2 Weeks in Sun Peaks

Eat, Sleep, Snowboard, Repeat.

Adapting to our first fortnight in the second largest ski resort in Canada, here is a summary of our experience so far.
Our studio room has served us well so far. It is convenient that we are a short walk from all the shops, restaurants, bars and cafes, as well as the chair lifts and the gym, not to mention being a 2 minute walk to work. We are lucky to be living here and not in the normal staff accommodation at the Burfield which is 30 minutes walk down to the West side of town.

Looking out of our bedroom window we can see 40m tall conifers climbing up Mt Morisey and icicles hanging down from the edge of our roof which get bigger every day. Somebody said they are likely to reach the floor at some point. Quite often we hear the jingle bells attached to the snowplow which we mistake for Father Christmas. 
We get ready to go out snowboarding at around 9.30am. I have been going more often than Shell because in her first week she was doing 9-5 but now she doesn’t start until 12 and we have both been improving every day. I have been up to the top of Mt Tod and completed the 5 mile run back down to the village twice. I’ve also been up Mt Morisey to do ‘The Sticks’ but I most regularly go up the Sundance chair lift to do ‘Homesteader’ or ‘Rambler’.

The difficulty levels are different to Europe – green is easy and blue is intermediate, while black is still the hardest level. The names of the runs are often representational e.g. ‘The Sticks’ is through the trees and ‘Homesteader’ is the fastest route to the ski village. I will let you know when I take on ‘Intimidator’ for the first time. Some of the bars name their cocktails after the runs, with the stronger cocktails named after the harder runs. I have been improving my toe turning and I am getting more confident with my speed. Here is a map including all the runs, pink lines are the chair lifts.
One or two hours a day is enough and we go back in time for Shell to go to work. We have a bite to eat and I do some work on my online program. I then go to the gym at around 1pm for an hour to do my bodyweight training plan. I am currently focusing on handstand, muscle up, planche, bridge and back lever at the moment and hopefully I will master a few of them by the time we leave.

I get home and have lunch before starting my shift in the kitchen at 2.30pm or 3pm, I have never been a chef before but so far I am really enjoying it. There are 6 of us working in the kitchen: The head chef is Richard from Toronto, he is very chilled and has a dry sense of humour. Kimsley is the sous chef, she has a funny French accent even though she is originally from Milton Keynes and doesn’t speak French. There is another Matt who is from Aberystwyth in Wales, he is a Liverpool fan so I don’t like him very much at the moment. Clare is a Scottish girl who loves snowboarding and yoga, she already has permanent residency in New Zealand and is applying for it in Canada as well. Finally we have Paul, who is a 21 year old Canadian guy from Kingston, Ontario. He is by far the most polite and friendly person I have ever met – a true Canadian. 

They all have a lot more experience than me working in the kitchen but they are very understanding and patient with me as a beginner. I am working mostly as a dishwasher but I am also doing food on the cold side where the main roles are to prepare appetisers, salads and desserts. There is a lot of prep work to do at the start of the shift and I have found that once somebody has shown me something once I am quite capable of repeating it. 

The appetisers include braised pork belly, baked brie and an antipasto platter. The salads are the caesar salad, mixed salad with maple dressing, roast beet and chevre salad (pictured below), and a crusted goats cheese and mixed salad with fruit tea dressing. Desserts are chocolate brownie, apple crumble, creme brulee and Grand Marnier cheesecake. 
The restaurant is a steakhouse and the smell of meat lingers in the air. I watch carefully while Clare prepares the steaks, seasoning with salt and pepper, massaging them until tenderised and then cooking them partly on the grill and partly in the oven depending on the cut and the customers cooking preference. The steak cuts are new york striploin, ribeye, sirloin and tenderloin. We also have chicken, lamb, ribs, salmon and bison on the menu.

