New Class at Vic City

I’m thrilled to combine two of my passions – yoga & crossfit! Tomorrow will be the first yoga class I’ll be leading at Crossfit Vic City. (Class is only $5) I’m looking forward to sharing practice with this incredible community (NOTE: open to Non-Members too!!!) and offering a time for us all to work on our mobility, breathing, focus and relaxation.  If you have any questions about classes, or want to contact me for any other reason please send me an email at

Classes at Vic City are scheduled for September 20th, October 4th, October 18th, October 25th from 8:45-9:45. Check out my class page or schedule for updates!

Tao let go


What I say is what I am…

I was in dance school when the concept of language really became interesting to me.  Funny that as I’m learning to communicate without words their importance became so clear.  Teachers there began to talk about what (and how) you say and it made me realize the words we choose and the way we say it has a huge affect on our behaviour/actions.

As I continued my teaching (as a gymnastics coach, dance & yoga teacher) I try to be very conscious of what I say.  Our words can be limiting or opening, negative or positive, defeating or empowering, etc.  When we speak with children our awareness is often heightened because of a role we play in their development.  As Peggy O’Mara says “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.”

Speaking out loud helps us to register what we’re actually saying.  (Hopefully) We choose our words to others carefully and selectively, but what about what we say to ourselves?  This post comes about as I prepare for a 2km erg test in a few hours.  It’s not a lot of fun.  Basically (for me) 8ish minutes of pain.  And so I’ve been thinking about what I will say to myself in those moments…. when it starts to hurt, when the doubt is louder than the faith, when I want to quit, when I don’t know why I’m doing this in the first place, and I could go on and on.

You are what you believe yourself to be – Paulo Coelho

Everything in life is about choices.  What we think and what we say are exactly that.  A little while ago I posted about choosing which thoughts to surf, and I have to remember that today.  Because even though there are moments where the voices of doubt grow louder, the belief, positivity and joy are still in there… I just have to play DJ and adjust the levels a bit to drown the bad ones out!

And so in this challenge today (and in every other aspect of my life), I will not let my head be my own worst enemy.  I will not defeat myself before I begin.  I will choose to believe, and if I begin to think thoughts that aren’t supporting me I will ask myself what I would say to a child, or to you… and then I will listen to the trust grow within me, and know that I can overcome anything, that with my relentless spirit I will do more than get through it I will conquer.

Thanks for this little public pep talk.  Think about the words you say to yourself and the thoughts you think.  Manifest the good within you and watch it blossom!

Most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

You can do it BABY

The man with a turnip for a head…

With a little extra day time hours on my hands, the internet becomes a great abyss (and a great time waster).  But I am thankful for it from time to time when I come across little jems like this: The Man with a Turnip for a Head.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt has a production company called hitRECord.  It features video, image, audio and text from online collaborators – and when you upload something you can share in any profits made.  A pretty cool concept, and a nice way for someone to use his notoriety to promote others!

Take a peek at this wonderful little short narrated by Gary Oldman.

So what’s your turnip?
I think we all have turnips whether they can be seen externally or not.  We have our little hang ups and things we tend to obsess over.  What causes these sensitivities may be a variety of reasons… I now have a knee that doesn’t bend the same.  It’s not a big deal – except if you want to be a dancer or squat a lot of weight (aka live my life).  But I’ve had to accept that it’s who and what I am.  And by integrating my turnip I empower myself to overcome any disadvantages (perceived or actual) it may cause.

If you’re into crossfit there are some videos going around that showcase this.  A man in a wheelchair doing burpees, or a woman who broke her leg doing one-legged burpees!  But there are many more: like this man with brain cancer who won a marathon while pushing his daughter in a stroller! These are examples of people who own their turnip, and don’t let a situation own them… we all have choices to make in how we deal with what happens to us in life.  If we honour the things that make us vulnerable they won’t zap our strength.  And in doing so we then become open to accepting differences in others.  We all want to be accepted and supported.  Treating yourself and others with kindness and grace is how to achieve this.  Some people have no trouble showing compassion to others yet cannot demonstrate the same thinking to themselves.  If you don’t appreciate and love yourself, how can others?

Embrace all that makes you YOU.  It creates a rich tapestry that weaves together your strengths, differences and unique qualities and makes you stronger as a result.

Breaking Open

Today is the day: 13.1

Some of you will have no idea what that means. But for hundreds of thousands of people around the world, they will have butterflies and nervous anticipation as they await the release of the first workout of the 2013 Crossfit Open.

Rewind to 2011. I hadn’t been doing Crossfit very long or consistently.  I remember the first workout was double unders (phew) and snatches. Snatch? What? I spent the whole day trying to learn the lift from videos and hit the gym early to try and make some inquiries as to how one actually gets the bar from knees to overhead (and that magical moment in between).

Snatch miracleI survived that wod (thanks to some ground to overhead leniency) and through the open I learned that I had way more to give than I had ever imagined.  It pushed me to become more serious about my training.  Later, I volunteered at Regionals and set my mind on competing there myself.

2012 brought more surprises.  I was eager to train and compete to help my team, although I really didn’t think I would be in a position to qualify for Regionals.  And that lovely snatch – well my one rep max became my three-rep max (100lbs).  At the end of the Open I shocked myself by been one of the top finishers from my gym (what the?! how’d that happen), and had the honour and fun of representing the Zone at the Canada West Regionals.

Almost hitting 105 at Regionals.

Almost hitting 105 at Regionals.

Another year. And another surprise. I won’t be doing the 2013 open.  Will I miss something like the 7-min burpee AMRAP? No, not likely. Although because I’ll always be a crossfitter I’ll likely do it today just for fun!

