Authors Posts by Colin McGarrigle

Colin McGarrigle

Colin McGarrigle


Maintaining optimum health & fitness is more than just half a promise for this Sherwood Park power couple.

Photography by Sean Williams
Photography by Sean Williams

Several years ago, Carrie Doll and her husband Stephen Petasky made a monumental lifestyle decision- to invest in their own health and ensure exercise, eating healthy and living well were the number one priorities in their lives. And for many (most!) of us, that goal always seems valiant and often half-hearted; but for Carrie and Stephen, their pledge was far from token.

As the anchor for CTV Edmonton News at Six for 12 years, and 20 years in media, Carrie was always comfortable with being in the public spotlight, knowing that image, along with smarts and drive, go a long way in the world of media. Along with husband Stephen, who is founder and president of the Luxus Group – a successful company that offers luxury vacation properties, development and more – this dynamic duo already knew the importance of looking after themselves to become successful in life. But in the past few years, Carrie and Stephen have taken that general sense of well-being to the next level of fitness.

“One thing we never compromise on is our health and our exercise. Because once that deteriorates, we deteriorate so it’s always a number one priority: it’s just a way of life for us now,” says Carrie. “Even when I am not feeling well, or I have a cold coming on, I’ll always drag my butt to the gym because after that workout and that boost of endorphins I feel better. It gives me a clear head and helps me function better through the day. I always say that exercise is my magic elixir,” she adds.

And for both Carrie and Stephen, starting the day off early with an hour of morning exercise is vital to their success in life.

“If we don’t [exercise], it feels like we are sacrificing our day, because we are less focused and our productivity goes down,” says Stephen.

And with various business, charity and community commitments, being focused is essential for the power couple. Since leaving CTV a year ago, Carrie has started her own consulting business, and has also continued being a much sought after public speaker and facilitator, as well as being more involved as a principal with the Luxus Group, with husband Stephen.

Besides their hectic business schedule, both are heavily involved in the community. Both Stephen and Carrie are co-chairs of the Glenrose Courage Gala, while Carrie is the chair of the Stollery Women’s Network, is the honourary chair for both the CIBC Run for the Cure and the YWCA Women of Distinction Awards, and is also involved with the Lois Hole Hospital for Women, the Zebra Foundation and Kids with Cancer, among many others over the years.

“We want our kids to understand that it’s a way of life.”

Stephen also sits on the Stollery Hospital board, and has taken over running the Tee Up For Tots, a charity golf tournament once managed by Kevin Lowe and Sam Abouhassen, and helped raise over $1 million last year for the Stollery. He is also on the exploration committee for Northlands to decide what to do with Rexall Place once the new downtown arena is built.

“This community is our community and we have to take ownership of it. We always felt that if we want to see improvements [to the community] then we have to get involved. Instead of saying ‘this needs to be done, or that needs to be done’ we look at it from the perspective of how can we help, and how can we make a difference, and also, how can we motivate other people to get involved?” says Carrie.

Stephen also echoes the same sentiment, but adds that selecting where to help can be challenging.

“We look at something that is close to our heart, first and foremost. But we also look at where we can provide the biggest impact in the community,” says Stephen.

But with all the commitments and more, finding time to exercise five to six times a week, plus yoga, mountain and road biking, or running in the river valley with their son Kasha and daughter Allegra, the goal of keeping fit is something they help and encourage each other attain.

“Both of us are very respectful of each other’s work out time. We are very encouraging and supportive of each other. And the busier we get, we always remind each other to make time for exercise. In the past, it was easy for exercise to be the first thing that went out the window, but we’ve learned from those mistakes.

Carrie Doll Article 4

“There’s ebbs and flows to everything though. Some months we do just awesome, and some weeks we fall off the bandwagon a bit. But we both motivate each other and try to pull the other back on track if the wheel falls off,” says Carrie with a laugh.

Part of that commitment comes from the fact that they do invest monetarily in personal trainers and more, but both agree that any money spent of staying healthy is the best investment they could ever make.

“My problem used to be that I would go to the gym, talk my time away, and get absolutely nothing accomplished.”

“My problem used to be that I would go to the gym, talk my time away, and get absolutely nothing accomplished. So I needed [a personal trainer] to keep me focused and push me beyond limits that I would ever push myself,” says Carrie.

“I agree,” says Stephen. “If I’m paying for it, I want to make sure that I am getting more out of it. And if I’m not paying for it, I just don’t push myself enough, and it also makes me more accountable to the goals that I set,” he adds.

But that’s not to say that Carrie and Stephen are not human as well, and admit that there are times when diet and life in general can get in the way of perfect optimum health, but both agree that when they do falter, they just work a little harder the next day.

“We love champagne and sometimes when we go out we might indulge a bit much, but we make sure to drag our butt out of bed and jump on the treadmill. It’s the hardest thing to do, but after you’ve done it, you feel like a million bucks again,” says Carrie.

Due to the nature of Luxus Group owning dozens of international vacation properties, business and travel often mix, and while the first thing to be packed is the runners, they do ‘vacation’ sometimes.

“It’s always challenging for both of us to maintain our diet on vacation. Restaurants are the killer. We just love Italian food and when we are there we let our guard down in terms of diet,” says Stephen.

As for their daily diet, both eat light and fresh, with regular green spinach protein shakes, plenty of big salads and a minimum of snacks.

“One thing we never compromise on is our health and our exercise.”

“Stephen is the cook. I’m a terrible cook!” laughs Carrie. “But he does such a great job and he gets very creative with things like salad, and even makes all his own dressings,” she adds.

With such healthy living and eating, both are making sure to pass that wellness message down” to their two children.Carrie Doll Article 1

“We want our kids to understand that it’s a way of life. So they see us exercising and that becomes their normal, and they understand that is part of being healthy and part of life,” says Stephen.

