Tag Archives: fitness

Getting Fit (& Fun) at Myrtle Philip

Opportunities for continued learning and recreational programming are not always abundant in small communities.  This was especially true before the internet made distance learning and online tutorials commonplace.  In the 1970s and 80s in Whistler, Myrtle Philip Elementary School was the site of learning for more than just school aged kids.

An adult education department began running out of Myrtle Philip School after the school opened in 1976.  It offered various classes and programs, mainly in the evenings, to those living in the area.  Looking at the summer programs offered in 1981, it would seem that there was high demand among the local population for sports and fitness related programming.

Programming in the Myrtle Philip School gym included drop-in sports, including basketball and volleyball. Whistler Question Collection, 1983.

That summer, seven different activities were offered out of the school, including gardening, French lessons, basketball, tennis, and karate once or twice a week.  The most popular and frequent classes were named Fun & Fit and Superfit, occurring a total of seven time weekly, almost enough to fulfill the small community’s “seemingly insatiable need for fitness classes.”

The classes were run by instructors Sue Worden and Susie Mortensen, who began the program in the fall of 1980.  According to the Squamish Citizen, the popularity of the program was “overwhelming” and it was regularly attended by at least thirty to forty people, including a core group of five to ten men.  By adding later time slots, the class hoped to increase those numbers even further.  Debbie Cook, the adult education coordinator, attributed the program’s success to its instructors and “the enthusiasm and dedication they have infused into the participants.”

Sue Worden of Body Works puts a group of Corporate Cup die-hards through the paces in Village Square Saturday. Whistler Question Collection, 1983.

For $2 (or $10 for ten sessions) participants could engage in an hour-long exercise class including stretches, aerobics, and strengthening exercises.  In 1982 Sue Cameron wrote a review of the program for the Citizen, describing it as a great opportunity to get in shape for the ski season.  According to Cameron, the class began with fifteen minutes of stretching and warming up before turning to twenty minutes of “sweat-out time, running and hopping on the spot intermingled with subtle stretching exercises.”  Pushups and sit ups were followed by another period of stretching, this time concentrating on breathing “so as to get the most out of the pain you just went through.”  All of this was, of course, set to modern music of the 1980s.

Classes were offered daily Monday through Friday, meaning that “if you can walk the next day you can do it again!”

Action! Fitness instructor Sue Worden pedals her heart out for Action BC testing Saturday, March 6 while Kevin Ponnock, fitness consultant, records pulse rate. The government-sponsored program includes flexibility training and a diet analysis so that participants can asses their fitness level. Whistler Question Collection, 1982.

The demand for fitness programs was not just for the adults 0f Whistler.  Kindergym, a weekly class of basic gym activities and occasional handicrafts sponsored by the Alta Lake Community Club, also ran out of the Myrtle Philip School gymnasium.  Targeting children aged two to five, the class was also an opportunity for parents and caregivers to socialize.

The offerings of the adult education department expanded over the decade.  Instructors were drawn from within the community, calling on anyone who wanted to share a particular skill or hobby.  During the fall of 1986 community members could learn about European cooking from Mark Kogler, first aid from Karen Killaly, and mountain safety and avalanches from Chris Stetham and Roger McCarthy, as well as various crafts such as macrame, glass etching, and dried flower arranging.  Topping the list of programs was still Fun & Fit with Sue Worden.

Whistler has grown quite a bit since the 1980s and today there are numerous classes and programs, some still running out of (the slightly newer) Myrtle Philip School.

Freestyle Fitness Flashback

Skiing is here! As exciting as that is, it’s painfully obvious to some of us that we’re just not ready. The extended patio season we enjoyed was great while it lasted, but how it now lingers on our waistlines, not so great.

Everyone’s talking fitness. All the local gyms and trainers are hawking their get-fit-quick schemes, but let’s face it: in this drive-thru, on-line world people have become slow and soft. So where better to look for fitness tips than the old school, when everything in life was harder, especially the muscles?

Fret not. We’ve scoured our collections and found some retro ski manuals with  some fitness tips from the heyday of freestyle. They’re certain to have you schralping the slopes in style, pirhouetting around your panting pals. Here we’ve compiled the 5 most essential training techniques that we gathered from our archival research, free for your benefit:

Tip #1: First off, it’s essential to do your ski workouts ON SNOW.

Do the knee press so you ski best.

Working out in a cushy, climate-controlled gym just won’t cut it. To get maximum ski performance out of our bodies, we need to train them in the appropriate environment. Too cold?  Tough.


Tip #2: Fundamentals. Before you dial-in your double corks, you need to learn how to do a proper helicopter. Muscle memory is key, repetition is your friend.

Forget that junk about leading spins with your head. It doesn’t matter how hard you force it, with a proper track suit every trick will look buttery smooth.

Tip #3: Strength is over-rated. Too many athletes-in-training neglect flexibility. Develop a well-rounded stretching program and stick to it. A good rule of thumb: the more uncomfortable and ridiculous the stretch feels, the more ridiculous and uncomfortable it looks.

Limber up to throw down.



Tip #5: Proper turn technique is way tougher in a full-body cast. Practice falling like a Hollywood stuntman and you’ll be shrugging off your yardsales as if they’re the latest hot trick.

Break dance or break yourself.

BONUS TIP!: We all know that in reality skiing is little more than a fancy, convoluted mating ritual. So work on your kip-ups. They never fail to impress the opposite sex at apres.

For bonus points, try this move on the GLC bannister.

So ignore what your personal trainer has to say about interval training, vo2, anaerobic threshold, and all that jazz. This isn’t rocket science. With these 6 simple rules and a little ol’ school gusto, you’ll charge harder, ski longer and be the envy of your crew. As the saying goes, “first call, last chair!”