The not-so fun part about fitness

“Oh, you’re in fitness? That’s awesome, you get paid to do what you love!” – is often a response I get when I tell people I am an instructor. It is true, you do get paid to be active and to be skilled at different modalities of fitness, which I love. The thing is, it isn’t all as glamorous as it may seem.

Here are some of my personal experiences in fitness that I would like to share for anyone who thinks this industry is all “fun-and-games”.  What got me thinking, was another friend who recently asked me, why do you go so hard? I mean, you are (at times) teaching just as much as some full-time instructors in this city. For me, 2017 was definitely a grind, I took every opportunity I could to teach, including subbing other instructor’s classes.

That’s the thing when you first start out, it sometimes may seem impossible to “break-in” that you are willing to teach at all costs. Getting into a studio is the first challenge, which may seem insurmountable especially if you have no or little experience. The second challenge is staying there. In the studio world there is this constant pressure to fill classes, particularly if there is a financial motivation to do so (i.e. your rate is dependant on the number of people in your class). This is an expectation that never lets up – in some studios I definitely feel the pressure more than others. There are so many factors that contribute to this though that may be beyond an individual instructor’s control. Even good instructors may feel it is somewhat of a popularity contest at times. It is an uphill battle to build a “following” in a particular community, clients are fickle and there is so much choice out there.

Another given fact in this industry is that you give up a lot of your personal time, and for me that has been at the cost of social time, (I personally will not sacrifice my sleep). Prime hours for fitness are often early mornings, evenings, and weekends. So while everyone else is resting, playing, or working on themselves in your classes, you are serving them.

The ultimate fear of any instructor is being told you are “not a fit” at at studio, or that your classes “aren’t working”. This too though, is another reality of the fitness world. The barrier to entry is relatively low, so there will always be new instructors entering the industry, and businesses have a constant pool of human resource to choose from.

Lastly if you think you are going to make money doing this thing, good luck. When you take into account the time it takes to prep your class, travel time in-between studios, and being there early to sign-in and clean up after, your hourly rate is cut at least in half.

So, you may ask if theses are all the down sides – then why do you keep doing it? Well of course there is the upside that balances things out. For me my motivation to keep going is in the connection I find with humans in this industry. It is a connection that is like no other. The fact that just after an hour you can change someone’s energy or improve their entire day. This is my main why, a why that will keep me waking up at 5:00a some mornings and rarely having a day off.


The best thing to give up this Lent is plastic, not chocolate (reblog)

Initially I started this blog simply to share my journey in health and wellness, however this year I am pivoting my social media voice to speak on things that concern me – mainly the environment. So, although you may find this blog a bit random at times, if you know me – that is exactly how I thrive, by being multifaceted. This can be attributed to my short attention span at times.

This is also a space for sharing some of the writings that I have found enjoyable. Here is one written by Miranda Larbi for


For as long as I can remember, I’ve gone plant-based for Lent. Being a full-time vegan now, however, I thought I’d dial the change back a bit and simply give up vegan chocolate this year. After all, Vego is life.

And then I went to the Lush Summit – the annual convention hosted by the cosmetics brand – and realised that giving up chocolate would benefit no one but myself.

Never one to shy away from the big environmental topics, one big element of this year’s Lush summit is the ocean and our role in the destruction and regeneration of ocean life.

And most of that centres around our absurd use of plastic.

We’re currently experiencing a ‘plastic smog’ in our oceans. You don’t have to go to places like West Africa or East Asia to see the impact. When we think about plastic pollution, it’s easy to conjure up images of shantytowns drowning in black plastic sacks or dirty beaches in far-flung developing countries. And while that’s not untrue, the terrifying reality is that we’re seeing the effect of our plastic addiction far closer to home; the Mediterranean Sea is, according to Plastic Pollution Solutions, ‘incredibly impacted’.

This is no longer a problem we can shut our eyes to (and we should have cared about those affected in other areas way sooner).

