Shannon Jones – Our Summer Inspiration

Do you ever meet someone and right away want to learn so much about them and from them? This is was the case for me with Shannon Jones. I first met Shannon at a fundraiser for Winnipeg youth from the inner city about five years ago via her husband Miles, and a long-time friend from the University of Manitoba ‘Arts’ degree days. She just had a vibe about her that resonated with me. We became friends on social media soon thereafter and that vibe has rung so true. Shannon is a strong, kind, loving soul of a human being doing an exceptional job raising her three young girls. In this week’s blog we wanted to feature Shannon to spread the word about her incredible story.

Shannon grew up as a competitive gymnast, and it gave her the very happiest moments of her childhood. The gym was her second home, providing a source of stability that was lacking at home. After retiring from gymnastics she missed the exercise, building a strong body and mind, and as she says, “burning off the crazy!”. As past national and international level athletes, we absolutely positively can relate!

Shannon tried a few things to invigorate her fitness love again, but it took some time. At the age of 38 she tried CrossFit for the first time and has never looked back. It’s proven to be exactly what she needs as both a physical and emotional outlet for this mom of three.

Keeping up with the Jones’ is no easy task. Their three girls, London (11 years), Hartley (9) and Parker (4) are all super busy and beyond motivated. London is often reluctant to try new things, but with a little prodding she always finds something to love in every activity! She plays hockey and trains CrossFit, loves going to camp, and wants to study to be an Architect.

Hartley is a force to be reckoned with! She is strong, intense, self-motivated, and fiercely determined in all that she does. She is a competitive gymnast, has been selected for the High Performance training path, and confidently tells them to start saving our money for the LA 2028 Olympics, “because you definitely have to come watch my first Olympics!!”

Parker is 4 affectionately nicknamed BammBamm. She is ridiculously strong, and not at all concerned with being delicate! Parker loves to swim, and bounce on the trampoline, and do just about anything active! Last year, Parker was diagnosed with Autism with Language Impairment, which clarified a lot of issues, but also made clear that structured sport is likely not in the cards for her. However, through the amazing people and programs at the Canucks Autism Network, she has since started to learn to participate in swimming and skating, albeit on her own terms.

As both former athletes themselves, Shannon and Miles were very clear on wanting to have their girls experience as many sports as possible growing up. They felt so many tremendous benefits from a life with sport, and wanted to ensure they gave their girls the same opportunities for growth, strength and confidence they received. With London playing hockey, it has at times been a struggle playing on co-ed teams, not because of unfair treatment more so regarding an unfair culture. Girls being ‘tolerated’ rather than accepted, in turn making it difficult to develop a sense of a sport community for the young girls.

“We believe that sport participation is just as important for kids as school. Through training and competition they learn so much more than just a game; they learn to set short- and long-term goals; to be a great teammate; to manage their feelings in the face of both success and defeat; to be proud of their effort first, results second; to develop a healthy relationship with their Coaches; and most importantly, that at all stages success is earned, never an entitlement,” says Jones.

It hasn’t been an easy road for the family. Together they have faced a housing disaster, multiple life-threatening illnesses, uprooting to move across the country, Shannon’s medical retirement, and now trying to help their littlest to develop. Building resilience was the only response to it all while remaining honest about life. That it is not easy, it is not fair, and it is not predictable, but they can lean into each other and rise above it. Shannon often says ‘life is hard, love it easy’ and that rings in my ear every time I personally face any challenge.

The strength of their family runs deep in their veins. Hartley was diagnosed with Epilepsy as a baby, and has been through hell and back…and back again. From the endless medical procedures to the mind-numbing medications, this nine-year old is a pint-size super hero. But that along with her fierce love for gymnastics has made her set goals, crush them and set new ones often. Couldn’t we all just put her in our pockets as a reminder to be such a badass?

The Jones family moved from Winnipeg to Kelowna for a host of reasons two years ago. While they miss so much about Winnipeg, it has been a great move. When they arrived 2 years ago, Hartley required so much medication that she was unable to complete a full day of school, and was not developing academically. By changing their lifestyle, her treatments, and their surroundings, this child is now thriving academically, is medication-free, and is training in a national gymnastics development program. I’m sure they would have moved to Mars for results like this if they had to! Because THAT is what love and family are all about. Sticking together, rising above, and doing it with endless love and dedication in your heart.

I asked Shannon what her biggest dream for her girls is. It’s a tough question to pose to any parent, but she nailed it. “Honestly, that they truly know that they are loved. If we get that right, the rest will be easy.”

Girls Participation in Sport

Last week we put out a media release surrounding girls in sport in Canada. According to the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS), 41% of girls between the ages of 3 – 17 do NOT participate in sport. More startling is that by the age of 10, if a girl has yet to participate in sports, there is only a 10% chance that she will be physically active as an adult.

We at FIT Communications are looking to change this by providing more options to parents for their girls to participate in sport and activities in Winnipeg this summer. Our FITGirls programming has created a free online list for parents to find these opportunities which also provides discounts to activities. The FITGirls Directory consists of organizations that believe in our city’s girls and the benefits of sport and fitness in their lives. They are diverse in their programs but consistent in their delivery of quality programs for those looking for a unique and super experience.

