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Trish Stratus On motherhood, fitness and her big comeback


TIPS INSPIRATION from local fitness influencers


York Region’s TOP SPOTS for GOLF


Nutritious one-pot dinners

York Life March April 2018 | 1

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contents M ar c h / A p r i l 2 0 1 8

in every issue



30 DINNER IN A DISH Delicious, nutritious one-pot meals

Living well News, tips and fun facts

44 travel smarts Why you should buy insurance

along with your plane ticket

45 VACAY: Palm Springs A holiday with a healthy

66 One last thing Stealing the Spotlight

35 Marvellous maple syrup These desserts are a sweet end to




17 THE NEW WIZARD OF OZ Newmarket’s Amber Bowman

37 in the kitchen with... TheSmoke, a Vaughan restaurant



54 THE FIT LIST York Region’s health-and-

overcame a devastating setback to become a top North American trainer

19 FUEL UP! Mini meals to boost your workout HOME

any meal

taking barbecue to a new level

42 GETAWAY: BLUE MOUNTAIN Enjoy an escape to one of the

world’s most beautiful resort villages, right in our own backyard

wellness-focused influencers

58 Going Green A roundup of the area’s top

transformed — thanks to the pros

places to golf

and snowboarding enthusiasts perfect their moves spring, summer and fall

63 YOUR GUIDE TO LOCAL PRIVATE SCHOOLS The scoop on six of York Region’s

bidding-war worthy



How Trish Stratus made all the right moveS!

4 | York Life March April 2018

Trish Stratus on motherhood, fitness and her killer comeback

60 freestyling all year This Vaughan facility lets skiing

27 SECRETS OF HOME STAGING How to make your house look

22 Fabulous and family ready A dated subdivision house is

established independent schools

We Celebrate our Award with over 380 Premier Realtors Located in our 8 Local Offices, serving thousands of Families in 2017 F

THANK YOU FOR VOTING US #1 REAL ESTATE BROKERAGE IN VAUGHAN When it comes to selling real estate, we know our stuff. Working with the most productive real estate network gives you an unbeatable advantage and puts you ahead of the competition. We are number one for a reason and we thank you for that.

Nobody sells more real estate than RE/MAX. RE/MAX agents are are Nobodyininthe theworld world sells more real estate than RE/MAX. RE/MAX agents involved in over a third of all home sales in Canada. Remarkably, that’s a home involved in over a third of all home sales in Canada. Remarkably, that’s a home sold every two minutes. TheThe core strength of the RE/MAX soldbybya aRE/MAX RE/MAXagent agent every two minutes. core strength of the RE/MAX network ofof it’sit’s realtors. networkisisthe thequality quality realtors.

® ® Call Realtor is is Callus ustoday todayand andlet’s let’schoose choosea aPremier Premier Realtorthat that just for you 416.987 .8000 • www.remax-premier.ca just for you 416.987.8000 • www.remax-premier.ca

Gabriel Bianchi

Broker of Record / Owner


Premier Inc., Brokerage

York Life


Publisher Dana Robbins Regional General Manager Shaun Sauve

Get Inspired!

Editor Jacqueline Kovacs copy editor Deanna Dority

Forget New Year’s resolutions. Spring, in my humble opinion, is a great time to set personal goals. Who doesn’t feel more optimistic as the days get longer? I always feel a palpable relief when there’s daylight as I leave my Aurora home to head to work early in the morning, and it’s still light out when I return later that day. Soon enough, the temperature will rise (and stay there), buds will appear on trees and my neighbours will come out of hibernation. Why not harness that springtime energy and use it to achieve something good for yourself ? That was the thinking behind this health-and-wellness-themed issue, featuring the stunning World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Trish Stratus. The surprisingly down-to-earth Richmond Hill native, who recently made a big comeback after 12 years of retirement, manages stardom, motherhood and businesses, and is in jaw-droppingly awesome shape. She shares how you really can have it all in our inspiring cover story. Need more of a push toward being the best you possible? Read about Amber Bowman. This Newmarket firefighter overcame a devastating injury to become one of the top trainers in North America, and she’s helping others to achieve their own personal bests, including with appearances on the Dr. Oz show. To round things out this issue, you’ll find healthy recipes, beautiful decor ideas and other local stories that we hope will help you enjoy spring in fabulous York Region.

Contributors Liz Bruckner, Jim Craigmyle, Naomi Hiltz, Sue Kanhai, Andrea Karr, Joann MacDonald, Rachel Naud, Karen Robock, Kasie Savage, Julia Suppa, Angela Wallace, Doug Wallace Director of Advertising Amanda Smug Advertising Manager Tanya Pacheco Advertising Sales Dawn Chaykowsky, Joseph Montagnese, Madelaine Rostek, Tony Segreti, Howie Taylor Regional Director, Production and Creative Services Katherine Porcheron Editorial Design Emily Ayranto, Brenda Boon, Nick Bornino, Jennifer Dallman, LuAnne Turner Director of Business Administration Phil Sheehan Director of Distribution Mike Banville

Jacqueline Kovacs

About our cover We are delighted to have the amazing Trish Stratus grace our cover. Her infectious energy made for a shoot filled with fun — with gorgeous results. Here is the team that made it all possible: Photos (including our contents page): Dave Laus Makeup and hair: Valeria Nova of Two Chicks and Some Lipstick Hair colour: Stavro Piniotis of Salon Glamour Styling: Mila Yudina Location: StudioTwo22

Note: In our Jan./Feb. 2017 issue, the story “From Blank to Beautiful” mistakenly credits Mr. Di Giulio as an architect. In fact, he is a home design and building consultant with SDG Design Custom Homes & Additions. We regret the error.

6 | York Life March April 2018

York Life, Vaughan is published by Metroland Media, York Region. Statements, opinions and points of view are those of the sources and writers and do not necessarily represent those of the publisher, advertisers or York Life magazine. Contents copyrighted. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any article, photograph or artwork without written consent from the publisher is strictly prohibited. Submissions are welcome from writers and photographers. We assume no responsibility for unsolicited material.

York Life 580B Steven Ct. Newmarket, ON L3Y 6Z2 905-853-8888

living well IN THE

Virtual Bag A new online service is taking the groan out of grocery shopping as Instacart, a retail delivery service, has arrived in York Region. Residents of Aurora, Newmarket, Maple, Thornhill, Markham and elsewhere can now go to instacart.ca (or on the mobile app), select their local Loblaws or Zehrs, fill a virtual cart and select a delivery window (an hour, two hours or up to five days in advance). The delivery fee is based on the total cost of the groceries: an order of $35 or more, for example, costs an extra $3.99. Find out more at instacart.ca.

York Life March April 2018 | 7

living well | Health

Hit the mat

Ask the expert

“My spring allergies are starting up again. What can I do to get some relief?” The most important thing to do is decrease inflammation so your immune system can handle the allergens better. It’s the immune system that is reacting to the allergen, not the allergen that is causing the symptom. Some people just genetically have anoveractive immune system. Food-intolerance testing and eliminating the offending foods can help to decrease inflammation. Homeopathic remedies, such as Apis or Allium cepa, and supplements of quercetin and vitamin C can work well as natural antihistamines. Probiotics are good for allergies because they help to modulate the immune system. Acupuncture also helps to drain the sinuses and balance the body. It’s best to see a naturopath to determine the most appropriate remedy that matches your symptoms. – Dr. Janice Shouldice, a naturopath at Borealis Naturopathic Health Centre in Newmarket



That’s roughly the number of calories you can burn in just an hour of vigorous spring cleaning. So what are you waiting for? Those gutters, closets and windows won’t clean themselves! *Based on a weight of 150 pounds.

Diet advice to take to


Before you try Whole 30 or a juice cleanse, talk to your doctor. New research from the European Society of Cardiology has found that very low-calorie eating plans could be damaging for those with heart disease. After one week, MRI tests showed higher heart fat content and deterioration of heart function, including its ability to pump blood. By the end of the eight-week study, participants’ heart function improved again, but this initial effect could be problematic for someone with heart disease, researchers say. — K.R.

8 | York Life March April 2018

A good yoga mat is essential to a comfortable practice. We love B Mats by Markham’s B Yoga because they’re available in three different thicknesses for just the right amount of cushion and grip. They’re easy to clean, too. “A damp cloth with some vinegar, water, lemon water or a very diluted tea tree oil will get rid of any dust and dirt,” company founder Andrea Morris says. “For a deep clean, B Mats are so durable they can even go in the washing machine on the delicate cycle.” B Mat Traveller, $56 at byoganow.com TIP For so ! — Karen Robock me lo get-zen cal ins @byog po, follow anow on Instag ram.


Controlled deep breathing has been touted as a medical miracle worker, oxygenating the body, revving up the immune system and more. Bill Allen, a 73-year-old Markham businessman, has been practising deep breathing three times a day for four years and his cholesterol levels and blood pressure are now under control. He also sleeps better, has more energy and has lost weight. Allen is such a big breather believer that he’s invited anyone who wants to know more to call him at (905) 642-2689. — K.R.


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living well | Home

Make A Statement The right piece of furniture can take your decor to a whole new level. Case in point: this striking console table from Naturas Bebas. This one-of-akind masterpiece is built using the root system of a previously felled teak tree. Use it in your foyer as the perfect signature piece, as a sofa table or a standalone feature. It’s beauty meets function at its best. $979 at Niche Decor, Newmarket, nichedecor.ca

Spring Clean Your Garden

Downsize and Declutter

Want to start your gardening season off right? Angie Meyer, store manager of New Roots Garden Centre in Newmarket, suggests to spring-clean all the dead leaves leftover from fall. When that’s done, she says to add a granular fertilizer to any perennials. “That way,” she says, “when the plants start to grow, there will be nourishment in the soil.” Newrootsgardencentre.ca – Rachel Naud

Chore Chart If you’re thinking of selling your home this spring, you should also think about getting help with decluttering as you downsize. All those trinkets, pictures and possessions mean something to you, but they don’t to prospective buyers. “Hiring a professional to help declutter and downsize a home takes out the emotion and the confusion,” says Arlene Stephenson, certified professional consultant on aging, and owner of Downsizing Diva in Aurora, Newmarket, Richmond Hill and King Township. “It helps potential home buyers to see how their things will fit into your home, and will likely help the realtor sell the property faster and for a higher price.” Stephenson’s company also works with the realtor, moving company and property manager, along with providing packing and unpacking services. Says Stephenson: “We hear about how we’ve made difficult transitions smooth and easy.” – R.N.

