Julianna Yu's Blog


Introducing Fitset, Toronto’s Fitness Pass

Quad Spinning East

Photo courtesy of Fitset.Taken at Quad

In January, I was asked to be a Brand Ambassador for Fitset – Toronto’s Fitness Pass. It kind of made my day. I remember the subway ride into work that day (before I got asked) reflecting on what I wanted to do this year and one of the main things was to seek out activities that will help me grow. So, when I got asked later that day… It felt like magic. 🙂 I have been a supporter since the start and am over the top excited about trying out different types of workouts and getting involved with spreading the word about Fitset.

It’s easy for us to stick to what we know when it comes to fitness – big gyms and whatever our current routine is. I am currently a member of a gym (made use of my corporate discount) but I am also a studio pass owner of a Yyoga and Studio Lagree. Although I enjoy having access to all three, there’s a part of me that always wants to do and seek out other activities to shake up my routine and get me out of my comfort zone.  If you’re like me, Fitset can help you reset your current routine by getting you to go out and try new workouts, which can only be good. Maybe you’ll find another workout (or workouts) that are complimentary to the one (or ones) you currently participate in. Maybe you’ll realize, what has been missing in your routine all along. And maybe you’ll meet people with similar interests and make new friends while you’re at it.

Moksha Yoga  (5 of 18)

Photo courtesy of Fitset.Taken at Moksha Yoga.

Fitset’s mission is to make fitness more accessible and to make fitness more exciting for those living in the city. They want to get Torontonians moving while having fun and living an active and healthy life. There are tons of fitness options in our city and Fitset has hand picked the best speciality studios.

In this way, we can try out studios without the pressure of having to commit to a membership or studio specific class pass. It’s kind like dating before committing to someone exclusively. I like the sound of that and I cannot be the only one.
There’s an indoor surfboard class, boxing, Muay Thai, spinning, obstacle training to name a few.

Photo courtesy of Fitset.

Photo courtesy of Fitset.Taken at Krudar Muay Thai. 

The Fitset pass allows you up to three workouts per month at each of their specialty studios. Have fun finding your ideal workout routine without worrying about committing to a studio exclusively. If your needs change and you need to cancel, you can do so at anytime and there are no hidden fees.

Whatever your reason is for joining

  • a NY goal to be more active
  • wanting to break up your current routine (all the time),
  • get out of your comfort zone (heck yes!),
  • meet other people (always),
  • get out of the house (off the couch)
  • explore the city in a whole new way (you can workout in a neighborhood you might not otherwise find yourself in and try a new restaurant or coffee shop while you’re at it.
  • wanting to try a fitness style you haven’t tried before
  • revisit something you tried in the past – some things are worth a second try.

To purchase the Fitset pass or get more info.

Connect with Fitset

  • Fitset on FB: Fitsetpass
  • Fitset on Instagram and Twitter: @Fitsetpass
  • Fitset Blog aka “Fitfeed”:

What are your favourite fitness activities? How do you keep fitness fun?

Please share your workouts and how you keep them interesting. 🙂


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Fitset Studio Partner: Big Hit Studios

Have you heard the exciting news about Fitset and their UNLIMITED MONTHLY FITNESS pass? They are currently in Montreal and Toronto. If you missed my last post about Fitset and my ambassador role start here

After 3 weeks of rest (no exercise whatsoever), coupled with long days at work and missing being active, it felt great knowing that I was about to get back into the groove of things again. I’m not going to lie, I was feeling heavy, lethargic and fatigued because since I got back from vacation in late December, I haven’t been as active as I was in November prior to going. The result of this is a break in routines – not eating at regular times, not snacking well, not having restful sleep (worrying about my mental to-do list), and not exercising on a regular basis.  One thing I know for sure, when I’m active a few times a week, it helps my mood, I sleep better and eat well.

A close friend of mine and her friend were excited about trying out studios in the city with Fitset, after I had dinner at her place one night and told them about it as well as my ambassador role. They both hadn’t ever taken classes from fitness studios before so they were intrigued by it and motivated to explore along with me.

