3 Ways You Can Stay Active While Giving Back To Your Community

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Sometimes it can seem over whelming when we stop and think of all of the things we want to be, or feel like we should be doing, in life. And sometimes it’s a lack of knowing what to do or where to start that keeps us frozen on the spot and ending up doing nothing.

Two areas where I find that people can really get stuck or frozen not knowing what to do are in giving back, and getting (or staying) active. That’s why I thought it would be fun to talk about a few ways we can combine the two and add a bit more movement to our lives, while also giving back at the same time!

Now before I get any further into this post, there are some very important ways you can give back and stay active that I’m not going to be talking about in my list. Things like being a volunteer firefighter, volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, local charities, etc. The reason I’m not putting those on my list is because those groups and programs are a bit more traditional forms of giving back, and while needed, require a certain amount of commitment. For many people starting out, the commitment required can be a bit of a deterrent. Instead I’m going to share a few ideas of ways you can add a bit more activity to your day or week without much (or in some cases any) commitment.

Let’s get started!

1) Visit Your Local Animal Shelter
Our new kitties Rose and Clara came from our local SPCA. Over the years, we’ve donated money, food and supplies to the shelter but it wasn’t until I went in to meet the girls that I realized how easy it is to go in and hang out with the cats waiting for their forever homes.

the girls

For some reason, I always thought the animals were hidden out back somewhere but in reality all I had to do was turn around and I would have seen them! It’s important that people take the time to spend with these lovely animals to give them love and attention. That way, when they go to their new homes they will be ready to give and receive love. I know the workers and volunteers spend as much time as they can with them but with so many little creatures to take care of, I’m sure it’s hard for them to give everyone the attention they want. Cuddling cats might not seem like a very active thing to do, but if you stay and play with some kittens while you are there, you’ll certainly get some movement in. Those little devils get into EVERYTHING!

I know our local shelter is also always looking for dog walkers and once you are signed up, I think you can drop in anytime during open hours to sign out a doggy friend for a walk. Not only are you both getting outside for some exercise, but you are also helping that dog or puppy get or stay used to people and walking on a leash.

The best part about this one (aside from the kitty/puppy/bunny snuggles) is that you don’t have to be an “official” volunteer. For the cats, you can drop in whenever they are open and for the dog walkers, I believe you have to fill out a form once. From then on, it’s just a matter of dropping in when you want to go for a walk.

In fact, I’ve read about some shelters who advertised that you could “rent” a dog to walk for a few dollars for people playing Pokemon Go who wanted to look a little less conspicuous. The money they charged went back to the shelter, the dog’s got walked and the Pokemon Go people got to collect Pokemon. Apparently some shelters ended up with a waiting list by advertising that way!

2) Grow Fresh Vegetables For The Food Bank


If you plant a veggie garden each summer already, why not add an extra row or two and plant some extra vegetables to grow for the food bank? They are always thrilled with donations of fresh fruits and vegetables and when you already have the land and seeds/plants, the added cost of another row or two is pretty minor.


Tending a garden certainly helps to keep you more active and growing your own food helps you save money and eat healthier. Then, you get the added benefit of feeling good about doing something so wonderful to help the lives of others. You can be sure the users of the food bank will love you when they get some of your wonderful produce!

3) Volunteer At A Local Family Centre or Kids Group

In most communities, there are lots of groups who are always looking for people with skills to offer to come in and teach a group of kids or adults something new. Many of these groups operate through funding and are able to offer their programs free of charge, making them a great place to volunteer your time for an hour, an afternoon, or a day.


As a fitness instructor, I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer my time for many different groups, including our local Family Resource Centre and it has always been fun and rewarding to bring something new to the lives of people who may never have experienced Zumba or Yoga before.


