Go Snorkeling with Seals at the Subsea Retreat in British Columbia

For as long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated by marine life. There was even a period of time in my life where I considered studying marine biology, but that ambition quickly faded when I reached high school, due to my poor grades in science. That said, my passion for all-things water-related, has remained over the years.

So when I heard of the Subsea Retreat, out of Sidney, British Columbia, I immediately contacted them. This family-run eco-tour allows ocean enthusiasts like myself, to realize their lifelong dreams of snorkeling or even scuba diving with local seals and other marine creatures. The retreat is run by Jack Madro, who has over 35-years of scuba diving and tour organization experience, Pam and also his daughter Amanda Madro, who is a biochemist, a boat captain and an all-around inspiring woman who is passionate about ocean wildlife. Each bring their many years of diverse experience together to create not only a fun and safe retreat but also give you a ton of information on the area and the local marine life.

What’s great about the Subsea Retreat is that they offer different types of excursions for people of all-ages as well as skill levels. I had personally never gone scuba diving before, hence why I opted for snorkeling. Additionally, they have all the gear necessary for their excursions, so you don’t have to worry about bringing anything with you. You will be able to try on all the equipment with Jack by your side. The family will then bring you out on the water with their own private boat and make sure you are fully comfortable the entire duration of the excursion.

Sidney, is just a short ferry ride away from Vancouver (only 1h40 mins, and the retreat is a 5min drive from the ferry terminal!) or a quick 30min drive from Victoria. While you’re out in Sidney, you’ll be able to stay at their beautiful home that contains several private rooms, a large dining room and living room as well as outdoor deck, BBQ and pool, all located on a beautiful and quiet property. In between excursions, you can really kick-back and relax, you may also see hummingbirds, eagles or even deer while you’re lounging outside.

In addition to snorkeling or scuba diving, there are tons of other activities you can do while you’re staying at the Subsea Retreat such as hiking, SUPing, swimming, there are also lots of cafés, restaurants, farms and even wineries to check out in the area. The family gives great local tips on where to go, if you’re on the hunt for some additional activities.

I couldn’t believe that in just one afternoon, I got to cross two things off of my bucket list: I snorkeled with seals and also got to see a local pod of transient killer whales swim by the boat. I had such a wonderful time with the family that I’m already planning my return. Below is a little recap vlog of my adventures at the Subsea Retreat.

For more information on the Subsea Retreat, go here.

A major thank you to Toyota Canada, for allowing me to test out the 2018 Toyota C-HR during this trip!

Crankworx

The biggest mountain biking event in the world is current taking place at Whistler Blackcomb.

Crankworx started in the early 2000s due to the increase popularity of the sport in the area. Originally called the Whistler Summer Gravity Fest, the event began in 2003 and included events such as the Joyride Bikercross and “Slopestyle Expression Session” and really kicked off Cranworx as we know it today. In only a few short years, it has become the world’s premier mountain biking festival that attracts both riders and biking enthusiasts from all over the globe.

In addition to the festival organized in Whistler, Crankworx now stops in three other countries throughout the year – France, New Zealand and the newly added destination: Austria. One of the reasons why this festival stands out from the rest is that it showcases not only the top athletes in the sport but also legends as well as gives a platform to up-and-comers, which includes a great program for children called Kidworx.

They have also been working hard at promoting female athletes in the sport, giving them the opportunity to shine as brightly as their male counterparts. This Saturday August 19th 2017, Crankworx and Red Bull will be hosting a Women in Action Sports panel, to celebrate some of the top athletes in action sports from 7:30-8pm at the Whistler Olympic Plaza. This will be a chance for everyone to get to hear these athlete’s journeys, what they love about their sports, etc.

Crankworx has become the most popular event held in Whistler each year, attracting over 300 000 spectators. The Red Bull Joy Ride, the most popular event of the festival, attracts 30,000+ fans each year!

As part of my inaugural Crankworx experience, I decided to give mountain biking a try and had the best time with the folks at Whistler Blackcomb Bike School yesterday. Whistler Blackcomb has so many amazing trails for riders of all levels. It is definitely worth giving the sport a try if you haven’t already!

Crankworx is on in Whistler until August 20th 2017. For more info on the festival or how you can attend, go here.

My Happy Place

My Happy Place can mean so many different things to so many different people. It can also evolve over time.

My Happy Place, has always been close to the ocean. Whenever I am close to the ocean, I feel at peace, I feel calm and I feel energized. So moving to Vancouver and most recently to North Van, has been such a huge boost for me. I’m happiest when I’m outdoors being active and having the ocean in front of me when I work out is such a huge bonus.

The views from North Van are epic, to say the least. I get to see the city skyline, the ocean as well as the mountains. It’s also so much calmer on the North Shore, allowing me to workout in beautiful spots almost all by myself!

Whether it’s going for a run, cycling, doing a little HIIT circuit, practicing yoga or whatever kind of activity I get up to, doing it outdoors and close to the ocean, is what makes me the happiest!

