or they can choose a Moment Signature class. We’re looking to roll out a couple of other fun features like virtual classes, so projecting some big players in meditation from LA, New York, onto our screens and have people come in. We have a couple of big players locally that are going to be leading some of the classes here.
Other things that people can do, is just book in, kind of like car2go, you can book 5, 10, 30 mins of quiet time at the studio.
The third pillar is our measurability of meditation. Hiroko spent her life doing this kind of work on a one-on-one level with her patients at her clinic practice. What we’ve created is this space and the technology that allows people to measure how they are meditating and how it’s working for them. What we call the MQ, it’s like an IQ but “Mindfulness Quotient“, is basically your ability to respond to stress. It looks at your brainwave activity, breath rate and heart rate, muscle tension and puts you through this little stress test and then shows you how well you can focus and how well you can bounce back from being in a stressful environment. What science has told us is that if you meditate, you can do that much more quickly, you’re more flexible, you’re more resilient. So people can really see the numbers behind, if I meditate for a month, come back at the end of the meditation and see what your score is and how it has changed.
3) What are the tools that people can use when they come in for individual meditation?
We have audio-guided meditations, there are five to choose from right now. We are looking to change it up so that there’s a menu and every month there’s a special. This month we have Casey-Jo from The Peak, she has an amazing voice and she’s recorded something for us. Next month, we are doing a spoken-word meditation. We will constantly cycle things in and out. We’ll record some of our teachers as well but we’re hoping to expand to even more people.
4) For people that are new to meditation, what would you recommend as a good introduction for them?
I would recommend a group class because there’s strength in numbers. Our classes are fun. They’re 45 mins long but you’re not meditating for 45 mins. There’s a portion at the beginning that’s either just writing or drawing, a quiet moment that just gets you out of your work mode and into this contemplative mode. There’s a lot of chatting, you get to meet some great people that are like-minded and in the same boat. It’s all guided, so 10 mins of guided meditation, we come back up, we have a chat and ask questions. So then we’ll dive into a second meditation 10 mins max and have a quick chat afterwards and then you’re done.
5) Do you find that the city of Vancouver is a city that is open to this kind of space?
I think that the city is getting there and that there’s a lot of education that is still to be had, which surprised us. It’s a fun surprise because we get to educate people on what it means to be meditating and how different it is from yoga, how it stands alone from yoga. The time is right, the tide is changing, people are open to it. If we would have done it two years ago, it wouldn’t have gone as well. People are curious now. There’s still that bit of fear but we’re noticing that people are interested and craving it almost.
For more information on Moment Meditation, go here.
Did you know that Sun Peaks was Canada’s second largest ski area? This beautiful resort located just under an hour away from Kamloops, British Columbia offers some of the most beautiful skiable terrain in the country.
Whether you fancy wide open slopes or a steep thrilling ride, fresh powder or beautiful glades to ride through, with its 4,270 acres of skiable terrain, Sun Peaks has something for everyone!
In addition to the pristine riding you can do at the resort, they have a cute European-style ski-through village where you can find shops, cafes, restaurants as well as quality accommodations. I was once again able to book my stay via Hotels.com‘s mobile app, making it a quick and painless reservation process. Having my hotel be right at the bottom of the mountain, made it super convenient.
In addition to riding, Sun Peaks also offers a variety of winter activities you can do while in the area. Their latest and greatest activity is ice fishing, run by a super knowledgeable and friendly young guide called Campbell from Elevated Fishing Adventures. This 3-hour excursion will bring you to Heffley Lake, where you will be able to fish for some wild local species. Not only do you learn a lot about the area, the local fauna and flore but also get to stay warm while you chat and fish thanks to a portable hut and some complimentary hot chocolate.
I took the Samsung Gear 360 camera and Galaxy S7 phone with me again in order to document my adventures at Sun Peaks. I hope you will enjoy my recap below.
One of my favorite things about winter is being able to head to the mountain and go riding. Since this is my first winter in British Columbia, I thought what better way to get to know the area than to book a winter getaway to visit some of the best ski resorts in the area! My first destination: Big White!
So I booked my travels via the Hotels.com mobile app (you can too! check out how here!), took with me Samsung‘s latest gear – the Galaxy S7 phone plus the Gear 360 camera and hit the mountain.
