Today I was fortunate to be able to present to my fellow trainers, fitness instructors, lifeguards, and fitness coaches at the YWCA Health and Fitness Centre Vancouver on Kettlebell fundamentals.  It was a great day of learning for our annual continuing education conference.

Kettlebells are a great tool to get an efficient, metabolically challenging, functional exercise session done with minimal time, space, and equipment.  I also love training with KB’s for improving grip strength, strengthening posterior chain muscles, strengthening the stability of the core, and working in multiple planes of motion with various exercises.

I thought I would share with you the handouts I provided the participants today.  This information includes details on:

  •  Safety
  • Form and technique
  • Beginner and more advanced exercises
  • How to tell if Kettlebell training is for you


Here is the handout that details general information about the effectiveness of KB training, details on KB hand grips, and various exercises to consider. Here is a handout with some basic level KB exercises you can try including step by step details on form and technique:  KETTLEBELL TRAINING (1)

Here is a handout on safety considerations for specific KB exercises, and for general KB training:  KETTLEBELL SAFETY (2018) (1)

This handouts should give you a good basis on how to start some basic KB exercises with light weights, if you are interested!  Let me know if you have questions.

I also suggest a core and shoulder/posture endurance drill to try as a baseline for if you are ready for KB exercises like a swing:

  • How do we know if a person has a strong enough core for a dynamic motion like KB swing? Neutral spine test on floor with leg lowers.  Lay on your back with one hand under your lower back, put the other hand on your top 2 abs under your ribs.  Exhale forcefully so that your abs engage without crushing your bottom hand.  Your ribs should have drawn down.  If you can hold this breathing pattern with your knees in the air and leg lowering slowly one at a time for 60-90 seconds your core is strong and stable!
  • How do we know if a person has good postural awareness and shoulder stability? Hinged position, holding neutral spine, moving shoulders in T’s X 15, W’s X 15, Y’s X 15, I’s X 15.  If you lose your posture, your back hurt, or your shoulders are tired after 20 seconds you aren’t ready for overhead shoulder stabilizing exercises.


And remember:

  •  Start light
  • Always make eye contact with the bell


Saturna Island- Biking/Camping Adventure

Saturna island is a tiny island, just 12 square miles in size, located between Vancouver and Victoria and is one of the 5 main southern gulf islands.  Although it is the closest to Vancouver it is by far the least populated with year round residents and gets the least amount of visitors, which was evident by the lack of people everywhere I went on my weekend trip a few weeks past!


All geared up and ready to go!


One of my favourite shots of this beautiful destination!

I spent a weekend biking and camping on the island, and I have shared my tips and tricks with you here, so you can enjoy a great weekend too!  
This is a perfect trip for you if:
–  you want a weekend cycling trip that involves manageable biking (still very hilly though)
–  you want to experience nature up close.  Saturna is definitely wild!
–  you are looking for a quiet weekend away from civilization.
–  you enjoy biking from beach to beach reading a book all day.
–  you are a solo traveller that want a safe location to travel to(no bears or wild cats to worry about)
–  you don’t have a car and are looking for somewhere to travel to on the weekend.
Here is a great map I used when touring around:
Screen Shot 2017-08-09 at 9.12.13 PM.pngPDF Version found here: 2016-map-image-for-web
Take a look at what I got up to and let me know if you have questions for planning your own itinerary! 
Day #1
To get to tsawwassen  by bike I took the skytrain from Vancouver out to Bridgeport station.  From there you take bus 620 to the ferry terminal.  You simply put your bike on the front of the bus, and you also bring it right into the skytrain section specifically for bikes.  I understand there is a biking route to get out the ferry terminal, I haven’t looked into it as in this case I was rushing to catch the ferry after work.
The ferry ride is about 3 hours and involved a stop on Mayne island to transfer ferries.
I ended up arriving in Saturna at 10 pm, which is not a good idea now that I look back on it.  I ended up having to bike 10 kms across the island to my campsite on an island i’d never visited before, at night!  I felt safe with the number of good lights I brought, but the freaky part was how uninhabited Saturna is.  Because the island is mostly forest I realized if I ran into trouble there were no cars passing by, and very few houses on the stretch to the campground.  I would advise arriving during the day 🙂
My campground was called Naveaz Bay.  I reserved my site in advance from the parks Canada reservation system.  It is only 5 dollars a night for back country camping sites across BC.  When I arrived in my site a group of girls had set up, and I had to kick them out!  Reservations are new for many of the parks campgrounds in BC.  While setting up my tent I was greeted by an owl and right away I felt the calm feeling of being on the gulf islands.  The bike in was a pretty crazy ride on a rough/semi gravel road, followed by a 1km downhill hike to the campsite, let’s just say, I was happy to be resting in my tent!
Here is a shot from the campsite:
Day 2
When I opened up my tent on my first morning I was pleasantly surprised to find that my site was directly facing the ocean!  I hadn’t noticed because I arrived at night.  It was a beautiful surprise.


