Canadian #fitgear giveaway | Mandala Sky yoga and lounge wear

I live in fitness, yoga and lounge wear and am always on the lookout for new brands to try and share with my readers!

Living in Canada, however, has its drawbacks when it comes to online shopping :(

The majority of online fitness retailers call the US home and despite Free Trade, the combined costs of (1) the slightly weaker buying power of the Canadian dollar (about 98 cents to the US dollar), (2) the excessive cost of shipping to Canada (I was once quoted $35 shipping on a $25 shirt!) and (3) the duty (read “tax”) that the Canadian government slaps on imported goods (everything but yarn; yarn, for some reason, is thankfully exempt…), I often ending up clicking away from my favourite websites with un-purchased items still in my basket.

(Although if I know that I’ll be travelling state-side in the near future, I’ll sometimes order and have things shipped to my hotel. Nothing like arriving at your destination with new clothes waiting for you!)

Imagine my delight when I recently discovered Mandala Sky yoga and lounger wear! Stylish and feminine with beautiful drape, figure-flattering details and MADE IN CANADA!

MandalaSkyCollage

Turns out that Mandala Sky is also native to my home province! Designed on Salt Spring Island by the uber-talented Sky Marcano and manufactured locally in Vancouver, British Columbia, Mandala Sky is a small, but growing, ‘Made in Canada’ company; exactly the type of business that I LOVE to support!

Here’s me in my Hope Tunic and Leggings (95% Rayon from Modal, 5% spandex) and Jolene Jacket (66% Rayon from Bamboo, 28% Cotton, 6% Spandex), running from yoga class to coffee with the girls to the grocery store to after school pickup!

Mandala Sky yoga wear

I love the feel of the fabric; so soft and luxurious feeling.

I love the splashy details; both whimsical and organic.

I love the long silhouette of the jacket; body skimming without being tight.

I love that Sky is willing to send a pair of the Hope Leggings AND a Jolene Jacket (in your choice of colours) to one lucky reader of my blog! Your very own Mandala Sky yoga and lounge wear!

All you need to do to enter is visit Mandala Sky online and leave a comment below telling me which piece is your favourite (I challenge you to choose just one!) and where you’d wear it!

Extra entries can be earned (via the Raffelcopter widget below) by:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest is open to both Canadian and US residents and closes at 11:59 pm Friday, March 29th, PST. The winner will be contacted via email the following day and asked for clothing size and colour preferences. Note that because the Jolene Jacket is made to order the winner can expect to wait 3-4 weeks before delivery of their prize.

Disclaimer: While Mandala Sky provided me with samples of their yoga wear to review and giveaway, as always, all comments and complete adoration for the clothing line are all mine!

Exercises for knitters and sitters: stretch and strengthen to avoid injuries

When I’m not at the gym, I can often be found curled up on the couch with a pot of tea and my knitting.

exercises for knitters

Yes. I knit. A lot. (fitKNITchick; get it?)

If you have to ask how much ‘a lot’ is, you aren’t a knitter (or sewer or quilter or handicrafter of any type). However, even if  you don’t spend your time ‘crafting’, this post may still be relevant to you. In particular, if you spend a significant amount of time on the computer or with your handheld device (blogging, texting, surfing, YouTubing…).

Knitters and other types of ‘sitters’ share many of the same seated postural patterns;

  • anterior pelvic tilt
  • round shoulders
  • forward jutting chin
  • hands elevated above elbows
  • perpetually flexed fingers
  • overstretched lower backs

Over time, these less-than-ideal postures can result in back pain, joint stiffness, headache, tendonitis and other repetitive strain injuries including carpal tunnel syndrome; all conditions which will eventually limit how often you can engage in your favourite crafting (or on-line) activity.

Now I’ve been knitting since I was 8 and I plan on being that little old lady sitting on the park bench knitting her grandchild a baby blanket when I’m 80. Knitting-related injuries are not part of my game plan. Here’s are some exercises for knitters (and sitters) to help prevent repetitive strain injuries:

  • take frequent breaks. Every 10-15 minutes, I put my knitting aside, get up and walk around the room.
  • change sitting locations. I rotate between my favourite armchair, the couch, a straight back chair and the lawn chair in my ‘knitting’ garden. Stability balls also make great chairs, although perhaps not when one is wielding a sharp instrument.
  • practice mindful posture. Remind yourself to pull your tummy in, retract your chin and rotate your shoulders back and down. If you have a hard time remembering these cues, write them down on a sticky note and leave it where you can see it (I used to leave one on my steering wheel after I caught a glimpse of my ghastly driving posture).
  • exercise and stretch your entire body regularly. Keeping your body in good working condition will help prevent all sorts of injuries, including postural ones.

Prevention too late for you? Already suffering from one of the injuries or strains described above? Here are some stretching and strengthening exercises for knitters that can help get you back to doing what you love quickly.

