Spring Running Essentials

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Photo: Chris Thorn (christhornphotography.com)

With race season already underway, I thought I would share some of my latest go-to running essentials for spring. I’m eagerly awaiting my half-marathon debut and clocking a lot of miles, so these essentials have been keeping me on track (no pun intended!).

1) Stance Run Fuel Crew Socks – These lightweight reflective socks are perfect for running with a reinforced toe and heel, engineered arch support and also breathable mesh. These Stance socks stay on your feet without moving around, they will never slide off and also look super fly. The entire Stance Run collection is so fun! My new favorite thing is to run races in these wild performance socks.

 

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2) Nike Free RN Distance 2 – The latest edition of the RN Distance shoe is a great new addition to my running gear. I have been using them for my 8-10 km runs because they are very lightweight and also very flexible. The shoe’s outsole has hexagonal flex grooves that allow for greater flexibility of the foot while you run. Additionally, the Lunarlon cushioning supports my feet during these longer distances and so do the Flywire cables that are integrated with the laces, in order to wrap my arch and provide an even more supportive fit.

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3) Ciele FSTCap – With spring comes warmer temperatures and higher chances of running in the sun (hopefully!). I always cover my head when running during the warmer months because it could potentially prevent heatstrokes and at the same time, keeps my hair in place. This Ciele cap is super lightweight, UPF +40 protection, easy to bring travel with and machine washable.

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4) Spibelt With Waterproof Accessory – This Spibelt is an absolute must for my runs, races and also all of the obstacle courses I’ve been doing. Not only does it keep my belongings dry and clean but it’s also sturdy while not being bothersome when I run. I use the larger belt to stash anything like keys, ID card, money, phone and also gels while I run.

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5) Strava Run App – Whether you’re training for a half-marathon like myself, a trail race, a triathlon, a cycling race or just want to keep tabs on your fitness activities every week, the Strava App is a super handy tool! Not only is it a great activity tracker but also a fun and encouraging social platform.

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6) Clif Shot Energy Gel – Longer runs often require a little boost of energy so I have been trying out some gels these past couple of weeks as I’ve been clocking more miles to see how my body reacted. Thus far, the Clif energy shot has been my favorite in terms of flavour and also ingredients.

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7) Urbanears Humlan headphones – These have been my go-to for running for the past two years. This particular Urbanears model is machine washable, has a tangle-free cord as well as built-in mic that allows you to also be able to chat on the phone if you so desire.

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8) Consonant Sunscreen – With the temperatures on the rise, it’s important to wear sunscreen especially when going out for a longer run. The Consonant sunscreen is one of my favorites because it is clean and 100% natural. The cream uses uniquely micronized (non-nano particle) Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide minerals to block the sun’s damaging UVA and UVB rays. The cream is also water and sweat resistant!

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5 Questions With: Alex Mazerolle of Girlvana

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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.

#MakeYourMove with GapFit in NYC

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Last week I was invited to fly to New York City to check out the brand new Spring/Summer 2017 GapFit collection. The brand teamed up with celebrity trainer Jonny Roxx and celebrity choreographer Tanisha Scott for a special morning celebration that was designed to make us sweat in their latest gear.

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We met up at the recently opened Rumble, a boxing-inspired group fitness studio in Flatiron district to preview some pieces from their collections, which included the new GapFit Sculpt, a range of compression shorts and tights designed for high intensity workouts. And high intensity, is what we got that morning! Everyone had the opportunity to try items from their line that was created for both men and women with optimal style, technical innovation and comfort in mind.

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The morning started off with a powerful boxing workout followed by some super fun choreography with Tanisha Scott and we capped it off by doing a full-body conditioning workout with Jonny Roxx.

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The two Toronto natives are such great ambassadors for GapFit‘s new collection. The pair met on tour with Drake and hit if off immediately, both working in tandem to shape Drake‘s body and stage presence. What’s great about their collaboration with the brand is that they brought in some of their expertise to create a unique workout and dance moves for GapFit.

Both have worked with some of the top stars in the business. Jonny has trained clients like Brandon Jennings of the Washington Wizards, Amir Johnson of the Boston Celtics and Drake. Whereas Tanisha has worked with the likes of Rihanna, Beyoncé, Drake, Jay Z and Alicia Keys, just to name a few.

Jonny and Tanisha are beyond thrilled to be able to collaborate with the brand on this new collection.

Gap is such a reputable brand. I try my best to align myself with the best. I was excited, when I was approached with the opportunity to work with them. They’re one of the best,” says Roxx. “Gap is the OG classic with great structure and amazing quality clothing that I can pair with anything,” adds Scott.

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As for what they look for when choosing activewear, Roxx explains “I look for clothes that are breathable and comfortable. I also look for clothes that do well with sweat and that look great on me in the gym and outside of the gym. I look for clothes that make it easy for me to move. Gapfit is the total package.” As for Scott, she’s looks for three key things, “comfort, functionality and style.”

