Barbados Travel Guide : Where to Eat

Hello and welcome to the first of my three part travel guide  for Barbados!!

This has been one of my most excited and highly anticipated posts to date. As an experienced traveler (52 countries and counting), I tend to seek out off-the-beaten path recommendations wherever I travel to, especially from the locals of the area. On occasion I see travel guides on Barbados, and photos on social media, but they tend to be the same places on repeat. As a native of this paradise, I often get asked for advice on where to stay, what to do, and where to eat so I take great pride in sharing some of my favourite and sometimes not well known spots.

I knew that once my website was launched that it would be a matter of time before I shared my local perspective’s travel guide on Barbados, with some emphasis on a holistic and wellness approach. A couple weeks ago I went home to visit my family and thought it would be the ideal opportunity to collect the content I needed to put this piece together.

The first part of this guide is focused on where to eat. While some of these places aren’t necessarily part of my everyday diet, a large part of traveling includes experiencing the cuisine.

Below are some of my favourite restaurants and food spots that I recommend.


  1. Fresh Fruit & Veggie Stands 

Tropical destinations are synonymous with fruits like mangoes, pineapples, bananas, papayas and so forth. Fruit stands are common in Barbados, usually off the side of the road.

I highly recommend supporting local farmers and stopping off to buy some of nature’s skittles. Some of the local fruit include bananas, golden apples, carambola (star fruit or five fingers), mangoes, grapefruit and guava.


IMG_3262 copy


This also includes coconut stands. Every time I arrive on the island, I make a beeline to one of these stands so I can get my dose of fresh coconut water and some coconut jelly.




2. Cheapside Market 

The largest and busiest market from is in Bridgetown on Cheapside Road. This public market, open Thursdays to Saturdays,  is where many farmers and vendors sell their produce and craft. Many locals make it a ritual to shop here on a Saturday morning. If you love visiting local markets, then this place is worth checking out.






3. Just Grillin 

This is my favourite restaurant on the island. There are several locations and many offer casual outdoor seating. As the name suggests, they grill everything- from the ocean catch of the day to chicken, steak, veggies and more.  The prices are reasonable  ($1.50 BDS is approx $1.00 CDN, $0.75 USD) so a steak with a side of veggies and salad is approx $28 CAD. As I don’t eat meat often, and the price is cheaper than Toronto, my go to tends to be the steak with a double side of grilled veggies (corn, squash, carrots).



For more information:


4. Oistin’s Fish Market 

Barbados is known as the “land of the flying fish”.  In fact the fish is one of the national symbols of the island often depicted on the Barbados Passport, coins, structures, and logos including the Barbados Tourism Authority.



Home made flying fish, purchased from Oistins Fish Market 


Thus a visit would not be complete without trying flying fish and many other local fish, especially on a Friday night fish fry. One can enjoy grilled fish with some drinks (approx $ 35 BDS) while listening to some calypso and soca. But be warned, it gets very busy so be sure to head there by 5:45pm.



         Fisherman showing his morning conquest 



         The seating area of Oistins Fish Fry 



             Typical fisherman boat on the island 


5. Tapas 

Tappas is located on the beach boardwalk by Hastings on the South of the island. It is one of my favourite spots especially because it is so close to the beach. You can hear the waves crashing and feel the salt water air as you enjoy a meal.


IMG_3360                                         View from one of my favourite seating area at Tapas 

You can choose to share a variety of dishes (hence tapas) or go for a larger meal of pasta, fish or meat. The dishes range from $20-$60BDS while the tapas are approx $20. I recommend the cerviche and quinoa salad or the fish cakes.



                   Quinoa and Cerviche Dish 



                    Thai Fish Cakes 


For more information:

6. Cuz’s Fish Stand 

Any local on the island knows about Cuz for their fish cutters (sandwiches). This food truck is stationed outside Pebbles Beach. For $9 BDS you can either get fresh fish alone or with cheese in a salt bread (buns made with yeast and salt typical to Barbados). I am not a huge fan of sandwiches and don’t really eat bread but I love these fish cutters and usually grab a couple after a good paddle boarding/tanning session at Pebbles.




There isn’t any seating but really who wants to sit by the shack when the beach is 20 steps away. Cuz is only opened during the week (weekends off) although there may be some fluctuations depending the time of year.



7. Brown Sugar 

Brown Sugar is known as the home of Bajan cuisine. Located around the corner from Pebbles Beach, by the Garrison, this restaurant is in a former Bajan heritage home. They offer a la carte or buffet style, allowing you the opportunity to try various local and creole dishes. The prices range from $19 to $95, but the biggest bang for you buck is the buffet for $69 BDS.



                Fried and steamed flying fish 



                       Cou- Cou and lentil pea rice 



                            Okra, Squash and Chinese cabbage 


This is my go to restaurant if I want to show others our island’s cuisine or if I want a more formal spot (and by formal I mean not in flip flops and a bikini). Some of my recommendations include pepperpot (it’s an Amerindian dish made of meat and spices), coucou and flying fish (our national dish), coconut beer shrimp, spice fish fillet, bajan rum burger, baked cinnamon plantain and much more.



