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

We would love to have you as part of our community! Sign up for our newsletter here and find out about more great health and fitness initiatives happening in Winnipeg.

 

 

 

How to Stay Active Going Back to School

School books with apple on desk

School is back in session! Many, ok likely all of us, parents are relieved that the pressure is off to keep our kids entertained and active. Chances are that your kids, as a part of a camp or not, have been pretty active this summer. Whether it was playing at the park, biking, swimming, soccer or canoeing with friends, they’ve been moving lots to stay healthy.

Now that school has started, what’s your plan to keep that activity level up? Did you know that Health Canada recommends that children need to do 60 minutes of activity per day for optimal health? Did you also know that only 2% of girls and 8% of boys are achieving this number?? This is a shocking statistic!

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that your kids are getting the 60 minutes a day at school or daycare. Gym class is likely only twice per six day cycle and when they do have the class, it will at most be 20 minutes of continuous activity. Although recess totals 60 minutes a day, what are the chances that your kids are sweating it out at all recesses? Could they be that kid trying to catch that frog they saw at the end of the yard or hitting a stick against a tree or sitting chatting about Shopkins, YouTube or which Marvel character rules the roost? Or they may be learning the latest hand shake or “stella ola ola.”  Chances are they aren’t running amok for even 20 minutes, let alone 60.

I know that in my house, I have things planned for the kids to stay active. There is, of course, the fear that you are over-scheduling your kids with after-school classes and activities. However, I would argue that if the kids aren’t doing something scheduled that is active, they will be sedentary – vegging out on their iPad, TVs, smartphones or video games. So one hour of activity a day is not going to be interfering with incredibly important intellectual developmental progress! In fact, kids that are involved in sports will gain much more than being fit. They will do better in school, learn time-management, and build confidence.

I am sure by now you are thinking that scheduling all of these activities must cost a fortune. To be honest, yes – some classes and activities do cost a big chunk of change. However, there are so many opportunities for free activities that you can take advantage of. Whether you only do free activities or add them as a compliment to your weekly fitness schedule, there are many quality and fun programs available.  Here are some examples of some good ones:

Free Swims: There are free swims at every City of Winnipeg swimming pool. Have a look online or call 311 to see when your local pool hosts theirs. Take advantage of Tuesday free swim right after school from 3:30-5:00 pm at Pan Am.

Free Skate: There is a free skate every day of the week at various City of Winnipeg facilities. No skates? Buy used skates! Try looking online on a buy and sell website, Play It Again Sports or garage sales!

Go for a walk or a run with your kids. It’s free and there is no scheduling required. Just get up and go! Not only will this be good exercise, but it will be an opportunity for you to connect and actually “talk” with your kids. Just make sure you leave your smart phone at home!

Go for a bike ride – until it snows! Same as the walk – no advanced preparation required! Ensure you are properly equipped with safety gear. i.e.: helmets and reflectors and bright clothing.

Fitness Journal for Girls – The Journal has loads of discounts for year-long or term sessions for new participants. There are also lots of free classes to take advantage of. Try a sport that you or your girl may not have considered. There are free boxing and CrossFit workouts, free basketball sessions, 50% off snow tubing, free teen fitness classes or kickboxing workouts, BOGO diving and many more discounts! You can get your pass here – they are BOGO this week too!

Take advantage of first FREE classes – do a mother/son, father/daughter or cross fit, kickboxing, or yoga! Not only will it be free, but it will be a fabulous way to spend quality time with your kids! If you both love it, you can sign up for a session! Kids see their parents as role models for life. It is a proven fact that if a parent has an active, fit lifestyle then their children are more likely to adopt the same habits for life.

Faith groups are “getting it” too. Youth for Christ on King Street has numerous of Free – $1 and $2 single sessions and $10/year activities for kids including drop in skateboarding, fitness programs and soccer. Amazing value!

School activities – There are a slew of before school, lunch break or after school activities to sign up for. Most are free for the kids that go to the school. Think gymnastics club, Zumba, running club, cross-country skiing, etc…

Finally, there are many associations and gyms that have special pricing for kids and families that want to join but may be in financially difficult positions. Best bet is to simply ask your local facility to see if they have such offers.

So if you haven’t book or scheduled your kids to the max this fall, don’t worry. As you can see, there are so many activities you can take advantage of so that your kids (and you too!) can get fit and make this the best and healthiest school year ever!

 

 

 

 

Why It’s So Important Team Canada Women Excel

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To say our Team Canada female athletes are killing it is an understatement. Every time I scroll through my social feeds or turn on CBC I see another incredible young woman excelling in sport, and being a true champion, leader and role model to girls in our country. In 1894 when The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was first established, they set a goal for every Olympic Games to be 50% female athletes and 50% male. Although we aren’t quite there yet, we are getting closer with this year reaching 45% of all participating athletes being female – an all time high.

