5 Questions With: Brianne Theisen-Eaton

Brianne Theisen-Eaton (2)Prior to hearing about Brianne Theisen-Eaton‘s story I had never heard of a heptathlete before. A heptathlon is a track and field combined events contest made up of seven events. The events are as follows: Day 1 (in order): 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put and 200m. Day 2: the long jump, javelin and 800m. Brianne is a Canadian heptathlete who will be competing at this summer’s Rio 2016 Olympics. She also competed at the London 2012 Olympics, won a silver medal at the 2013 & 2015 World Championships and was the reigning Commonwealth Games champion in 2014, just to name a few of her many inspiring achievements. For this summer’s games, she partnered up with Crest Canada as one of their ambassadors for their new 3D White line so that she can #SmileThrough this summer’s Olympics. She took a few minutes out of her insanely busy pre-Olympic schedule to answer a few questions about her journey thus far.

1) What first got you interested in track and field? Do you remember when you decided to become a heptathlete?

I liked all sports to tried track for the first time and fell in love with it. I decided to try the heptathlon the summer between grade 9 and 10.

2) What does your weekly training regimen as a heptathlete consist of?

During the week we train our hardest on Monday, Wednesday and Friday which covers technical events and running. Then on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday we make things a bit easier by preparing for the throwing events and lifting. I finally get to take a break on Sundays, which are my only days off.

3) How has working with brands like Crest helped with your training and career thus far?

I use Crest everyday. I drink a ton of coffee and my guilty pleasure is candy, so it fits perfectly into my life, keeping my teeth white and healthy. Crest has helped to boost my confidence when I’m competing. I am happy to have Crest as part of the story and journey as an athlete.

4) What are some of your favourite places that you’ve had the opportunity to travel to and why?

I love Austria. Food is great and the fans are awesome. A couple of my favourite vacation places are Rome and Dubai.

5) What are your goals for this summer’s Olympics in Rio?

Go out there and do the best I can in every event.

For more information about Brianne and her campaign with Crest Canada, go here.

5 Questions With: Sarah Wells

G_20160318_Winners_Shot03_SWEAT_0493_R1_CMYK LargeSarah Wells is a Canadian Olympic hurdler from Toronto who will be representing the country at this summer’s Olympic games in Brazil. Sarah is an inspiring young athlete who hasn’t let injury or obstacles deter her from realizing her dreams. After a stress fracture in 2011, she tattooed the word “Believe” on her wrist as a reminder that she could still achieve her goal of becoming an Olympian. Low and behold, with much determination and perseverance she made her Olympic debut in London in 2012. Last year, she also took home the silver and bronze medal at the Pan Am Games in Toronto.

This tattoo has inspired a collection that she will be launching in collaboration with WINNERS on June 1st. Her strong self-belief should be an inspiration to all of us. I hope you’ll enjoy the interview below.

1) What first got you interested in hurdles? When did you know that this would be something you wanted to pursue?

I was fortunate to have a high school teacher suggest I try hurdles. Under his coaching and guidance I fell in love with hurdles and hoped to become world-class one day. I really enjoyed the small sense of accomplishment of getting over the hurdles all the way to the finish line—kind of like life.

2) What does your weekly training routine look like? What are some of your favorite workouts to do while training?

My training day consists of 5 hours of training: A warm-up, reaction time drills, hurdle drills, interval training, circuit work, explosive medicine ball tosses, weight training, and stretching. My favourite would have to be the painful interval training because once you’re finished you know you’ve bettered yourself.

3) You took part in the 2012 London Olympics, what did that experience teach you as an athlete?

One thing learned for certain is that Olympic athletes aren’t superheroes. Like me, many have gone through challenges; I saw great success but heartbreak, too. I learned that facing and overcoming obstacles happens to everyone.

4) In addition to being an athlete you are also a motivational speaker. Why is it important for you to promote sports in youth?

I love public speaking to younger people because for me, I saw sport as a vehicle for so many opportunities and I want to encourage the younger generation to pursue physical activity as a way to find self-confidence, a sense of self, see the world, and learn important life lessons.

5) You will be participating in the 2016 Rio Olympics, what are you most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to bettering myself. The last Olympics I finished as a semi-finalist. This time I hope to make the Olympic final and put myself in the position to run for a medal.

Check out Sarah Wells’ new athletic wear collection in collaboration with WINNERS in stores next week!

