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.

Ski Big 3

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The ski season may be winding down for most of us but there is still plenty of snow to ride on in the Canadian Rockies. Plus spring is my absolute favorite time of year to hit the mountain!

Last month, I had the opportunity to travel to Calgary for a special snowboard getaway. This was my first time riding in the Canadian Rockies. Though I grew up skiing every weekend, I mostly skied in Eastern Canada, going to mountains across Quebec and also in Vermont, New Hampshire and New York.

I was thrilled to find out that some of the biggest and best mountains for skiing and snowboarding are located just an hour or so away from the Calgary airport. Calgary being a short flight from Toronto (approximately 3.5hrs), made it for an ideal weekend getaway!

Ski Big 3, is the association of Mt Norquay, Lake Louise and Sunshine Village, three top-quality ski resorts located in the Banff and Lake Louise area. What is so amazing about these three fantastic resorts is that they are all located less than 45 mins away from each other. Additionally, they offer complimentary shuttle service to those wanting to ski the tri-area.

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The drive from Calgary to Banff and Lake Louise was stunning. It really made me appreciate the beautiful natural landscape that we so often forget when living in the city. Plus, living in Toronto, you never see such majestic mountains.

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FullSizeRender (88)I spent most of my weekend exploring the runs at the beautiful Lake Louise Ski Resort. I can honestly say that it was some of the best riding days of my entire life. Why you ask? The conditions were absolute perfection! It was around 0 degrees celsius out, there was a layer of fresh powder on the mountain and the sun was out for most of the weekend. Additionally, the atmosphere at the ski resort was great. Everyone was friendly, laid-back and super helpful. You never have to wait too long in line for a chairlift (unlike Ontario!), the runs are also incredibly well groomed and large enough to allow everyone to ski without interfering with one another. You get a real sense of freedom you get when you ride the Rockies. The mountain and nature views combined with the fresh air and chill vibe, it’s truly magical!

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I think another highlight of my riding weekend was having the opportunity to eat lunch outdoors at the super cute wooden WhiskyJack Lodge. I never experienced that growing up, skiing in the freezing cold, eating outside was never a possibility. I loved being able to relax and watch other riders enjoy the mountain before going back out myself.

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I debated for a long time whether to bring my skis or my snowboard and decided to bring my snowboard with me. I had so much fun trying new tricks and perfecting my riding technique on these pristine slopes.

As I write this in Toronto, where the snow is now gone but the weather is still freezing, I can’t help but want to go back and explore more of the Ski Big 3 area!

For more information on Ski Big 3 lift tickets, spring passes, lodging and vacation packages, visit their website: http://www.skibig3.com/.

13 Cities, 13 Runs – Calgary

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Lot’s of love for Calgary on the blog today. Calgary is a super fun city to travel to for so many reasons. The city has got so much to offer as far as culture, food and wellness is concerned.

Contrary to people’s assumptions or what I’ve heard about Calgary in the past, it’s a super active city. People are outdoors, more and more people are riding bikes downtown and there definitely seems to be a big fitness culture.

As a runner, Calgary was delightful. It’s big blue sky made it the perfect conditions for a run around the city. Did you know that there are approximately 580 kms of pathways around the Calgary region? The city also has 220 kms of pathways in the proximity to downtown.

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There are several bridges crossing over Bow River to and from the downtown core. The pathways follow the river along both sides, my favorite path being on the northern side as you get a super beautiful view of downtown Calgary. I also enjoyed running towards Elbow River, through Fort Calgary and crossing over the Inglewood Bridge. The trails were great because they weren’t overcrowded and also in really good condition.

I hope that on my next trip to the city, I’ll get even more time to explore all the running trails they have to offer!

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To find out more about Calgary’s running trails, go here.

13 Cities, 13 Runs – Edmonton

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One of the greatest surprises for me on this running journey has been Edmonton. I didn’t have high hopes about the city and where I would be running when I first rolled into town but boy was I taken aback but the amount of amazing running trails in and around town.

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I learned while I was in Edmonton that in 2001, the city hosted the World Track and Field Championships and World Triathlon Championships. Running is a big deal in the city. There are more kilometers of forest-in-the-city running trails here than in any other urban area in the world.  Who knew? This is why my running journey across the country has been such a great learning experience. I always learn something new about each city I travel to.

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Like a handful of other cities, a lot of their running trails are located on the waterfront. Edmonton is beautifully located on a bluff situated on the North Saskatchewan River Valley.

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There are trails located on both side of the river and there are more than 25-miles of trails that connect two dozen parks. It’s the perfect mix of waterfront trails, park trails, neighborhood trails and deep-woods trails. Most of the trails I ran on were paved but they also have some trails that are dirt and packed gravel.

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The proximity to downtown is a major plus, it’s super easy to get in and out of the trails and go back to wherever you’re staying or living in the city. Once again, the river makes it easy to reorient yourself along the way so that if you decide to cut the run short or make it longer, you won’t get lost.

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I started my run at Dawson Park via the parking lot and went all the way to Capital City Recreation Park for a good 10 km run. Got to see some beautiful views of the river, downtown and also beautiful homes along the way. One of my favorite runs on this tour!

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For more info on Edmonton’s trails, go here.

Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearingNike Air Zoom Elite 8 (get them here), Nike Printed Engineered Women’s (similar one’s here), Nike Dri-FIT Wool Running Hoodie (similar one here).

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Spending time in Edmonton this past weekend has been amazing. I’m embarrassed to say that the last time I set foot in Edmonton was back in 1993. I still remember visiting the West Edmonton Mall and how cold it was in the winter time but I’m so grateful to have finally rediscovered this little gem in Alberta. Edmonton is a beautiful city located on the North Saskatchewan River. Though it may be the 5th largest city in Canada, the city is surrounded by a lot of nature and beautiful running trails all along the waterfront. The food scene here is really coming into its own and the vibe is surprisingly really cool. I didn’t expect to have such a pleasant time here but I really did. Check back soon for a travel post on the city!

I found this big chess game in Churchill Square, just beside the Art Gallery of Alberta (a stunning building in the downtown core). Churchill Square is a cute little spot where you can sit and people watch, play basketball, checkers, ping pong, etc. Couldn’t help play a little game of chess while I was there!

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Photos by @Offner

Anine Bing Biance Boots in silver (get them here)

Zara faux leather biker trousers (get them here)

Sincerely Jules Muse tee

Zara France TRF plaid boyfriend shirt