Posts Tagged ‘fitness’

Third Eye Martial Arts Studio

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Empowerment Through Self-Defence

It was “a lightning bolt moment” the first time Mehdi Saadati saw his uncle Master Ebrahim Saadati compete in Taekwondo. Mehdi was seven years old at the time and was instantly hooked; he knew he wanted to get involved in martial arts.

Third Eye Martial Arts Dunbar Master Erahim SaadatiMaster Saadati also began Taekwondo when he was seven. He earned his black belt when he was 12 years old. In 1989, he became a member of the Iranian National A Team and won first place at the International Fajr tournament. He continued to compete at national and international championships and in 1992 won a gold medal at the World Military Championships. In 1994 he won a silver medal at the Asian Games. In 1998 he became the Canadian champion in the welterweight division in Saint John, New Brunswick.

Taekwondo is the second most popular sport in the world (soccer is number one). Taekwondo is well loved because it teaches discipline while building self-confidence and both physical and mental strength. Mehdi points out how empowered students feel when they learn self-defence skills.

Mehdi moved with his family from Tehran to Vancouver in 1993. Master Saadati immigrated two years later. He started teaching Taekwondo at Kerrisdale and Sunset Community Centres in 2000 after he retired from competing. In 2011 the pair joined forces to work together at Third Eye Martial Arts Studio.

Master Saadati is the owner and head master and Mehdi is the general manager and head instructor. He describes Dunbar as “the jewel of the city.” What stands out for him is the strong sense of community; he really enjoys running into students and their families on the street. Although he doesn’t live in Dunbar currently, he has his eye on a condominium that would lighten his commute to a matter of minutes.

The first Third Eye Martial Arts Studio opened at West 8th Avenue (near Hemlock Street) and the large 5,000 square foot space serves as company headquarters. The Dunbar studio opened in 2013.

IMG_6393The smaller Dunbar space is busy seven days a week with over 300 students registered. Youth classes can accommodate 20 students and are taught by three instructors. Adult classes take place weekday evenings and weekends. All classes are co-ed although the demographic is slanted slightly higher towards female students for both kids and adult classes.

“Taekwondo is beneficial for everybody. It is not age dependent. It is something everyone can try.” Mehdi Saadati

Students from ages 3 to 72 attend classes at the Dunbar location as they work their way up from white belt through the rainbow of colours (yellow, green, blue, red) to reach black belt status.

Third Eye Martial Arts Dunbar Mehdi SaadatiMehdi says it’s never too late to begin this sport. He shares the story of a 70-year-old student who earned her black belt; she began at age 66. With admiration in his voice and a big smile he says, “She is the most tenacious woman I have ever met.”

As general manager, Mehdi manages the studios and ensures classes run smoothly. He specializes in teaching kids with special needs and autism; private classes are offered for low functioning students.

“The magic that happens when you make a connection is the most gratifying thing in the world.” Mehdi Saadati

If your child is looking for a kicking good birthday party consider Third Eye’s West 8th location. This is a great chance to introduce a group of kids to martial arts and you don’t have to be a member. Mehdi says many Dunbar families take advantage of these fun parties.

Another popular service is Third Eye’s after school program (also held at the West 8th studio). Instead of leaving your child with a babysitter or staying home alone, he or she will be picked up from school in one of Third Eye’s van and transported to the studio for Taekwondo training, homework and snack time. Parents pick their kids up before dinner.

Bullying is a subject close to Mehdi’s heart. He experienced being bullied as a child and says it can happen to anyone. Master Saadati, Mehdi and the other instructors are committed to children’s safety and security. Third Eye hosts a bully prevention program twice annually for all ages.

When a child is bullied Mehdi says, “It can feel like a dead end road.”

Third Eye’s workshop can also help parents identify the signs that aren’t always apparent. There is a physical aspect to the program run by three to four instructors and Master Saadati. Follow Third Eye Martial Arts Studio on social media (Facebook and Instagram) or refer to their website for further details.

Third Eye Martial Arts 4256 Dunbar StIf Taekwondo sounds like the sport for you or your child, consider Third Eye Martial Arts Studio’s special winter offer. From now until mid-March receive a one-month trial class and a free uniform for $49.95. You never know, your child may become hooked just like Master Saadati and Mehdi!