Hyba is launching a *CONTEST* today. They’re giving you the chance to win a $50 gift card. All you have to do is post a photo of you in your happy place on Instagram and tag @hyba while using the #HybaHappyPlace hashtag for your chance to win. The contest ends September 30th 2017. Good luck!

Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearing: Hyba Reflective High-Impact Sports Bra (get it here), Hyba Fast Track Capri Legging (get it here), Tom Tom Spark 3 Watch (get it here).

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

5 Questions With: Steph Corker

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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.

#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: 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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Explore Whistler on a Snowmobile with TAG

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Headed to Whistler and looking for some winter thrills that do not include skiing or snowboarding? Make sure you check out The Adventure Group‘s snowmobile tour.

The Whistler-based adventure group organizes several excursions a day that allow you to explore Whistler’s beautiful backcountry on Cougar Mountain. Whether it’s your first time out or you’re a seasoned pro, TAG has a tour for you! Their expeditions last on average 2.5 hours and allow you to explore everything from great local trails to fresh powder or even wide-open areas with breathtaking views of the forest and mountains.

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Their snowmobiles are fully equipped with seat and hand warmers that will keep you toasty throughout. They also have helmets, goggles as well as gloves and hats for those who may have forgotten some of their gear.

TAG tour guides are super friendly and take the time to make sure everyone is comfortable before, during and after the ride. Plus, the company keeps the tours to a maximum of 5 guests per guide, allowing for a super pleasant experience.

They also provides a complimentary shuttle for guests from the Whistler Village, Fairmont Chateau and the Four Seasons Hotel. The company strives to make sure that their Whistler tours and activities are 100% carbon neutral.

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I had only been on a snowmobile once before but it was a huge thrill to ride out with TAG!

If zipping around on ski-doos isn’t your thing, TAG also offers a wide variety of additional tours ranging from snowshoeing to heli sightseeing and more. For more information, go here.

Discover a New Town by Running

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearing: Hyba Essential Short Sleeve Tee (get it here), Hyba Hooded Neoprene Jacket (get it here), Hyba Printed Fast Track Legging (get it here).

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

5 Steps Towards a Healthier Self in 2017

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The new year is just around the corner so I wanted to share a few tips on how to make 2017 your healthiest year yet!

1) Get Inspired. The one thing that got me motivated throughout the year, especially during my injury and throughout the winter, when it was hard to get up before the crack of dawn to go work out or when it got really cold out, was to follow some inspiring people on my social networks. I chose to follow some other ladies that were also leading a healthy lifestyle and doing some of the things I aspired to do in order to motivate myself to get out there. I followed well over 50 inspiring women who were either cross-training, running, cooking healthy meals, meditating, etc. And since I’m guilty of spending a lot of time on my phone and on social media, it was a great way to find inspiration during tougher times.

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2) Set Goals. Make a schedule with short, medium and long term goals throughout the year. Whatever you want to accomplish, you can do it easily if you break it down into smaller easier goals that you can achieve along the way. There’s a great quote that says “Without a goal, you can’t score” and I couldn’t agree more. Set yourself a few goals throughout the year, goals that can be measured, that are specific and that require concrete results and you’ll surprise yourself with what you’ll be able to accomplish.

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3) Visualize. If you want something really badly in life, make sure you visualize it, express it in your every thought and breath. Take 2 minutes each morning when you wake up to visualize your goals. Visualize what you want for yourself, what you want to achieve and how you want to do it. The more you believe in what you visualize, the more it’ll manifest itself and you will get it. It may sound phoney but it really truly works.

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4) Make it fun. Find new buddies to work out with, have people over to make recipes as a group or look up cool new workouts in your area. The only way you’ll become healthier, fitter and happier is if you’re having fun while doing so. Don’t make it a chore, make it something you’re excited about. Break up your routine, keep yourself interested, entertained and you’ll stick with it.

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5) Make yourself your number 1 priority. My injury late this year was a major reminder to make myself my number 1 priority ALWAYS. We often forget to take to take time for ourselves every day and as a result things can happen. I would make up excuses as to why I didn’t need to take the time to stretch pre and post-workout and as a result, I paid for it and had to be out for a longer period of time than if I would have taken those few minutes each day to help myself. There really are no excuses. Make sure to take time for yourself every day in order to make 2017 your healthiest year yet!

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Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearing: Hyba Lettered Tank (get it here), Hyba Lettered Leggings (get them here).

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

Got Barrelled While Handboarding

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I LOVE anything ocean-related so when I first heard of handboarding a few years ago I had to give it a shot. I was lucky enough to get in the water with the rad crew at Slyde Handboards (I even wrote about it here!) and was immediately hooked by the sport.

If the name sounds familiar, it may be because you’ve watched the episode of Shark Tank (watch it here), where guest shark Ashton Kutcher and Mark Cuban invest into the company. How rad!

I had been itching to get back in the water with the crew for quite some time, so I was stoked to have been able to stop by their headquarters this week to check out some of their new board models (can’t wait for you all to see them!) and also get into the water with Slyde Handboards’ founder Steve Watts. Here’s a little recap of the fun we had out in Dana Point.

For more info on Slyde Handboards, go here.

Shot by: TheOffners