It’s not just the fact that plastic doesn’t biodegrade; plastic pieces attract cancer, hormone-disrupting, diabetes-causing chemicals the longer they stay in the sea. And that plastic then enters the fish we eat, the water we drink and the salt we use.

The bioaccumulation of plastic – the fact that it’s getting into our food chain – should freak us the f*** out. You can cut a huge amount of that by going vegan…but you’ve still got to eat and season your food. And we should care that we’re literally poisoning animals and ecological systems needlessly.

The 5 Gyres Institute recently went about testing various products to see how far this contamination has spread. Every single one of the German beers they studied tested positive for microplastics.

So, where’s all this plastic coming from?

Plastic bags are already on the decrease, we know microbeads are trash and people are becoming ever more woke about plastic straws. They’re not the main problems anymore.

The real issue today is packaging and polyethene is the new bad plastic in town.

That’s the foamy stuff used to make thick, cheap takeaway cups. It’s also used in things such as hard coffee cup lids. It looks and feels different but it’s just as environmentally unfriendly.

And it’s going to be the next thing you’re going to see targeted.

You can tell if something’s made out of polyethene if it’s got the triangular arrow sign with the number six in the middle. ‘Nix the Six’ is a new campaign by 5 Gyres, aimed at getting people to give up coffee cup lids, plastic cutlery and those red party cups.

25% of plastic produced globally is packaging. Just look at what you had for lunch; even if it didn’t come in a packet, it still probably had a plastic film. Only 14% of plastic is recycled and by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea.

In 1950, we were consuming around five million tonnes of plastic. In 2014, that figure had shot up to 311 million. And the 2015 Plastic Europe Report predicts that that figure is set to double in the next 20 years.

We hear things about plastic taking 500…600…1,000 years to biodegrade…but the thing is, we have no idea how long it takes. There was no plastic around 500 years ago to be confident about any future prediction. So imagine a world 500 years from now if we don’t try to stem the tide of plastic rubbish now.

We don’t need plastic packaging – that’s what makes this so maddening. Things such as condoms and sanitary pads are really bad for the environment but it’s easy to see why people choose to use very durable materials to make them. But food packaging? Coffee cups? There are so many other options.

So what’s the solution?

Well, you could go to a packaging-free supermarket, many of which are listed here but the thing is, not everyone’s got the time to schlep around looking for these places and not everyone has the money to spend.

Some companies are talking about buying up refuse plastic to make fuel because plastic is a fossil fuel. The problem? Burning plastic creates carbon and carbon is what is literally burning the earth alive. ‘

The most practical thing to do is try to shop from places like Lush who make it easy to buy unpackaged or paper-packaged goods, and who offers rewards to those who bring their plastic containers back to be refilled.

There’s talk of coffee houses introducing 25p taxes on people asking for a plastic coffee cup lid and offering the same amount off their drinks if they don’t use one. Why would you want a potentially cancer-promoting material on your lips anyway? You don’t need a lid if you’re careful…and if you do, there are plenty reusable coffee cups out there made from glass or bamboo (like ecoffee cup) which are way more reliable, attractive and better at keeping your drinks hot.

Meal prepping is also a really simple way of cutting down on packaging consumption. Simply get yourself a solid bit of Tupperware and a set of cutlery and you’re good to go. Sure, it takes a little planning but trust us, your waist and wallet will thank you, as well the planet.

Why give plastic up just for Lent?

Lent is just 40 days. Six weeks isn’t loads but trust me, trying to go plastic-free for over a month is going to be a massive challenge. That means not buying any pre-packaged food, no bottles of fizzy water, no shiny bags of crisps, nuts or biscuits.

It’s a start and an opportunity to see just how much plastic we subconsciously consume every single day. Once you start noticing it, you’ll be horrified.

Lent shouldn’t be about going on a diet masquerading as piety. It’s a season of reflection, of dedicating time to God – and by proxy, our fellow beings.

