Blitz Conditioning Community Oriented Fitness Tue, 02 Feb 2016 15:40:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Exercises you can do with an Elastic Band: Global TV Segment February 3, 2016 Tue, 02 Feb 2016 15:36:03 +0000 Elastic bands or surgical tubing are one of the most versatile and cost effective pieces of equipment that you can purchase. I would recommend buying a package with a variety of resistance levels. For most of the exercises mentionned below you should be able to perform between 12 to 15 repetitions with the band, if it’s too light then use a band with more resistance. Here are some strengthening exercises that you can do:

Half Squat to Leg Abduction:

Tie a knot so that the straight elastic becomes a loop.

Knot Elastic Band

Place the loop just above your knees and squat in between a quarter squat to a seated position.

Half Squat to Leg abduction 1 Blitz Conditioning

Slip one of your legs out, away from your midline while staying in the squat position. You should feel this in your glute and hamstring in the leg that you are moving. Shuffle the opposite leg to follow the leading leg. Keep shuffling in one direction for 12 to 15 repetitions, then go in the opposite direction.

Half Squat to Leg Abduction 2 Blitz Conditioning


Bent Over Rows:

Step onto the middle of the band and hold the ends with both hands about shoulder width apart. Be certain to keep your core engaged and your back flat.Elastic Band Rows 1 Blitz Conditioning

Pull the band, first by bringing your shoulder blades together, then pull and try and create quarter circles with your elbows. You should try and activate the outer part of the middle of your back. Hold this for a minimum of two seconds and then slowly lower the band to the original position.

Elastic Band Rows 2 Blitz Conditioning

Reverse Fly in a Lunge Position:

In a lunge position, place the band in the middle of your leading foot. Grip the ends of the band while keeping your back straight and your core engaged.

Elastic Band Reverse Fly in Lunge 1 Blitz Conditioning

Swing your arms outwards trying to form an arc: pull your shoulder blades together first and then bring your arms out. You should feel this in the back of your arms and your shoulder blades. Hold for two seconds and slowly lower your arms back to the original position.

Elastic Band Reverse Fly in Lunge 2 Blitz Conditioning

Prone Lat Pulldown:

While lying on the ground: keep your back flexed, and try to keep your sternum and legs off the ground. Hold the band taught above your head.

Prone Elastic Band Lat Pulldown 1 Blitz Conditioning

Rotate your shoulder blades down and bring the band below the back of your head by forming an arc with your elbows. Hold this for a minimum of two seconds and slowly bring the band to back to the original position. This exercise focuses on your lats (the side of your back), shoulder blades, and your low back.

Prone Elastic Band Lat Pulldown 2 Blitz Conditioning


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Staying Fit While Pregnant – Key Areas to Keep Strong! Mon, 01 Feb 2016 23:28:13 +0000 Earlier in my pregnancy I was physically able to still do all the exercises I taught, and it was only my cardio endurance that suffered (why? See previous blog!). However, recently I’ve noticed new limitations when it comes to certain movements in relation to my ever growing stomach. Obviously I can no longer lie on my stomach, but I also can not bring my knees to my chest in a v-sit crunch, and I now must raise the handlebars on my spin bike so my knees don’t knock my belly.

Overall these are minor issues, with modifications available, and a big belly is not going to keep me from moving and sweating! Over the next 4 months I will face new challenges as my body changes shape and gains weight, plus I’ve been told the delivery day can be quite the ordeal, both emotionally and physically (total understatement!!!). So along with general cardio and strength training, there are specific muscle groups I want to keep strong so I can not only continue to do the job I love, but also prepare me for a safe and issue free labor, and set myself up for a fast postpartum recovery.

These areas to target are the core, shoulders & upper back, thigh muscles & glutes, and the pelvic floor muscles, and they work together to maintain good posture, body alignment, and balance. That actually covers most of the body haha, but I guess that just shows the affect pregnancy has on the body. There are not many muscles and joints that are left unaffected!

Sarah Shoulder Rows (2)

Posture is important for everyone, not just when you are pregnant. But when pregnant, as the weight increases and shifts forward, the body has a tendency to compensate for this imbalance by arching the lower back (known as lordosis) and the shoulders slump forward. The change in posture places added pressure on the lower back, causing significant pain. To keep good posture hold shoulders back with your chest open, and tilt the pelvis until you have a neutral spine.

Proper body alignment of the spine is also very important to overall health for everyone. Misalignment can lead to headaches, back and/or neck pain, impact breathing, and affect brain function. There are many muscles that work to maintain a healthy alignment and that includes the pelvic floor muscles. Both men and women have these muscles, but for women the pelvic floor goes through immense changes during pregnancy that can affect its role in aligning the spine, as well as supporting the pelvic organs. By strengthening these muscles during and after pregnancy you can prevent chronic problems down the road. I’ll be the first to say that pelvic floor exercises (also known as Kegels) are pretty damn boring, but if I stick with it, I know my future self will thank me!