10 | York Life March April 2018

Keeping up with seasonal tasks makes yearly maintenance manageable and keeps your home in top shape. This spring, take the time to: • Clear your air conditioner. Remove the winter cover and clear away any debris from the coils. Turn it on for a few minutes so you’ll be confident it will be ready to use come summer. • Free your filters. After a long winter, your furnace filter is probably full of dust, pet hair and more. Replace it and breathe easier come spring. • Get some screen time. Check your screen doors and windows for holes and tears. Screen repair kits can be found at most home improvement stores. — R.N.

living well | Food & Drink

Gotta-have Gadget Resting on Your Laurels

This silicone cooking tool could be the secret weapon you’ve been looking for. Wrap it around stuffed bell peppers or acorn squash on meatless Mondays to keep veggie mains in place, or put it under your roast chicken to lift it out of the fats that accumulate on the bottom of the pan. Either way, your dinner will cook more evenly without sticking, and cleanup will be a snap. Prepara Roasting Laurel, $29.99 at Aurora’s Kitchen Accents, auroraskitchenaccents.ca – Karen Robock

Lady in red Grapefruits are the often-overlooked little sisters of the citrus family, but they’re worth noticing — and sampling — this time of year. They sparkle in your mouth, look beautiful in your kitchen and are more versatile than you might think. Slice one over a spinach salad, eat it with a spoon straight out of the rind or stir the juice into a cocktail or mocktail. – K.R.

In Good Spirits! A pretty mixed drink will elevate your brunch party or afternoon on the patio. This sparkling bevvy is pure spring, and sure to impress. — K.R. Sparkling St. Tropez In a wine glass pour: 3 oz of rosé wine 2 tsp watermelon syrup 2 oz sparkling water Stir, add ice and serve with a thin slice of orange to garnish. Cheers!

Our Type In her book, Everyday Cooking, local foodie Sandra Katanic inspires real people to make real food with classic recipes ranging from super-moist meatloaf to tomato and feta salad. There’s truly something to suit everyone at your table. Check out sandrakatanic.com for more about her book, or to register for a cooking class this spring. – K.R.

York Life March April 2018 | 11

living well | Travel

Flight Plan:


Stopover: Bermuda More than just the baggy shorts and big onions it’s associated with, Bermuda is a connect-the-dot maze of 180 islands in the Atlantic Ocean, on the same latitude as South Carolina, and about a two-hour flight from New York. With a temperate climate, as opposed to tropical, this little paradise is calm and cool, shy and private — a little mysterious. The coral walls and white roofs mimic the sand and clouds, framing the lush landscape and winding narrow roads. Left-hand drive reminds you of its British roots, as does the fairly buttoneddown vibe, a residual of the colonial past. May to September is the best time to visit. Check out gotobermuda.com. — Doug Wallace

This is how much you can save with Flytrippers.com. This travel site publishes a curated list of the flight deals from Toronto. Perfect for long-weekendaway winging it.

Turndown: Petit St. Vincent

Es s ent i al : The Perfect Hiker The Lone Peak 3.0 NeoShell mid-rise shoes from Altra are waterproof on the outside yet breathable from the inside. And while not designed for actually standing in water, they’re made for whatever the weather can dish out. The brand’s trademarked FootShape toe box gives your feet the room they need for stability and comfort. Both men’s and women’s versions are super-light and wipe down fast to take you from trail to town. Visit altrarunning.com or check them out at the Running Room and Running Free. — D.W. 12 | York Life March April 2018

Rum punch, anyone? This remote, all-inclusive 115-acre private-island resort at the southern tip of the Grenadine Islands delivers full-on luxury. With just 22 private cottages attended to by butlers who drive mini jeeps, it is high-end yet low-key and definitely old school. The resort celebrates its 50 anniversary this year and is part of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World collection. From $1,385 per night, including meals. Visit petitstvincent.com. — D.W.

living well | Beauty

TREND: French Flair Give your mani a little pop of colour this spring with French tips in a playful hue. At Alice + Olivia’s Spring/ Summer 2018 show in New York City, Ontario’s Rita Remark designed a sheer nude nail capped off with a strip of teal (Essie’s Garden Variety). It’s a fun take on the classic French manicure and can easily be recreated in any shade — think deep purple, vibrant orange or spicy red — to suit your mood, your outfit or your destination. Hot pink for a beach getaway, anyone? — Andrea Karr

Custom Content Bespoke beauty is the way of the future, and now you can visit your local medi-spa and have them whip up a serum that’s customized specifically for you. The process starts with a consultation to determine your skin needs. Then an aesthetician advises on three active powder ingredients from 19 options to target your problem areas (say, retinol to minimize fine lines or vitamin C to brighten). She’ll blend it into a hydrating and soothing base and, voila, you have an utterly fresh serum with potent, high-efficiency active ingredients to use morning and night. Universkin P Serum, $199, universkin.ca. — A.K.

One and Only Say goodbye to bathroom clutter — at least in the hairspray department. Buy just one pretty rose canister of Hold.Me hairspray and you’ll get three different types of hold: light, medium and strong. By adjusting the nozzle, you can control the amount of product released, from a fine mist to a concentrated spray. Choose a lighter hold for loose waves or major control for a complex updo. Hold.Me also protects against heat and UV damage, known for fading colour, and is paraben-, sulphate- and cruelty-free. Design.Me Hold.Me Three Ways Hairspray, $22, designmehair.com. — A.K.

That’s the Scrub Ever opened a beauty product and wanted to eat it? That’s how you’ll feel about L’Oréal Paris’s three new sugar scrubs for different skin concerns. For a healthy glow, choose the scrub for dull skin, with its three fine sugars (found in all the blends) and grapeseed oil. To control oil and blemishes, go for the yummy green option, with kiwi seeds — it promises to purify pores on application. And for a dry, tight face, the cocoa mix will soften and soothe dry patches. If you’re not already exfoliating a few times a week, now’s the time to start. L’Oréal Paris Pure-Sugar Scrubs, $15 each, at mass-market retailers. — A.K. York Life March April 2018 | 13

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Resistance Is Not Futile Want to up your exercise game? Look to resistance bands. Not only are they easy to use, they are also versatile and incredibly effective. You use them to create resistance (hence the name) to more deeply work your muscles. Because movement becomes harder as the band lengthens, exercises become more dynamic — with other equipment, the weight remains static throughout any movement. The result is increased muscle and bone strength. If you’re ready to get with the band, consider buying a variety — looped and straight, flat and tubular, lighter and heavier — to mix things up and work your whole body.

York Life March April 2018 | 15

health | Profile

16 | York Life March April 2018

The New Wizard of Oz With persistence and passion, Newmarket firefighter Amber Bowman overcame a devastating setback to become one of the top trainers in North America By Jeremy Grimaldi / Photography by Jim craigmyle


hen Amber Bowman won the Dr. Oz Next Great Trainer contest this past January, it was the fulfillment of her life’s two passions: nutrition and physical activity. “I always said I wanted to be on TV and help the world,” the Innisfil native says. Now she’ll have her chance. As the contest’s winner, Bowman will have periodic guest spots on The Dr. Oz Show to talk about health issues ranging from micronutrients to physical fitness. Still, the win took her by surprise. “I had convinced myself that I was not going to win,” she says. “I think what resonated with people is that my story is real. I live this life every day.” While beating out thousands of candidates is phenomenal, it’s not nearly as remarkable as the personal tests and battles Bowman has met and overcome in her 33 years. Its roots date back to when she was six years old and discovered her love of hockey. She began playing in boys’ leagues before moving onto girls’ teams by Grade 10, when she joined the Aurora Panthers. Through hard work and dedication, Bowman eventually landed a position with the elite Toronto Aeros, a junior women’s hockey team, and then a full scholarship with the Ohio State University Buckeyes. Throughout these years and on into the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, Bowman played with a number of Olympic stars, including current TSN broadcaster Tessa Bonhomme. “We were the pioneers for these girls who play now and are getting paid,” Bowman says. At

the same time, she was also a civilian trainer for the Canadian forces, as an elite fitness and sports trainer at Base Bordon. “It was very patriotic,” Bowman says, adding that she found it deeply rewarding to help soldiers readjust after returning from combat zones. So after five seasons, Bowman retired from hockey to be a full-time trainer. It was during those years that a sergeant told her she’d do well as a firefighter in the military. “I hadn’t really thought about it until then,” she says. Instead of joining the military, though, Bowman went the civilian route and joined Central York Fire Services in Newmarket in 2011, becoming the first of four female firefighters in the department. “Aside from the bathroom situation, it wasn’t that big of an adjustment,” Bowman says, explaining how a new women’s washroom had to be installed. “It was like playing boys’ hockey growing up. Once that helmet goes on, you can’t tell who is who. My life hasn’t changed that much from being an athlete to a career firefighter.” Although well versed in being a member of a team, Bowman got a taste of what it takes to excel as an individual while competing in the Firefighter Combat Challenge, a famously intense obstacle course inspired by real firefighter work. It was during these competitions — engaging in events like the hose hoist, victim rescue and forcible entry — where her athletic star began to shine. She not only won a slew of world championships in exotic locales around the world, but she also broke the women’s world record by completing the demanding course in under two minutes. By 2017, she

York Life March April 2018 | 17

“I had to realign, refocus my energy on who I was. At that moment, not knowing if I was going to be a paraplegic or not, I ruled out the meaningless things in my life quite quickly and the important stuff stayed”

was the most victorious competitor in event history, with 22 world championships in just seven years. To fund the competitions, which cost $12,000 a year, Bowman created FitbyFire, her own fitness, coaching and nutrition website, which has further funded nine other women to travel to the events. However, trips to the top rarely come without a few falls along the way, and Bowman had a serious one of her own in 2015, when, during a workout, she dropped a 100-pound barbell on her face. “I thought I was going to be paralyzed,” she says. “It was two minutes before I could move my legs or feet at all. I didn’t know if I would be a firefighter or run or play sports again.” In the following months, Bowman was forced to stay in bed, suffering debilitating headaches and dizziness each time she stood up or even tried to eat. But now she realizes this setback turned out to be for the best. “I had to realign, refocus my energy on who I was,” she says. “At that moment, lying there, not knowing if I was a paraplegic or not, I ruled out the meaningless things in my life quite quickly and the important stuff stayed.” Bowman believes it was the lessons learned from this incident that helped propel her to victory in the Dr. Oz contest after randomly applying following a fitness conference. “It’s been surreal and super-humbling,” she says. “I’ve heard from people from every stage of my life since winning. You rarely hear this much good stuff about people until their funeral, so to hear it now is humbling.” As for her career, she says appearing on Dr. Oz won’t change her as a person, but will certainly alter the platform to deliver her message. “I just have more reach,” she says. “I’m on a bigger platform across North America. I’d like to expand this now to a global scale.” Despite her growing fame, Bowman stays grounded with her simple mantra: Be the best version of you in that moment. “We don’t have to be perfect physically or nutritionally,” she says. “We just have to be a bit better than the day before.” Find out more at fitbyfire.com.