Third Eye Martial Arts Studio
4256 Dunbar Street
Vancouver BC V6S 2E9
Telephone 604-428-4256

Elements Academy of Martial Arts

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016


“Champion of Dunbar Village”

Giving back to the community comes effortlessly to Elements Academy of Martial Arts business partners Mysha Dewar-McClelland and Emma Hamilton. They share the common value that Elements is much more than a neighbourhood business.

Dunbar reminds Dewar-McClelland of Lindsay, Ontario, the close-knit rural town where she grew up. She feels fortunate to work in this special neighbourhood; therefore it is part and parcel to invest in the community where Elements’ members live and attend school.

“We encourage our students to not only build community within our studio but to embrace and give back to our larger Dunbar community.”

Mysha Dewar-McClelland

For a number of years Dewar-McClelland volunteered and subsequently was employed at Women Against Violence Against Women (WAVAW). She attributes the personal satisfaction she derives from volunteering to the time she spent assisting the rape crisis centre. WAVAW is one of many organizations that benefits from the excellent fundraising work Elements regularly undertakes.

Dewar-McClelland had no experience with martial arts until she was 27 years old. That was when she was introduced to Hamilton who persuaded her to attend a class. She trained with Hamilton and has been working as an instructor and the studio’s administrator since Elements opened in 2009.

She wishes she had discovered martial arts when she was a teenager. The girls’ programs have special meaning to her. “I see myself in them. It is inspiring to see young women taking pride in their physical ability,” she says.

Hamilton is the only female owner of an independent martial arts studio in Vancouver.

As role models for girls of all ages, she and Dewar-McClelland like to offer the gift of empowerment through self-defence and kickboxing training whenever possible.

A few years ago Hamilton connected with KidSafe Project Society and volunteered to train Grade 6 and 7 inner city girls. Subsequently, she discovered KidSafe’s GEMS (Girls Exploring Motion and Self) program, which assists girls at Florence Night-ingale Elementary on Vancouver’s eastside.

Elements_Academy_Dunbar_Life_Harvest_FestivalElements held a fundraising Kick-A-Thon at the studio to benefit GEMS. Elements’ members of every age (kids, youth and adults) collected pledges and participated in different categories to demonstrate their ability and technique and to see how many timed kicks they could accomplish. They were ecstatic to raise over ten thousand dollars for GEMS, far surpassing their goal; the extraordinary accomplishment provided the girls’ program with funding for a year.

Other Elements fundraisers have benefited WAVAW and Big Sisters. This year the martial arts academy (in partnership with Vancity Buzz) offered four free self-defence workshops for women, including one held at Musqueam. Over the years Elements has run numerous community programs at the Musqueam Community Centre.

Dunbar Apartments recently invited Dewar-McClelland to talk to residents about self-defence and safety in the community. It was so well received that she plans to return to offer a self-defence workshop.

Elements can also be found participating in Dunbar Village Business Association’s (DVBA) events such as the Harvest Festival and Salmonberry Days. Another way Dewar-McClelland gives back is through volunteer work as a DVBA board member.

After two terms as Dunbar Village Business Association’s secretary to the board, Dewar-McClelland has recently been appointed as vice president.

elements_academy_dunbar_life_exteriorShe says, “Since taking my place on the DVBA board I have become even more integrated into the Dunbar community. It is a source of pride knowing my business neighbours and being able to say hello to many familiar faces when I walk up and down Dunbar. I love it. It’s a stepping stone that connects me to the community.”

McClelland believes the assorted ways Elements contributes to Dunbar nurtures the community. Relationships develop both inside the studio and out and ultimately connect people from all walks of life.

Hats off to Elements Academy of Martial Arts, this champion of Dunbar, for leading by example and showing how a small business can accomplish great things.

Elements Academy of Martial Arts, 4465 Dunbar St, Vancouver BC   Telephone 604-568-3441

CrossFit Empower

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

Transforming I Can’t Into I Can

CrossFit Empower Corey Lapell PALLA MEDIA Dunbar LifeYou may have seen CrossFitters running up and down Dunbar Street hoisting heavy weights – and smiling.

CrossFit Empower coach and owner Corey Lapell has transformed many of his clients’ lives, starting with his own. He recounts how debilitating back pain made it impossible for him to lift his newborn baby. This was a life altering moment and he decided to take responsibility for his body and end his pain.