Located just 45 minutes from downtown Kelowna, Big White is a stunning resort that spans 7,355 acres and its summit reaches 2,319m in altitude. Big White is also western Canada’s largest night skiing area with 38 acres of night skiing trails. There are 15 lifts on the mountain and 118 designated trails. The longest run spans 7.2 km. They also have a state of the art boarder/skier-cross course, the TELUS Park as well as 25 km of nordic and wilderness trails for cross country skiing and snowshoeing.
Big White also offers all the amenities and services you can imagine needing when going on a winter getaway to the mountain. The resort has 3 hotels, 25 condo/town home complexes, over 200 vacation home and luxury cabin rentals as well as a youth hostel. There are also plenty of shops and restaurants, their latest addition, the Clocktower Coffee Co serves up delicious baked goods for breakfast and hearty sandwiches at lunch.
You can also find a ski and board school, a daycare service for the little ones as well as a multitude of other activities for the entire family such as ice climbing, a tube park, snowmobile tours, ice skating, snowshoeing, dog sledding and the list goes on. Oh yea and did I mention, free wifi throughout the resort?
Since we were only in the area for 2 days, we wanted to maximize our time on the slopes so we stuck with snowboarding. Though a bit cold, the bluebird skies and fresh powder made for pristine riding conditions. Our super convenient electronic lift passes made it easy for us to access all of the lifts and shred through the fresh snow. The snow-covered evergreen trees and stunning views of the Okanagan Valley made for the most beautiful backdrop. A great plus was also the fact that the resort wasn’t overcrowded, which allowed for a relaxing snowboarding session.
I highly recommend making the trek to Big White, for some epic riding! If you’re staying in Kelowna, check out the Manteo Resort, which is right on the waterfront of the Okanagan Lake.
With a city that offers so many great accommodation options, it’s sometimes difficult to pick the right place to call home for the night. Luckily, this past year, I found a great boutique hotel in downtown Vancouver that I absolutely fell in love with called The Burrard. This converted 1956 motor hotel is located in Yaletown and has become a city favorite. I’m sharing with you today, 5 reasons why you should stay at The Burrard on your next trip to Vancouver.
1) They are eco-friendly. With global warming being an important issue in 2017, I’m always happy when I see hotels making an effort to reduce their impact on the environment. Being in beautiful British Columbia, it only seems fitting that hotels would be more “eco-conscious” but sadly that isn’t the reality everywhere. So when I see things like compost bins with a cute instruction card being put into my room, it makes me happy!
2) They are funny. Who knew that hotels could have a sense of humour? One of my favorite things about this hotel are their clever quotes and notes everywhere. How often do you see this kind of artwork in hotel lobbies or around? I love a hotel that doesn’t take itself too seriously but still offers topnotch service and amenities.
3) They are centrally located. You can walk to pretty much anywhere in Vancouver within 15-30 mins when you stay at The Burrard. It’s incredibly easy to get to downtown, to run to the Seawall, to get to Kitsilano or even explore Granville Island. If you’re not into walking, they offer free cruiser bikerentals for guests staying at the hotel. And if you’re afraid of the rain (like I am!), they also complimentary umbrellas so that you can keep discovering the city without getting wet.
4) They have a great café. Located just off the lobby of The Burrard, Elysian Coffee offers some of the city’s best coffee and healthy homemade snacks. Whether you’ve got a craving for homemade chocolate chip cookies with a hot tea or prefer a freshly-made avocado toast with a Juice Truck juice, they’ve got you covered.
5) They have the best retro vibes. Hands down the best part about being at The Burrard is the vibe you get from the hotel. This 1950s gem has been updated but has kept its vintage charm. It’s the only hotel in the city where you’ll find a vintage-inspired courtyard oasis with palm trees and retro solair chairs. The neon sign on the side of the hotel makes it incredibly unique. The meeting room adjacent to Elysian Coffee is a retro dream and so are all the rooms. Every decoration item and piece furniture was carefully curated to fit the retro vibes of the hotel.
Want an insider’s tip? The ultra popular comfort-food restaurant Burgoo is opening up next door in 2017!