Amerindian dish of Pepperpot 


For more information:

8. Raw Juice Barbados

Smoothie bowls are becoming more popular in places like Hawaii, Bali, Mexico and even North America. Barbados is no exception. Located inside Quayside Centre Plaza, across the street from the boardwalk and Accra beach, one can grab a smoothie drink or bowl. This is the perfect healthy snack, especially while trying to beat the heat and humidity.



        Berries and peanut butter smoothies 





Picnic of the beach with our smoothie bowls 


Other  Notable Recommendations:

  • Cin Cin


  • Champers


  • The Cliff


  • Tides


  • The Fishpot


Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Barbados travel guide, which will cover what to do.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to add them below.





TEA-licious: top Tea Cafes in Toronto

I frequently see blogs about coffee spots across the city, but not often do I encounter ones that cater specifically to TEA. If you are a non-coffee drinker like myself (never had a cup in my life), then tea may be your best alternative for a hot drink, especially on a cold winter day.

And just like my last blog post (top fitness studios in Toronto), I spent many months exploring cafes across the city as I compiled a list of my top spots. The places that I listed provided more than just a tea bag in hot water; I was looking for unique blends, tasty lattes, great ambiance and Pinterest-worthy decor.


  1. Early Bird Espresso & Brew Bar 

Located at 613 Queen Street West (Queen and Bathurst), Early Bird is one of my favourite cafes in the city. The patio upstairs is the perfect hideaway and the food is Instagram worthy AND heathy- double win.




The tea menu is your typical selection that can be made with water or milk (almond, regular, soy). Their chai lattes was my go to but as of this summer, I became obsessed with their charcoal latte (charcoal and milk; no coffee. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog about all the benefits of charcoal).



Charcoal Latte with Smoothie Bowl


In the winter or rainy day, the atmosphere is perfect for meeting a friend for a tea or doing some solo work with the many other entrepreneurs in there. You may get lucky and meet a new friend. I had an unexpected good chat with actress Troian Bellisario, who played Spencer Hastings on the popular show “Pretty LittleLiars” and wife to Patrick  Adams (Mike Ross from the  show “Suits”). In fact, I left her reading through my website so who knows, maybe she is reading this one too?



Chai Latte with Almond Milk


2. Forget Me Not Cafe 

This is one of Toronto’s hidden gems for a coffee shop. It’s part retail store (dishes, jewellery and other hand made items) and part coffee shop. I walked past it many times for years before I ventured inside 506 Adelaide Street West.




Forget Me Not makes one of my favourite tea lattes year round. In the summer I order an iced almond tea latte made with almond tea from the brand “Tealicious” (it gives it the pink colour pictured above) and almond milk. In the winter I order the same as a hot drink. And it tastes as yummy as it looks pretty.


3. Calii Love 

Calii Love is known for their Poke and smoothie bowls. During the opening week at the King Location, the owner made a tea latte for me that was unique and became a favourite of mine- coconut latte.




They have a list of teas from the brand “Serenitea”, one of which is called “coconut dream”.  He made this for me with coconut milk and it was one of the tastiest tea lattes I have ever had. It’s not on the menu so you will have to ask for it explicitly, but the staff are always agreeable to making this tropical dream.




4. Sud Forno 

Sud Forno has a few spots across the city, but one of my favourite locations is on Queen street. They carry the “Sloane Fine Tea Merchant ” brand with flavours like Rouge Provence (rooibos French florals), Ginger Twist, Jasmine Snow Dragon, to name a few.

I usually grab the tea to go as I roam Queen street,  sit in Trinity Bellwoods or hang out in the back patio of Kit and Ace (pictured below).


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5.Cafe Cancan

This place blew up instragram this summer for its decor and cute patio. And I admit that I jumped on that bandwagon. While many frequent here for a meal, I think it would make the perfect tea date.




They carry the Pluck brand tea, which you can request with milk for a latte or with water. I ordered an Earl Grey tea latte, pictured below.




6. Simit and Chai

I go to this authentic Turkish cafe on 787 King Street W for a Simit (Turkish circular bread that I get with olive paste and prosciutto) and a Chai. On occasion, however, I get the Turkish black tea , which has a unique yet rich taste that I enjoy.





7.Maman Tea

I first stumbled on this cute cafe in NYC and was pleasantly surprised to find out that they have a location in Toronto at the First Canadian Place on King Street. The decor of Maman is top notch including their bathroom!






Maman  carries the Sloane brand tea. But they are also known for their Blueberry Lavender Loaves. I am not a fan of pastries and cakes, especially if they haven’t been made with minimal processed ingredients. However, this loaf is one of the few pasties I enjoy and I usually compliment it with the “Rooibos French Florals”  tea latte.




8.Jacked Up Coffee 

You can’t venture into Yorkville without noticing this bright blue truck parked on Yorkville Avenue. Jack, the owner, is often manning the truck during the weekdays and brings with him some serious barista skills from many countries (Australia, England).