  • improve your upper and mid back strength with bent over rows and reverse flys. Practice scapular retraction by ‘sitting’ against a wall with shoulder blades held back and down (great for strengthening your legs at the same time!).
  • strengthen the back of your shoulders. Perform long arm lateral raises and upright rows using light dumbbells (or no dumbbells at all if the muscles are really weak).
  • build a stronger core. Weak abs and lower back muscles will prevent you from comfortably maintaining an upright posture. Try planks, side planks, back extensions and anti-rotation holds to improve your core’s ability to stabilize your spine.
  • improve wrist and forearm strength. Try reverse bicep curls and wrist curls using light weights.
  • build a stronger butt. Your glutes help to hold your pelvis in a neutral position. Stronger glutes can help to counteract the anterior pelvic tilt caused by tight hip flexors.
  • stretch out tight chest and front shoulder muscles. My favourite chest opener is the door jamb stretch. Downward facing dog or half dog are also great options.
  • stretch fingers and wrist joints every time you take a break. Fully extend and flex each finger. Using the opposite hand, carefully press fingers back towards wrist (hyper-extension). Rotate wrists both clockwise and counterclockwise.

Find more stretch and strengthening exercises for knitters and specific repetitive strain injuries in Conquering Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Other Repetitive Strain Injuries: A Self-Care Program. Written by a massage therapist, this book organizes repetitive strain injuries according to profession (different types of injuries are more common amongst certain professions) and provides rehabilitative suggestions for many common RSI’s.

Have you ever experienced an injury due to repetitive strain or poor posture?

What did you do to treat the injury? And did the treatment work? 

Burlesque Bootcamp: strut, bump and grind your way fit!

Burlesque Bootcamp. Any images come to mind?

On Thursday night, I attended a Burlesque Bootcamp fundraiser at Younique Fitness Studio in Port Moody. As a boot camp instructor, I assumed we’d be doing pushups and squats and lunges and planks. Naive as I am, the suggestion that I bring a pair of high heels and a feather boa did nothing to alter my preconceptions about the evening’s activities. (Note to self; always prepare for the unknown with a Google search)

Burlesque Bootcamp is exactly what it sounds like. Learning the fundamentals of burlesque dance. Getting your sexy on, but in a safe, supportive and all-female environment.

Burlesque Bootcamp at Younique Fitness Studio

After a gentle, barefoot warmup, our instructor Lindy, invited us to strap on our heels and join her in the ‘breakfast bump and grind’. Standing tall, abdominals engaged and legs slightly bent, imagine you have an apple on one hip, an orange on the other and a teeny, tiny coffee bean between your upper thighs. Now bump the orange off, then the apple and grind the coffee bean; ‘the harder the better’.

My first few attempts were rather wooden. But the laughter and support of friends (who were initially somewhat inhibited too) loosened my hips and put me in the mood!

Next came ‘strutting’. Exactly like it sounds. A slow, sexy walk, with hips and shoulders swinging in time to the music. Now stop, face the ‘audience’ (in our case, a wall of mirrors), legs wide, one arm up, other arm up, ‘breakfast bump and grind’, before exiting the stage. Oh, and don’t forget your ‘I’ve got a secret, but I’m not telling’ stare. The art of burlesque is more about what you don’t show than what you do.

Burlesque Bootcamp Younique Fitness Studio

The most entertaining part of the evening came when Lindy gave us 10 seconds to come up with a stage name. ‘Kitty’, ‘Scarlet’, ‘Coco’, ‘Lola’ and ‘Ginger’ quickly introduced themselves. Mine was ‘Tantalicious’; I’m not sure where it came from, but love how it rolls off the tongue! A friend remarked on the speed with which we were able to name ourselves; perhaps indicating some secret side we didn’t even know we had?

The highlight of the class was our ‘performance’ of  Cher’s ‘Welcome to Burlesque‘. Just watch the video; there are no words. This is what we looked like;

Burlesque Bootcamp Younique Fitness Studio

By the end of the evening, I could feel muscles that I hadn’t felt in a long time. In particular, my cheeks. No, not those ones, the ones on my face. From smiling, laughing and luxuriating in the light-hearted atmosphere Lindy helped us to create.

Thanks so much to Lindy and Younique owners Krista and Melanie for a fabulous and fun evening!

Burlesque Bootcamp at Younique Fitness Studio

I’ll definitely be going again, and next time, I’ll be the girl in the fish-net stockings and elbow-length gloves!

Have you ever gone to a Burlesque Bootcamp?

What was your favourite move?

Tell me, what would YOUR stage name be?

Burlesque Bootcamp at Younique Fitness Studio

During the last week of every month, Younique Fitness Studio hosts a ‘Pay It Forward Event’. One of their regular classes is designated as a fundraiser and all proceeds are donated to a local charity. The Burlesque Bootcamp raised money for Variety, The Children’s Charity, in honour of Louis Valente, the father of a friend who recently passed away.