5 Questions With: Svava Sigbersdottir of The Viking Method

Marshalls Activewear - Svava with weights 2

photo provided by Marshalls

I recently had the chance to check out a brand new type of workout with Marshalls Canada at Hard Candy Fitness in Toronto. Founded by Svava Sigbersdotti, The Viking Method, this is a “no gimmicks functional training method with very specific exercises done in a certain way. Done with the right switch and timing between anaerobic and aerobic resistance training. Done with the use of your body weight. And done with the highest intensity,” as described on Svava’s website. Let me tell you, the workout was hardcore! The only reason I kept going is because of how endearing Svava is and how much fun she makes working hard seem. I was curious to know more about this rad woman and what inspired her to create this popular training technique (she has many celebrity clients including Suki Waterhouse and Nicole Scherzinger). Here are my 5 Questions With Svava Sigbersdotti.

1) What inspired you to start The Viking Method and what was your initial goal?

I have exercised all my life but through every different genre I tried, I never found one that would give me everything that I thought it should:  the power, the strength, the agility, the leanness, the right nutrition, the contentment and the inner wellbeing. Therefore, I founded my Viking Method – one method that brings it all to you.  My main goal has always been to make people feel good about themselves. To help them realize that they are a true force to be reckoned with; with every muscle powerful. With a mind that is undefeatable. And a spirit that is unbreakable.  I started my online training programs so that more people could do my method.  To give them high quality training and nutritional plans, knowledge and motivation without the massive cost of a personal trainer.

2) How did growing up in Iceland impact your views on fitness?

Isolated for centuries in a cold climate and limited supplies, us Icelanders still carry in our genes that old toughness. The harder the work, the more we get out of it.  Both men and women are very competitive and giving it always your all is what is expected.  That did impact me.  Mental resilience. Not caring what others think. Going after what I want.  And never giving up. Those trades are very beneficial when you train, especially when you are absolutely dying! 🙂

3) What separates The Viking Method from other forms of training and fitness out there?

The philosophy behind the Viking Method is both physical and physiological. In many training methods the focus is only put on the physical which I do not agree with.  It is also scientific.   I work closely with the hormones in the body, activating the good ones (fat burning, anti-aging, lean tissue building, de-stressing ) and de-activating the bad ones.  I time and pair the exercises that I do in a very specific way that forces the body to switch on greater amount of muscle fibres and utilize more oxygen and energy. The exercises are highly functional. No machines. No help. Just you and your body. And they are designed to both make your body the leanest, fastest, most powerful machine with yourself the greatest driver. Nothing will be able to stop you or bring you down.  I also focus on the right core work. No core crunches, no core machines. I make you work your core as what it is, the centre of your body. As the connector. The glue that keeps you together. Using your core in this way will make it extremely strong and will improve your performance in every way. You will be tighter, more together, run faster, jump higher…your whole posture and the way you move will be completely different.

4) Diet and nutrition also seems to be an important part of your training, so what are three things that people should know about diet when training?

Have a lot of healthy protein and fats. Fat does not make you fat.  Get your carbs mostly from vegetables and fibrous fruit.  Kcal in vs Kcal out should not be your rule of thumb. Stop thinking about kcal and think more about how the food and drinks you consume affect your body.  A few small rules:  No carbs 90 min before you train and before you sleep. We want certain hormones to work when you train and right after you fall asleep and they can’t be activated if you have had carbs.  Have your carbs after you train. This is the time where you can have your rice, your pasta, which ever carb you want that is not veggies and certain fruits.  Do not eat every 2 hours –it brings about too much oxidation of your cells and your digestive system is then constantly working.  Let it rest.

5) What are your three go-to exercises?

Oh that is so hard to say! Difficult to chose between them.   Different types of Crawls. Love them as they work your whole body.  Burpees and Kneeling kicks do the same.  My favourite is creating exercises that incorporate core, plyometrics, power and balance.  It doesn’t get more fun than that.  🙂

Check out Svava’s fitness tips below! For more information on The Viking Method go here.

image003

5 Questions With: Mackage

GP2_8906[1]

For the past couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to attend Toronto Fashion Week. Each season, the show that always leaves me the most inspired is the one presented by Mackage. Designers Eran Elfassy and Elisa Dahan launched Mackage in 1999 and have since become one of the most popular outerwear brands in North America and one of my personal favorites. In preview of their upcoming FW16 show at TFW on Wednesday, I got to ask the designers a few questions about their upcoming collection and journey thus far.