I realize that as a fitness instructor, it’s easy for me to offer my skills/services but even if you feel like you don’t know what you could possibly teach others, I promise you there is something. Something that you are fabulous at doing that others would love to learn. Maybe you could teach others how to dance the Fox Trot, teach them how to knit a scarf or crochet dish cloths.  Maybe cooking is more your specialty, or crafts. And while it might sound like teaching a small group of people how to knit wouldn’t keep you very active, one thing I know is this – no matter what you are teaching, the teacher stays pretty darn active moving from one person to the next helping, answering questions and whatnot.

I hope this has given you some ideas on how you can add more movement into your life while giving back at the same time. I know life is busy and it is hard to do all the things we feel we “should” do, but these two are things that can really change your life for the better.


What are some other ways you can think of to stay active while giving back? I’d love to hear your ideas – please leave me a comment and let me know what you would add to the list!

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Celebrating #WhatItTakes


I’ve never considered myself an “athlete”. Growing up I certainly was anything but athletic, and even now as a fitness professional I find it hard to accept that as a fitting title.

Perhaps I’m harder on myself than I should be, or perhaps I reserve the word athlete for those who I perceive as more dedicated than I am. I am equally as fond of sitting on the couch and eating pizza as I am spending the day dripping in sweat at a fitness conference. Certainly even the most dedicated athletes spend their fair share of time on the couch (and hopefully eating pizza, it makes me sad to think of anyone not being able to enjoy some form of pizza!), but still I find myself shrugging it off anytime someone tries to label me as one.

In my mind, athletes are those who work day in and day out, those who truly dedicate themselves to their sport, people like Ellie Black.


Having had the absolute pleasure to meet her and get to interview her last summer at her home gym in Halifax after her impressive showing at the Pan Am games, I’ve been very much looking forward to seeing her perform in Rio, and while she may not have made it to the podium she still has made us extremely proud!


To see her finish 5th in all-around (which is a best ever for Canada. The previous best was 13th in 1984 achieved by Bonnie Wittmeier) was amazing and the amount of athleticism it takes to do what she does is amazing. It’s interesting how my very short encounter with Ellie has resonated so much with not just me, but my clients, friends, and family. Everyone has been eager to talk to me about when she is competing, and how she did. It’s those threads (however thin they may be) that connect us all to the individual athletes that make it so much more fun to cheer for your country.

When you can’t catch all the events you’d like to, watching the highlights to get caught up is great, but Sport Chek has really found a way to help us connect with the emotion involved in competing at that level. Earlier this week they released their second Olympic Manifesto video which highlights the moments of Canadian athletes throughout the games so far, and each time I watch it I can feel myself tear up.

And that last clip of Penny, I think it captures it all.

It’s not just about the successes, it’s about the heartbreaks, the struggles, the wins, the happy, the sad, the disbelieve, the crushed. Because it takes ALL of those moments to have #WhatItTakes to perform at the level of our athletes. The emotion is raw, it’s real, and it’s what drives them to continue looking forward to next time.

As I sit here typing, the Canadian Women’s Soccer team has advanced to the semi-finals, and it’s pretty awesome that all of our medals thus far have been won by women.. Knowing that I live in a country where so many fabulous women (and men!) have #WhatItTakes is inspiring and really encourages me to embrace the label of athlete.  No, I will never be part of Team Canada, but that doesn’t mean I can’t continue to strive to be the best that I can be, and that is what I find most inspiring about the games. Their ability to re-ignite a desire in us to get back to sports we may have forgotten over the years, to excite our youth to get involved in sport and to dream of being the best of the best.

So as the games continue, I hope you’ll join me in celebrating the good with the bad, and stand proud of all of our athletes who have worked so hard to get where they are, even those who didn’t make Team Canada this time around. Because they are all still training, still working hard and showing us all #WhatItTakes to be the best.


What has been your favourite moment of the game so far (Canadian or not)?