In addition, we have put together a listing of summer camps for parents to choose from – encompassing a wide rand of activities – from synchronized swimming to Skyzone trampoline camp.

We know that participating in sports improves girls’ confidence and self-esteem, while providing them with the lifelong skills of healthy living, team work, time management and so much more. We want to provide as many opportunities for girls in our city as possible with our FITGirls programming.

We are beyond grateful for the local and national media coverage we received, including Winnipeg, Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton. Here are a few of the media spots for you to see:

Global News – Winnipeg Team Promoting Ways to Get More Girls Active In Sports

CTV News – FITGirls Directory & Summer Activities in Winnipeg

CityNews TV – Encouraging Young Girls to Be Physically Active

CHVN – Young Girls Lacking Physical Activity

CJOB Radio 

If you are passionate about health and the future of the girls in our country, please sign up for our newsletter here today!

Fall Activities for KIDS in Winnipeg

 

Autumn is such a great time for new routines. I love how the leaves are telling us to shed the old and get ready for something new. I always find my body and mind need a change this time of year with my fitness routine. Summer isn’t exactly my strongest season for the gym, but I love switching things up completely in the Fall and doing something new. Last year I did a 30 day Barre Challenge at Moksha Yoga. This year I am doing a 12 week program of kickboxing at Winnipeg Kickboxing and Muay Thai. Feels great to switch things up.

 

Just like adults, kids really change things up in the Fall. They go from staying up later, playing all day and weekends at the lake to school and activities. There are so many terrific options for kids to participate in, so this week’s blog we thought we would give you a few more ideas for kids sport and fitness. Our Fitness Journal for Girls happens to have discounts at all of these incredible places, and can be purchased online for only $10 here.

 

AQUATICA SYNCHRO CLUB

Want to give their amazing sport a try and check #136 off your Participation 150 Playlist? Here is your chance to try Synchronized Swimming FOR FREE with Aquatica Synchro club!

Girls and boys Ages 5+ welcome
Classes in Shallow & Deep End
Bring a suit and be ready to get wet!
Contact info@aquaticasynchro.com to RSVP or check out www.AquaticaSynchro.com for information on their current programs for all ages 5-Adult!

Come for the full hour:

September 12th, 6-7pm EK pool
September 20th, 6-7pm Pan Am pool
September 19th, 6-7pm Steinbach Aquatic Centre

If you have stronger swimmers that are looking for a challenge, their competitive programs are starting with our Kick-off camp September 9th at Kildonan Park. Check out www.aquaticasynchro.com for details or contact info@aquaticasynchro.com.

 

BASKETBALL MANITOBA

The Winnipeg Minor Basketball Association has announced its fall / winter 2017-18 basketball season registration information. Full details can be found here – http://www.wmba.ca
JR NBA 5-7 YEAR OLDS

Introductory program for boys and girls 5-7. Program runs 1 time a week for 1 hour.

STEVE NASH YOUTH BASKETBALL 8/9 YEAR OLDS 
Developmental program for boys and girls 8/9 Practice 1 time a week with 1-2 games per week.

COMMUNITY CLUB BASKETBALL 11-18 YEAR OLDS

Recreation based program for girls and boys 11-18. Practice 1 time a week with 1-2 games per week.

 

PRIDE MUAY THAI

Pride Muay Thai’s Kids Beginner Muay Thai course start September 25th.This 8-week program is divided into two age groups and they will tackle different striking and kicking techniques.

Ages 5 – 9 are Mondays and Thursday from 4:30 – 5:15.

Ages 10 – 15 are Tuesdays and Thursday from 5:15 – 6pm

They also have kids Grappling starting. These classes run Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7pm – 8pm.

The fee is $160 plus GST and a $50 registration fee.  And don’t forget to use that great promotion located in the Fitness Journal for Girls! More information can be found on their website (www.pridemuaythai.com/kids-classes) or by calling 204-505-4048.

 

SKY ZONE TRAMPOLINE PARK

Sky Zone Winnipeg is incredibly excited to announce the implementation of four new innovations within Sky Zone. This September, they are installing four new attractions guaranteed to bring your Sky Zone experience to the next level. The innovations “Warped Wall”, “Free Climb”, “Jousting” and “Performance Wall” will make up their “Challenge Zone” offering new opportunities for guests to challenge and experience attractions completely unique to Winnipeg.

To enjoy this pass to its full potential, they are offering an unbelievable deal to guests. Each guest can jump an hour a day for every day in September for $49.99 (valued at $496). That’s 90% off! Their innovations should be complete by September 19 but the rest of the park is open to enjoy beforehand! Enjoy Sky Zone for a birthday party, group event or just an amazing time in the Open Jump!

 

WINNIPEG KICKBOXING AND MUAY THAI

I LOVE this place! If you are looking to find a new activity for your kids, Winnipeg Kickboxing and Muay Thai has kids classes running every Wednesday at 5pm and Sundays at noon. All classes are one hour long and take place at 1777 Portage Avenue. It is a great way to learn self-defense, increase self-confidence and have a ton of fun. For more information or to register, contact Trisha at 204.930.6780.

