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Category: recreation Page 2 of 4

A Day at the Hastings Racetrack

I have visited the Hastings Racetrack a handful of times now. But for each, it was for an event with drinking and food in the foreground; and the actual race, an add on. So admittedly, I have yet to bet on a horse, and don’t even really know how to go about doing so. That’s why I was ecstatic to receive this invitation to the racetrack. On this day, I would be attending their Superfecta weekend, where my visit came with a behind the scenes look at the race day, a crash course in betting, and a lovely lunch on the Molson Canadian patio.

 

For the more exciting version to this recap, check out the latest video on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei, as it details how @itsjosheats and I won big at the racetrack!

Our attendance included drink tickets to try a few of the speciality cocktails being shaken and poured on the day. All out of a four sided, roving, popup bar. It featured local bartenders representing their place of employment, with fun race track and horse inspired beverages. You were able to claim your drink, then climb up scaffolding to the bar’s roof top patio.

“The Diamond” was offering a cocktail called “The Front Runner” with Bombay gin, bianco vermouth, strawberry bell pepper syrup, lavender bitters, and soda. It was a very light drink, great for those who don’t actually like the taste of alcohol.

“Mamie Taylors” gave you a much stronger drink, for those who do. This was aptly named “Wild Horses”. It is made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, peach, mint, and bitters.

“The Boxcar” had a “Dill Spritz” that was light and refreshing. It was made with dill infused cazadores, blanco tequila, luxardo, bitter bianco, lemon, honey, lem-Marrakech bitters, soda, and bubbly.

We also had a light lunch on the Molson patio, an area right by the track, marked in red with shade providing umbrellas and its own bar. Here, a catered assortment of fresh vegetables, cured meats, cubed cheeses, and chocolatey desserts were made available to nibble on, as the horses trotted on.

We enjoyed a few races at our position: on the side of the track, a few meters from the finish line marker. Although truthfully, your view here is limited to only what is before you, as you can’t really make out the competitors as they run the full race. The match is televised both on the track side screen; but also world wide for those betting on the online, to be able to follow along. The aforementioned screen does helps, but it too is kept at a distance in needed of squinting.

Being by the track is best for getting a closer look at the contenders, and for petting the horses, should an opportunity arise. This is especially popular with small school aged children, and the social media conscious (as seen with the photos above).

But of course, the view is significantly better higher above. Here, you get to see more of the horses racing, for longer, around larger stretches of track. This was the view from the sky box and the sky deck. A, area reserved for VIPs to eat, drink, and enjoy the festivities from high above, and afar.

Although my favourite view of the visit, was definitely that of the announcers’, in his secluded booth. He and the judges/referees, communicated past a plexiglass barrier, separating their individual box suites.

With binoculars and a list of horses competing, he gave those watching a verbal blow by blow, high above his perch lined with megaphones. He broke down stats, opened and closed out the betting, and was basically the park’s hype man. After all, as much as this was an attraction for folks like me; a day at the races typically means betting for other more dedicated race day enthusiasts.

And we would get a taster of this: being able to place our own bets. But first we would get a crash course on how to do so. How to make a bet at any of the wickets, through the available machines, or even on your phone. To boil it down, you decided which horse you wanted to bet on, how much you wanted to bet on it, and how it will win. “Your horse” doesn’t need to win, it just needs to finish first, second, or third; if you are betting “to place”. Naturally you don’t make as much money as betting to win does/would, but this way, it gives you a greater chance to win.

If you are placing said bet verbally, there is a pattern of speech in which to place the bet. This “how to” is posted at the cash register for an easy reference. My first time was not as intimidating as I conceived it in my head, in realty it was as easy as the ticket for my bet being printed out.

From here, you need only cheer for your winning horse, while hoping for the desired outcome. Having something at stake, while watching, does make it a lot more exciting. But don’t just take my word for it, check out the video above, and then visit the racetrack yourselves, for a fun way to spend a sundays. And if horses aren’t you thing, they also offer dog races. English bulldogs and corgis, just to name a few.

 

HASTINGS RACETRACK
PNE Gate 6 or 9
188 N. Renfrew Street, Vancouver BC, V5K 3N8
604-254-1631
hastingsracecourse.com

Movement108, presented by Saucony

Those who know me know that the last thing I’d ever want to do is exercise. I hate sweating and having to wash my long hair after sweating. However when presented with an opportunity to try something new, my curious spirit outweighs my lazy one. So this morning, at 9am I was found myself walking into “Movement108” for a fitness class.

This was a session sponsored by the athletic brand “Saucony”, founded two years after the first Olympic marathon and dedicated to running ever since. I have heard of the brand, but have never experienced it or its merchandise first hand. That was until today, when they geared me up for the morning ahead with my first set of actual and purposeful active wear. There are so many other athletic brands out there that I grew up with instead, so I was excited to see first hand what set “Saucony” apart. I was gifted gear from head to toe, with every everything I needed for a good work, minus the bra and underwear.

The shoes were surprisingly comfortable. They fit small so a half size up was the right ones for me. Shockingly they were easy to slip on and snug to stay on; even with no laces. Walking in them felt like you were gliding on padded ground. Each step was well cushioned, ideal for walking, jogging, running, and everything in between. Best, with their no slip socks that helped with the cushioning of my sole.