Matt and Paul do the veg and carbs to accompany the meats. They pre-roast seasonal veg which gets fried in butter before service. The gnocchi is also fried in butter and goes underneath the chicken which in my opinion the most appetising thing on the menu. The mash potato is extremely creamy as are the seafood tagliatelle and mushroom risotto dishes. The presentation on the plate is then done by Kimsley and Richard who also prepare the sauces such as bearnaise, peppercorn and red wine veal jus. As you can tell, everything is very rich and it all looks and tastes amazing.

We have to wear masks for the duration of the shift but you get used to it after a while. It helps to stop me from nibbling on everything in sight because the smells are so tantalising. Luckily, the hotel owner Mario – who has a knack for popping up out of nowhere – said to us that we are allowed to eat a free meal on shift as long as we don’t pick the most expensive things on the menu which is fair enough. The other day Kimsley made a massive stew with all the offcuts of steak which we combined with the leftover mash to make a ginormous cottage pie. 

My shifts generally finish between 9pm and 10pm. This is because it is very quiet in the resort and we assume that if COVID wasn’t around then we would be doing longer hours. Over 30 hours for me is good going round here at the moment and lots of people are doing multiple part time jobs. Shelley has been struggling in housekeeping to get hours because there simply aren’t enough people checking out. Strangely, we might end up getting more people come to stay in the resort because Whistler and Big White have both had outbreaks of the virus, so hopefully people might divert their Christmas vacations to Sun Peaks instead so we can get more hours.
Our days off at the moment are on Saturday and Sunday, probably to keep the most experienced people in the kitchen on the weekend. We sometimes walk down to the West side of the village through the woods, where there is a nice deli and a yoga studio which is currently out of use. The other day I hired out the studio for a few hours to do some filming for my next 6 week online fitness program which starts on 4th January.

If you would like some information about the program or any of my other personal training services, please do not hesitate to message me to book a free online zoom consultation. There is a 25% discount if you sign up for the challenge before Christmas and it could be a great present to a friend, family member, partner or even yourself to get a head start on your fitness in the new year.

Sign up here.

Today is our last day off until Boxing Day, we will both be working on Christmas Day and possibly New Years day but that is to be expected in hospitality. We will be missing our families but Zoom and WhatsApp will provide us with a virtual Christmas experience. It is sad to hear that the UK is going into a full lockdown over the festive period but keep positive and stay safe, look forward to the future, it’s going to get better. Understandably we are also not allowed to meet inside with other households or have parties here, but I will be on the slopes on Christmas morning tearing up the snow on my snowboard. Sorry to rub it in.

Merry Christmas and best wishes.

Arrival to Sun Peaks

Snow’s it going? 

We finished our 14 day quarantine and now we have moved on to our new home for the next four months in Sun Peaks, BC. 
When we finally got out of our Air BnB like moles returning to the surface we were surprised (and a bit annoyed) to see a beautiful panoramic view of the mountains. A sight to behold for anyone even when you had only seen the inside of a flat for the last fortnight.

We spent the first day out sightseeing in Vancouver including a bicycle tour of Stanley Park where we saw a family of racoons hanging out on a tree. In the evening, we went to meet an old colleague for dinner at the ramen noodle restaurant Jinya and then went home to sleep before our flight the following day.
The flight was a short 45 mins in a dinky little plane with propellers and less than 20 passengers. The views from out the window were stunning and it was just miles of mountain ranges, lakes and snowy peaks. We landed in Kamloops at around 14:45 where we were greeted by our (slightly eccentric) driver Gordon who took us on another 45 minute journey up to Sun Peaks ski resort.
 
The views on the drive up were sublime and Gordon pointed out all the different mountains and told us their names and some histories about them. We asked if there were any moose or bears in the area and he said they were rare but deer, mountain lions and coyotes were slightly more common. There is also apparently one fox that lives in the resort who is not afraid of humans.

We arrived at the resort at around 4pm and our new boss Silvia at Sun Peaks Lodge showed us to our new home which is a fantastic hotel room with a kitchenette and king-sized bed. We couldn’t believe how nice it is and when she left us to unpack our things we jumped around the room in excitement. 