After having some breakfast I took a walk to Echo Bay, located right near  the campsite.  The water was incredibly blue and it was a stunning site.
From there I headed back up the hill to where I had parked my bike and took the 10 km ride back into town (just for reference this ride took me between 30 and 45 minutes depending on how much gear I was carrying, and I was riding a heavy hybrid bike).
Just before hitting the ferry terminal is the one general store on the island.  I was there on a Saturday which meant there was a market happening.  The general store is pretty fully stocked and on Saturdays the adjoining cafe is open for sandwiches etc.  It was a great spot to stop for a tea, charge my cell phone, and they also let me fill my water bottles up there each day.
After a rest I decided to bike down to Thompson beach, without realizing how massive the hills are on this stretch.  I was wondering why I saw no-one else biking or walking on this road.  I definitely had to walk a few of the hills, especially on the way back up which included a 20 percent grade hill that stretched on for at least a km.
Instead of biking I would suggest leaving your bike locked at the general store and walking down- this would avoid pushing your bike up some of the massive hills!
Thompson beach was breath taking and picturesque, and just like everywhere on Saturna there were only about 5 visitors down there for the 2 hours I spent lounging on the beach.  There are some hiking trails to do here, but knowing I still had to trudge back up the hill I decided to forgo this hike.  Here is a list of the few short hikes on Saturna.
After the massive trek back up the hill and back to the campground I was pooped and ready to relax and call it a night.
Around 12 am I awoke out of a deep sleep because I heard something scratching at my tent wall.  Every time I heard it scratch I would jostle the tent to scare it away.  After 10 separate times like this I decided I had to turn on my light and see what was happening.  As the light flickered on a little mouse popped his head over my back pack at the end of my tent!  Wow!   What a surprise- what was he doing in there?
The next 30 minutes were pretty comical with me trying to get him out of there.  First I tried chasing him out, but he just kept hiding in my clothes and camp gear!  I ended up having to take every single thing out of my tent to get him out of there.  Quite the process for the middle of the night.  I realized he got through a hole in the tent and had to do some late night patch work.  So this is your warning:  don’t keep any food in your tent, and patch even the smallest hole in your tent.
Day 3
For my final day on the island I packed my gear up and hiked back up the hill to my bike.  I dropped my gear off and then walked the short trek out to Monarch head to get a beautiful view of the surrounding gulf islands.  I had just stashed my gear behind a  tree in the woods, but honestly the gulf islands are so safe there is really no need to worry about stolen gear.
The trail to Monarch head is short and including taking plenty of pictures and chatting with locals I completed it in less than an hour.
Next I biked back into town for a water fill up and a tea and then took the road down to Winter Cove, another beautiful ocean front area, perfect for a picnic.  There is also a short 1 km walk through a marshy like area (with board walks) out to an area called the Boat Pass, where boats enter through a narrow opening in the rocks to enter the cove.  Very beautiful views out here, especially of Mount Washington.  Winter cove is also a great spot for a swim.
My trip ended with a pretty tough 5.5 km tide back to the ferry from winter cove.  I was definitely cursing not yet investing in some light weight camping gear on this ride.
The one area I didn’t make it to was East point, where the lighthouse is located and whales are often spotted.  I decided to save this for the next trip!  Also apparently there is a campground called Breezy Bay located just near the ferry.  I think this will be a good option for the next trip as it is more centrally located and wouldn’t involve the 10 km bike ride from Naveaz bay back to town to start each day.
Overall Saturna is a stunning small island that will get you feeling connected back to yourself and nature.  It’s also a great spot for a workout and adventure.
If you head there, be sure to leave a comment about your trip!