While Jacked Up Coffee is known for their coffee, they also sell tea (by the Genuine Tea Company). The atmosphere there is perfect for grabbing a cup of peppermint or English breakfast tea while people watching.


9.The Poet Cafe 

This Persian inspired cafe is located on King East and offers customers an atmosphere  reminiscent of Old Tehran. I’m a huge fan of unique business, and while many boast of the cuisine here, I love the vibe the Poet cafe brings to the city.




One of my favourite chai lattes in the city comes from here as they make an in house chai syrup consisting of saffron, rose, cardamon, black tea and honey.


10.Rooster House Coffee 

With a few locations across the city, Rooster house is becoming one of the more popular coffee shops in the city. I’ve gone to both their King and Jarvis locations a few dozen times and I have never seen it empty (even at opening and closing time).



The Jarvis location remains one of my favourite decorated cafes. I love the old English vibe that makes me feel like I am trapped in time.




They are also one of the few cafes that has more than a chai tea latte on the menu. Two of my favourites tea lattes from here are the Ginger Honey Tea Latte (perfect if you are feeling sick) and the Toasty Almond Latte.


11.Music Garden Cafe 

Music Garden Cafe is a quaint little spot on the Harborfront. I used to live in the area and love the decor (especially at Christmas) which made me feel like I was sitting at my grandma’s home. Also, the location is perfect for a grab-n-go tea followed by a stroll along the waterfront.




They cary the brand “Two Leaves and a Bud” tea with a variety of flavours but my go to is usually the organic mountain high chai.


12.Versus Coffee

I am obsessed with the minimalist look so I was instantly drawn to Versus. The customer service and the fact that they are an independent company were also bonuses for my attraction towards them.




Versus also carries the Genuine Tea brand, my favourite of which is the vanilla rooibos flavour. I rotate between getting this as a latte with almond milk or with just water.





13.The Place 

I was turning around the corner from the Flat Iron Building off of Church street when I randomly stumbled on The Place- a flower shop complimented with a cafe. French music played in the background of this fairly quiet cafe, which immediately drew me in.




Their signature latte is the rose latte- but it is coffee based. Seeing that I wanted to try these rose petals but omit the coffee flavour, the barista created a unique latte for me that I must share with you – a cinnamon tea latte garnished with rose petals. It isn’t on the menu but I encourage you to request it if you go.


14.Her Majesty’s Pleasure

One of the most popular spots in the city for a bachelorette or birthday, Her Majesty’s pleasure is often sought out for their cocktails and spa services. But the bright atmosphere, leaf-printed cushions and metallic decor just screams for you to come in and enjoy a spot of tea. It is called Her Majesty, after all.




As with many of the places that carry the Sloane tea brand, you can enjoy as a latte or with hot water. And maybe as a bonus while you sip away, you can book yourself a quick manicure.


15.Kitten and the Bear

This tiny little tea room in Queen West offers only 2 seating arrangements for a jam and tea service – a 2 seater and a 3 seater table. I am a huge advocate for balance so I had no problem enjoying their freshly made scones with gelatin-free all natural jams to compliment my Sloane tea.




They don’t take reservations so be sure to visit off peak hours or take your chances coming down there. The quaint atmosphere and intimate service though will make it worth your while. You can however grab a tea to go, but I would recommend sitting down for high tea.





Plentea is almost exclusively just teas- probably  one of the few cafes heavily void of a coffee selection. Hello Tea heaven!




This spot is another one of my favourite spots namely because they offer a large variety of tea and tea lattes . Some of my recommendations here include coconut cream, black velvet, and for the fall flavours like numeric milk and pumpkin.




17.Infuse Cafe 

Another unique tea only spot is just steps away from Eaton Centre. So this Christmas while you are doing your shopping, be sure to check this cafe out. They also serve iced teas so the perfect spot year round

Their teas range from herbal, green, black, organic milk, white and oolong.

Some of my favourites include: apple pie, scarlet rose, turmeric ginger, chocolate chai and marshmallow smores.




18.Strange Love Coffee

With a couple locations in Toronto, the Spadina one became increasingly popular this summer namely because of its pink instagrammble “Toronto” sign mural painted outside the cafe.




They serve gelato and coffee, but the teas shouldn’t be ignored. Specifically if you are a matcha lover, then you will want to try out their seasonal “gingerbread matcha latte”.




19.Fika Cafe

Fika is a Swedish word, meaning “to have coffee”. So it is no surprise that someone was bound to name a coffee shop “Fika”.




Fika is nestled in Kensington Market and is one of my favourite cafes in the city (I am aware I wrote that a lot but when there are hundreds of cafes, have a handful of favourites is inevitable). It takes the cake for decor, atmosphere and teas. I am yet to figure out how or why, but their chai lattes are the best. They use the Genuine Tea brand but the baristas admit to adding both honey and cinnamon to the milk, giving it an even more enjoyable flavour.





