“Little Victories” and Where To Find Them

You’ll never guess what I got to do last weekend. I took a stunt fighting seminar! We have a Jiu Jitsu regional event every few months and last Saturday’s regional welcomed Lori O’Connell from British Columbia.

Lori O’Connell is a 5th degree black belt in Can Ryu Jiu Jitsu and a professional stuntwoman! Move over Ronda Rousey (former UFC champion), I’ve found a more suitable role model.

Source: lorioconnell.com

Source: lorioconnell.com

It was AWESOME. Best decision I’ve made recently. We practiced different aspects of stunt fighting and then choreographed short stunt scenes and filmed them. I picked up a signed copy of her book When the Fight Goes to the Ground: Jiu-Jitsu Strategies and Tactics for Self-Defense afterward, which I’m super happy about.

Trying new things has been bringing me a lot of pleasure lately. I think it’s largely due to what I’ve coined as “little victories.” Continue reading

Well, That Was a Lot Harder Than it Looked: Circus Silks @ U of T

I walked into my first circus silks class at the Athletic Centre last Friday pretty confident (largely due to the fact that I found my way from the AC change rooms to the Lower Gym in the Benson building on the first try).

Essentially the layout of the Athletic Centre and, of course, University College. Good luck. Background Source: watchervault.com

Essentially the layout of the Athletic Centre and, of course, University College. Good luck.
Background Source: watchervault.com

I wasn’t arrogant — I know I know nothing about aerial silks, but the instructor asked if I had done anything similar or notable and I mentioned that I’ve been coaching gymnastics for over five and a half years and used to do aerial yoga.

This is aerial yoga. 10/10 would recommend. Even if just for the awesome Instagram photos you’ll get out of it. Source: yearningforyoga.wordpress.com

This is aerial yoga. 10/10 would recommend. Even if just for the awesome Instagram photos you’ll get out of it.
Source: yearningforyoga.wordpress.com

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Sports and Recreation at UofT: A Second Look

Like most U of T students, I’m proud to be one. People like to call us pretentious and I like to argue there’s a big difference between being pretentious and being justifiably proud. We boast top 20 spots on lists of the world’s best universities and I’m “sorry I’m not sorry” that gives me the warm fuzzies.

While we excel as an institution overall, according to UniversityHub.ca (contributor to the Huffington Post), our sports and recreation programs are less well known.

Clearly something’s wrong here. We have a wealth of sport and recreational facilities, services, activities — there’s a lot going on here! We have FOUR athletic centres (if you count Varsity Centre), FOURTY-FOUR men’s and women’s varsity teams, the ONLY Olympic-sized pool in the city, a wide variety of registered and free classes, drop-in recreation, a FANTASTIC, SUPER-AFFORDABLE sports clinic open to students, more playing fields than I’m aware of and SO, SO MUCH MORE.

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Did You Know? Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre

I recently became aware of the fact that quite a number of students don’t know that their T-Card gives them access to the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre (TPASC), located at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus (UTSC).

This facility is heaven on earth, my friends. It’s a magical utopia of athletics, fitness and recreation. And it has a Booster Juice! Seriously, this is my favourite place to train. During the summer (I had a membership because I was enrolled in summer courses) I would often go three to four days in a row.

Once finals are over, I fully intend to be back at it and I can’t wait.

Artsy TPASC-appreciation picture I took a little while ago.

Artsy TPASC-appreciation picture I took a little while ago.

If you live in the GTA, I highly recommend checking it out. Holidays are just around the corner and there’s no better way to spend free time and stay active FOR FREE at UTSC.

It’s located just south of the 401 Morningside exit. If you’re driving, not to worry, you can enjoy two hours of complimentary parking. Just drive up to the gate and take a ticket. As long as you feed the ticket to the gate on your way out within two hours, you’re home free! Pun not intended, but thoroughly enjoyed.

A friend once said that when he walks up to TPASC he can’t help but feel like he’s about to do something legendary. I can thoroughly relate. Source: tpasc.ca

Most visitors to TPASC (pronounced: Tee-pask) scan membership cards to get in. St. George T-Cards — as far as I know — still don’t scan as we aren’t in the system. When you arrive at the turnstiles, just show someone at the desk your T-Card and say you’re a St. George student. Most of them will know to let you in. If they don’t, you’ll have to explain your card doesn’t scan.

Isn't it beautiful?

Isn’t it beautiful? Source: tpasc.ca

This facility is massive and expensive. It was a $205 million investment, the largest amount ever spent on amateur sport in Canadian history (according to the National Post). So what did we get for that $205 million? A LOT. TPASC offers a variety of fitness and aquatics classes and the membership is designed so that they’re all free. So is swimming, use of the track, field house and fitness centre, and the CLIMBING WALL.


Source: tpasc.ca

Yes, TPASC has a climbing wall (41 feet!). There are introductory classes and drop-in hours you can take advantage of once the staff are comfortable letting you climb on your own — for safety reasons, of course. I actually haven’t checked this off my to-do list yet and I’m excited to take it on next summer.

