by Lynn Burshtein
Fit Chicks, a fitness company that aims to improve women’s health and wellness, is a Canadian company founded by Amanda Quinn and Laura Jackson, BFFs since they were 14 years old.
What started as a women’s outdoor bootcamp class in Toronto in 2008, has since expanded into a veritable empire. The brand now includes bootcamp fitness classes across Canada, a series of DVDs, online fitness challenges and nutrition courses, podcasts, a training academy, and weekend fitness retreats.
Fit Chicks caters to women of all fitness levels, including those who suffer from “gymtimidation.” But make no mistake: as warm and supportive as the Fit Chicks environment is – and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more encouraging and inclusive fitness program – when it comes to pushing their clients to reach their full potential, Quinn and Jackson are a tour-de-force.
So, when I had the opportunity to attend one of Fit Chick’s semi-annual weekend retreats, I happily signed on.
The retreat took place in Grand Bend, Ontario (National Geographic once described this Lake Huron beach town as having one of the “Top Ten Best Sunsets” in the world). Headquartered at the Oakwood Resort , the expansive property was the perfect location for a weekend jam-packed with fitness activities – including a Zumba dance class, a bootcamp class, a Tabata class, yoga and stretch classes (which Amanda taught in between nursing her 10-month old baby), and a scavenger hunt that included fitness challenges. Delicious “Fit-Chick-approved” meals were served buffet-style (so it was up to us to control our portion sizes).
But as we all know by now, a wellness-based lifestyle does not only boil down to exercising and eating well. To that end, Laura presented some inspiring presentations on the four principles of “Living La Vida Fit Chick.” These include:
1) Fitness (we should move everyday)
2) Nutrition (eat real whole foods, made with love)
3) Give Self Love (cut down the negative self-talk)
4) Pay It Forward (spread the healthy love to those around you).
Aside from providing handy tips on making smart dietary choices, maximizing exercise routines and getting a good night’s sleep, Laura provided some valuable life hacks, such as the importance of maintaining a positive mindset. “You can’t be working out and eating healthy and then talk negatively to yourself”, she pointed out, “it just doesn’t work.” And with regard to body image, “I will not compare myself to strangers on the internet,” is one of her favourite mantras.
As deep as some of the discussion topics were, the overall atmosphere was upbeat and fun. There were smiles on all attendees’ faces pretty much the whole weekend (except when we were grimacing during the two-hour bootcamp class) and there was an awesome Halloween party on the Saturday night that was filled with good food, a trivia contest and some very creative costumes. In addition, our retreat hosts made sure that all of the games, challenges and workouts featured good tunes (Amanda is a music industry veteran).
And even though one team scored the highest number of points at the end of the retreat and was crowned “the winner”, each of the teams received their own unique accolades, from “best beach volleyball technique” (Yay Team Mean Green!) to “Best Team Cheer” (this carried us all through some of the more grueling challenges), not to mention some cool swag bags. It was the perfect way to reward both the fledgling and seasoned fit chicks in attendance, and emblematic of Fit Chick’s philosophy of inclusiveness and encouragement.
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Lynn Burshtein was a guest at the Fit Chicks Retreat in October, 2017.