For this specific collection, GapFit created some ingenious elements, such as Breathe fabric and Aero Mesh. The clothes work not only in a fitness studio or for a run but also after a workout, so you can hit the streets confidently after your sweat session.

After the fun workout last week, we were served some tasty snacks and got to chat with both Tanisha and Jonny. I was excited to be a part of such a special launch and left New York City excited to incorporate the new GapFit collection into my active lifestyle!

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For more info on GapFit, please go here.

5 Questions With: Christina Culver of Culver City Salads

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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.

 

 

Must-Try Fitness Studios in Vancouver: TurF

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TurF recently opened its doors on West 4th St. in Kitsilano. TurF is unlike any other place in the city because they combine a workout space, café and also cute shop all into one. It’s a place where you can “work out, hang out and take out” as they say. I had the pleasure of stopping by for some delicious vegan food and take one of their unique classes led by TurF’s GM Angela Hartman. She also took a few minutes to give me the lowdown behind this magical space.

What was the initial goal and inspiration with TurF?

TurF’s mission is to “create a daily practice to live a life that is enormous”.  The idea behind TurF is like a modern day community centre a gathering place for people to grow and contribute to their communities.  We put all our favourite things: a conscious sweat, a considered menu and a thoughtful assortment of things we love.  

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photo curtesy of TurF

What are some of the classes and services that you offer that are unique to TurF?

We are the only studio outside of NYC and LA that has the method The Class by Taryn Toomey.  I’m so happy to offer this class to the community in Vancouver as it has deeply impacted my life.  We also have a Boxing Conditioning Program that we worked on with one of our teachers, Tom Taylor.  It’s a great mix of proper technique and a great workout.  We also have a lot of strength classes like TRX classes and a hip hop based dance program that it SO MUCH FUN.  

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In addition to being a workout studio, TurF is also a kitchen and café. What is the philosophy behind the food and drinks you serve?

We want people to eat more plants.  The base of our menu is Vegan (with a couple vegetarian exceptions) and ethically sourced protein to add onto the menu for those who are not vegan or vegetarian.  all the recipes for both the bistro and the bakery came from the kitchens of our founders Delaney and Deanne.  The menu was created to nourish and fulfill you.  For us this means you can have a great workout and have breakfast afterwards and it would support the workout you just did, along with not getting hungry an hour later.  

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You also have a boutique of carefully curated lifestyle and workout products, can you share a bit more info about what people can find there?

The Shop was created to have a thoughtful assortment – we have either designed it, tested it or curated it to all go together.  We want people to have quality and less things – this means the product you can find at TurF can have several uses or functions in your everyday and that it can all go together.  We tried to bring in product that was either not available in Vancouver (like the athletic brand The Upside) and that we think is the best brand in a particular category, like the 2xU compression tights.  We also created our own product of pieces we wanted to wear every day.  

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Where would you like to see TurF five years from now?

Such a good question!  I would like to see more TurF locations that support living into our mission for people to live an enormous life.  I hope that we are doing something that I can’t even think of right now – we are a group of people committed to always learning and growing and I think TurF will shape in ways that we don’t even see coming.  

For more information on TurF, go here.

Spring Workouts

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No gym membership? No worries! With spring now here, it’s a lot easier to be active outdoors!

There are lots of ways I like to be active when the weather starts warming up, one of which is creating my own HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts in any kind of location I can find. Whether you find a park, soccer field, playground or even rooftop somewhere in your area, all of these locations can be used as your “outdoor gym”.

I usually plan and jot down a quick 15-30 minute interval-based workout (usually anywhere from 5-10 different exercises) before heading out to my location of choice. I sometimes even include props like a skipping rope, a resistance band, free weights or even a bean bag, to switch things up. I then throw everything in a bag and walk towards my location of choice.

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I also either bring my headphones or a portable speaker with me if I’m going alone to add a bit of atmosphere to my workout.

Whether you’re in an urban or rural setting, there are always outdoor spots you can use for your workouts, sometimes you just need to use your imagination. Though it may take a little bit of time getting used to, outdoor workouts are far more inspiring than indoor workouts. Just look at those views!

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Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearing: Hyba Printed Fast Track Cropped Legging (get it here), Hyba Open Back Tank (get it here), Hyba Essential Space Dye Hooded Tee (get it here), Hyba Gym Bag (get it here).

This post was written in collaboration with Hyba but all opinions are my own.

5 Questions With: Rebecca Gentry for The Speed Project

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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!!! 

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Must-Try Fitness Studios in Vancouver: Movement 108

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Vancouver is filled with so many unique fitness studios. Movement 108 stands out in the city because of its unique approach to group classes and while also providing a very intimate and friendly setting. In addition to their indoor gym classes, they also offer outdoor group classes, a refreshing option for those looking to switch up their workout routine. The space’s founder Aaron de Jong shares the inspiration and philosophy behind Movement 108.

