In the weeks leading up, I was very focused on only one thing. Packing. I mean ... camp? The when you were a kid, up north kinda camp. I had to find my sleeping bag and then make sure there were no strange inhabitants in there after spending years all rolled up. Not to mention the long list of “don’t forget to brings” such as blanket, flashlight, rubber boots, long john’s, toque? Wait, did that say…toque? This was September, on the heels of summer! But I digress.
I was going to camp.
But this was no ordinary camp – this was “Fall Fit Weekend” – 220 woman all geared up and ready to … get fit? I had no idea what I was getting myself into but from the list of ‘activities’ to choose from, I knew I had 5 classes to attend on our Saturday. The camp weekend is the brainchild of Kimberly-Jo Turley-Smith, a beautiful, glowing gal with a smile that has you drawn in immediately. She views the camp experience as a safe, magical place where we are all equal, we all get to be “cool” and we get to be in a very grounding environment – away from our responsibilities, if only for a short, sweet weekend.
Our group set off, first shoving 7 women (who were all fantastic and accomplished in their own right and pictured above!) and all our ‘stuff’ into two vehicles, not before being gifted personalized hats, each with a different saying fitted to our personalities, from our leader, Anna Ruff; who is a natural motivator herself. I’ve known Anna since highschool but I got to watch her, in her element, having recruited myself and five other women for the weekend and so I call her a ‘leader’ because of this but also because of her amazing trail-blazer energy – where Anna goes, you just want to follow. After I’d completed bootcamp for an hour, then another hour of a KILLER pilates class led by Lori-Ann Succo McLeod (just google her, trust me), I thought I might literally fall over. I wanted to skip kickboxing, my next class. Anna convinced me to go with her and it turned out to be the most grueling and fun hour of my day. Who knew punching and kicking could feel so awesome!
I also managed to sneak in an hour of time just for me. First, I met with Laurie Goodman, a fabulous photographer who has been doing an amazing project called "Life Messages". She's collected so many now, she decided to compile them in a book which she is launching tomorrow! Check her work out here.
But beyond the physical aspect of Fall Fit, Anna saw in me a need to have this weekend. There was no pressure, no pushing. Just encouragement. I said “yes”, and that, funnily enough, was the theme of the weekend. Whatever opportunity crosses your path, just say “yes”. Go for it and have some faith. Take the plunge (yes, I actually did the polar bear dip, twice!).
Packing only the essentials and entering into a two day stint with some women I’d never met – ended up being exactly what I needed. To get out of my space, out of my head, out of my comfort zone. I was not alone. I think there were many other women there just like me. There’s something about challenging yourself that reconnects you with you. Everything you need is in YOU. Your most awesome, deserving, empowering friend, is you. That’s a very tough thing to chew on, but it begs the question - what have you done for YOU lately?
For me, the fall fit weekend was an act of self-kindness. I'm so glad I said yes.
Life Messages image courtesy of Laurie Goodman Photography.
Group photo courtesy of Amanda Lee Photography