 

WINNIPEG SYNCHRO

Winnipeg Synchro is celebrating its 70th year this year! Join them and see what they are all about. Free Try It Days include:

  • Free Try-it (Pan Am Pool, deep water only) Tuesday, Sep 19, 6:30 – 7:30 pm.
  • Free Try-it (Pan Am Pool, deep water only) Thursday, Sep 21, 6:30 – 7:30 pm.
  • Free Try-it (Pan Am Pool, shallow and deep water) Saturday, Sep 23, noon-1:00 (deep water) AND noon – 12:30 pm or 12:30 – 1:00 pm

Email them for more information (inquiries@winnipegsynchro.ca) or simply drop in for a Free Try it days wearing a bathing suit and a smile!

They also offer programming for ages 5 – 18+ for both recreational and competitive programs. Their pre-competitive program includes the following:

 

ZUMBA WITH YVONNE

Tons happening in the Zumba world at the Lindenwoods Community Centre:

Zumba Kids (ages 6-11 years) Classes starts Wed. Sept. 20 at 5 pm for 10 weeks.

Free Demo Classes for NEW Zumbini (ages 0-4 years). Classes on Tuesday, Sept. 26 at 9:30 am (45 min) and Sun. Oct. 1 at 5 pm

Contact Yvonne at (204) 295-6060 or zumbafunwithyvonne@gmail.com for more information.

 

 

Fitness Journal for Girls SUMMER Challenges!

It’s officially summer and your kids are off school for the next eight weeks. You have a few things scheduled, the odd camp, family time, maybe some travels. But week to week you’re thinking – what the heck are they going to do?!? No need to stress – we have a plan! As the Founders of the Fitness Journal for Girls, we created eight weekly challenges for your girls to do. If you haven’t purchased your Journal yet…get on it! It’s only $10 including shipping and taxes and can be purchased right now here!

Now that you have it in front of you or on its way in the mail, you’re ready to hear about all the fun we’re about to have this summer starting this week. On pages four and five of your Journal, you will see eight weeks worth of challenges. We have had a couple minor changes so it’s awesome that you’re reading this and getting the skinny on what’s up. But first, here’s how it works:

Girls with a Journal complete the weekly challenge. Next, they let us know they have completed it by either sending us an email to fjgirls@fitcommunications.ca, posting a photo or video on our Facebook page or tagging us on Instagram with a pic of video (@fjgirls). At the end of each week we will choose one random winner who will win the weekly prize. Each prize has a value of a minimum of $50!! Everything from SKYZONE and sporting good store gift cards, to 8-week tennis camps including racquets and balls to get your game on with! Tons of fun AND prizes?! It’s a WIN-WIN!

Here are the weekly challenges:

Week 1 – July 3 – 9:

Head into SKY ZONE Trampoline Park (200-400 Fort Whyte Way) on July 7, anytime between 4 and 8PM, and two people can jump for 90 minutes for only $24!

*please note: due to internal issues with Fearless Football, they had to cancel their Come Try It Day this week.

Week 2 – July 10 – 16:

Join us at Top Notch CrossFit (81 Plymouth Street) to try crossfit for free! July 13, from 7 – 8PM all girls can come try new activities and test their skills. Moms & Dads are welcome to join in on the FUN!

Week 3 – July 17 – 23:

Aqua Essence Swim Academy is in charge of this week’s challenge, and they want you to get out and SWIM! Anywhere, anytime this week, send us a VIDEO of you doing your favorite thing in the water and you are entered to win!

Week 4 – July 24 – 30:

Want to have a go at tennis? Come try tennis for FREE this week! Join us on July 26 from 6 – 7PM at Sir John Franklin Tennis Courts (#1 Sir John Franklin Road) where we’ll hook up with the pros from Tennis Manitoba to hit the ball around and enjoy some sunshine.

Week 5 – July 31 – August 6:

Natalie Reimer Anderson is getting you cooking up a storm this week! Anytime this week choose a healthy recipe, shop for the ingredients, prepare it and share it with your family at the dinner table. This one tastes too good not to share! Remember to let us know once you’ve completed this healthy challenge.

Week 6 – August 7 – 13:

Triathlon Manitoba has you moving anywhere, anytime this week. You can do this challenge all at once or break it up throughout the week. You need to swim 100 metres, bike 3 kms, and run/walk 1 km. Parents this is definitely one you two can do together!

Week 7 – August 14 – 20:

This challenge is from us at Fit Communications! You can do this one at the park, in your living room or in your back yard. We want you to do 10 jumping jacks, 10 sit-ups and 10 push-ups. Enjoy!

Week 8 – August 21 – 27:

Winnipeg Kickboxing & Muay Thai is ready to get you testing your skills. This super fun and friendly environment has girls coming out to kids classes this week to complete the weekly challenge. Come to either class – Friday, August 25 from 5 – 6pm and/or Sunday, August 27 from 11am – 12pm. Class is free and tons of fun!