No one gives a crap if you eat chocolate or not…but you could choose to eat a chocolate that doesn’t come packaged in plastic (like Pana Chocolate, for example).

Why not take these six weeks to make an active difference – one that will impact animals, people and environments around the world?

Source: Miranda Larbi (



What you, werking wit?

As a recent joiner of the #sweatlife movement, I have been exposed to a variety of different types of movements, exercises and modalities of training. However, my earliest memory of any sort of physical discipline was when I was about 10 yrs old and my dad had enrolled him, myself and both my brothers at Yoon’s Martial Arts School. This was a defining moment in my life and led up to 8 solid years of HapKiDo training; a huge part of where my love of movement stems from.

When I finally achieved my blackbelt in HapKiDo, I was just graduating high school. University life brought many new experiences and interests and is actually where I first found rugby. What started as a fun thing to do with U of C Dino’s Rugby Club became a bit more competitive with UBC Women’s Jr. Varsity team and later as a Saint. As this was my first foray into competitive team sports, I absolutely fell in love with the feeling of physical performance not as an individual, but rather as a member of a whole. The memories I made with those badass babes will last a lifetime.

Fast forward to Japan, circa 2007.

As part of my degree I spent one year in Japan as a co-op student developing a biological screening system for olfactory receptors in murine cell lines for Kao Laboratories. Yes, it is as nerdy as it sounds, but at the time I was all about the science.

One day, one of my co-workers asked if I wanted to try yoga. I remember my first class vividly, my Japanese at the time wasn’t the best so I followed along by watching those around me. I immediately connected to this form of movement. It was an interesting process going from not understanding much of the language to being able to have a conversation with my teacher in Japanese by the time I was to return back to Canada.

Yoga has stayed with me until this day, and has helped me through the darkest, saddest days of my life. Although I haven’t developed a consistent practice until this year after training under Ana Forrest, it is something that I have always gone back to.

Fast forward to Calgary, present day.

From yoga to spin to boxing and crossfit, my training and coaching has evolved over the past few years to encompass a bit of all things that I love. Although I can only dedicate about 25% of my time to fitness, it has become as passion that fuels me daily.

The fitness industry has shown me ups and downs, but I am still so excited to pursue this thang, and to see where I will eventually end up.


Photo by: Jonathon Smith

“There is no formula greater than consistency. It is the most insistent way on telling the world and universe that you are intentional about where you are going.”






This blog is a place where I will begin to store any promotion things that I take part in. Last November with Undrcard we did a photoshoot for Women’s Fashion, Fitness & Lifestyle Magazine MISSBISH.

The piece was a brief primer for anyone new to the sport of boxing:

Boxing 101 with UNDRCARD Boxing Studio

“Boxers are known to be fit and tough, yet agile and rhythmic. The sport is rapidly growing, aided by a recent influx of super models and influencers throwing their dukes up – what Victoria’s Secret Angel doesn’t box? Traditionally, boxing was dominated by crooked noses and gritty gyms where only million dollar babies survived. However, a new breed of boxing studios is emerging that makes boxing a little less intimidating. They alleviate the fear of cauliflower ears, and some even give you lemongrass-scented towels after your workout. These studios promise a “fighter fit without getting hit.” Read full article.

Here are a few of the shots from MISSBISH:

Photos by the ever talented, Asim.

Portraits by Asim 2/3

I have never considered “modelling” on my list of life pursuits. I have found though, that being in front of the camera is actually satisfying, creatively. Becoming comfortable in front of the lens is something that is new, and like all challenges what is foreign can actually become an interesting, and exciting study. Photography is really, in it’s essence a two way conversation between the subject and photographer. Also, as I begin to put more thought into my personal brand, images have become an essential part to conveying my message.

Here is the second in series by Asim: Rosa in black – East Village. Click on thumb for full image.





