September 14, 2023

canfitpro Convention

canfitpro Convention

Written and witnessed by Brandi Ortiz (daughter of Michele Park, owner of the SOUL brands) and self-proclaimed NON-exerciser!

In August, SOUL Fitness Brands attended Canada’s biggest Fitness Convention, canfitpro, for the first time! When Mom announced to the family she had been accepted as an educator/sponsor for the convention, I was excited but admittedly nervous. Mom confessed it would just be me and her attending the convention, and as much as I love spending time with her, I was worried. I was worried because I had never had to manage the booth before and always had help from the Master Trainers. I would just smile, wave, and restock any shirts we sold. This convention was going to be my first time taking charge.

After two lengthy flights, we arrived in Toronto, Canada. It was my first time exploring the city, and Mom mentioned she hadn’t been in Canada since she was seven, so it was arguably a new experience for both of us. The city was bustling with energy, and after some exploring, we returned to the hotel and called it a night. We went to the convention center the next day and set up our booth. It was more difficult with just the two of us, but in the end, the booth was nicely put together, and we were ready for the convention to begin.

We were in a good spot, too, next to the Activity Stage and had Made Good as our neighbors. When we officially finished setting up, we took the chance to explore the convention and see what vendors were selling and presenting. While exploring, I noticed a Pikachu balloon floating above one of the booths. I am a massive Pokémon fan, so of course, this caught my attention, and I spoke with the ine+ nutrition vendors. Their products had nothing to do with Pokémon. Still, the vendors themselves were also massive Pokémon fans (which I loved), and they wanted to catch the attention of any other Pokémon attending the convention. This strategy was something I oddly approved. It made me feel welcome in an environment that often left me self-conscious.

As mentioned in my writings, I have suffered from social anxiety throughout my life, and gyms and fitness expos are not typically my cup of tea. When the Activity Stage enlisted a kickboxing class, I immediately got flashbacks to my childhood, and it felt like I was seven years old again, sitting in the corner of Mom’s classes at 24 Hour Fitness. It was a bittersweet nostalgia. Despite growing up in gym daycare, I always felt self-conscious and uncomfortable in my skin, and I was worried it would be obvious I didn’t belong anywhere near this type of convention. But I couldn’t let my anxiety get the best of me, not when Mom depended on me to man the booth in her absence.

Friday came, and it was time for the convention to start. I manned the booth while Mom taught her classes and conversed with vendors and sponsors. Mom helped me rehearse with practice questions and gave me pointers about the business, and every time someone stopped by the booth, I did my best to recite everything. I sold some shirts and promoted the business, and people left the booth happy. I was still nervous whenever someone approached, but I was also proud to promote Mom’s business.

When Mom returned to the booth, it gave me to take a break and explore. While exploring the convention hall, I noticed pigeons wandering the exhibit floor, and it was almost funny to watch them waddle and eat sample crumbs from the floor. I sampled Love Good Fats and Grenade bars (which can, sadly, only be found in Canada) and talked with more of the vendors. Mom and I bought a mixed box of Grenade bars to bring back home, and we were lucky we did because they sold out fast!

Mom participated in the 30th Anniversary workout on the Main Stage, and I was invited to leave the booth and record the session temporarily. I was not nearly as mobile as the other onlookers, but I loved the energy, and it was fun watching Mom take center stage. I may not be athletic like her, but I love watching her increase the energy in the room.

I returned to the booth afterward and saw celebrity choreographer Milo Levell perform his Hip Hop Body Shop session on the Activity Stage. I could not participate, but he said something resonating with me over the microphone: “If you practice happiness daily, you may end up happy one day.” It reminded me that happiness is a choice, and it was exactly what I needed to hear. Now, I consciously make the effort to practice happiness daily.

On that note, we ended Friday and packed up for the hotel. On Saturday, it was rinse and repeat. Mom taught a class, and I manned the booth, sold shirts, and answered questions. What was unexpected, however, was when Milo Levell came to our booth to say hello. I was ecstatic to meet him face-to-face but also incredibly bummed that Mom was away teaching a class. Milo grabbed some chocolate kisses from our booth, gave me his business card, and was nice enough to take a picture with me. What a fun time!

During my break, I found a booth called Giddy Yo, which sells a healthy alternative to chocolate. As a registered chocaholic, I had to taste-test their samples and fell in love with their mint and ginger-based chocolate. Unfortunately, when I returned to the booth to pay for the chocolate, the ginger variant had completely sold out. I explored, ate samples, and ended my break with a nice massage that left my joints feeling like sore butter.

By the day's end, Mom and I packed our bags and headed out. But on the way out, we bought boxes of Made Good, and they were generous enough to give us an extra portion for the road. It helps to be nice to your neighbors! ♥️ Overall, I would argue it was a successful convention, and I hope we get invited back for next year!

But our time in Canada was far from over! Once the convention was through, Mom and I had planned ahead how to end our time in Canada. Initially, we were going to see the musical Hamilton because it is something Mom and I have been meaning to see for a while now, but we decided against it once we sat down and talked it through. Realistically, we could see Hamilton back home, so we asked ourselves, “What is something we can only do here in Canada?” and came to the reasonable conclusion of seeing one of the world’s natural wonders: Niagara Falls.

It was chock full of tourists but breathtakingly beautiful. I loved listening to the water rushing down the falls, and things only got better when we hopped on a boat that took us toward the actual falls. We were given ponchos, which didn’t prevent our shoes from getting soaked. It was a fantastic experience, and I love sharing it with Mom. It feels like a memory we will treasure for years to come!

After exploring Niagara Falls, we explored the nearby Niagara City, and it was (by far) one of the weirdest places I had the pleasure of visiting. It was like Las Vegas, and a carnival had a hybrid baby. It was the perfect tourist trap with something for everyone. There was a go-kart race track, wax museums, restaurants, haunted houses, a Ferris wheel, and a dinosaur park. We got lunch and took some photos, but didn’t bother with the attractions mainly because we only had two hours to spare before our tour bus took off.

Our next stop was a little town called Niagara-on-the-Lake, and I admit, I loved it way more than Niagara City. It was jam-packed with people, presumably locals and tourists, but it felt more natural. It was full of mom-and-pop shops and a place consumed with history. I got ice cream from a parlor called Cows, and Mom bought ice wine from one of the local wineries. It was another quick trip that didn’t leave much room for exploration but was much more satisfying. It was beautiful, and I was almost sad to leave so soon, but home was calling.

Include photos of Niagara Falls. Niagara on the lake?

What was your favorite part of canfitpro, and what convention would you like to see the SOUL Fitness Brands attend next? Tell us in the comments!


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