In the hustle and bustle of the Financial district, Dineen offers many city goers coffee both on the go and in store. It is rare to find it peaceful in there as the energy of Toronto is evident. And one can’t help but feed off of it.




My go to at Dineen is the Chai latte. I admit that this place is a high contender for atmosphere and decor. Many bloggers and instagrammers are often seen taking photos of their drinks showcased above the patterned tiles (case in point below).  Often in the summer I will sit on the road side patio with friends or people watch.




21.Light cafe 

Light Cafe is a Taiwanese inspired cafe that takes pride in their decor (green plant covered wall) and presentation. They stand by an interesting philosophy ” Eat fresh. Live true. Stay hungry”.




While they are known to many for their charcoal waffles and cotton candy coffee, they do make some pretty tasty teas including their Earl Grey Rose latte.


22.Balzac’s Coffee Roasters

Balzac’s is growing coffee company with 13 locations across Canada. They are highly rated for their coffees, and this summer they became known for serving coffee in a cone!




Their teas are not to be overlooked. Specifically they serve an organic chai tea, which unlike many places, is not too sweet (I like to taste the spices in my chai latte, not the sugar).


Top Fitness Studios in Toronto

For the past year, I have been compiling the content for this piece on my top fitness studios in Toronto. I was motivated to write about this for several reasons.

The initial reason was a constant request from my clients for recommendations on where to train when I couldn’t fit them in my schedule. Even after I started working full time in health care, I dabbled in and out of training clients. But the constant struggle of time commitment plus the decline in my own fitness goals brought me to the decision last summer that after 15 years as a personal trainer, the time had come for me to hang up that hat.

Several of my clients, however, felt at a loss and many didn’t want to hire a new trainer; they wanted suggestions for places they could workout. I didn’t just want to rattle off names of studios I had read in reviews or opinions based on others. I wanted to be able to recommend places that I believed were more than just “a fun workout” or “great for weight loss”. I wanted to add another dimension to a “review”. So here in began the idea to scope out various fitness studios across the city myself.

I began this quest last fall and to date have tried over 50 classes across the city (67 to be exact). But part way through this adventure things changed for me in ways I could never have previously imagined. My entire perspective on health and fitness shifted drastically.

My health declined significantly. I went from feeling chronic fatigue, soreness, joint pain, migraines, nausea and vomiting on a daily basis to numbness, peripheral neuropathy, intermittent paralysis, difficulty walking, difficulty speaking, speech impediment, blackouts and seizures which eventually led to hospitalization and time off work. Long story short, I got Lyme disease probably from one of my many reckless hiking escapades last fall.

Part of my recovery plan included getting back on track with my training. I had to start over as a beginner. My focus was no longer about hitting a P.R (personal record) with weight lifting; it was no longer about competing in competitions (fitness, crossfit or otherwise); it was no longer even about being a “trainer” and the expectation that I should excel at training. It shifted to that of being able to move again and to that of gratitude and honouring what my body is capable of doing that moment that day. So when I resumed auditing these studios, I payed attention to modifications, to movement and to the impact the workout had on my body.

Below I share with you my top 10 fitness studio, by category. I hope I can give insight on some things individuals may not initially think to look for or classes they may never have previously considered.


1. SPINNING- Spokehaus 

I will go on record and say I am not a cardio or large group training type of person. I had never done spinning before coming to Spokehaus. Truthfully I went because I wanted to write a well-rounded review that catered to all types of fitness but I expected to not be a fan. I was pleasantly surprised! I even purchased more than one class and occasionally go to a spin session here. I also checked out other spinning studios to better suss out spinning and Spokehaus remained my front runner.

All new clients are shown how to operate the bike (change the resistance, adjust the height of the stool, clip into/out of the pedals). This is extremely important not just for safety but also to make the client feel at ease and to give them an opportunity to ask questions or share concerns, if needed.

I expected to be out of breath during the class (again not a cardio person) but I found it manageable and easy to follow the instructions provided by the instructor, Melissa Jamie. I love her energy, but also appreciated that she came down to the floor during the class to check in with the spinners. And at the end of the class she provided some positive reinforcement that made me feel like I was at a motivational speech. And I loved it so I try to book with her for subsequent classes.

The class encompassed elements of HIIT (high intensity interval training) which I personally find an effective style of training. I was able to keep up while still feeling like I was putting in the work. The music selection was upbeat – I felt like the beats made it easy to keep up with the tempo. Spinning at Spokehaus is definitely high energy, which can offer a nice counter balance if you are also doing yoga or barre.

If you suffer from shin splints, any high impact movement such as running, jumping etc may cause these issues to flare up. Spinning offers an opportunity to raise your heart rate without the intense pounding of your feet, provided you don’t have any knee issues. The class also incorporates some low body weights so that you also get an upper body workout – bonus!

For more information on Spokehaus, check out the link below:




2. BARRE – Barre3 

I tried barre at several studios, and specifically did Barre3 in NYC and Chicago, so I was not that surprised that I really enjoyed Barre3 in Toronto.