A little bonus for you…

While working on this piece I was looking back through my files and found some footage of Ellie practising that I haven’t previously shared. Pieced together it’s pretty short, but I thought it was still fun to add in for a little behind the scenes of #WhatItTakes to be #5 in the world! You can see her in the screenshot below standing in the back of the gym in front of the red mat that is along the wall. She’s wearing black shorts an a blue sports bra, and starts flipping the second you hit play. 😉

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Sport Chek, all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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Mud Run Tips: How To Keep Your Sneakers From Falling Off!

If you follow me on social media you already know that last weekend I took to the mud and participated in Mud Hero 2016 at Ski Martock here in Nova Scotia. This was the third mud/obstacle race for me, and while I want to give you a bit of a recap of the day, I also wanted to share with you some important advise on how to keep your shoes on your feet while trudging through mud and muck. There isn’t much worse during a mud run than losing one of your shoes – especially since you may not be able to find it again!

Learn how to tie your sneakers to keep them from falling off during a mud run.

So let’s talk about your shoes before I head into my recap shall we? Keeping your sneakers in your feet is all about how you tie them, and it is easier than you think. What I’m going to show you is called a lace lock, or heel lock.

Have you ever noticed that second hole at the top of your laces? You know, the one you probably have never used and never understood why it existed? We are about to use it!

Step 1: Start with your sneaker on your foot, laced but untied.

Step 2: Loop the end of your lace and thread it through that top hole, making a a loop on the outside of  your sneaker. Repeat on the other side.

Step 3: cross your laces and thread the end of each lace through the hole on the outside on the opposite side.

Step 4: Pull the loose end of your laces downwards to start to tighten the lock.

Step 5: Pull up on the loose end of your laces and continue moving them up and down until you get your desired tightness.

Step 6: Tie your laces. I like to first knot them to ensure they don’t come untied, but that is optional.

The lace lock keeps the top of your sneaker tight around your ankle so that your foot won’t slip out, but you are able to keep the rest of your laces/sneakers a bit more lose so you don’t feel constricted while walking or running making losing your shoe one less thing to worry about on race day!

Now let’s move on to my re-cap!

I wasn’t planning on participating in Mud Hero this year, but a few weeks back I was contacted by Columbia Sportswear (who is one of the main event sponsors) to see if I was interested in participating as one of their influencers. Well I’m a sucker for punishment so I jumped at the chance to have a little fun in the mud!

Because I’m taking a break from running this year, I knew I wasn’t going to try and “race” the event, instead I was going to walk the course and have fun completing the obstacles, so I recruited my friend Catherine to come along with me and keep me company.

As a Columbia Influencer, I was sent an AMAZING package of gear to choose from when it came to the day of the race.


As the day drew near, the weather forecast was a bit up in the air, it was calling for maybe rain, maybe sun – but fairly cool temperatures so I decided to wear both my tank top and long sleeved half-zip since I know I get cold easily.


Did it make me nervous to think about wearing all BRAND NEW gear in a mud race? Yes, yes, it did. Even my husband said it made him want to cry a little thinking about me wearing those brand new hiking sneakers in the mud. But that was the whole point, that Columbia gear is #TestedTough4MudHero so I was really going to be testing that theory! Though when it came down to it, the thought of wearing my beautiful white hat or headband in the mud made me cringe so I was happy when I got to the race site to find out that our “bibs” were actually headbands so I opted to wear that instead of either headpiece from Columbia.

The “before” – looking all cute and clean!


The weather turned out to be perfect for us. We both wore tank tops with another shirt over top and I was the right temperature throughout the race. Not too hot, not too cold. And as it turns out, I was less concerned about getting my sneakers dirty than getting that beautiful light blue long sleeve! But oh boy, did it get dirty.

The race photos came out on Wednesday, and my bib number didn’t pull any but I did find this gem of us on the slide just as we were about to get down. The photo speaks for itself I think, hahaha.

View Photo:

There were some new obstacles this year but instead of talking you through them, I may as well show them to you. Here is the video walk-through Mud Hero posted on their Facebook page before the event as well as a recap they posted after the race showing you a bit more of the muddy situation I was in by clicking here.