1) What was your main inspiration behind the FW16 collection? If you could resume the collection in one word, what would it be?

ELISA: We can resume the collection in two words: WINTER WARRIOR!
It is important for us that you remain fashionable while staying warm. The FW16 collection is inspired by a fashion-forward urban metropolis overrun by a severe cold front.

2) What are some of the new avenues in design and craftsmanship you wanted to explore this season?

ERAN: We are always committed to excellence and improving our product season after season. We explore new techniques and design, while always staying true to our roots. This season, we are introducing a new fill power of 800. This results in even better warmth to weight ratio.

3) What you say is the biggest difference with the FW15 collection?  

ERAN: We are evolving as a brand in everything we do. In addition to developing new techniques and silhouettes this season, we are also injecting new trends into our collection. Some of the biggest statements this season are coloured fur and oversized collars. This is something that we will see throughout our FW16 collection.

4) I’ve read that you both love traveling, what are some of the most inspiring places you’ve travelled to and why?

ELISA: Italy! There is something so breathtaking about every city and the culture. It exudes history and there is something very beautifully nostalgic about it. Not only is the fashion in Italy untouchable, but also their art and décor as well. The energy there is so different and exhilarating! We always come back inspired from our trip to Italy.

5) What’s next for Mackage in 2016?

ELISA: We have a lot of surprises lined up! We are excited to reveal some exciting projects this year. There is more to come… Stay tuned! 😉

5 Questions With: Perdita Felicien

IMG_6491 copy

Athletes have always inspired me. Whether it would be their discipline, their strength or even just the lifestyle of being a professional athlete, I have always been fascinated by what it must feel like to be considered the best in the world at something.

Perdita Felicien is a retired Canadian hurdler that paved the way for many female athletes in Canada. Not only did she become the first Canadian woman to ever win a medal at the World Championships, in Paris in 2003 but she also still holds the Canadian record for the 100 m hurdles that she set in 2004. Throughout her career she went on to win multiple medals at the national and international level.

Since retiring from competition, she went back to school to study journalism at Seneca College.

I’m thrilled to have her share some of her journey thus far with us on the blog today.

1) When did your love for track begin? What drew you to this sport?

I was introduced to track when I was around 9 years old by my teacher. I found success quickly, but I wasn’t passionate about it. I did it because it was something social to do after school. I quit for two years in high school; the only reason I went back was because my mother kept nagging me. Right away I was offered full athletic scholarships from American universities, but I turned them all down. I was a reluctant athlete despite my success and obvious talent. I eventually got some sense talked into me and accepted a scholarship from the University of Illinois in 2000. It was there that my real love for the sport developed, after a disappointing performance ignited a passion and determination I had never felt before.

2) You are the current Canadian record holder for the 100 m hurdles and the 2003 world champion, what does that mean to you?

To be the fastest female sprint hurdler Canada has ever had, and the first woman in Canadian track and field history to win a world championship title makes me proud. It means I’m a trailblazer and another woman can see what I’ve accomplished and chose to follow or surpass me. I competed for more than 10 years, and it’s only now, three years into retirement that I can look at my list of accomplishments and understand their significance and truly enjoy them.

3) You are a Seneca alumni and are taking part in their #BecauseItMatters campaign that highlights the school’s ability to prepare their students not only for their career but also their life as a whole through combining education, training and experience. How has your time at Seneca helped you with your professional career post athletic life?

While I graduated with honours from the University of Illinois with a degree in Kinesiology, when I retired in 2013 my passion was no longer in that field. I had to reinvent myself, but I was in my early 30s’ and didn’t have the time to go back to school for years at a time. I knew I wanted to enter the broadcast journalism industry quickly, but I also wanted to be competitive. After some research Seneca was the perfect fit. My instructors were knowledgeable and everyday we entered the class as if it were a live newsroom. We experienced all the intensity, stress and expectation we would face in a real job situation. I’m great under the pressure of deadlines; my ability to write quickly and clearly for media is due to the fact that we spent hours doing that in class. There are so many other skills I gained that I apply in my everyday life as a broadcaster. But the most important thing is my education from Seneca has media outlets taking me seriously as a journalist and not an athlete turned “talking head.”

4) What are your thoughts on society being more accepting of fit women and women in sports these days? How much change have you seen (if any) during your career?

