Hesitation, regret, anxiety, bewilderment, wonder, hesitation....These are just a few of the feelings that ran through my head the night before I left for Vancouver, British Columbia for the Empower Vancouver retreat hosted by Empowered Events. Sure, I've been to fitness retreats and blogging events in the past (those things go hand in hand with my job description and I'm very grateful for that) but this one was different. Not only would I be attending a fitness retreat with women I've never met before (I knew a few) but I was also going to the west coast side of Canada for the first time. I visited Montreal over 15-years ago, so it's been some time since I've visited Canada, let alone a foreign country.
I was excited and full of anticipation and glee, but also nervous and wondered if I would fit in with this group of badass women. I'm sort of an enigma, I want to join in with the crowd, but I also adore doing my own thing. I guess that's a Libra thing? I'm not really sure, but I was sure about going to Canada and I was going to be open to everything. The events, the retreat, the food, the environment, this new open space.
I wanted to enjoy every moment of it and not take it for granted because not everyone can afford to go on trips like this. I adore traveling and when I heard the new of the Empower Vancouver retreat hosted by Fit Approach and Empowered Events, I was actually the first one to sign up! That is how badly and excited I wanted to go! I was ready for another retreat and knew I would have a good time!
I boarded the plane with excitement, all geared up in my Sweat Pink Trucker hat, with a suitcase full of leggings and sports bras, because what else right? I had coffee in one hand and my book in the other, and I was ready to go! I arrived in Vancouver a day early and will post an entire traveling tips blog post on visiting Vancouver in another post. This post is all about the Empower Vancouver retreat and what I loved and liked about it!
NIGHT 1: The Empower Vancouver retreat was set up for 2 1/2 days with Friday evening being the first night. The first major differences with this one, compared to Sonoma is everyone stayed in their own hotels, Airbnb, homes (locals), VRBO's etc. What I loved about the Sonoma retreat is that we really got the opportunity to bond with each other because we bunked together! So that was different, but it simply gave me the opportunity to bring the husband along.
We rented a house in a beautiful neighborhood and spent some of my breaks together. I like the idea of rooming together or getting separate hotel rooms, but in the same hotel, because it really gave us the chance to get to know each other and talk constantly. However, having my own private space to retreat back to was awesome too, so both ways are good! We arrived at 5:30 pm on Friday night and I got lost. (Shocker!) I could not find the store to save my life! We were set to meet at the Lorna Jane Active Showroom (so cool!) and it wasn't on the street, it was actually located inside a building in a building which, at first glance was super confusing, but once I saw Autumn (my friend from Instagram!) I knew I was okay. We made our way up the haunted elevator to the 5th floor where the Lorna Jane Active Room was located. It was beautiful and had a gorgeous view of the water and the city. Instantly, I felt like I was back home in San Francisco. Once I was in the room with my other Sweat Pink babes, I immediately felt at ease and at home. Jamie and Nicci (from Sweat Pink) welcomed me with open arms and it was as if no time has passed since I saw them last. Those amazing women and what they are doing for the fitness community. (Okay, I could write an entire blog post one those two chica's alone, will save that for another day. ;)
We met with everyone, got our swag bags and beautiful yoga mat from prAna (so much swag!) and went for a run around the streets of Vancouver. It was so fun running through the busy streets of Van and chatting it up with the other women! We all went at our own pace and made sure no one was left behind. People looked at us like we were crazy and it was a blast striking yoga poses on the waterfront! The sun peeked out during our run and treated us to a glowy, orange and pink delight that greeted us on our run. We then ran back to the Lorna Jane Active Room and did a yoga session with Jamie. It felt so good to get all gooey and stretched out after running. I actually ran two runs that day, so the yoga felt extra special on my sore muscles. The girls also made sure to celebrate my birthday and gave me gifts and we took photos with adorable birthday glasses. How thoughtful and sweet of them! After we were done with yoga, everyone chatted and snacked on fruit and hummus. I jetted off to dinner with the husband, but was excited for day 2!
DAY 2: Day 2 started bright and early at 8:00 am where we met at the Lorna Jane Active Studio, settled in, and introduced ourselves. We also named our spirit animal (a retreat tradition) and I course said a hummingbird and a panther. A hummingbird because I'm always friendly and ready, and a panther because I'm a badass who can handle anything. Plus, who wouldn't want to be a cat? After introductions, we were treated to HIIT Yoga with Nicci and it's anything but easy. I'm always drenched in sweat after every HIIT Yoga session, a yoga plan developed by Jamie from Fit Approach that I hope to be a certified teacher in soon! HIIT Yoga is an awesome combination of yoga, plus HIIT on gliders. Yup, you read that right, gliders. Oh, the sweat that was on our mats and the floor after our session was hilarious! We were drenched. Well, I know I was completely drenched and wanting tons of water after.
After that, we had a bit of free time, so I went to get coffee because Vancouver is known for their amazing coffee. We all met up again at the studio for a styling session with Lorna Jane! What the what?! It was amazing and so fun to watch everyone get all dressed up in different outfits, having a blast, and uplifting each other. There was a photographer at the event and we took photos and had a ton of fun!
We struck yoga poses, took group shots, and then went outside for a fun group photo all decked out in the Lorna Jane. That was one of my favorite parts of the day! It was so fun to see everyone love on their bodies, flaunting their muscles, and feeling really good about themselves! That's a rarity these days and I love it when I can witness women truly loving themselves.
Next up we had a lunch break, and I course got all the food because I was starving. We then had a fun scavenger hunt through Gastown Neighborhood where we explored the city more and did hilarious things like jumping jacks with strangers, and "pink steel" fashion poses. Yes, my group coined that term, because we are awesome! It was hilarious taking photos of other people's foods and drinking pink drinks! After the scavenger hunt wrapped we were all exhausted and all retreated to our places.
DAY 3: Day 3 was a weird one for me because I actually missed the morning, but I can report on the rest of the day. After coffee, we had a blogging session with a guest speaker Amanda Vogel that I really enjoyed. This was my second time seeing her speak and it was really interesting to hear everyone talk about their blogs and their goals with blogging. It felt good to be a room with like-minded individuals who could all talk about what we are doing and how we are all in this together. There was no sense of competition or envy, just a beautiful power-hour filled with tips, tricks, and advice. Another highlight of the retreat for sure!
Next up, we did more yoga and flowing, which was nice because after sitting we needed to stretch our bodies out. This yoga session was less intense but felt so good. After yoga, we dove into partner yoga sessions where I felt insecure and like I didn't add up. But, I participated anyways and figured if I fell on my head, at least I was in the right place for it. I did not end up falling on my end, but I did end up getting into partner downward dog where I did a partial pike handstand, which was really cool! Although I'm not a handstand enthusiast, it felt good to attempt to try. I look forward to many more handstand/headstand attempts in the future!And that's a wrap!
We said our goodbyes, gave good squishy hugs, and I left feeling inspired and empowered. Ready to take on new blogging projects and ready to make a commitment to FINALLY getting my yoga teacher certification. I may not be a pretzel or be tall, but I do have a fierce personality and I'm open to learning all the new things!
If you are considering doing a fitness retreat, JUST DO IT! Trust me, this is coming from miss anxiety city and I still participated and had a blast both time. They are terrifying, exhilarating, and exciting and I can promise you that you will walk away feeling inspired and ready for the next adventure.
Thank you Sweat Pink and Empowered Events for hosting such a fun retreat, I cannot wait to sign up for the next one!
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