Summer Hike Ideas: Mount Strachan

Now that we have finally been graced with some nice weather in Vancouver, it’s time to hit the trails!

Mount Strachan is a beautiful and challenging hike on Cypress Mountain, and one I recommend if you are into:

  •  Circle route hikes (it’s not an out and back trek)- lots of variation in scenery
  • Good views on a nice day
  • Big uphill scrambly portion “Christmas Gully”
  • Site of a plane crash & wreckage
  • Easy to access from cypress mountain.
  • Beautiful views of the Howe sound and Garibaldi mountains on a clear day

Mount Strachan is:

  • 10.5 KM’S
  • 550 M Elevation gain
  • Not an easy hike, good amount of rocky portions to navigate.  I would rate this hike as intermediate.
  • Best done between July and October once the snow has melted (the scrambly portions are pretty dangerous if still wet and slippery).

The trail starts from the Cypress Ski Mountain resort.  For complete directions please refer to this website.

The first part of the trail meanders through the woods alongside Yew Lake.

Keep an eye out for beautiful birds:


And beautiful huge trees!


After reaching a few junctions and crossing a few bridges you reach the Bowen Lookout, overlooking the Howe sound with a beautiful view of Bowen Island.  This is a side trek trail- and worth checking out:


After trekking through the forest you will reach a wooden map board, and then two wooden bridges.  This is where you enter Strachan Meadows and are about to start the climb up the gully to the top of the hike.  There aren’t many marker points through here, but just stay left of the gully and follow the rocks, and the eventual trail path to make it to the top.  It’s a bit of a slog, and scramble, but have fun with it 🙂

Once you get to the top, there is an option to head right or left, head left first for the first viewpoint.  You will go right later before you start your descent over the other side of the mountain.

You get a really great view of the Lions (middle photo), another very popular hike here in Vancouver.


Once you’ve rested up it’s time to head over the second lookout.  You walk back towards where you came up from Christmas Gully and then head straight across to the second lookout.  It’s very easy to navigate.

Once you’ve had a good look at the second lookout it’s time to start heading over the back of the mountain heading in the opposite direction that you came up Christmas Gully. Walk along the rocky surface at the top of the mountain a little ways down along the ski lift, aiming to find two orange markers that will get you on the descending trail back in the forest.  It took us a bit of time to find these.  We saw other people coming up different routes, so be sure you find the trail markers and forested path or else you will miss the plane crash!

Within 30 minutes of descending you come across a plane crash from 1963!  This was a T-33 Navy jet on a training mission.  It took several days to locate the crash site, and much of the site is still preserved- as you can see!

After the plane crash we found the route not to be very well marked, and in some cases we were worried we had got on the wrong trail.  Ensure you have these directions with you!  The downhill portion seemed to take a very long time, which is why we had thought we had gone the wrong way.  It also seemed like we were heading in the wrong direction, but the trail eventually veers back towards Cypress mountain.

As we were finishing the hike we came upon a plethora of “BEAR IN AREA” signs!!  I was happy to have seen these all at the end, so I didn’t have to be too freaked out while we hiked 🙂


I hope you get out and enjoy Cypress Mountain and the Mount Strachan Hike.  Let me know if you make it out.  If you get a nicer day then we did I would love to see your photos.

  •  Katherine

Hiking/Canoeing Pitt Lake & Widgeon Falls- beginner friendly

Looking for an easy canoe ride to a short hike ending in beautiful waterfalls, and all within an hour and a bit drive from Vancouver?  You should check out Pitt Lake and Widgeon falls.

Pitt Lake is located about 1.25 hours from Vancouver.  Once you get to Pitt lake you have about a 45 minute canoe ride until you come to the start of the trail for a 6 km round trip hike to Widgeon falls.  The whole trek is very beginner friendly, and makes a nice easy day for families, locals, and tourists!

