9 Things I Learned From Taking 100 Barre Classes

At the start of a new year, we tend to apply “set it and forget it” resolutions. “I want to eat better, drink less, exercise more,” are often heard. I’ve been known to fail at setting a goal or two, without following through. It’s usually because my goals are not attainable.

I wanted to change all that in 2016. This year would be the year I focus on my fitness again. In order to realize my fitness goals, I needed to set realistic expectations. I needed to find something I could see myself enjoying while getting fit.

Enter barre. I loved barre classes. I had spent many-a-day at the barre pre-wedding to get in shape. It was also the only form of exercise I could see myself actually committing to. Inspired by the movements at a ballet barre, a “barre” class can include a mix of pilates, yoga, dance and often uses light weights, exercise balls and/or bands with an emphasis on small repetitions, pulsing movements and core engagement.

My objective was to complete 100 barre classes in 2016. That breaks down to two classes per week. It was just the right amount of challenge but within reach.


Taking a 6:30 am class at Pure Barre.

To accomplish this goal I put in time at no less than 18 studios in the city. Some studios I went to offered it as a class once or twice a week while other studios, where I spent the majority of my time offer barre classes exclusively. Hint, get a ClassPass if you want to shop around or try out different studios in your city.

The majority of my time was spent at Pure Barre, the most challenging of the classes I took but also the most rewarding.


Here are 10 things I learned in my journey to reaching the 100 mark.

1.  There are times when you may feel like giving up. I definitely had some lows in my quest to reach 100 classes, including an injury that had me sitting out for most of July. The activity itself can be very intense with some classes being a lot harder than others. During some classes, the challenge was so intense that I couldn’t wait for it to be over. They don’t call it a “barre burn” for nothing. That’s how you know it’s working, though.

2.  You’ll become more addicted to it, the more you go. My love for the barre grew as the frequency of going to class increased. Like a snowball effect, the more classes I took, the more I wanted to go, more often. I was hooked and I couldn’t wait until my next class. I was even taking classes every day of my vacation when I visited Oregon and Washington State in August. One of my highlights of the trip was being able to take a class in the flagship Barre3 studio, where one of the biggest Barre franchises from the US started.


The flagship Barre3 studio in Portland, Oregon.



3.  Your overall outlook will improve. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve noticed changes in my overall happiness and outlook. I feel more confident and calmer. I feel like I can take on more challenges and I definitely don’t feel as sluggish at work. That could also have a lot to do with an improvement in diet, however, there is no denying that exercise can have many positive effects on the body.


4.  You will see a change in your physique. There are many claims that regular barre workouts will give you a long, lean physique. While this is something that is worth striving for, the reality is that the picture isn’t a portrait of perfection for everyone. While I have seen noticeable differences, they are subtle and there is still a lot of work to do. It would be naive of me to think that I would become a size 2 ballerina after only a few months. That’s why I believe it’s important to not get worked up if you don’t see noticeable changes right away. The small changes to your body that creep up over time will be enough to keep you motivated to stick with it.


Pre-workout selfie.


Attending a giant outdoor barre class hosted by Barre3 in Portland.

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Devs Without Borders Sets Its Sights on Breaking Poverty with New Hackathon

Devs Without Borders, Break Poverty Hackathon

Image provided by Free The Children


When I first heard about Devs Without Borders, they were hiring for a Marketing Lead. This position would be part of a newly formed team responsible for producing a new annual hackathon for international development among other projects and events. I immediately got to work on polishing my resume and getting my application in order. It looked like a great opportunity to pair my skills with a great cause.

I have been involved with Devs Without Borders for a few months now. As the Marketing Lead, I get to work on projects that will ultimately affect positive change in the world.


Devs Without Borders, Adopt a Village program, Free the Children, Break Poverty Hackathon

Image provided by Free The Children


The first planned event is the Break Poverty Hackathon. For 25 hours over one weekend in late November, developers in Toronto will be working with teams on the ground in Nairobi Kenya to create apps (Mobile Web, SMS, and hardware) for people in developing countries. These apps will help people in rural and impoverished areas around the world, whose only access to technology, communication, and knowledge is through their mobile phone.

