What age did you get into organized fitness?
I started to enjoy athletics and movement from a very early age. I became active in organized sports throughout elementary school – I played baseball, volleyball, track & field and golf among other activities, but my biggest passions were gymnastics and riding horses. Organized fitness and in-the-gym training didn’t happen for me until I was in high school and I understood the need for specific strength to hone specific skills. When I was a gymnast, I knew that I needed to build strength in specific areas to support myself, so I started training with movement patterns specific to being a gymnast using my body weight as my resistance. I was always curious and explored all the movement, activity and fitness programs that were available to me, and still enjoy doing so now.
What inspires you most in your work?
The people! When I’m in a room with or surrounded by people who are connected to what they are doing there’s a great energy that exists that everyone benefits from. I feel tremendous value if I am able to create that atmosphere fostering engagement, which not only keeps people coming back to my classes, but inspires me to give even more.
What do you have for breakfast?
I usually have a smoothie for breakfast that includes fermented protein and greens and MCT oil plus whatever superfoods I choose based on the day and how I feel.
What is your favourite colour and why?
Red. It’s such a passionate, hot in-your-face colour and it’s also the colour of the root chakra.
Is it healthy to work every day?
Well, I have been working every day for decades and I would consider myself a relatively healthy person, so I would say yes – it’s healthy to work every day but it has a lot to do with passion. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be able to do what I do and earn a living doing so, while it also brings me great joy and fulfillment.
What’s your favourite day of the week and why?
Saturday. And the reason? Simply because there’s not much traffic on the road when I drive down the DVP to Mayfair Lakeshore. Following the easy commute, I teach a few Saturday morning classes full of great people committed to their wellness, followed by an afternoon and evening without a schedule for me to practice self-care and spend time outdoors, at the barn and at home.
What are three essential exercises you believe everyone should know how to do and practice?
- The lunge: because it’s a locomotion based exercise
- The push up: because it’s a core based exercise that uses the push group muscles of the upper body (chest, shoulders and triceps)
- The seated row: because it involves the upper body pull muscles (back, shoulders and biceps)
Can you just teach classes or do you need to do any prep work?
Well, it depends on how we define prep work. I believe that I’ve been preparing for every class and session for over 30 years. Like with any career, although we keep learning and evolving, some aspects of our work become more natural as we become comfortable with the known, and understand how our actions and efforts result in specific outcomes, so it’s easier to deliver. Having said this, I still spend time at a desk, I still schedule and reschedule my heavily programmed days, and my commutes are not twice a day, but all day long between private clients and various health clubs – this does allow me the opportunity to reset and prep in terms of mindset and mode to leave my last class behind and set myself up for the next series. When I go into studio, I have a large enough repertoire of sequencing, moves and movement patterns that I can draw on to be able to teach freestyle, and I draw on the energy in the room to choose which to teach at any given time. The Group power class that I teach at Mayfair is an interesting program because every beat of all 10 songs is choreographed, so there is accountability to a specific format. This kind of prep work is challenging but very welcome as it keeps everything fresh and gives me the opportunity to keep my mind sharp. Click here for my weekly schedule at Mayfair.
What do you wish someone had told you as a child?
I guess it’s not just what I wish that I had been told, but what I wish for every child to be told – that anything is possible, and that we shouldn’t allow our performance in any one specific activity or place to define us. We are all strong and gifted in one or many ways, and we should be fostered and encouraged to find out what that is, and where we connect and thrive rather than where we might struggle.
Is there a magic formula for losing weight?
No. There is no magic formula for losing weight – long-term healthy weight loss is a very individual pursuit. I have my diverse strong theories about weight loss and in a nutshell it has to do with our inflammatory response to food so I believe that if we become connected to the way our body responds to food and act and live accordingly, then our bodies will feel good and be of normal weight. Fitness and movement are critical components, but I think we have to recognize that fitness can also cause stresses that can cause the body to retain weight and we see this often when someone is working really hard and they put their body into a state of a fight or flight – the body then ends up hanging onto the weight that it is supposed to be shedding. We have to be very careful about fitness and weight loss because if done correctly it can enhance but if it’s done incorrectly it can actually sabotage our goals.
Why do you spend so much time with horses?
Having grown up on a horse farm, I was drawn to their energy and power of movement. As an adult, my return to spending time with horses after 30+ years, my connection is much more spiritual. I find my time at the barn to be very peaceful and I believe that horses have much to teach us as human beings.
How long should a meditation be?
Ideally, meditation is a daily practice and a significant one, however, any moment of quiet connection is better than none. Not having time is likely an indication that you really need to start making the time for meditation in your life. Start anywhere.
Favourite guilty pleasure?
Watching Heartland and red wine, not necessarily in that order.
What worries you the most about aging?
I think what worries me the most about aging is knowing that I’ve lived more than half my life. But what is interesting is that I still feel like I’m learning new movement patterns and I’m understanding the body more and more… so I still feel like I’m growing. I think about what might be when I get to a point whereby I can actually see myself going into a state of decline – whether it be movement pattern or mental activity or sickness and how that might affect me. But, the truth is that I’m becoming more and more at ease and more comfortable with myself as I live in my aging body.
How much of what you have accomplished is luck and how much is hard work?
Well, I don’t see myself as being lucky or unlucky, I just see myself as being successful because I’ve worked with passion and dedication to be successful. I think when you connect yourself with being lucky or unlucky, this gets in the way – if your feeling is that you are having an unlucky day, you are going to go with it and it might cause you to miss opportunities because you’re not seeing clearly or using an open mind. I also think if you feel lucky, that this doesn’t have foundation. I believe that when you take responsibility for your success or lack thereof, then you are connected to your work, your choices, your goals and the journey in reaching them. Everything is possible with hope, good intention, a healthy mindset and of course, hard work.