A weekend of PR’s

The best thing about Kettlebells, there is always room to improve. I personally love having a goal and working towards it.  When I put the time in the gym and then step on the platform to test myself I always have a goal in mind.  This weekend (Oct. 31, 2015), Linda Gilmour of Ironbell Fitness invited us to join for her in-house competition.  To lift, donations were made towards Lifetime Networks.  I like to be not only physically prepared for competition, but mentally and Linda went all out to make this competition official.  We weighed in and she had bells measured out to make sure they had regulation handles.  This is a big deal, because if I could chose I would pick a smaller handle when snatching because it taxes my grip less.  So it was great to use the proper size handle as our handles at home are a bit slimmer.


Solomon had a 2 great biathlon  sets.  He was able to jerk 36 reps, a new PR and he did 157 snatches, another PR, which included lasting the entire 10 minutes.  This was Solly’s main goal.




Kendra, Jean and I all lifted together, which was a great flight as we are all going to Worlds together.  The night before Solly and I were chatting and I said I want to be consistent.  I can’t always expect myself to PR, but I do think of it as a PR if I show consistency.  I managed to do 170 reps, my best was in Seattle with 171 reps.  So I did meet my goal of being consistent.  If I can go out on the platform in Dublin and be just as consistent I will be really pleased with my efforts.  If you watch the video, at the end I yelp!  That’s because I thought I was going to send the bell flying at the judge!!  Nathan, didn’t even bat an eyelash, he just smiled and laughed.  The wider handle definitely made a difference on my grip, my forearms are definitely feeling massive after!  Kendra had a PR of 158 reps!  For a 13 year old, this girl is amazing!  Jean did 80 reps, then rejoined us for another 20 reps!  Team Canada is ready to represent!

The cool thing about these events, is new lifters!  How much effort they put in and how much love they have for the sport.  Jessica, one of Ironbell’s lifters had only been lifting for a couple of months and she snatched the 12kg for 10 minutes.  I hope we see more new faces in the future!  Here are just a few of the lifters, as some left before the end of the event.  After, we did stop for dim sum before we headed back to Nanaimo. We’ve been on an asian food kick lately, and see a few youtube videos on some different dim sum so wanted to try some.  Soup dumplings are AMAZING!  They burst in your mouth with so much flavour! Solly did take some incriminating photos of Kendra and I sleeping in the car on the way home.  What!?! We were tried, we worked hard and then ate some good food!


Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, we drove back to Victoria to take part in Brittney van Schravendijk’s Kettlebell workshop. We covered swings, snatches, cleans, jerks and even some double bell lifts for the women.  I personally found the swing cues the most helpful.  I don’t know what it is about the swing, but it makes my body feel so uncoordinated.  It’s a very odd feeling, since I don’t typically struggle with coordination.  But it is definitely something I need to work on.  When I return from Worlds, I think programming will step back focus on cleans for the longcycle and swings for snatch.
Backswing copy

I’ve been really trying to absorb what others have to say about the rack position for one arm long cycle (OALC), as I use to rest the bell on my chest and have quite the lean.  But if I want to move up to 20kg and 24 kg bell I can’t have that weight resting on my chest as it taxes me before 10 minutes is up.  So I am really trying to work on getting my elbow into the hip crease and using my hips to bump out of the rack for the jerk.  I still need to drop faster into the rack from fixation if I want to compete in jerks.


At the end of the workshop, we had a 10 minute set.  My teammate Kendra Falkenberg did 200 rep with 16 kg bell.  This girl is on fire!

I did a set of the 14kg and did 218 reps.  I chose to go with a lighter bell and work on pacing, since I had lifted the 16kg the day before and I was in the middle of a stressful work schedule that was fatiguing me.  I was very pleased with the set.  Looking at the weekend, I think my whole team from Ballistic Strength Nanaimo should be very pleased with how it went.  After the workshop, we stopped at Fairway, the grocery store to pick up lunch.  Solly and I shared food from the hot counter.  We got beef, beans, broccoli and noodles.  Kendra picked up a turkey wrap.  After we restored our energy it was time to head home.  Done lifting for another weekend 🙂 

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NPAA BC Championships Oct 24, 2015

This past weekend, I tagged along to be a backstage helper for the NPAA BC Championships in North Vancouver.  My partner Solomon Macys competed in his first physique competition.  He had coached two competitors previously and decided it was his turn on stage.  We caught the Friday 1230 Ferry to Vancouver since there was a mandatory competitors meeting at 4pm.  With time to spare, we did some grocery shopping for diner prior to his meeting.  We explored a few markets on Lonsdale and stretched out after sitting all afternoon.

