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Fitness in Edmonton: New Year, New You

by Nadim Chin

Whatever you need to keep you sweating, there are plenty of options in Edmonton to keep your workouts fresh. Enter Nadim Chin, your guide to the big world of fitness in Edmonton! Nadim is one of the three co-leaders of November Project Canada and a co-founder of the YEG Relay. When he’s not running through the river valley searching for new workout spots, he’s on a never ending search for the best cookie in Edmonton.

The start of the year is the best time to refocus your health goals. Just look at the spike in attendance at every gym and fitness class across the world. As you settle into a new routine, any number of obstacles can be thrown your way to revert you back to your old ways. Travel can be one of those obstacles. It’s difficult to stick with your training plans when you’re on the road. Staying an extra hour on the comfy hotel mattress under a warm duvet can be very tempting. However, if you’re in Edmonton and haven’t explored our fitness culture, you’re missing out. It won’t take you long to find out how welcoming Edmonton’s fitness community is and you might even sweat with a former Stanley Cup or World Boxing champion without even knowing it.

If you’re not sure where to start, here are some questions to consider:

  • Do you want to be alone and not be bothered by anyone or do you prefer being in a group and having others encourage you?
  • Are you looking for something indoors, or are you brave enough to tackle the winter weather?

If you want to be alone but have been getting bored of running on the hotel treadmill, your best bet is to put on an extra layer and head out into the river valley. Whether you want to run on pavement or on the trails, you’ll be able to go for hours without having to cross a road.

Skating at Victoria Oval
It’s sometimes easy to forget that going skating is a workout because you’re having so much fun. Don’t worry, your legs will remind you the next day. Victoria Oval is a 400m outdoor rink for both speed skating and recreational skating. You can pretend you’re competing in the Olympics even if you might feel like Bambi out there. Skates are available for rent, but you’ll have to bring your own skinsuit.

November Project
Perhaps my favourite outdoor activity is the November Project, and not just because of my involvement with it. This is a free fitness group that meets on three mornings a week at 6am for a 30 minute workout at various locations across the city. Their workouts are scalable so whether you’re just starting your fitness journey, or you’re an elite athlete, you’ll fit right in, and you’ll never feel left behind. There’s anywhere between 60 and 400 people of all ages and abilities at their workouts. Not only is it a fun way to explore the city and see it while everyone is still asleep, this might just be the most encouraging and positive group of people you’ll ever find. Among the leaders is former Edmonton Oiler, Andrew Ference, and it’s not every day that you can sweat alongside a former Stanley Cup Champion. The November Project is in 44 cities across the world with Edmonton being one of the most established groups. Oh and did I mention that it is completely free? 

Blitz Conditioning
If the outdoors aren’t your thing, I’m a fan of taking a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) class at Blitz Conditioning. I find it is the perfect way to get whipped into shape. These workouts are so intense, two things go through my head during the class: did I do something to offend them? And why are they smiling so much? This mind game will last the entire hour and make you forget about how sore you are while the class is on. You’re guaranteed to leave a puddle of sweat by the time you’re done, but you'll sure know you're alive.

Champs Boxing
Edmonton’s newest studio is Champs Boxing which was recently opened by eight-time women’s world boxing champion, Jelena Mrdjenovich. This is a the boxing version of SoulCycle and if that doesn’t mean anything to you, think of being at a dance party with loud music and dark lights.  

Sattva School of Yoga
And while you may need to decompress from the business of the holidays or your day-to-day responsibilities, it’s always important to keep your mind and body balanced. I head to Sattva Yoga when I want to slow things down. While it may feel intimidating to walk into such an intense studio, their teachers and other participants will put you at ease almost instantly as they guide you through their carefully planned sequences. Namaste.