Weekend Visits with Santa

After getting a new haircut and putting on a crisp “fancy shirt”, we headed to the mall  to see Santa on Friday. We happened to get there at the perfect time, with only one other kid in front of us in line and no one behind us so Liam could have all the time in the world to chat.

I remember last year’s Santa visit like it was yesterday. Liam gave Santa a huge hug without hesitation and would have talked his ear off if there wasn’t a huge lineup behind him. We ended up going back again later that evening when it was a little quieter so Liam could sit and talk to his ‘best friend Santa’. He asked where the reindeer were and other such questions of wonder. I will likely never forget Liam’s joy in getting that extra quiet moment to talk to Santa.

But there was one other thing that will always stand out about that visit. I overheard this particular Santa giving another kid in front of us a little bit of advice, to make sure he reads every night before bed instead of watching TV. It’s simple advice that will take a child far and perhaps hearing it from Santa himself would go further than if it had come from anyone else. We visited the same Santa again this year and I heard him tell the little girl ahead of Liam the same thing. It’s something I love the most about visiting this particular Santa.

When it was Liam’s turn to sit on Santa’s knee this year, he was slightly hesistant and shy. He couldn’t find his words to tell Santa what it was he wanted for Christmas, just agreeing with some of the things Santa suggested he could bring (aside from Paw Patrol toys, which no longer interest him like they did and were met with a shrug, because who would turn down anything from Santa). Santa talked about how he would be going to school soon after asking how old Liam was, and to have lots of fun when he got there. The whole scene is just so sweet that it brings a tear to my eye.




Where to Workout in Red Deer

Where to Workout in Red Deer: Absolute Fitness

Where to Workout in Red Deer

Absolute Fitness Red Deer is a bit of a hidden gem. A lot of people have heard of it, but no one really knows where it is. Located in the Park Plaza building downtown, Absolute Fitness (like most facilities), stole a piece of my heart.


About Absolute Fitness Red Deer

The thing that makes Absolute stand out amongst the other fitness facilities in the city is their training philosphy. They really strive to utilize all aspects of fitness and encourage movement. You won’t find rows of cardio equipment or endless racks of weights to work on your bicep curls. Instead you’ll find tools to aid in your flexibility, mobility, overall strength, and endurance. You will find people of all shapes, sizes and abilities training there, from professional and amateur athletes to people just beginning their fitness journey.

They are a family friendly facility, with a designated play area just off the reception desk, open to the lower level. Liam loved to hang out here, usually bugging the person sitting at the reception desk keeping an eye on the kids, watching cartoons or playing with the toys there. It’s great to have an open area where kids can watch their parents and I salute all the gyms that enable this so we can encourage and inspire our kids to lead healthier lifestyles as well.

New members are required to take a movement assessment, so the trainers can get a feel for their abilities and determine the best classes for them to start with. I think this is important so you don’t have someone jumping into a strength class who has some mobility issues they need to work on and end up with an injury. It’s a small step that adds to the notion of overall wellbeing that is above and beyond what most gyms provide.

Absolute Fitness Red Deer

About the Classes

Aside from open gym space and personal training there are a variety of group classes at Absolute.

  • Movement and Mobility is all about incorporating foam rolling and stretching to work on those problem areas. It’s a slower class with huge benefits that a lot of us fail to incorporate into our every day fitness routines. I love that they have daily classes dedicated to just this.
  • The Conditioning class is a moderate to high intensity workout using a variety of movements and techniques. From body weight exercises, kettlebells, box jumps, pullups, rings, and more, the opportunities are endless. They focus on long warmups to make sure your body is ready and prevent injury.
  • Strength is one of my personal favourites as it incorporates strength and power power training without the cardio. This is where you work on progressions and finding your max lifts and where, I think, you become the biggest bad-ass.
  • There are also bootcamp classes that take out the warmup and cool down and focus on getting your heart rate up for maximum fat loss.
  • Lastly, cardio kickboxing and muay thai. Cardio kickboxing is the starting point to learn the basics before moving into muay thai. There are a number of competitive athletes that train in muay thai at Absolute so if martial arts are your thing, you’ll want to check these classes out.

Absolute Fitness Red Deer


There are a ton of affordable options available and students receive a 10% discount.

Introductory Specials

  • 1 Week Intro Special: $ 40
  • Gym (month to month): $49
  • 1 Month Unlimited Classes: $209

Drop In

  • Gym: $11
  • Class: $25

Punch Cards

  • 5 classes: $110
  • 10 classes: $180
  • 20 classes: $320
  • 30 times: $420

Monthly Memberships

  • Gym Membership: $39
  • 1 class/week: $80
  • 2 classes/week: $124
  • 3 classes/week: $145
  • 4 classes/week: $166
  • Unlimited: $179

They also offer personal training and program design. Be sure to contact them for pricing information if you’re interested in those options.

What I Loved Most

Right off the bat, I knew these trainers really knew their stuff. In my initial movement assessment, I learned how to correct my squat form. After years of being told to focus on pushing my knees out when I squat, my trainer explained that I need to actively engage my glutes and core while I’m squatting and coming back up again. Voila! I fixed my squat problem in two seconds flat. It blew me away that it was such a simple fix that no trainer before had been able to point out to me.

I love that they focus on functional fitness and overall health with a huge focus on movement and mobility. This is not the place you come if you just want to get jacked, lose 20 pounds or impress people. This is where you come to work properly to improve your overall fitness the right way.

I also loved that it incorporated the elements I used to love when I did Crossfit, the high intensity circuit workouts, olympic lifting and full body work, but without the competition aspect.

Absolute Fitness Red Deer

For More Absolute Fitness





Christmas Traditions

It always takes a bit to get me into the Christmas spirit, mostly because the holiday season starts way too early for me. But once I’m there, I like to jump in head first and enjoy every moment of it, especially now that I have Liam to relive the magic through again. It’s been fun carrying on some old traditions from when I was growing up and finding new traditions for the two of us. I thought I’d share some of our favourites with you.


  • Looking at Christmas lights – I always loved driving around with my parents looking at Christmas lights throughout the town and making a stop at Von Hollen’s. It’s too bad that they do not do their light display anymore because I know Liam would love it. He’s already starting to get really excited to see people’s Christmas lights are on when we’re driving home at the end of the day and I hope to take an evening drive around to look at even more.
  • Winter Night Lights tour at Heritage Ranch. I have taken this sleigh ride through a trail of Christmas lights every year since Liam was born. While it’s a bit pricey, it’s something Liam and I love to do together.
  • Santa Parade – I will never forget taking Liam to the Santa parade in my home town last year and seeing his eyes light up when Santa went by on a float at the end.
  • Sending Christmas cards – I love sending out and receiving Christmas cards. This year I created custom photo cards with Tiny Prints Christmas Cards and I can’t wait for them to arrive so I can send them out to our family and friends.
  • Watching Santa fly on Christmas Eve – The owner of the airport in my hometown always flies a plane with a trail of sparks behind it that just looks so magical. As an adult, I’ve always thought it was pretty cool and I love that I can take Liam to see Santa flying in the sky before he goes to bed. He still talks about the night we saw Santa flying. It will be a sad day if this ever stops.
  • Christmas Eve games night – in the before times, I would always have friends over for appies and games on Christmas Eve. Now with most of my friends having babies and families of their own, it’s harder to make that happen but my family and I still play games, laughing, snacking and indulging in a drink or two before Santa comes.

Our traditions are pretty simple but they truly bring me the most joy. I hope that as Liam grows, he will cherish these traditions as much as I do and one day pass them on to a family of his own.

What are some of your family traditions or favourite parts of the holiday season?