Meet the B.O.B. I can't wait to beat you up. :)

Dear B.O.B. I wish I could beat you up daily. 🙂

The first studio we tried out was Big Hit Studios. They offer cardio boxing and kick boxing classes. I got there about 10 minutes before the 11am class started and was greeted by Adam. He helped me register for the class and gave me a tour of the space. When I walked in, I was surprised to see all the B.O.B’s in the classroom about ten it looked like. I had a very full week and I was soo excited to be able to kick and punch something without worrying about hurting anyone (myself included).

After I got changed, I noticed four to five more people had made it into the classroom and then my two friends joined. It was a good sized class. The room was quiet. The other students sat on the ground quietly with gloves and water next to them. Perhaps, they were getting themselves mentally ready for the cardio boxing that was about to ensue.

The Sunday morning 11am class was called the “Beating The Weekend Cleanse” and is described as an “All round kick ass boxing with the majority of moves based on intensely beating the B.O.B. Body weight exercises, waking up all the muscles, incorporated throughout.” It sounded perfect to me. Class description says it all. I wanted to wake up everything in my body and being able to beat up B.O.B. appealed to me.

After a few minutes, Adam turned on music, which wasn’t too loud so we could still hear him without him having to shout and we started our warm up and all the pre-workout nerves I was having slipped to the background.

Within five minutes into this workout I felt my heart racing and I had to keep reminding myself to breathe. I could feel my breakfast jumping around inside of me and regretted the decision to eat 10 wonton’s for breakfast. They were delicious in the moment but will not make this mistake again.

photo 2

Workout essentials: water bottle and sweat towel.

Adam was a great instructor. He was consistent about doing a quick demonstration (repeating it at least twice) and then very quickly moving around the room to observe us, give us pointers on technique and reminding us to breathe. I liked that his moves were not complicated and were one to three steps at a time. For example: Lift your right leg up knee bent 90 degrees and kick out while jumping on your left leg. Do not put your right leg down.

He made sure to walk around the room for every move and side we were working on. This made me feel I was in good hands. He saw that I was drinking water often and reminded me the filtered water was behind me if I needed more.

He never raised his voice (he told me later it’s just not his style), instead he would ask us questions: “Are you getting tired yet?” throughout. I wanted to say yes every time, and I remember wondering if the words made it out of my mouth or whether they were stuck in my throat which felt like it was dry even though I was drinking constantly.

"It's You VS You" - YESSS!  Adam, my friends and I.

“It’s You VS You” – YESSS! Soo true. 🙂
Adam, my friends and I.

We all had plenty of room to drop and do many rounds of squats, pushups, burpees, mountain climbers which was mixed in after rounds of beating up BOB. This is why I love group classes, I always end up doing wayy more in a group setting then I would on my own. Feeling the energy of everyone else in the room working hard motivates you to keep going as well.

I thoroughly enjoyed punching BOB in the chest and abs, pounding my fists into his shoulders and kneeing him in the stomach. My favourite punch was probably the uppercut. I felt the hardest kick for me is the side kick. When I first did it, I was hitting BOB with my ankle, Adam was very quick to catch that, he corrected me after my first kick and reminded me to use my shin. This became my favourite kick after that because I felt stable and firm in my standing leg.

If you’re looking for a way to get the stresses of your week out or maybe you just want to get your heart rate up.  This would be my kind heart racing cardio and maybe it could work for you too. Give it a try!

What kind of cardio activities do you enjoy? Have you tried cardio boxing or kick boxing? Let’s get the conversation going. 

Check the Fitset site regularly as they are constantly adding new studios and workouts. 

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Lagree Fitness at Studio Lagree

Journey to Lagree

I am a big fan of the TV show Suits. So much so, my daily ritual included listening to music playlists on YouTube from the first two seasons. Yep, that kind of dedicated fan. This past summer, I watched a Shape Magazine interview with Meghan Markle, who plays Rachel, the paralegal on Suits. If you’ve seen the show, you can’t help but adore Rachel. I’m envious of her stylish wardrobe and all those pencil skirts she looks absolutely stunning in. Naturally, I was wondering what she did to stay fit. She runs, does Tracy Anderson workouts and yoga but when she’s in LA, she goes to Pilates Platinum. When I searched for Pilates Platinum online, I learned that it utilizes the Megaformer, a machine designed by Sebastien Lagree.

