Tag Archives: beginner

Student deals Vol. 1 – Step class and its friend, the community centre

22 Feb

Difficulty: Easy enough for seniors

Enjoyment-factor: Fun for people who find real dance classes difficult

Cost: $ Super cheap if you go to the right places

What it is

Step class is easily my favourite workout. It involves a plastic step you can add height to, that lies on a flat surface. An instructor will lead a class through a series of simple aerobic routines that use the step. It’s low-impact and doesn’t stress joints like running does, so it’s great for people with “issues” (from knees to hips).

However, because of the step, you intensify your workout. Step routines also incorporate a lot of arm movements, which burn more calories as well.

Photo by carrotsncake

Sweatin’ with seniors

My favourite part about it is that you do not have to be particularly coordinated or in shape to do it. In fact, you can be awful and alternate stepping side to side and up and down the whole time and still get a great workout.

Warning: Seniors love this workout, maybe more than water aerobics, so prepare to feel silly if you take a break and Gladys doesn’t.

“Why I like step class is that you’re so busy trying to do the right moves and all the choreography and learn new steps, that by the end of it, you’ve pretty much been doing hard-core cardio for an hour,” said Jennifer Rapley, a step-class regular at West Vancouver Community Centre.

“The music is upbeat, the moves are fun and challenging, and by the end of the class you’ve learned a whole routine, so it’s rewarding in that way.

It’s kind of goofy sometimes, but it’s so fun that it doesn’t really feel like a workout and I’d recommend it to anybody,” said Rapley.

Photo from West Vancouver Community Centre

By far the cheapest deal I have found is at the brand new West Vancouver Community Centre. Drop-in classes for adults are $6.90. Drop-in classes with a valid student card are $5.90. And once you pay your drop-in fee you can do anything in the centre for that one visit, including hit the pool or the gym. Pilates, yoga and a sculpting step class are also offered, just check out this week’s schedule.

Photo by coolspotters

The other guys

To compare, drop-in classes at Gold’s Gym are $16.80. She’s Fit, which is women-only, charges a respectable $8 for drop-in to the club and this includes gym access and step class. They don’t offer a student discount, and when I went, I found it more crowded and less fun. There was too much superfluous shouting for me, and I found I had to do a lot of fancy, hard to follow moves, that left me just standing there. But it might have just been the instructor. At West Vancouver Community Centre I highly recommend Karen, who teaches most weekends, is easy to follow and loves Motown. How great is Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard it Through the Grapevine”, while you’re doing the grapevine?

Photo from Vancouver Parks Board website

Community centres and why they are awesome

They offer a variety of classes and have pools, ice rinks, gyms, workout equipment and are dirt cheap. As if community centres weren’t already the cheapest option, with the Leisure Access Card they are even cheaper.

With this card you pay half price for all community centres. You also get unlimited access to skating rinks and swimming pools as well as 50 per cent discounts on things like skating and swim lessons and even pitch and putt golf courses. To qualify for the Leisure Access Card you just have to be broke, which is all students!

Merry early Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza. *Muah.


The first-time climb at The Edge Climbing Centre

15 Feb

Difficulty: Low to never ever, never ever ever

Enjoyment-factor: As fun as it gets

Cost: $$ Medium to muchos

Not for the weak-willed, or armed

For my first ever vertical foray, I went to The Edge Climbing Centre in North Vancouver, which from the outside looks like the perfect abandoned warehouse to dump a body. Inside, however, is a multi-platform climbing paradise. It’s a thrilling sight for anyone who is a tree-climbing child at heart.

To get you warmed up there is a practice wall, and after about five  minutes on it I had the impression that climbing might be super easy. Ha!

Bouldering vs. Top Rope/Lead Climbing

Lead climbing and top rope climbing are the conventional harness and rope system, where a trusted (and certified) partner belays you from below while you ascend fake indoor mountains.

Bouldering (what I did) is done without a harness, and instead of scaling large neck-breaking walls, they have shorter walls up to about 10 ft high. Below them are large gymnasium mats for when you fall or jump down after reaching the top. All of the walls are covered in putty-like molds, called climbing holds, that are marked with colourful tape to show you different routes of varying difficulty. There are about six-ish main walls for bouldering at The Edge, so these climbing holds are constantly being moved around to create new routes for frequent guests.

















The practice wall at The Edge















Climbing can look a lot like watching

My lack of technique, arm strength and height was a bit of a challenge and meant that I did more looking at walls than climbing them. You’re not alone though, a lot of people are constantly standing around watching each other, taking a breather or waiting for their turn.

Grading the workout


In truth, I did a lot of standing around, and at the end of it I wasn’t sure if I had actually done anything I could call exercise. For me, there were super easy routes or impossible ones, including some that were like climbing the underside of a table.

The next day I didn’t feel any soreness, but then suddenly on day two I found myself in a world of hurt. My muscles still ache in the most bizarre areas of my body, particularly my hands. It’s been three days and I’m still having difficulty brushing my hair.

Back to class


Staff at The Edge highly recommended taking a class instead of just winging it, because there is a lot of lingo and technique to learn.

Besides their week-long courses, they suggest to take their novice movement class that is free with your drop-in fee. It runs every two weeks.

Climbing costs and accoutrements

At The Edge:

  • Drop-in fee: for unlimited climbing fun: $16.80
  • Shoes (they feel two sizes too small on purpose): $6
  • Harness for route climbing/belaying: $3
  • Chalk and bag for chalk. (This stuff will end up all over you.)
  • Wear loose clothing you can bend in easily. Girls, this is the last place you want to wear black tights that are actually a bit see through.

Hurt me baby, one more time

This was not the easiest exercise to try and I am too poor to go on a regular basis, but I do plan to go again. There was nothing more satisfying than reaching the top, and even though I’m terrified of heights, dropping down from a safe distance onto a gym mat was pretty fun too.

Where to climb

The Edge is located in North Vancouver and the other local climbing outfit, Cliffhanger Climbing, has three locations in Vancouver, Coquitlam and Richmond.

Next week

To offset the expensive nature of this activity, next week I’m going to see what exercise deals I can get with my student card.