Edmonton's food scene has exploded in the past few years with so many new restaurants it's hard to count! One of the best ways of experiencing all of these places are food tours: you get a bit (in some cases a lot) of activity in while being able to sample the best of the best offerings from a multitude of restaurants. The principle of these food tours isn't to burn off all of the calories you consume, it's to realize that this city has so much to offer that is just a short bike ride or walk away. There are a multitude of tours in Edmonton ranging from sit down experiences, where you don't move and the variety of businesses bring the food to you, and biking tours that can take you about 20 km around the ctiy touring each business. I have chosen a few of the tours that either include a walk, be prepared to walk a out 1 kilometer over the tour, to a bike ride that can lat about 6 hours, here they are:
1) Epicurean Adventure Tours: (http://www.eatyeg.com/)
This group holds food tours on multiple days - from evening dashes in Beverley touring those favourite little restaurants and bars in the Beverly neighbourhood to the "Beacon and Brews Tour" that takes you to a variety of South Edmonton's breweries and restaurants that serve pork. Be prepared to walk about 1 km in between the variety of locations! Cost is between $60 for an evening to $110 for a half a day. You'll get a nice sample of different communities that aren't just in the downtown area.
2) Big Food Tours: (https://www.bigfoodtours.ca/)
They hold tours in three regions in Edmonton: Ice District, Stratchona, and the Brewery District all costing $105.75. At each of these locations you'll get to meet the chefs, learn about the food, and visit 5 restaurants with 5 cocktails and 25 food samples over 4 hours. The distance varies depending on which restaurants are involved but this is a walking tour so expect about a 1 km distance total.
3) Food Bike Tour: (https://www.foodbiketour.com/)
Covered 6 restaurants from Argentinian restaurants to Vietnamese ones. Be prepared to eat a lot and enjoy a few beverages along the way. You will hit some pretty big distances on the bike over 6 hours, I think we went about 20 km! This is definitely a trip for passionate bikers. The cost for this trip is around $100.
4) Urban Pedal Tours: (https://www.urbanpedaltours.com/)
Ok hold on to your hats... or bar stools for this one. You're literally riding a U shaped bike with bar stools as seats and wooden bar tops as handles. No booze is consumed on the vehicle itself but you will travel to 3 different bars on either Whyte Avenue and Jasper Ave. I had a lot of fun on this tour and if you weren't friends with everyone on the tour... you will be by the second stop! The cost is $38 per person but you do need to pay for the drinks or any food at each of the locations. Expect this to be about a 2 hour tour.
Camping is a past-time that has quickly come back to popularity here in Edmonton. Easily accessible weekend trips to the mountains or lakes in Alberta and it's low cost makes weekend getaways far more enticing. But how do you get started without breaking the bank on equipment like high quality tents, sleeping bags, and stoves? Here are some tips that I talked about on Edmonton AM CBC:
1) Ask a friend who has camping experience:
Asking friends who have camping experience is one of the easiest ways of starting up. They can provide tips and tricks that work well. They can advise you on gear that you NEED and equipment that is more for comfort. There is only so much you can learn from websites and manuals before having to go out and experience something first hand so having someone that can help smooth the first experience is great.
If you need a bit more guidance: The University of Alberta Campus and Recreation has an overnight camping trip on July 28 that still has spots. The group will be going to Elk Island for a day hike and then in the evening you can learn more since they have a course about Camping and Outdoor survival. Register here: https://www.activityreg.ualberta.ca/UOFA/public/booking/CourseDetails/5433
2) Rent or Borrow first:
One of the worst things that can happen is spending far too much money on equipment that you may not need. Camping is not for everyone so test it out before committing your hard earned money. If you can ask a friend to borrow equipment like tents, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, and stoves for the first few trips that give you the opportunity to try it before you buy it. If you are looking to rent equipment these companies rent equipment in Edmonton:
Rent eh Tent: http://www.rentehtent.com/camping-equipment.php
Travel Alberta has a great list of motor home and camper van rentals here: https://www.travelalberta.com/ca/things-to-do/summer-outdoor-activities/camping/rentals/
3) Start small and pick a single over-night trip for your first time:
The tendency is to over-reach during the first trip so pick one or two nights stay at a camp site. Pick camp sites that you can bring your vehicle with you or camp coser to towns so that you can grab something if you need it. We have a lot of great camping sites that are 1-2 hours away from Edmonton so check them out before going too far.
4) Pick easier day-hikes and activities for your first few trips:
Sleeping over-night in tents has it's challenges including potentially rough nights sleeps. Asking your body to perform more intense hikes and activities while low energy can be a bit much so plan for short trips and fun excursions for the first few trips.