It was certainly the muddiest mud event I’ve been in to date. Oh my, the mud, the mud, the MUD! And needless to say, by the end I was covered from head to toe.



For your viewing pleasure, I saved my SnapChat story from Saturday so you could hear more about the experience!

But let’s talk about how my gear held up in clean up. I didn’t do anything fancy, I came home and cleaned them the best I could with the garden hose, then tossed them in the buckets you saw in the video full of water and a bit of dish soap overnight. Sunday I took them out and put the clothes through one wash in my washing machine (on a cold cycle) and rinsed the soap out of my sneakers and left them outside to dry.

That’s it. No stain remover, no scrubbing, nothing fancy at all.




The verdict? Not a single stain, tear or indication that anything had been literally through the mud pit. I am really impressed! #TestedToughForMudHero indeed!

Thank you so much to Columbia Sportswear for sponsoring me to do Mud Hero this year, it was so much fun and everyone I’ve talked to has been super impressed at how well my gear all held up!

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Rounding Out The Fitness Routine

Hey there! Guess what? I’m almost on vacation!!! In just over 24 hours I’ll be off for a full week – I can’t wait!

But before I go, I promised to tell you about part three of my summer (and hopefully beyond) fitness plan to find my {fitness} self after spending so many years focused on the needs of my participants instead of my own.

If you missed the first two posts in the this series you can find them here:

Part 1


Part 2

suzi bike1

And part three is going to be short and sweet (in written word anyway) – strength training.

I cannot tell you the last time I developed or followed a dedicated strength training program for myself. I’ve been strength training with participants in fitness classes for years, but this summer I have the luxury of not teaching any strength based classes and can finally focus on myself instead of others. This is very exciting, and a little scary.

It’s exciting because I’m going to be able to focus on myself, and my workout, instead of worrying about the workout of all my participants, but also a bit scary because like everyone else, I do better when being told what to do workout wise, versus developing and following a plan for myself.

So like any smart person, I’ve sought out help in the form of a training plan I can follow! I’m not going to share what plan I’m using, not because it’s a secret, but because I think everyone needs to find their own way and I won’t know if the plan I’ve chosen is truly the right one for me until I get started next week. If I stick to it and see it through to the end and still like it, then I’ll share what I did, but for now all you need to know is I’ll be working out at home a couple times/week lifting heavy things in addition to my yoga, casual bike rides and fitness classes.

It’s really exiting to me that I’m teaching 6 classes this summer, and that only 2 or 3 really count as a workout for me (since I do more coaching than anything else in the others).

I really hope that this is the summer that I finally put this over training issue that has be dragging me down for years away. 2 hours of cardio, 2-3 strength training workouts and some casual biking and yoga. For once, my weekly workout schedule actually sounds reasonable.

That’s it for me! I had intended to post another monthly book round up before going on vacation, but I’m still reading one of the books I was going to review so instead that will wait until I return on the 12th.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend friends (whether you are in Canada or the USA) and I will talk to you soon!


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Cruising Into Summer With Sport Chek #SweatBetter

Happy first day of summer!!!

I mentioned in my last post that my quest to re-finding my fitness self was going to be a multi-part endeavour. I’ve been plugging away at yoga even if for only 10 minutes at a time since I hit publish last week, but that alone isn’t going to be enough.

Since I decided to give up racing (I still am going to do a couple 5K’s here and there, even if they are more walks than anything – just for fun) the one thing I have missed is getting to exercise outside. I like walking, and want to get into doing more hiking, but both of those can be kind of boring when done on their own. I’ve never been really into biking, but for some reason I got it in my head last fall that what I wanted was a cute, mint green cruiser that I could zip around on in the warmer months. Our mail box is about a kilometer away from our house, and I will often walk to it in the summer, but it can be a pain if there are a bunch of packages, or if it’s really hot out so I thought a bike with a basket would be great.

In the winter I started casually looking around online to see what types of cruisers were available, how much they costs, and if they had any that I really liked, and time and time again found myself coming back to this one on the Sport Chek website.