The mandatory meeting went over posing for the competitors, rules and regulations and they also had their suits checked and numbers were handed out.  After the meeting, we went to find our hotel at the Holiday Inn in North Vancouver to check in and set up.  Since Solomon was getting a spray tan, he needed to shave prior to getting sprayed.  So he did some touch ups, mainly making sure his beard was nice and tidy.  IMG_1045

Meanwhile, I put spare sheets on Solomon’s bed since I didn’t want him staining all the hotel sheets!


Solomon’s spray tan was scheduled for 6:10pm.  But there was a little mix up, originally he was told his tanner would be located at the host hotel, this is how we chose where we would stay.  Turns out she changed locations so when Solomon went to go find Room 210 no one answered.  To top it off, he couldn’t remember what our room number was so he roamed the halls trying to figure out where he was for about 20 minutes.  Poor guy!


Luckily, we got it sorted out, rescheduled Solomon’s appointment and headed to the Travellodge.  I didn’t take any pictures of the tanning process, but more or less he stands in a tent to keep it nice and tidy and she sprays him with a self tanner.  The evening coat is lighter but is suppose to darken over night.  Solomon said it was quite cold going on!  It only took about 10 minutes, then Solomon is suppose to wear loose fitting clothing to prevent rubbing.  We made a quick stop at the Superstore to pick up a few items for the next day and then went back to the hotel for dinner.


We actually brought a small portable stove so that we could make soup for dinner.  I thought I took a picture of our set up, but apparently it was a picture of the cooler instead!  But if you look at Solly’s practice posing photos you can slightly see the set up on the right side.  We did hot pot, which you dip your foods in the simmering soup, let it cook your veggies and meat and then take it out and eat while more food cooks.  We had dumplings and lamb with a variety of different veggies.  My favourite is the mushrooms in the soup.  We also make a few dipping sauces, which I go for the hot sauces.  I like to say it is a good hot sauce if it makes your eyes water!  IMG_1046

After dinner, Solly practiced his posing for his T walk while I read for the evening.  Here are few practice poses:  Can you tell he is spray tanned?

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Saturday October 24, 2015 – COMPETITION DAY!!!!

We woke up bright and early Saturday morning at 6am.  Solly had another application of spray tan to be applied.  During the night, his previous coat had definitely darkened and he still had to get a second coat.  While he was gone, I went for a short run to get moving, I knew it would be a day of a lot of sitting.  That doesn’t happen for me often so I wanted to make sure I got some movement in.

Solly was on at 11am, so we drove close to the theatre and stopped for coffee and a muffin.  We don’t typically have muffins for breakfast, but Solly wanted the carbs to fill out.  After relaxing at the coffee shop, we headed to the theatre. Backstage all the competitors, touch up their tans, practice posing and “pump up” by doing push ups and other body weight exercises.  Many of the competitors, including Solomon had elastic bands to use for their exercises.  Then the final moment, the competitors get to go on stage and pose.  

Each competitor starts with their T-walk, where they get to show off their best poses.



Then the guys had to pose in a line, so that the judges could compare the guys.  They are judged on their poses as well as their overall physique.  Awards were given out about an hour later.  Solomon placed 3rd, he was very pleased with his placing.  Great job for a first competition!



Then his post competition meal was dim sum!  We headed to Park Royal, where I may have done some shopping, but we definitely found some good dim sum.  Then we headed home, since we had team training the next day.


Sunday, Nanaimo Kettlebell Club we trained a bit later to give up recovery from Solly’s competition the day before.  So training started around 10am.  We focused on the snatch and pacing.  Each workout just get us a step closer to Dublin, Worlds! In my next post, I will talk about test set for Dublin and Kettlebell Workshop with Brittney van Schravendijk.  


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One Hour Long Cycle in Support of Kettlebells4Autism

Solly and I will be participating in One Hour Long Cycle in Support of Kettlebells4Autism. Please support us in helping this great cause!  To my friends/clients back in London, Ontario this is dedicated to the London Branch of Autism Ontario.  I had an amazing group of mothers from this branch who took my classes.  They shared their stories with me and I admire the love and strength they show for their children!