2005 was the year he stumbled upon CrossFit’s website, and made it his mission to rehabilitate himself at home in his garage. He marvels that his fitness plan didn’t involve a paid subscription, and best of all, he got results. He says, “I quickly exceeded the fitness levels of my youth.”

Greg Glassman founded CrossFit Inc. in 1996 in Santa Cruz, California. In 2005 the first affiliate gym opened in Seattle and they spread like wildfire. Lapell reports that there are now over 10,000 CrossFit affiliates worldwide.

After working at CrossFit in Surrey and apprenticing as a paid coach at CrossFit East Vancouver for three years, Lapell opened his own gym in March 2013, which he prefers to describe as “a playground for adults.”

He targeted Dunbar as the ideal location. Lapell was looking for a neighbourhood with a slightly older demographic than the usual CrossFit profile. He is not shy to admit that he is in his early 40s and wanted to offer an alternative to this age group. Little did he know that his clients would span the ages of 10 to 70+ years old.

He makes the distinction between franchises and affiliates. Affiliates are independently owned. In the case of CrossFit, owners receive trainer certification and pay an annual fee to use the company’s identity and program.

CrossFit Empower interior PALLA MEDIA Dunbar LifeCrossFit empower follows ‘headquarters’ workout of the day (WOD). This includes a series of constantly varied, functional movements performed at high intensity.

In layman’s terms, CrossFit is a combination of weightlifting (barbells, dumbbells, kettle bells, medicine balls, sledgehammers, tractor tires and sandbags), gymnastics (rope climbing, gymnastics rings, pull up bars, parallel bars, and body weight exercises) and metabolic conditioning (skipping, rowing, running, cycling and jumping). Workouts blend these combinations together in an infinite variety of ways.

Lapell says, “We might run outside unladen or carry a medicine ball, a kettle bell, dumbbells, weight plates, a partner, weight vest, sandbag, barbell, who knows? Is it regular? Everything in CrossFit is irregular but I would say it is not uncommon. All CrossFit gyms follow a constantly varied model.”

At CrossFit Empower you will also find more community spirit than you ever thought possible. It is a neighbourhood hub. While the coaches suggest members work out a minimum of three times a week, many attend much more frequently. This is like the “Cheers” of the gym world, where everyone knows your name.

“Recreating your body and transforming your soul” is a large part of CrossFit Empower’s core philosophy. On the website members attest that this program has transformed their lives.

“There is no greater joy for me than working with people whose bodies and spirits are as broken and fragile as mine once was, and watching them soar to heights they hadn’t dared hope for,” declares Lapell.

There are countless success stories, and Lapell is incredibly proud of each CrossFitter. Everyone earns a name, which is selected for him or her by other members. For example, Lapell’s name is “WOD Father.” It is almost like you take on another persona when you are assigned an alias.

This business is a family affair. Lapell’s wife Sunghee is also a CrossFit coach. Not to be left behind, their 12-year-old son Kaelin has been working out for several years.

Lapell is devoted to his work. He says he frequently spends 16 hours a day at the gym with his wife and son often by his side. Their story of working out together as a family is not uncommon. In fact a number of families (sometimes with babes in arms) and couples maximize their time together by squeezing in a workout in this social environment.
The active facility is open seven days a week. The first class begins at 5:30 a.m. (and yes, it is busy!) and the last class is held at 8:00 p.m.

While it can be a daunting prospect to join a gym, fear not. Lapell and his coaching team (Coaches Jen “All Star,” Leon “The Touch,” Sunghee “Hee Hee” and Yvan “The Law”) specialize in adapting CrossFit training for all ages and fitness levels. They emphasize form before intensity to avoid injuries. Their goal is to see members succeed and stay fit.

CrossFit Empower exterior PALLA MEDIA Dunbar LifeCrossFit Empower currently has 90 members, and each person has a great story to tell of how they have gained energy, strength, confidence, and found fitness levels they never knew lurked within.

Deana Clark’s (also known as “Adventure”) story is an inspiration. She is a petite 66 year old who discovered CrossFit in May 2013. In this short time she has achieved phenomenal results – she can now deadlift 185 pounds and perform five consecutive pull-ups. Awesome.

At CrossFit Empower it’s all about empowerment. It’s about achieving your maximum potential and moving from I can’t to I can.

CrossFit Empower
3321 Dunbar Street
Vancouver BC V6S 2B9
Telephone 778-873-4427