When Lagree designed the megaformer he took the reformer from pilates and changed it up so 1000’s of exercises can be performed on it. He wanted to help people make the most out of their time so they could achieve more in 40-50 minutes without having to do separate workouts for cardio, strength training, and body conditioning. There is no need to have any pilates experience and is accommodating for different levels of fitness. It is very low impact so it’s good if you have any joint pains. It sounded good to me!

After reading about the Megaformer and testimonials, I searched for Megaformer classes in Toronto and found Studio LagreeWoohoo!!  I read reviews of the Lagree workout and decided to take the summer to revisit Mat Pilates before I tried out the Megaformer, even though it wasn’t a pre-requisite, I wasn’t ready yet to take the plunge. Prior to this, I had taken Pilates on a drop-in basis for 2 years in my early 20’s. Yep, I’m at the age where I can say that now.

I spent most of the summer doing independent workouts at the gym using free weights and body weight exercises and mixing it up yoga and mat pilates classes. I enjoyed the variety at first but knew I wanted something more challenging and structured.

My First Class at Studio Lagree

In the last week of August, after a Saturday where I did 2 pilates classes back to back (2 hours), I wasn’t feeling satisfied with how I spent that time and I decided I needed to just try Lagree.  So, I signed up for a first timer’s special – a one week unlimited class pass and went to four classes that week.

I took this picture before my first class at Lagree. Those machines were definitely intimidating to me from afar.

I took this picture before my first class at Lagree. Those machines were definitely intimidating to me from afar.

I was nervous about being on a machine. When I’m at the gym, I don’t gravitate towards machines at all (cardio included). I prefer body weight exercises and props AND if possible an instructor. I’m also afraid of heights and one of my fears, was of losing my balance and falling off the machine, or feeling like the machine is really far away from the ground. Luckily, when I got on the machine and got to stand next to one, this fear quickly went away. I’m not THAT high off the ground. *phew* So, if I do fall, it won’t be that far. HA!

I went to my first class on my own. I got to the studio early, purchased some toe socks, which felt weird (it’s the fabric BETWEEN my toes thing) but so did my Five Fingers toe shoes when I first put them on. Once you start exercising though, you don’t notice them at all.

My first pair of Half Toe Bella Toe Tox.

My first pair of Half Toe Bella Toe Tox.

I got to chatting with the gentlemen at the front desk when I was signing into class. He told me about how he use to be a former football player and has lost 65lbs since February. His face lit up as he was talking about the workout and how it achieves long lean muscles. He reminded me that everyone was really friendly there so to not hesitate at all about asking questions. I couldn’t help but smile and nod. I later learned the gentlemen I spoke with, Carm, was also one of the owners of the club.

My first class started off with plank to pike which totally set the stage for the intense workout ahead.  The instructor reminded us to go slowly with each move taking four seconds to go out and four seconds to go in and reminding us when to breathe in and out. This was very helpful & important because I often get that mixed up.

I liked that the class had a variety of moves that we would only do for about 30 secs or so. It sounds like a very short amount of time but it feels painfully longer when you are moving slowly.  I was very focused throughout and didn’t take many breaks because I didn’t want to miss out on anything.

When we were working on our inner thigh muscles, my glutes started to shake uncontrollably. I don’t believe this has ever happened to me in any other class, where I can’t actually control the shaking. This was hilarious, I couldn’t help but look at my reflection. In my sister’s first class with me, she noticed my shaking and said “you had stripper butt”. Bahaha!

I was completely drenched after my first class. It felt sort of neat to be as sweaty as in a hot yoga class but without a heated room. I felt sore after my first class and every day that first week but really happy. I could feel muscles in my glutes I hadn’t ever felt before. The class lived up to my expectations and I thought “YESSS, this is it! This was what I was looking for.”

Post First Class at Lagree. Notice how drenched my shirt is.