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s to a fabulous Friday; food, fitness and fun!

Warning: today’s post is full of “F” words. Food, fitness and fun!

TGIF! I don’t know about you, but this past week has been about the worst on (recent) record at my house. I had the flu and couldn’t get out of bed for nearly a week. Then two of my kids came down with a wicked, nasty stomach bug that kept me wiping bums and changing bed sheets into the wee hours of the night. The floors need washing, the fridge re-stocking. And when was the last time somebody changed the cat litter box?

But the end is finally in sight (knock on wood). Kids are up and bickering as usual (much preferable to the eery quiet of earlier in the week). I’m back to teaching (sort of) and training clients and trying to regain some of the strength I lost (why does it go away so quickly?).

Here’s what I’m looking forward to this weekend:

Food

My appetite is back and my body is craving veggies! Good thing my hubby planted our first crop of leafy greens last weekend. There’s spinach, and arugula and kale ready for harvesting.

They’ll make a fine, mixed green salad for Friday dinner. I’ll be serving them with poached fillet of salmon and roast asparagus. Dinner’s at 5, if you’d like to join us!

 

(And the recipe is super easy; herbed goat cheese, toasted almonds, sliced strawberries all on a bed of fresh greens. Drizzle with 2 parts olive oil and 1 part balsamic vinegar)

Fitness

On Saturday, I’ll be leading a workshop entitled ‘Fitness for Fat Loss‘ at a friend’s newly opened fitness studio; Younique Fitness in Port Moody, B.C. They’ll be a 45 minute workout followed by a lecture, outlining ways to tweak your workout to up your rate of fat loss while maintaining and even increasing muscle mass. Win-win-win! There’s still time to register. Will I see you there?

 

Sunday marks the first class in the next Bosu Blast course that I’m teaching at the Port Moody Rec Centre. Adding some Bosu work to your exercise routine is a great way to improve balance, core strength, speed and agility. And, there’s NO CHOREOGRAPHY!

Fun

What’s more fun that a blog hop? Today, I’m participating in ‘The Get-Fit Blog Hop‘. It’ a great way to ‘meet’ new-to-you health and fitness bloggers and get some inspiration for your next workout or healthy meal. Click through on the link below then start hopping from one blog to another. Leave comments to let the authors know you’ve visited or leave a link up to your own ‘Get-Fit Blog Hop‘ post if you’d like! Come back and tell me who you’ve visited and what you’ve learned!

Get Fit Blog Hop

 EDITED TO ADD: The blog hop button now works. The original html code I was given had some sort of problem. So please, TRY AGAIN!

What’s you favourite “F” word? (Remembering that my dad and 13-year old son read my blog…)

Found a great new blogger via the blog hop? Tell me about them so I can make sure to visit too!

 

Tuesday Trainer and my spring teaching schedule

This week, the Tuesday Trainers are taking a break from exercise and instead, are sitting down to answer some questions about themselves. After you finish up here, head on over to Lindsay’s List and get to know the other Tuesday Trainers!

In tomorrow’s post, I’ll be re-capping my recent family vacation to sunny, southern California. Today, I’d like to fill you in on some upcoming fitness programs that I’ll be offering to local peeps this spring.

  • Bosu Blast; a 1-hour, small group, non-choreographed class, combining strength, balance, core, speed and agility training, all on the Bosu (a half stability ball). It’s running out of the Port Moody Rec Center for 5 weeks, at 10:30 Sundays, beginning April 15. You can register on-line or by calling 604-469-4556.
  • Effective Stretching and Core Strength; a 1-hour, registered program, designed to teach you how to effectively engage your core and improve your flexibility. Also at the Port Moody Rec Center, Sundays at 11:45 from May 6 until May 27th.
  • Yes We Can; a 6-week, small group training program with a focus on weight loss. We meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 7 pm at the Port Moody Rec Center. In addition to the 12 group training sessions, participants will meet with a nutritionist to discuss healthy, weight-loss promoting diets. Sessions run from April 3rd to May 10th. If evenings aren’t your thing, there’s also a group running Wednesday and Friday mornings from 9 to 10, April 4th to May 11th (I’m teaching this one too).
  • Younique Spring Fitness Workshops; a 3-part series of workshops, each combining a workout and a lecture/discussion component. Topics include ‘Fitness for fat loss’, ‘Perfecting your posture’ and ‘Concentrate on core’. For details, please visit Younique Fitness Studio’s website.

If you don’t live in the Tri-Cities (you should; it’s beautiful here!) and are interested in training with me, I also offer online personal training via email and Skype. For details, please check out my training page.

Have you ever participated in a small group personal training program before?

If so, tell me about your experience!