Learning to Fly at Oakley Progression Sessions

This past weekend I had the amazing opportunity to head to Blue Mountain with my sister and some of my favourite Tribe members to attend the Oakley Progression Sessions. This opportunity is a female skier/snowboarder’s dream come true – sorry boys, it’s ladies only!

Hosted by Oakley Canada, female skiers and snowboards of all ages and levels took to the slopes of Blue Mountain under the guidance of some of the best female downhill skiers, snowboarders, slope style-ers, and half pipe-ers around.

Getting Started

My custom Haus of Gardner goggles

After a morning yoga session and custom goggle build (yup, we made our own Oakley goggles – frames, lenses, straps we picked them all)  we were divided into our learning teams and assigned a coach. Although I’ve been snowboarding for 10 years I have never been into the park (hence why I was here at the event), so I was happily assigned the beginner group (with my sister). We were with 10 other newbies under the direction of 4th place Sochi snowboard cross rider Faye Gulini and two time Olympian and World Cup Champion on the half pipe Dominique Vallee. Our group was by far the biggest, so we had two coaches, but it was nice to be with others who also new nothing about riding in the park, so we could learn and fall together 😉


Tri-pod-ing (Ali, Diana, Me) Instagram: @only1pheonixx

After a couple warm-up runs the fun began learning some fun freestyle tricks which didn’t require anything other than ourselves, the first was a tri-pod. Exactly as it sounds you place two hands on the ground and one end of your board and slide down the hill kind of in a handstand – Why? Why not!

I was able to do it while carving on the second day and while I didn’t get the point after I did it on day 1, it was fun and I realized sometimes you don’t need a reason! I also saw a couple guys at the bottom of the hill who had clearly noticed my advanced freestyle skills giving it a try, and that was almost equally as awesome.

Riding a Box

Riding A Box (Nancy)

We then hit up the learning park and learned to “ride a box.” Essentially it’s like the top of a picnic table made of hard plastic, it’s very slippery, and obviously not as wide. This was soon to be the first piece of the park any of us had rode. We received directions from our coaches: keep your board flat, no turning after a certain point, and look ahead. The box was flush to the ground which made it easy (-ish) to get on, getting off from the raised edge (not shown here) proved to be a bit more challenging, but once we got it we had a blast! After a team lunch we head out to…The HALF PIPE!!!

The Half Pipe

Shredding Up The Half Pipe (Me)

This was crazy. We sat as a group at the top of the half pipe and had our pro Dom share with us the “jist” of carving around. Bottom line “make friends with the half pipe” and “look up!” As the beginner group we sat for a bit waiting for the first person to slide forward and volunteer to ride the pipe (remember we were all rookies). Out of no where my SISTER puts her hand up and takes off – WHAT!!! No no no, other people are suppose to do this crazy thing – not you!

And off she went and KILLED IT! She was amazing carving up the sides. I love that she led the group, which of course gave me inspiration and I went next. My love of the half pipe began here.

We then head back to the slopes with new leaders (head coach) Mary Walsh  and Christine Savage (both of Snowboarder Magazine amongst other cool stuff) to do some more freestyle on the slopes.learned a few more tricks on the slope – ollies, board grabs, and butter – again freestyle tricks that didn’t involve other equipment. It was very cold by now and we had been doing lots of sitting (watching one person at a time go vs. all taking off at once – we were tired) so we called it a day.

I Believe I Can Fly

A Little Air Time (Me)

Day two started with a similar yoga class, however this time there was a lot of moaning and groaning from the crowd. People were definitely feeling the bumps and sore muscles from yesterdays fun. In our same groups, we did our regular warm-up runs and with coaches Mary and Christine headed out to review our freestyle. We road switch (“wrong” leg forward), reviewed our ollies,  road into the park and did a box, then hit the jumps.

Many of the similar safety rules are transferred from feature to feature in the park. Keep your knees bent and look up. So this time on the small jumps that’s what we did. After some coaching from both Mary and Christine we were flying – all of us. We would launch off the jump, land on our feet (most times) and take off the board and eagerly run up the hill to start all over. Again this was something totally new for most of us and everyone rocked it multiple times. After 6 or 7 jumps each we celebrated with lunch.

Rocking on the Rail

Riding The Rail (Me)

For the afternoon the coaches were placed around the park and we got to pick which activities we wanted to focus on. We had yet to ride a rail so that’s where we headed. The rail is about half the size of your snowboard, but you’re supposed to ride onto it, along it, then jump off. Sound scary? It is!! I really didn’t think I would do it and for the first time all weekend I actually felt scared (of falling and getting hurt). Coach Christine took us through the experience (keep low, look ahead), and one at a time our team mates went, we cheered when each one made it across, some landing perfectly on the first go. I was still really scared, telling myself that I would be okay not going – look at how much I had already done – then the louder voice became the one telling me this is why I was here – this is the safe place to learn – if I don’t do it now, I never will. So I  stood up for my turn, took a couple deep breaths, and coached myself to relax. I road to the rail with a nice straight board, and then… fell over before even getting on – it was so thin, like how could I possible ride on that!!!