Just like good posture and body alignment, a strong sense of balance is essential for all populations. But balance is especially important for those pregnant, because we are now carrying such precious cargo, our baby! But finding your balance when pregnant becomes extra challenging, because as the stomach grows the body must adjust and adapted to its changing centre of gravity. To overcome this challenge, you will need to maintain a strong back, glutes, and thighs, aka squats and lunges!! And keep up with balance exercises throughout your pregnancy so are continually adapting to the shift in weight.

Sarah BOSU Lunge (2)

Hitting all these muscles groups (the core, shoulders & upper back, thigh muscles & glutes, and the pelvic floor muscles) over the next 4 months should keep me feeling strong, happy, and healthy up to the delivery day. And I am optimistic that my efforts will lead to a strong, happy, and healthy body after our baby has arrived. As for the delivery day, it is going to come up fast. Unfortunately there will be many things you will not be able to control on that day, so there is no point stressing about those things now. All you can do is take action on the things you can control. For me, that is maintaining a fit and healthy body now, and hopefully that is enough!


Want to take action and stay fit while pregnant?

Join me for a 8 weeks Prenatal Fitness class to build strength, improve cardio, and get to know other soon-to-be moms! All exercises are designed and modified specifically for you, so as your belly grows you can feel comfortable and safe while breaking a sweat!

The Blitz Prenatal Fitness Class will run Sundays at 10am, starting February 21 so sign up here: 

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Jasper in January: Winter Done Right. Sun, 31 Jan 2016 22:51:28 +0000 Let’s face it, Edmonton and most of Northern Alberta is a winter wonderland for upwards of eight months of the year. We can chose to embrace it or run from it. We live in such an advanced society that a person can practically remain in doors or in a vehicle for an entire year without stepping one foot outside. But there is a movement: Edmontonians are choosing to gear up and head out for adventures.  I’ve heard of so many people who are getting into snowshoeing, cross country, winter running, and instead of complaining about the weather, we’re now discussing layers required to embrace the cold!

Jasper in January 07

Deep down, we are all a little adventurous at heart. We seek those events and activities that become vivid and timeless moments. Many of us have chosen to explore Alberta and embrace our natural surroundings. We may chose to exchange one giant trip overseas for multiple weekend excursions peppered throughout the year. We are, after all, a stones throw away from the Rocky Mountains where natural wonders and adventures await. Jasper has been the destination for many of us; from its nostalgic town centre, to awe inspiring backdrops, and incredible opportunities to commune with nature, this park creates a personal connection with all those who venture into it. It is with the idea that we should unplug and live life after a hectic holiday season that Jasper Tourism came up with Jasper in January; a three week festival embracing outdoor activities, local food, and art all found in the National Park. I had the chance to head there during Winterstruck this past January which was a weekend in which Pyramid lake became the location for things like dog sledding, skating, shinny hockey, sleigh rides, and bannock baking.

Jasper in January 02

Winterstruck is for all ages! Everyone was grinning ear to ear as they moved from one activity to the next. With tons of activities, few wait times, and warm weather, everyone was having fun. My biggest goal for the event was to try dog sledding; it’s the combination of my love for K-9’s and my desire to explore that really had me jumping to the front of the line. The happy puppies and the dash across the lake did not disappoint and I’d definitely recommend anyone to try it! If you are looking for an event to sample outdoor activities Jasper in January is the one. Many hotels have also offered discounts around this time of year so you have the chance to head out there for a bit cheaper than normal.

Jasper in January 11 Dog Sledding


Snow Shoeing Jasper

I pack my weekends off with a lot of activity so went off on my own and snowshoe in the afternoon. Aside from the ski resorts, much of the park is pretty quiet in January so if you are looking for a bit of peace and quiet, it’s here. I brought my own snowshoes in which were a pair of Tubbs from Campers Village and I’d probably claim that these have been the most comfortable and versatile shoes I’ve worn. The quick twist closure system allowed me to quickly get into and out of the shoe without fumbling around for pull cords and not-so-quick-release tabs that other shoes had. Although the snowshoe lacks the aggressive look of an aluminum framed showshoe the deck is durable and I took it through the ringer. I am not delicate with my equipment. I went over stumps, hill climbs, traveled over frozen river beds, and went almost hips deep in snow and the shoe responded without any issue. The lighter plastic deck also makes longer hikes a little easier with the Tubbs so if you are looking at purchasing a pair of general activity snowshoes at a pretty good price I’d definitely recommend these!