After my first Class at Lagree. Sweaty Mess. Happy.

Lagree is my Zen Space

I’ve been going to Studio Lagree about 2-3 times a week (other than a few weeks due to set backs – colds/schedule conflicts/injuries) since that very first class. When I rave to my friends about it, I usually say “It feels like I’m slowly tearing myself a new body from the inside out.. and that’s a good thing”. Basically, I might not see the physical changes on the outside right away but the inside, I can feel that there’s changes happening. 🙂

After my intial weeks at Studio Lagree I found my sleep to be more restful, I’d wake up with more energy and my abdominal muscles, obliques, inner thigh and glute muscles were sore unlike any other exercise I’ve ever done.  I’ve lost some pounds, gotten some compliments from others about me leaning out. But like most things, I know I would see more physical changes if I was more consistent about my diet + my fitness regimen. Since starting Lagree, I haven’t been to any mat pilates classes or to the gym to do independent workouts, my schedule’s been more hectic than ever. So, it’s saved me time! I enjoy the variety in classes, that regardless of how often I go during the week, no two classes are the same and I feel challenged throughout class.

Every class is different and the weights can be adjusted based on your preference (more or less resistance) depending on if you are facing the front or the back of the machine (moving with the weight vs pulling the weight). The instructors I’ve had have all been great. They’ve been consistent about reminding us about correct form, keeping us focused and letting us know how to modify an exercise. Most of my classes have been with Leila, who’s encouraging, funny, friendly and always finding ways to keep us feeling challenged.

I’ve been going to Lagree a bit over 6 months now. I get pretty bummed when I can’t make it to class. Lagree is my zen space. When I go there, I feel like I leave everything behind and when I come out, I have more clarity. My mind rarely wanders in class. When you’re executing plank, spider, teasers, bear, newspaper, catfish, mermaid and the like, all you can do is focus on stabilizing your core and trying to maintain good form as you move slowly. I usually leave feeling refreshed and calm, ready to tackle my day. 🙂

Are you interested in trying Lagree? If you haven’t yet, what are you waiting for? What’s your current favourite way to exercise? What do you look for in a exercise class? Let’s chat it up.

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My Paleo Diet Experience

I started Paleo on Monday July 30, 2012. Yes, I remember the date. You probably noticed I did a post on Elana’s Paleo Breakfast Bread. I was experimenting with Paleo recipes before I started Paleo. My boyfriend has been Paleo since March and I enjoy trying out new recipes that we can both have. My main motivation for trying out Paleo was because I wanted to see if I would feel less tired, have less pimples and become extremely disciplined with preparing meals. I also wanted to try a diet that would have me cut out soy, dairy and wheat again as my elimination diet had mixed results with these three categories.

The BF does crossfit and has been doing it for well over a year now.  It’s very common for people who do crossfit to eat Paleo. I haven’t tried crossfit yet, but I did go to one of his classes and observed. Brutal. I was pretty intimidated by crossfit and blown away by everyone.  One day, I’ll get my butt in there to try it out.

Anyways, I have been lucky to hear and see firsthand how great he feels when he sticks to eating Paleo and how bad he feels when he goes off it. Compared to my hypoallergenic diet in 2010, it was a lot less restrictive in terms of the veggies/fruits I have to give up . However, it requires giving up all grains and legumes. *gulp* ALL GRAINS. I don’t have legumes that much (except for SOY – Soy Sauce) so I wasn’t SO bummed about it. All grains…yes, even rice. Hmm.. I had significantly reduced my grains since the beginning of the year so it shouldn’t feel too challenging. I did that because I wanted to make more room on my plate for leafy greens and veggies, something I knew I needed to eat more of and so I wouldn’t feel so tired after eating it. Don’t we all need more greens and veggies? But eliminating all grains makes it tough to have baked goods and pizza/pasta/rice/noodles – My favourite foods when eating out. Heck, it’s what weekends are about! lol!

Initially, my intention was to start Paleo when my birthday celebrations were over, then it became after I get back from New York. The week I got back, I couldn’t bring myself to start anything new although I did miss home cooked food. I decided to stop making excuses, life was only going to get more hectic. The weekend after we got back, I grocery shopped and meal planned for my first week of Paleo.