As for their next fitness goals? Carrie is studiously contemplating tackling the New York City Marathon, as her trainer would like her to, while Stephen is heading down to the U.S. in a few months to take part in a simulated “Hell Week” with some friends that incorporates the same training that US Navy Seals endure complete with sleep deprivation and basic water ‘torture.’

“Our goal is to just survive it, but I’m really excited about taking part. I think it’s going to be very tough mentally. I feel that will be the biggest challenge,” says Stephen.

With hard training going on for almost a year now in preparation for “Hell Week” Stephen has been pushing himself beyond the usual limits.

“It’s empowering for me to see the dedication and the hours that he’s putting into it to push the limits, which is great for anyone,” says Carrie.

But both agree that while they have made health a major priority in their lives, they feel that anyone, no matter how busy, can attain the same goals by starting small and staying committed.

“When it’s a priority, you make the time no matter what. Anybody can say they don’t have the time, but you have to find it in your day and a half hour is better than nothing. Once you make exercise part of your lifestyle, everything else changes in your life as well. You will find that you will eat better, sleep better and feel better,” says Carrie.

Sounds like good advice.

Carrie Doll Article 2



Edmonton Eskimos CEO Len Rhodes has opened up his heart and home to providing a service dog for those in need

Photography by Grant Olson

When Len Rhodes took over as President and CEO of the Edmonton Eskimos in 2011, he knew that giving back to the community at large was an essential part of his role. While he has been involved in many philanthropic ventures over the years, including raising money for amateur football, to sitting on various community boards to helping women’s shelters. But one community society in particular has seen Len and his girlfriend Maureen open up their hearts and home for the past two years to help train and love a service dog for someone in need.

Dogs With Wings is a local Edmonton organization that aims to assist people with disabilities by providing fully trained service dogs to people who are have either visually or mobility disabilities, and recently to children with autism as well.

Their puppies, usually yellow or black Labradors, are put through an intense two-year training program for each dog that relies heavily on the good nature of it volunteers to open up their homes, time and energy, and more. Eventually, through the work of foster parents, trainers and community representatives, these dogs become fully graduated to help serve others.

Rhodes was paired with Oakley for the past year in the second stage of her “career” training, where they formed an inseparable bond, spending 24 hours a day together.

“We take her to church, to restaurants and even grocery shopping. It takes twice as long to shop though because of all the people we interact with have so many questions when they see she is a service dog. I think it brings a level of conscientiousness for people to understand that some functions we take for granted, other people rely on an animal to perform certain functions,” said Rhodes.

“You do make a sacrifice, but you have to keep in mind the bigger picture.”

Oakley was being trained to assist someone with a mobility and/or agility challenges and it has been a long but rewarding challenge for all involved. Dogs enter the Puppy Program at eight weeks of age, and are with their puppy raisers until they are approximately 12 months old. During this time, they are taught basic obedience and are exposed to many different situations out in the community. If they have met basic criteria for health, temperament and skill, they enter the Adult Program. The second stage, in which Rhodes was involved with, lasts another six to eight months during which time they perfect their obedience and learn many specific skills useful later on.

“When Oakley has her coat on, she knows she’s on duty, but it’s also very important at the end of their assignment to let them be loose and just be a regular dog. When they are done working, you say the word ‘release’ and she knows then she can just have fun and be like any other dog. But these dogs carry tremendous responsibilities on their shoulders, and they are well trained to do so,” said Rhodes.

Oakley was just recently paired with a woman in a wheelchair. And while it was hard to say goodbye, he knew that was what he, Oakley and more had been working towards.

“You have to love animals and you have to love people. Because at the end of the day that will be tested – your love for the dog and the fact that you know you won’t have that dog forever. You do make a sacrifice, but you have to keep in mind the bigger picture. You can’t be selfish, so you have to let the dog go to help someone who is in need of that help,” says Rhodes.

His love for animals also saw him recently involved with the Edmonton Humane Society’s Pets in the Park event, where Len and Maureen helped raise $19,000 towards the society.

“We take her to church, to restaurants and even grocery shopping.”

But giving back to the community is something that Rhodes says just seems to come naturally to him and that it’s something he has always believed in and something he helps pass on to other Eskimo players and staff.

“I feel it’s very natural for me and part of my calling in life. Yes, I do what I do for a living, but in being part of a community owned football team there’s an understanding that we should do more in the community. Yes, we play football, but when I took this role I understood there was much to it than football and doing this was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life.”

To learn more about Dogs With Wings and how you can help, visit




Dancing into the heart of Ellen and 30 million more, Taylor Hatala is taking the world by storm

Taylor Article Cover-1
Photography by Sean Williams. Shot on location at Kore Dance Studios

Taylor Hatala is just like every other 11-year-old girl. She still loves playing with Barbie;s and her little sister Reese, going to school and birthday parties, shopping and hanging out with friends. Like every other tween girl that is, until the music starts pumping and all of a sudden a superstar in the making shines through. With lightening fast and unique Hip-Hop moves, Taylor transforms from a quiet, polite youngster to a girl possessed by urban beats and rhythms, and most of all, pure happiness.

Taylor and her sister Reese show off some of their dance moves.
Taylor and her sister Reese show off some of their dance moves.

And that love for dance and music has caught the world by storm. Within the last few months, the Sherwood Park student has gone from being loved by family and friends, to being loved by tens of millions of people after a video of Taylor dancing to Annaconda went viral.

Within minutes of the video being uploaded to Youtube (now at almost 12 million views), father Chad says that he got a call from Taylor’s choreographer and mentor Alex Chung, who said that social media was starting to explode. They agreed to meet to discuss the sudden explosion, and Alex told Chad that he wouldn’t be surprised if The Ellen DeGeneres Show called.

“Within 30 seconds of Alex saying that, we got an email from Ellen. It was unbelievable. And within 24 hours, every major talk show in the States had contacted us,” says Chad.