I had my option of tops between a supportive tank with peak-a-boo back or a loose fitting tee; both meant to absorb and wick-away moisture. Moisture like the bucket of sweat I would soon exude. But best of all was the yoga pants. This set of stretchy spandex leggings are the most supportive and comfortable I have ever wriggled myself into. A combination of lulu’s and Spanx. They have the wearability of Lululemon yoga pant; thick and dressy enough to wear around day to day, and maybe even low key to work. And the suppressing and forming abilities of Spanx shape wear. It sat firm and at all the right place to hide my muffin top. All above had me wondering what one of their supportive sports bras would have felt like.

Now that I was geared up it was time to put it all to the test. Luckily I was at the right place to do just that. Like it’s name suggests, “Movement108” is a fitness centre where the goal getting you to move. Movement with the focus of balance and strength, in order to foster mobility and stability in your every day motions.

Admittedly I am not a fit person, nor is it my goal to be. I work on my feet 9 hours a day and am use to walking great distances, and that has kept me relatively healthy. So already I knew I had an up hill climb. But I was motivated to do my best with the company I was in, including @pekopekolife, whom I was the plus one of. She and the instructor were great in keeping me going with their support and belief in me. Although towards the end of our session I was firm in listening to my body and knowing when to not push myself.

As for the actual hour long session we began by taking advantage of the clear day. We started our time together with a light jog around the block to get us warmed up.

 

When we got back in the studio we utilized the entire space and all the equipment in a series of exercises. Mind you, I am not sure of all the real names of things, so my recap is by novice descriptions of both the equipment and exercises. Kettle bells for squats and pushes, weighted balls for throw downs and pick ups, stretchy handlebars attached to a bar for lifting your own body weight, giant crates to step up on to, and heavy braided ropes attached to the wall to lift and slap against the ground. Each motion activated a different party of my body, and boy did I feel it. As intensive as it all was for a beginner, there were abbreviations you could make, to ease the difficulty level. On the flip side you could also edit the routine to give yourself an even greater challenge.

 

Each class is different and catered to the one taking it, so I won’t be going into detail on what it is we actually did. Instead, I invite you to visit their website and use it for a self guided consultation. But know that immediately after this class, my well used legs were sore from buttock to ankle. And the day after the whole body followed in soreness. So know that it was a good workout, and one that I was feeling days to come. Every body part got stretched and pulled without my realizing it; s every part was sore because of it. I don’t think I have ever been so sore from doing anything in my life.

In short, they are worth checking out if you are like me. You need something/someone/a reason to push and drive you in to a work out. Left to my own devices I would not visit my own home gym, let alone engage in any of the above. It is like university courses taken online, I am not driven enough as a student to do the work myself. I need somewhere to be and someone telling me what to do to in order for me to gain. And here they do it to great music and plenty of variety to keep you continuously engaged. In short a morning well spent, trying something new, and doing something that helped to better myself.

 

MOVEMENT 108
108-1529 6th Ave West, Vancouver BC, V6J 1R1
604-999-4385
movement108.com

 

SAUCONY
saucony.com

The Douglas, Autograph Collection

The Douglas, Autograph Collection Hotel Stay & Parq Experience

On this weekend I was invited for a one night stay at one of the new luxurious hotels attached to Parq. “Parq”, is a “new international entertainment destination, located in downtown Vancouver, next to the BC Place Stadium”. It promises “everything in one place” and it delivers on that, making it one of my favourite destinations. One of my favourite places to gravitate towards anytime I want to drink, or we don’t know where else to go. This one building offers six different food and drinking destinations; and as a foodie with a wide variety of tastes, this is very alluring.

 

 

During this weekend it offered us 24 hours of fun without having to leave the warmth and comfort of its 6 floors. For my vlog of our “Day at the Parq”, visit my YouTube channel: MaggiMei for my latest video.

Be warned parking is a little on the pricier side. An over night stay will cost you $40 for the convenience of going from your suite to the parking lot with the push of a button, but at least there are electric charging stations available and plugging in is free.

We started by wheeling our luggage up to the 6th floor and checking in for the night. This included a ride in one of the glitziest elevators I have ever ridden. Its lights and mirror make for a perfect selfie.

The hotel’s name speaks to its theme: “A balanced dialogue of nature and city”. There was a parallel between each room and the nature within and around it, just as we were soon to find out from our 11th floor suite. We were given the “standard city view”. Our guest room featured one king bed, a leather bench seat, and a work station; partnered with views of the city. The city view gave you a honest look at our expanding city, surrounded by skyscrapers above and on going construction below.

Importantly, the firm bed and the crisp sheets gave me one of the best sleeps I have had in a while. It made me realize all the back pains I currently have are due to my Ikea futon. We would spend majority of our night on this beauty, taking advantage of its comfort and proximity to a television.

I was thrilled to have the television programmed with a personalized greeting. Welcoming me and allowing me to log into my Netflix account with ease. I just wished that the wi-fi was free for those spending to stay a night.

And sadly there wasn’t a mini fridge, but there was a healthy selection of local wines and spirits included, and available for purchase on the desk. It came set on a tray, along with some local snacks and chocolates as well. Most interesting was the bottle of small batch Douglas Fir Gin by “Yaletown Distilling Co.”. This was brewed exclusively for “The Douglas”, and is only available by the bottle with your hotel stay, otherwise you can taste it in several cocktails offered at the various bars of “Parq”.