18 | York Life March April 2018

health | Workout Food

Fuel Up!

These mini meals will boost energy before, during and after you sweat By Liz Bruckner


ou’re pretty fit. You go easy on the sugary stuff, adjust your training game every few months and hit the weights as often as you can. But if you want your body to continue performing like a finely tuned

machine, how you fuel it before and after a workout matters. Whether you’re enduring an intense spinning session or a less taxing neighbourhood jog, top your tank with these dietitian-approved workout snacks and mini meals.

York Life March April 2018 | 19

health | Workout Food

Why snacking matters Consuming a mix of protein and carbohydrates pre- and post-workout not only keeps you feeling satisfied as you sweat, it helps minimize fatigue as your body undergoes strenuous activity during and after your workout, says Angela Wallace, a registered dietitian with clinics in Vaughan and Caledon. Snacking before you sweat is key because it fuels your body for the task ahead. “Snacking on protein supports muscles through impending activity, but also leaves you feeling satisfied and able to complete the workout, while consumed carbs break down into glucose, which feeds muscles during activity,” she says. “The body also stores some of this glucose as glycogen, which can be used during more intense activity — on a long-distance run, for example.” Post-workout, refuelling with carb- and protein-rich foods is necessary to help replenish energy while also helping muscles recover and repair. “You need to eat after you work out for a few reasons,” Wallace says. “You need to build up your stores of glycogen that may have been used during your workout, replace the calories you’ve burned, and feed your muscles with protein, especially after a weight-training session.” Here’s what you should nosh on before and after your sweat session.

20 | York Life March April 2018

Before a light yoga class… A banana or apple with nut or seed butter yields the perfect balance of carbohydrates and protein your body needs to feel energetic and satisfied throughout the workout, Angela Wallace says.

Before an intense weighttraining class… Oatmeal is one of your best options before a tough workout because it’s digested very slowly, allowing for a gradual release of glucose into the blood stream. Before a quick gym workout or run… A small fruit/nut butter/wateror-milk smoothie can deliver the perfect carb-protein mix. This helps your body maintain its endurance while providing support to your muscles during the activity, Wallace says. After a killer spin class… A simple Greek salad with chicken

provides the fibre, protein and other important nutrients your body needs following a sweaty workout. Need an extra jolt of energy? Wallace suggests adding a small smoothie (for example, ½ banana, ½ cup of berries, almond milk, plus 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds) to the mix. After hot yoga… A veggie omelette with avocado offers a great combo of protein, complex carbs and healthy fats that will both satisfy hunger and feed your muscles. After a total-body training session… Try grilled or broiled salmon with sweet potatoes and veggies. Loaded with protein, complex carbs and healthy fats, it’s a great way to help your body refuel and recover. Worked your muscles extra hard? Wallace suggests adding beans to your meal for more protein benefits.


Basket Case It’s a tricky time of year. Will it rain? Will it snow? Because the answer changes from day to day, your front entrance can start to look like a clothing war zone. Thankfully, Margaret Halos, owner of Living Organized (livingorganized.ca), which serves the Barrie and Alliston areas, has some battle-ready strategies. Bin thinking: “I’m a big fan of baskets and bins,” Halos says. “In almost every closet, there’s space up top where you can put baskets of additional stuff.” Designate one for hats and mitts, she suggests. Or give each family member a basket to use. Separate seasons: “People drop too many coats, jackets and shoes in the front hall closet,” Halos says. Keep only what is in season (with maximum of three) and put the rest in bedroom closets. Rack up: If you have to keep a few footwear options at the ready, buy a shoe rack, Halos says. Then keep the taller boots on the top and shoes on the bottom. That should help keep things tidily at hand.

York Life March April 2018 | 21

Fabulous home | House Tour


22 | York Life March April 2018

Family Ready

The pros took a dated subdivision house in Maple and transformed it into a sophisticated, contemporary home By Joann MacDonald


ith the imposing roller coasters of Canada’s Wonderland in the not-too-distant skyline, it’s no wonder the developers of 28 Sylwood Crescent in Maple designed the home’s interior to be family-friendly. Ivory Homes purchased the house with a flip in mind in August 2017, embarking on an interior renovation that lasted two months. Working with a strict budget, the team, including Bahar Zaeem of RZ Interiors and Mani Faraji of Ivory Homes, turned the dated main floor into a clean, contemporary living space suitable for a style-conscious young family. A kitchen overhaul was top priority. “The kitchen is a sociable area. If you have guests, everyone is going to hang out in the kitchen,” Zaeem says. By moving the dining area to the adjacent space, previously used as a family room, the team was able to extend the kitchen’s workspace to 14 feet. The sink was relocated to a new, eight-foot waterfall island, a great vantage point from which the eventual owners can entertain guests or keep an eye on small children. Although the dining room was envisioned as the main eating area, the kitchen is versatile. The owners can pull stools up to the island or set a bistro table next to the built-in banquette for informal meals. The kitchen’s neutral palette has visual interest, thanks to the mixed finishes of the matte grey lower cabinets and glossy white


York Life March April 2018 | 23

home | House Tour

The curvy wooden staircase was sanded and stained in a rich dark brown, contrasting with the off-white walls. The exisiting fireplace, lowered to maintain sightlines, divides the living and dining areas.

24 | York Life March April 2018


uppers. A modern appeal comes from carefully considered features, such as flat panel cabinet doors, square-edged HanStone quartz counters, white hexagon backsplash tiles from Ciot and brushed-nickel hardware. Ivory Homes called on Richmond Hill’s FengFa Design Studio to install the kitchen millwork. Vaughan-based Elegance Marble & Granite fabricated the countertop, while Union Lighting supplied the lighting. To create an open-concept main floor, the team removed two decorative columns between the kitchen and dining areas. They replaced the kitchen floor tile and the living area’s dated parquet with dark grey laminate throughout. “It looks bigger and nicer with the same flooring everywhere,” Faraji says. Where there used to be only chandelier junction boxes, the entire main floor is now bright and airy with the help of pot lights. The overall sophisticated feel is mirrored in the curvy wooden staircase, which was sanded and stained in a rich dark brown. In contrast, Zaeem chose an off-white paint for the walls — Benjamin Moore’s Silver Satin, with the trim painted in Chantilly Lace. “The lighter


Overhauling the kitchen was a top priority. The sink was moved to an eightfoot, waterfall island, a great vantage point for entertaining or watching the kids. The neutral colour scheme includes mixed finishes of matte grey lower cabinets and glossy white uppers, finished with brushed-nickel hardware.

wall paint is clean to your eye, so you never get tired of it, and it makes the space look bigger,” Zaeem says. She chose 12-by-24-inch marble-look porcelain tiles for the foyer and main-floor powder room. “They are installed in a staggered format, brick style,” Zaeem says. The bathroom’s original 14-inch vanity was sanded and painted, as sourcing vanities that small can prove difficult. An existing fireplace divides the living and dining rooms. The team lowered its profile, though, to maintain the sightlines from the front of the house to the back. The oft-dreaded popcorn ceilings were removed for a more minimal appeal, too. Previously unfinished, the basement now provides ample additional space, ready for family hangout time. Functional areas such as the laundry room, cold cellar and new bathroom are situated around a central room to preserve

York Life March April 2018 | 25

home | House Tour

as much recreational space as possible. “We used a light colour for the flooring so it looks bigger,” Faraji says. Adds Zaeem: “The best option was to have an open space so the family could do everything here.” Although she imagines the finished basement as a TV room with a pool table, Zaeem says a basement bathroom with full shower was added to increase the living space in the three-bedroom home. This bathroom has a sophistication that belies its underground location, with bevelled, polished subway tile on the shower wall and penny round mosaic tile floor. The home’s master bathroom had under-

gone a recent renovation, so the team turned their efforts to the upstairs hall bathroom. With budget in mind, they mixed high and low, adding an Ikea vanity topped with a custom counter. They replaced the bathtub with a shower, complete with a bench and porcelain tile surround — the same tiles used on the foyer floor, this time stacked rather than staggered. “Overall, we were trying to do an open concept, contemporary look,” Zaeem says. “Everything is clean, nothing too much decorative.” Now this unblemished, glam yet still welcoming space is looking for the right family to put their unique stamp on it.

With a budget in mind, the team mixed highand low-end features when renovating the upstairs hall bathroom. So, an Ikea vanity is topped with a custom counter. The bathtub, meanwhile, was replaced with a shower, including a bench and porcelain tile surround.

26 | York Life March April 2018

home | DIY Décor

Secrets of Home Staging How to make your house look bidding-war worthy, even if you have no plans to sell By Jacqueline Kovacs

Ever wonder why some homes seem to sell practically overnight and for more than the asking price, while other languish on the market and sellers endure open house after open house? The answer may lie in whether the place has been staged. “It’s a huge advantage,” says Jennifer Walker, owner of Newmarket’s Pearl Street Home Staging. “I’d say 99.9 per cent of people look at homes online first, and the impact of those pictures cannot be underestimated.” An unmade bed, cluttered family room or messy kitchen could get a seller’s home scratched off the list of a potential buyer, just based on photos. On the other hand, she says, professionally set the stage for the photographer and watch that house sell. What about those of us who have no plans to move, but wish our homes looked ready for the market or, better yet, a magazine shoot? Walker, who worked in magazines for years before becoming a home stager, has a few tips that will help you make your home look and feel more appealing — no expensive reno required.