Later on that evening, we walked around the village and enquired in a few ski shops about hiring some gear. We got measured up and rented snowboards, boots and helmets for $50 each until 6pm the following day. We went out to a pub across the road from our hotel and had dinner out. The streets are really quiet still because the season hasn’t officially opened yet.
The next day we headed to the slopes to practice snowboarding for the very first time. We went up the carpet lift on the smallest slope and managed to fall over spectacularly every time on the way down. We stopped to have a break and a late breakfast before attempting the slightly bigger ‘rabbit slopes’. We tried to use the button lift but fell on the first few attempts in front of some of the smallest kids I’ve ever seen on skis, who made us look very amateur.

After a few successful button lifts up we actually started to get the hang of it! We both made it down a few times in a row without falling and it started to click, I convinced Shell to go up on the chair lift which carried on for 15 minutes, a lot further than either of us expected. We followed the easiest route down and fell over loads but it was good experience, when we got to the bottom I decided to go back up and do it again.

That evening we got a supermarket delivery from Kamloops which we ordered before arrival and then went out to give the gear back. I decided to buy a Salomon snowboard and clips, a pair of K2 boots and a helmet for a substantial fee but it will save me a lot of money compared to renting.

Our bodies are aching so bad but it is so worth it to be here. I start work on Sunday morning at 10am for my first day being trained up in the kitchen and then my following shifts are 1.30pm starts meaning I will get plenty of chances to do a few hours of morning snowboarding.

Maybe I will become… The Snowmad Trainer?

Healthy regards as always,

Matt

Quarantine Routine

When we arrived in Vancouver we had to quarantine for 14 days were not allowed to leave our Air BnB. Here is a breakdown of the routine I developed during our time in isolation.

6.00am Wake up
I have been a relatively early riser for a few years now since working in the fitness industry. The heated floors in our flat make it much easier to stay up after getting out of bed.

6.30am Morning Rituals:
We have been doing these since the start of lockdown and they really help give me structure to my morning. I like to tick each one off in order and move onto the next ritual to start the day right.
– Pawanmuktasana (10 min stretch sequence)
– Bioenergetics (5 mins of body shaking)
– Cold shower (2 mins, the water is really cold here)
– Breath-work & meditation (20 mins)
– Journalling (5 mins)

7.30am 30 minute Yoga Flow
We generally follow either Breathe & Flow or Cat Meffan on YouTube but sometimes we change it up. This morning we did Kundalini yoga with Brett Larkin for the first time which was weird but interesting.
Shelley practising lotus pose
8.00am Coffee and Breakfast
After nearly 2 hours of activities it’s time to chill out a bit and I check my phone for the first time of the day. It’s good to catch up with all the banter from my WhatsApp groups to make me feel like I am still in touch with my mates back home.

Breakfast is always oats, coconut milk, peanut butter, seeds, blueberries, banana and honey for me (Shell is sweet enough already apparently).

9.00am Fire Up the Laptop
Time to start work. This mostly includes emailing, planning and programming. I have set myself a number of goals to complete by the end of quarantine to do with my online training business. They include:
– Plan and film all workouts for the 6 week challenge I will be running in January (more info to come on that soon).
– Create a PDF for the challenge so people can have all the information in a handy document.
– Set up a landing page for The Nomad Trainer.
– Write an itinerary for when I will be working on Osea Island for summer 2021.
– Plan future social media content.
– Write and send my weekly blog email (like this one).

I find it really helps me to tell people my goals so this is why I have gone into so much detail as it makes me feel more accountable to achieve them.
Hard at work
11.30am Walkies
We are not allowed to leave the vicinity of our Air BnB by law so we have been walking up and down the alleyway next to the entrance. It is about 20m and is not very exciting but I just put my headphones in and listen to my current audiobook Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, the autobiography of the creator of Nike. 