So there you have it. Eight weeks of fun new activities for girls to try. Trying new physical fitness activities is about more than just exercise. It’s a way to meet new friends. It’s a way to gain self-confidence from seeing all the cool things that your mind and body can accomplish. It’s about having fun, winning prizes and seeing what your kids like, or don’t like, when it comes to sports. And the awesome thing about all of the places in the Journal is that they give you amazing discounts for Summer camps and Fall programming too, so if your daughter, niece or granddaughter really likes something, it allows for sports to be cost effective to you.

Any questions? We’re all ears! Feel free to comment below, join our chats on Facebook or send us an email to fjgirls@fitcommunications.ca

We hope to see you out this summer!

 

 

 

 

 

2017 Fitness Journal for Girls

The 2017 Fitness Journal for Girls launched on March 15, 2017, and the response has been really exciting. We have been featured in the Winnipeg Free Press, the Winnipeg Sun, on Global Morning Show, and countless radio shows around Winnipeg. Our social media campaign was a huge success on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. After our first month of sales, we are about half way through our goal of getting 1000 into the hands of girls in Winnipeg. So why purchase a Fitness Journal for Girls for the girls in your life? Here are the top 10 reasons this is the best $10 you’ll spend this year:

  1. For only $10, you will get well over $1500 in offers and discounts at over 30 Winnipeg health and fitness businesses and organizations. Some examples include free classes at boxing, kickboxing, CrossFit, triathlon races, Pilates, Tai Chi, acrobatics, Zumba and rowing. Buy one Get one or 50% off on summer camps for girls including synchronized swimming, diving, ultimate, basketball and gymnastics. Or incredible discounts on other sports and activities that happen year-round including synchronized swimming, gymnastics, kickboxing, SkyZone, tennis, diving, boxing, water polo, football and swimming lessons. If you use the Journal only one time you will be guaranteed to make your money back and then some!
  2. This year we have a few new services that are giving super fun deals on their offerings. Take Aevi Spa Salon Boutique for example. Every month from now until November you can get discounts on waxing, manis and pedis! What a great mom or auntie day with the girls! Or perhaps you need some new gear for the summer. IceTime Sports gives you 15% off your purchase of $50 or more! They will also give you a free skate sharpening when the weather gets a little colder out.
  3. This year we also have two incredible women who we love to work with in the Journal for their respective businesses. Natalie Reimer Anderson is a self-love and health coach. I have personally used Natalie’s nutrition services for the last few years, and attribute much of my knowledge and healthy ways to her advice. She is offering 50% off her family nutrition package! How awesome is that? And another total all-star is Paige Zaporzan, who is a holistic wellness coach who specializes in working with female athletes. She is giving Journal holders 50% off one on one sessions, and 40% off group sessions! So, for all the coaches out there who need to bring in someone to your team this year – these women are your ticket!
  4. Free summer challenges. Every week Allison and Andrea are putting on free summer challenges for the girls to have fun, try new things and enter to win awesome prizes. Each week is sponsored by a different business within the Journal. We have come try it days for Fearless Football, TopNotch CrossFit, tennis and kickboxing. We have challenges you can do at home or at the lake like healthy cooking challenges, swimming challenge from Aqua Essence Swim Academy, and fun ones to get your heart pumping with the kids. And one I might be the most excited about is the SkyZone Trampoline Park challenge, where two people can jump for 90 minutes for only $24! Sooo excited!
  5. Support local. For anyone who in an entrepreneur in Winnipeg, we know it can be tough. We are heavily taxed, work our fingers to the bone, feel like we put in 25 hour days every day all so we don’t have to work a 9 to 5 for someone else. But we also know that it’s so worth it when things go well. Not only do you support Allison and Andrea on their entrepreneurial path, but you also support all the businesses that are in the Journal. And in case I haven’t mentioned it yet, there are over THIRTY businesses in this year’s Journal.
  6. It is SO fun! As aunties and mom’s, we are always looking for fun new activities for the kids to do. The summer weekly challenges are great for something to do. But there’s so much more. I can take the kids to try CrossFit, boxing, kickboxing, football – so many cool sports that expose them to something new and different all for FREE. And it’s really great when you can get in there with them and try the activities too. Leave your ego at the door and get down and dirty!
  7. Goal setting exercises. As adults, we are (hopefully!) all setting goals and smashing them. Whether it be for business, in the gym, with your relationships, setting clear goals and a path to reach them is imperative to success. The same goes for kids. It this year’s Journal we explain to kids what goal setting is all about, and ask them to create a few for themselves. Maybe it’s to get an A in math, or to be able to get on their bike with no training wheels this summer. No matter what the goal, the Journal has you excited about it.
  8. Self-esteem boosting exercises. We want to ensure this is a super positive experience for everyone involved. We have put together a few self-esteem exercises in the Journal that are really fun for the girls to do. It makes them appreciate all the amazing things about themselves.
  9. One of the biggest reasons cited for girls dropping out of sports is due to a lack of positive female role models. It is not that they don’t exist, rather the issue is that media only spends 4% of its time on female sports and athletes. No don’t get me wrong – I don’t think it will ever be 50/50. We don’t have huge leagues like the NFL and NHL, and that is what a lot of people are interested in reading about and watching. But we sure would like to see that number closer to 10%. In the meantime, this year’s Journal features two exceptional Winnipeg athlete role models, who have had huge success on the Olympic podium. Janine Stephens, silver medalist in rowing at the 2012 Summer Olympics, and Desiree Scott, two-time Olympic bronze medalist and professional soccer player.
  10. You are supporting girls in sport and helping us on our mission to make Winnipeg girls the most active in the country. Currently, only 2% of girls are getting enough physical activity to be healthy, and we are doing something about it. But without the community’s help and support of the Fitness Journal for Girls, we can’t do it. So, whether you are a mom, dad, auntie, uncle or just someone who wants to showcase your support for us, we would love for you to join us.