I love it! I think we’ve seen society embrace athletic women as beautiful. There used to be a time where some women were afraid to lift weights because they thought they’d leave the gym looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now women want toned muscles and curves, because not only is it attractive, it’s a symbol of health. Dealing with women in sports specifically we have made progress: Equal prize money in many sports, recognizing women’s athletic achievements on the same plane as men’s and countless movements devoted to the advancement of women in sports. These are all great, but sport will likely be a male dominated space for a long time. That’s why I encourage everyone to support organizations and causes that promote the participation and inclusion of women and girls at all levels of physical activity and sport.

5) What are your career aspirations for the future?

In addition to what I’m doing with sports broadcasting and public speaking, I’d plan to write a children’s book for young kids in sports, dealing with overcoming obstacles and self-efficacy. I’d like to write a cookbook that teaches parents what to feed their little champions. I’m always asked by parents what to feed their children! In a perfect world I’d love to be on a morning news show with a panel of diverse, opinionated women covering headlines in Canada and around the world.

For more information on the #BecauseItMatters campaign, please visit: www.becauseitmatters.ca. Don’t miss the Open House at Seneca on Saturday, April 2, 2016.

This post was sponsored by Seneca, however the opinions expressed are my own. 

5 Questions With: Jen Hudak

Jen Hudak in the halfpipe, Park City, Utah.

Photo by: Scott Markewitz

When I think of women who inspire me, I think of women that have overcome adversity, who have gone through hardships and have come on top. One of the women I’ve been following for the past couple of years is American pro skier Jen Hudak. I first heard of her a couple of years ago during a televised ski competition. I’ve since followed her journey at the X Games, US Open, etc. I caught up with her just after her trip to this year’s X Games in Aspen to get her perspective on her sport, her journey and more.

1) What first got you interested in skiing? What is it about the freeski discipline that you like so much?

My family first got me interested in skiing. Both of my parents were avid outdoor enthusiast; they met on a Wasatch Mountain Club hike in Utah in the late 70s and spending time in the mountains remained a priority after my sister and I were born. My father, in particular, LOVED to ski. It was very fortunate because I ended up loving it too. I remember days skiing 9-4 in the rain with my dad. We were obsessed. I don’t remember much about what I felt about skiing at a very early age, but I do recall that my dad tried to put me in ski school when I was about 4, and I never let that happen again. Pretty sure they tried to hold me back too much, I loved just straight lining top-to-bottom runs. When I was 12 I joined the freestyle team at Okemo Mountain in Ludlow, Vermont. The challenge of moguls captivated me, but when I found the halfpipe, nothing compared. The thrill of dropping in at high speed, feeling the rigidity of the pipe beneath your feet, resisting the G-forces trying to collapse you through transition, and then soaring, weightless and free for just a moment before doing it all over again.

2) How much did premiering women’s halfpipe skiing at the Olympics in Sochi in 2014 impact the sport and your career?

Well, this is an interesting discussion point for me, because I tore my left ACL, meniscus and cartilage at the first Olympic Qualifiers in December 2013 and didn’t go to Sochi. There’s no guarantee I would have qualified for the team regardless, as the US presence is extremely strong and we only had 4 spots. I’m not an Olympian, so it wasn’t so much the premiering of women’s halfpipe that impacted my career, but the work leading up to it. Getting the sport into the Olympics was a goal that I had set in 2003 after competing in the first World Cup for halfpipe skiing. It led me to victories in almost every event there is, two-world championship titles, 4 national championship titles, and 5 x-games medals. Shooting for the moon definitely helped me land amongst the stars.

Despite watching the Olympics from home, while I was rehabbing my knee, it was the most exciting Olympic experience of my life. I took so much pride in watching all of the freeskiing athletes (not just the women) debut our sport on the world stage. It felt really good. In all honesty, I thought the Olympics would have a greater impact on the sport as a whole. Perhaps in a decade, we’ll look back and see it as a pivotal moment, but it seems to be harder for athletes to get companies to financially back their future endeavors than it ever was before. It’s certainly no easier, unless you happened to be the Golden boy or girl that who returned home to adoring fans. And by “golden” I don’t necessarily mean the gold-medal winners, but the ones who captured the media in some unique way. It’s kind of made me question my career-long goal and if it ended up being more detrimental than beneficial… But that’s probably a topic for another day.

3) What was the biggest obstacle you’ve had to face in your career and life thus far and how have you overcome it?

