The main reason I have been so delinquent with this post is because it was such an incredible weekend that it’s almost hard to put it into words. It was a weekend that not only filled my heart with love, but made me realize just how incredible this community is, and how lucky I am to be a part of it.
The funny thing is that just like my last trip to Vancouver, I was feeling a little anxious, and apprehensive about the trip before I left. I was feeling really drained after being taken down by a terrible head-cold, and on top of that, I was struggling with the fact that I was hosting this retreat while 11 weeks pregnant – which meant nobody at the retreat would know I was pregnant (with the exception of Nicci and Katie) and I was either going to have to hide it completely or let them all know. And I hadn’t quite decided what I wanted to do yet.
I loaded up my car early on Wednesday, full of yoga mats, props, supplies, and personal items and headed north. Since I was driving alone and still not feeling 100%, I decided I’d drive halfway on Wednesday and save the rest of the drive for Thursday. My drive on Wednesday was, in all honesty, completely miserable. My cold was back with a vengeance, my eyes, and nose were leaking, and I felt feverish. Plus, my stomach was in some kind of strange turmoil (I’ll spare the details).
I made it to La Conner, WA, checked into a slightly nicer hotel than I normally would, just so I could sink into a plush hotel bed and try to sleep some of it off.
When I got up early the next morning, I was feeling slightly less snotty and watery, and decided to go on a short run to shake out the legs and explore the town before hitting the road again. I ran down the main street, by the water, took photos in front of Rainbow Bridge, and found the trails in Pioneer Park. A good 5 miles to shake out the legs and explore the adorable little town.
Of course, I stopped off at The Scone Lady for breakfast first. I give the scone an A and unfortunately, the service a D. It wasn’t even necessarily because there was a lack of service, it was just because it was really rude and strange service. I felt like I was inconveniencing the woman working by coming in to order breakfast at her business….? But the scone was pretty epic.
Once on the road again, I was cruising. It was an easy drive – with virtually no traffic. I was listening to podcasts, and making really good time. Once I hit the border, I almost couldn’t believe my eyes – there was literally no line. I was moving straight ahead towards the border crossing without having to wait in a sea of cars like ever other time I’ve driven north before. Only my luck had run out. The border agent was confused about the big poster-board in my car and the words, “yoga class” and they made me go inside and talk to more agents. I explained the nature of my visit again to the woman who was helping me and she took my car keys, my phone (and passcode), and left for about 15-20 minutes while I sat patiently (and snottily) in the waiting room. Another couple near me – the woman was crying – apparently had a gun in their car that they didn’t know was there. Fun eavesdropping experience if nothing else…
Once the agent came back, I was in desperate need of a tissue and as I approached the desk to ask for one, she called out my name. Thankfully, she handed back my keys and my phone and sent me on my way. I arrived at my Airbnb, which was on the east side of downtown – a very different neighborhood than when we stayed in Kitsilano for our girl’s weekend – and it was quite possibly the cutest house ever (my dream house, basically). There were far more restaurants, shops, and culture and of course, a bit more grit. I found a coffee shop and worked for a few hours before it was time to head down to Lorna Jane to unload and get ready for Friday.
I found parking a few blocks from Lorna Jane and grabbed a big handful of stuff – along with the giant photo-frame and awkwardly weaved my way through the busy street looking for the store. I passed it a number of times before I finally found it and made my way upstairs feeling sweaty and disheveled. Janelle was there to greet me and came down to help me unload the rest of the yoga mats, swag bags, and supplies. Once we were done, I realized I was starving and made a to go order at Bandidas Taqueria, a vegetarian and vegan Mexican restaurant near where I was staying. Basically, the best TACOS of my life. Seriously.
Basically inhaled and went straight to bed.
Friday morning, I was up early and decided to take a long, luxurious shower before heading out to grab all of the last minute supplies and snacks for the retreat. Once I had everything on my list, I headed over to meet with my friend, and lady boss Amanda to catch up and hang out before she would be coming in to speak as part of the retreat weekend. We ended up at Prado Cafe on Commercial Drive, near where I was staying.
Once back at the house, Katie and Nicci pulled up and we made our way in to start organizing retreat schedules and folders, and getting all of the extra supplies situated before it was officially go time.
EMPOWER Vancouver Retreat Day One (Friday):
All of my pre retreat apprehensions and anxieties seemed to immediately lift as people came in the door, everyone smiling, excited, and bursting with good energy. We quickly planned a run route and were off on our 5K fun run.