Since then, Taylor’s total views for her videos have reached almost 30 million worldwide and growing by the day, with non-stop requests for interviews, appearances, proposals for TV show auditions, music videos and more, proving that she is more than just a viral sensation.

“It still feels like I am dreaming. It just doesn’t seem and feel like real life,” says Taylor about her sudden success. “I came home from the Ellen trip and everyone was so supportive. My whole class held this huge party for me and I think it just hit me then,” she adds.

“It still feels like I am dreaming. It just doesn’t seem and feel like real life.”

“I was super nervous, but also very excited, so it was a big mixture of emotions,” Taylor says of her Ellen appearance. “But I knew this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I just wanted to enjoy myself. Then all my nerves went away when the crowd started dancing.”

Taylor Article-1Having tried out sports like soccer and horseback riding, Taylor says she “just wasn’t any good at any of them.” Her mom Theresa was already a trained dancer, so her parents suggested that she take it up too.

“It came very naturally for me. At first I really liked it, then I loved it, and then I couldn’t live without it!” says Taylor. While she started with more of the classical dance genres, she discovered her love for Hip-Hop dancing around age six.

“When I started Hip-Hop, it just felt different and it made me want to dance even more than I did before. It just brings out something in me like nothing in this world does,” says Taylor.

After the first Ellen appearance, Taylor has launched her own YouTube Channel and calls have come in to try out for a new Nickelodeon series, various music videos, a YTV dance tutorial, a spot at The Pulse Teacher Workshop, appearances on television shows across Canada and the US, as well as a second appearance on Ellen in mid-December, in which the host admired how Taylor’s first appearance on her show had already received more than eight million views.

“I feel so grateful and thankful fir the people around me.”

Taylor is also broadening her entertainment talents by taking on acting and singing classes, as the Hatalas have realized from their time in LA that producers are always looking for that “triple threat” of someone who can sing, act and dance.

But all of this success wouldn’t be possible without all of Taylor’s hard work (with minimum practice of four hours a day, seven days a week and weekly trips to Los Angeles) and the support she has from her family, friends, fellow dancers, choreographers and more.

“I feel so grateful and thankful for the people around me. If I didn’t have those people around me make those great videos happen or to support me, then I wouldn’t have the exposure that I do,” says Taylor.

She also adds that there are many people in the world who inspire her to follow her dreams.

“It’s seeing all the other [dance] students and choreographers that are so motivated too, that it just pushes me. But even if it’s an artist or a singer, when I see how passionate they are about their craft, then that inspires me to reach the heights that they have,” she says.

As for what’s next for Taylor and family?

“I’m just really excited and curious,” says Taylor. “But I remember we were walking down a street in LA and there was a fortune teller. My mom asked me if I wanted to go inside and I said ‘nope.’ I just want to leave the future to do its own thing and not know what the future holds.”

Taylor Article-2




Edmonton’s river valley plays host to the season finale of Red Bull’s Crashed Ice

Imagine hurtling down an urban ice track weaving through the streets of downtown Edmonton and the river valley at breakneck speeds of over 60 kilometres an hour while thousands cheer as you fly by, knowing that one wrong move could send you into a glorious crash… Well, you don’t have to just imagine, as The City of Edmonton and Red Bull have teamed up to bring the grand finale of the 2015 Red Bull Crashed Ice to our city on March 14, and you may even get the chance to take part!

crashed ice3

Ice cross downhill (or downhill ice cross), involves direct competitive downhill skating at extreme speeds on a walled track featuring sharp turns and high vertical drops. A combination of hockey, bordercross and downhill skiing, only the toughest and fasters skaters from around the world shine in this extreme sport. Entering its 15th year of competition, ice cross downhill is recognized as one of the most unique and challenging sport of its kind, as well as the fastest sport on skates.

Since the first-ever race back in 2001, Red Bull Crashed Ice has developed into one of the world’s most breathtaking winter sports events. Riders hurtle down courses up to 600 metres in length in groups of four, shoulder to shoulder, as they fight it out for victory. The whole race is held on a steep downhill track dotted with chicanes, jumps and rollers. Pushing, sliding and sprinting are all on the agenda as the athletes race down the course, but the rules are very simple: first to the bottom wins.

“Hosting major international events during the winter helps us share our passion for winter and show the world that Edmonton is a prime winter destination. Red Bull Crashed Ice aligns extremely well with the Edmonton Winter City Strategy and is yet another reason for Edmontonians to embrace winter, and our northern heritage. This event is going to transform downtown and bring excitement to an area that is growing and becoming more vibrant,” says James Jackson of Edmonton Tourism.

Red Bull says that bringing Crashed Ice to the city of Edmonton is an exciting end to the 2015 season. The season finale stop is consistently renowned as the most iconic of the circuit and Edmonton’s will feature the longest track of the entire 2015 season. Other stops prior to Edmonton include: Saint Paul, Minnesota (Jan. 24);  Helsinki, Finland (Feb. 7); and Belfast, Northern Ireland (Feb. 21).

“As the sport of Ice Cross Downhill grows, it’s very exciting to expose Red Bull Crashed Ice to a new audience in Western Canada,” says Christian Papillon, Ice Cross Downhill Sport Director. “The city offers a perfect urban backdrop. I can tell you that Edmonton’s final showdown will have the most impressive and challenging track of the season.”

As the event is completely free to attend, organizers expect tens of thousands of people from all over the world to come and enjoy Crashed Ice and the general party atmosphere of downtown during this world-class event.

“In Quebec City last year, they saw roughly 100,000 people come to enjoy Red Bull Crashed Ice. I have a feeling Edmontonians will come through with flying colours,” says Jackson, adding that past Red Bull Crashed Ice events have brought in significant and positive economic impacts for previous host cities.

“This event is going to transform downtown.”

“Red Bull Crashed Ice, and all the other incredible sport and cultural events our community hosts have already put us on the map. We have a historic and well respected history of ice hockey and hospitality, not to mention a renowned event hosting capacity.” said Jackson.