Free the Children has come on board as our Charity Event Partner. They will be lending their support by providing case studies to participants as well as testing the winning app through their Adopt a Village program in Kenya.


Devs Without Borders, Break Poverty Hackathon

Image provided by Free The Children.

Though other international development hackathons have taken place in Canada before, this is the first time teams in Toronto will be working directly with teams in Nairobi during the weekend. By everyone working together, teams will be able to provide better practical solutions.

Case Foundation quote

If you would like to learn more about Break Poverty Hackathon, visit devswithoutborders.org/breakpoverty.


The Importance of Facebook’s New Relevance Score

Facebook Relevance Score Target

On February 11, Facebook announced the introduction of a Relevance Score for advertisers on their platform. Having this new metric available will allow marketers to understand how relevant their ads are to the audiences they’re targeting.

Facebook Relevance Score Example

Facebook’s unveiling of this new feature is important because marketers have been producing content they think might be resonating with their audience based on engagement metrics or having a good click-through-rate. Now there is a better benchmark for success.

Similar to Google’s Quality Score, the more relevant the ad, the better it will perform and the less you will pay. Facebook wants to show the right content to the right people and will reward advertisers who provide quality and relevant content for their targeted audience.

Just like marketers A/B test content, experimentation with targeting different groups with various images and copy will help clarify what resonates best with what group.

If the campaign has already started, ads with a lower rank can be paused or creative can be refreshed in order to try to move up in the ranks.

Arm wrestling

Having a high relevance score is not a guarantee that the ad will beat the competition. If two ads are targeting the same audience and they both have a high score, the one with the higher bid will likely outperform the ad with a lower bid amount.

In order to receive a relevance score, your ad must be served more than 500 times. Anything less and you have too few impressions to calculate a score.


Becoming a Technical Marketer: Part One

Awhile back, I was asked to do an informational interview for someone who was starting out in their career. I shared a lot about what I knew, but what I wasn’t expecting was how much I would learn in return. My interviewer turned out to be a fountain of knowledge.

Have you heard of the term “Growth Hacking” I was asked. What is a Growth Hacker? I responded.
This newly coined term, one who was part engineer, part marketer, was going to change the face of marketing, apparently, so I decided to investigate.

Growth Hacker Marketing by Sean Ellis

Sean Ellis, one of the leading experts on the subject of growth.

From there I dove into any resources on the subject, excited to learn about this new development in the evolution of marketing. I read Ryan Holiday’s Growth Hacker Marketing, how he too had been thrown for a loop when he discovered the newest recruits coming out of school were responsible for disruptive growth at major start-ups and changing the face of marketing. I found resources on the subject from Neil Patel and Bronson Taylor. I even joined the Toronto Meetup on the subject.

Sign from the Growth Hackers Conference
This you could say was one of the key turning points in a plan to go down the road to become a technical marketer. I’ve had experience with blogging, building adwords campaigns and dabbled in SEO, but it wasn’t enough. I wanted to throw myself into it, in an effort to become more technically savvy. So this is post one of my adventures in becoming a technical marketer. What does that even mean? I’m not so sure myself, but I’m documenting my experiences so I can share my challenges and adventures of what lies ahead.

5 Events at SXSW for Community Managers

SXSW Exterior Shot

Source: sxsw.com

We’re a week away from the start of SXSW Interactive and by now the schedule is locked. If your focus at SXSW is to learn how to better engage your online community, I’ve done the heavy sifting for you and chosen these five sessions for community managers.

    1. Community Managers: Ready for a Seat at the Table?
      This four-hour deep dive for community managers promises to leave you with 2-3 actionable takeaways to issues you may have. You must register for this workshop.

    2. Be a Community Conductor: Shaping Fan Chatter
      Fans are now engaging on a greater number of channels. This session looks at the challenges of the ever-evolving digital landscape.