Marmot Basin 01

I wrapped up the weekend by heading to Marmot Basin for skiing. This may be a shock to many of you, but I have never skied before. As a kid my family rarely went out for winter excursions so I wasn’t exposed to skiing or even snowboarding until my later 20’s. So now I am a 32 year old kid. I decided to challenge myself and learn on my own without a guide. I might have fibbed a little when they asked me what my experience was as I was picking up my rental skis for the day. One of the greatest things about Marmot is the diversity in the runs and the length of them too. My first run was all about survival even though it was a green run – I had, what I later learned, was called, a yard sale, where my equipment flew all over the mountain side after flipping ass over teakettle. I’m determined, and very stubborn, whenever I put my mind to learning something, so I hopped back on the chair lift and went at it again. After the second run I actually got the hang of it so I was off to the races and hit as many runs as I possibly could. Marmot also was quite impressive in that the chair lifts had practically no wait time. I was able to get to the bottom of the resort and hop right back on the lift and rest on the chair! I was a bit more adventurous as the day went on so I managed to ride blue (and accidentally a black) runs on Eagle Ridge and the Knob chair, which have incredible views!

Marmot Basin 02

Jasper has always been one of my favourite towns. From adventures that are just outside your door, to the great community that is found in in the area. It is just the right escape away from Edmonton and hopefully you can make it out there some time soon!

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Staying Fit While Pregnant – Adapting to This New Body Mon, 25 Jan 2016 22:08:44 +0000 PSX_20160120_153555 (2)

Over the years of working in the fitness industry I have developed a great appreciation for the human body, and how it is able to adapt, strengthen, and repair itself unknowingly to its user. Now that I am pregnant, my admiration for the human body (specifically the female body) has grown even further, because of the dramatic transformation the body undergoes to accommodate a growing baby.

I am 22 weeks along (over halfway in this 40 week journey) and my body continues to change and adapt to its new role as home to our little nugget. There are the obvious physical changes that can be seen (ie my growing belly), but the physiological changes that are affecting my fitness level are what fascinate me most.

Much of my week involves working out, either on my own, or leading a HIIT or spin class, so early into my pregnancy one of the more noticeable changes was my plummeting cardiovascular endurance level. There are a number of factors that come in to play in this shift. One interesting reason for my loss in cardio stamina is that within the first couple weeks of being pregnant my hormones had already signaled my body to relax the blood vessels to make room for the increased amount of blood (about double the volume) my body will be producing. Much of this additional blood will help support the hard working uterus and placenta.¹ But this blood volume increase happens gradually over the nine months. As a result, for much of my pregnancy my heart has had to work extra hard and beat faster to pump my blood through these dilated blood vessels. At rest my heartbeat is 18-20% faster than pre-pregnancy!¹ So you can image the struggle my cardiovascular system has endured when exercising. It literally has been an exhausting process to circulate my oxygenated blood to my muscles then back to the heart! Now that my pregnancy has progressed my blood volume has risen to better match the dilated vessels. However, my cardiac output (the volume of blood pumped by the heart per minute) will continue to increase until the 8th month to “ensure adequate blood supply to all body tissues.”²

Exercising throughout this pregnancy has been a major factor in sustaining a higher level of cardio endurance. Because of exercise my “plasma volume, red cell volume, and total blood volume … are at least 10-15% higher” compared to women who do not exercise during pregnancy.¹ This extra blood helps fill those dilated blood vessels and deliver more oxygen to muscles. In addition, working out while pregnant has also enhanced my “respiratory system by improving oxygen transport and uptake,”¹ making my body even more efficient compared to my non-exercising pregnant counterparts.

Although my cardio has been suffering, I am grateful to still feel strong. I find it amusing that some people treat me as if my strength miraculously disappeared when I became pregnant, and I can no longer lift even a 10 lbs dumbbell! Well I can still lift weights, and thankfully I am encouraged to keep up with strength training during pregnancy. However, my “joints have become less stable under the influence of the hormone relaxin,”² therefore I can only maintain my strength with no major increases to my weightload. Instead I now focus on low weight, high repetition lifting to achieve muscle fatigue.¹ It will be important to continue my strength training as my belly grows and I become even heavier. The added pressure on my joints and back will likely cause me discomfort, so a strong body will be key to maintaining good posture and minimizing pain.

Weight gain is the most obvious affect during pregnancy. Again this is something the body does naturally to support the life of a new baby. At first gain weight was a hard idea for me to handle, I was proud of my strong body and worried of the changes in my appearance. The first 4 months were tough because I did not look pregnant, I just looked and felt “thicker.” Now that I am almost 5 months I have embraced my new shape and wear my new maternity jeans with pride!

Something else has changed in me that I did not expect. A new maternal mentally has kicked in, where it is no longer just about me, but about the health of our baby. That means embracing the changes to my life and my body (including my fitness level and weight gain), and appreciate the absolutely amazing process that is happening inside of me!

I love to exercise, and it is wonderful I can continue to stay strong and active throughout my pregnancy. Stay tuned for next week’s blog where I will discuss the many benefits of exercising while pregnant.

I am also excited to announce that I will be leading an 8 week Prenatal Fitness Class at 10am on Sundays starting February 21! Please email me for more information and to register! All fitness levels welcome!