The washroom was most memorable, or should I say, the shower stall was. It had a peak-a-boo glass window that gave you a look into the bedroom. Or was this a view from them bedroom into the shower? I guess if you are staying at the hotel alone it serves as a long distance look of your windowed video from the bath; or if you are here for a romantic getaway, the precursor to some sexy times. For the record, there is the option to draw the blind down from some privacy either way. Like the “bar” the washroom is also outfitted with some local BC based goods. Here Aesop’s line of skin, hair, and body care formulations were available for use in the shower and by the sink.

If your next vacation is 10,000 days, 10,000km or $10,000 away, I suggest treating yourself to a say-cation at a fraction of the cost, with the connivence of time and distance on your side. There is sometime so indulgent about spending the night at a hotel, distancing yourself from your life for a day and night. And “The Douglas” is certainly one of the nicest hotels in downtown Vancouver to do just that at. Not to mention all the bars, restaurants, and casino available to you during your stay. I didn’t get to visit them all during my 24 hours there, but here are a few that I did get to visit and blog about.

D6 LOUNGE

D6 Lounge/Bar, at The Douglas

 

BC KITCHEN

BC Kitchen, at Parq

 

THE VICTOR

The Victor, at Parq

 

HONEY SALT

Honey Salt, at Parq

 

THE DOUGLAS
45 Smithe Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 0R3
604-676-0889
thedouglasvancouver.com

Wild Play Elements Park

 

Today I was with Joyce of @monkeyeatsworld and we were tapping into our inner monkeys. Joyce was collecting stamps from tourist sites all around the Lower Mainland. She invited me to come out to Maple Ridge with her, in order to collect the stamp that required climbing trees and zipping through the sky. Being the adventurous person that I am, I thought why not, not really knowing what I was fully getting myself into.

Therefore, I arrived to our wooded destination inappropriately dressed. I had on yoga pants because it’s Vancouver, and Vancouver women like me wear yoga pants as every day wear. But it was the converse chucks and jean jacket that brought my outfit together, that would later hinder me in this very movement heavy activity. Joyce was more comfortable in her hoodie and runners.

Nestled amongst farm territory within Maple Ridge, I found the travel to “Wild Play” confusing. A few banners weren’t all that helpful in directing me to the right turn, especially since they were located behind a public park. There were no arrows to guide you, nor was a large billboard to mark your arrival. You park in their gravel lot that was quick to fill, and walk along the path that leads to a clearing.

We checked in: signing their electronic waiver and paying the necessary fees. You have the option of choosing between three of their experiences. For someone who isn’t all that fit and is afraid of heights, it all sounded intimidating. Therefore it was a little reassuring to see primary school aged children register up for the same course as we did.

The “classic course” has a minimum age requirement of 5, so if a kindergartener can do it, I should be able to; standing a little over 5 feet compared to their 3. This course comes with 30 games and 3 zip lines. Three levels that scale you up to 45 feet. There is a kids course built for those between the ages 5-12. 7 games and 3 zip lines at a maximum height of 15 feet. For those who like a challenge, or have already been to “Wild Play” a handful of times, there is an “Extreme” course. It is an add on to the “classic”, bringing you up the 45 feet, then further to 60 feet with 15 more games and 3 more zip lines.

The games are more like challenges, paths to walk across and around. Wooden rope bridges that dip when your weight goes onto it, tautly strung up iron wire tightropes, spinning balls on chains, and a rope to swing on.

 

After paying for your experience and getting the proper coloured wrist band to symbolize your course, you are sent to suit up. Under the covered area, harnesses are laid on the ground, ready for wearing. You step into them one leg at a time, then you simply pull them up like you would pants. Here, your instructor clicks in all the buckets and pulls straps tightly across your waist and buttocks. It is very uncomfortable, I found it rode up in all the wrong places. This is what will keep you safe and dangling should you lose your footing and fall. And should you need the use of the harness it is best on you like a seat, instead of a belt to have you dangling by your waist. Luckily we would never have to find out how so.

You go in little groups hosted by one of their park employees. They are on site to explain to you how to began and how to stay safe, also as a safety precaution should anything go sideways. Once again, luckily there was no need for that.

One by one you head to each of the wooden platforms. Each platform has a series of games that help you progress and climb higher. Progressing requires moving yourself and the cord attached to you through a series of discs and bumpers meant to keep you safe. Then the walking over, on, and past the aforementioned obstacle course. My favourite was the log you stood on that you pulled your self across on, with pulleys.

We also took on their 40feet free fall jump, that ended up being not as scary as it looked. This will be the closest I ever get to bungee jumping!

Unfortunately even with my detail oriented writing, I simply can’t do this highly unique experience justice with words. So instead, I invite you to check out the latest video on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei, in order to get a better look at what’s it like to climb up tall things and jump down from high places. Definitely fun for all ages and a fun way to get some exercise in!

 

 

WILD PLAY
23485 Fern Crescent, Maple Ridge BC, V4R 2S6
1-855-595-2251
wildplay.com

Time Escape HQ, escape room

I love a good escape room. Not the scary ones with actors jumping out at you, or the ones that have you squeezing into a tight space. As, in my opinion, that falls closer into the realm of haunted houses. Instead, I like the adventures that have you solving puzzles and collaborating with team mates to progress. And today we were at one such escape room.

“Time Escape” is cleverly located by one of the newest ZenQ franchises in Richmond. Being neighbours to one another I can see them sharing the same traffic and earning extra business due to connivence. You can start out at the escape room and retire to bubble tea either after the adventure is won, or in order to help lick your wounds. Or you can start out with a dessert and a drink, and decide last minute to take on their escape challenge as an after dinner and dessert activity. As their advert promotes, they do make a great destination for team building.