For now, I’ll be enjoying this new facility by using the fitness centre. The place has everything I could possibly need, including things I have no idea what to do with! Which reminds me…check this out! It’s not something we have in any of the athletic centres at St. George, and it’s super cool! May I present Jacob’s Ladder:


Source: bickelsinc.com

It’s essentially an inclined treadmill, but instead of running, you climb. It’s actually really challenging and can feel really silly, but I like to use it to change up my routine and do something a little more interesting now and then. You will feel the burn, my friends.

And I’ll feel a very different burn if I don’t get back to studying soon…

This is my last post before the holidays, so I’m wishing you all the best of luck on your finals and a very happy, very restful holiday! Check back in January for the 4-1-1 on new active classes, events and opportunities on campus to help you beat the winter blues.

The Barbell Prescription: The What, Why and How of Weight Training

So much cool stuff happens on campus all day every day. It breaks my heart that I literally don’t have the time to go do and see and hear everything.

On Tuesday, I went to a free seminar that was held at Hart House called, “The Barbell Prescription”.

You know it’s going to be a good one when you’re already taking notes and salivating over the guest’s credentials.

Dr. J Sullivan joined us from Michigan. A former US marine, 3rd degree black belt in Karate, 3rd level Krav Maga practitioner, doctor, researcher… The guy received a $2 million research grant from the NIH… that’s the National Institutes of Health. It’s a big deal. On top of all that, he owns, manages and trains clients at a gym called Grey Steel, for aging adults.

Dr. Jonathon Sullivan

Dr. Jonathon Sullivan Source: greysteel.org

We started off talking about what we considered an “athlete”, how we’d define the word. I learned a little bit about Greek athletes (the word athlete comes from the Greek “athlos” which means contest or feat). Apparently there was an athletic event in the Greek games, “Hoplitodromos”, which was a race in full battle armour. Competitors in the games had to swear an oath to Zeus that they trained for a minimum of 10 months. Awfully specific for so many years ago! Continue reading

Feature: UC Yoga Club & Upcoming MoveU Events

For this week’s post I interviewed David London, the founder of the University College (UC) Yoga Club. David is a 3rd year undergraduate student studying computer science. He says he founded the club because he had a lot of friends who were interested in doing yoga but couldn’t afford to take a class. Knowing it was something David practised, it was his friends who brought up the idea of starting a club. David says he loved the idea because he wanted to teach but couldn’t do it full time.

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MoveU Scary Skate & Varsity Centre Fun

Halloween is over, so we’re officially allowed to countdown to Christmas right?


I LOVE holidays, especially Christmas. I can’t wait to see the city all dressed up and to go gift shopping and skating in Nathan Phillips square.

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You Never Know What You’ll Discover – A Testament to Fitness and Athletics on Campus

Anyone who knows even a little bit about me probably knows that I do Jiu Jitsu. I started practising Shorinji Kan Japanese Jiu Jitsu in September of 2013, when I began my undergraduate degree. I joined the Jiu Jitsu Club at UofT and I’ve now been the president of for about two years.

That decision was the best I’ve made over the course of my undergraduate career. Let me tell you why.

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A Newbie’s Guide to Being New: The Athletic Centre

If you’re like me, a big barrier to trying something new is being that person that’s standing in the middle of the hallway with no idea where they’re going or what they’re supposed to be doing. If you’re like me, you’ll pull out your cellphone and pretend to be super-engaged in text messaging. I’m operating under the assumption that I’m not the only one who feels like this and responds to new situations and environments this way. Please don’t let me be wrong!

Forever alone meme.

Forever alone?

I’ve often been held back by an aversion to those awkward situations. I’m hoping to prevent such “fish-out-of-water” feelings from stopping you from exploring our campus athletic centres (that you’re paying part of your tuition towards) by presenting to you: The Newbie’s Guide to Being New Part 1: The Athletic Centre

Also known as the AC, this is the rather aesthetically unappealing building on the corner of Huron and Harbord. It’s a lot more interesting inside. You may have had an exam here in the past and probably didn’t enjoy that experience, so why not replace it with a more positive one?

The Athletic Centre viewed from the corner of Harbord and Huron.

Don’t judge a book by its cover, right?


When you enter the Athletic Centre from Harbord St. you’re going to walk past the pool gallery (did you know we have the only Olympic-size pool in the city?!) and the swag-shop and make your way to the turnstiles. This is a great opportunity to be anti-social since all you need to do is swipe your TCard and walk on through. No human interaction necessary.

Ok, you’ve made it. You are INSIDE the Athletic Centre and even PAST the turnstiles. What now? From here, your basic options are the Strength and Conditioning Centre (SCC) which you’ll find straight ahead, or the field house which is up the stairs.

Drawing depicting view of Athletic Centre past the turnstiles. SCC straight ahead, stairs on the right with field house upstairs and change rooms downstairs.

This is probably a poor representation… but it’s enough to get you where you need to go!