So I stood up, I now wanted to do it, and this was my chance. I stood at the end of the rail with my board lined up, and Christine pushed me across and I jumped off. Then I went back to do it again – 4 more times actually. She helped me get over the fear and give it a try, and actually do it and land it standing up!

The afternoon concluded with some amazing prizes being given out to gals who showed awesome courage and skills on the slopes (and on Instagram – search #OakleyProgressionSessions). We all received duffel bags full of awesome Oakley gear, some amazing memories, and some new tricks up our sleeves.

Things I learned:

There were definitely a few lessons learned by all this weekend. Here are mine:

1. When it comes to the park these two rules always apply: 1. Look where you want to go 2. Keep you knees bent!

2. Getting onto the rail/box/jump/half pipe (at least at the small height) is always the easiest part – it’s getting off that’s the hard part. (And I mean dismounting correctly – not just falling – that would be easy).

3. What would Beyonce do? Now I can’t confirm that this is exactly what Mary said to me on the jumps, it’s what I heard and thought it was rather amazing – I would imagine Queen Bey would get low and stick out that booty, she wouldn’t look where she’s been, only where she’s going, and that pretty much summed up point number 1, so it works. WWBD?

Me, Nancy, Ali, Nancy

The Oakley Progression Sessions were a truly awesome weekend. I loved being there with my sister (although most people were there solo) and I loved everything that Oakley did to make this event so special. The coaching and the comradery truly made this an awesome weekend to learn and have fun in a physically and emotionally safe environment. Your coaches gave you the knowledge you needed and your team gave you the inspiration and cheers. I can not wait for next years session and I highly suggest skiers and snowboarders check this out. You will have a blast and learn something while doing it.

(And what I really can’t wait for, is to go snowboarding with my husband and brother-in-laws and show them everything amazing I learned that they can’t do – hehehe) 😉

5 Tips to Stay Active This Winter

This is definitely one of the coldest winters that I remember in a long time , but that hasn’t stopped the Tribe! Just because Jack Frost is lingering outside your door, doesn’t mean it’s time for hibernation – in fact, hibernation isn’t an option!

Here are 5 tips to keep active outdoors this winter!

1. Dress For The Weather.

Layering is key. Many of the tribe team who are going on their first winter run  ask about clothing and layers when getting active in the cold. Here are some tips:

  • choose technical exercise clothes and outerwear
  • first layer should be thin and thermal layer — a moisture wicking tank top and fleece lined tights
  • mid layer is about warmth –  a lightweight fleece hoodie or jacket
  • outer layer should protect you from the winter or rain —think  a jacket/shell or vest, and pants. This outer layer should give you warmth without bulkiness and enable you to peel off the layers as you heat up.
  • top it of with hat, mitts, and a scarf as appropriate

Still need help? Check out this handy guide from Runner’s World!

2. Make a Date (with your real family, or fit family).

Two facts: 1. Healthy misery loves company.  2. You are less likely to bail on a friend then you would on yourself. So, on these cold winter days invite a friend and get a move on! Whether it’s a new hobby (see below) or simply a walk in the park. Make a date and stick with it. If you’re looking for a team to start running with, #JoinTheTribe!tribe 2

3. Learn a New Hobby (or Pick Up An Old One).

Winter is a great season for outdoor sports! Whether you are learning one for the first time or revisiting one from your past so much fun can be had on the hills, or around them. Downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snow shoeing, and ice skating are all great snow-based activities that are a lot of fun even for beginners. If this is your first time on the slopes or on the ice, consider taking lessons, either weekly or one off, to learn from a pro and be successful from the start.

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4. Start Simple: Walk.

If you haven’t been active in winters past, walking is a great way to start moving and get used to the cold.  There’s no need to wait after work hours, consider starting a noon hour walking club at work and get outdoors during your lunch. Make sure you are dressed for the weather!ski

5. Play!

Take a hint from the kids (either yours or someone else’s) and just go outside and play! Build a snowman, throw a snow ball, get a move on, and have some fun!  Playing outside is fun at any age.

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How do you stay active in the winter? Share your ideas in the comments below!

Yoga for Snowboarders

After an amazing long weekend of snowboarding in Quebec, I knew after my first day on the slopes that my body wasn’t going to forgive me if I didn’t take the time to stretch before hitting the après scene. Quads, hamstrings, shines, calves, and arches were all killing! – The first ride of the season is always so much fun!  So here are a few of the stretches I did to relieve my sore muscles and get me ready for another great day on the slopes.