The North Saskatchewan River is an iconic piece of Edmonton and is fast becoming a community hub. The river is safe to play in with many docks allowing you to put in a motorized watercraft, a paddle boat, stand up paddle boards, and just about anything that floats. You can find a list of all of the docks here: https://www.edmonton.ca/projects_plans/parks_recreation/about-boat-launches-and-docks.aspx
This week on CBC Edmonton AM I talked about various ways you can get onto the river both by rental and touring. Here's the list of all of the businesses I recommend for a fun float down the Sask:
Canoe and Kayak Rentals:
You can rent from these companies for a day or even multi-day excursions and the prices are fairly similar. Just be aware that most rentals do not include vehicle mounts or trailers so you will have to have those ready.
Edmonton Canoe: https://www.edmontoncanoe.com/en
Haskin Canoe: https://www.haskincanoe.ca/
Totem Outfitters: http://www.totemoutfitters.ca/repairs-and-rentals/
You can also rent peddle boats at Rundle and Hawrelak Park from city facilities for about $10 for 40 minutes if you just want to hang out on a pond, you can find out more information here: https://www.edmontonparks.com/
Guided River Experience:
You can do a guided multi-day camping trip, a day long float, or an evening trip to watch the sun set with these following companies:
Edmonton Canoe: https://www.edmontoncanoe.com/en
Haskin Canoe: https://www.haskincanoe.ca/
If you want an even cooler evening experience try out Haskin Canoe's Voyageur canoe trip one evening. It's a giant canoe that fits 20 people and takes you from Laurier Park to Capilano Park in about 2 hours. Check it out here:
Standup Paddle Boards:
Yes you can do this on the river too! You can rent inflatable or hard boards from the following companies:
River Valley Adventure Co: https://www.rivervalleyadventure.com/standup-paddleboard-rentals/
Haskin Canoe: https://www.haskincanoe.ca/rentals/
City of Edmonton at Rundle Park - only for use on the pond: https://www.edmonton.ca/activities_parks_recreation/stand-up-paddle-board.aspx
Dragon Boating is one of the coolest ways to experience the river with friends. These pencil-thin boats with 20 paddlers are led by a coach who is pounding a drum to keep everyone in sync. You can hear chants and drumming echo all the way down the river on a perfect night. Check out the Edmonton Dragon Boat Racing Club here:
The dog days of summer have arrived in Edmonton! I love this time of the year as there are endless opportunities to enjoy our natural surroundings. Today on CBC Radio Edmonton I discussed a variety of free fitness activities that you can do with your kids.
Here is a list of them:
1) Hike, Bike, Scamper the River Valley Trails:
Edmonton has over 160 km of paved trails and 20 major parks! One of the most incredible things are that many of these parks are connected via maintained trail systems or little off shoots of mountain bike or hiking trails. Explore these trails with your kids for hours of fun in the sun and find some hidden trail gems in Edmonton. You can find many of the trails on this website:
2) Free outdoor swimming pools all season long:
It all started with Canada 150 but we have carried on free access to outdoor swimming pools here in Edmonton. One of my favourite spots to hang out is at Mill Creek Pool since it's plopped right inside of the ravine and it feels like a throwback to my childhood years. You can splash around with your kids or get them to play with the water toys too. You can find all of the pools on this site here:
3) Green Shack Program at Playgrounds:
This is one of Edmonton's most innovative things to get kids out there and active around their neighbourhoods. Many playgrounds now have a green shack that is staffed by a City employee wearing a blue shirt. The activity guides set up games like tag, a variety of sports, and obstacle courses for your kids to play. This is a great way of getting to know neighbourhood friends! You can find locations and times of operation for all of the green shacks here:
4) Frisbee Golf at Hawrelak and Rundle Park:
Rather than just having a picnic at a park, have some fun at these disc golf parks too. Everyone can participate and take their time through these courses as it's all free and there's no need to sign up. You can make it competitive or just try and get the discs in the baskets! There's actually a disc golf website that shows all of the courses in Alberta, check it out here:
Before Pokemon Go was a hit, there was geocaching. This is a worldwide treasure hunt for little boxes that may contain toys, letters, and so many more fun items. You'll be climbing over hills, looking up trees, and even scampering through dense brush to find the geocache. Just remember to bring a treasure or a fun object so you can contribute. You can download a geocache app here:
Head out there and have fun!
In ny column on CBC Radio's Edmonton AM (found here: http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1263392323623) I talked about cost effective gyms in Edmonton that can cost you as low as $9.99 per month. If you want a no frills place to workout that is close to your neighbourhood and won't break the bank then check these places out!
How can the cost be so low?