12ish Lunch
It took a while for us to get our first supermarket delivery of food after three consecutive nights of takeaway deliveries. Now we finally think we have exactly what we need. Yesterday, Shell made a delicious traybake of butternut squash, kidney beans and falafel with hummus and spinach.

1.00pm Study Time
Back to the laptop where I have been studying a Corrective Exercise Specialist course I purchased towards the end of the first lockdown which I never got round to doing. It is a substantial amount of reading and note taking which I think will take me longer than quarantine to complete.

I also have to finish a FOODSAFE certification so that I will be eligible to work in the kitchen at our new jobs starting in December but for some reason I am not allowed to start the course until Wednesday.

2.30pm Walkies Again!
I like to break up my studies with a second walk and another chapter of Shoe Dog. The chapters are roughly 30 mins each so 1 hour of walking adds up to around 6000 steps for me which is pretty good considering we are stuck in a confined space. Shell prefers to walk in circles in doors, we feel like crazy people.
Scenic walking route of Vancouver #0
3pm More Studying
You might think I am a nutter for pushing myself to do all this self-development but I feel like I have good momentum at this point. As I said the CES course is quite long and I want to get as much of it done as possible while I have the time. I also use DuoLingo for learning languages on my phone if Shell is using the laptop, she is also studying, setting up a landing page and writing blogs.

4.30pm Strength Workout
I am following the same strength program I made for my online clients:
Monday – Push
Tuesday – HIIT
Wednesday – Pull
Thursday – HIIT
Friday – Unilateral 
Saturday – HIIT
Sunday – Rest

The only equipment I have is a resistance band and household items like chairs. For more information about my online home workout programs please shoot me a message and I would be happy to organise a free online consultation with you.

6pm Dinner
After a busy day we treat ourselves to a hearty meal cooked in our fully functioning kitchen.

6.30pm TV time
We have been so disciplined with television, not turning it on at all (except when football is on) until after dinner makes it feel a lot easier to relax and chill out in the evening. We have been watching (and loving) Cobra Kai on Netflix and have binged through season 1 already. It is a late sequel to the Karate Kid (1984) with the same actors nearly 40 years later. It is easy watching and quite funny. We already finished the docu-series We Are The Champions which is hilarious and next up will be Queens Gambit.
Home for another 7 days.
8.30pm Reading
You must think we are right nerds by now but getting an hour of screen-free time before bed is great for sleep. It also helps that everyone in England is fast asleep by this point so there are no social media distractions. I am reading The Body by Bill Bryson and I am hoping to finish it by the end of quarantine if I continue at the rate of 1 chapter per night.

9.30pm Evening Meditation
Shell usually falls asleep around this time and I feel like I still have enough energy to go and sit alone in the kitchen and reflect on the day and give some positive affirmations to myself. Then I go to bed feeling very accomplished and sleep until I wake up and do it all again the next day!

Travelling to Canada in Lockdown

Hi friends, you’ll be glad to hear that we arrived safe and sound in Canada after a 14 hour journey. After leaving my mums at 11am, here is a run down of our experience.

How we got from London to Vancouver

When we got to the airport it was eerily quiet, with barely any travellers and not much going on. We didn’t have to queue at all to get our bags checked and we were glad to get rid of them after packing and repacking several times during the days leading up.

Security was quick and easy and once we got through to the other side we were relieved that the stress of getting over the first hurdle was behind us. They had asked us a few questions but we had all the relevant documents in a file (thanks to Shell) which helped a lot. 

We did not have to provide a negative COVID test, all they did was check our temperature just before we got on the plane. I had been wondering whether anxiety might raise my body heat, sort of like when you start sweating when you are about to speak in public for the first time. The thermometer gun lit up green and we were free to board.

The flight was with Air Canada and lasted 9 and a half hours and you have to wear a mask at all times unless you are eating. One of the stewardesses was seriously on my case about my mask. I had just finished swallowing my last mouthful of food and she came over and told me to put it back on. At one point later on, while I was reading, the top slipped down off my nose slightly, before I had a millisecond to pop it back up she was back telling me to pull it up. 