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Standing Back Bend

tremblant 2013 051 Directions: Standing in mountain pose with big toes together and heels slightly apart, place hands on the lower back and gently arch the spin opening through the chest looking up.


  • Stretches shoulders and chest

Chair Pose

tremblant 2013 052Directions: Stand with the bases of your big toes touching, heels slightly apart.  Inhale and raise your arms perpendicular to the floor with palms together or keep the arms parallel to the floor. Exhale and bend your knees, bringing the thighs as parallel to the floor as possible. Hold for 30seconds to 1 minute.


  • Strengthens the ankles, thighs, calves, and spine
  • Stretches shoulders and chest
  • Stimulates the abdominal organs, diaphragm, and heart

Big Toe Pose

IMG_2975From standing position with feet six inches apart, exhale and fold forward. Bend knees slightly if pressure is felt on the lower back. Head should hang heavily from the upper spine. Slide the index and middle fingers of each hand between and around the big and second toes gripping the big toes firmly. Press your toes down against your fingers. Bend your elbows out to the sides, pull up on your toes, lengthen the front and sides of your torso, and gently lower into the forward bend. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.


  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress, anxiety and mild
  • Stimulates the liver and kidneys
  • Stretches the hamstrings and calves
  • Strengthens the thighs

Garland Pose


Squat with your feet as close together as possible. Separate your thighs slightly wider than your torso and lean your torso forward fitting between your thighs. Press your elbows against your inner knees, bringing your palms to together in prayer. Hold the position for 5 to 8 breaths, then inhale, straighten the knees, and stand.


  • Stretches the ankles, groins and back torso

Downward Facing Dog

IMG_2965Directions: From Garland Pose, exhale placing both hands on the floor and step back lifting the seat towards the sky. Spread hands and feet as they are pressed onto the floor. Focus is on lengthening the upper body. Legs should be straight, but may be bent as needed. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths.


  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
  • Energizes the body
  • Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands
  • Strengthens the arms and legs

Low Lunge

tremblant 2013 057Directions: Beginning in Downward-Facing Dog pose, inhale and step your right foot between your hands into a lunge. Lower your back knee onto the floor, placing the top of your foot against the ground. Bring your hands to your right knee while sinking your hips toward the floor. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths, and then repeat on the other side.


  • Stretches the hip flexors, and hamstrings
  • Strengthens the legs


pigeonDirections: From Low Lunge, bring the right leg forward in front of the body with the right knee bent and the foot flexed. Extend the left leg behind the body with the left toes on the floor. To extend the pose, place the left hand or the left forearm on the floor. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths, and then repeat on the other side.


  • Stretches the thighs, groins and psoas, abdomen, chest and shoulders, and neck
  • Opens the shoulders and chest

Kneel with Toe Stretch (knees on floor)

tremblant 2013 069Directions: Kneeling with the toes tucked under bring the seat back towards the heels sitting the body back and opening through the chest.


  • Stretches thighs, knees, ankles, and arches

Kneel with Shin Stretch

shinDirections: Kneeling on the floor, sit back on your heels lifting your upper body slightly, and flattening your feet on the floor. Slowly sit back on your heels. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths.


  • Stretches thighs, knees, ankles, and shins

Bound Angle Pose

coblerstremblant 2013 061Directions: Sit on the floor, or with your pelvis on a blanket, bending your knees, pulling your heels toward your pelvis. Drop your knees out to the sides and press the soles of your feet together, bringing your heels as close to your pelvis as possible. Always keep the outer edges of the feet firmly on the floor. If the arches of your feet are sore, massage them with your hands or grab the big tie of each foot with the first and second finger and thumb. Stay in this pose for 1 to 5 minutes.


  • Stimulates the heart and improves general circulation
  • Stretches the inner thighs, groins, and knees

 Legs up the Wall (modified)

legs u wDirections: Sit sideways to the wall (or chair) with your right hip touching the wall. Exhale and, with one smooth movement, swing your legs up onto the wall and your shoulders and head lightly down onto the floor. Keep your legs relatively firm, just enough to hold them vertically in place. Stay in this pose anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. To ext the posture, carefully roll onto your side or use your legs to push yourself away from the way. Stay on your side for a few 5 to 10 minutes, and come up to sitting position with an exhalation.


  • Relieves tired or cramped legs and feet
  • Gently stretches the back legs, front torso, and the back of the neck
  • Relieves mild backache
  • Calms the mind

And just for fun and because I’ve mastered it on the left side (woo hoo) – Grasshopper!