York Life March April 2018 | 27

home | DIY Décor

“You want your bathroom to feel like a spa and your kitchen to feel clean” 1. Walls “It’s boring, but paint makes a massive difference,” Walker says. Your current paint will tend to reflect colours that you are drawn to or whatever was trendy at the time, meaning your place might look more dated than you think. A fresh coat of paint, though, and your space gets an instant facelift. “It’s probably the cheapest update you can do.” 2. Floor When you tour your home, what’s underfoot? If it’s old wall-to-wall carpeting, you might want to consider changing it. “Hardwood is your best bet, but it doesn’t have to be expensive,” Walker says. “There are alternatives that won’t break the bank.” Think laminate, cork, engineered wood, bamboo, tiles and modern vinyl. Love the coziness of carpet? Go

for it. There are tons of options with a variety of price points, and all will freshen your floor. 3. Ceiling You might not think much about your light fixtures unless you have to change a bulb, but those builder-grade flush-mount ceiling lights aren’t doing much for your space. “Lighting doesn’t have to be expensive,” Walker says. “Swapping in a pendant light or a drum shade makes a huge difference.” To further stretch your budget, focus on the main rooms of your house — the kitchen, living room and master bedroom. 4. Clutter In most homes, Walker says, stuff piles up. “Maybe there’s a certain spot on the kitchen counter that is a paper magnet, full of stuff

from school or bills waiting to be paid. Or maybe you’ve got a lot of small appliances on your counter or collections of things on your shelves.” Of course, you don’t want to throw away meaningful or useful things, but that doesn’t mean everything has to be out and available all the time. She recommends doing an “edit” of your household items seasonally or twice a year. Put half of your accessories away, for example, and then swap them back in six months later, putting the other half away. Stow kitchen appliances to open up counter space. Clutter, Walker says, can be overwhelming, and often we don’t even notice. A little clearing, though, can go a long way. “You want your bathroom to feel like a spa and your kitchen to feel clean,” she says. It’s all about setting the stage for your best home life.



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Whether you prefer modern or traditional, we perfectly combine colours and textures, creating functional and comfortable spaces.


8400 Jane Street, Concord (South of Langstaff) 905.532.9123 28 | York Life March April 2018

food &

Reel Vintage The Oscars may be over, but those of us who enjoy a good movie along with a great glass of wine will appreciate this repurposed vintage, film reel wine rack. Available in eight finishes, this Goldberg Brothers rack holds six bottles and adds a fun touch of film nostalgia to any at-home movie night. And don’t worry: the manufacturer adds a sturdy base to keep your vino from rolling away. Pricing starts at $219.99, depending on the finish you choose. Find out more at htdcanada.ca.

York Life March April 2018 | 29

food & drink | One-Pot Meals

Roasted Red Pepper Soup 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil 1 onion, chopped 2 garlic gloves, minced 8 cups vegetable broth 4 medium potatoes, skin peeled and diced 1 tbsp chili peppers, minced (optional) 1½ cups roasted red peppers salt and black pepper, to taste Heat vegetable oil in a pot on medium-high and add onion and garlic. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or until onions begin to soften. Add vegetable stock, potatoes and chili peppers. Bring to a boil, then lower to medium-low heat and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes. Add red peppers and continue to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Using a hand blender, purée until soup reaches a smooth and creamy consistency. Taste, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Tip: Store this soup in a freezer-safe container for four to six months. Makes 6 to 8 servings

30 | York Life March April 2018

Dinner in a


What’s not to love about one-pot meals? They’re quick and easy, and cleanup is a breeze. These nutritious dishes are loaded with veggies, fibre and flavour By Angela Wallace

York Life March April 2018 | 31

food & drink | One-Pot Meals

Coconut Chickpea and Veggie Curry 2 tbsp vegetable oil 1 white onion, chopped 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed 2 cups diced tomatoes 1 can coconut milk 1 300 g bag kale slaw (I used a kale, broccoli, carrot and cabbage blend, but any blend will work) 1 tsp cumin 1 tsp turmeric 1 tbsp dried cilantro salt and black pepper, to taste

32 | York Life March April 2018

Heat vegetable oil in a large pan over medium-high heat; add onion and garlic, and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add chickpeas and tomatoes, and continue to sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a light boil, then lower heat and continue to simmer for 6 to 8 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve on its own or over rice. Makes 4 servings.

Apple Cider Braised Chicken 2 tbsp vegetable oil 1 sweet onion, chopped 2 garlic cloves, minced 4 strips of bacon 4 boneless chicken breasts 2 to 3 cups Brussels sprouts, halved 2 small sweet potatoes, cubed 2 tsp cinnamon 2 tsp dried thyme 2 tbsp maple syrup ž cup apple cider vinegar salt and black pepper, to taste

Heat oil in a Dutch oven. Add onion and garlic, and sautĂŠ for 2 to 3 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add bacon and cook until it begins to get crispy. Place chicken in Dutch oven and cook for 2 to 4 minutes. Add Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, spices, maple syrup and apple cider vinegar. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.

Taste, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. If you like, shred the chicken and then serve. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

York Life March April 2018 | 33

food & drink | One-Pot Meals

Creamy One-Pot Chicken 1 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp butter 4 to 6 skinless chicken breasts salt and black pepper, to taste 3 shallots, chopped 2 garlic cloves, minced 5 to 6 cups mushrooms, sliced 1 tbsp flour ½ cup white wine ½ cup chicken broth ½ cup coconut milk or cream 4 cups fresh baby spinach

Heat oil and butter in a pan over medium heat. Add chicken breasts and sauté. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Cook until chicken is no longer pink (5 to 6 minutes). Add shallots, garlic and mushrooms; sauté and sprinkle with seasoning. Add flour to thicken mixture. Add wine, broth and coconut milk. Continue to cook for 5 to 10 minutes. During the last 2 minutes, add spinach and cook until spinach is fully wilted and sauce is thickened. Serve over rice or with pasta. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

For more nutrition tips and recipes, check out the blog on Eat Right Feel Right, eatrightfeelright.ca/blog, or Instagram account, eatright_rd Angela, from Eat Right Feel Right practices in Vaughan and Caledon. 34 | York Life March April 2018

food & drink | Maple Desserts

Butter Tart Maple Apple Squares 2 cups all-purpose flour ½ cup sugar 3/4 cup butter, at room temperature 1/3 cup butter, at room temperature 1 cup packed light brown sugar 4 eggs ¾ cup maple syrup 1½ tsp vanilla ½ tsp salt 2 cups peeled and diced apples (e.g. Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Northern Spy, Crispin) 2/3 cup golden raisins or chopped nuts


Maple Syrup Step aside, pancakes! These two desserts featuring maple syrup are a sweet finish to any meal

Preheat oven to 325°F. In a large bowl, stir flour and sugar together. Cut in butter with pastry blender or 2 knives, then work with your fingers until crumbly. Press evenly into a buttered 13-x 9-inch (3 L) metal baking pan. Bake for about 20 minutes or until pale golden. Remove from oven. Meanwhile, in large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter with sugar until creamy. Beat in eggs, maple syrup, vanilla and salt. Stir in apples and raisins. Spread evenly over the warm base. Return to the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown on top and set in the centre. Transfer to a wire rack and run a knife around edges to release while warm. Cut into squares and serve warm or at room temperature. Store at room temperature up to a day. Cover and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months. Makes 12

York Life March April 2018 | 35

food & drink | Maple Desserts

MAPLE FUDGE Many feel that creamy fudge is one of the best uses for our amazing Ontario maple syrup. Make this and you’ll understand why. 1 tbsp butter (for saucepan and bowl) 3/4 cup maple syrup 1 cup sugar 1 cup packed brown sugar 1 cup 35% whipping cream 1 tsp baking soda 2 tbsp butter 2 tsp vanilla

36 | York Life March April 2018

Using 1 tbsp butter, generously butter a heatproof bowl and the sides of high-sided heavy-bottomed 4-quart pot; set bowl aside. In a large pot, combine maple syrup, granulated and brown sugars, whipping cream, baking soda, 2 tbsp butter and vanilla. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with wooden spoon, until boiling. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low. Continue boiling vigorously, without stirring, until the candy thermometer reaches 240°F, about 15 minutes. Pour hot mixture into the prepared bowl and set on a heatproof surface.

Let cool, without stirring, to 110°F, for about 2 hours (the bottom of bowl will feel warm, not hot). Using an electric mixer, beat on low speed until thick and the sheen is gone, about 5 minutes. Spread mixture into a parchment paper-lined 8-inch square baking dish, and smooth the top. When the fudge is firm, use the parchment paper to lift it out onto a cutting board. Cut into squares and store in covered container for up to 2 weeks. Makes 36 pieces Printed with permission from Foodland Ontario.