1. Gwen Hyatt, MS and Catherine Cram, MS (2003) Prenatal & Postpartum Exercise Design
2. Peggie Williamson, MS, CHES, CPT, CFT (2011) Exercise for Special Populations

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2016 – Let’s Do This! Sun, 17 Jan 2016 14:31:22 +0000 Jen FerenceRinging in the new year allows me to be both reflect and anticipate.

As I reflect on 2015 I look back at the fitness goals that I set January 4, 2015 and published for you all to see:

In 2015 I will…

  • participate in a variety of activities to build strength, definition and endurance
  • appreciate my body for its strength and endurance, and for what it allows me to accomplish daily (this will require great control of my self-talk and Rob’s patience)
  • complete a second marathon & better my 2008 time of 3:59:11

I checked off those bullets, maybe not perfectly executed, but my husband always says ‘you don’t strive for perfection, but excellence’. I now believe that statement to be more realistic and how I want to live my life.

Let’s reflect…

  • I didn’t participate in all of the activities that I’d set out to do, particularly upping my yoga practice (if I am allowed to call it that when I only go once a month, if I’m lucky)
  • I appreciated my body the majority of the year (struggled when it wanted to revolt on me during my long marathon training runs and when I had to find a substitute runner for my second lap of of the Northface Endurance during the November Project summit and even though I made the “right decision” I felt mad, let down, guilty, and like a quitter the entire time afterwards.
  • I did complete my second marathon, learning so much during my training and yes, bettered my time from 2008, hitting 3:42: , just not quite the 3:40 that I’d very ambitiously set as my “if everything goes perfect” goal. (I had 3 goal times…the “if everything goes perfect” time, the “super pumped” time of 3:45, and the “I’d better beat my last time” of sub 3:59)

I guess this is all to say that I celebrate my accomplishments and at the same time know that there is always room for improvement and new goals to crush!

My main fitness goal last year was focussed on chasing a marathon time, this year it is about the reason I am going to be active (running in particular).

In 2016

  • I run for myself
  • I run for others

I run for myself – not because I have to, not for a time, not for a distance but for the joy of running…time and distance will be gifted byproducts of getting out in the fresh air, sometimes on my own, sometimes with my running friends, sometimes for a “race”. I love races, not because I am racing anyone else but because I love the atmosphere, the energy of a race. I love going with people and celebrating first time distances, PRs and the incredible accomplishments that are achieved. I look forward to running:

  • MEC Edmonton race series
  • a leg of Sinister 7
  • a leg or two of Grizzly Ultra
  • and I am sure there will be a few others sprinkled in there as well…

I run for others – this year I want to add another purpose to my running, where my training and fitness can be shared with others to help them accomplish their goals. I look forward to running with

  • Sean in the Very Long Run to End MS
  • the Tegler Youth in the Hope MIssion Kids in Action Run
  • half marathoners as a Pace Beaver at the Lululemon SeaWheeze half marathon in Vancouver
  • my November Project tribe every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning.

Committing to my goals in such a public way holds me accountable. By sharing them with my family, friends and fitness community I am less likely to skip a long run, hit the snooze button in the morning, or become overwhelmed by self-defeating self-talk. I draw strength, motivation and courage from the people I surround myself with. I lean on them for support, call on them when I need that extra push, and find inspiration from them as I watch them accomplish their goals.

Here’s to 2016…a year where I will continue to grow as a runner, where I add a new purpose to my running, and where I join others to encourage and support their running goals!

Let’s do this!


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Snowshoeing 101: Getting Started Thu, 14 Jan 2016 14:04:14 +0000 Snowshoe Edmonton Wayne Gretzky bridge.jpg

I remember strapping on these flimsy-oversized-plastic-tennis-racket-looking-things to my knee high winter boots as an elementary child and absolutely hating snow shoeing. Waddling around hard packed snow-covered soccer field was my first experience with the sport and I really failed to give it a second chance till now. Snowshoes have changed a lot in the past decade. Gone are the waffled tan plastic one-size fits all shoes, they’ve been replaced with a high tech shoe made of ultra light aluminum, carbon fibre, rubber, and nylon. The shoes are now designed for varying conditions: backcountry, hills, rolling terrain, running, oh and did I forget… they’re still good for hiking too. If you walk into any sporting goods store, you will most likely find a rack of snowshoes just taunting you to purchase them so you can head out and crush fresh powder. This sport is back on the market and there’s no signs of it letting up. The wonderful advantage of this sport is it’s low cost of entry (between $100 to $300 to buy) and accessibility; all you need is deep snow and you’re good to go. This past-time is taking it’s hold as a sport out east as runners are now racing with them and I’m putting my money on snowshoe races becoming a prominent event here in Edmonton in the next few years.