Even though competitors come from around the world for Red Bull Crashed Ice, fearless local male and female athletes also have a chance to participate. If you feel like you have the right mix of strength, speed, stamina and courage, then Red Bull is inviting 200 male and 20 female athletes per qualifying city to participate in the Edmonton qualifier on January 31 (registration closes Jan. 23). If more than 200 men and 20 women register, then a lottery will be held to see who will be randomly selected for time trials.

As for the “professionals” competing in Edmonton, two Canadian athletes currently hold top 10 spots in the sport of Ice Cross Downhill. Scott Croxall (Ontario) sits at second place, trailing only Marco Dallago of Austria. Scott’s older brother, Kyle, a resident of Calgary, currently sits in ninth place overall and will have the coveted opportunity to battle on his home turf this season.

“Edmonton’s final showdown will have the most impressive and challenging track of the season.”

According to Red Bull, they are expecting the event to be one of the best yet in the history of the sport.

“Edmonton has a longstanding history of hosting world-class sport and culture events. From festivals to outdoor recreation, Edmonton residents come out in the thousands as spectators and volunteers to support major events. The city is a prime winter destination in Canada, with a population that truly embraces the winter season,” says Emily Palley-Samson of Red Bull Canada.

Closer to the March 14, further event information and broadcast details will be released. For more information, or to register as a participant, visit




Olympic Gold Medalist on HER NEW LIFE BEYOND SKATING.

Photography by Sean Williams
Photography by Sean Williams

Jamie Salé is still bewildered that Edmontonians seem shocked to see the Olympic gold medailst and Canadian figure skating icon strolling

along the grocery aisles with her two children. “What are you doing here?” is the usual question from admiring fans.

“I’m just normal like everyone else. I think because most peopel have only seen me on TV or in a magazine that I am somehow dffierent.

But I have the same challenges, busy schedules, work and family just like everyone else,” said Jamie.

But people may be forgiven for looking at her differently, given she has been in the Canadian and international spotlight for most of her life.

That spotlight has changed these days from TV cameras and Olympic judges to the glowing admiration of her husband Craig, two children, Jessie (7) and Samantha (1), stepchildren, various charities and business associates, and she couldn’t be happier spending time with family over spending every minute at the rink.

Skating Glory

With an early love for figure skating as a child in Edmonton, Jamie turned that passion into hard work and was immediately recognized as a unique talent by coaches and scouts. By age 16, Jamie was already securing novice bronze and 8th place in junior ladies at the Canadian Championships as a singles skater.

But her real success on the ice began when she tried pairs skating, first with Jason Turner (placing 12th at 1994 Winter Olympics) and then with her future first husband several years later. While Jamie did return to singles skating in 1995, eventually a 1998 skate with David Pelletier blossomed into a successful career and a marriage several years later.

The pair were so successful that before they stopped competing internationally, they had won a gold medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics, and placed first in the World Championships, Four Continents Championships, Canadian Championships, Grand Prix Final, Skate America, Skate Canada International and the Canadian Open. The pair has since been inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame and the Skate Canada Hall of Fame.

“I started skating when I was three and I really loved it. I did it as long as I could and got more back from it than I ever thought I could,” said Jamie. “When I was a little girl, I dreamed of going to the Olympics like Elizabeth Manley, and to make it years later was more than I could ever ask for.”

“I always loved skating, but eventually I started to see it as a job.”

Family Life

After the Olympics, Jamie and David began touring with Stars on Ice, but the eventual birth of her first son Jessie in 2007 began to change priorities in her life as the travel and training schedule took a toll on family time. A few years later, David and Jamie had separated, and eventually divorced in 2010, but have remained the best of friends. Jamie remarried in 2012 to retired NHL star and current sports commentator Craig Simpson and shortly after their marriage, Jamie gave birth to her second child, Samantha. Craig also has three children from his first marriage.

“The dynamics between all us adults is just amazing. David is so incredibly helpful with Jessie, and we even just all went horseback riding for Jessie’s birthday. We are still one big buddy family,” said Jamie.

And with the birth of a second child comes twice as many parental responsibilities, schedules, and of course, sports.

“[Jessie] has no interest in figure skating, he wants to be a hockey goalie,” said Jamie, adding that she lets him follow his interests and doesn’t impart her love for figure skating on him.

“We try to have him in two things per season. We feel it’s important to have him immersed in different things. And not just sports but also music, which we feel is great for kids to balance their body and mind,” said Jamie.

Jamie Salé and future husband Craig Simpson competing in Battle of the Blades.  Photo courtesy of CBC.
Jamie Salé and future husband Craig Simpson competing in Battle of the Blades. Photo courtesy of CBC.

Lessons from Sports

Even though Jamie is sure she made the right decision to retire in 2012 after a glory-filled competitive career, tour with Stars on Ice and successful seasons on CBC’s Battle of the Blades as a competitor and judge, Jamie said she learned a lot of lessons on life, diet and exercise from her sports career.

“I always loved skating, but eventually I started to see it as a job, so I Skyped Craig from South Korea and said I was done. Maybe one day I will work as a [skating] consultant, but I won’t spend seven to 12 hours a day at a rink anymore,” said Jamie.

With that freedom, Jamie is very content to be a doting mom, philanthropist, Alberta Special Olympics Board member, shareholder in Glow Juicery and is even involved in husband Craig’s wine distribution business, Simmer Fine Wines.

“Sports teach us so much about life. The challenges you face, the discipline, the perseverance and even the winning and losing,” said Jamie.

She does has some caution for parents who push their children too hard: “I get a lot of parents who want me to talk to their kids because their kids don’t want to be at the rink. I always tell them that they shouldn’t be there then. Let them do it because they love it, and then just nurture, support and encourage them. If they don’t want to do it, don’t make them. And if they do, just sit back and enjoy watching them, don’t try to coach them,” she said.

But it wasn’t just life lessons Jamie learned from her successful career, she also learned a lot about diet and the need for exercise.