For those of you not familiar, a barre workout uses a combination of movements inspired by ballet, yoga and pilates while using the barre as a prop to balance. Additionally, the class may incorporate light weights, mats and miniature stability balls (red rubber balls displayed in the photo).

The studio of Barre 3 Toronto offers a clean and bright space. The staff are extremely friendly. Moreover the members are friendly! I have never walked into a studio for the first time and have members make small talk, welcome me and offer to show me around. The manager, Jen, was also amazing at showing me around the space, introducing me to the instructor (Sara) and even set up a spot for me next to her during the class in case I needed help. This was my first workout since getting feeling back in my arm and post Lumbar puncture so I was both nervous and cautious.

The class was lower intensity, and while the core was the stabilizer, it provided an all over body workout. It felt great to do some core specific work that was not painful on the back. If you are like me with back issues (scoliosis), ab work can be very painful so I often overlook it or give up on the exercise part way. But their mini stability balls were ideal for core work, so much so that I had to purchase one after class for home use.

The barre assists with balance and the level of intensity can be varied based on positioning, as modifications are provided by the instructor if needed. The studio is equipped with a barre on either side of the room, and a mirror to assist with posture. The class size is approximately 20 individuals, with half at the front and half at the back. It is the perfect balance between not being too crowded and not feeling like you are on display.

Barre 3 is great as a workout on its own (3-4 days a week) or as a compliment to other styles of training ( it compliments a high intensity class like spinning, for example).

For more information on Barre 3, please check out the link below:




3. KICKBOXING- Big Hit Studios 

Even though I stated above that I am not a cardio person, I have to say I gravitate towards kickboxing. Maybe it’s the power in the movements that makes me feel strong?

Regardless, I tried Big Hit Studios a few times. And my opinion never wavered. It is a high intensity class that at times had me exhausted but not enough that I wanted to quit. It really provided me an opportunity to push myself. Be sure that you are well hydrated prior to class because you will sweat!

Big Hit offers a variety of styles of kickboxing (details can be found on their website, posted below). Initially I went to a class taught by Cassie Day (she now runs her own fitness company that empowers women- ALL DAY FIT. For more info, check out  and be sure to stay tuned as I will be featuring her in an upcoming blog piece soon). Her energy and the style of training made me feel like I was really working my body. I felt powerful and it’s honestly a great way to expend some negative energy. If you are ever pissed with someone, go to a kickboxing class and let out your aggression on Bob. Bob won’t answer back nor will he reciprocate the punch. It’s extremely therapeutic.

The second class I went to was taught by  Karina V (you can also find her at Barry’s Bootcamp which just opened in Toronto last week). She brought the same level of intensity and energy as Cassie, which was very motivating. If you ever want to feel like you worked out, kickboxing may be up your speed. As always though, be sure to let your instructor know before hand if you have any injuries or concerns. Both Cassie and Karina were great at coming over to offer motivation and to check form, which is key for safety (you don’t want to be round kicking your legs and hurting yourself in the process).

For more information on Big Hit Studios, please check out their link:



Training with Bob- my non responsive partner



 Post a$$ kicking session by Coach Karina


4. WOMEN ONLY- Move Fitness

Many women are not comfortable training around men and some are intimidated with the male species walking around the gym space  (sorry boys). We also know that physiologically men and women are different. That’s where the stereotypes comes from  about men being stronger, women have more body fat etc. These are stereotypes, not always true but unfortunately many people feed into these absolutes.

To have a space though that not only caters to just women, but stands behind the philosophy that “training isn’t just about looking good in a bikini, but feeling strong from the inside out”. YES!!! I LOVE THIS!! So before even stepping foot in this studio, I knew their message alone would make them a high contender for me.

There was also an additional bias for me. One of the coaches, Nina Jung from The Jung Way (  had previously coached me at RCFLV (see #10 below) and also performed fascial therapy on me so I knew I would have nothing but great things to say about here.

The studio is a bright open concept space with a yellow, black and white colour scheme. I was instantly attracted to the yellow turf and prowler (pictured below). And they offer alkaline water for its members to stay hydrated. That’s already another win for me.

The classes  are friendly and intimate, which I prefer. Classes that are larger with only 1 instructor are often more difficult to check client form (which for me is extremely important) and to connect with the clients. The program was written in a unique way: as a menu with the main course and the dessert. Cute, right?

Nina was great at providing high energy and motivation, while encouraging team work when necessary. For a tiny lady, she is loud and strong! And always smiling so she is sure to brighten your day.


For more information on Move Fitness, please check out their link:



                           Nina providing motivation while checking form


5. ROWING- Scullhouse 

Rowing is the only form of cardio I enjoy.  It is a regular component of crossfit and an exercise I do once a week to increase my heart rate. In fact, rowing is a great option for those with knee injuries as it is low impact but still high intensity.

Kristen, the owner of the studio, was very friendly and welcoming. She gave me a tour of the space prior to the class, which I always appreciate. My eyes immediately darted towards all the motivational quotes written on the mirrors of the studio. I like that during a class, you can look up and those words can give you the extra nudge to push through.