It’s about the Music, and much more

One of the things that I have learned through my journey as a spin instructor is the power of music to move people. More and more I find myself deeper in appreciation of music, and the artists that create it. There is nothing quite like that feeling on your bike when the energy, your body, and the entire room is on the same wavelength.

Also, as a person who enjoys dancing on occasion, finding music that moves me off, as well as on the bike is important. I think the later part of this year will find me delving deeper into dance as a form of self expression. For now, here is my playlist via spotify from last week for your listening pleasure.


For me, spin is much more than a group fitness class. It is an opportunity to connect and inspire people on other levels. Last week, I chose to speak on John Legend’s Marching Into the Dark.

Legend explains the song briefly in the Los Angeles Times:

“The idea of struggle and the idea of putting your life on the line for an important cause, the metaphor we use is that they’re chasing a fading star into the dark. They’re struggling for an end they may never see. Everything I talk about – improving our schools, prison reform, making sure everyone has an equal opportunity – I don’t know if we’ll ever get there, frankly, I’m pessimistic. But I’m optimistic enough to know that even the little wins count. So the struggle is worth it.”

In my class, I used the metaphor of marching into the dark to reflect on moments in life where you don’t know exactly where you are going, the outcomes are unknown, but you believe in what you are doing so you keep going, you keep marching.

For everyone facing adversity in the moment, keep marching. The light is near at the of the tunnel.


Fear of Failure

Some people are afraid of failing, so much so that it paralyzes them, preventing them from reaching for goals or working toward any dreams they may have. I will share a recent story of one of my personal “failures”, in hopes of inspiring you to go for what you want in life – all in, balls out.

As many of you who have been following my fitness journey know, I had been with Undrcard Boxing Studio up until recently, when I stopped spamming my ig feed with self-promo for my classes there.

Truth is, I got cut. Notwithstanding I had some of the shittiest time slots, but at the end of the day people weren’t coming to my class in numbers that were expected. At first when this happened I was really sad, it shook my confidence as an instructor. Overtime though, I came to accept the fact and realized, maybe I am just not marketable as a boxing coach. It sucks.

Lessons learned though, you will never know until you try. At this point, I have no fear of failing, there are far worse things in life. So my friends, fail greatly, fail publicly, fail often but keep your head up and try again.

I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying. ~Michael Jordan

This experience though, will not stop me for trying to be the best fitness instructor I can. I still work at all my other studios and have recently joined the team at Fithouse, which is a beautiful space with amazing coaches. Crossfit is another challenge I am excited to take on. I also have no regrets being at Undrcard for the time I was there, I have met some lifelong friends that I know will continue to inspire me throughout life.

I don’t know where this fitness thing will eventually lead me, I only know that I have big dreams that are bigger than any one studio.

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

I miss all the trainers at Undrcard, but I still go there to box, this was awkward for me at first, explaining to people why I wasn’t teaching anymore, but I got over it. It’s still one of my favourite boxing gyms in the city, even though they did fire me.




Photos by Jess Bobyn


Portraits by Asim Pt 1/3

Last year I was lucky enough to step in front of the lens of Asim Overstands. Being in front of a camera is an awkward thing, it exposes our vulnerabilities in raw and vivid moments that are captured real-time. I absolutely love photography, and have a true respect for all of the shooters out there.

This is the first of a three-part series with Asim, shot all in the same day. It focuses on my passion for movement in various forms.

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The Shamanic View of Mental Illness

Interesting read from Waking Times that explains some of my experiences I wrote about in my last post. I take solace in knowing that other people have shared similar experiences, including Forrest Yoga Leader, Jose Calarco, who is currently writing a book about his story.

In the shamanic view, mental illness signals “the birth of a healer,” explains Malidoma Patrice Somé. Thus, mental disorders are spiritual emergencies, spiritual crises, and need to be regarded as such to aid the healer in being born.