What inspired you to start Movement 108?

The idea that exercise is this mandated portion of our day that can’t be social, interactive or educational really bothered me.  I came from working in the personal training world of ‘punching the clock’ and wanted to create my own space where meeting and connecting with people and moving your body really well could all happen under one roof.

How does the Movement 108 philosophy differ from other fitness studios or workout spots in Vancouver?

We are grounded in movement and strength training.  Often coined as ‘sneaky workouts’.  I’d say that the majority of exercise classes focus on high repetition and high heart rate activities that sacrifice form in the long run.  To get strong, you’ve got to strength train, we can’t just keep going to the same classes or hit the treadmill for longer.  There is a place for everything in the healthy workout schedule but we like to play the piece of moving really well in progressions and strength training really well to feel strong in your body.

What are some of the classes and services that you offer?

We love using bodyweight, Kettlebells and TRX as our tools in our functional training.  Our classes consist of Combo classes which incorporate all those tools, Kettlebell classes which are more strength focused and Metabolic classes which focus on strength and conditioning (high heart rate!).  Those are our mainstays on the schedule and we round out the balance with our stretch recovery classes, run group, hiking group and Strength and strength classes.

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Photo by Britney Gill

How important is community at Movement 108?

It’s hugely important.  More and more in our full lives do we want to connect socially during our sweat times.  It’s the only way to cram it all in!  We love it when people who have made 108 their exercise base integrate themselves into the community.  It all starts from us as instructors connecting and grounding into relationships with one another and then opening that space and opportunity up to anyone that walks in the doors.

Where would you like to see Movement 108 in 5 years time?

That’s a tough one to imagine.  Really our goal is to make basic, consistent movement a mainstay in our communities lives.  That starts by us being consistent in our space and not always jumping to the ‘next thing’.  That being said the idea of a second location within the city has got us thinking.  

For more info on Movement 108, go here.

Get Race Ready

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This year, I’m holding myself accountable for the goals I’ve set for myself and the things I want to accomplish. In order to be successful, there are lots of things I need to take into consideration and take care of. Though some goals are harder to achieve, when you have all the tools necessary and have the right mindset, you can accomplish just about anything. Proper preparation is absolutely key to get race ready.

My main running goal this year is to run my first half marathon, so I’m taking the necessary steps to make sure I can achieve this goal injury-free. Here are some tips and things I’ve learned that could also potentially help you along the way to achieve the goals you’ve set out for yourself.

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1) Train properly.  The one thing I’ve learned from last year’s injury is to make sure you train the right way for the goal you’ve set for yourself. That means, if you’re planning on doing a run, make sure you also cross-train, do some weight-lifting, incorporate yoga or swimming into your weekly practice or other activities that will complement your training and will strengthen other parts of your body. Additionally, it’s important to have a running plan that increases distance, changes pace, terrain, etc. the proper way. Increasing distance more than 10% a week can have a negative effect on your body, so take a calendar and plan the weeks/months leading up to your sporting event. Also, pre and post-workout stretching and foam rolling are just as important as the workout itself.

2) Eat right. This may be obvious but it’s easy to get off track. Make sure you have some carbs and protein 30-60 mins post-workout in order to facilitate the replenishment of muscle glycogen and muscle repair. Making sure you eat clean as much as possible is also key. Being a vegetarian (borderline vegan), I have to watch my protein intake and make sure I don’t develop any vitamin or mineral deficiencies. If you don’t have time to make your own meals, look into getting a meal prep service, there are so many great ones available today.

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3) Go for tune-ups. The one thing I omitted to do last year was going for tune-ups when I started training heavily. Whether it’s visiting a physiotherapist, acupuncturist, RMT, chiropractor or even nutritionist, these people will have a positive impact on your training and can also help prevent injuries or further injuries in the future. These professionals will be able to give you some stretching tips, make sure you’re training properly, getting the right nutrition, etc.

4) Get into the right mindset. You can’t achieve what you set out to do if you’re not in the right mindset. If that means downloading the Headspace app, or signing up for meditation classes, going to see a therapist, whatever you have to do, do it! You need to feel confident, comfortable and in tune with your body and mind in order to accomplish your goals. There’s no shame in taking care of your mind as it is just important as your body.

Now go ahead and crush those goals!

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Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearing: Nike Run Tear Women’s Tank (get it here), Nike Power Legend Brush Women’s All Over Print Capri Tight (get it here), New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 Women’s Running Shoes (get them here).

This post was written in collaboration with Sport Chek but all opinions are my own.