I also decided that I wanted the first 3 weeks to be completely strict Paleo so that I could detox my system from what I was cutting out of my diet (all grains, all dairy, all legumes, processed foods, fried foods, potatoes or other starches except sweet potatoes,). That leaves meat, seafood, fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds. I’ll be fine.

It was a great test of discipline, time management and organization. I didn’t eat out with anyone for the first two weeks. Every meal was home made. I always had leftovers for lunch and dinner the next day and I didn’t get sick of anything. The more I cooked, the more excited I got about my next meal. Eating paleo encouraged me to rotate my sources of protein, increase my vegetable intake and become extremely diligent about meal planning and execution. Something I struggle with. I’m good at making meal plans, sticking with them is a different story.

I learned that I can cook 4 days a week and have leftovers for the next day. There were times when I would cook vegetables one day to eat with protein the day before but that was fine. I also found myself excited to plan out the week’s meals. I would sort of wing it on the weekend but always made sure that I had enough veggies and protein on hand to whip something up.

I also became better at packing snacks. I started eating an early dinner on days I work out… On Tuesdays that would mean eating dinner (or just sweet potatoes) around 4:00pm, running at 6pm, then eating a snack around 7pm (between my run and exercise class) then eating protein and veggies after my workout around 10pm. Of course this isn’t ideal, but we do what we gotta do and we make it work. it works for me!

In my first week, I didn’t use any sweet potatoes and found myself feeling tired/hungry before a workout. My boyfriend recommended I eat sweet potatoes before I exercise and it was a great tip. It made me feel more full and energetic and not heavy when I worked out. I was previously exercising on an empty stomach because I would find if I ate after 5:30pm for a 8pm class I would get a stomach ache or really feel my food jumping around while exercising. That’s very distracting and annoying and I imagine bad for digestion.

Everyone has different stories on how their transition from non-paleo to paleo was. Some people have had diarrhea, stomach aches, headaches, dizziness, etc. I didn’t experience any of that. I only felt hungrier during the first week. In the second week, I noticed I was eating more often 2-4 snacks a day along with 3 meals and felt more satiated and energetic.

To summarize, there were many benefits I got out of the Paleo Diet

  • experimenting with quick simple recipes and making up my own (SO MUCH fun!)
  • rotating my protein (eating more red meat – something I previously didn’t have much of a taste for except for ground flavoured meat – like hamburgers or dumplings). I use to just stick mostly with fish, chicken and pork.
  • eating more veggies and fruits (when you take grains off your plate, you make more room for greens)
  • a leaner, lighter body. I saw a noticeable physical difference and people have told me as well. I lost about 9-10 lbs.
  • My skin has been very clear – in 2 months, I’ve noticed I didn’t get any pimples
  • I wake up before my alarm
  • less cravings and less headaches


I broke my 3 week strict Paleo diet when I went to the wedding I mentioned in the How to Bake Tender Salmon post. I felt like I could keep eating everything on my plate. That was the first time I had dairy, wheat and sugar in 3 weeks and my senses were getting overwhelmed. The week after, we celebrated a birthday and I had 2 slices of banana chocolate cake (I love banana chocolate!!). I got a very bad headache and was dizzy the rest of the day. Man!! Cheating sucks. Was it the sugar? the wheat? the dairy? hmm..Back to Paleo.

I’m not an expert on Paleo, heck I’m still reading The Paleo Diet by Dr. Loren Cordain. I tried Paleo because I wanted to see how my gut would feel when I eliminated soy, wheat and dairy again. I will admit I missed wheat and rice, the two grains I have when I eat out most of the time, but when my 3 weeks were up and I ate these things, I found that my body felt heavier after bread but rice was fine. I didn’t miss the heavy feeling.

For now, I limit my paleo cheats to a few times a week and in the big scheme of things, it’s no biggie. I’ve started experimenting with baked goods, so I will have something sweet to incorporate in my meal rotation.