“I have never had any kind of an eating disorder, and I have seen how that can affect some people. I figured if I was working out and skating, I needed fuel. I always just tried to follow the zone diet, that includes smaller meals and proteins, good fats and non-complex carbs. I used to tell Dave [Pellitier] that I will never be the skinniest girl, but I will be the strongest,” said Jamie.

“After I retired I cut back to two meals a day, but I wasn’t losing any weight. So I went back to five smaller meals a day. I might have a container of quinoa, chickpeas, carrots and cabbage and I will pick at that all day until dinner, and then I might have a smoothie, eggs and bacon for breakfast. I don’t really worry about diet, even with the kids, as long as it’s balanced,” she said.

Keeping Fit

Sale003And just because Jamie is “retired” is certainly doesn’t mean she has retired from keeping fit, despite a hectic family and life schedule.

“I found that I need ‘Jamie time’ whether that is working out, yoga or meditating,” she said.

That ‘Jamie time’ includes working out five days a week with Barre Body Studio on Mondays and Thursdays, Orangetheory on Tuesdays and Fridays and yoga or another low-impact sport on Wednesdays. Jamie said she loves the low-impact and “kick-ass” sculpting nature of Barre, but also loves the intensity of Orangetheory.

“We all keep walking out of there saying how to tough it was today, like we are expecting a light day, but then I realized they don’t have any light days. We are burning calories and sweating hard every time,” said Jamie.


“Right now I am really just enjoying giving back to the community. When I was skating, I was always asked to help great charities but I never had the time due to my hectic training and travel schedule,” said Jamie.

As for her own personal future, Jamie said she is in a really happy place these days and may look at possibly helping consult on the odd skating routine, but for now she is just enjoying the extra family time and the bright future.

“I’m a very positive person. I have surrounded myself with great people who encourage me and inspire me so I feel so blessed to be near so many wonderful people.”


Favourite Movie: The Notebook

Favourite Book: The Inner Athlete

Favourite TV Show: Modern Family

Favourite Band/Music: Anything 80s

Favourite Food: Sushi

Favourite Sinful Food: Cinnabon



When it comes to sports and community involvement, CTV Chief Meteorologist Josh Classen and family epitomize team spirit

Photography by Walter Tychnowicz
Photography by Walter Tychnowicz

Growing up in Lloydminster, Josh Classen found an early love for broadcasting. Already a regular at the local rinks as an aspiring NHL goaltender, Classen filled his off-ice time by announcing his younger brother’s hockey games. That passion for sports and communication has grown into a successful television career and has fueled important life lessons that he and his wife are passing on to their three children.

As the chief meteorologist for CTV Edmonton for the past several years, Classen has become one of Edmonton’s most trusted weather gurus, a champion for dozens of charities and a proud husband and father. But Edmonton was almost robbed of his weather expertise and could have seen him as the voice of the Oilers or Eskimos, as a career in sports broadcasting was his intended career choice.

“I actually fell backwards into weather. I went to NAIT wanting to become a sportscaster but got a weather job first,” said Josh.

Although he aimed for a sports position at the local station in Lloydminster, the job ended up being given to Adam Cook, the current sports director at CTV Edmonton. “After a week of doing the weather at CKSA-TV in Lloydminster I was hooked. I was horrible… but I loved it. I was told that when [Adam] left that I could have the sports job. He left, but by then, I loved weather too much to switch to sports,” said Josh.

And it wasn’t long before his fascination for weather forecasting grew, guided in part by influences from stalwarts at Environment Canada.

“When I moved to Saskatoon, I lived a couple blocks away from the Environment Canada offices. I would stop in and visit with Bob Cormier, Wayne Miskolczi, Larry Flysack and the rest of the crew. Those guys taught me as much as three years at MSU [Mississippi State University Broadcast Meteorology Program] and that helped generate a real interest in the science of forecasting,” said Josh.

Even though Classen did develop a successful passion for weather, he never lost his love for sports. While he had dreams of becoming an NHL goalie, the chance never came, but he always appreciated the effort of his parents, which he and his wife Kristin mimics today with their own children’s hectic schedules.

“I can’t begin to imagine how much time and money my parents must’ve sacrificed to help me become a so-so beer league goaltender, not to mention the stress of having a goalie for a son! There is a special place in heaven for the parents of goalies,” said Josh.

Along with a love for weather and sports, a chance meeting at a fashion event Classen was emceeing in Saskatoon resulted in another love—that of his future wife Kristin.

“Kristin and her girlfriend were attending to show support for her friend’s sister. I remember turning to my co-emcee and saying, “I love that woman!” My co-emcee rolled her eyes… but it really was love at first sight for me. It took Kristin a little bit longer to fall for me!

A conversation briefly after the fashion show resulted in the discovery that Josh knew Kristin’s older brother and that they would both be attending a mutual friend’s wedding later that summer. They reconnected shortly before that wedding and the rest is history as they say.

Fast forward several years and now the Classens have three wonderful boys: Oaklan, Pryor and Beckett, all of which are now heavily involved and passionate about various sports of their own. But with that comes an ever-growing hectic schedule for the Classens, given Josh and Kristin’s busy work schedules and charitable events, combined with several sports and conflicting games and practices for the children.

Classen001All three boys are in swimming, golf and rock climbing. Oaklin trains with the St Albert Olympians Swim Club, Pryor is on the track team at school, Beckett plays hockey and tennis. As well mom Kristin takes Sculpt-Barre classes several times a week while Josh plays hockey twice a week.

But how do they manage all those various commitments?

“Hand-written daytimers are essential!  To be honest… we don’t know anything different [from other parents.] We’ve learned to be satisfied with doing the best we can and not beating ourselves up over things that can’t get done. We’re a team and support each other the best we can,” said Josh.

Despite scheduling challenges, both Josh and his wife are happy to be run ragged due to their belief that sports for their children are essential building blocks in their development into young men.