The SCC is the room full of medieval-looking contraptions and is usually also full of people. Look out for a follow-up post on surviving the SCC in the near future. Anyhow, that’s where you’re going to go if you want to lift heavy things and “make gains” (read as: build muscle).

Weightlifting training plan printout.

Speaking of making gains… my Olympic weightlifting class is ramping up! LOVE IT. This is the program my coach created for us. Well, it’s one of a few pages.

The field house, on the other hand, is a big open space with a track, multi-function courts and fitness equipment that is scattered throughout the room (it’s a really big room). The openness of the space makes this a great place to start if the congestion in the gym makes you anxious. You’ll find cardio machines, mats, a pull-up bar and other fun surprises.

NOTE: Rules in both these spaces are NO photography (which is why you’re forced to endure my memes and stick figures) and NO bags or personal belongings.

Need a change room? Take the stairs to the bottom. You’ll find these and lockers. Don’t forget a lock!

Devastated girl meme with text overlay: "Brought valuables. Forgot lock."

Don’t be this girl.

Still not eager to give it a try? Bring a friend! I love to get in some extra training with friends in the field house. Or, another great way to get acquainted with any athletic centre is taking a class –like me! You’d be surprised how many different classes are offered, they have everything from circus silks to synchronized swimming. You can find the full list here:


Girls, if you want to take advantage of the SCC while it’s less populated, why not visit during women-only hours? You can find those here:


Why do you want to go to the Athletic Centre?

  1. To take advantage of a membership non-U of T folks pay a lot of money for! To explore one of the many facilities and services U of T has to offer
  2. To do something active
  3. To meet new people!
  4. Because it’s a great, dynamic space
  5. …There’s a Starbucks if worst comes to worst?

I hope that makes the whole experience of exploring the AC a little less daunting and encourages some of you to go check out the facility. J

In the meantime…

On October 30th, I encourage you to pay the Varsity Centre a visit! MoveU is hosting a “Scary Skate” from 7:30-9PM and it’s FREE. Having said that, if you bring a non-perishable food item, you get a surprise gift! Costumes are encouraged and some skates are available for rent. Hope to see you there!



How the Dojo Shaped My Attitude Towards Fitness

Martial arts have demonstrated to me the incredible capabilities of the human body –of my body. They have changed my perception of where my limits lie and what I can and can’t achieve. They have shown me that progress is a real thing –an attainable thing.

Four successive snapshots of me performing a jiu jitsu throw on a training partner.

Snaps from a highlight video one of the Jiu Jitsu clubs in the city put together. That’s me with my head cut off! Credit: Ken Remark Photography

When I started martial arts I was a blank slate –or, as my instructor would say: “I came in green.” I am not that martial artist anymore. I’ve acquired talents and I’ve identified strengths and weaknesses. Overall, I have improved.

I remember my first belt test in Shorinji Kan Jiu Jitsu (the exam of-sorts one has to pass to earn a shiny new belt and rank in the style), I remember how anxious I was and how hard I considered it to be. Looking back now, and having witnessed some of my newer training partners’ tests since completing my own, I can’t believe how significant it was to me at the time. It just goes to show the progress I’ve made. Having said that, the fact that it seems so ridiculous now, doesn’t mean that it was any less notable or that I shouldn’t have felt proud or accomplished back then. The same applies to fitness.

We all have our starting points, surpassing those starting points –those initial limits and abilities- is not insignificant because you can still only run a mile without stopping, or because playing a team sport still makes you anxious. All progress is significant. This isn’t a statistics class –thankfully! We don’t have to justify our feelings of accomplishment and shouldn’t compare those accomplishments to those attained by others. Take pride in the little step you took today towards a happier, healthier, fitter you! It DOES count, no matter the “p-value”. In case you didn’t know –and I wouldn’t blame you- the “p-value” is a measure of statistical significance! Exclamation marks make everything more exciting, right?

Martial arts have also given me an appreciation for my body. I’ve learned that it can always do more and go further than I think it can. My body powers me through challenging pressure-testing scenarios, it enables me to effectively dispatch attackers. It gets sore, it recovers, and it primes itself for the next challenge. In order for it to be able to do the most for me, I need to do what I can for it in return.

I am active because I’ve learned to love my body and appreciate it and what it allows me to do. I’ve found that that appreciation is far more effective at motivating me to stay active than a desire to “fix” it or punish myself with negative reinforcement. I encourage everyone to take a step back, to not base their decision to be active –or not-on an evaluation of self that happens in front of a mirror. Go outside, do something physical and try to remember how that feels. Be grateful for what you can do and don’t’ dwell on what you can’t do. We were built to move; isn’t it wonderful?

I think it is and I love discovering all the different ways in which my body can move and work. This term, I’m doing that through an Olympic weightlifting class, so check back for those sweaty details!

Buddy the elf meme with text overlay: "I just like to lift. Lifting's my favourite."

This is my go-to meme. Buddy is my favourite!