Must-Try Fitness Studios in Vancouver: Distrikt Movement

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It’s rare to enter a fitness studio and feel immediately at home but when I stepped into Distrikt Movement‘s super fun space in North Vancouver, I instantly felt like I was part of their community. Being new to Vancouver, it’s something that I really appreciated.

Led by two amazing souls – Jian Pablico and Alex MazerolleDistrikt Movement is so much more than a fitness studio. Over the past three years, the two have come together to create an amazing community of like-minded individuals that are looking for a healthier lifestyle while also keeping good vibes at the forefront. I had the opportunity to try out one of their signature classes CRUSH HUSH – a 75 min class that combines HIIT and yoga. All of their classes are cleverly named and marketed but above and beyond that, they leave you feeling great about yourself.

Jian shares below the story behind what inspired the space and the community they’ve been able to create in just a few short years.

What inspired you to start Distrikt Movement?

Our foundation was working with young people. We met and started to collaborate because of our mutual dedication to empowering youth in our separate youth programs (Alex with Girlvana Yoga and Jian Vars/ty Initiative).  As we started to work together more, we began to see the changes in the young people we were connected with and the community we were cultivating. We realized that the community we were building needed a home and just as important, a village of people who would buy in to the same idea. At first, we kept our work with youth initiatives low key but as people started to find out more about the Distrikt, they understood that the studio was much more than just the typical yoga/fitness studio.  We didn’t have programs for youth as a sidebar, but as a foundation and inspiration for how we taught our classes, designed our space, played our music and connected with each other. The young people we know inspired us to open the Distrikt. We wanted a space for them to be seen and flourish alongside a community of healthy, supportive and aspirational people.  We also wanted our youth to be inspired by us and in order to do that, we needed to go beyond just talking about doing what we love, to actually just doing it. 

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What separates you from other fitness studios in the greater Vancouver area?

I think what separates us is (a) our unwavering and unapologetic commitment to young people and (b) Our ability to not worry about what others are doing. We are always trying to be innovative with our offerings.  We do this to make sure we are always relevant and so we keep people inspired to stay connected. There are so many studios popping up everywhere and with that an influx of more studios adding DJ’s to their classes, beer with yoga and retreats for their community. I think what separates us the most is our unwillingness to settle and be content. We want to push the boundaries of what studios are. With that in mind, I feel like we create classes that are unheard of, events that are so unique that they can’t ever happen again and people who are open to it all. For example, we cancel classes for dialogues and open mic nights, we train our youth to take over classes, support causes that our people are passionate about and throw epic parties for no reason except for the sake of community. In short, what separates us from other fitness studios is that we never set out to just be a fitness studio.

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You seem to have developed a great community at the space, what do you attribute your success to? 

We attribute our success to understanding the power of the little things and it is in this understanding that we have built the studio on.  “How we do one thing, is how we do everything”.  We do everything with love and inclusion in mind.  This means that the way we make our playlists, classes and events have the same passion as the way we create community.  This is important because all those little things are what end up becoming the reason why people fall in love with the studio.  When people see how much care we put in to every little thing in the space, they actually also truly see us and in that moment we see each other.

We also care so much about the in-between moments. We believe that the moments before class and after class is just as important as the class itself so we make it a point to not let those moments be unused. We genuinely care about each person in our class and want to know about their day. In the first weeks of our studio, we used to have an automatic check in system that was regulated with a typical keychain that our people could carry around. People would flash the barcode that was on the keychain on a laser on the front desk, smile and get changed to workout. After a few weeks, we stopped using that sign-in system and just made it a point to learn people’s names while signing them in manually.  It totally slowed down the process of sign-ins but it absolutely forced us to connect and see people. Today after you sign-in, before we move, a check-in question is always asked for all of us to answer. This process has created a group of people who are not only signed-in to class but more importantly checked-in to the idea that there is more to this place than just working out. Our great community was created by constantly checking in with people and doing it in the most human way possible.

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In addition to your regular classes, you put on a lot of special events and help out youth in the area, why is that important for you both?

We put on a lot of parties because we don’t want to wait to celebrate ourselves and our community. We’ve thrown parties because we designed a new t-shirt, to support a cause, because it’s summer, because summer is ending and just cause we feel like we need one.  For us, events create more meaningful connections so the more we can do them, the better. We also see them as a great opportunity for us to truly see each other more. For example, when we organize an event to support someone’s cause/initiative we are also sharing that person’s story to others.  We are getting a glimpse in to what makes that person who she/he truly is. The more we can do that, the more we grow.  We also throw a lot epic parties so we can just party and dance with our people. It’s great to be able to party late with people one day and then workout with them the next (insert cute quote about balance here).

We support young people so much because we understand that it takes a village to raise a good person and we want to be part of that village and therefore do our part. We are also constantly inspired and influenced by young people. For us, our young people teach us to laugh more, love fearlessly, live courageously and to never forget who are.

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For more information on Distrikt Movement or to check out one of their classes, go here.