food & drink | In the Kitchen

TheSmoke In the Kitchen with

This Vaughan restaurant is taking barbecue to a whole new level By JULIA SUPPA | Photography by NAOMI HILTZ


am Dyment is schooling diners on smoking — smoking food, that is. The chef and owner of TheSmoke in Vaughan has a passion for the flavour of smoke, so much so that he developed an entire restaurant around it. And it’s not your typical rib joint. “TheSmoke is about smoked food,” he says. “I smoke salmon and trout. I cold-smoke my cheese. I make four kinds of bacon. I even smoke my burgers.” The self-proclaimed foodie experimented with recipes for years before changing careers and opening the first location of TheSmoke in Collingwood in December 2012. The restaurant quickly gained popularity both locally and beyond, partly in response to a profile on the Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here! Patrons came in droves to try the unique, flavourful dishes. “It made us a destination in Collingwood,” Dyment says. In August 2016, TheSmoke in Vaughan opened, minutes from Highway 400 at Major Mackenzie Drive. Dyment translates his passion for smoky flavour into many creative dishes at the restaurant, including smoked banana ice cream, cubanelle chilis for use in the green chili soup, and portobello mushrooms, as a vegetarian option. But the popular items remain: pulled pork, brisket, ribs and Montreal smoked meat. “Barbecue is about meat,” he says. “It’s for the meat eaters.” York Life March April 2018 | 37

food & drink | In the Kitchen

All the meat in the restaurant is hickorysmoked, and meals can take between two and 12 hours to make. It’s a low-andslow technique of cooking, with layers of flavours — rubs, braising liquids and fluid injections — added throughout the process. “You can impart many different flavour profiles on one item,” Dyment says. “Ribs have three: a different rub on each side of the ribs, plus the flavour of the smoke.” TheSmoke smokes 80 racks of back ribs at a time, individually sealing them afterwards. Dyment uses a sous-vide technique to heat the ribs, followed by chargrilling for one to two minutes to caramelize the barbecue sauce before they make it to the table. “People are used to fall-off-the-bone ribs. I don’t try to do that here,” he says. “I try to do more of the competition-style ribs. When you bite into it, your teeth should come clean away with that bite, but the meat should stay on the bone. It should be tender and full of flavour.” A Friday lunch exclusive, the Montreal smoked meat takes 17 days to prepare. Each brisket must be cured and seasoned, smoked, steamed and shaved. Once it’s gone, it’s done for the week. “I’ve had many people who are from Montreal, and they’ve said mine is just as good, or better.” Developing the flavour profile is important to Dyment, but he also encourages customers to build their own profile using the many in-house sauces at the table. Both the brisket and pulled pork are seasoned and smoked, but not pre-sauced, letting diners customize their favourite taste. TheSmoke also sells ready-made meals and items for pickup, complete with reheating instructions, and fun food challenges for diners whose eyes may be a bit bigger than their stomachs. “I want customers to come in here, try some of the things you don’t find anywhere else, and the things you do find, like our brisket,” Dyment says. “I want them to enjoy it and love it. We want to make sure our guests leave happy and full.” TheSmoke 3560 Major Mackenzie Drive West Vaughan, (905) 832-3456, thesmoke.ca

38 | York Life March April 2018

F i v e Qu e s ti o ns wit h chef & owner C am D yment Who is your favourite chef? That’s a tough one. The first celebrities who influenced me way back were Emeril Lagasse and Jacques Pépin. Today, I do like [Gordon] Ramsay. He’s a great actor, but I like his techniques. And Michael Smith — I enjoy watching his shows. What is the most common mistake people make when cooking? Time management — the key is timing. You start working on the things that are going to take the longest. Your mise en place is also very important. I always set up my mise en place, measure out all my ingredients, get them ready to go. Then I can put the dish together. What is your signature dish? Smoked prime rib and Yorkshire pudding. Or I would say an ahi (sushi-grade tuna) seared with toasted sesame oil and ponzu sauce. When did you first become interested in cooking? Ever since I could reach a frying pan. My mother would tell me stories of me making my own breakfast. My dad inspired me and, of course, focused on the barbecue. My mom taught me to make soups — never with a recipe. She would add things and taste.

What is your favourite thing to order when you dine out? One thing I don’t order is something I’m good at because I’ll be disappointed. I don’t order steak. My favourite thing would be something different, something that sounds delicious. I like to experiment, and if I like it, I’ll try and recreate it.

Deep-Fried Pickles 1/3 cup flour 1 egg 1 cup panko 3 dill pickles

Prepare a dredging station, placing the flour, egg and panko in separate bowls. If you have a deep fryer, fill it with oil and heat it to the right level. Otherwise, use a deep frying pan and heat enough oil to submerge a quarter of a pickle. Remove pickles from jar and let drain in colander for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut pickles into quarters, lengthwise, then dry the spears with paper towels.

Roll spears in flour to coat, followed by egg and panko. A few at a time, carefully fry spears until golden — approximately 1 minute. Let drain, then place on a small plate with a side of chipotle or regular mayo. Note: Dills will be hot. Let cool down before taking a bite. Makes 12

York Life

March April 2018 | 39

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Nutrition in Flight? Airline food isn’t exactly synonymous with delicious, healthy choices. But according to a recent study by Charles Platkin, director of the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center, some airlines are changing that assumption. Of 12 major airlines whose snacks and on-board food offerings were looked at, four contenders crowded into the top two spots: Delta and Virgin airlines share the top spot for healthiest food choices in the sky, with our very own Air Canada tied with JetBlue for second place. The study praised Air Canada for keeping nutrients high and calories low for meals, but chided the company for not including nutritional information and ingredients on the menu. JetBlue garnered similar accolades, with an additional star for posting nutritional information on its website; the airline lost points, however, for not offering healthy snacks, such as its fruit bar, for free.

York Life March April 2018 | 41

travel | Getaway

Into the Blue We have one of the country’s most beautiful resort villages located right in our own backyard, between the shores of Georgian Bay and the Niagara Escarpment. Blue Mountain Resort boasts more than 365 acres of skiing — but that’s not all. The area may be known for its slopes, but there’s plenty to do sans skis. So pack a bag and play tourist for a night. It just might be the perfect spring-break getaway, with minimal travel required. By Karen Robock STAY The sprawling Westin Trillium House boasts all the first-rate amenities you’d expect from an upscale hotel, including spacious suites. We stayed in a two-bedroom, which was perfect for our family of four. The kitchenette made it simple to keep the kids plied with snacks around the clock (which every parent knows is crucial for happy littles), while the gas fireplace was a nice touch in the evening after the girls, Matilda, five, and Maisie, one, were in bed. As is often the case at a really great hotel, it’s the little things that 42 | York Life March April 2018

make the difference: a play tent set up in the living room before our arrival made Matilda exclaim, “This is the best day ever!” Plus, it kept them busy while we unpacked, which is pretty much as good as it gets. Westinbluemountain.com EAT Casual, kid-friendly food options abound around the village. There’s everything from burgers to pizza and, most importantly, according to Maisie, ice cream — all within walking distance. We enjoyed a special

family dinner at the Pottery Restaurant (inside the Blue Mountain Inn), where the menu was varied (think New York striploin, lemon truffle pasta and baconwrapped scallops) and the atmosphere accommodating for noisy and messy little diners. My oldest was set on plain noodles with butter and cheese (sigh), but the server talked her into a side of steamed veggies, which I very much appreciated. PLAY My kids were splashing and squealing with delight for the morning we spent at Plunge! Aquatic Centre. Slides, pint-sized fountains and plenty of pool toys made for endless opportunities for play. We all loved the hot tubs (which are a kidfriendly, hot-bath temperature). Best of all, from my perspective, the water park is attached to the hotel, so I could walk there in my flip-flops and bathrobe. Outside, there’s no shortage of things to do off the slopes. Matilda had a blast zipping down the mountain on the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster, with my husband as the driver, of course. At certain points on the track you can reach speeds of 42 km/h, perfect for thrill-seekers big and small. If you’re looking for some final cold-weather fun to close out the season, lace up your skates (or rent a pair) and glide along the brand new 1.1-kilometre Woodview Mountaintop Skating loop while you take in beautiful views of the escarpment. (Skating is weather permitting.) Bluemountain.ca/things-to-do York Life March April 2018 | 43

travel | Smarts

Safer Travels Here’s why you should buy insurance along with your plane ticket By Doug Wallace

Warning: This list is a bit of a downer, as it involves catastrophic life events we’d all rather not think about, let alone plan for. But being prepared for emergencies is super-smart, however unpleasant the subject matter. Travel insurance is an essential part of travel, full stop. Without it, you’re leaving yourself open to all sorts of problems, some of them devastating, most of them financial. The truth is, you can’t afford not to buy insurance of some kind. Here is a three-step pre-step: 1. Fully wrap your head around what travel insurance is included with your credit cards. Keep in mind that that insurance only works if you use that particular card to purchase said travel. 2. Check to see if your workplace insurance has travel insurance benefits you can take advantage of. Maybe that’s all you need, but you won’t know unless you invest the time to read the fine print. And if you don’t understand the fine print, telephone the insurance provider and start asking questions. 3. Frequent travellers should shop around for a good, general annual plan that will let them skip the add-on insurance packages that travel websites try to sell you on the fly as you’re booking online, often playing to your insecurities.

44 | York Life March April 2018

You’re either one of those people who won’t leave home without it or someone who just throws caution to the wind — at your peril. Lost luggage aside, here are eight reasons why you need travel insurance: 1. Trip cancellation. Plans can change, and if yours change more than most, a potential cancellation is more of a consideration. 2. Trip interruption. A billion things can cut short your trip of a lifetime — and none of them need be of your own doing. 3. Medical emergencies. There’s no way you want to be ill in a foreign country without insurance. You could end up losing your home and/or your life savings. 4. Acts of God: Earthquakes, mudslides, forest fires, hurricanes and worse. The plethora of weather weirdness of late is reason enough to not be left holding the suitcase while everyone runs for cover. 5. Terrorist attack or military coup. The world can be a volatile

and unpredictable place, even in some of what you thought were the safest of places. 6. Labour strike. No one wants to be stranded thousands of miles from home just because the airport workers walk off the job. Preventing this from being a problem is wonderful peace of mind. 7. Beached cruise ship. This happened to my auntie once, and she had to come home in her pajamas and a borrowed coat! 8. Death in the family. (See Point 2.) If you have elderly or rickety parents (or close relatives), make sure your insurance is topped up. Bonus Reason: Your own death! We told you this was going to be a downer…

travel | Vacay

Oasis Oasis



ooking for a vacation that offers both plenty of action as well as the chance to relax and unwind? Consider Greater Palm Springs, California. It’s the perfect destination for adventure lovers and calm seekers alike. Here’s a sampling of experiences.

• Do not try this at home. Take in the fast track options at the BMW Performance Center West. Now you can enjoy its Mini motoring school featuring the John Cooper Works Hardtop 2 Door model. Try revving up on a road course in a sport-suspension vehicle with low-profile tires. • Hit new heights. Get your fitness on and enjoy the scenery cycling along canyon washes and mountain ridges during a halfday customized mountain-biking tour with Big Wheel Tours. Expert guides tailor the group biking adventure for all skill levels. Perk: hotel drop-off and pickup from many area resorts.