This post won’t detail the room we tried, as to not ruin the suspense and surprise, should my review be compelling enough for you to give them a try. Instead I will list some options, and detail the introduction to our experience and the moments after it concluded.

“Time Escape” currently offers four different escape rooms. Their posters hang on the wall in the foyer, but you don’t really get too much detail as to what challenges lie ahead, just the theme in which they are set it. They are arranged from easiest to most difficult from right to left. We were a group of six so figured our six brains would give us a better shot at achieving success in the second to hardest room: “Lethal Virus” Given the title, I had to ask if there would be any “zombies” reaching out at us. And as I was reassured that, that wouldn’t be the case, we signed their waiver, locked up our items and cellphones into lockers, then heading into our room.

We were lead in with no visibility. We were required to wear visors that were blacked out, following one another in tandem, holding each other shoulder by shoulder. Once inside the room, the door was closed and we were instructed to listen carefully to the pre-recorded audio. A theatrical voice gave us some story background, and our mission statement. After its warning, and with our quest activated we were directed to remove our eye wear and begin. You get 50 minutes to complete the challenge. I appreciated the longer allotted time, as it felt like you were given a winning shot off the bat, and that the experience is more worth the price you pay, given how long you get to spend submerged within it.

There really isn’t any instruction, you are left to explore the space as you please. However, you are warned that anything with black and silver reflective tape need not be moved or tapered with. And if you are stuck, there is a buzzer by the entrance that you can push for assistance. Doing so gives you hints. They won’t tell you how to progress, but do walk your through the thought process you have already begun working through. I am not too proud to admit that this was challenging and we did have to push the button the allotted two times. In hind sight we took clues to literally, and needed to not get hung up on concepts, but instead explore all possibilities. Definitely great learning for the next one.

And given that you cannot have your phone in the room with you, and that this generation insists on documenting everything, otherwise it doesn’t exist, “Time Escape” does offer a photo op after the game has concluded. Win or loose you can grab some props and shuffle through signs to decide how you want to document your outcome.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Not to give too much away, but I really enjoyed how intricate the escape experience was. How challenging the puzzles were and its use of technology to unlock levels. I was sincerely impressed by their operations. I definitely want to return to try the other and will definitely recommend this particular escape room to anyone!

 

TIME ESCAPE
140-3471 NO 3 Rd, Richmond BC, V6X 2B8
604-232-9775
timeescape.com

Smarty Pantz, virtual reality escape adventure

I have visited “Smarty Pants”, for their logic-focused escape rooms before. They are the only such type of experience in Vancouver to be featured on Canada’s small business investment show, “Dragon’s Den”. Their themed event rooms come with rich backgrounds, hosted by dedicated actors in costume. They focused on the “logic underlying where you are, how you got there and why you’re trying to escape” (as per their website). It is challenging, yet fun. Not scary, but instead you get more of an exciting and nerve racking feeling, as your adventures include a ticking clock.

But today I was invited back to try the next generation of escape room. “Smarty Pantz” is the first in the city to be offering the experience in virtual reality (VR). Currently they only have one game to choose from, but are working to bring you more. And the best part? This escape room needs minimal set up, less resources in props and actors; for just as an engaging time, if not more.

Although there is something to be said for the ability to search for clues in a room set up with booby traps and secret hiding spots, with your own two hands. To read about my original visit and what it is like, click on the link below.

Smarty Pantz, escape rooms

Like all of the other escape room themed establishments, if this is your first time with them, you sign a liability waver before you are ushered in.

The VR experience is the “SS Tiberia 4”. And like the regular rooms it comes with an elaborate back story to better take you into the imaginary world they have concocted. The plot is: you are a team of astronauts floating in space in a malfunctioning spacecraft. Your mission is to stop an asteroid from hurling itself towards the earth, where you and your maximum team of four are the only ones in its way. But first you have to fix your ship.

Other than that you don’t get much more information on your objectives, so it is best you pay attention to your host for clues. And after a quick safety lesson, you are strapped in and geared up. A back pack gets pulled over your shoulders and strapped in around your waist, head gear with goggles get tightened around your head, and remotes are tethered to each of your wrists as you grip two controllers. The latter enact as your virtual hands. Animated fingers that close and grip with a squeeze of a button.

I won’t go into much more detail here, as to not spoil the challenge or ruin the experience for you, that is if you take my advice and go. But I assure you it’s worth your time. I have never experienced anything else like this. Realistic enough to have you walking into walls, and trying to climb on to imaginary crates. Enough that you are given a warning that none of it is real, and that the room is as empty as it was when you first stepped in.

Your host stays within the room to help guide you and steer you in the right direction, should you get stuck. They watch what you are doing and how you perceive it through your VR goggles, on a television monitor.

Sadly one of our party of four with glasses wasn’t able to participate, as she was unable to view the 3D world within her goggles, with and without her glasses. So she sat out and watched our 30 minute trial unfold from the television as well. We could have used a fourth for the brain power, but I suspect watching it is a different kind of fun.

In the end were given multiple do-overs and still managed to fall short at 86% completion. It was mentally and physically challenging and therefore a more engaging and fun time than I originally anticipated.