It was a perfect way to see more of the city and break the ice! After the run, we had laid out these hilarious light up birthday glasses on everyone’s mats and surprised Genevieve with a little happy birthday song before getting ready for yoga.
Next up was yoga, led by yours truly. And the ladies absolutely ROCKED it. I saw so many of them pushing themselves outside of their comfort zones, trying new things, and my heart was literally bursting with joy. Oh – and check out our awesome mats – best mat I’ve ever owned, thanks to prAna! Grab one for yourself and get 15% off using FAJK15 at checkout!
After yoga, we snacked (the popcorn…! OMG!) and socialized for a bit before people started making their way back to their respective hotels and homes. Katie, Nicci, and I did some final clean-up and then headed to Bandida’s Taqueria for dinner. Yes, I went two nights in a row. Don’t judge. And then basically…straight to bed.
EMPOWER Vancouver Retreat Day Two (Saturday):
On Saturday, we were all up early, and even managed to sneak in a quick rinse before it was time to go. We got to Lorna Jane around 7:30 am and got set up for our first class of the day, HIIT & Flow with Nicci. But before we got to the sweat part, we sat in a circle and did quick intros – we each gave all the basic intro stuff (names, where from, Insta handles) and then of course, we named our spirit animals or a fun fact about ourselves (in keeping with retreat tradition). After intros (and a lot of laughter!), it was time to sweat.
Nicci led us in a STRONG and powerful HIIT & Flow workout. We were all sweating and shaking by the end, but also feeling so accomplished!
Our next event was a shopping and styling session with Lorna Jane. Janelle gave us a quick preview of how to style and then we were set free to try on clothes, take photos in our different outfits, and have fun!
After shopping, Kusum (one of my favorite humans on the planet) led us in a session on Instagram stories. And I know we all learned a LOT. It led to a lot of discussion around strategy, engagement, and of course the damn algorithm changes!
After talking the gram and shopping, it was time for lunch. Nicci and I headed over to Meet, a veggie friendly, and oh so delicious restaurant in Gas Town. I got the Seoul Bowl and it was amazing! All the kimchi and pickled things.
After lunch, we headed back to Lorna Jane and started getting ready for an evening scavenger hunt, which was seriously SO MUCH fun. We broke into teams to explore the city, get to know each other better, and have fun. So many fun stories and memories were made from ladies kissing a soccer player, to a hilarious hula photoshoot, to doing yoga with a martial arts team. It was seriously one of the most fun things we did all weekend long.
After the scavenger hunt, we shared our stories, photos and handed out some fun prizes and then parted ways for our respective evenings. Nicci, Katie, and I got back to the house and basically decided we just needed to chill. It was a takeout and early bed time kind of evening for us!
EMPOWER Vancouver Retreat Day Three (Sunday):
Saturday was so fun, I wasn’t sure how we would top it, but then Sunday came along. AND OMG, we had fun! We started the morning off with a Gixo workout which, if you haven’t tried, you definitely should.
We all had our headphones on and completed the workout individually, but with motivation from the whole group. The trainer was talking to each of us, giving us encouragement to pick up the pace and alerting us of our goals and we were sending each other high five emojis and taking group selfies all during the workout for extra inspiration. It was a sweaty, good time! We sprinted, planked, and push-up’ed our way through Gastown! Want to try Gixo for yourself? Get one month free plus 20% off here.
We’ve been using it to workout as a team virtually – and it’s seriously so much fun!
After the workout, we all went out to grab coffee and snacks. I had this delicious little protein ball.
And then we were back at Lorna Jane for a super informative, and interactive session with one of my friends and favorite social media gurus, Amanda Vogel. We talked social media strategy, social media audits, branding, and got into lengthy discussions over which platforms we’re all using and why they work / don’t work for us. I think we all left feeling really inspired and ready to tackle more content!
Next up was lunch, which for Nicci and I meant…MORE TACOS.
And then last but not least, we had a little yoga power hour class to get us nice and warm and stretched out for our arm balance + inversion workshop and yoga photography photoshoot. It was so fun watching everyone explore their practice, learn from each other, and have fun while doing it!
After all the yoga, all the photos and all the fun, it was time to say goodbye. I think what I learned most from this weekend is just how strong, supportive, and amazing this community truly is. We all came together – most of us strangers – and forged a lasting bond over laughter, sweat, and learning. And I could not be more grateful for this experience or these wonderful women who I now have the pleasure of calling my friends.
Stay sweaty friends,
Disclaimer: Gixo provided me with FREE workouts and prAna provided our mats but all opinions, words, thoughts are my very own! I truly appreciate all of the brands that support the Sweat Pink community.