Emma was the instructor for the class I attended, and she immediately won me over with her firm handshake upon introduction. She provided the class with a great warmup, which not many studios do. This is key for injury prevention. The program was written on the mirror but Emma also provided clear instructions to the class. I was not the only new person joining the group and I noted the others had no problem following along or keeping up. But dare I  state that I struggled with the tempo. I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why I was always 1 step behind the rest of the class. After, Emma kindly reviewed the technique, which is vastly different from that of Crossfit. Even though I was warned prior to that the technique was not the same, I didn’t expect it to be noticeable. And I always appreciate when coaches can take the time to correct form.

The class was not exclusive to rowing for the full hour. Body movements (e.g. push ups) and weights (e.g. lunges) were incorporated. I noted that there were suggestions for scaling the workout and offered guidance, both if needed. And not only was Emma encouraging and motivating us but she called out our names during the class. I learned early on that in fitness, people often respond well to the person touch so good on her for offering personalized encouragement.

For more information on Scullhouse, please check out their link:




6. STRENGTH FLOW – Fitsquad’s Iron & Flow

This class is part kettle bell movement, part animal flow. The latter was my main motivation for signing up. I am intrigued by animal flow and currently in the process of getting certified.

What is it? According to the official animal flow website, it is “an innovative program that combines quadrupedal and ground-based movement with elements from various bodyweight-training disciplines”.

Combining this purposeful movement with a strength element provides a balanced workout. The class is mainly taught by Fitsquad’s trainer Julian and sometimes Aldo. The classes are an intimate size, which is perfect for form correction. I value form over anything so can always appreciate when instructors take the time to do so. If the movement is difficult, they provide substitutions or modifications. But any one at any fitness level can do an Iron and Flow class- you don’t need any animal flow experience; I didn’t have any when I tried my first class. In fact I loved it so much that now I go every week.  I will state that with the exception of crossfit, I am not a class person but this one has won me over.

I will also state with full disclosure that aside from my new love for Animal Flow, I am a bit biased about FitSquad. One of the owners was my former trainer/physiotherapist who was instrumental in correcting a decade long poor squat form. I knew that if his name was behind anything that the calibre of training must be high. Even knowing this, I was still blown away by the knowledge and expertise provided by Julian and Aldo. One class Aldo was explaining a movement to us and referenced the posterior chain and our anatomy. Wait, what? Was I being teleported back to a kinesiology or physiology class in university? I am a “why” person so while many don’t care for this type of verbiage, it resonated with me. I like knowing why.

Sidebar- if anyone is looking for a personal trainer, Fitsquad comes highly recommended!

For more information on Fitsquad, please check out their link:




7. PILATES – Misfit Studios

Misfit studios was created by Amber. It is described as a practiced “rooted in yoga, informed by pilates and inspired by dance”. The Misfit method is a mind-body-soul movement where they teach “movement as medicine” . Naturally I was drawn to this as I  believe that movement IS medicine, especially in light of my recent health issues.

I went to the Queen location for a pilates class,  which is housed in a former church. The studio space with the greenery and large coloured glass panes definitely sets quite the atmosphere. The class was not quite what I expected, however I appreciate that not every workout will be intense and encompass heavy lifting.  It incorporated elements of fitness such as squats, but with a dance flow movement to it. Again it isn’t my style but that’s why I have included it in here- because many people would love and get a lot of value from these types of classes.

For those of you that hate working out, the Misfit classes are for you. For those of you who enjoy dancing, Misfit classes are for you. For those of you who want to move, Misfit classes are for you.

For more information on Misfit studios &  Misfit method, please check out their link:




8. AERIAL YOGA – Whole Life Balance 

I have tried aerial yoga at several locations but was drawn to Whole Life Balance as this past summer it was my home away from home. After doing an IV drip therapy session (blog post to come), I was immediately drawn to the energy of Sandra Chabot Weber, one of the owners,  that I just had to return to try out their other services (side bar- highly recommend massage therapy with Katie there).

The aerial yoga class sizes are small.  The aerial silks are bright in colour and the room provides colour therapy.  I enjoyed a class taught by Melissa, who’s instructions were explicit and it was easy to follow along. I did the gentle flow class, which is a great compliment to any weight training regime. After the class and the following day I felt my body had really been stretched out and I noted my mobility and ROM (range of motion) had increased.

For more information about While Life Balance, please check out their link:





As a former competitive swimmer and lover of weight lifting, I was immediately drawn to Strive Life whose slogan read “we are life athletes”. They pair movement with conditioning in a high energy circuit form.

I was introduced to Strive Life last fall with a class taught by Ryan, one of the co-founders. I was immediately impressed with the quality of programming and coaching skills. I am a huge fan of Tabata, which is a large component of their classes.

I returned to another class a couple weeks ago and was happy to see that their space expanded and that new movements were introduced for me (a couple I’ve never done before!).

