Wednesday, 2 November 2016

The Frances Five: secrets to a long happy life

If youve ever been to The Forks on a Tuesday or Thursday morning its hard not to notice a happy, friendly group of seniors milling about. They meet twice a week for their I AM Fitness class, a free exercise class that caters to those 55 and up, encouraging strength, mobility and flexibility. 

I recently joined them for a class and met Frances, who at age 90 is living life to its fullest. After class, over a cup of tea in The Forks Market, she shared with me some secrets to her long, happy, healthy life.

I call them the Frances Five, and Id love to share them with you:

1. She goes outside

Frances is outside all the time, nature makes her happy. Fresh air invigorates her, connecting her to the outside world. She cuts her own grass in the summer and shovels her own sidewalk in the winter. I asked her how she manages our cold winters, she smiled and said, You put on a warmer coat. Keep your eyes peeled for Frances this winter on the Red River Mutual Trail, shes a trail regular!

2. She spends active time with friends and family

Shes our inspiration! her classmates proudly announce. Smiling and greeting each other, its clear there are relationships beyond exercise. After class, they routinely have coffee, celebrating birthdays and life milestones together. It motivates Frances when people expect to see her every week. Its a nice way to spend time with people., some of her best memories were winters she spent skiing with her grandsons, she tells me.

3. She doesnt eat fried food often

When I asked Frances about what she eats, she simply stated, Well, I try not to eat fried foods. She cooks most of her own meals and often enjoys a glass of red wine with dinner. Winter breakfasts are oatmeal with flax, snacks are fruit or almonds. Currently her favourite sandwich is toasted tomato made with her own garden tomatoes.

4. She says yes

She is always up for anything. It takes bravery to step out of your comfort zone, and Frances is a living example of that. Do a plank? Sure, why not. Frances says that as long as she can move her body, she can participate in life. The I AM Fitness classes maintain her mobility and strength to give her the energy to go out in the world to dance, skate, play badminton and enjoy the theatre and symphony.

5. She walks and bikes everywhere

Her first choice to get anywhere is always to use her own body. In summer months, Frances rides her bike to The Forks for classes. If you spot her in her own neighbourhood, shes always out walking. She recently had a few errands downtown, she told me she left her car parked downtown for the day and walked everywhere she needed to go. Why drive everywhere? she says. “Its more fun to get out and see the world.

Oh Frances, you have my heart. I want to grow up and be just like you.

I AM Fitness classes are every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 am – 10:30 am, and 10:30 am – 11:30 am. In warmer months they meet outside under the Forks canopy and in cooler months they meet inside the bright beautiful Royal Dance studio in The Forks Market. Classes are first come, first serve. Sign up sheets are posted outside the class to reserve your spot. They dont check IDs.

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Lindsay Somers is an urban lifestyle health coach. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram. All photos by Luckygirl Photography. Special thanks to Raul, Connie and Frances for sharing their stories. 

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Must-Taste Local Foods at the Love Local MB Pop-Up

Our friends at Generation Green are hosting yet another local-filled event at The Forks this Saturday!

On October 22nd, the Love Local MB Pop-Up will be set up in the atrium by the elevators. Local food developers will be talking about their process while you sample their delicious food.

Once your food baby has grown to a healthy size, you can make your way into the Pop-Up store to buy that dip you know your Heritage Classic Viewing Party guests will adore.

Who will be there:

Pete Fehr from Gourmet Inspirations

Bessie Hatizirifonos of Bessie's Best

... and so many more.

By purchasing local food, you are eating good food and promoting both economic and environmental sustainability. Win – win!

Plus, knowing that this deliciousness was made right in Manitoba gives us all the proud feels.

To top it all off, stop by The Common just around the corner to pick up a local brew to sip while tasting the food. We recommend testing out Torque Brewing Co.'s Red Line IPA – so good!

There is a $5 entry at the door which also gives you a chance to win a prize pack stuffed full of Manitoba food.