Classen002“Sports teaches so many valuable lessons to children. We don’t expect any of them to turn pro. But we do want them to learn how to work with others, how to push themselves, how to win and lose, how to listen to instruction, how to lead and follow. We want them to be healthy and hopefully, sports keeps them out of trouble!”

“Watching them enjoy themselves is great. But the best part is the feeling that we’re actually doing something that will help turn these three great boys into responsible, successful men,” said Josh.

“Sports teaches so many valuable lessons to children.”

But the lessons taught in organized sports are not the only values being taught to the kids as community involvement and charity is also a big part of the Classen household.

One of his great local charity successes in Edmonton is the creation of Hats for Homeless: a program that donated toques to homeless shelters in Edmonton for five years. What started as a way for Josh to wear goofy hats on the air has resulted in an overflow of toques, so much so that he is looking to create a new community initiative.

Josh has also been involved with the Stollery Children’s Hospital, the Alberta Diabetes Foundation, the Canadian Breast Cancer CIBC Run For the Cure, the Excel Society and much more.

 “We were just raised knowing that there’s a value and joy in helping others. I also realize that we’re pretty lucky to be in the position we’re in. There’s a responsibility that comes with the job I have and I’m happy to do all I can to help as many people and organizations as possible,” said Josh.




According to 84-year-old Del Dilkie, age is just a number

Photography by Sean Williams On Location: Royal Glenora Club

When Del Dilkie was 73 years young, she was already exceeding societal expectations of fitness for a senior citizen with a daily fitness regime that would challenge most in their 30s. Not seeing the results she would have liked, Del decided to up the ante on the advice of her instructor and start training for competitive bodybuilding. Did I mention she was 73 at the time?

What followed was intense weight training, three trophies and many heads turned at competitions. But such is the discipline and passion for health and exercise that has fuelled Del’s desire to live life to the fullest and smash expectations.

Looking back 10 years ago (Del turns 84 on November 17) she wonders how she managed to compete successfully in bodybuilding for several years when the rest of her competitors were in their 20s, 30s, or at most, in their 40s.

“I know that without exercise, I would feel so much older.”

“They looked at me like I had two heads at first, and were very surprised, but everyone was so proud of me also,” she says. “But those years made me realize that you have to work hard to get healthy. It takes lots of discipline, diet and dedication.”

Del’s journey into a lifetime of fitness began much earlier in her 30s, when she began do visit health spas in the U.S. due to a lack of suitable facilities in Canada, and immediately she became hooked on health.

“I would go for a week to 10 days and come out six to eight pounds lighter, and I just couldn’t believe the results,” she says.

Ever since then, Del has made exercise a daily part of her routine, but has also managed to be a successful business owner both in Edmonton and abroad.

Del when she was competing in body building.
Del when she was competing in body building.

In her 40s, she opened Del’s on 9th Fashionable Finds, a unique discount store for women that carried designer fashions, both new and consigned, which she owned and operated for more than 30 years before retiring in 2008.

“My body is used to exercise now, so when I do take a day off, my body cries to get back into it.”

Several years later, she took her love for business and exercise abroad and opened up a gym in Guayabitos, Mexico, even though she was told it would never happen.

“When I was there, I couldn’t find a place to work out so I looked around to open my own gym. People said it couldn’t be done, but that just made me more determined. So, I went to the local mayor and the bank manager and within four years that goal became a reality.”

But those who know Del will tell you that nothing she does surprises them, as she has more drive and energy than people half her age.

As an example, her daily/weekly exercise regime consists of a minimum on one hour per day on her own doing 20 minutes on the treadmill, 15 minutes on a yoga ball, and various other exercises including weights, squats, lunges and more and tries to finish each routine with a dip in the pool for some aquacise. Del also trains twice a week with a personal trainer at the YMCA to make sure she maintains proper technique and variety.

“He really keeps on changing my routine almost daily to keep me interested. My body is used to exercise now, so when I do take a day off, my body cries to get back into it,” says Del.

But what keeps her so motivated at her age, when many others are doing much less?

“I do it because I care about myself, first and foremost, but also because I feel much better. It has nothing to do with age, because age is just a number. I know that without exercise, I would feel so much older. But with exercise, I feel so good. I say a little prayer before bed because I have a lot to be thankful for.”



After a tough life, Dianna Bowes creates an empire of empowerment for women

Fab@50Growing and learning from life’s challenges is something we all strive to accomplish. But for Edmonton native Dianna Bowes, she didn’t just learn and grown from life’s many curveballs, instead she took out a proverbial Louisville Slugger and became an All-Star.

After enduring a lifetime of heartache, health challenges that included a spinal tumor, divorce and more, she decided one day to take that negative energy and look at what she could offer the world instead.

“I wish I could say I was inspired by positive things, but the truth is I have learned more from the negatives in the world and in people than the rainbows. When my marriage ended, I dove into a personal development course that rocked my world and made sense of everything I had gone through and shifted my belief system about myself and the world around me. I realized that I had some valuable gifts and I wanted to support other women to find theirs,” says Dianna.

That new belief system, and lessons learned from her grandmother, inspired her to recognize what 40-something and 50-something baby boomer women were missing: the opportunity to connect, have fun, learn and be inspired. No longer satisfied with the limited networking options available, Bowes decided to create Fabulous @50, a community network dedicated to helping women from all walks of life rediscover their passion… whatever that may be.

“Women in mid-age in today’s society are in a great place. We are wiser, wealthier and healthier and have more opportunities than in any other time. This is a time to grasp that freedom and start to fulfill the dreams we may have put on hold for later,” says Dianna.

“In any situation, we can choose to be better or bitter”

Not content with just creating a new network for women, Dianna also created a trade show called the Fabulous @50 Experience and Martini Party, featuring entertainment, inspirational speakers and even shopping. She also began publishing Be Fabulous magazine in Edmonton to give baby boomer women even more empowering information.