For more information on Strive Life, please check out their link:





10. CROSSFIT – Reebok Crossfit Liberty Village (RCFLV) 

I know Crossfit has a terrible reputation especially in the bodybuilding world. I came from the world of bikini fitness competitions (don’t judge) into crossfit because of my love for Power and Olympic lifting.  I will say on record ANY sport or activity will cause injury if not done correctly. Crossfit injuries are no higher than shin splints from runners or hockey related injuries. But these issues will be discussed in an upcoming article so stay tuned.

Crossfit is one of the few group classes I enjoy participating in and I have been a member of a few Crossfit studios across the city. I actually hired the owner of RCFLV, Nic Martin, a few years ago to help me with my techniques, while I was a member at another box. I was so impressed by his level of knowledge and expertise (I often referred to him as the Crossfit Doctor although I am not sure I’ve ever told him that) that I made the switch.

I know many people say Crossfit is intimidating. Even though I worked at a fitness facility that had an Olympic lifting room for Team Canada, and even as a certified personal trainer, I was intimidated. I value technique over anything so appreciated taking the Foundations classes (the intro to crossfit) and the coaching sessions by Nic.

I drank the Crossfit cool-aid. I love their philosophy and I strongly believe in their method of movement. They are a sport that advocates for a healthy lifestyle and are constantly pushing the boundaries on what the human body is capable of.

What sets RCFLV apart, in my opinion, is they value technique over a PR, they value effort over competition, they value safety first. Every single coach (Amy, Stephen, Josh, Jordan, Jenna, to name a few) at RCFLV exudes knowledge and skills that truly inspire and motivates their members.

And if the idea of lifting those heavy weights scare you, RCFLV offers “burn” classes- HITT delivered in a fun and highly energized environment. They offer something for everyone.

For more information on RCFLV, please check out their website:


With Head Coach Amy Aldrich



Head Coach Amy with Owner Nic Martin

Pumpkin Spice & everything nice

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It’s that time of year again here in Canada and many other countries. The time where we start adding the layers of clothing, see the leaves changing colours and resume our obsession with everything pumpkin.

I personally do not like coffee so the infamous Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte, or PSL according to some, never excited me but I am obsessed with pumpkin – pumpkin pies, pumpkin smoothies, you name it. Most of it I have to make on my own though as I don’t enjoy processed foods so over the years I have tweaked some of the popular recipes to replace butter, sugar and white flour with healthier options.

This year I have decided to share some of those recipes. AND I have formed a collaboration with some of my Instagram friends to also include some from them.

I hope you enjoy these recipes.

Leave a comment if you have any suggestions or future requests!

Also, I have created a Facebook page called “Scrubs2Sweats”. I would like to invite you to follow so you can be notified on any new posts- fitness, wellness or travel oriented including blog notifications.



  1.                    Pumpkin Pie





Pie filling:

  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2  cup egg whites
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1.5 cups almond milk



  • 3 cups coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup almond milk



  1. Mix wet ingredients together for pie filling
  2. Mix dry ingredients together for pie filling
  3. Mix wet and dry ingredients together to form the pie filling batter
  4. For the crust, spread out the coconut flour in a pie pan. Mesh together using a fork to form a crust. Slowly add in drops of coconut oil and almond milk to “stick” the flour together. If you have access to a pie impression mould, you can use it to flatten the flour and create the pie crusted edges shown in my photo above.
  5. Refrigerate the pie crust for about an hour
  6. Preheat oven to 425F
  7. Pour the batter into the pie crust
  8. Bake at 425F for 15 minutes
  9. Reduce temperature to 350F for 45 minutes
  10. Let pie cool for about half hour. Ideally put in the fridge for another hour before serving.
  11. Serve with tea or your favourite gelato. Enjoy!


Contributor: Jessy

Instagram: @scrubs2sweats

Facebook: Scrubs2sweats



2.                   No Bake Pumpkin Chocolate Energy Balls





  • 1/3 cup pecans
  • 1/3 cup cashews
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3 tbsp. hemp hearts
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 medjool dates
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cloves and nutmeg
  • pinch of ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp of sea salt


Added later:

  • 5 tbsp. rolled oats (use gluten free if necessary)
  • 2 tbsp. chocolate chips



  1. Add all of the above into your food processor until the mixture comes together.
  2. Refrigerate this for about 20 minutes so they can harden a bit.
  3. Add the rolled oats to the mixture and pulse until they are combined.
  4. Move the mixture to a medium sized bowl and add the chocolate chips.
  5. Roll into balls and keep them in the fridge.


Contributor: Jaclyn Irwin

Instagram: @holistic.foodie 




3.                       Pumpkin Spice Energy Balls 





  • 10 dates
  • 1/2 cup organic puree
  • 1 tbsp organic maple syrup
  • 1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
  • 3 scoops Arbonne vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 pecans



  1. Blend all the ingredients together in food processor
  2. roll into balls
  3. Refrigerate for 1 hour


Contributor: Steff Sullivan, RN, BScN, DM 

Instagram: @fitnursepreneur 

Website:  to order Arbonne protein powder check out 



4.                       Creamy Pumpkin Pie Smoothie





  • 1 cup of Almond Milk
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 scoop of plant based vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tsp. hemp seeds
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Vanilla extract
  • Optional: handful of spinach


Blend all ingredients together and enjoy!