Hopefully my review is enough to peak your interest and have you heading down to “Smarty Pantz” yourself, to give this space adventure a shot. It is definitely worth your time and your money to try the technology that will be revolutionizing escape rooms for years to come.

 

SMARTY PANTZ
100-289 Abbott Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 2K7
604-974-9293
smartypantz.ca

Smash Therapy

I have previously read an article about “smash rooms” and that a location for it that had opened up in Toronto. It is basically a place where you go to break stuff. Imagining all the fun I could have, I had hoped that Vancouver would follow suite, and it looks like my wish came true. Introducing “Smash Therapy”, a new group activity centre in Richmond, BC.

My friend discovered them through their groupon special and picked up a couple of admissions for us to try. We set our date and simply showed up. At 11:30am on a Sunday, we were the only ones in, along with the lone clerk; who proved more than enough to run the place by himself. They have only been open for a month, so word of their existence has yet to travel.

The premise is, they offer you glass bottles and electronics to break at a fee. The menu charges either by quantity. The cheapest is their “Baby smash” which gives you 12 small bottles and 5 large ones to break for $29.99. Our groupon was for this at fraction of the cost. (So if you are looking to try this for yourself in the near feature, I suggest going that route.) And honestly it was more than enough breakables for me. If there were other items and even more weapons to use, I can see the need for more items to break. But this was the perfect number/amount in my opinion. You got the hang of things and broke a sweat, without getting redundant.

Those with a little more rage can take it out with their “Hulk Smash”. At $39.99 you get three more larger bottles and one electronic item to smash compared to the above. The latter includes either an outdated computer or printer, and there was even a cellphone on their shelf of break-ables. In hindsight I think I would have enjoyed destroying a computer the most and could see why the extra item was worth the additional $10, making this the “most popular” of their smash options.

Other packages up-ed the number of glasses and the number of participants. 32 items between two for “couples therapy”. And a group session that ran for $199.99 gave you 82 items. Whereas $199.99 gave you 124. It may seem like alot, but having tried it, I could tell you, it could have been more fun if we lined everything up in a row to go on a smashing spree. To be able to break multiples at a time, given how much you had to destroy in total. With us only having 17 bottles, we found ourselves keeping slow with our pace, in order to elongate and savour the destruction, one bottle at a time.

And if glass isn’t your bag and you rather destroy things with more sentimental value. You can bring your own stuff to smash for $19.99; with some exceptions, as per the establishment’s discretion. I think this would be a great service to advertise as a “breakup package”. Allowing the forlorn to bring in all of their ex’s stuff and have a safe place to destroy it within, and their memory of them by association. And maybe even have the ability burn half of it. Although, as their name suggests, they don’t actually allow you to burn things in their space, just smashing. (I am just considering it for the sake of my premise, and the fact that jewelry, cards, and clothes need more than a bat to break them down.) And if you make this a girl’s night out affair, after all the smashing, as a group, you can then retire to their lounge for some bubble tea and snacks that they server regularly.

I would have also liked to be able to smash other things like melons and various fruits that go squish under the weight of a wooden mallet (one of the handful of tools you are given access to, to carry out your rampage.) For Halloween a pumpkin, watermelons for summer; and tomatoes all year around, as the best fruit to make go splat. However this would require even more clean up, not only of the room, but the coveralls they lend you to wear as well. Maybe if their operation grows they would look into this? Even hurling fruits at a target or slicing them down like a “fruit ninja” would be most fun. One can only dream.

But for now, back to our actual experience, and what “Smash Therapy” actually offers. They are located in an industrial area of Richmond, giving them the space they need to run a multiple service activity centre, specializing in hosting groups. Within their walls they are able to seat larger parties within their spacious rooms. Offering activities like “name-tag” (a game where you chase one another trying to grab the “name”/flag off you opponent’s back). And popular Chinese games like “Werewolf” (a board game using light-up number blocks and masks, in which I know nothing about), and mah jong, the Chinese “card” game that is played with titles arranged like poker hands.

They also have bubble soccer, which gets you playing the familiar sport with your feet, a ball, and a twist. Before you start, you slip into an air filled bubble that you hold up with your shoulders and hold on to with your hands. This extra padding makes body checking more fun, and a popular sport more challenging. We didn’t actually play, but were able to give the suit a try. It was just as much fun bouncing around in them and against one other in combat.

But now back to the reason why we were here in the first place. After settling up at the counter, we were led to one of their back rooms. Here we were given plastic jumpers to zip-up, and pull over our regular clothes. A vest gave us extra padding, and gloves and a mask ensured we were protected with at least one layer of fabric between us and the glass that would soon go flying. Although, realistically it is easy enough to cut through the plastic of the thin coveralls with any random shard of glass. Another potential safety issue is with the masks. With them on, they made it hard for you to breath, it and the increase in temperature from being so physical have you removing layers intermittently. Then there is footwear, or lack of proper footwear. We wore the same shoes we came in with, and luckily both of us thought to wear closed-toe shoes. However we found ourselves continually stomping on the un-avoidable shards that littered the cement ground with them. And a thinner sole could have thicker consequences.

When it came time to smash, a plastic bin is wheeled in, with your purchased quantity of glass bottles. You are given access to two lengths of crowbars, a wooden mallet, and a titanium baseball bat to whack everything with. A cleaver was presented in the room where you got dressed up in, however it was simply a plastic prop for taking photos with.