The most challenging part of being on this diet might just be when I find myself explaining to others why I’m on it. As with any other diet, I didn’t want to come off like I’m lecturing or sounding like I’m an expert, because I’m not, I’m just speaking from my experience and what I’ve read. The kindest thing that someone can say to me would be “That’s great that you found a diet that you enjoy”, but it’s rare that it’s as simple as that. Usually people will say “It sounds hard”. As with most things, it’s not as hard as you think, it just depends on how much you want it and how committed you are.

Note: When I initially wrote this post, it was 09/26/2012, I was eating mostly paleo. However, a couple weeks ago, I went off the diet and stopped tracking my meals because I was dining out and catching up with friends and wanted to take a break from it all. I’ve decided to publish this post anyways, so someone might find it interesting if they are contemplating going Paleo. I find that when I was eating strict Paleo, I was eating more veggies and meat than I had before and although I didn’t initially think I could feel satiated the way I do when I eat grains, I found that I very quickly did. And so, when I would eat out and have grains (i.e. Thai food, Chinese food, Indian food), I found I could eat lots of rice or noodles and still not be as full because the meal would contain far less vegetables and meat than I had grown accustomed to eating with Paleo. I definitely feel much better when I was on Paleo.

I had pizza this past week as part of a Thanksgiving Potluck at work. The last time I had it was in New York in July. Crazy. I don’t remember going this long without for a while. That’s how much I love me some bread, cheese and tomato sauce. 🙂

Have you gone Paleo? What was your experience like?

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How To Make Your Own Yoga Mat Spray

DIY Yoga Spray

Several years ago, I bought my yoga mat when I enrolled in Pilates classes.  I ended up doing it on and off for two years. Since then, I’ve used it for my body conditioning class and yoga classes. In most instances, I would just use the spray at the studio to wipe down my mat after use. For heavy duty washing, I would wash it in the tub with vinegar and a bit of dish detergent.

Our mats get a lot of use but we don’t always have time for a heavy duty wash in the tub. I wanted to try my hand at making my own spray though so I could wipe it down between uses and heavy duty washes. I knew it must be easy to do and would probably be better value then buying those bottled yoga mat sprays. And it’s just cool to know I made it myself. I didn’t actually take any action to find out how people make these sprays until last year. I have a tendency to get really excited about something – buy all the ingredients or tools, then put it on the backburner b/c life gets busy and I get distracted by new ideas. 😦  Anyone else guilty of this? 🙂

Last year, I searched online for a recipe and came across this Apartment Therapy post (love this site!!). This past winter, I bought a dollar store plastic spray bottle and filled it with water and a few drops of tea tree oil. I also purchased lavender oil and peppermint oil with intentions of making this spray but I decided I’d hold off until I tried the plain tea tree first.

This past weekend, I decided to finally make the first recipe (peppermint, lavender, tea tree and water) on Apartment Therapy.  I just filled the spray bottle with the oils, filled it with water and gave it a shake. It only took about a minute and smells pretty amazing too.

If you’re interested in the recipe, hop over to this Apartment Therapy post, there are two recipes but I made Recipe #1.

Do you make your own yoga mat spray? How do you make yours?


Thoughts About The BCBD Transformation Retreat

My last post talked about The BCBD Transformation Retreat. After coming back and reflecting on my experience, I had more to share that didn’t quite fit into the last post.

Beach: where some of our runs too place.

While away on the retreat, I remember I was surprised at how well we all got along and how friendly people were. I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to just find any reason to stay there forever. I daydreamed about how all we needed to do was pool our resources, find investors, and perhaps, create THE ULTIMATE LIFE TRANSFORMATION RETREAT. And somehow, we’d be able to just continue living as we were and make a living out of it… It sounds amazing in theory right? Yeah… Can you blame me though? Check out my snapshots.

Counter-clockwise from top left: My Pinada (non-alcoholic Pina Colada). A coconut cracked open. Next, these lovely palms lined the pathway from Tulum Resort to the Hacienda (The Market). Final shot is of my vision board/coaching binder.