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The first step was securing a canoe for the day.  Luckily my lovely friend loaned his to us.  If you don’t have access to one, we saw people renting them from a small shop right at Pitt lake.  On the trail report website found HERE they have provided the name and contact number for this canoe rental company.


Making funny faces is my specialty…

Once you’ve got your canoe organized, make your way to Pitt Lake, google maps driving directions HERE.


Nice views on the drive 


And You’ve arrived!


From Pitt lake you can find a parking spot (often crowded here), and then head out on your paddle.  The paddle is pretty much straight across the lake from where you launch your canoe and you will head into a large clearing between two stretches of trees (you can see in the photo above, you will head straight across and head to the left of that tree line straight ahead).  We found we were a little unsure as to the exact canoeing directions, listed HERE, but if you just paddle straight across the lake (slightly to the left), into the clearing, and then stay left for the entire paddle you will make it to Widgeon falls.  This is what the area looks like once you arrive to start the hike.  On the day we were here (I believe it was Canada Day) there were PLENTY of other canoes and hikers.



Plenty of “Bear in Area” signs, which was concerning for me.  But we didn’t see any!


Locking up the canoe, and getting started on our trek.  How did we make a mess already?

Once you have safely stowed your canoe (up on the grass to stay safe from the tidal lake) you can start on the hike!  Make your way up towards the information signs and then head right.  You start walking through some long grass, and the trail eventually heads more into tree dense woods until you come upon the waterfall after about 1 hour.  For all the detailed hiking directions check HERE.  The hike is short, less than an hour if you are quick, and eventually you come across some large rocks and beautiful waterfalls.



Happy hikers



Make sure you bring a lunch and plan on spending some time exploring around the waterfall area 🙂





Definitely a little dangerous, and not advised!





Oh, and if it’s a super hot day like our day was, then pack your suit for a swim on the hike back!  We found this little spot just off the trail.  The water was FREEZING but especially refreshing during our hike.


With the drive to and from Vancouver this is definitely a full day trip, even though the hike itself is only about 6 km round trip and the canoe trip is about 1.5 hours for a beginner.

One more thing…on the way back in the canoe we found the current to be VERY strong the day we were there.  Be prepared to have to paddle much harder on the way back and to have two strong people in the canoe to do the paddling.  I do think this paddle was beginner friendly, but just be ready to work on the way back a little bit harder!

Let me know if you make it out to Widgeon falls and Pitt Lake this summer, I would love to hear about it 🙂

Today’s Workout: inner thigh, spine, butt, shoulders.

This workout today is all about neglected muscles!  In our ‘typical’ workout programs that we often get trapped in doing in the gym we tend to focus on exercises like squatting, lunging, push up variations, pull down motions, and the like.  These are all great exercises, but it’s also good to have a ton of variety in the movements you perform, that way you avoid creating imbalances in your body!  At the same time, each of our bodies have muscles and movements that we are a bit weaker in.  For me, my inner thighs, my straight arm shoulder strength, and my one leg glute strength are areas I am working on.

I wanted to share my workout with you today for a few reasons;

  •  Give you some ideas to add variety to your gym routine.
  • Explain why these exercises are so great.
  • Get you thinking about all the ways in which we should challenge our body to move, to keep it working optimally!
  • You can get done this workout in less than 25 minutes with rest breaks!

So here it is:

  1.  First step- set your tabata timer (I use a free one from my app store) for 45 seconds of work, 15 seconds rest X 7 rounds.  After you perform all 7 exercises, grab a sip of water and restart your timer to go again.
  2. Set up your BOSU, 2 yoga blocks, 1 light KB, and one pilates ring.  You only have 15 seconds to change exercises, so you want these items close.
  3. Start your timer- and get to work!

Here is your first exercise:

  1.  Inner thigh squeeze and one “lift” of the chest to the ceiling.

For this one- just place the pilates ring between your inner thighs.  Use your inner thighs and abdominals to ‘crush’ the ring a.k.a squeeze your knees together then keep the legs squeezing as you ‘levitate’ your chest up towards the ceiling.  For each squeeze of the thighs you do one lift of the chest.  Note:  This is not a sit up type motion.