But before you head out and purchase your first set of snowshoes, here are a few good pointers:

  • Try before you buy: Although rental snowshoes may not be the top of the line, they will give you a very good idea about the sport. The snowshoes are relatively inexpensive compared to many other winter sports gear, but make sure you enjoy it before purchasing. You don’t want a high tech piece of wall art! Here are my  top three places I go to for snowshoe rentals:
  • Go for short distances on hard pack snow first: snowshoes are quite a bit lighter than they used to be but you are still strapping a few ounces of extra weight. The quads tend to take a beating from lifting the legs up higher than usual and your calves and shins need time to adapt too. Get used to these movements and build some endurance before heading out for longer distances and adding the extra challenge of deep snow. This is also a very cardiovascular sport so get ready for a great workout!
  • There are three general types of snowshoes:
    • Hiking / Backcountry
    • Running
    • Recreational

The biggest difference in the categories are the weight, their shape, and how they distribute body weight across the shoe. You may not be able to rent according to their category as most places just rent recreational ones.

  • Snowshoes are purchased according to a persons body weight in relationship to the dimensions of the shoe so it’s best to chat with a specialist before purchasing it.
  • Although snowshoes are very versatile, they’re best enjoyed in deep and fresh snow which can be difficult to find in Edmonton. Consider the sport as a part of a great workout plan and not the be all end all and get really excited when it snows a lot!
  • Dress warm! Dress in layers as I have outlined in a previous blog.


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What’s the deal with plus-sized mountain bike tires? Does size really matter? Thu, 07 Jan 2016 06:16:28 +0000 Fatbike Ride Revolution Cycle Edmonton

There used to be a time when mountain bike tires came in one size and width but those days are long gone.  Now-a-days tires come in all sizes, from 26 inches with a width of 1.8 to 2.4 inches, to fatbikes which are 26 inches with a 4 inch width, and up to a 29 inch tire with a 3 inch width. What’s the deal with all the different sizes?

Tread pattern and composition of tire have been the factors that have been most modified in tire technology and then the focus turned to the frame: suspension, composition, cranks, chains, you name it, it’s been modified. All of a sudden eyes, and money, began to turn back towards the tires but on their diameter and width. The increased dimensions lead to larger rims, wider and taller forks, and a greater concern about tire pressures. Plus sized bikes have been trending in the bike community for the past year when the bigger brand like Trek and Specialized started to jump on it; they are bikes with larger than 2.3 inch width tires and any increased diameter of tire. The larger tires, whether talking about width or diameter, are meant to improve traction. Tire pressures can be lowered to less than 15 psi to increase contact with surfaces; this becomes important in conditions like snow and sand. Fatbikes were one of the first of the plus-sized bikes to come to market; these have similar diameter rims (26 inches) but wider than the usual tire (4 inches). Fatbikes have become the trend for winter riding, more-especially in Edmonton, and if you look into any bike shop you’ll find an endless supply. I tired fatbiking for a previous column on CBC Radio, and noted both the positive and negative aspects of this style of bike. My biggest concern was it’s utility in all seasons: yes winter does last upwards of 6-8 months, but the conditions on our roads and trails are not powdered wonderlands of snow all the time. I’m not a bike-o-phile so it seems a bit unreasonable to purchase multiple bikes for each season… which would also break my bank account! The trade-off of traction to road-worthy performance was the biggest concern – we have a lot of single track trails in Edmonton, but we can only get to them using roads and paved trails.

27 inch plus sized bike Edmonton Specialized

Along came my friends from Revolution Cycle who offered to kit me up with a plus-sized bike that had a 27.5 inch diameter, 3 inch wide tire for a test ride. At first glance the Specialized Fuse Pro looked almost like a regular mountain bike but slightly off because of the height difference in the tire. The big difference was felt when I started riding with it during the Revolution Cycle Fatbike Ride day; I felt like I could absolutely fly on this bike while on concrete, trails, and hard packed snow. On more traveled surfaces the bike was faster, more aggressive, and generally a more fun ride for me in comparison to the Blizzard Fatbike that I rode less than a month ago. Riding the Fuse felt more like riding a regular mountain bike with no suspension on the rear. Even on some of the technical trails I was able to gather enough momentum to tackle similar obstacles as the fatbike. I’m not a proficient mountain biker by any means so it’s difficult to really see the difference in performance in the more difficult terrain; I had to walk both bikes up the exact same locations. I did however feel more safe on a fatbike while tackling the trails. The tires on the Blizzard were at a lower pressure which provided more traction but also sacrificed a bit of the speed; so I felt a bit more stable. The Fuse feels fast even with the tires deflated to handle the terrain; the bike feels similar to a standard mountain bike. The speed may also be due to the hardtail – there’s no suspension in the back of the bike – in comparison to a full suspension bike so they are definitely not direct comparisons.