Now the rest is up to you. You can either place your bottle on the available podium, or rest it on the sturdy coffee table. Or be as creative as your destructive imagination takes you. Smashing them on the ground works or throwing them against the wall. Maybe even throwing it up into the air and swinging the bat at a bottle or two could be fun. The only rule is to not hit the walls with your chosen tool. We weren’t all that adventurous, so kept things tee-ball style. But it just so happened that I entered the building today, having put on pause an unfinished argument with my partner, so this was the perfect way to let out some steam.

To watch our session and see what you expect from “Smash Therapy”, like what we we destroy, and how we do it; please visit my YouTube channel: MaggiMei for the quickie vlog version of this post.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
There is currently nothing else like this in the lower mainland, making them the ones to visit for some unique fun. Go alone to let out some steam, or go with a group and get competitive in your smash. Or maybe visit for one of the other engaging games. I cannot wait to see how they evolve and if they bring in additional elements to their service.

 

SMASH THERAPY
140-6851 Elmbridge Way, Richmond BC, V7C 4N1
604-238-9464
smashtherapy.ca

The Color Run 2017

Considering that eating is my hobby, and I spend much of my time doing it, it almost seems contradictory to sweat off all my hard earned work through the act of running. However seeing as I was invited to this year’s “Color Run” as media, I thought I might as well give it a shot; knowing full well the last time I ran any “K” was in high school and I am grossly out of shape.

But the fact that this is marketed as the “Happiest 5k”, and that everything I had read about the run prior focused on each and every racer having fun, I didn’t feel that intimidated going in. You can walk or run, it doesn’t matter as your time isn’t being tracked. All this had me less reluctant to get out of my bed at 7pm this Saturday morning to be at Cloverdale to start the race at 9am.

To skip ahead and skip the reading, watch the vlog version of this by visiting my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

 

We arrived earlier to check in and claim our racer’s numbers, with it we were then able to retrieve our runner packages. These were large ziplock bags, each housing a branded tee in your registered size, a red and white sweat band, and a glittery temporary tattoo that read “happy” in gold.

After sorting through all the above, we then went to the colouring station, and borrowing their felt markers coloured in our racer’s bib. There was even a space on it to write down a wish up top. These were pinned to the back for your tee so that you would be able to search yourself by number, in any of the photos that event photographers would be posting from the event, online.

We then geared up before joining a few others at the warm-up session in front of the stage. It was a series of stretches, jumping jacks and push ups to warm up to. Then everyone got in order, lining up at the starting tape. Where after 9am struck, event organizers began ushering racers through the starting arch section by section, in order to not congest the tighter trails. Here was an emcee amping up the crowd, calling for the “wave” and tossing down free gear from his tower perch, to those who screamed the loudest. It took us 45 minutes of waiting before getting through the front of the line ourselves. In the meanwhile we explored the event grounds.

This 5k is affectionately associated with rainbows and unicorns, as seen through their presence around the race course and event field. Inflatable unicorns with positive messages, a plush unicorn for sale and other rainbow striped apparel in their “Color Run” shop, and even a unicorn mascot to pose for pictures with.

When it came time to run, we were quick to discover that the racecourse was more like a weaving circuit through a scenic park. So no matter where you are, you are surrounding by people; instead of feeling like you are being left behind. There were also short cuts and lanes to skip, if you didn’t feel up to the challenge of completing the entire tack. Although, I am proud to say that I finished the race in its entirety and even ran a few of its sections.

There were natural punctuation points along the course and every so often an inflatable arch marked a colour station. Here you were given a bath of chalk by event volunteers who either threw the powder at you or squeezed spurts of it from a bottle. The point was to run the race and get covered in as much chalky colour as possible, staining your white shirt, and creating a tye-dye pattern once it mixed with your sweat. (At least this was the case for me.)

The first stop was yellow, marking the end of the longest segment of the course. All the coloured zones after it seemed to come quicker and quicker, which made you feel more motivated as a runner, like it was a shorter course you were taking.

After it was a water station with branded cups and a bubble zone with an automatic bubble machine constantly blowing soapy translucent rounds into the air for a very magical feel.

Pink was the next colour zone, it followed a dash through a barn; in one door and out the other.

Purple was next and you could feel the fatigue from the colour spouting volunteers. Less smokey purple in the air and even less on our clothes and skin.

They had resorted to throwing handfuls of chalk at you, at the green zone, which proved effective.

And just around the corner from it we were already at the finish line. All the colours of the blow up arches before, lined up one after another. A run through this ended with your very own winner’s medal (although everyone gets one and everyone is a winner in this race). It was a gold coloured medallion with a unicorn on its hind legs, strung on a rainbow lanyard. You also get your own packet of chalk dust to toss up over yourself or at one another. Naturally everyone took part and made it a photo op.

With everyone back at the original check-in field, event sponsors were now giving away samples and snacks at designated booths. “Biore” offered face wash for those with dry and combination skin. And a clean up station with running water, a sink to drain said water into, and mirrors to help give your face a good scrubbing. They were also passing out wipes for your limbs and anywhere else you got chalk lodged into. The “Lays” booth offered their chips in individual serving packs of regular and ketchup, but we much preferred their puffy Cheetos instead. And Aquafina had self serve, chilled bottles of water and cans of flavoured water sitting in kiddie pools filled with ice. And at the end of the end, there were so many extras that event organizers invited participants to take case loads home with them.