What I will miss is:
– Pushing myself past my limits and discovering I can go further than I thought possible, and know I still have more to go
– Watching my friends and teammates learn new skills, achieve new landmarks (PRs), and elevate one another to incredible heights and achievements
– Being part of a community no matter where I go.  In 2011 I went to Square One Crossfit  for one of the wods, and 2012 I did another at Reebok Crossfit Firepower.  Every box meant support, camaraderie, friendship and a competitive push
– The feeling of accomplishment after having faced down my fears, overcome them, conquered them and realized I AM SO MUCH STRONGER THAN ANYTHING I FACE
– The relief once the wod is done. Going through hell is hard. But let’s face it, it’s actually a lot of fun (aside from the burning, nausea, pain etc).  It’s the best drug there is right?!
– Pre/Mid/Post wod dancing (Miss Adrianna Haffey I’m talking about you!)
– Bettering myself.  These challenges strengthen every part of you: body, mind & spirit.

When Crossfit didn’t play into the cards this year I felt like a failure.  I felt like I was letting myself down.  I felt like everyone around me would be making incredible progress and I (by doing nothing) would be on a fast train backwards.  But training for the unexpected means that sometimes life will change your plans.  Sometimes what you want to have happen won’t be possible.  Sometimes it even means that there are other opportunities the universe has in store.  In the same way that our weaknesses don’t mean we’re not strong, being out this year doesn’t mean I’m not learning, growing and getting stronger… it just means I’m exploring other ways of doing it.

And maybe all it took for me to fall in love with an erg was to get in a boat on the water – that has to help my crossfitting doesn’t it?

Once again, I’m humbled by the lessons that life and sport continue to teach me.  And once again I’m going to be counting down the minutes until each wod is released.  Except this time with a few less butterflies in my stomach.

I love that they call sectionals the Open.  For me it is about being just that: open to new things/skills/wods, being open to our strengths and weaknesses, open to learning and growing, open to what other people are doing, and open to what life has in store… I wish all who are competing this year an incredible ride.  I’ll be cheering for you!



“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek. Fear of the unknown is our greatest fear. Many of us would enter a tiger’s lair before we would enter a dark cave. While caution is a useful instinct, we lose many opportunities and much of the adventure of life if we fail to support the curious explorer within us.” ~ Joseph Campbell

The last two years of my life have been about rowing. It is something that we’ve lived, breathed, ate & slept. Of course up until four months ago I hadn’t sat in a boat or picked up an oar.

My life was about helping my husband, Malcolm Howard in his quest for a second Olympic medal.  After he and his teammates achieved that goal in London this summer, we moved to Oxford in order for him to pursue his Masters.  With little to do initially, I jokingly said to the OUWBC President who was coaching some of the Oriel Novice Women “Should I learn to row?”.  The next day I had a tank session.  And that’s how my rowing career began.

I took to the water after two tank sessions, likely under some false preconceived ideas of what it would be like.  After watching Olympic crews I knew I wasn’t going to be good, but I  didn’t think the suck would be so bad.  I came off the water that day in tears and has VERY reluctant to go back.

The next outing was an inter-college mini regatta. My crew won. Things were looking up.  After a long pause for my return-to-Canada-Visa-trip and the Holidays it was back to training.  This was where things actually got fun.

I began to like erg-ing. Anyone who has done Crossfit with me knows my disdain for the erg.  I think it was invented as a torture device.  BUT, little did I know I would enjoy 25 minutes pieces, and be thrilled to be back in the gym doing circuits and pushing hard to build strength and fitness.

The weather in England has not been very rowing friendly this year.  Flooding meant many red flags and ‘closures’ of the Isis.  While this did mean some fun trips to Wallingford (including one where Malcolm and the OUBC squad were training as well… talk about trying to keep your head in the boat while your husband yells “ERIKA” as you row by!), it also meant that the ‘newbies’ didn’t get out on the water as much as we’d hoped.

Then the 6th week of term arrived. I had been away in Canada for a wedding and returned to Oxford just in time for Rowing On.  This is when boats in the lower categories have to race a time trial in order to qualify and rank themselves for Torpids.  I’m happy I remembered how to row, having not been in a boat for a few weeks, and even happier to say we qualified!

Now the task will be getting the boat to move quickly, while we keep our focus amidst the craziness around us.  I’m not 100% sure what the experience will be like, but BUMPS racing is insane. Boats are lined up along the river according to ranking, and the objective is to catch and overtake or bump the crew in front of you.  I feel like it’s rowing+american gladiators… and I’m oh-so looking forward to it!

Hopefully I will have many stories to share by the end of the week!
Keep your fingers crossed for us and send some Oriel love this way 🙂

“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.”
~ Confucious

P.S The boat race is only 33 days away.  Check out for information or to vote for Oxford and the Dark Blue!!!!

P.P.S Next year stay tuned for when Malcolm takes up either dancing or rhythmic gymnastics (we’ll be holding a vote for you to decide which!!!!)

The Summer of Awesome

July this year means not only one incredible event featuring the top athletes in the world… but TWO!  Kicking things off this week are the 2012 CrossFit Games.  In true CrossFit style,  a day of competition for the individuals was added including a variety of exciting (read: extremely challenging) activities including a “cross-country” triathlon and an obstacle course!  Although my wallet won’t let me be in California, my heart is definitely making it’s way down!  Wishing all competitors strength & courage… but of course BIG love and cheers for the Canadians including the Zone’s Lucas Parker.  Go for it Scoots!!!

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. – Winston Churchill

Or if this fits better, just keep thinking about what I do during wods (from one of the best movies ever, Finding Nemo!) …So as Dory says JUST KEEP SWIMMING (or biking or running!)

Teenwolf relaxing at the Canada West Regionals this past year