    3. The Art & Science of Social Listening:
      This workshop focuses on how to approach social listening and measure success. You must register for this workshop.

    4. Online LEGO fans & the People Who Love Them:
      This is an advanced session for community managers who want to learn more about the best way to channel brand excitement without turning off your audience.

    5. Structuring Community During Exponential Growth:
      For the community manager who wants to ensure your internal community is just as healthy as your external audience.


5 Reasons to Attend PodCamp Toronto 2014

Pod­Camp Toronto is touted as “Canada’s largest gath­er­ing of cre­ative, tech, and dig­i­tal pro­fes­sion­als.” The 2013 edition of this two-day unconference featured just shy of 60 different sessions with beginner, intermediate and advanced streams, so there was something for everyone to choose from.

2013 topics included: the art of storytelling, all about the Vine app, tips for lead generation

This being my fifth year attending PodCamp Toronto, I thought it would right to share my top five reasons to attend the annual event.

PodCamp Toronto 2013

Photo Source: 2013.podcamptoronto.com

Why you should attend:

  1. It’s free! (but a donation might be nice) – Considering the quality of speakers and access to information you’ll be getting, it’s amazing that this is a community-organized event. Though you can register and attend at no cost, feel free to donate some funds to help the organizing team offset the cost of the event. As a former WordCamp Toronto co-organizer, I know how expensive it is to put on a conference of this scale, so thanks to the sponsors and the community for chipping in to allow this great event to happen every year.

  2. The content – The high caliber of speakers makes PodCamp a must-attend event. You’ll be getting access to a wealth of knowledge from industry leaders who want to contribute to the conversation within the community.

  3. The networking! – There will be plenty of networking opportunities available throughout the weekend. Between sessions the hallways fill with people which make this one of the best times to shake hands with the CEO of a new startup or the head of digital strategy from a company you’ve been following. There’s always a party at the conclusion of day one where you’ll be able to extend the conversations you started during your first day of PodCamp.

  4. It’s fun – PodCamp is more laid back than most paid conferences. Everyone for the most part is open-minded and ready to learn and listen to new ideas and you’re bound to meet some friendly new faces.

  5. There’s something for everyone – Regardless of your background (marketing, pr, web development) or level of expertise, there really is something for everyone at PodCamp. The only downside is not being able to attend everything you want. Given the number and variety of sessions to choose from, research the schedule in advance so you can plan out your timetable. PodCamp uses the law of two feet. If you’re not getting much out of a session, get up and go to a different one.

Register for PodCamp Toronto 2014


The Best Way to Say Thank You – The Gratitude Tea!

Drink tea poster

I’m going to plug an event that is very near and dear to my heart. Every year in early December I organize an event called The Gratitude Tea with my sister and close friends. I attended my first Gratitude Tea in 2006 with my mom. I was nervous to get up and share with everyone why she was so special, but I did it anyway because the love for my mom trumped my fear of public speaking and she deserved all the recognition she could get.

Sadly, my mom passed away unexpectedly in 2009. I’m lucky I got the chance to publicly recognize all that she did for my sister and I and that’s why I continue organizing the tea every year – to give other people the opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to the important people in their life. The tea returns on December 8, this time celebrating its fifth anniversary! It’s hard to believe it has already been five years since we brought back The Gratitude Tea to make it an annual event.

For those who have never been to the event before, it is an afternoon tea with a special twist – gratitude! Our attendees get the chance to recognize their guest(s) just like I did with my mom, and share with everyone what makes them so special. Attendees can also share a personal written message with their guest if they wish to not get up and speak.

We’re thrilled to be welcoming Body Bijou to the tea this year. They will be on hand selling their jewelry that supports GirlsHelpingGirls, a wonderful organization that empowers women by sponsoring girls’ education.

We’ve got some great auction items up for grabs this year including some Kate Spade clutches and iPhone covers, Raptors tickets, spa certificates, theater tickets and much more.

Come for the merriment, stay for the finger sandwiches, tea and mimosas! Learn more at gratitudetea.com

Gratitude Tea Poster