We then gathered by the stage with others for the colour toss. The event runners were amping up the crowd yet again, with more give aways. And this time it included multiple packets of coloured powder. They tossed sealed packets in the air, you caught it; then when they counted down, everyone tosses a fist full of colour into the air for a cloud of smoke. They even organized a colour fight one round by splitting the crowd in to two sides, and having them throw handfuls of the chalk at one another. I stayed back and gathered my footage, as the colour in the air makes for great photos. We stayed until all the chalk was on the ground and volunteers petitioned the help of event goers in cleaning up after themselves and the site.

We left shortly after leaving our mark on their wall of dreams. Some positive vibes and well wishes, just like what the event was all about today.

This truly is the “happiest 5k” or any run I have ever been a part of enjoyed. For those who have never been, I strongly suggest attending their second rendition, September 23, 2017 in Coquitlam (link for registration below). Otherwise see you at the one next year. This is definitely a 5k worth trying and a 5k I could do again.

 

COLOR RUN
ca.thecolorrun.com
http://canada.thecolorvibe.com/vancouver.php

Hot Yoga

How I agreed to, and got out of doing hot yoga

My friend approached me with the idea of “hot yoga”, my immediate response was a soul wrenching, “ugh”. She was disappointed, having wanted to invite me to a class with her. Her studio was doing a promotion and any of her friends could get two classes for free. I eventually agreed for the sake of this blog and to try something new. However, I would spend the next two weeks trying to get out of this commitment. I detest the act of sweating to my core. I have thought of injecting my forehead and underarms with Botox to impede my sweat glad and to halt perspiration. But I figure avoiding strenuous movement was easier and more cost effective, plus no upkeep. Therefore it is not surprising that I avoid the action of exercise. I already sweat more than most people. Squatting down three times to fill the laundry machine already has me glistening. Imagine what would happen when sweating is the whole point of the activity?

However, as much as I hate sweating, my love of a good deal overpowers my common sense. I would agree to be her plus one, and the class would come at no cost, once I registered online.

Hot yoga combines the motions and poses of traditional yoga in a room where the temperature is similar to a sauna. The idea is that your pores open up and all the toxins are released through the naturally occurring sweat process.

I had many concerns going into this. First, I was immediately worried about my lash extensions and thought of wearing goggles. But reconsidered knowing that they would only fog up, without water cooling them and me off. Then I wondered what I should wear. Do you dress less, knowing that you would be so hot, or more so that it soaks up all your access sweat?

My worry was only exacerbating when I told other friends of my plans, everyone had an opinion on hot yoga. They warned me about not standing next to men because they sweat so much, and I guess their debris gets on you? That image does gross me out (I cannot stand the bodily fluids of anyone else, especially salvia). However given how much and how easily I sweat, I feel standing next to any man would have me looking like I am just glowing by comparison.

Another friend told me how it was so hot that she blacked out during child’s pose (the actual name of an actual yoga pose, where you huddle in a ball with face towards the mat and back towards the ceiling). She advised a spot by the door, as it is the coolest. I just figured it was an easy escape path if needed, and where people can easily roll me out into the hall way, if I pass out too.

Then there was the matter of equipment. I agreed knowing it would be a one time thing. So I don’t want to invest in the proper clothes, or a yoga mat, or the sweat bands I know I would desperately need. Luckily you could at least rent a mat. Although, who would want to lay on a mat that someone has already flushed half their body fluid weight on? Instead I borrowed one from my mother, only to realize it was made from foam, and the towel I would place over it would not be enough of a barrier to keep it or me dry. I then wondered if you could throw an exercise mat into the washing machine? Though it didn’t matter, as once again, I wriggled my way out of it.

My host was understanding, she thanked me for my honesty and said she preferred it this way, instead of watching me suffer. Though she did everything she could to make sure that if I actually did attended, it would have been the most enjoyable possible. She considered my apprehension over not being very fit or flexible, and choose a class with an instructor who doesn’t push the work out on you, but instead wants you to enjoy it and go at your own pace. And at a time later at night, so there would be less of a crowd. She even created me a checklist of things to bring, and gave me reminders of them up to the day. Water bottle, face cloth, towel, change for mat rentals, and a quarter for the lockers. I am not going to lie, after all this, a part of me with morbid curiosity, wonders what it would have been like. And I would have liked to film my struggle for my new YouTube channel, but alas, I listened to lazy body and what it really wanted.

After all, as soon as I made the commitment, I was already thinking of ways to cancel it. I considered all the reasons why I should not go, and on the top of that list was, “I don’t want to do it”. Not even for the experience, as a writer and YouTube reporter trying new things. I am at that age where I don’t feel the need to paint on makeup each time I leave the house, nor do I wish to cater to society’s desire for me. I am not interested in pandering myself for anyone, nor do I wish to portray myself as anyone that I am not. And this includes saying yes to someone who asks anything of me (even if it benefits me). Life is short, time is precious. Why spend time and resources doing something that you don’t want to?

Instead I texted, “Ok sorry bud. Don’t think I am up for hot yoga. Seriously been tryin to hype myself for it. But ever since I said yes to you, I have been looking for a reason to get out of it. And now I found it: I don’t want to do it. I will do a sauna, but no part of hot yoga seems fun. Especially on a day like this. (It was pouring rain, I just got home from work, and had no intention of leaving the house again.) I don’t like things that force me to bathe and wash my hair prematurely.” Once again she understood. But seeing as I started the post, I wanted to finish it. I am posting it here as a memory and an honest reflection of self. And who knows, maybe I might pick up where I left off and actually write a part 2, where I actually try hot yoga.