You can purchase you 2017 Fitness Journal for Girls for only $10, including GST, shipping and handling here!  

Valerie Champagne – Inspiring CrossFit Athletes In & Out of the Box

Valerie Champagne exemplifies why I love sport. Her own personal history and experiences, views as a coach and motivating attitude are nothing short of inspiring. Interviewing her is like asking for a list of amazing mantras. I really feel like everyone should carry around Valerie in their back pocket!

Valerie is the coach and owner of Top Notch CrossFit located at 81 Plymouth Street in Winnipeg. Having started as a CrossFit athlete herself seven years ago, she began coaching the sport three years ago. For someone that has such a short coaching career, she is extremely knowledgeable and has a true talent for motivating her athletes.

Valerie herself did not grow up in a sports driven household. She was “the kid on the sidelines with the low confidence to even try out”. This personal experience growing up is why she loves working with kids – especially the kids who themselves, are on those sidelines hoping to be brought in. She knows first-hand how intimidating it is to start when you aren’t an “athlete”. She started CrossFit without a sports background, and became an exceptional athlete.

Coaching those like her – having never equated themselves to being athletes – is what she loves. “What excites me most about coaching is watching an adult or child walk into our box feeling a little overwhelmed and a little bit nervous. They are often doubtful of their abilities and hesitant. What transforms weeks and months later is a confidence. They are doing things they never thought possible. They feel better, they move better, and they hesitate a lot less. All they have to do is just start! Just start!! No matter where you are at…..just start. Believe in yourself…you are capable of so many things you never thought possible. Embrace the journey… it will have its highs and lows but it will be all worth it,” says Valerie.

Valerie is quite unique in that she coaches everyone from kids to adults. She is able to tailor training and motivation to each person, regardless of age or fitness ability. “We have people who are happy to come in and get a good sweat going, and hang out with some great people. There are others who want to take it to another level and test themselves in a competition environment. We support them and prepare them to do so,” says Champagne.

She knows that success is measured differently by each individual – whether someone has been able to stop certain medications, finally get into their favorite pair of shorts or a reach a specific fitness goal. She develops personal relationships and friendships with each individual and respects each of their own personal journeys and takes time to celebrate their successes.

Valerie recognizes that sometimes people have bad days and can get down on themselves and may want to give up. “As a coach you do what it takes to keep them there. It may take some adjustments of the workout itself, revaluating goals, or just a reminder of how far they have come,” Valerie says.

CrossFit is a community. As such, she has been fortunate to have many coaching mentors. It is no surprise that the ones that stand out most to her are “the ones that are able to make a personal connection, root you on every step of the way, challenge you and who keep you interested in the sport.” It is no surprise as this is what Valerie does with her own athletes.

Unlike most sports, CrossFit is a unique sport in that there are quite a large number of female coaches. Valerie equates these numbers to the fact that the sport itself respects women as equals. Even at the last CrossFit Games, the prizes for podium winners were the same for men and women – something relatively unheard of in sport. Valerie trains females and males in the exact same movements and progressions and they are all treated as equals.

She is confident in her own coaching and feels that because this has been proven, she has gained the deserved respect. She believes however, that sport in general needs to recognize the expertise that women bring to the table and recognize it and respect it equally.

Valerie’s desire for her athletes goes beyond how many deadlifts, pullups or squats they can do. She wants them to be happy in their own skin and have the best quality of life for a long time… no matter how old or young. This is also her personal view on life and her hope for her two girls. She also stresses that all bodies come in all sizes and shapes but that the most important thing is that it is a healthy and strong body. Our bodies are capable of different things and we must embrace that.

Her biggest successes as a coach are the moments when a member has thanked her for supporting them. “It may have been a little tip I gave them to reach a goal or encouraging word to get them through the process. As a CrossFit kids’ coach the moments that stand out are when they come to me in class and tell me how they did their own workout at home or had family members do one with them. I know I have had an impact,” says Champagne.

It is obvious that Valerie gets out just as much as she gives from coaching. “I do this to give back what this sport has done for me. The level of confidence I have, the way I feel, the role model I am for my girls. I want to inspire those 9 year old girls sitting on the side lines and those 30 year old ladies that never played a sport in their life and now can call themselves athletes. Everyone has it in them, they just need someone to grab their hand and take them for the ride. It is quite the ride!”