Even more exciting is the team that Canada has produced. A whopping 60% of Team Canada is female. There are many reasons as to why this might be, although the fact remains that our females are doing exceptionally well on the internationally stage and therefore qualifying more than our men are. Our soccer and rugby teams for example only sent female teams this year. And look how well we’ve done!

So I have asked myself why is there usually such a gap in sports coverage for female sports? Why is sport media coverage only 5% on female athletes and sport and 95% male? Of course the obvious answer is our lack of professional big teams – there is no such thing as female NHL, CFL, or NFL league. But even in non-professional sports this is just as much of an issue.

A recent report found that 75% of women they surveyed wanted to take part in sport, but did not due to fear of being judged on their appearance and ability. The United Nations has suggested that sport will play a leading role in the journey to equal rights for women and girls, yet we still fear this judgment.

In a recent poll of elite female athletes by BT Sport, 67% said they feared that the public and the media valued their appearance over their sporting achievements. They thought how they looked was more important to the public than the medals they won.

When 16-year-old swimming sensation Penny Oleksiak won medal after medal at the Olympic Games, she was still asked in interviews about her older brother Jamie’s NHL draft day. Give the girl her time in the lime light!! She’s one of the fastest women in water on the planet! Can you not focus on that?

The sad reality is that when female athletes are interviewed they are often asked questions about their male coaches/brothers/husbands, their hobbies, their children and their wardrobe. When doing the ‘road to the Games’ story on Simone Biles, the most talented and decorated gymnast of all time, they showed her getting her nails done, and talking on the phone with her girlfriends. And yes, showing that athletes are ‘real people’ is important, but why not talk about her nutrition, her training regime and her goals? Why don’t you ask Michael Phelps about his favorite way to remove his body hair before a race? Because when male athletes are interviewed they are asked about their achievements, strengths and accomplishments.

The fact remains that we have a really big problem in Canada with girls dropping out of sports at an alarming rate once they hit puberty. According to CAAWS, the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport and Physical Activity, girls drop out of sport as much as six times more often than boys by the age of 14. And moreover, if girls are not participating in sport at the age of 16, they have less than a 10% chance of participating as adults.

Girls in our country need positive role models in all areas of life. When an eight-year old girl can see young athletes winning medals at the Olympics for Canada, enjoying the experience, showing their incredible skill, talent and strengths, they show that young girl that they can too be an Olympian. We need to expose girls to positive role models throughout life so they can grow into positive, motivated, determined people. And sport CAN do this.

So what can we do? We can support companies like Dove and Always who are proactively supporting the sport achievements of girls and women. We can encourage the companies that we all work for to sponsor a female athlete or sports program aimed at girls. We can use our social media to show traditional media what we want to see when it comes to sports newscasts. We must be the change we want to see for it to exist and flourish.

If this is a topic that interests you, I strongly recommend you become a part of the Winnipeg Fitness Journal For Girls movement, by reading more here and signing up for our newsletter here.

 

 

Olympic Fever!

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I, like many of us, have Olympic fever!  I get goose-bumps throughout the entire event – from watching the Olympians proudly enter the opening ceremonies, to athletes winning medals that result from 20 years of training and dreaming and sacrifice, to the stories behind the athletes – from injuries to life challenges, underdogs to record breakers. Each athlete has their own unique story. For me, this is what the Olympics are all about.

What is even more amazing than the athletic performances is what the Olympics stand for – their values.  The Olympics encourage inclusivity and equality, being the best you can be and uniting people through sport.

Be the Best You Can Be

There is a huge emphasis on winning medals at the Olympics. That’s usually all we hear about on the news – who has won what medal in what sport. Of course winning medals would be the ultimate dream result for both the athlete and the country. However let’s be realistic…there are over 10,000 athletes that participate in each Games. There are only a few hundred medals awarded. So the reality is that only a small percentage of the athletes – Olympians – will ever wear the hard ware around their necks.

Winning medals is not what Pierre de Coubertin intended the Olympics to be about. De Coubertin was a French baron who founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894. De Coubertin believed that ‘The important thing in life is not to triumph, but to compete,’ and encouraged everyone to compete against themselves. This belief became the centre of the Olympic motto which challenges each individual to become the best they can: Faster, Higher, Stronger. This motto is one that we all should have and promote for ourselves and those around us.