• Embrace your easy rider. Put on a helmet, fasten your seat belt and experience the ultimate road trip with EagleRider Motorcycle Rentals and Tours’ Palm Springs Slingshot Tour. During this self-drive 170 km-plus tour in the three-wheel Polaris Slingshot (with room for two), you’ll drive a panoramic loop beginning at EagleRider’s facility near down-

town Palm Springs up through the Palms to Pines Scenic Byway and into the artsy, milehigh town of Idyllwild. If well-being is your goal, this Southern California resort destination brims with ways to encourage a healthy lifestyle. Whether you need motivation to kick-start a major life change or a getaway to get back on track, here’s how to promote balance and harmony. • Soak it up. Water immersion therapies like Watsu and Aqua Soma are among guests’ favourite relaxation rituals at Two Bunch Palms, a Desert Hot Springs destination spa famous for its mineral-rich waters. Try a unique treatment like Green Your Body, a multistep skin rejuvenating experience, or take part in a Shaman healing session that integrates sacred rituals associated with Indigenous cultures. • Chill out. Enthusiasts of cryotherapy, or cold therapy, have noted its many benefits, including relieving depression and anxiety, alleviating inflammation and reducing the York Life March April 2018 | 45

Greater Palm Springs has loads of options for a holiday with a healthy difference

Fast track it at the BMW Performance Center West.

signs of aging. Desert Cryotherapy offers guests a variety of services — like a full-body session in a very cool cryochamber, localized cryotherapy to manage pain, liquid nitrogen facials and other therapies. Cryotherapy is also available at Kinetix Health & Performance Center in Palm Desert. • Fill up. For a healthy, delicious supply of brain “fuel,” head to Chef Tanya’s Kitchen in Palm Springs. Tanya Petrovna, original proprietor/chef of the Native Foods chain, recently opened this gourmet vegan eatery. It features a daytime lunch counter and deli that remains open on Wednesday evenings for takeout dinner catering.

Take a swing at golf at La Qunita Stadium Course.

• Now hear this. Enjoy a soothing sensory dip — minus the water — with a sound bath, a meditative ritual that usually involves a facilitator playing crystal singing bowls. Bikram Yoga Plus Coachella Valley, Evolve Yoga La Quinta and other studios host this wellness practice on select dates. For the ultimate sound bath experience, visit the storied Integratron up in the high desert town of Landers near Joshua Tree. In the 1950s, Ufologist George Van Tassel claimed a Venusian alien instructed him to build this acoustically perfect structure. Helpful hint: Book well in advance, as these sonic healing sessions are very popular.






CONCORD | 201 MILLWAY AVE, UNIT 15 905-760-8710 | richwoodkitchenandbath.com

46 | York Life March April 2018

• Really retreat. Chiropractor, certified yoga instructor and physical rehab specialist Eden Goldman hosts yoga and mindfulness retreats at La Quinta Resort & Club, nestled at the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains in La Quinta. Retreat highlights encompass healthy menus and cleansing practices, yoga and meditation classes, and optional additional excursions that take advantage of wellness activities found throughout the destination.

Pine Tree Lincoln

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Discover more at LincolnCanada.com


Vehicle may be shown with optional equipment. Dealer may sell or lease for less. Limited time offers. Offers may be cancelled at any time without notice. See Pine Tree Lincoln or call the Lincoln Customer Relationship Centre at 1-800-387-9333. For factory orders, a customer may either take advantage of eligible raincheckable Lincoln retail customer promotional incentives/offers available at the time of vehicle factory order or time of vehicle delivery, but not both or combinations thereof Offer is not combinaeable with any CPA/GPC or Daily Rental Incentives, the Commercial Upfit Program or the Commercial Fleet Incentive Program (CFIP).

feature | Cover Story

One Tough Mother After more than a decade out of the ring, wrestling superstar Trish Stratus recently made one knockout of a comeback. But there’s far more to this Richmond Hill native than killer moves on the mat By Kasie Savage | Opening Photo by Dave Laus


f Trish Stratus seems familiar to you, here’s why: With more than 3 million collective social media followers, she is arguably the most popular female World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) wrestler of all time. She also manages a business (Stratus Enterprises) and wellness empire (Stratusphere Yoga) while juggling the demands of motherhood. Plus, she’s down to earth, drawing you in with her relatable, easygoing, chatty nature, despite the fact that she could grab your head with her ankles, while doing a handstand, and flip you across a room — her signature move, aptly named “the Stratusphere.”

48 | York Life March April 2018

York Life March April 2018 | 49

feature | Cover Story

Someone once told me, “Be so good they can’t ignore you”

Though she is famous around the world, it’s York Region that Stratus, 42, her husband, Ron Fisico, 42, and their two kids, son Maximus, four, and daughter Madison, one, proudly call home. A long-time yoga enthusiast, Stratus is known for her empowering approach to mind-body wellness, sprinkled in with some leather and heels. She’s also a spokesperson for numerous charities, both locally and nationally, and was recently inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, receiving the Sandy Hawley Community Service Award. Born and raised in Richmond Hill, Stratus was a fitness model in the late 1990s when she was scouted by a rep in the wrestling realm. In a world where only wrestlers made it into the ring of the WWE (known then as the WWF — World Wrestling Federation), Stratus made her unconventional wrestling debut in 2000, quickly learning the ropes and winning the praise of both fans and industry veterans. Within six years, she had captured more titles than any female wrestler of her time. So when WWE was planning its 25th anniversary celebration, organization executive and wrestling legend Vince McMahon called Stratus, inviting her to return to the ring for a top-secret comeback. She had 30 days to prepare, after almost 12 years of retirement. In the middle of that comeback, we caught up with Stratus to find out how she manages the many facets of her career, finds balance in the chaos of motherhood and still has heaps of energy to spare.

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Photo: Copyright 2018 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Along with other trainers, Trish Stratus worked with mother-of-four and body transformation coach Nichelle Laus to prepare. Follow Nichelle on Instagram (@teamlaus) for tips, advice and inspiration. Stratus’s cover photo was taken by Nichelle’s husband, fitness photographer Dave Laus.

Photo: DaniellePhotography.ca, York Region Photographer

For Trish Stratus, seen here with her son, Maximus, and daughter, Madison, fitness and motherhood are an ideal match. “I thought I would end up burnt out from doing more, but it actually energized me and made me a better person in the morning,” she says. “That made me a better mama.”

ON HEALTH AND FITNESS: What does your typical workout week look like? Since I had the baby, my regular daily workout routine has consisted of 20 minutes of my signature yoga flow, which is a combination of strength-training exercises incorporated into a yoga flow, a few gym workout sessions here and there when I can drop off the baby at my mom’s house, and loads of squats. Also key to getting in shape is eating well. At this point in my life, I’m in maintenance mode. However, when the WWE calls and asks you to make a comeback, you know you need to amp things up. I eat very clean anyway, but my diet got even cleaner — no snacks — and I incorporated things like increased protein and branched chain amino acids to support the intense training and muscle activation. 

What do you typically eat to stay fit? There’s no hard formula. I stick with whole foods and avoid processed foods, eating mostly lean protein, like chicken and fish, and lots of veggies, especially greens. How has your fitness level or body changed since becoming a mother? Training for this comeback was a nice reminder that even though my current fitness regime isn’t as intense as it used to be, muscle memory is a beautiful thing. All that hard work I did in the gym for the last 20 years has given me a strong foundation that I can still tap into. I also believe that keeping active during both pregnancies really helped me bounce back quicker.  How has your perspective on fitness changed since becoming a mother? I don’t obsess over it like I used to. Now it’s about keeping up my fitness to give me energy to keep after these kiddies and to set

an example. We try as a family to integrate fitness into our daily routine, doing things like taking walks, riding our bikes or having the kids do yoga with me. What are the top three favourite exercises that you include in every workout? Some form of a yoga flow, pushups and squats, squats and more squats. I did 100 squats a day throughout both of my pregnancies. If there’s only one exercise you can squeeze in, it should be squats. ON MOTHERHOOD: You’ve been hit, punched, tossed around and slammed into tables, and have had bones broken. How do those challenges compare with motherhood?  Well, I’ve managed to recover from all of those aliments quicker than I have from the nights of interrupted sleep. When do they start sleeping through the night again?

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feature | Cover Story

• Do 1 squat and 10 pushups. Next do 2 squats and 9 pushups. Keep going until you work your way up to 10 squats and 1 pushup. • Once the round is completed, you will have done 55 reps of each exercise. Trish likes to try to do 2 to 4 rounds for a good muscle pump and cardio blast. She guarantees a good burn and warns that you may be panting after this!

52 | York Life March April 2018

Photo: Copyright 2018 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The “55” Workout Here’s a quickie, do-whenever-and-wherever workout that transformation coach Nichelle Laus gave Trish to do when days get too busy to go to the gym.

Do you believe women can have it all? What is “a life in balance” and can it be achieved? Absolutely! I thought I was balancing it all by running my business and raising my kids, but this comeback has shown me that doing something for myself, like disconnecting and returning to longer yoga sessions, getting in my full-out, sweaty training sessions, is something for me. I realized I was using the “too busy as a mom” excuse and cutting off my workout sessions, which are essentially my me time. I thought I would end up burnt out from doing more, but it actually energized me and made me a better person in the morning. That let me be a better mama. What would you say to moms who say that they don’t have time to exercise? Find the time! The domino effect is strong. You put in the time, and soon you become more energized, you look better and you start feeling better about yourself. Endorphins and serotonin are powerful hormones. Everyone could use more feel-good hormones in their life! ON WRESTLING: On the one hand, you’ve been portrayed as this sex symbol through wrestling. On the other, you’re an entrepreneur and the winner of a Women in Business award. How do you manage these two parts of your personality and how would you describe the true Trish Stratus? Actually, I feel like I always portrayed a bad-ass, strong, confident woman who doesn’t take any crap and knows how to handle her business. Yes, I believe I was interpreted by some as a sex symbol, but I think that is just a by-product of how society wants to view a female who is in this particular entertainment sphere. All I could do was put forth the image that was most authentic to me and be true to myself. I think that’s why the Trish Stratus character, which is really me but amplified a few notches, has resonated with so many

— male and female, young and old — for almost 20 years. How will your return to wrestling be different? Who is 2018 Trish Stratus versus 2006 Trish Stratus? She’s pretty much the same person. She is a female making it in a male-dominated world. She wants to go out there and leave her mark, be a part of history as a woman in her industry. But this time, instead of just wanting to prove to herself that she can do this, 2018 Trish Stratus wants to do it for the mothers out there who may have at some point lost themselves. It’s a reminder that even after kids, you can always return to who you are — maybe even a better version — conscious of the fact that everything you do now will leave an impression on your kids and perhaps who they will be.  You were the first-ever WWE female wrestler not from a wrestling background. How did you manage the criticism from those who thought you were all style no substance? It is what drove me. Someone once told me, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” I set out to prove all the doubters wrong. I knew in my heart I could do it, and I never let their doubt get in the way.  ON YORK REGION LIVING: Many people who find success south of the border move to the U.S. Why do you continue to call York Region home?  Home is where your family is. Both my husband and I grew up and went to high school here. This is where we met and have been together ever since. For seven years while I was wrestling, it was the place I could come home to, take off my WWE Superstar hat and just be me. I’d go to my familiar local places and just have a normal existence for a couple of days before returning to the craziness that was WWE life on the road.