Thanks to all her great work in the community, Dianna was awarded the 2011 YWCA Women of Distinction Turning Point Award. “Winning this award was very surreal for me. I was not a great student, never went to university or did anything extraordinary, so to be nominated and win this award really made me feel that I was on the right track,” says Dianna.

With plans now to expand the Fabulous @50 brand across Canada and the U.S. over the next two years, the future seems even brighter for Dianna, despite her tough past.

“I believe there is a gift in everything, good or what we think of as bad. In any situation, we can choose to be better or bitter, and I guess you know what I choose. Always growing…” 

To find out more about Fabulous @50, visit

celebrity wellnessference
Photography by Grant Olson

As the NHL free trade deadline neared in July 2013, Andrew Ference was a hot commodity for teams looking to add experience and grit. After helping the Boston Bruins win the Stanley Cup against the Vancouver Canucks in 2011, and career high goals the following season, teams were lining up for the talented defenceman.

“Like most people, if you love your job you will excel at it.”

Along came the Oilers with an offer he couldn’t refuse, and within months his toughness and leadership abilities were recognized and he was quickly named as the 14th captain in the Oilers history, after such greats like Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Doug Weight and Glen Sather.

“Both my wife and I were born in Edmonton, and we grew up here [in Sherwood Park] so we knew it would be a comfortable city to slide back into for us. I also had a ton of hometown pride too,” said Ference.

As with many Oilers’ captains before him, giving back to the community was something Oilers leadership looked for in their captain. Thankfully Ference already had a long and storied history of becoming involved in the community beyond his hockey talents. Ference’s association with noted environmentalist David Suzuki while playing for the Calgary Flames between 2002 and 2004 led him to create a carbon-neutral program for the NHL. The program now includes over 500 players who purchase carbon offset credits to counteract the negative environmental impact of professional sports.  

In February 2012, National Geographic began a 10-episode Web series called Beyond the Puck, highlighting Andrew’s life as a NHL Player and “eco-warrior.”

One of his first tasks after arriving in Edmonton was to bring the November Project to the city. The “Project” is a free fitness movement that was born in Boston as a way to stay in shape during cold New England months. Now present in 15 cities across four time zones in North America, the movement is using a simple sense of accountability to motivate and encourage people of all ages, shapes, sizes and fitness levels to get out of their beds and get moving.

“I was running stairs at Harvard Stadium on my own. I had a friend in Boston and he knew that I was always running, so he suggested I give it a try to run with other people because running is a mental challenge and it’s easier with other people around. So I went out with this group and never stopped,” said Ference.

In its most simplistic form, the November Project encourages people to meet in the early morning (6 am in Edmonton) in various locations three times a week to run, hit stairs, and other physical activities early in the morning. After the trade, Ference was the first person to introduce the November Project to a Canadian city, and said he would love to see it expand to other Canadian cities.

“The November Project was a big part of my life in Boston, for two reasons: for the friends that I made and the people that I met, and because it was such a great initiative for the community as well. I didn’t want to lose that, selfishly for myself, but it also made so much sense to bring it to a Canadian city,” said Ference.

He adds that several people in other Canadian cities are attempting to expand the project, but that it does take a solid group of people willing to get up at 5 am and hit some stairs.

celebrity wellnessference_3

“Mixing it up for me keeps it interesting, so it doesn’t feel like such a grind.”

And all that community involvement has recently been recognized in this year’s NHL Awards. On June 24, Ference was the recipient of the King Clancy Memorial Trophy. This annual award, given by NHL writers and broadcasters, is given to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.

Despite an already grueling hockey training schedule, Ference said he thrives on the diversity of different training exercises beyond the rink.

“Being fit is my job. Like most people, if you love your job you will excel at it. I really enjoy being active and the challenge of trying to do something better than you have before,” said Ference.

Even in the off-season months, Ference takes his fitness regime seriously. A typical day can start with the November Project at 6 am, followed by a quick break at home to have breakfast and get his children off to school. He then heads off to his “hockey-related” exercise with Oilers’ trainers, which can include strength training, speed work and sprint work. The day can also include training from corporate trainers Body by Bennett, based out of Edmonton, as well as ice training up to five days a week as the NHL season nears. 

Being very goal orientated, Ference has kept track of his data, even as far as 10 years back, to track his progress and ensure he is improving his fitness and setting new goals. But that also includes keeping track of his other “leisure” sports including cycling, cross-country running, volleyball and more.

“Mixing it up for me kcelebrity wellnessference_4eeps it interesting, so it doesn’t feel like such a grind. I really look forward to different days and weeks because I always mix it up. It’s kind of like that old adage of playing different sports makes you the best in your chosen sport,” said Ference.

Diet is also a big part of Ference’s healthy lifestyle. He watches his calories closely and avoids sugary energy drinks, excess alcohol and junk food. “Instead of drinking an energy drink, I will take some algae supplements instead,” he said.

Having a higher level of fitness than most is something Ference feels gives him an advantage against others playing in the NHL, and he thrives on working harder than anyone else.

“The training was my edge when I came into the league. I was able to come into a camp and blow some old-school guys out of the water with my fitness testing and that separates you from the group and gets your foot in the door. Now everyone is working out lots, and they may be in shape, but might not be eating or sleeping properly,” said Ference.

“The longer the game goes, the happier I am. Sometimes in double overtime you can see some guys on the other team struggling. You can almost smell blood. When you know you have that physical edge it also gives you that mental edge too,” he added.

If he wasn’t playing professional hockey, Ference said he would have likely followed in mother’s footsteps in the medical field, as school was always important in the Ference household.

“I’ve always had a plan outside of hockey, just in case I didn’t make it or got hurt. So I would probably be working in sports medicine,” said Ference.

As a child growing up in Sherwood Park, hockey was only one of many sports Ference participated in.

“I am totally against parents that put their kids into hockey all year round.”