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 11.43.51 AM

Here is a full video:

2.  Superman Varieties

These versions of your typical superman exercises are much harder then they look!  They require incredible straight arm strength, and inner thigh strength, as well as just like any superman exercise it is a great workout for the muscles down your spine.

What I would suggest is that 45 seconds will be quite a long time to hold this position, especially for a beginner.  In the video below I show you 3 different versions of this exercise.  I would suggest that for each round you do through your circuit do 1 of the varieties I have shown.  If you can’t last 45 seconds, no problem, take small rests and then jump back into it!

For the first version I am squeezing my straight arms against the side of the block, while at the same time I am trying to shrug my shoulders gently away from my ears and lift my chest and arms off the floor.  Second version the block is between my knees and I am squeezing the block as I lift my legs only.  Third version both arms and legs are squeezing and lifting.  Keep your neck in a straight line.

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Here is the full video:

3.  Straight arm overhead kettlebell carries.

Many of us (including me) are lacking really good shoulder stability strength.  We are so used to working our back arms and shoulders from a bent elbow position, that often we are missing out on what we want to strengthen the most- our shoulder stability, aka the shoulder’s ability to stay in a strong position as our arm perform’s movement.

To work on this you could try one arm overhead kettlebell (or dumbbell carries).  For this- just set the bell up overhead on one side and then try to work your arm nice and straight, while at the same time trying not to lean or let your shoulder work up towards the ear (you can see me working on all of this in the video).

One side for 45 seconds, then switch arms.

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Full video here:

4.  One Leg Glute Lifts

One of the most underused (and in most need of use) muscles on our body is our glutes.  We need strong glutes for back health, for athletic power, for locomotion, and so many more purposes!  I love this one leg glute exercise because it can really help to deal with asymmetries in hip strength.  I like to put my hands on my hips and really feel if I am trying to rotate my hips or hike on hip up too high towards my ear in relation to the other hip.  Try not to push all the way up to the top, I find going about 3/4 of the way up really gets a good burn for the glutes!  Do one side for 45 seconds, then switch!  Make sure you squeeze your butt!

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Full video here:

And you are done!  After you perform each of the exercises on both sides it should have taken you 7 minutes X 3 rounds= about 25 minutes with a little rest in between each round.

I hope you got some good ideas from the exercises.  Keep finding ways to work on your weaknesses, and add variety to your movement and you will continue to get fitter, healthier and stronger!

6 Week weight training Group Thursdays 12-1 pm- starts this week!

When doing bodyweight, free weight, and machine based exercises sometimes it can be the smallest change in form/technique, breathing, or awareness of which muscles are performing the motion that can  make all the difference.

How long have you been struggling with push ups for?  Do you know how to brace your core, set our shoulder blades, and drive into the floor (like you are opening jars) to perform this motion?  What about the lat pull down?  Do you know where your lats are and how to activate them for this exercise?  Can you make it happen!?!?
Every exercise whether you are working on a machine based leg press, a body weight lunge or push up, or a bicep curl has an optimal form and technique to not only help to prevent injuries, but help you to make better gains and progress more in the gym.
If you are a woman in Vancouver who perhaps attends fitness classes, or uses weight room machines, or is interested in learning how to lift weights then check out my 6 week program starting next Thursday at lunch hour:

This program is designed for women who want to build confidence in using the machines, free weights, and cable systems to properly lift weights and build strength.  Each week you will be guided through a full body workout, and provided with an Ebook to follow along with training in between sessions.  The focus of the class will be on form, technique, and preparing you to create a program based on your goals.

Thursdays, 12:00 – 1:00 pm, Women’s Only Aera
May 25 – Jun 29 (6 classes)

Member $156 / Non-member $192
Instructor: Katherine Taylor

Call the YWCA at 604-895-5777 to register today!

7 Upcoming Programs for YOU :)

Starting in the next few weeks I will be running 7 programs made especially for for people who want to participate in small group personal training.

Group Program #1:  “Building the Foundations”

Monday Mornings from 730 am- 830 am.