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Properly Activating Your Transverse Abdominals

Many people experience back pain, they have poor posture or have weak abdominals.  One of the first things they need to learn is how to properly engage their transverse abdominals.  Watch this video to help you practice.

After work on pelvic neutral exercises to help you strengthen the transverse abdominals and the pelvic floor. Any questions, comment in the section below.

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Core Align Classes

Fine Balance is now offering Core Align classes!  Check out our first video and let me know if you are interested in trying.

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Pilates and I

I never would have thought that Pilates would become my passion,my constant thought process and my lifestyle. When my roommate showed me the ad to become a certified Pilates Instructor in University, I originally thought I need a distraction from school and a pass time. Pilates has given me not only that but also a career.

Side lift with a front kick in sight of the mountains

Side lift with a front kick in sight of the mountains

I’ve built amazing relationships with clients that have taught me so much. Clients tell me they love how I try to educate them as I instruct, but little do they know I learn so much from our communication and their bodies. I constantly am educating myself about new scenarios that come into the studio and by practicing myself.

In a previous blog, I talk about my car accident and how I try to use this as a learning experience so I can be better for my clients. Pilates probably saved my life that night. I had a police officer tell me, after reading the report, I am so lucky I lived. Pilates helps one have a strong body and mind. Pilates not only helped protect me during the impact but also has helped my recovery process. I still have my days were I am in pain, but I know I can choose the right exercises and get myself moving.

Even as I write this blog, I took a break to do a few Pilates exercises, since my back doesn’t like sitting at the moment. I’ve been very lucky I have found something that I love that keeps my body and mind strong healthy and active. Pilates allows me to do my daily activities with more ease, stand with a proper posture, and relieve stress. Try to find something for yourself that has the same impact on your life!

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My Pilates Alaphabet

A – Abdominals 

We all want nice abs!

We all want nice abs!

What often brings people to a Pilates class is, they want to strengthen their core.  But it’s not all about the abs and crunches.  Pilates has a large repertoire that challenges the entire body head to toe. 






B – Balance

Balance is an important factor especially as we age

Balance is an important factor especially as we age

Your balance will be challenged because Pilates requires stability and control of the body.  Not only does one’s balance improve, but also their body awareness. 





C- Control

To execute advance exercises properly we need to have control

To execute advance exercises properly we need to have control

Leg circles is a great example of control in Pilates.  Anyone can swing their leg around in a circle while lying on the floor.  But when you need to create stability in the pelvis and make the femur rotate slow and controlled in the hip socket without tensing the upper body it can be quite challenging. 



D – Dolphin

Can be done on the reformer or on the mat

Can be done on the reformer or on the mat

One of my favourite exercises, whether on the mat or reformer.  It is a great challenge for the abdominals, but also shoulder stabilization and strength. 



E – Elephant

Hang your head like a rag doll to release neck tension

Hang your head like a rag doll to release neck tension

This exercises does require hamstring flexibility, but is a great stretch.  I actually love this exercise because it is a chance to get rid of neck tension in the round back position.




F – Footwork

Whether done on the chair on the reformer, it's not about leg strength but about what our feet are doing.

Whether done on the chair on the reformer, it’s not about leg strength but about what our feet are doing.

A lot of people get focused on the legs during footwork and then think it’s all about the amount of springs we add on.  But we should be focusing on what our feet are doing and whether we can produce the proper foot placement.  Are your heels staying still in space?  Are you spreading the weight across the balls of your toes? 


G – Gait

How we walk affects the whole body

How we walk affects the whole body

Our gait is how we walk or run, the pattern, which our body moves.  Poor biomechanics, can affect our gait, which in the long run can cause injury.  Since Pilates is focused on form, proper alignment and simulating regular movement patterns it can help improve our gait pattern if the workout is gear towards it. 




 H – Hip rolls/Hamstrings

I personally find hip rolls and shoulder bridge variations VERY challenging.  These exercises are great for focusing on the hamstring and glute activation.

I – Imagery 

Hang your head like a rag doll

Hang your head like a rag doll

Is used to help participants execute exercises more accurately, such as;  relax your head and neck like a ragdoll.   