The plane was less than a 3rd full and everyone on board had a row to themselves which many people used to lie down. I didn’t get any sleep but it was nice to sprawl out though which made up for the discomfort of wearing a mask. 

Instead I watched the films Doctor Sleep and The Good Liar, both decent. I also read from my Kindle, did a few crosswords, listened to music and sorted out all of my files and documents on my laptop into neat folders as well as deleting a lot of useless stuff freeing up some much needed space on my hard-drive.

When we landed it was midnight in London but only 4pm in Vancouver. We felt spaced out as the majority of the flight had been in perpetual darkness except for an hour just before we landed. We had flown over the Arctic to get there rather than flying across Canada so we managed to catch the sunset on North Americas West Coast.

Vancouver airport was seriously quiet. We got our steps in for the day by walking down to baggage claim and then had our final obstacle, immigration. We sat and waited for 20 minutes while an officer processed our documents. They asked us a few questions and then printed our work permits which are valid for 2 years and happily sent us on our way. The relief!

We got a cab straight to our Air Bnb. A comfortable little fully equipped apartment underneath a family home. Unfortunately, we have to stay put for 14 days before we can explore otherwise it’s a $1m fine or up to 3 years imprisonment.

Our plan is to do a lot of yoga, bodyweight training, reading, writing, meditation etc. I do hope this is going to be a productive fortnight but the TV has Netflix built in and I have already watched the first Lord of the Rings film. Any recommendations for films, series or other activities are most welcome.

It is quite cold outside but we are keeping warm in doors, the air is noticeably cleaner here compared to London when we poke our head out the door of our little flat. We are a bit jet-lagged but we are very comfortable and excited about our upcoming adventures.

The Nomad Trainer Returns

See you later Boris! Last year, Shelley and I applied for working holiday visas to live and work in Canada for 2 years. The application was long and it took nearly 2 months until it got accepted in September 2019. We were allowed up to 12 months to enter the country from when the visa was accepted.

 The original plan was to fly to Calgary on 20th July this year and go and look after 12 racing husky’s in a small town called Golden, close to the Rocky Mountains. But when lockdown part 1 hit and continued deep into June we got rejected by the Husky owners and a few other potential jobs and assumed our adventure was not meant to be.
 
Now, in lockdown part 2 we are getting ready to leave in one week on the 17th of November. We will fly to Vancouver where we must isolate for 2 weeks before a short flight to Kamloops on the 2nd of December and then a 45 minute drive up into the mountains where we will be starting work on the 5th of December at Sun Peaks Resort, the second largest ski resort in Canada.

 We only found out in September that it was even still possible to go to Canada on WHV. A couple we lived with in Sydney posted on Instagram that they were heading there to work at a ski resort. 

 Shell did some research and found out that if you have a valid visa, a job offer and somewhere to quarantine on arrival for 14 days then they will allow you entry into the country. We also joined a Facebook group where people like us were posting questions, tips and stories about how to get into the country successfully. 

After surfing the web for a few minutes we realised that there were 100s of jobs going at ski resorts in Canada. We organised a few interviews and within a week of searching we had been offered jobs working in at a lodge in Sun Peaks.

At first, I was going to be working as a breakfast chef but now as the German travel agency cancelled their bookings for the season they will be redeploying me to the steakhouse. I have never worked in a kitchen (which my new employers are aware of) but I always relish the opportunity to try something new. Shell will be doing housekeeping, something she has had plenty of practise in during lockdown ha ha.

We plan to do lots of skiing, mountaineering and yoga so finally after nearly a 2 year hiatus, The Nomad Trainer returns! I also plan to write regular blog emails like this one and will be posting our experiences on my Website, Facebook and Instagram pages.

So now we are almost ready to leave, just one week to go. The flight is going to be 9 hours long and we are very hopeful that it still goes ahead. We won’t feel fully secure that we have made it until we get through immigration on the other side but we are very confident that everything is going to go according to plan