Costs for these gyms can be between $10 and $40 for a few reasons:
A) Location and size: many of these gyms aren't located in major traffic areas - they aren't downtown, they aren't on St. Albert Trail or Calgary Trail. They're also a lot smaller than the average big box gym - Basically no bigger than a corner store. So all in, they're way more cost effective to run. The franchisees also strategized to place many of these gyms in neighbourhoods - this is wonderful for people who really don't want or need to commute to downtown or whyte avenue just to get their sweat on.
B) Equipment: I'll say this but also put a little asterisk beside it that not all gyms are the same and the quality varies. Places like Snap Fitness, Anytime, and Crunch have more of paired own offering for gym equipment maybe a few treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, a smaller avaiability of weights - maybe one set per weight and they only go up to 120 lbs - a limited number of squat racks, and a few machines. Some of the equipment is lower in quality - maybe the machines don't have as many adjustment points etc... In a gym like this you could probably fit 10 or so people comfortably instead of a mass of individuals.
C) Staffing: where most gyms have staff like fitness advisors, front desk, and other health related people, most of these gyms have a limited number of staff that work at the gym - maybe one person just at the front desk. They may process your monthly transaction once just ot get you started but after that it's all handled by headquarters so it's not as complicated for the owners. The staff also don't work 24 hours a day so there are times that you will be by yourself in the gym. I remember walking into a SNAP Fitness and the person who toured me around the facility pointed out every panic button around so that, in the event of an issue, I could hit the button and send police there right away. At these gyms, you can basically come and go as you please but also don't expect that you will be able to find qualified help like personal trainers unless they are just running their own business from that location.
D) Some of these gyms like Fit4Less are owned by bigger fitness companies, in this case, Goodlife. So much like Air Canada owns Rouge, they are creating a discount gym so that people who don't want to use all of the amenities at Goodlife, or more especially franchise owners that don't want to own big box gyms, can use these gyms that have a bit less to offer.
My biggest tips before chosing any gym are the following:
A) Look for Google and Facebook reviews: I would focus on comments about cleanliness and the number of people who use the gym at one time.
B) Take a tour and try it out for a week or a month: many places will allow you to try the gym out for a discounted price for a month or two weeks. Shop around and find the place that suits you the best.
C) Read the conteact carefully: look for things like the ability to put your membership on hold for vacations or costs associated wwith stopping a membership.
Here are a list of low cost gyms in Edmonton:
A) Crunch Fitness: https://www.crunch.com/
B) Fit4Less: https://fit4less.ca
C) Anytime Fitness: https://www.anytimefitness.com
D) Snap Fitness: https://www.snapfitness.com/
Head out there and enjoy the pump!
If you have any suggestions about discount gyms in Edmonton, send me a message and I can add it to the list!
We all want to know about fun or free events in Edmonton so here's a roundup of Fitness events in Edmonton during June 18 - 24, 2018:
1) November Project Canada:
These high five-ing, big hugs, and fit friends meet on Mondays (location TBA - check their Twitter Account for details) for a workout, Wednesdays at Commonwealth Stadium for stairs, and Fridays at Kinsmen Athletic Club for hills at 6:00 am.
If you want to know about all of the running groups we have in Edmonton, check out yegrun.com, they have the most extensive list of running groups that I know of and all of the days and times that the groups meet.
Cost: Usually free but check each of the running groups for more details.
3) Surnise Summer Solistice Yoga with Andrew Misle and Crew:
This is the 6th annual Summer Solstice Yoga event with Andre Misle and his gang, start the longest day of the year right with a practice at Hawrelark Park.
When: Thursday June 24 at 6:15 am - 7:15 am
Where: Hawrelark Park but register in Advance on their Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/404444976631535/
4) Summer Solstice Yoga at Lexus Southpointe ON THE ROOF!
Practice Yoga and meditate while watching the sun go down with Jennifer Neilsen on a beautiful rooftop patio.
When: Thursday, June 24 at 6:00 pm
Where: Lexus South Pointe
830 100 St SW, Edmonton, Alberta T6X 0S8
Cost: Pay as you would like.
This week on my column on CBC Edmonton I talked about my favourite fitness apps that I recommend to many friends and clients. If you search on iTunes or Google play you'll find an endless number of health and fitness apps that track your nutrition, prepare you for your first run, or track your sleep cycle. I think we're seeing two big trends in apps: they have become visually complex and entertaining- from turn by turn replays of your runs overlayed with fly by topographical maps. Secondly, we're seeing an increased trend in gamifying apps: the focus is on creating small social games - Fitbit for instance has the ability to set a weekly group competition amongst friends or a network where you set a goal for number of steps and activity. First person to get to the goal gets a badge. Many fitness tracking apps have this ability but also have the opportunity to change who can view your data and how much of it is released. For instance I generally tend to be a bit more private with my data so I don't share it with anyone, I'll just use the app to track something like distance ran.