I used to answer this question without skipping a beat and say “injuries,” but I pause a little more today when answering this. It’s not what is inherent in an injury that makes it difficult. It is not the pain that is intolerable, or the time that it takes to rehab the injury, it’s not mentally returning from an injury that is hard. It is the repeat of injuries, the constant beat-down when you’ve just gotten back up. It is what ended my competitive career. I had a very high internal locus of control for the majority of my career. When something went wrong, I believed that I could’ve done something differently to have prevented it, which meant that I could avoid having it happen again in the future. This allowed me to comeback from injuries numerous times, and often, to come back stronger than before.

After enough beat-downs, that perspective changed. I stopped believing that I could prevent bad things from happening, and if you don’t have that belief, you can’t do this sport, at least not successfully or safely. I think I’m still working on overcoming this one. I announced my retirement at the start of this winter, and it hasn’t been easy. My heart still wants it, there’s still a part of me that feels like I was born with a natural talent to do this sport, and if I don’t take it to my ultimate potential, then it reflects as failure. But where do you draw the line between “ultimate potential” and severe, permanent injury or death? I keep telling myself that 8 knee surgeries are enough for a 29-year-old. At this point, I’ve decided that there’s more for me to loose by returning to the sport than there is for me to gain, but that doesn’t make the process much easier. It’s hard to leave something unfinished.

4) You blog regularly and open up about your journey as a freeskier and also as a young woman, why is it important for you to do that?

It is extremely important to me to be open about what I go through in this sport. I think it’s because I can so clearly see how the issues I face in sport, transcend to different aspects of life, they just tend to be more pronounced and dramatic in sport. It’s like turning up the contrast on a photo to pull out more detail. Sharing my experiences is often very cathartic for me as well. I’m better able to move through difficult times when I acknowledge them. Writing about my challenges makes them tangible, digestible and therefore conquerable.

I also recognize that we are all human. We are all so much more alike than we are different, yet we spend all this time trying to differentiate ourselves, to stand-out, to be unique. Sometimes we need the reminder that we’re not alone; other people get you, other people have similar challenges, human struggles, pain, vulnerability, insecurity. We all have dreams & experience fear. I don’t know what happens after this life on earth, so I feel a deep responsibility to make a contribution to this world, to the next generation, whether that be of athletes, politicians, environmental advocates, to encourage others to explore their own potential and passions. We don’t leave this earth with anything, so it feels important to leave my contribution behind.

5) Where would you like to see the sport of freeskiing go in the next five years and what would you like to accomplish personally?

This is a tough question to answer. I don’t like speculating on the direction of the sport, I feel that it limits the possibilities. I never would’ve imagined that athletes would be doing what they’re doing today, especially in slope, so I won’t comment on that. I will say, that I’d like safety to be a higher priority. It seems like there has been a shift toward that this winter. We’ve lost enough of our athletes; we can do better. It’s all about perspective, remembering that there will always be another competition. And, on a general note, I’m an advocate for grabs, style and amplitude, I think that’s the most enjoyable thing to watch and the most digestible for the common man.

Personally, I want to finish school (which is due to happen this fall), begin writing a book, and develop a clear platform for helping athletes, performers and business people recognize and understand their inherent value to optimize their careers. Recognizing how challenging this transition has been, I also want to create a platform to better support athletes through retirement process. It’s so much more than just learning how to create a resume, (though I certainly needed help with that too) but getting athletes to recognize how their strengths and what they’ve learned are relatable to other industries in the “real-world.”

5 Questions With: Joy McCarthy

Joy-McCarthy

I met Joy McCarthy at a special Greens+ Extra Energy event in Toronto a few weeks ago. She was giving a talk about the product and also about health and nutrition. I was immediately drawn to what she was saying as well as her super positive energy. Joy is not only a new mom, she is also an author, a holistic nutritionist, a speaker and the founder of the website Joyous Health. I became a big fan of her health and wellness website after the talk so I am thrilled she can share some of her knowledge with us on the blog today!

1) What first got you interested in nutrition and health? 

I’ve been interested in nutrition and health as long as I can remember. However, I realized the true healing power of foods when I had my own health transformation about 15 years ago.

2) What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about what it means to eat healthy?

That you need to deprive yourself and that healthy food isn’t tasty or enjoyable. These misconceptions couldn’t be further from the truth!

3) What are three key foods active women should absolutely include into their diets?

1- Protein such as beans, lentils, quinoa, eggs, fish, chicken and in smoothies adding a high quality protein powder.

2- Plenty of colourful vegetables to ensure a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  Again, supplementing with a green superfood like Greens+ is a great way to boost your intake.