Contributor: Amanda Bottiglia, RHN

Instagram: @amandabotnutrition




5.                                Pumpkin Pie Smoothie




This recipe is very similar to the one above by Amanda, with minor variations.


  • 1 cup cashew milk
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2  cup fresh pumpkin (boil then blend to puree)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup  dates
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 scoop vanilla plant based protein powder


Blend all ingredients together and enjoy!


Contributor: Jessy

Instagram: @scrubs2sweats

Facebook: Scrubs2sweats



6.                        Paleo Pumpkin Coffee Cake  





Crumb topping :
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup


Coffee cake:

  • 1 cup pure pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 325° F
  2. Line a square baking dish with parchment paper.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the crumb topping. Mix until all dry ingredients are moistened. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the melted coconut oil, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and pumpkin. Mix well.
  5. Add the eggs and mix until blended well.
  6. Then add the almond flour, coconut flour, cinnamon, pumpkin spice, baking soda, and salt.
  7. Mix until completely blended.
  8. Pour into prepared pan and sprinkle the top with the crumb topping.
  9. Bake for 50-55 minutes.


Contributor: Diana 

Instagram: @dianashealthyliving 



7.                 Chocolate Coated Pumpkin Pie Truffled 


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  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp each of ginger, cloves, all spice
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil



  1. In a food processor, pulse the first 5 ingredients until well combined. Then roll into balls and freeze.
  2. Melt the chocolate and coconut oil together.
  3. Dip each ball into the chocolate sauce and lift out using a fork. Place on a lined cookie sheet.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. Enjoy!


Contributor: Jessica Urack 

Instagram: @healthyhabits.byjess 




8.                 Pumpkin “cream” filled Muffins





  • 1.5 cups coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup blended zucchini
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence


Cream filling:

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice



  1. Preheat oven to 300F
  2. Mix wet ingredients together
  3. Mix dry ingredients together
  4. Mix wet and dry together to form a batter free of clumps
  5. mix together ingredients for filling
  6. Pour batter into muffin pan (coated with coconut oil) half way, then layer with the filling before topping off with another layer of batter
  7. Bake for 20-25 mins
  8. Cool for 5-10 minutes before serving


Contributor: Jessy

Instagram: @scrubs2sweats

Facebook: Scrubs2sweats














Photo courtesy of Joga House


I am sure many of you reading the title JOGA have probably never heard of it, and more importantly wondering what it is. A few months ago, I encountered the term a few times within my fitness circle.  One person even described it to me as “jock yoga“, which immediately got my attention.

Recently I decided to research and explore this type of approach to yoga. For me, yoga has always been a mindful practice. It certainly has many physical benefits and many people incorporate it as part of their fitness routine. But my style of training is predominantly heavy weight lifting and crossfit. That was until I started having health complications that limited my ability to move. My thinking on yoga shifted to include a deeper appreciation for what it can do for my body. The universe was also opening up my eyes to other types of movements that weightlifters alike may enjoy.




JOGA was founded by Jana Webb, a yogi with an athletic background. She wanted to bridge the gap between “traditional yoga and the biomechanics of sports”, creating a unique blend of postures and breathing techniques. To read more about this radiant soul, please check out the link below.

Jana spent years training with top athletes using this unique style of yoga. Working closely with health care professionals and fitness experts,  she created a system that benefits the athletic body.


Joga + Reebok

Joga coaches including Founder Jana (blonde babe standing in the centre).  Photo courtesy of Joga House.


JOGA is defined as a practice that ‘focuses on finding a balance of strength and flexibility, joint mobility and stability and techniques for core/breath integration while the body moves through different planes”.






So one might ask why JOGA, and not yoga? The simple answer is because traditional yoga involves long static holds which neurologically does not align with what most athletes do- they are required to move, and in many cases fast and explosively.

After trying a few classes, I can appreciate this approach which appeals to my athletic background and love for weightlifting. There are many elements of traditional yoga to it, with a spin on the intensity of the poses. In fact I dear call is the HIIT (high intensity interval training) of yoga.

Does that mean only athletes can partake in JOGA? No! JOGA is a program that incorporates specific positions aims at developing strength and flexibility. Everyone can do JOGA!




If you live in Toronto, you must try their many styles of JOGA classes (JOGA balance, JOGA strong etc) at JOGA HOUSE, located at Bloor and St George. Please refer to their website (linked below) for class descriptions or feel free to contact them directly. I got a plethora of information from both Allie MacIntyre and Allison High so don’t hesitate to ask them.

You can also become a JOGA coach. They offer certification at their Joga House as well as across the country as this style of training continues to grow.  Follow them on Instagram for updates on course dates and location. This certification is something I plan on adding to my list of accreditations early next year so stayed tuned.

For more information,  check them out on Instagram @jogaworld or their website linked below.



Photo Courtesy of Joga House


Jessy xo