Ultimately if a person is going to purchase a plus-sized bike they need to consider a few things:

  • Majority of the conditions you want to ride in:
    • if it is winter or sandy technical trails? I’d look at a fatbike
    • if it is a day to day commuter with some weekend trail rides? I’d look at a 27.5 or a 29
    • if you are looking for a year round ride? I’d look at a 27.5 or a 29
  • How much do you want to spend on consumables:
    • Since fatbikes are the rage right now, the prices for spare tires and rims are a little less
    • the 27.5 and 29 diameter tires are more rare so generally the cost of the spare tires and rims will be a bit more.
  • How trend savvy are you?
    • I’d say that many of these bikes are leaning towards bike tech heads: people that love talking about gear, tire pressure, etc… If you’re one of them, plus-sized bikes are your jam.
    • If you’re a day to day winter bike commuter, you can also look at other things to increase traction like riding on slightly lower tire pressures, or purchasing studded tires. Much like running, my main sport, you can go wild on purchasing winter tech gear but some of the classic tricks like drilling bolts into the shoes work as effectively.

The industry has not agreed on one standard diameter and width for these plus-sized tire bikes and ultimately this is why there is a such a diversity products available. The biggest thing manufacturers know is that anything larger than the 29 inch diameter negatively affects the bikes performance in all conditions. It’s interesting to track the evolution of products in this category and certainly trying things out before purchasing them is important. You can rent fatbikes and plus sized bikes at two main stores in Edmonton:

I would definitely recommend checking these places out and trying out the bikes under as many conditions as possible before purchasing. Ultimately any piece of equipment is about enhancing your personal experience so get out there and have fun!


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Blitzing 2015: a year in review. Sat, 02 Jan 2016 14:00:49 +0000 The Run Blitz Edmonton

A lot can happen in 365 days. Over the past year, Blitz has experienced a world wind of new experiences and opportunities. We have changed but so has Edmonton’s fitness environment. By that I am not implying fitness itself has changed – 150 minutes of moderate to intense cardiovascular activities with a few bouts of weight lifting is still the standard; it is the business of fitness that has significantly changed.

The expectation of the consumer is no longer solely based on a great workout; it’s an overall experience. If you’re like me, I have an internal rating system for fitness experiences. What foodies are to restaurants, I am to workouts. I am quick to judge because my hard earned dollars are at play and more importantly my time. Businesses, collectives, tribes and whatever else you want to call them need to adapt to the ever changing consumer environment by either adding a new flair to their workouts, adding more variety to the offerings, putting in value adds like nutrition and supplementation, or creating alliances with other organizations. Building relationships, adapting to the users, portraying a specific lifestyle brand, and providing the highest quality workout are now all part of the formula for success.

Most organizations are limited in space. So buying into programs like YegFit Pass and Fitset have become a trend in 2015 and will most likely be prominent in 2016. Passes provide two things for younger and less established brands: bodies in classes and optics. Users are able to sample a plethora of classes and become aware of the multitude of offerings in the city.

Alternatively, bigger more established brands have chosen to expand in a few ways: River Valley Health has opened The Base, Barre Body Studio has opened a second location, and we have expanded our services with the addition of spin.

Other businesses have incorporated value adds: World Health Club has brought in Fresh Fit Foods, nutritional consults are an ever increasing trend, and most companies have started or established some type of challenge (thirty day, forty five, two months etc.…). A more all-encompassing approach to health is great although I think the winners in 2016 and 2017 will be organizations that can integrate digital platforms and fitness technology, which are becoming more ubiquitous. Imagine a company that actually cared about what your Fitbit says instead of dismissing it as a gimmick.

I believe we’ve positioned Blitz in a very unique way this past year: we don’t sell Blitz as the “be-all end-all” to your fitness lifestyle. We assist in facilitating your goals: we brought on specialized classes to improve running technique, performance in sports, and spin. We have positioned ourselves uniquely as a community with the clear goal not only of improving health but enhancing life experience. Blitz, in my mind, has become one of the most inclusive communities because our innovation does not lie in our training methodologies – we don’t do gimmicks – but in how we act as a whole. We give more than we take, we expect nothing in return, and we ultimately look at the wellbeing of Edmonton as an entity. In 2016, Blitz will continue to push beyond the physical constraint of our walls and affect others through empowering our community in health, a sense of belonging, charitable giving, and presence.

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The 24 Jasper Edition: What to do in Jasper for a Day Thu, 31 Dec 2015 12:23:55 +0000

If you had a short window of time, less than a day, to do something fun what would it be? I’ve struggled with this concept for a long time; my life is packed and I like it that way. I prefer living in a constant state of creativity, I love my community, and sometimes that means my times of escape are relegated to a few days or hours. When I do get time off, I chose to focus on friends and little adventures I can do with them; new styles of fitness, discovering new trails in the Edmonton area, and of course the occasional sit back and chill. I’ve also been known to take express trips: hop into the car at the crack of-don’t-even-ask and head to the mountains for the day or, my favourite, ride out to just watch the sunset on the prairies. I love adventures, big or small, because they lead to moments that have changed my life.

