Perhaps I’m a little biased, but I really do think that the team at adidas Canada has done a wonderful job selecting four different hard-working, inspirational and beautiful women to represent their #HereToCreate program in Canada. I definitely feel very lucky to be one of them, and it’s been a pleasure to get to know my fellow adidas ambassadors, Christian Menssen, Jessica Mulroney and Catriona Smart since the launch of the program in Toronto in May 2016. With our hectic schedules, it can be hard to find time for more than just a quick catch up before and after the free weekly workout at Totum Fitness on Thursday nights (or keeping tabs on what everyone’s up to via Instagram and Snapchat) and for this reason, I wanted to feature each of these amazing women in a Q&A to help us all get to know them a little better. First up, Christian Menssen aka The Athletarian!
Name: Christina Menssen
Occupation: Teacher + Blogger
GC: As ‘The Athletarian’ you are an athlete and a vegetarian. Have you always been an athlete and a vegetarian?
CM: No! Definitely not! I hated athletics as a child and teenager. I was always the one making up excuses to get out of running around or playing any sports. I didn’t start exercising until university when I decided to kill some time at the track between classes one day. I never looked back! I also haven’t always been a vegetarian. I grew up eating everything but made the diet change about 10 years ago. I love it and feel amazing!
GC: Do you have any nutritional tips or advice for vegetarians who want to train like an athlete?
CM: Fuel your body with the right foods! It’s easy to fall into the “I’m a vegetarian so that means I’m healthy” trap. But it’s just as easy to eat poorly when you are a vegetarian. Try to stick to whole, nutritious foods that will give your body the energy that it needs to get through your workouts.
GC: How do you incorporate fitness into your lifestyle?
CM: I like to race a lot so I follow a lot of training programs that have me running about five times a week. Since I work Monday through Friday, I am either up at 5am to get my run in beforehand OR if I can’t get up that early (happens a lot more often that I’d like), I will run in the evening. I am currently attending Julian Ho’s fitness classes as well so I am at Totem Life on Thursday nights getting my sweat on with some fabulous ladies!
GC: What kind of workouts do you enjoy most and how often do you do them?
CM: Running is my #1 and like I said, I usually run 5 times a week. I try to do some sort of strength work and cross training 1-2 times a week as well. It makes me a stronger runner and helps to keep me injury-free.
GC: When did you first begin sharing your fitness journey online? Why?
CM: I started blogging in back 2012…it’s been a long time! I originally started because I wanted to keep an online journal of my training and thought it would help keep me accountable if it was public. People actually started to read it (still shocking to me!) and I’ve received so much support ever since.
GC: What is your blog (and social media) all about?
CM: You’ll find a little bit of everything on my accounts! Running (obviously), races, product reviews, food, athletic wear, and I try to include some personal content about my life outside of these things too.
GC: How do you think social media has transformed the way we workout?
CM: Social media is such a great tool when it comes to fitness and workouts. It’s a constant source of motivation and inspiration. I’ve done so many things that I thought I would never do because of the support system I have on social media! After running my first marathon many years ago, I told myself I would never run another one. It was crossed off my bucket list and I didn’t want to experience that pain ever again. Fast forward and here I am, five full marathons behind me. It’s crazy to think that so many people I don’t even know have such a positive influence on me, inspire me to set new goals, and support me along the way.
Social media is also a great way to learn about new workouts and exercises, as well as new fitness classes that are available. People see and hear about how great a workout is and immediately want to try it out for themselves. This is exactly what’s been happening with the adidas #HereToCreate workouts and it’s been amazing to see full classes week after week.
GC: What was your reaction when adidas Canada asked you to be a #HereToCreate ambassador?
CM: I was so taken back and SO excited. I am honoured to be part of such an amazing team and feel so lucky to be able take part in the #HereToCreate movement.
GC: How would you describe Master Trainer, Julian Ho, and his class?
CM: Julian is incredible. He is such a unique individual and I don’t think they could have chosen a better person to lead the program. He is so passionate and intense – you can tell he really loves his job. He challenges me, motivates me, and pushes me to be a better athlete each and every week. His smile and energy are contagious! His classes are tough and effective. We work our entire bodies from beginning to end as Julian puts us through a warm up, intense workout, and cool down. His workouts can be categorized as high intensity interval training meaning there is a lot of work and minimal rest. I personally love these kinds of workouts because they go by insanely fast. There is so much variety and we move through the exercises pretty quickly, leaving less time to think about how much time has passed/how much time is left!! By the end of the workout it’s hard to believe and an hour is already over!
GC: What is one thing that has surprised you most about the #HereToCreate program so far?
CM: It’s a lot harder than I anticipated! This is a good thing though. I am challenged in different ways each week and I love the sore feeling I get in the days following the workout.
GC: What do you say yourself to get you motivated on a day when you just don’t want to workout?
CM: I have a lot of these days. Sometimes the hardest part is just changing into my workout clothes. I always tell myself just to try for 10 minutes. If I still don’t feel like running/working out after 10 minutes then I allow myself to quit. Almost 100% of the time, the endorphins kick in and I end up completing my entire scheduled workout. Mind over matter!
GC: Do you have any mantras to help you keep going when you’re working out and feel like giving up?
CM: A friend of mine uses the mantra, “You’ve Freaking Got This” and as simple as it sounds, it works (so now I use it all the time too!) Whether it’s the final few kilometres of a marathon or the last few reps of a workout, I just tell myself that I’ve got it. I can do anything for x amount of minutes or x amount of reps. I’ve done it before and I know I can do it again, it’s just a matter of pushing through the mental barrier.
GC: When you’re not working out, what do you like to do for fun or to relax?
CM: I am a homebody so nothing sounds more perfect to me than a pair of sweatpants, Netflix and a huge bowl of popcorn! On days that I do manage to venture out of the house, I love to explore new-to-me areas in Toronto. Dining at new restaurants, hanging out with friends, cooking, and shopping (usually for new workout gear) also make the top of my list! It doesn’t take a lot to make me happy!
GC: What is your favourite way to treat yourself after a particularly long or tough workout?
CM: A long, hot shower and a delicious meal!
GC: What is one thing you’d tell someone who is interested in signing up for free #HereToCreate class in Toronto?
CM: Give it a shot! There is no reason why you shouldn’t come. Be ready to get super sweaty and work really hard. It’s not an easy workout but I promise you that the positive energy will get you through. Don’t be intimidated either. Everyone is really welcoming and if there’s an exercise you think you can’t do, Julian always offers modified versions. These workouts are for everybody!
Thank you Christina!!
See you there!