Counter clockwise from top left: Tulum Resort where our workouts took place. Writing our intentions on the first night. Beautiful flower display in the lobby of Tulum. The swimming pool by our villas where yoga/meditation and lounging took place.

Counter-clockwise from top left: I loved these amazing big leafy green plants b/c they remind me of Swiss Chard (yes, I’m a dork). This lizard was so cute, I tried to snap a shot of it from the side, and when I did, it quickly turned it’s head. This picture of me by the pool in Tulum Resort. It was a lovely warm sunny day and one of my favourite photos. This Hibiscus flower was right outside of our boot camp room. Lovely!

Souvenirs Galore!

The end of the trip really sunk in when we parted ways at the airport and I got into a cab. That’s when I felt really sad. I felt like I had just broken up with 15 girls. We weren’t going to sit down to dinner tonight or get up early for yoga and meditation. I wasn’t going to see them as much anymore and without as much ease. It was going to take more effort and planning. This was a very unsettling feeling. I wasn’t use to missing people and feeling lonely as I’m usually quite content with being on my own.

Ladies on the move

Waiting for Coconut Water

The day after coming back to work, I was still in happy spirits but sad to be back. I was surprised when I walked into work and my co-workers said “I glowed and looked slim”. I thought to myself “really??”, remembering the visualization I had of myself glowing. A co-worker who didn’t know I had gone away walked by me and said “You look really happy, did something happen?” When another co-worker filled her in she said “Oh, vacation? yeah, that explains it!”

When a co-worker looked at the below photo. She asked “So did you have fun with your fitness team in Mexico?” I laughed because I wasn’t use to being associated with any kind of team because I don’t play sports. So I said, “No, we’re not a team, but I guess it feels like it”. It felt like we started off as individuals and came back as a team.

The Official BCBD Transformation Retreat Mantra: Sweat it out

We might’ve started our trip as classmates that regularly exercised together (some of us for a few years now) but when we went on this trip, it really gave us an opportunity to get to know one another. When you spend this much time together, you can’t help but get closer. It also made me realize how special this is.

Beyond building friendships, this trip was exactly what I needed.  I wanted a break from my routine, to slow down and enjoy my meals (I think I should get the slowest eater award… LOL!!), to narrow down a few key things I need to work on and to have fun exercising. Yes, all that in 7 days. 🙂

A friend was talking to me last week about what she thinks of me and my BCBD habit. She said something along the lines of ”Julie, some people go to the gym only to exercise and that’s it. You have a positive attitude about it and it sounds like what you have here is more than just exercise and it’s very special”. I agree. 🙂

Hydrating With Coconut Water

Eva has said in class many times that she hopes to empower us so that what we learn in class we can take with us outside of the classroom. And when I was on the trip, I saw in a different light (literally outside the confines of our class, and our regular routines) just how powerful a group is. We push ourselves harder. We encourage one another. We support one another. We share ourselves with one another. Sounds a lot like a family right? 🙂

My two favourite quotes from our BCBD Transformation Retreat. Eva always makes a point of reminding us of these in moments when we need to hear it the most – when the burn of holding a position, or repetition is driving us crazy.

BCBD Quote

One of my intentions for one of the days on the trip was “Feel the pain and let it pass”. Pain is inevitable. When you accept that it is temporary, it might make it easier for you to hold on when things get tough, knowing that things do get better. When it comes, acknowledge it and then let it go.  :)

BCBD Quote

When you want to give up, remember that you are often the only one that is stopping you from achieving your goal. The boundaries you are putting up aren’t real. Often, we give up right when things are starting to feel challenging. We don’t hold on long enough to reap the rewards that are around the corner.

I am working on keeping both of these in mind during challenging moments especially in BCBD class. As with most wisdom shared by Eva, these can be applied to other areas in your life too.

Have I completely won you over by my BCBD Transformation Retreat experience? 🙂  I am so excited for the next one!

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.