There’s something about the mountains that calls to me every time I need a bit of a change of scenery. Whether it’s because of the awe inspiring landscapes, the fresh air, the fun activities, or it is a feeling that my city roots drink up a simpler way of living, I come back from places like Jasper with an absolutely refreshed sense of being. I’ve watched countless sunsets but they all pale in comparison to the ones I witnessed in the mountains. So it’s with the intent of a bit of an escape in the busy holiday season and seeking a great adventure, that my friend Hayley and myself launched off at 3 am from Edmonton to Jasper for just one day. There was only one goal: experience as many things as we could in a day.

We started the morning off by chasing the Northern Lights for what seemed to be an eternity; watching as the colour trails of greens, blues, and reds danced across the sky. The price of a few hours of sleep was worth this moment alone. Time passed in silence with my co-pilot as we bore witness to one of the most precious natural wonders. As the Auroras disappeared the shimmering outline of the mountains appeared in the night sky. My eyes were constantly bouncing between the road and the millions of stars. Jasper is one of the world’s largest dark sky preserve and the lack of light pollution really allows a person the ability to appreciate its grandeur.

We arrived at the Town site quite early with the intent to grab some food and rent skis. We walked into Cafe Mondo and ate a hearty breakfast while planning the strategy for the day. Ultimately we knew that the most efficient way of tackling the most activities in a few hours is to keep the travelling distances short. Jasper has a lot to offer within a ten to fifteen minute radius of its Town Centre. Keeping relatively organized while still allowing a lot of time to explore and have fun is really the key.

Pyramid Lake Jasper Cross Country Skiing

After the meal, we grabbed our cross country ski rentals and headed to Pyramid Lake. Clipping into the skis that day was the first time I’ve done it in more than fifteen years – but the day was about getting uncomfortable. A few strides in and all of a sudden I realized that skiing is one of the greatest winter sports. Cross country is a low impact sport that is suited for all ages and fitness levels. On top of all of that it is a relatively inexpensive sport, you don’t need a lift pass and daily rentals are cheap. Gliding with relative ease across a frozen lake without another soul to be found is something special, but watching the sunrise over the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains puts the cherry on the cake.

Pyramid Lake Cross Country Skiing 2

Pyramid Lake is about 15 minutes away from Jasper’s Town site which was great to fully maximize the skiing experience. There are some defined cross country ski trails but we chose carve new paths and explore the lake. A few hours later we drove back into town and started our next adventure: ice climbing.

Maligne Canyon Jasper Ice Climbing 01

Many people walk the ledge of Maligne Canyon during all times of the year, but the freezing temperatures open up an entirely new perspective of the canyon. Waterfalls that once roared become walls of ice with small trickles of water that refresh the ice surfaces. Our Ice Climbing guide, Rob from Rockaboo, was amazing. His calm demeanor and knowledge made every part of the experience as smooth as the ice surfaces we were climbing. There’s something about starting the ice climbing off by rappelling sixty feet without knowing what’s beneath you that adds a measure of blood pumping exhilaration. Diving into the canyon is surreal: the air suddenly gets a bit humid, the sounds of the mountains begin to muffle, the sunlight dims, and you become surrounded by a cathedral of rock and ice. The river is still open at points so the canyon chimes with this odd interval of distant rushing water and absolute silence.

Maligne Canyon Jasper Ice Climbing 02

Maligne Canyon Jasper Ice Climbing 03Climbing in general is a finesse sport but ice climbing is a marriage of a delicate but powerful touch, strategy, and a lot of courage. This constant rhythm of setting the ice pick above the head, looking down, pushing your butt into a seated position, kicking the feet into a new surface, and standing on the toes is cathartic. Hayley and myself have climbed together before, so the basics of belaying, rope safety, and trust were already established. Confidence in your belayer is absolutely necessary especially in conditions where you are battling the elements and the equipment as the rope freezes and thaws. The realization that I was awake for over 24 hours, and lacked nutrition, at this point led to a few basic mistakes in technique and mental blocks but every time I looked around I was refreshed by the experience, the scenery, and the company.

The climbing was a bit shorter than the usual experience that most people have. A typical climbing trip starts early in the morning and carries on till late in the day. The brief experience certainly has me thirsting for more; I’m looking into a full day or multi day adventure in the next while and I’ll definitely do it with that company again. The next adventure was conveniently a tour of Maligne Canyon.

Maligne Canyon Adventure Tours 01

Our guide, Trevor from Maligne Adventures, met us at the ice climbing site and we headed downstream meandering through the high rock walls. It has been an exceptionally warm winter so our tour was shortened a bit but still worthwhile. I’ve hiked Maligne Canyon so many times wondering what views lied deep in the gully and I was not disappointed when it’s majesty was finally revealed. This tour is a photographer’s paradise; every bend revealed what looked to be a hidden scenic gem where it felt like time stood still.