This past year, I decided to start following a lot of women in the fitness community as a way to inspire and push myself to do greater things. They have been a huge source of motivation, especially during my injury so I wanted to share with you today, some of my favorite inspiring fitness accounts to follow for 2017!
1) @alwaystri – Sarah is a motivational speaker, an Ironman triathlete, a Paralympian, need I say more? Ever since I met her at the Nike Women’s 15k race in Toronto a year and a half ago, I have been following closely all of her training and racing exploits around the world.
2) @melliecay – Melissa is a marathoner and spin enthusiast. She loves yoga, hiking and loves being active while traveling around the world. Her smile and energy are infectious and she’s just as awesome IRL as she is on Instagram.
3) @gofitjo – This mother of two is real go-getter and positive leader. Her fitness journey is one to inspire. She always has super thoughtful and motivating things to share on her account.
4) @yellowrunner – Sally is part of the Nike Trail Team in the US and is one of the most badass trail runners I’ve ever heard of. She recently accomplished the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc and UTCT in South Africa. She has inspired me to start trail running and go after some bigger fitness goals.
5) @sashaexeter – Sasha is known in Toronto as one of the city’s top fitness ambassadors. Her drive and hardworking ethic has been a huge inspiration to me these past couple of years.
6) @rarax3 – I had the pleasure of meeting Jamaica just recently in LA. I love her positive attitude and super fun fitness feed. She’s always running somewhere beautiful or taking rad workout pics.
7) @evannclingan – This redheaded New Yorker is an inspiring marathoner with a super colorful and cheerful account. I love her honesty and the dialogue she has with her followers on her feed.
8) @smasheton – I credit this lady for inspiring me to get back into the pool after years of absence. I grew up being a competitive swimmer and with her many encouraging swimming posts, I found the strength to jump back into the pool again. Asheton is a force to be reckoned with.
9) @camille_pic – This French author and health/sport blogger is currently training for an Ironman. Camille always posts great food recipes and inspiring training pics (and also cute dog pics!). No need to speak French to be inspired by her account.
San Francisco is a city that grows on me every time I go for a visit. Whether it’s the vibrant food scene, the beautiful beaches or even some of the cool fitness studios in the city, there is always something new to check out no matter how many times you make it to the area. Here are some of my recommendations for your next trip to San Fran.
1) Go for a walk at Baker Beach. This beautiful beach is located just a few minutes away from the Golden Gate Bridge. Though it tends to get crowded during the summer, it’s relatively empty during the winter time and just as stunning. The big majestic trees that are located on top of the bluffs overlooking the ocean make for stunning pictures. Plus the views of the bridge from afar, make it a prime walking destination.
2) Eat at Tartine Manufactory. The newest addition to the Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt’s Tartine Bakery family in San Francisco is their ultra hype restaurant called Tartine Manufactory. Located in the Mission District, they serve a cafeteria-style lunch as well as a delectable sit down dinner. You can also obtain some of their infamous bread if you go early enough during the day. The dinner menu offers a wide range of meats, grains and veggie options as well as some of their delicious breads. Their desserts are also killer. Make sure you reserve in advance if you want to have a spot.
3) Go for a spin class at SoulCycle. This incredibly popular spin studio recently opened 3 locations in downtown San Francisco, one at Castro, another at Union and finally in SoMa. The SoulCycle studios are a lot bigger than most in Southern California and the amenities are always topnotch. Their instructors are some of the best in the biz, ultra motivating and will get you sweating in no-time! I recommend taking a class with Andrew, he always has a rad playlist!
4) Stop by Mr. Holmes Bakehouse. Satisfy your sweet tooth cravings with a quick stop at this ultra popular joint. Mr. Holmes Bakehouse offers the most delicious assortment of pastries and donuts. Grab just one or an entire box, everything sweet and savoury on the menu is to-die for. A major guilty pleasure!
5) Visit Clarion Alley. It’s easy to miss this little gem as it is tucked between Valencia and Mission Street in the Mission District. Grab a juice from next door at Happy Moose Juice and wander through Clarion Alley decorated with beautiful murals painted by members of the community. The Clarion Alley Mural Project, the American Indian Center are just some of the groups that have contributed artwork to this beautiful alley.