Soul Stories

Today is Day 4 of advanced yoga teacher training with Ana Forrest. So far, this has been an incredible experience for my mind, body and spirit. Each day, we begin at 8a with a 4.5h yoga ceremony, including song, stories, intention setting, and an intense asana practice. Following the break there is lecture, teaching, partner/group work and we usually end in ceremony with dance.

Day 2 intent was connection with spirit, and for the first hour or so of the practice I found myself in tears. A lot of these tears I have cried before, so it was more healing and cathartic that my practice would bring up past trauma.

As part of the ceremony, Jose and Ana are encouraging us to share our soul stories, so for the first time in a long time I will articulate mine:

I am about to share with you an experience that happened to me about 7 years ago, when I was 25yrs old. To this date I still have no explanations as to what, or why this happened to me.

I was in Vancouver, and had recently returned from living in Beijing for a period of 10 months. I was in a phase of transition at the time, recently having graduated from university and trying to find what to do with my life.

I remember a heavy energy surrounding me, it was as if I was stagnate and nothing moved in the Universe for me. I became depressed and was searching for answers. Leading up to my experience were two events, related or not I do not know.

The first being, was that I was convinced by an acquaintance at the time to sign up for this personal development course: PSI Seminars. The course really tries to break through barriers and makes one take a deep look at life and how they operate as an individual. As I am one to be critical of myself, this course literally destroyed me. I remember being incredibly sad and angry for the entire week, and it threw me deeper into my depression.

A second event that occurred was my first ever Satsung. As some of you may know a Satsung is a practice of yoga without the Asana, so there is chanting, circle sharing, visualization and meditation. I remember vividly us standing in a circle and channelling light energy through our crown and projecting it from the heart.

The day after the Satsung is when the magic began in my life. Similar to an experience shared by Tom, another student in our intensive training with Ana, I began to see messages in all things, one that would lead into another into another. I felt as if I was being guided by synchronicity, that I was connected to all things. That night however, is also when the darkness came. I began to see dark figures that were frightening, and one that followed me home that afternoon.

The events that occurred after are extremely hard to explain, but I began to leave this reality and cycled into another.

The night after the Satsung I went to a fundraising event, where a few of my friends also attended. At this point I was seeing messages of a battle between light and dark, I would see either an extremely dark, or light energy around people. There was music and energy moving through my body that was not mine, I was still being guided by some force.

Hearing that I was acting extremely out of character and out of body, my mom and another close friend flew from Calgary to Vancouver to get me.

In Calgary I cycled deeper into a manic state, with various paranoias, psychosis, and unexplainable events. There was incredible darkness in that experience, but magic at the same time. I won’t get into all of what occurred, but am happy to speak upon this experience in detail in person.  I lost sleep for at least three days, and thought I had died three times in the course of this period.

I remember going to a physician who had no answers, they referred me to a mood disorders clinic. My family, thank God, did not medicate me – they believed that I would become dependent on pharmaceuticals. We found our answers with a Buddhist priest, who excised the energies from my body. I remember seeing a dark energy in the main priest, her eyeballs were entirely black. When she touched my rib, I felt an incredible pain stabbing through me. I don’t know how many times we went to her house, but there were also other Buddhists present.

Following, I regained sleep and my thoughts began to slow and normalize. I fell again into another depression and for at least a year it felt as if I had no spirit. I would socially isolate myself and spent a lot of days in extreme sadness.

Yoga was my first step to recovery, I flew back to Vancouver to do my first 200YTT that summer. I learned to reconnect with myself and breathe through all the hard parts in life. I spent the following year slowly climbing out of this dark place I had sunk into, I am grateful for all of my family and friends that were there to support me along the way.

Life is a strange thing. We can’t always explain what happens to us, but all I know is that it all happens for a reason, this experience gave me true empathy, it taught me resilience, and luckily it hasn’t hardened me, although I am very guarded energetically because of it. Now I can say that I have healed, it has taught me compassion and has given me a deep appreciation for life, and all of my faculties. Now life is as vibrant as ever, with the full force of Universe around me.