Maligne Canyon Adventure Tours 02Trevor was the quiet but knowledgeable type of guide. Contributing bits of information when necessary but also fully appreciative of moments of meditative silence. As we ventured the high rock walls and waterfalls grew distant and the river began to flow. It’s amazing how such a short distance reveals an entirely new landscape. Our adventure day also happened to be on winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, so we were able to watch a pretty amazing sunset as our hike was coming to an end.

Maligne Canyon Adventure Tours 03

After six plus hours of constant activity we figured it would be great to kick back a little and decompress. Jasper has jumped on the micro-brewery train in producing many unique beers so we arranged a tour of the Jasper Brewing Company and a dinner to follow. The great part about this company is the unique relationship between the artisanal beers and the events that happen in Jasper; the Master Brewer concocted a flavour and style for most major events in the past few years. The food was stepped up pub fare; normal ingredients were substituted with a bit of a natural flare like replacing beef with elk, adding hops and other grains to salads. Ultimately the gastro-pub experience there was an amazing finish to an awesome day.

Jasper Brewery Company_

So with the completion of a very adventure filled day, we hopped back into the car and drove back to Edmonton. The trip home was a quiet one, the Auroras were silent but the stars were out in full force and we were simply decompressing. As the twinkling stars were gradually replaced with the glow of city lights I was physically exhausted but felt so refreshed. The day was one for the history books with many experiences and I’m happy to have shared with with a great friend. I have never walked away from an adventure feeling the same again. I have realized that these experiences are not escapes from my day to day life they add to my ability to experience things in a different light.

Jasper is also holding a great event called Jasper in January; it’s a three weekend extravaganza of adventure, food, and arts. So if you want to experience some of the things I have and more check it out here:

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Biathlon Thu, 24 Dec 2015 13:38:14 +0000 Biathlon Edmonton.jpgCombining two vastly different skills in one sport seems a little crazy, but there’s something about biathlon that intrigues many viewers. This medley of cross country skiing and shooting is one of the most intense sports I have seen to date; muscles and heart rates are maxed out while skiing and then all of a sudden the athlete needs to still themselves enough to accurately hit targets 50 meters away. Now repeat the whole thing a few times and you have a competition. The sport has its origins in combat in Norway; soldiers were outfitted with skis and rifles and were the most effective at defending the borders. Biathlon developed as a sport in the 1900’s as the past time increase in popularity among civilians and soldiers.

There are many competition formats:

a) Individual: 20 km skiing for men and 15 km women

  • competitors start staggered by 30 seconds
  • looped course that is 3 – 4 km long
  • at the end of the loop they enter the shooting range and shoot prone (lying down), standing, prone, and standing.
  • Missed targets adds a one minute penalty.
  • last loop is a ski to the finish line without shooting.

b) Sprint: 10 km men and 7.5 km women

  • similar to Individual but half the distance
  • two shooting portions: prone and standing
  • missing a target leads to a 150 m penalty lap

c) Pursuit: 12.5 km men and 10 km women

  • Happens after a Sprint event
  • 60 of the top competitors are staggered according to their Sprint finish times
  • Goal of the athletes is to chase and beat the times of the lead positions
  • Four shooting portions: prone, prone, standing, standing

d) Relay: 4×7.5 km men and 4×6 km women

  • Each team has four members
  • Teams race at the same time
  • Each member skis three or four km then shoots prone and then skis 7.5 km then shoots standing
  • 150 m penalty lap for missed targets
  • Competitor tags team member at the end of leg
  • whoever crosses finish line first, wins

e) Mass Start: 15 km men and 12.5 km women

  • Winners from other events qualify for this event
  • Everyone starts at the same time
  • Lap is 3 to 4 km long
  • Four shooting portions: prone, prone, standing, standing
  • 150 m penalty lap for missed targets
  • winner is first to the finish line

I had the privilege of hanging out with the Edmonton Biathlon Team from the Edmonton Nordic Ski Club as they were preparing for multiple competitions around Alberta. Helene Jorgensen, the head biathlon coach, guided me through the preparation before and all of the intricacies during the practice. I was astonished by the marksmanship needed to hit the targets while we were preparing the targets: think about hitting a target no larger than the palm of your hand while laying down on the ground, and something no larger than your hand while standing up 50 meters away – now go for a 4 km sprint before doing that. Practices and pre-competition work involve things like:

  • Zeroing rifles sights: a paper target is shot at the 50 meter distance and deviations are monitored by the coach who then tells the athlete to adjust the sights.
  • Skiing Warm Ups: the warmth in the season reduced the track down to about a 1 km loop.
  • Combining both zeroing and skiing to ensure accuracy.

The sport is suited for all age ranges but any of the athletes were kids and youth few older than 17 years of age. There were a few late bloomers there, for instance a person in their late thirties who just started to ski and shoot a year ago. Helene says that there’s always room for new people on the team and I definitely believe it; every coach and athlete I met was welcoming and always happy to help one another out. If you are interested in biathlon I’d definitely recommend checking out Edmonton Nordic Ski Club!

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