Want to read about more inspiring sport women who are killing it? Click here.

Dallas Ludwick – A Strong Female Coach that “Gets It”!

I had the privilege to interview Dallas Ludwick, head coach of Revolution Diving in Winnipeg.  After interviewing Dallas, I think that any athlete would be lucky to be coached by her for more than just her technical coaching skill and knowledge.  She is so positive and she inspires me and I’m sure many others out there – coaches or not.

Ludwick says she learns from and is inspired herself by all kinds of coaches as she feels that there is something to learn from all of them. Having been a diver herself, she was also inspired by athletes including Annie Pelletier.  Pelletier’s incredible comeback from 17th position in the prelims to win a Bronze medal at the 1996 Olympic Games is what Ludwick sees as the perfect example of “never giving up!”

Ludwick has been coaching for over 25 years and 20 of these in the competitive level.  She is now one of only two female coaches coaching at the Senior International level in Canada. Her accomplishments include medal placements of her divers at international competitions such as the Pan Am Games in 2011 and Junior Pan Am Championships.

It is easy to see why Ludwick has had great success as a coach. I know next to nothing about the sport of diving but as a coach myself, I know what I think greatness looks like and she exemplifies this in so many ways.  She totally “gets it”!

She is athlete focused. It’s not about her. It’s about the athlete. Her goals for her divers are for them to achieve theirs. “Whatever their dream is… that is my dream for them.  I just want them to be ambitious and happy at the same time.  Set their sets high, and enjoy the ride (appreciating the ups and downs and everyone that helps them along the way) in the process.”

She is inspired by seeing the constant improvement of her athletes and helping them set and achieve their goals.  “It is very rewarding when a diver attains something that they have been striving for for a long time, no matter what the level.  The look of joy and pride on the athlete’s face in those moments is priceless.”

She knows that there is more to life than diving. She equates many of the skills it takes to be a great diver as life skills that will allow the individuals to achieve success outside of and after their diving career. Divers face fear on a daily basis. Learning to face and conquer fears is just one of the skills she hones. Her motto is ““Don’t dive to avoid mistakes, dive to go for it!”  She wants her divers to live life and dive without regrets.

She loves her job and is so much more than just a coach of diving. “The thrill and adrenaline of high level competition is exciting, but overall I think the biggest motivation is knowing that the athletes that you are working with appreciate the role you play in their lives as a coach [and mentor] who helps them to get where they want to go, and also as a person who helps them through all kinds of challenges in life.” To this day, she has former athletes call her up for advice and to discuss current challenges they face either within their new teams or life in general.  She even had athletes put together frame boxes with all of the sentimental items that remind them of exciting/pivotal moments they’ve shared. You can tell by these examples that Dallas goes above and beyond her technical coaching duties. She gives all of herself to not only make great divers but great people.

She’s no push over.  Don’t let her sentimental side and reflection fool you. You don’t get to the level of coaching she is and results achieved without being tough. She has high expectations. She recruits and trains only athletes that have demonstrated and proven strong work ethic and internal motivation.

She is a female coach in a male-dominated coaching world. As amazing as it is to travel and get the incredible rush of adrenaline of big competitions, it does come with a price. Early morning practices and evening practices along with the administrative tasks that go into coaching high performance athletes make it challenging to “have a life”. Ludwick sites these as reasons more women don’t stay in coaching or coach at the highest levels. The travel and before and after school hours make it difficult for women to have a family and be around for children.  That said, she sees that it could improve if there was more support given to coaches on an administrative level.  Female coaches are expected to “do it all.” It is a full time job to plan all-encompassing training programs, travel and be hands-on coaching athletes. Add to this the club registration, board meeting, competition planning, finances, website maintenance, social media maintenance, advertising, fundraising etc.… and it’s simply too much. Something will have to give. At this point Ludwick doesn’t have children. However, I have a feeling that because she knows the challenges and has a probable solution, if she does decide to have a family, she will make it work – for her family while continuing to be successful at her coaching career.

Many career coaches don’t choose this career for the hefty paycheque. So you have to ask…why do it? Why work what can sometimes be eighty hours a week, at a job that takes you away from for weeks at a time, working ridiculous shift hours, with high stress and high demands? Ludwick, like many athletes, does it for the addiction and satisfaction of the emotions. “The thrill of having all the adrenaline in your body pulsing through your veins in stressful competitions, where everything is on the line at a very high level (making international teams, winning national and international medals, as examples) is an amazing sensation that I don’t think many people get to experience very often.  In my job I get to feel that sometimes several times a year!  I’m sure some people would rather do anything than feel that amount of adrenaline and stress… but I love it!”

When asked what words of wisdom she can give all of us, she replied…”Just be you.  There isn’t one way to do it.  No matter how awesome your mentors are, you aren’t them.  Take good ideas from them, but be you.  Only you can be the best version of you.”

If you want to read more about inspiring coaches, click here!