Trish Stratus’s

top local spots to... Relax on weekends: Weekends are all about spending time with the kids. We are so lucky to have so many great parks, trails and splash pads up here. This past summer, my then three-year-old and I made a park passport. It was a homemade book where I listed parks in our area that we visited over the summer. It was so great. He excitedly explored somewhere new and he got a kick out of the stamp he got in his book afterwards.  Shop: I’ve been getting everything I need from Hillcrest Mall since I was a kid. I bank at the same branch where I opened my first account. Dine: Two of our favourites are Abruzzo and Santorini. My parents used to order from Abruzzo in Richmond Hill, and now we order from there. Santorini in Thornhill has always been a great place to get a good Greek meal. And this is coming from a Greek gal. What are three hobbies people may not know that you enjoy? • Interior design and decorating • Upcycling — giving old things new life • I throw a hell of a themed party

York Life March April 2018 | 53

feature | Fitness


According to some studies, the average Canadian spends more than two hours a day perusing social media sites. Why not trade in some of the time spent watching waterskiing squirrels for some of York Region’s most inspiring, motivating, health-and-wellness-focused influencers? Our Fit List includes a variety of local go-getters who have devoted themselves and their careers to better living — so connect with them and soak up their tips, tricks and inspirational pics. They’re only a click away. By KASIE SAVAGE

Lynn Stewart

Brett Mitsubata

Trish Stratus

Handle: @solinspiredwellness

Handle: @cubeyourfood on

Handle: @trishstratuscom on

or @solbarrepilatesmarkham on Instagram



Who: Health and wellness speaker with a focus on the dangers of sugar; Vaughan

Who: Legendary WWE competitor, named greatest female WWE wrestler of all-time; Richmond Hill

Follow for: Insights and awareness

Follow for: Drool-worthy pics of

into what Brett believes is the world’s greatest threat against health and number one cause of obesity — sugar. Get educated about the real deal on gimmicks and fads, and wade through the misinformation on diets and healthy living.

fame and new motherhood. With almost one million followers, this fascinating local celebrity works hard to balance running a lifestyle brand empire (Stratusphereshop.com) with the demands of raising two young children.

Who: Owner of Sol Barre Pilates Studio in Markham, and health coach for more than 15 years

Follow for: Inspiration with a heavy dose of mind-body wisdom stemming from Pilates, yoga and barre. Plus, she offers a wealth of knowledge in the areas of mindfulness, Chakra rebalancing and Ayurvedic practices.

54 | York Life March April 2018

Rosalie Brown

Jamie Ferrante

Sandy Johnson

Handle: @rosaliebrownfit on Instagram

Handle: @jamieferrante on Instagram

Handle: @sandy_johnson_coaching on Instagram

Who: TV fitness presenter and personal trainer; Richmond Hill

Who: Fitness Clubs of Canada owner, fitness model and mother of two; Aurora

Who: Career strategist, certified coach, athlete and adventurer; Aurora

Follow for: A down-to-earth Insta-

Follow for: A major serving of

Follow for: Fabulous workout ideas tailored to the over-40 crowd. While you’re there, check out her amazing physique (she’s a grandmother), group fitness videos and monthly fit challenges. Plus, her cheery personality will have you smiling, even when your muscles are burning.

Drs. Craig and Shawna Dingman

gram journey of a mom as she takes on fitness competitions after an incredible before-and-after transformation, only to then purchase a local gym. It’s a trifecta of hashtags as #momlife meets #gymlife meets #girlboss.

Meredith Deasley

inspiration. Sandy walks the talk and has run across the Sahara Desert (belongings on her back), climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and recently tried a surf camp in Nicaragua. Oh, and she’s in her mid-50s.

Dr. Diane Wong

Handle: @elevatechiropractic1 on Facebook

Handle: @theresourcefulmother on Facebook

Handle: @glowmedispas on Instagram

Who: Owners and practitioners at Elevate Chiropractic in Aurora

Who: Author, speaker, teacher, registered holistic nutritionist and life coach; Aurora

Who: Owner of three Glow Medispa locations throughout the GTA, including Aurora and Markham

Follow for: Great advice on holistic

Follow for: The latest in non-surgical, non-invasive skincare procedures and products. Dr. Wong is committed to using only the latest, most natural products and techniques.

Follow for: Insights, helpful tips and engaging videos on eating right, moving right and thinking better thoughts — along with plenty of personality to keep you visiting on a regular basis. If improving mobility and reducing back pain interest you, they are a must-follow.

nutrition, wellness and leading a happier, more balanced life through a playful and positive outlook.

York Life March April 2018 | 55

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A BODY OF ART CRAFTED EXPRESSLY FOR YOU Tailored to accentuate the human form, the cabin celebrates the driver with bold thinking and fine modern materials.


56 | York Life March April 2018

feature | Golf Roundup


his season, why not take a swing at golf? Spring through fall, there’s nothing quite like chasing a little white ball over rolling hills, inhaling the freshness of morning air and getting fit while enjoying pastoral views. York Region boasts some of the country’s top courses, so no matter what your experience or income level, there’s a golf course to suit your needs just a short drive, chip and putt away. Here’s our list of must-play courses. By Kasie Savage

York Life March April 2018 | 57

feature | Golf Roundup

Best Value Golf: Bathurst Glen Let’s face it, golf is an expensive sport as a solo player. Add a whole family to the mix and it’s often difficult to find a course that won’t break the bank and that allows kids under age 13 to play. Enter Bathurst Glen. The Richmond Hill golf course not only welcomes families, but also features an on-site family course where after twilight, kids 14 and under play for free, accompanied by a paying adult. The blue tees are perfect for kids who can hit the ball about 100 yards — and if you’re a beginner adult, that might suit you, too. Greens fees range from $28 to $39 for 18 holes for weekdays. A family of four (especially after twilight) could play for well under the standard greens fee for a single golfer at an average golf course. bathurstglengolf.ca

Best Family Golf: Granite Golf Club (private) For those looking to invest in a refined, private golf club, where families truly are catered to, nothing surpasses Granite Golf Club, located on an expansive swath of picturesque Stouffville. Kids of all ages can play the course with their parents any day, any time — in fact, there are certain Sundays when even the beloved family dog is welcome to tag along. From childcare programs to junior golf clinics and improvement options, Granite has a high-end homey feel and a wide, forgiving course layout for those seeking a long-term destination for generational golf enjoyment. Cost of membership does come at a hefty price (think high-end SUV), but certainly is less costly than a cottage, and for many members, the Granite is their summer destination. granitegolfclub.ca

Best for Women: Westview Golf Club If you’re a woman who has always wanted to play golf, for business or pleasure, then the Westview ladies’ league in Aurora is a must-do. Ten years ago, the league had 50 golfers playing one day a week; today, the ladies’ league has exploded to 500 women playing over three days. The reason for the club’s success: a focus on the social aspect of the game, keeping it fun and minimizing competition. With a relaxed atmosphere, three nine-hole courses to choose from and a friendly staff, the club offers new players the chance to experience the game without intimidation. By recognizing that most women approach the league as a fun night out with friends, Westview continues to improve their experience with instructional clinics, food specials and product samplings, all geared toward female golfers. Bonus: 2018 is the club’s 60th anniversary. Women’s league or not, Westview welcomes every golfer. westviewgolf.ca

58 | York Life March April 2018

Best Luxury Course: Magna Golf Club (private) If money is no object and settling for nothing but the absolute finest is your goal, then Magna Golf Club in Aurora is your premiere destination. Upon obtaining exclusive membership (think close to six figures), you will be treated to a first-class experience like no other. Staff are trained to greet you formally at every turn, and the expansive, exquisitely appointed clubhouse will cater to your every need, from fine dining to entertaining to fitness, bespoke locker rooms and a beautifully merchandised pro shop. The helicopter landing pad speaks to the transportation choices for the wealthy clientele. You will be golfing alongside celebrities, famous athletes and CEOs, and yet rather than feeling pretentious, the club has a warm, welcoming, family-focused feel and an elevated stone patio with views so pretty you may never leave. Then again, why would you want to? This club has it all — including great golf. magnagolf.com

Best for Beginners: Kettle Creek One of the downsides of golf in today’s busy world is the time commitment. Most rounds of golf last 4½ hours. If you’re a beginner, that time increases to five hours or more. Thankfully, 18 holes can easily be played in 2½ hours if your golf experience takes place at rookiefriendly Kettle Creek in Newmarket, one of four courses at Cardinal Golf Club. This executive course boasts casual par-3 and par-4 holes that are designed to build your confidence as well as your game. Ideal for seniors, juniors, families and newbies of any age, the course features bent grass throughout, white-sand bunkers and mature trees. They even offer golf ’s newest hybrid sport, FootGolf — think soccer meets golf with 21-inch cups. cardinalgolfclub.com/kettle-creek For more information and a full list of all of the public and private golf courses in York Region and surrounding areas, visit gao.ca (Golf Ontario).