Uniting People through Sport

De Coubertin hoped that sport would contribute to a peaceful and better world. One of the Olympic Movement’s aim is to “unite people through sport”. Part of this unity comes from promotion of fair play – “with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.” To this, the IOC revived the Olympic Truce, which aims to protect the interests of the athletes and sport, and to encourage peaceful and diplomatic solutions to the conflicts around the world. Even the Olympic rings represent the unity and connection between all athletes and the countries and continents they represent.

The athletes that gather to compete all come from different countries, cultures, customs, religions and political beliefs. They all live peacefully together in the athletes’ village. They do this because they all share the same love for sport. All of us in the world should follow this lead from sport. If we could all find commonalities like this in life – such as being human beings! – then perhaps the world could be a more peaceful, supportive place for all.

Inclusivity

The Olympic Charter, established by de Coubertin, states that ‘The practice of sport is a human right’. This inclusivity is my favourite of Olympic values. Over the years the IOC has worked hard to increase participation of para-athletes and youth. As well, one of the key Olympic Charter’s values is the promotion of women in sport. This is near and dear to my heart.

Women first were allowed to participate in the Olympic Games in 1900. Over the past one hundred years female participation in all sports has grown. By the last Olympics in London in 2012, 44% of the athletes were female. This is getting very close to their goal of 50%. As the stats for athletes are positive, there is a long way to go for number of women in leadership. Only 26.7% of the International Olympic Committee Executive Board members are female. The International Federations are even further behind this number with only 14% of board members being female. Sadly only 11% of the coaches at the last Olympic Games were female.

The IOC is not sitting idle with these numbers. They are actively working on improving these numbers to bring about equality at all levels and roles for women in sport. They encourage all nations to monitor and evaluate how their own countries are doing to promote women in sport. The IOC has developed educational and training programs targeting women at mid- and senior-level positions in NOCs, IFs and NFs. The objectives are to help women develop leadership skills, to build confidence and to encourage them to stand for elections for positions on boards within the Olympic Movement. The seminars also offer specific ways to learn how to inspire and mentor other women and girls. They also include media workshops for those working in that arena. They aim to raise awareness and educate participants about the importance of the media in promoting gender equality, how to make positive changes in this area and to improve women’s representation in major sports press associations and media organizations.

 

As you watch the Olympics this week, not only celebrate the achievements of the winners and all athletes. Think about what the entire Olympics represent and stand for. Then carry these values beyond these two weeks and try to make a positive difference for those in your own world.

 

 

Winnipeg’s Emma Gray Heading to Row at World Championships

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Emma Gray (Winnipeg, MB) and Ivy Quaintance (Victoria, BC) are training in Winnipeg at the Winnipeg Rowing Club Riley Boathouse with their sites set on a World Title at the 2016 World Rowing Championship in Rotterdam, Netherlands. These two athletes are representing Canada in the Women’s Junior Double Sculls August 22 – 28, 2016.

At the young age of 18, both Emma and Ivy have already accomplished so much in their rowing careers. Emma, who has been rowing for just over one year, has been ranked the fastest Junior female sculler in Canada through the Rowing Canada Aviron selection process. Gray’s 2 km and 6 km rows are not only the fastest in Canada for Junior female rowers, but she is also ranked second in the world on her 2 km and third on her 6 km row.

Quaintance, who has been rowing for five years, won the Gold medal in the Junior Women’s Pair at the CanAmMex Regatta as she represented Canada and won two gold medals in the quad and double at the Junior Women’s Henley Regatta. She is training in Winnipeg for six weeks from the Victoria City Rowing Club, where she typically rows on Elk Lake, home of the Men’s Canadian National Team.

Due to Emma ranking first of all Junior scullers in Canada, the pair was sent to Winnipeg to coach under the Manitoba Rowing Association Head Coach Antony Patterson, Emma’s year-round coach. The last time a national squad for the sport of rowing trained in Winnipeg was in 2005, when the Under 23 Lightweight Men’s Double (Morgan Jarvis and John Haver) trained in Winnipeg, and placed second overall at the U23 World Championships.

On August 5, 2016 Emma and Ivy will leave Winnipeg for London, Ontario for the opportunity to train with the Women’s Senior and Under 23 National Team for one week, then head off to Hazewinkle, Belgium. From there, they will represent Canada as the Under-19 Women’s Junior Double Sculls at the World Championships Regatta in Rotterdam.

Post World Championships, both Emma and Ivy will return to their home cities to continue their rowing training and attend university. They are currently training 3 – 6 hours per day at the Riley Boathouse under guidance of Manitoba Rowing Association Head Coach Antony Patterson.

Fit Communications is honored to work with athletes like Emma and Ivy. If you are interested in promoting yourself as a female athlete, email us at info@FitCommunications.ca