Which one reigns supreme for your summer shred or just getting you out there and enjoying the trails? Here are my top 3 plus a bonus one!
1) Nike Training App:
As with most of anything that Nike does: this thing is slick. This app has workout programs that you can use at all fitness levels. Whether you just want a body weight program or you have dumbbells at a gym, Nike Training App has a program for you. I also really like the integrated timer so you can see the amount of time that you have left in the exercise and also the visuals: the app shows how the movement should look like with a smaller animation and if you need a more in depth explanation then you can just pause the workout and click on the video. If you have an Apple watch, this thing will also upload all of the workouts onto the watch so you don't even need your phone! I've used this app many times if I need a full body workout and I'm feeling like I don't want to design my own programs.
You can download it on iTunes here:
or on Google Play here:
Although I strongly recommend people talk to a dietician or nutritionist for balanced nutrition advice, MyFitnessPal has been around for ages and gives you the opportunity to track all of the calories found in most foods, portion control, and set caloric goals for the day and week. The app also tracks your energy expenditure either by you inputting the information manually or by integrating the infromation from your fitness watch like a fitbit or a garmin. What I really like about this app is the wealth of nutritional information that it has. You can literally walk into a restaurant and type in a meal and it will give you a fairly good guess about things like fat content, salt content, calories, so you can make a more conscientious decision. I've used this app a few times back in my bodybuilding days to monitor my calories if I was cutting but also to help clients stay on track with their goals.
You can find it on Itunes here:
or on Google Play here:
If you know a runner or a cyclist... they're probably on Strava. This app can record the distance that you have ran, time, elevation and all those fun things but what has brought this app to international fame is the users ability to race other people. If you have the app on while you are running or cycling, the app will notify you that you are approaching a place where other people have ran called a segment and if you can try and beat it. The social shareability of this app is absolutely top notch, I've heard so many people become friends... or bitter enemies because they meet other users while running and then they start running together. Think about this app like the Facebook of cycling and running. What I also like about this app is it's ability to integrate with any hardware: if you are using a watch like garmin, fitbit, polar, suunto and all of the other brands, you can upload your data to Strava without a hitch!
You can find it on iTunes here:
You can find it on Google Play here:
I have two very different personalities:
- Anal retentive bordering obsessive compulsive: my life is hectic. Running two businesses while trying to get workouts in and squeeze in social time means I try and control every aspect of my life. Thankfully most of this happens digitally with colour coded calendars and digital post it notes. Otherwise my offices would be covered in sticky tabs and scraps of paper.
- The wild and creative: I get lost in my own thoughts, staring off into the distance, or focusing on some technique to create a better photo. I've been known to leave for hours on running photo missions or pick up and head to the mountains for a day without warning just to get some space and creative influence. I need time in my own head space.
I have learned to just accept these two very oppositional personalities and communicate to people around me which phase that I'm in. If a career in science and running a business ever taught me anything is that these two are absolutely necessary and important in maintaining my productivity and ironically my sanity. This app that I'm about to introduce to you somehow manages to keep things in check for me.
Trello is a simple and visual projects management application with powerful capabilities. Projects exist as boards that allow for collaboration with multiple members unique to each board. You can create lists within the boards that contain project notes, task lists, links, files, documents, you name it. As the project processes you can also create multiple lists that can be assigned to people in specific or professions in the project. Think about this management system as a conveyor belt assembly line. Trello does lack some of the knickknacks that more complex projects management systems have (time spent on components, summaries, etc...) but I think that's part of the strength. I can create something unhindered and then design an organizational system around it. The consistent user interaction across desktop, tablet, and phone is very powerful too. Check it out here and tell me what you think: https://trello.com
Here's a tip to get your photos to stand out!
For some people this new business venture might be coming out of left field. You've known me as a co-owner of Blitz Conditioning, a personal trainer, and an athlete. Here's the truth: over the past six years, I have poured over how-to's, blogs, research papers, on online marketing and applied it to Blitz and consulting other companies without really taking it too seriously. I've been told time and time again that I should really start a social media consultation business but I just never took the leap. But here we go.
Social media is data combined with the creativity of story telling, the art of imagery, and a ton of communication and engagement. I never left research I just turned my skills of running experiments and analyzing data into building businesses. I'm excited to be working with other companies and pushing their brands to the next level. Together we'll connect to your audiences in a personal way, create amazing stories that align with your companies vision, and engage in genuine ways that will pull people to buy your services or products.