Best Amenities: Maple Downs Golf and Country Club (private) Many of us know Maple Downs Golf and Country Club as the venue that played host to a friend’s or relative’s wedding. And while the exceptional dining and special events may have been our first introduction, it’s the club’s picturesque and pristinely manicured location in Vaughan that places it on the list of the region’s top golf destinations — especially for those who want a full, true country club experience. With a variety of memberships to choose from, what sets Maple Downs apart from other private clubs in York Region are the amenities. From the expansive patio and lifeguarded pool to championship tennis courts and modern clubhouse facilities, you could easily spend an entire day at the club enjoying all of its many offerings. mapledowns.com

York Life March April 2018 | 59

feature | Business Profile

Freestyling All Year Snow? Schmow! Now, thanks to this Vaughan facility, skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts can perfect their moves spring, summer and fall By Liz Bruckner

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s any winter sports fiend can attest, the arrival of spring-like temperatures brings with it a certain level of end-of-season melancholy. But mope not. Now marking one year in business, Vaughan’s Axis Freestyle Academy (AFA) offers enthusiasts an indoor, year-round skiing and snowboarding (and similar extreme sports) facility to finesse their moves — no snow required. “The idea for Axis came from a place of passion and dedication from our time on the slopes,” AFA partner and co-founder Alex Ching says. In 2013, after Ching and long-time friends Adam Zigomanis and Simon Chang spent three weeks in Whistler, B.C., taking in as many runs as time and stamina would allow, they were determined to find a way to hone their skills through the rest of the year. “We also knew that there are countless other riders who feel the same way,” Ching says, “so we wanted to build this facility with the goal of sharing our knowledge, and stoke as many people as possible.” After learning of the success of similar indoor facilities elsewhere (the

U.K. has a host of indoor, dry-slope sites to compensate for the lack of hills and snow, and similar variations have popped up throughout the U.S. in recent years), the three founders put together a business plan. After securing donations via an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, fine-tooth-combing their way through the GTA in search of the ideal location, and securing city permits while promoting their brand, AFA opened its doors in October 2016 on Four Valley Drive in Vaughan — the first action-sports facility of its kind in Canada. “For us, selecting the spot for our business came down to demographics and location,” Ching says. “Our team grew up in and lived in different parts of the GTA, and in terms of the space available, as well as current and projected growth, it really made sense to be in Vaughan.” Being located just off the 400 also allows for a relatively easy access point for people living in the GTA and Barrie region, and their close proximity to Vaughan Mills means parents can make time for retail therapy while kids play or train. York Life March April 2018 | 61

feature | Business Profile

Axis Freestyle Academy partners and co-founders (from left) Alex Ching, Adam Zigomanis and Simon Chang.

Not that the freestyle experience is restricted to kids. From its onset, the mandate of Axis has been to provide every level of rider — regardless of age or skill set — a safe and progressive environment, incorporating as many training tools and options as possible. “We have people of all ages and abilities, from toddlers as young as two years old learning how to balance, build muscle and practise body control to parents in their 50s who still want to learn the basics, from small jumps to spins,” Ching says. The bottom line: If you’re looking to challenge yourself and want to have fun in the process, you’ll do fine at AFA. “We can cater to and customize our facility to suit everyone’s needs. For those who are more advanced, we can create and place features as athletes would like them for a customized and more challenging set-up.” He adds that while other facilities tend to limit the moves participants can attempt, the goal of trainers and coaches at AFA is to acknowledge the risks associated with learning new tricks, and provide the tools necessary to aid riders in mastering them. 62 | York Life March April 2018

“We have people of all ages and abilities, from toddlers as young as two years old learning how to balance, build muscle and practise body control to parents in their 50s who still want to learn the basics, from small jumps to spins” Newbie, intermediate and expert riders can hone their freestyle craft in the terrain park and on a multitude of modular features within the 20,000-square-foot facility, which includes skill-building ramps, rails and foam pits. Of note are the Launcher, which propels

participants into the air at speeds of up to 48 km/h (into an air bag, of course), enabling them to perfect in-air tricks; and a state-ofthe-art 17-foot dry slope that helps beginners learn the basics of riding before facing real-time elements like wind, sleet or snow on hills. According to Ching, the grey AstroTurfstyle covering on the latter mimics the texture of snow on a real hill, thanks to gallons of sprayed-on soapy water. The cushy covering also offers a softer landing in the event of wipeouts. AFA offers rentals and lessons for athletes of all skill levels, as well as open-gym sessions and a second-floor yoga studio. The site also features a 4,000-square-foot, high-performance trampoline area to further bolster riders’ freestyle skills, and Ching says next-step plans include offering more classes and hiring more coaches. “We are always looking ahead regarding how we can make facility upgrades happen, but it will hopefully all come together in due time,” he says. “Our business is growing as people help spread the word.”


Guide Local Private Schools


Planning to enrol your child in a private school? You’ll want to do your research to find a school with a philosophy and approach that suit your family. Here’s the scoop on six established independent schools across York Region. By Joann MacDonald

York Life March April 2018 | 63

feature | Private Schools

School: St. Andrew’s College (SAC), Aurora Students: boys, grades 5 to 12 Specialties: SAC’s rigorous academic program is complemented by a wide range of co-curricular activities designed to develop well-rounded citizens. All boys participate in an extensive athletic program with 71 teams across 22 sports. Students in grades 8 through 12 join the St. Andrew’s College Highland Cadet Corps, established in 1905. Students are encouraged to rise through the ranks and develop critical leadership skills. The scoop: Established with just 50 students in Toronto in 1899, SAC now boasts a leafy 126-acre Aurora campus that welcomes 645 boarding and day students from 25 countries. Graduates gain entry to top universities in Canada, the U.S. and abroad, and are part of a network of 6,000 alumni around the world. Find out more: (905) 727-3178, sac.on.ca

School: The Country Day School (CDS), King City Students: co-ed, JK to Grade 12 Specialties: Emphasizing education with balance, CDS provides diverse opportunities in academics, athletics and the arts, as well as promotes leadership skills and character building. An innovative approach to learning integrates leading-edge technology, sophisticated facilities and teaching that’s sensitive to the individual needs of each student. The scoop: Located on a 100-acre campus among the rolling hills of King Township, the non-denominational school often takes learning outdoors to encourage environmental citizenship, health and good fun. Founded in 1972 by parents wanting to preserve a countryschool feel, the school has grown from 49 students to 770 today. While the property and facilities have expanded over the years, the picturesque country setting remains the same. Find out more: (905) 833-1220, cds.on.ca

School: Villanova College, King City Students: co-ed, grades 4 to 12 Specialties: Villanova boasts an evolving STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program. Running in grades 9 through 12, it encourages discovery, exploration and problem-solving. In grades 9 and 10, students are introduced to the fundamentals of robotics. Advanced-placement (first-year-university-level) courses are offered. Villanova also has a strong community outreach experience, fostering vibrant and active students. Extra-curriculars include the arts, athletics and leadership. The scoop: In 1999, Villanova College opened in its temporary home at Sacred Heart Parish. In 2000, the founding classes moved into a 12,000-square-foot school on 33 acres at Marylake. Today, Villanova has more than 120,000 square feet of academic and athletic space and over 550 students. It’s also the only Catholic private school in York Region. Find out more: (905) 833-1909, villanovacollege.org

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School: Pickering College, Newmarket Students: co-ed, JK to Grade 12 Specialties: Pickering’s Global Leadership program is carefully crafted to best prepare students for university and the workplace. Technology is a focus — from kindergarten onward, students learn to code using age-appropriate resources. There is access to computers, mobile devices, 3-D printers, robotics and the school’s CRTC-licensed radio station. The scoop: The only Quaker-founded school in Canada, Pickering is also the only co-educational day and boarding school in York Region. This academic year marks Pickering’s 175th birthday, and the school is looking to the future with the construction of a new $30-million learning facility. It’s the only independent school in Ontario selected as a UNESCO candidate school. Find out more: (905) 895-1700, pickeringcollege.on.ca

School: Holy Trinity School (HTS), Richmond Hill Students: co-ed, JK to Grade 12 Specialties: Leading-edge teaching methods give students a strong academic foundation, enhanced by exposure to music, drama, art and athletics. A commitment to character building aims to produce wellrounded future leaders. The Apple 1:1 program engages students with tablets and laptops to inspire creativity, collaboration and critical thinking. Advanced-placement courses, an extended French certificate and a high-performance athlete program are offered. The scoop: Founded by Anglicans in a church basement in 1981, HTS now boasts a 37-acre campus with three gyms, two sports fields, tennis courts and music rooms. Innovative spaces for technology, art and design are equipped with 3-D printers, a laser cutter, a large format printer, computers and robotics equipment. The school welcomes students of all faiths. Find out more: (905) 737-1114, hts.on.ca

School: TMS, Richmond Hill Students: co-ed, 18 months to Grade 12 Specialties: TMS is the only independent school in York Region to offer the International Baccalaureate program. The lower school houses the Toronto Montessori Institute, a renowned teachertraining institute. TMS offers a Montessori start for 530 students from 18 months to Grade 6. The upper school serves grades 7 to 12 in a modern, bright and student-centred second campus. The scoop: Founded as Toronto Montessori Schools in 1961, TMS combines the Montessori and International Baccalaureate frameworks to provide students the foundation for a life of goodness and excellence. TMS received a Richmond Hill Board of Trade business award in 2015. Student David G. recently won an MIT Media Lab competition, and student Julia F. represented more than 50,000 participants, speaking at the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award National Board dinner. Find out more: (905) 889-6882 (lower school), (905) 780-1002 (upper school), tmsschool.ca York Life March April 2018 | 65

one last thing

Photo: Jim Craigmyle

Stealing the Spotlight Talk about fresh direction! This vintage Hollywood director-style chair from Haven Eclectic Modern Style in Newmarket has an ultra-cool ’70s vibe. The traditional style, with canvas back and seating and folding wooden legs, is swapped for a chrome frame with a smoked Lucite chair back. The seat is upholstered in a retro-chic turquoise leatherette. Wherever you place it, this chair is sure to play the starring role. $279, haveneclecticmodern.com

66 | York Life March April 2018

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