If you have a coach that you want us to feature, please email us at info@fitcommunications.ca.

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Women Muay Thai Trainers in Canada Kicking Butt Through It All

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Coming off big wins for their fighters, Trisha Sammons and Sandra Bastian are two well-known Muay Thai instructors in Canada. Sammons, residing in Winnipeg and Head Coach at Winnipeg Women’s Kickboxing and Sandra residing in Campbell River coaching athletes on the Island. The road they have both taken to get to this point in their career wasn’t easy. Being a female coach in a heavily dominated sport like Muay Thai has had some of the most intense ups and downs, but these two women are absolute warriors and are paving the way for women in this great sport.

Sandra started kickboxing in Calgary, under the coaching of one of her current day mentor’s Mike Myles. She was an active fighter for 16 years and made it to the World Championships three times. She was fortunate enough to win a silver medal in 2004, a gold medal in 2006, along with the best female fighter of the tournament. In 2008 she took home the bronze medal and went on to compete in the King’s Cup in 2009.

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Trisha started kickboxing at the age of 16, after traditional school sports were no longer feeding her hunger for activity. She climbed to the top of her game fairly quickly as she truly showed no fear in the ring. Two-time Canadian kickboxing champion, Trisha had over 45 fights in the ring – a big number for any fighter, especially in women’s kickboxing and Muay Thai. After having three of her four kids, she opened Winnipeg Women’s Kickboxing in Winnipeg. She has since expanded to have men’s, women’s and kids programming.

Kickboxing gyms can be intimidating. As a new person starting out, walking into any gym can be a struggle for many. Often times there is a lot of ego happening, and when starting a new workout routine we all know how debilitating others attitudes this can be. Trisha opened her gym to give women on all shapes, sizes, ages and goals a place to feel comfortable, to train hard, and to have fun.

Over the years both Sandra and Trisha have experienced major sexism when it comes to their coaching. Sandra remembers when first starting out some athletes didn’t want to listen to or be trained by ‘a girl’ coach. “When I first started teaching guys would look at me like I had 3 heads. You could tell they thought I didn’t know what I was doing. I got lots of comments like “ You’re a girl…what do you know “ My first fight some guy told me that I was to pretty to fight. My ex-husband told me that I better not get hit in the face. Sad truth is, sexism will always be around. I now just shake my head at the guys who don’t listen to me and them laugh when the guys that did listen to me kick the crap out of them,” says Bastian.

It hasn’t been an easy road for Trisha either. Other trainers online bullying her and her gym because they ‘are a bunch of girls’, and stating that her male fighters don’t stand a chance because they’re going to fight like a girl. If either of these two women showcase what ‘fight like a girl’ means…I’m on their side. These two women are tough. They are mentally and physically incredibly strong. They don’t take the insults to heart, rather they turn it into fire that keeps them going. Give up? Not an option. These women are fighters, warriors and absolute role models.

I asked Sandra why she does what she does. And her answer was, “Because what else is there? This sport has given me so much in life the least I can do is give back.” And the way that she trains both herself and her athletes, this is no surprise.

Right now Sandra runs a bootcamp four times a week, teaches a fighters class three times a week (which she does with her students), runs twice a week and has a strength program 3 times a week. In addition, she does kickboxing classes four times per week taught by another instructor. And just when you think ‘how does she do all of that’ she adds in that she has recently started a SHEspars group, that we meets once a month and just spar.

Trisha is no stranger to fitness either. Her gym is open seven days a week, and schedules range from 2 – 3 classes per day. The classes she teaches, which she also participates in, include strength and conditioning training, running, core training and Muay Thai kickboxing. She also has a great relationship with many of the gyms in Winnipeg, so they often get together to spar, especially when any of her fighters have a fight coming up. Watching Trisha spar is pretty remarkable – she sees the opening and the opportunity faster than I have ever experienced. Twenty years of training will do that to you I suppose.

What I find remarkable about both of these women is that they don’t allow the negativity of other peoples opinions take any shape into what they are doing. They work HARD. They train HARD. They fight even HARDER. Every time they have a fighter step into the ring they are proud. They stay so humble with everything they have accomplished, but yet are such role models to so many. Their students, their friends, their family – all see them in such a high place. They are highly respected by those that count. And for those who wish to disrespect their talent and experience, they pay no mind. They are so above it they don’t even see it.

I have always said that kickboxing and swimming are the two best workouts as they both use every muscle in the body. These women not only have overcome the physical challenge of getting punched, kicked, kneed and elbowed while competing, but they have grown their minds to be the best they can be. When they are at that space of giving their everything to the sport and to their students, only then does their day feel complete. They practice what they preach. They are sweating beside their students, they are in their corner come fight time not only physically but mentally as well. They want to see their students succeed – and every time they get into the ring, there is success. It takes a ton of guts to get into the ring. Win or lose, Sandra and Trisha are both succeeding in their sport.

With contact sports becoming more popular amongst girls in Canada, these two women are paving the way for not only future athletes, but future female coaches as well. And if I could pick two women to have in my corner in life, these two would be my first picks.