Since I know nothing about bikes aside from the fact that I know it’s important to get the right size, I decided before getting anything I should go in and talk to the employees at my local Sport Chek to see if the bike I had my eye on was an appropriate size for me. Because I’m still a little shy about recording video in-store unless they know I’m there to do that, I vlogged what I found out and then the whole process of getting it, which you can watch below.

It’s taken me a little bit of time to get around to putting this post together because I was fairly sure Ollie was in the video footage, and I didn’t think I was ready to see her yet 🙁 But happily, this weekend when I started editing, I was so happy to see her fat little grey self come strolling around the corner. You’ll get to see her twice in the short video!

I apologize that the video ends sort of abruptly. I brought the bike home the day Ollie passed away, so I was definitely not in any state to be seen on camera. :/

If you can’t (or didn’t want to) watch the video, basically what I found out was that cruisers are the “stretch limos” of the bike world. Because the seat is placed differently than on other bikes, most anyone can drive them – which meant that pretty green cruiser should be perfect for me! The bike was ordered on Thursday, and the following Wednesday it was here!

Sport Chek bikes come un-asembled when you order them online, but you can take them into your local store and drop it off to have it assembled free of charge. I was told that they are usually ready to pick up again in 24 hours or less, but since I dropped mine off the weekend of the Apple Blossom Festival (which is a huge deal in my area) I wasn’t expecting it to be done right away, and then I think they forgot to call me to tell me it was ready. I left it there for a week before calling to see if it was ready, I was half waiting to see how long it would take for them to call but I was too busy to go pick it up before then anyway. When I did finally call it was ready and waiting so the following day Cathy and I went and picked her up!


Again they were really nice in-store, they told me that not only did I get the assembly for free, but that they will do minor tune-ups for a full year after purchase. So if it feels like it’s not driving quite straight, or the brakes are a little off, etc. I can bring it back in and they will fix it. That is a great perk that I had no idea they offered!

In fact, I didn’t realize they even serviced bikes, that’s how terribly unobservant I am. I thought they mostly did skate sharpening and other hockey related things and that was it. I am so out of touch sometimes, haha.

Once home there was only one thing my bike needed – a sweet basket. And one quick virtual trip to Amazon and I had a package arriving on my doorstep within days.

Seriously people, how fab does she look?


I can’t even.


I swear this bike screams Suzi, and Suzi is having a slight love affair with the bike…


My husband saw that picture and jokingly said, “You better not be hugging that bike!” Oh but I am…..oh but I am… 😀

suzi bike2

And don’t worry yourselves, I’ll be wearing a bicycle helmet when driving – and wearing more appropriate shoes too.

suzi bike1

Yes indeed, I am pretty darn smitten and am very much looking forward to having some fun bike excursions this summer. I love that my cruiser is super basic – no gears to shift (because let’s be honest, I never learned how to shift properly so my bike chain always falls off when I try) and it has the backwards brakes (pedal back to stop – like a 4 year old’s bike. Which I love, haha).

I don’t plan on doing anything more than cruise along taking fun, but slow bike rides this summer so this is perfect.

So I’ve traded in my running sneakers for wheels, so hopefully I’ll still cover as many miles (or more) as I would have other years, but instead of doing them on foot, I’ll be on two wheels.

And that is part two of Suzi’s new fitness focus. But I’m not done quite yet. This is a three pronged focus of YOGA – BIKING – ?????? Part three shall be revealed next week. 🙂

Thank you again to Sport Chek for working with me on this and helping to make my mint green cruiser dreams come true!

If you are in the market for a new bike, check out their selection in store and online – and remember, if you order online you can take it to your local store to have it assembled free of charge. And regardless of where you bought your bike, you can take it in and have their service department take care of minor or major service needs. Check your local store’s In-Store Services to see all they offer.

Disclosure: This post had been sponsored by Sport Chek, all opinions expressed on this blog are entirely my own.

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