3- Raw nuts and seeds. These provide fiber, good fat, protein and they are portable! Great for snacking on the go.

4) What are some of your go-to fitness workouts to keep you in shape?

I love Barre classes and yoga. But something I do every single day, rain or shine is walking. I think walking is one of the best forms of exercise. It’s free and it’s a great way to boost your mood and refresh your mind.

5) What’s the most important thing women should do in 2016 to achieve health & wellness?

Make self-care a priority. Women by our very nature are nurturing and always taking care of other people. More often then not many women put others needs before their own. Taking time for self-care is not selfish – it helps you be more productive in all areas of life and happier.

5 Questions With: Amelia Boone

image004

If you’ve been following my fitness adventures, you know that I took part in my first ever Reebok Spartan Race last summer. I also recently visited Pursuit OCR (you can see my post here), the first Canadian indoor obstacle course to train for this summer’s Spartan Race. The Spartan Race is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done physically in my life but also one of the most fun I’ve ever had during a race. I’m thrilled to share with you today my interview with an inspiring woman and athlete, the 2013 Reebok Spartan Race World Champion, Amelia Boone. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to be the champion of one Spartan Race, let alone be the world champion. What a feat! I’m thrilled that Amelia agreed to answer a few questions on her journey thus far. Hope you’ll enjoy!

1) What first got you interested in fitness? When did you start being really active?

Fitness has always been a part of my life from a young age. I was a year-round athlete, shuttling from one sport to another my entire childhood. Even in college and law school, when I didn’t play any formal sports, I still would go for runs and hit the gym for stress release. It wasn’t until I graduated law school when I started really focusing on athletics (late in life, I know!) – I ran my first obstacle race with fellow attorneys at my law firm, and then just got hooked. Doing obstacle races made me realize I needed more strength work in my routine, so I added CrossFit to running, and found a nice balance. 

2) You are the 2013 Reebok Spartan Race World Champion, what kind of training is required to obtain such a title? What is your training regimen like?

Reebok Spartan Race is a great mix of endurance and strength. You need to have a great aerobic capacity and a strong running background, but you also need to balance that with upper body strength. So training is always a balancing act finding the perfect mix of the two. I generally run or do longer endurance workouts 5 days a week, and then add in CrossFit or other strength training 3-4 days a week. I take one full rest day a week (though I will do some mobility work and go for a walk or do a light spin on a bike for 15 minutes or so to keep blood flowing). 

3) There seems to be more and more women interested in races like the Reebok Spartan Race, why do you think that is? How are women seen in the circuit?

I think women are looking for ways to push themselves physically and mentally. And women more and more are seeing that being strong is pretty awesome, and there’s no better mix of strength and athleticism than a Reebok Spartan Race. The numbers of women in the circuit is growing, and more and more, we are beating men. While I love to compete against other women, I always check the overall standings at the end of the race – I love to see how I stack up against the field as a whole. 

4) For those interested in getting into these kinds of races/obstacle courses, what advice would you have for them?

I always tell people that anyone can get through a race. You may fail some obstacles, may have to walk some, but you learn what you need to work on and come back stronger. A great introduction is to get together with a group of friends and do one as a team. There are all ages and abilities out there conquering a course – you’ll always find a helping hand. 

5) What are your next fitness goals? What objectives have you set for yourself?

I’m always kind of looking for the next challenge and the next way to push my physical limits. I’ve had great success in Reebok Spartan, and will continue to run those, but I’m looking at venturing into doing more ultra marathons this year – I have a few 100k’s and a 100 miler on the race calendar. 

For more information on Reebok’s latest campaign and their #BeMoreHuman campaign, go here. For more information on the Spartan Race, if you want to join me this summer, go here.

5 Questions With: Keighty Gallagher of Tight Club

FullSizeRender(9)

Photos by @Offner

There are many reasons why I’m excited to share this interview today. The first, is that I love sharing stories of young women entrepreneurs that are fearless and creative. I also love when these women are also the nicest people. Keighty Gallagher, the founder of Tight Club in Vancouver is that and so much more. I had the opportunity to work out and spend time with her while I was in Vancouver last month and fell in love with the amazing fitness community she’s created in the city. Everyone that is part of Tight Club, is incredibly friendly and all want to work together towards the same goal: A healthier, happier and fitter life. After holding classes in her garage that she renamed “The Coach House” and at the Juice Truck for a couple of years, Keighty and her crew at Tight Club are finally opening up The Field House this weekend, their first real studio. But as Keighty explains, it will be so much more than that. I hope the interview below will inspire you just as much as it inspired me.