J – Jump board

Is a great way to get cardio into your reformer classes.   Plus, its just FUN! 


Jumping challenges strength, stability and endurance

Jumping challenges strength, stability and endurance






K – Karate Kick

I love side kick series because no matter what you always get a good butt burn!  One of my favourite is Karate kick because a simple change such as the direction/height of the kick can change the exercise. 

L – Long box

Is a position for placing the box on the reformer carriage lengthwise

M – Mermaid 

You can sit cross legged, straight legs, on a box.  Chose the modification appropriate for your hips.

You can sit cross legged, straight legs, on a box. Chose the modification appropriate for your hips.

This exercise is great for lateral stretches.  Modifications may be necessary for hips if they are not very flexible to be in the position.


These tell us what your body is feeling and doing

These tell us what your body is feeling and doing

N – Nerves

Pilates teaches one a mind-body connection.  Our nerves allow us to develop the proper motor response by stimulating the nervous system and teaching it how we should feel.



Essential for life

Essential for life

O – Oxygen

Our bodies need oxygen to function.  Holding our breath can hinder the execution of an exercise.  The breath in Pilates is used to help us perform the exercises more efficiently and assist in contracting the abdominals.



P – Pelvic neutral 

Is the most shock absorbing position for the body.  We focus on building strength and stability while in this position so we can perform our exercises with more ease.


Q – Quality vs. Quantity

The number of repetitions is not important in Pilates.  Form or quality of the exercises is what we like to focus on.  If the body is tired after 4 repetitions and you no longer can maintain proper alignment, then it is time to move on.

R – Roll up

Roll up is a fun exercises because there are so many variations one can do. This video just show a few of the possibilities. 


S – Side splits

Great way to work those inner thighs

Great way to work those inner thighs

This standing series on the reformer is great.  People love to work their inner thighs and they will definitely be targeted during this series.


T – Tree 

Requires Hamstring flexibility

Requires Hamstring flexibility

A challenging exercises on the reformer, but a great exercise to work on hamstring flexibility.  This exercises is better to teach one-on-one so you spot your clients while seated on the box.


U – Up Stretch

Build upper body strength

Build upper body strength

Up stretch a great exercise that requires strong scapular stabilization.  Exercises such as long stretch, up stretch, elephant all helped me make my push ups stronger.


V – Pilates V

Foot position

Foot position


Foot stance also know as frogie position.


W – Weight

Springs are challenging to control

Springs are challenging to control

Pilates equipment doesn’t use weights, but they use springs as resistance on the reformer, chair and Cadillac.  Although some exercises require holding your own body weight or using light weights or resistance props.  


X – Cross straps

Crossing straps on the reformer,  can increase the tension making an exercise more difficult or provide with the support you need because of the angle of strap is in relation to the body. 

Doing single leg strap work, take the right strap and place it on the left foot.  Right leg is free in the air.

Doing single leg strap work, take the right strap and place it on the left foot. Right leg is free in the air.



Y – Y’sY

This is a great rotator cuff exercise.  Facing backwards on the reformer, with a light spring you are pulling upwards making a Y with your arms.  Make sure not to lean backwards to make the movement, it is all about rotation through the shoulders.


Z – Zzzz’s 

We all need our sleep

We all need our sleep

People have told me they find their sleep has improved once they start Pilates, which is great because we need our rest to repair our bodies.

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STOP those ANNOYING Headaches!

Headaches can ruin a good day. Quite often the position we are in; when reading, writing, using the computer can put strain onto our neck, which leads to a headache. Stretching and moving our neck can help us reduce tension and reduce the occurrence of headaches. Breaking up your work periods to do these exercises will help. You want to make sure you are even doing them when you are not feeling sore in the neck to prevent the muscles from tightening.  

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Mermaids and Side Lifts


When people think of Pilates, they think about their abs.  But when people think about their abs, they mainly think about their “6 pack”.  Well, what about the obliques?  The obliques help us side bend, rotate and flex the spine.  These are some simple exercises to add in to make sure you get some lateral movement in your workout!

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Don’t be such a “Tease”

When the word teaser is mentioned is class, there is variety of facial expressions that occur.  Some people love them, some people find them very challenging, some people don’t realize there are modifications to allow one to progress to a full Teaser.  Practice these variations and you will see a Teaser in your future.  Enjoy the challenge!

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