Starting April 24th, (skipping May 1st and 22nd).  Dates= April 24th, May 8th, May 15th, May 29th, June 5th, June 12th

Objective:  This class is all about bringing it back to the basics and learning about body optimization.  Instead of the typical class all about getting the hard workout in, getting stronger, fitter, faster, this class is designed to introduce you to the behind the scenes movements and muscles that often go overlooked in regular fitness programming, and end up as injuries.  Each week we will talk about one specific section of the body- feet, knees, hips, low back, upper back, and neck/shoulders, so by the end of the course you will be an expert in understanding how and why your body moves a certain way, and how to roll/stretch/correct the movement pattern/strengthen each area.  You will become familiar with using myofascial balls, kettlebells, pilates rings, and other tools around the gym.  This program is great for anyone with aches and pains, nagging injuries, or recreational athletes wanting to optimize their performance.

Group Program #2:   Feel the BURN!

Thursday’s from 11 am- 12 pm starting April 13th running for 6 weeks (skipping May 4th).  Dates:  April 13th, 20th, 27th, May 11th, 18th, 25th.

This class is designed for people who want a low impact, but crazy hard workout.  You are barely going to leave your mat, but I guarantee you will be dripping and sweat and you will be feeling the results for days after.  It’s going to be fun, intense, and you will feel stronger by the end of the program.  Most of these exercises are done with bodyweight and lightweights.  This class is designed to be very challenging for all levels of abilities.

Group Program #3:  Butt Kicking Personal Training (without the cost).

Friday’s from 12:15 pm- 1:15 pm starting April 14th (skipping May 5th).  * 5 weeks only  Dates:  May 14th, 21st, 28th, May 12th, 19th.

If you have always wanted a tailored workout for your body and goals, without the fee of hiring a trainer one on one, then this class is for you.  In your small group we will work with the weight machines and other equipment at the gym to build stronger, leaner, healthier, fitter bodies one week at a time.  You will get a chance to use some of the “trainer only” equipment, and also have a chance to tackle new exercises you haven’t done before, or get tips on your form and technique.  My goal would be to put people together who are of similar abilities and have similar goals- so send me an e-mail if you are interested!

For each program-  If I have 2 enrolments the fee is $46.50 each, 3 enrolments the fee is about $37.90, and 4 people is $33 per session.  To enroll you must pay in advance for 6 sessions at the given price listed based on enrolments.  Please check with me at to see if there is space in the program.

More upcoming Programs:  

#1:  Women on Weights 6 Week Program:

May 9th – June 13th from  6:00 – 7:00pm

and a second at lunch time on

May 25th to June 29th from 12:00pm – 1:00pm.

$  156 for members.

This program is designed for women who want to build confidence in using the machines, free weights, and cable systems to properly lift weights and build strength.  Each week you will be guided through a full body workout, and provided with an Ebook to follow along with training in between sessions.  The focus of the class will be on form, technique, and preparing you to create a program based on your goals.

  •  Contact the YWCA at 604-895-5777 to enroll in this program.

#2:  Member Clinic:  Why All Women Should Lift Weights

Thursday April 27th at 5:15 pm- 6: 15 pm

By avoiding the weight room you are missing out on some key health and fitness benefits such as increasing your metabolism, building lean muscle mass, burning fat, toning your muscles, and preventing diseases like Diabetes and Osteoporosis.  Weight training also helps to create balance and stability to prevent falls and injuries, improves your posture, builds your endurance and functionality, boosts your confidence and mood, slows down the aging process, supports brain function and makes  you a stronger and faster person.  In this lecture Katherine will explain how weight training supports us in achieving an overall lean, functional, healthy body.  She will explain how to get started on a basic routine and how to tailor your weight training to your goals.  If you have wanted to start weight training, but need some added motivation- this talk is for you!

#3:  Back Health  

Thursday May 18th from 1215 pm- 115 pm.

Do you often have a sore back throughout your day or after exercise?  Do you have a back injury you are dealing with?  Do you enjoy doing sit ups in the gym in an effort to strengthen your core and get rid of stomach fat?  The science shows that sit ups and other flexion motions are detrimental to the spine and can lead to injuries like disc bulges.  It is important to work your core muscles in their true intended function- as stabilizing units during movement.  Come learn from Katherine her top 5 favourite core exercises for super strength in the mid section that won’t leave you with back pain or at risk for injury!


** All programs take place at the YWCA in Vancouver.