1) What inspired you to start Tight Club and what is it about fitness that you like so much?

I started Tight Club out of the desire to change the way people think about fitness and to allow people to see that being fit, healthy and active doesn’t mean being a jock. So many people, especially artists and creative people, felt that an active or fitness lifestyle meant pumping iron in the gym. That’s where it originally came from. I was working at the Alibi Room, which is a famous spot for craft beer so a lot of people that I worked with were just starting to catch onto the fact that having an active lifestyle was important. We are getting around that age where a night of drinking has a few more consequences than just a hangover. I had just gotten back from the University of Oregon, Portland State University actually, and I still had the fire in my blood to keep moving since I was an athlete out there. So that’s one thing that I could bring to them. They could bring me knowledge about beer and I could bring them knowledge about working out.

As for fitness, when you’re doing it by yourself, I love how you feel afterwards and the intrinsic pleasure that you gain when you’re crushing your own goals and nobody else cares or knows when you’re doing it solely for yourself. When you’re doing it in a group, I just love how the little things you can do, can do so much for somebody else through accountability. Just with a smile on your face, you can change somebody’s day. I see that all the time when I teach my 5pm or 6pm classes at night. We do our daily check-in and half of the class are coming off of having a bad day, they wish they weren’t even there, but they are there. So at the end of the class, having worked them through and gotten them over that mountain and as a group seeing them leave and say “I’m so glad I did this, I feel so much better, thank you so much”, that’s why I do it.

2) The Coach House seemed like a very family-oriented place, now that you’re opening up your own space, how are you going to transfer that vibe over?

The design is a big factor. That was one of my biggest fears, was losing the feel of a non-official place. The Coach House was in a back alley, in Strathcona, it’s not gym-like at all and how do we bring that into the new space. I’ve been working with a designer and architect for the past year now. Her name is Casey and their company is called PLY Architecture, they just moved to Vancouver. She’s been at basically every class, she’s one of the hardest working babes I know. I was lucky enough to have her help me with the vision. Some of the things we brought over was the feeling of being in a house. Without giving too much away, we’re using the house silhouette a lot in the space, we’re also trying to bring in a sense of style, fashion and sport in it. Sport is a big thing. Part of our motto is, you’re never training for the gym, you’re training for life. I come from a track background and Henry loves soccer and basketball, we’re both into sports and through graphic design, you’ll see a lot of elements of abstract sports lines blending the two sports together. Also, Nike plays a big influence in it, so we’ll have a special feature wall. We’ll also be working with a lot of local artists and doing collaborations. We have an artist wall that we’re working on, where we’ll be turning Nike running shoes into white ceramic planters and putting them in a grid on the wall so it’s kind of like a green space made up of the shoes we grew up wearing so like Air Max 90s and Air Jordan’s.

3) There seems to be a big community in Vancouver. People really seem to want to help each other out. What is it like to start a business there?

I’m not from Vancouver and I keep hearing these nightmare stories of people coming to Vancouver and complaining about how unwelcoming, cold and clicky it is. People are going to hate me for this but I didn’t feel that. Maybe I met the right people but I feel like I surrounded myself with people that were secure in what they were doing and didn’t feel insecure to share. A lot of people who helped me out are creatives. I think Vancouver is a small city and everyone knows each other, everyone in the fitness industry, the people that I have chosen to become close with, we’re all doing something different yet we’re all doing the same thing which is bringing fitness to people’s lives and getting people healthier, happier and stronger. When I was growing up I had a mentor, her name was Rian Rhoe and she hired me to be her intern working for a snowboard company in Portland. So I moved to Portland after a terrible year at University of Oregon and running track. She introduced me to everyone, all the most important people in my life and she let me live with her. She was just so open and there was no ego. I feel like that’s my job now, to not feel threatened, to be open and to help other people out.

4) What are some of the services and things that you’ll be offering in the new Tight Club space? What can people expect?