Smarty Pantz, escape rooms

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For work, we were looking for a team building activity. And what better than being trapped together in a room trying to escape? I have never been, and have always wanted to try an escape room event, but never had the group to do so. So this was my chance and I wanted my first to be special. But with all the different escape rooms out there, I had the difficult mission of sifting through them all to find the best one. It helped that I had guidelines to make my choice.

I had seen ads for “Smarty Pants” on my Facebook advertisement feed. And when I clicked to “learn more” I was impressed to see that they were on Canada’s small business investment show, “Dragon’s Den”.

What set them apart was that their themed event rooms came with rich backgrounds hosted by dedicated actors in costume. They focused on the “logic underlying where you are, how you got there and why you’re trying to escape” (as per their website).

They had five different themes rooms to choose from, and each varied in their degree of difficulty and fear factor. They were also one of the only places where their rooms were more about puzzles than the scare. There wasn’t anything abandoned, and what was haunted lacked actual ghosts. And that was exactly what we were looking for, nothing set in the dark, nothing that would be too scary. No zombies, apparitions, or anything killing anyone.

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The rate is $25 per person, a few rooms had maximum capacities, but most were a minimum of two. You pay in full to make the reservation. I advise booking much ahead, as if a company decides to book their event on the day you want yours, they may take up the entire “Smarty Pantz” space. Each challenge is 45 minutes of play time, with 10 minutes additional for an introduction and an explanation.

Our destination was on a second floor building in Gastown. We were buzzed up with difficultly, failing to know the required password. (I must have missed something when I was reserving our slot). You sign waivers before you start, if you haven’t already done so electronically, online. It was the regular assumption of risks.

The clerk behind the counter explained a few of the ground rules to us. All their challenges would be brain over braun, and everything would be set at normal height. We were encouraged to explore your surroundings in detail, but informed that anything with red tape was not part of the puzzle, and need not be tampered with. Like the photo of the portrait hanging on the back wall should be left alone , and you shouldn’t crawl into the fireplace. We would get 45 minutes to solve our puzzle, but with no working clocks in the room, to count us down; and all phones locked up before we began.

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We were then directed to their waiting area, to wait for our turn. The space was a gallery of curiosities. Salon hairdryers from the 60’s were used as seating chairs. A plastic torso decorated with scrabble tiles, claimed to be “looking for my lover” in the corner. Here, you were also able warm your brain up with some of challenges that they gathered to keep you occupied. Puzzle and game books, 3D maze spheres, and a giant Jenga set.

When time, a host in character greeted us and lead us to the room where our experience would be held. She gave us the rich background of our chosen room, before leaving us to it. Although if we were to struggle we could call her over a walkie and she would give us up to two hints. We could also walkie in for an update on how much time we had remaining. There were cameras recording in the corner, they allowed our host to assist us with the hints. They were also in place for emergency reasons. Though the door of our room wasn’t actually locked, so and we were able to “escape” as we pleased.

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Our chosen room was “Morning Never Comes”, where you and your team mates are brought in to help with the paranormal investigation of an old, abandoned house. The objective is to solve the murder of the ghost that haunts the study, where you are trapped, and no one has yet to survive past midnight.

I won’t be recapping what we went through to “escape” our challenge, as to not ruin the surprise for those thinking to try this one for themselves. But I will say that we beat it with 10 minutes remaining, having used two hints. And this was the easiest of all the challenges, with the highest success rate. I just wanted an easy win to strength our team and confidence in one another. Looking back at it, I think we over thought and imagined things to be more complicated than they actually were. The clues were pretty obvious.

There were four other rooms we could have chosen, and they are as follows.

“Thirst for Murder” was a room where you are trapped in a nightmarish basement and about to fall victim to a killer’s psychotic and cannibalistic quest for the fountain of youth. The goal is to escape from your shackles and then the house.

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“Dream’scape” has you trapped in a dream, surrounded by a bizarre and artistic alternate reality. You need to understand the clues before you, and solve its puzzles in order to wake up, or else be forever stuck in this twilight zone.

The “Doom Submarine” has you aboard the inaugural journey of a barely refurbished Soviet submarine. Though with a mechanical failure, the clock is ticking on your oxygen supply. You must solve puzzles and restart the air supply in order to survive.

“Spies & Lies” is set in 1946, the war has finally ended, but your mission has just begun to chase war criminals as they flee. You break into a crooked private eye’s office and discover the identity of a Nazi so that he can be brought to justice. Your goal is to get in, get the information you need, then slip out undetected.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
This made a great team building activity for us. But they will also be suitable as your next birthday party destination, or as a first date option. Imagine being able to see how your date handles a stressful situation, or see your friend’s willingness to get on their hands and knees to win. We saw our team working together to one general cause. We learned who amongst us would stand up and take a leadership role, how we could all share one flashlight in a dimly lit room, and who would be the one who panicked. I was the competitive one, not wanting to use any clues, in order to declare our win a flawless one. We had fun, but it didn’t last very long, the activity didn’t feel like 45 minutes. And when you get the high of succeeding, you want to go back and play another one, or them all. I definitely want to return to try my hand at the others. Shame the fee is by person and not per room.

 

SMARTY PANTZ
100-289 Abbott Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 2K7
604-974-9293
smartypantz.ca

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