The BCBD Transformation Retreat

On March 1 – March 8, 2012, I went to the Mayan Riviera on the first BCBD Transformation Retreat. This marked the 5th anniversary of BCBD. The months and days leading up to this were pretty intense. There was my lower back sprain about six weeks before the trip which I iced and stretched as often as I could. Then three weeks before the trip, my ankle sprain. I was so scared I wouldn’t be able to go. Luckily, it was no biggie compared to the back.  Same drill as the back, just ice and stretch. During this whole time, I was also studying for an exam. It was one week before the trip and once it was done, my free time was dedicated to getting last minute things for the trip.

As you can see, the trip was my prize at the end of it all. I slept about 1.5 hours before leaving for the airport. That’s insane! I am cranky with less than 6, so I was pushing it. I was super pumped and nervous that this was it. The trip I was waiting for was finally here.  I wasn’t even cranky.


Some of my thoughts included: Would we all get along? Would there be conflicts? how will my bowels react to the change in atmosphere and food? Will I get diarrhea? Will I get a sun burn? I’m all about preparation. Hope for the best, anticipate the worst and prepare!

It was WAYYY better than I imagined. We MORE than got along. We spent every waking moment together. And not because we had to, but because we WANTED to. Even with the free time we had everyday, we usually spent it in a few small groups or all together.

Strolling on the beach with our sexy & practical RUME bags, sporting our Official BCBD Sweat it Out T-Shirts.

Our meals were for the most part fabulous. I loved having guacamole and grilled fish (mostly grouper) every chance I got. The egg station was awesome and I had omellette’s quite often. Here are some of the meals and tropical juices I had. Boy, do I miss these meals.

Retreat meals

Drinks and Meals

We did yoga and meditation upon rising, beach boot camps, self development sessions and running in the late afternoon. My initial intentions when I signed up for this was mainly to exercise while away on vacation. Who says we have to choose between vacationing and exercising right? And as always, Eva did not disappoint.

Our morning meditations were a welcome change. I had good days where visualizations were very clear and vivid. My favourite one was when I saw myself and noticed “My hair was wavy, my skin glowed and I looked very healthy”. It made me feel pretty good knowing that I am pretty close to the ideal version of myself that I was seeing. I was surprised because normally I struggle with being able to see myself and focus in meditations. It was really lovely to do this outside feeling the morning breeze on our faces and bodies while hearing the birds singing.

Morning Yoga

Our morning yoga sessions were such a wonderful and gentle way to start our exercise for the day.  Erin and Lisa helped wake up my body and stretch out all those sore and tight muscles. It was my first time being taught yoga by both of these talented ladies and they had their own unique style. It was exciting to see them in a different light as yoga instructors instead of my classmates and they were fabulous. It felt like they had been doing it for years.

Our boot camps were out of this world. I wanted a good butt kicking and Eva delivered. Naturally, I was nervous. Everyday was a new kind of challenge. I LOVED the surprise element and never knowing what the next exercise was. The day of the 100’s will be burned into my mind forever.  I remember when she first said 100 reps, I thought she was kidding so I chuckled. Then when I realized she wasn’t kidding, I was scared but gave it my all. My favourite 100 reps was for the abs. The most challenging was the pushups.

Beach Boot Camp

Our coaching sessions was where we got to know more about each other by digging deep below the surface and answering questions about ourselves that maybe we’d rather choose to avoid or didn’t realize we were avoiding. The most memorable was our first session.  It was a very eye opening experience. What people were sharing made me realize, just how much we have in common, how human we all are, and how isolated we can feel in our own thoughts. Everyday, I was very moved by the honesty and the support that we gave one another.  It was truly a life changing (transformation) kind of an experience.

Our afternoon runs were a great way to finish the physical activities for the day. I got a chance to chat and run/walk with people. It was a fun way to socialize and exercise.  It was also really exciting to see non-runners finish a run with their faces beaming. They went from thinking they probably weren’t going to run to running the entire time and having a blast. Amazing!

Our evenings were a nice way to unwind. It was really fun to get dolled up and connect over meals together. Look how happy we all were!

BCBD Second Dinner

BCBD Final Dinner

I can’t wait for the next BCBD Transformation Retreat. In the mean time, I am still LOVING my bi-weekly doses of BCBD classes. Have you ever been on a fitness retreat?  What was your experience like?