Check our Instagram and Facebook to learn how to win tickets to the event.

Visit Generation Green for more information about the Love Local MB Pop-Up.

Happy tasting!

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Wednesday, 5 October 2016

City Adventure Workout: Paddle to The Forks

I love a city that embraces the water around it. Winnipeg may not be a coastal city, but we do have over 200 km of rivers that run through our city. In winter, we make excellent use of our frozen rivers, with over 10,000 people skating on it every season. But, in summer we don’t venture out on the water as much. Mud-bottomed rivers aren’t ideal for swimming, so I thought I’d check out another way to enjoy the river in its unfrozen state — paddling. Inspired by my pals Kate and Lynne, frequent urban paddlers, we gathered up some fellow adventurers and spent an afternoon paddling from the west Perimeter to The Forks…

Our flotilla consisted of canoes and single and tandem kayaks. People showed up with borrowed, rented and their own equipment. You can pick up canoes from Splashdash at The Forks if you are looking to paddle around the Port area. Or if you are looking to go on a longer adventure, you can get everything (and I mean everything) you need from Wilderness Supply

They ensure you are comfortable with the equipment, answering any questions and getting you exactly what you need for your trip. And? They strap everything to your car too! Daily rentals are $30 for kayak, paddles and a lifejacket. I opted for the tandem kayak with my pal Sara, because it just seemed like too much fun. Also: hello, amazing date idea!

Our three-hour trip started with the drop-in on the Assiniboine River just outside the west Perimeter at Oxbend Road. Here we found easy loading and direct access to the river. For the one-way cruise, I recommend getting a kayak sherpa to drop you (and the kayaks) off and pick you (and the kayaks) up at The Forks. My husband Bob is a land-lubber so he made an excellent kayak sherpa. If no landlubbers are present, you’ll have to pre-arrange a second car drop at The Forks.

The kayaks and canoes were pretty easy to carry down to the water. A good core and upper body strength workout! To be honest, I think this was the most physically challenging aspect to the afternoon!

Once you’re at the water, you sit down in the kayak and slide right in! The connection to the water is immediate when you are in a kayak sitting at the water level. No motors. Just you, the water and some paddles. It’s quiet and peaceful (save for my shrills of delight).

I was so surprised at how we immediately started to coast without paddling! The Assiniboine River has a natural gentle current that is forever nudging you toward The Forks. 

The riverbanks are stunning and give you such a different perspective. I was struck by how it felt like I was away at a cottage, not in the middle of the city. It was quiet and serene. Every bend in the river felt like a new discovery. It was disorienting in the most wonderful way to get lost in a city I’ve lived in my whole life. We had a blue heron follow us along for most of the trip. Every once in a while a bridge would appear and we would be brought back to our familiar places the city.

We’d paddle a bit, then coast. Sometimes we’d just sit and float in the middle of the river, chat and visit. 

As we got closer to downtown, the river came alive with people. Apartment buildings appeared, people on their balconies waved at us. We greeted a fisherman, Sunday strollers and cyclists on the river walk. Boats and water taxis puttered by, waving at us. The river became social, gathering us together in a new way.

We glided into the Port area at The Forks, secured ourselves against the dock with the anchor knobs and hopped out. There’s a small lot on the southwest end of the Market (near Sydney’s restaurant) that makes it easy to load and fasten your kayak to the car. 

A cold beer post paddle tastes so good! Over patio beers and nachos, we discussed how inspiring it was to see the city from a whole new perspective. We paddled the seams of our city, connecting 10 different neighbourhoods. It felt like a trip in a new place, a bit familiar, yet completely different.

Thousands of years ago, people navigated the same rivers and met at The Forks. It’s bizarre to think that we are only rediscovering this now. We are a city built on these rivers, and it’s worth the effort to get out and enjoy them in all seasons.

Lindsay Somers is an urban lifestyle health coach. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Illustration by Brandi Baldwin. Photos by Mark Reimer

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