“Growing up I played lacrosse, rugby, cross-country, basketball, volleyball and more. My parents didn’t just put me in hockey, and it’s the same for me now. Just because I am playing more hockey now, it doesn’t stop me from playing those other sports,” he adds.

And he has that same advice for parents of would-be future NHL stars.

Vancouver Canucks v Edmonton Oilers
Photo by Andy Devlin/Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club

“I am totally against parents that put their kids into hockey all year round and all they ever have their kids doing is hockey, hockey, hockey. How can you love something if that is all you do? It becomes repetitive and it becomes hard to get excited about it. A very small portion of people will ever make money from playing sports, so at the end of the day, parents need to remember what the goals of sports are—it’s about goal setting, overcoming obstacles, being tired and gritting your teeth, and that good feeling about accomplishing something,” said Ference.

As for those who believe they may have a shot in the NHL or in any sport, Ference said it is all about mental toughness.

“The guys that work just as hard or harder when the trainer is not around to bark orders at them have that trait to succeed. I have seen many guys who were not the most skilled, but they made it because of a tougher mental edge,” said Ference.

To find out more about the November Project visit

Photography credit: Cedric Angeles

Celebrity Chef Marc Murphy takes his lessons from life to educate Edmontonians on real food and the dangers of convenience

Marc Murphy thinks Canadians can do better. That’s not to say he doesn’t like Canadians. In fact, he thinks we are better (but not much) than his fellow U.S. citizens when it comes to his biggest pet peeves: processed foods and the absence of balanced, healthy diets in North America. And now he is on a crusade to fix that.

As a regular judge on the Food Network’s Chopped, guest on Iron Chef America, Martha Stewart and more, this executive chef, restaurateur and television personality knows a few things about food and what we should is or should not be eating. But his desire for healthier masses comes from a love of food, good health, and general well-being: he aims to educate, not berate. 


Murphy, the son of a globetrotting diplomat, has lived all over the world as a boy in cities such as Milan, Paris, Rome, Genoa and Washington DC, all before the age of 12, which he says served as an excellent education in French and Italian cooking. Murphy has also attributed his cooking influences to his mother and grandparents, as he has recounted experiences of enjoying leg of lamb and ratatouille in the south of France. He has also credited renowned French chef Jean-Louis Palladin’s first cookbook for having the biggest impact on him.

While Murphy always loved eating and preparing food at home with his family, he never really desired to become a chef like his older brother, who had enrolled in culinary school. After a few odd jobs, such as residential and commercial painting, Murphy finally saw the light and worked towards a career in culinary arts. Shortly after, he attended school at The Institute of Culinary Education and started as a line cook at Prix Fixe in New York.

But his love and talent for food grew and by the mid 1990s, he was a sous-chef at Layla in New York and in 1996 became the executive chef at Cellar in the Sky, also in New York. After reaching executive status, Murphy began to set his sights on more personal entrepreneurial ventures.

From 1997 to 2000, he was the co-owner and executive chef of La Fourchette. In 2000, he also became the executive chef at Chinoiserie as well as the partner and co-owner of Le Couteau, both of which are in New York.



Word of Murphy’s talents reached far and wide in New York very quickly and in March 2004, he opened Landmarc Restaurant to great success with his wife Pamela Schein in TriBeCa, New York, where he is also the executive chef. In 2005, he also helped open another restaurant, Ditch Plains. By 2006, he opened his second Landmarc restaurant at the Time Warner Center in New York City, with almost three times the seating capacity of his original Landmarc, with 280 seats.


For those who have never watched the Food Network, Chopped is an American reality based cooking television series hosted by Ted Allen that pits four chefs against each other competing for a chance to win $10,000. In each episode, four chefs are challenged to take a mystery basket of ingredients and turn them into a dish that is judged on their creativity, presentation, and taste with minimal time to plan and execute. Murphy was part of the original season in 2006 and has continued to be a regular judge on the popular show, which has also spun-off into a northern version with Chopped Canada. The popularity of the reality show has helped launch Murphy from a restaurateur into a bona fide celebrity chef, easily recognizable to droves of fans.

During the show, the chefs must cook their dishes and complete four platings (one for each judge plus one “beauty plate”) before time runs out. After each round, the judges critique the dishes based on presentation, taste, and creativity. The judges then decide which chef is “chopped,” that is, eliminated from the competition. Thus, by the dessert round, only two chefs remain. When deciding the winner, the judges consider not only the dessert course, but the entire meal presented by each chef as a whole. Murphy says the biggest mistakes he routinely sees on the show is when chefs panic and change directions too often. His success on Chopped has made him a regular or guest on many other popular shows, including Iron Chef America, another popular reality show.



And while he may seem incredibly busy with running several restaurants, numerous television appearances and more, Murphy is also on a crusade to bring healthier eating to the plates of everyone he meets.

In May, Edmontonians were treated to Murphy’s wisdom as one of the key note speakers at Host Edmonton, an event aimed at the hospitality industry in Edmonton. Murphy spoke about the dangers of processed foods, especially sugar, and how poor government policies and convenient meals full of chemicals are slowing ruining the health of the masses and he warned about the health risks and costs associated with those choices. He also spoke about the growing problem of childhood obesity and how children are bombarded with junk food commercials on TV and lamented the fact that there is twice as many junk food ads on TV as there was six years ago. Murphy also spoke about how we are all responsible for our individual food choices, but decried the lack of support by U.S. and Canadian government and their move towards larger industrial farming as opposed to smaller, organic farming. But rather than complain, he suggested that North American governments could look to other European countries, such as Switzerland, where there is a big push to promote local farming.

As he spoke at length about the dangers of convenient foods, junk food, the lack of grass-fed beef and the dangers of corn-syrup and its encroachment into many foods, you could tell that he was passionate about his crusade for a healthier population. “If I change the minds of a few people here today to change the way they look at food, or change what they give their children, then I consider that a victory,” said Murphy. 



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