The idea behind our Tight Club class schedule is that we’re going to be providing a really balanced mix of workouts. So I’m really taking into consideration the five elements of fitness which is: Strength, Cardio, Stability, Agility and Flexibility. So what you’ll see in our mix of classes is yoga, high intensity interval training, slow strength that is for everyone – low impact and full body, we’re going to have a run club for our cardio endurance and then for the agility and stability that will be where the heart of Tight Club is, so you’ll be gaining stability and agility in everything. There will be a large sense of sport in a lot of our classes. Classes, personal training and in the front we’ll be expanding our products line – Tight Club running clothing and we’re really excited to roll out our collaborative projects with other artists from the city. We’re working with Beth Richards, who’s a local Vancouver sportswear and swimwear designer and I’m so excited to unveil that. Also, we’re going to be working with Woodlot, who’s a local candle and soap company. We’re going to be doing our own custom soap and candle. Helping create a line of products that will help support local creatives but also help support the modern athlete who is coming to Tight Club and who isn’t using Axe bodywash. There’s a lot more thought into how they’re living their lives and what they’re putting on and in their bodies, so my goal is to help support that, whether it’s through classes or with products.

5) What have you learned from starting Tight Club?

Community is everything. We just recently did an Indiegogo campaign because it costs so much money to do anything in this city. It’s all me, I don’t have an investor, I don’t have rich parents, so in order to take Tight Club to the next level I really needed the help of the community because the banks aren’t doing anything. The community raised $43 000 with over 350 people that donated to the campaign. It was amazing. We had raised half of it in the first two days. One of the coolest things I’ve experienced, is how much people want to help you. That might be a Vancouver thing, I don’t know. The first company that took a chance with us was Lululemon Lab and so within the first year, we were given the opportunity to create an apparel line for this modern athlete and launched it through Lululemon Lab. They gave us a launch party, a video, a photoshoot, a clothing line and a display on Broadway, in Vancouver. It was such an amazing opportunity and they trusted that there was something about us that was special. The collaborations that I’ve been a part of these past three years have been amazing.

Consistency is another one. No one’s ever going to take you seriously if you don’t stay consistent. In the beginning, we were just a once-a-week run club, we would meet up underneath the Cambie Street bridge in December in the pouring rain. Most of the times it was just Henry and I, in the pouring rain but we had to keep doing it because we believed in it. People would never take you seriously if we cancelled because of the rain, it’s Vancouver!

For more information on Tight Club, go here. Don’t miss my special workout post with Keighty Gallagher coming next Tuesday December 8th on the blog!

5 Questions With: Lakey Peterson

_MG_4245

A few weeks ago, during the Nike Women’s 15k race weekend in Toronto, I had the privilege of meeting one of the top female surfers in the world – Lakey Peterson. Lakey is a 20-year-old professional surfer from California currently ranked #7 on the WSL World Tour. She started surfing at the age of 5 and began her rookie year on the ASP Women’s World Championship Tour at the age of 17! If you’ve seen Lakey compete before, you know she’s a powerhouse in the water. She’s such a great athlete to watch because she always seems so fearless against the other competitors. I’ve had the privilege of watching her compete and she’s incredibly inspiring. I’m beyond thrilled that she took a few minutes out of her busy training schedule before the US Open of Surfing to answer a few of my questions. Hope you’ll enjoy my 5 Questions with Lakey Peterson:

1) What first drew you to surfing? What is it about surfing that you love so much?

I think for me it has always just been such a freeing feeling when I surf… I forget about everything else in life and am entirely in the moment. Not many things in this world that make you do that or feel that.

2) What are your thoughts on the current level of women’s surfing in the world?

It’s really exciting to be a part of women’s surfing at the moment… The girls are absolutely ripping at the moment. We are all pushing each other to surf better and more powerful. I believe the future is really bright. 

3) How do you usually prepare for a competition? What is your day of competition routine?

During contest I am always up by 5 or 5:30. I’ll have a bite of fruit and go for a warm up surf. Then eat breakfast, lots of veggies, 1 egg and avocado. Before my heat I listen to my music, warm up, talk to my coach and off I go.

4) What are some of your favorite breaks to surf and why?

When I am back home in California, Rincon Point is by far my favorite place in the world to surf. I also Love Fiji and Honolua Bay 

5) What are your next career goals? Where would you like to be in 5 years?

In 5 year i hope I am still on tour surfing and going for the world title. I want surfing to be my life for as long as possible. So hopefully I’ll be on tour until I am 30 or so. After that I want to really help people with nutrition and fitness. I am starting a website called TheSaltyCoconut.com it’s going to be all about healthy living. Amazing style tips, recipes, workouts, photography etc. So i hope that goes well and I can turn it into a business and carrier one day. 

Catch Lakey Peterson compete at the US Open of Surfing this week and check out her new website TheSaltyCoconut.com that launches Friday July 31st at 10am PST.