Canadian Female Athletes ROCK!

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Like an aftershock from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, our Manitoban women rowers are killing it!  

I, like most sport-minded women in this great country, were overwhelmed with pride by the achievements of our Canadian women at the recent Olympic Games.  What made me even more excited was all of the media covered (although sometimes gender-biased) of the female athletes. So now that the flame has gone out in Rio, I’m trying to continue to shed light on some amazing recent success of female athletes in our own backyard.

For the first time in Canadian rowing history, Manitoba athletes won the Canadian Rowing National Champion trophy, which equates to the Manitoba Rowing Association having the highest percentage of athletes to achieve world gold medal standards. The National Rowing Championships took place in Burnaby, British Columbia September 22 – 25, 2016.

What is so incredible is that this success comes from our “female” athletes.  What’s even more amazing is that the two most decorated athletes have been rowing for less than a year! To me, this shows two things: an overall “physically literate” athlete can have success in nearly any sport and the coaching in the Manitoba program is second to none.   

At only 18 years old and rowing less than a year, Emma Gray took home Women’s Open single scull Silver Medal and a Gold medal in the Women’s U23 and Women’s Junior categories. Rianne Boekhorst, 22 years, who has only been rowing for remarkable 7 months, placed 13th!

Placing 7th was the pair of Casie and Kaelyn Gauthier, 23 and 24 years. This placement was higher than two international crews in the Women’s Open pair.

In the National Canadian Cup, Manitoba won the silver medal and was only .50 seconds short of the gold!

All of the above results are the best Manitoba has ever achieved. In such, this shows that the Manitoba Rowing Association program and structure, led by Head Coach Antony Patterson, is the most efficient in the country. 

Patterson is beyond proud and excited about this success. “To shed some light of the greatness of this achievement by Manitoba Rowers… We achieved these incredible results against Olympic and world gold medalists in the most successful summer Olympic Canadian sport in history.  In my 30 years of international coaching I have come to realize the shear gravity of these accomplishments. I am finding it hard to compare this fantastic result to other results. I believe if this isn’t the best result including my 5 Olympics as a coach it would be a very close second.”

Keep up the incredibly inspiring work women!!!

To learn more about these athletes and other Manitoba Rowers and their accomplishments, please read these:

Check out more of the media coverage Fit Communications was able to secure for Manitoba Rowing here!

Basketball, Synchro and More!

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87% of Canadian medal winners from the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics were women. Let’s be honest – our women KILLED it this year! One of the top six reasons for girls in Winnipeg dropping out of sports by the age of 14 is due to a lack of positive female sport role models. Other reasons include issues with safety and transportation, cost, lack of access or options, social stigma attached to being a girl in sport (think ‘tomboy’) and decreased quality experience. By the Rio showcase, it is apparent that this can be fixed if we put the right energy and resources towards sport.

This tremendous showcase by our Olympic team has provided girls and women across Canada numerous role models in sport to look up to and inspire them to achieve their goals. Whether your dreams are to stand tall on an Olympic podium or to simply try a new activity, there are tons of great options for girls in Winnipeg. In this week’s blog we look at three activities and sports for girls in our city to try.

AthELITEs & Beyond Basketball Program:

AthELITEs and Beyond Camps aim to allow young athletes to benefit from the instruction of skilled university and provincial basketball team players. They will be taught the fundamentals of basketball and play games suited to their age and skill level. Whether the athlete is a beginner or advanced player, AthELITEs and Beyond will challenge them to improve their basketball skills in a fun and energetic learning environment. Two Fall camps are available – September 15 – October 6 and September 11 – October 2. For more information or to register your child, contact Taneesha Greaves at 204.583.2697.

Synchronized Swimming:

Winnipeg Synchro (www.WinnipegSynchro.mb.ca) and Aquatica Synchro Club (www.aquaticasynchro.com) have introductory programs for girls ages 5 and up, including programs for teens new to the sport. A fun, fresh learning environment that combines the creativity of dance, the cardio of swimming and develops strength, flexibility and teamwork. Allison Gervais, one of the Founders of Fit Communications, swam nationally and internationally in synchronized swimming. To this day she is still involved from a judging and volunteer perspective. The sport brought so many incredible things to her life that she has managed to take with her into her present day. From time management skills to team work ability to knowing the value of hard work, this sport brought her tremendous learning and experience.

Fitness Journal for Girls

The Fitness Journal for Girls is aimed at girls ages 5 – 15, which provides girls with coupons/offers on 20 different sport and activities in Winnipeg. From kickboxing to gymnastics to synchronized swimming to basketball, there is something for all girls to try. The Journal allows girls to try new sports and activities they perhaps didn’t know where available to them, all at a free or discount price. It allows girls to join a community of healthy activity, have tons of fun and motivate each other through positive action. There are many activities in the Journal that parents can do with their kids, and many moms have found it to be a great source of bonding for mom and daughter time. It is more than just sports, it’s a movement. More information on this city-wide initiative to get girls more active can be found here – www.FitCommunications.ca/FitnessJournalForGirls

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