Community,  Motivation,  Tips

Getting Outdoors with Four Inspirational Women

I asked four inspirational women what motivates them to get outside, what they think is total bullshit in the outdoor rec. world and their struggles & guidance with overcoming roadblocks.

Get ready to be motivated, inspired and feel all the good vibes!

“And one day she discovered that she was fierce, and strong, and full of fire, and that not even she could hold herself back because her passion burned brighter than her fears.”
― Mark Anthony, The Beautiful Truth

Inspiring Women

Name: Jordan-na Belle-Isle
About: I’m a Toronto-based SUP instructor, lake surfer, surf shop gal, and freelance writer. I work with Surf the Greats and Thurso Surf and am a co-organizer for Lake Surfistas.
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Check her out: @jordashna (Instagram and Twitter)
Name: Alexis Dean
About: I’m the founder of the Dovetail Community of women entrepreneurs, Camp Dovetail, Dovetail Summit, and the Dovetail Dinner series. I’m a passionate outdoorswoman, summer camp alumni, paddler (SUP & canoe), hiker, skier, runner, and four-seasons outdoor adventurer.
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Name: Krystel Quintos

About: I am a teacher, hiker, distance and trail runner, yogi and traveller. 

I was born and raised in a small mountain village in the Philippines Islands before immigrating to Canada, and never ever fell out of love with the mountains and the outdoors!
Location: Toronto, Ontario (with her dog Bella!)
Check her out: @sillykrys
Name: Bridgid Young
About: Curious adventurer of nature and life! Loves paddling, hiking, trail running, swimming in lakes, star gazing, stacking firewood, cycling, roller skating, cats, sunsets, oysters and sparkling wine in the forest, remote places, wind in trees, hammocks, sun seeking, reading. Struggles to accept ticks, poison ivy and loud motor boats. Always seeking the flow state. 
Location: Grimsby, Ontario
Check her out: @bridgie.y

What motivates you to get outside and get your body moving? 

Jordan-na: It doesn’t take much! I need daily outdoor activity or I get cranky. Anytime I have the opportunity to do my favourite sports (SUP, surf, beach volleyball, cycling, ice skating, surfskating, hiking…), I’m out the door and moving. 

Alexis: Running around in the woods and getting out on the water makes my mind and body feel incredible! There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear, and I love getting out and experiencing everything Mother Nature throws our way. 

Krystel: The initial reason I began running outside and moving was for my health, I had a long list of health issues at the beginning of 2019. Today, the reason I move is still for my health but more importantly for my happiness, for keeping daily promises to myself and I very much see movement as a form of self love and self care.

Bridgid: Knowing how good being outside is for our mental health and how good my body feels when I make moving it a priority is a huge motivation! Although I’ve always been active and outdoorsy, I’ve made getting outside a daily habit during the pandemic. It’s on my daily list of “things to do” and I get to cross it off the list when I complete it daily. Sometimes it’s as easy as a walk through the neighbourhood, other times it could be cross country skiing, skating or crushing 20km on the Bruce Trail. The daily list is what originally motivated me and now my day feels incomplete and my spirit feels a little cramped if I don’t get outside and get moving. 

What is one thing you think is total bullshit or is your pet peeve in the outdoor recreational world?


Love this question! The persistent lack of diversity in the outdoor recreational industry. There is a wonderful diversity of people who are outdoor enthusiasts, but you’d never know it looking at the media and marketing. The surf and SUP industry is especially guilty of this.” 


“I’m a big fan of Demiesha (@browngirloutdoorworld) and all that she and her community are doing to bring diversity, equity, and inclusion to the outdoor sports world. 

I hate that the outdoor sport community has historically been white, and we haven’t done more to make it an inclusive, welcoming space for everyone.”


The idea of you having to be “physically fit” to be part of the outdoor recreational world. When I first started running I was teetering on 300lbs. I started slowly and was at first ashamed of being seen exercising outside, but mother nature and the hiking trails in Ontario welcomed me with open arms, and I never felt more at home than I do when I am deep in the forest, out of breath and listening to nothing but the trees and sticks cracking under my feet.”


“Fancy, expensive gear is not required to enjoy being active in the outdoors! When I was younger and less concerned about sustainability and consumerism, I really enjoyed the (fleeting) satisfaction of having new gear. Now I really value using what I have and reducing my consumption and my environmental impact. You don’t need fancy clothes or boots to enjoy the outdoors, your regular clothes and sneakers usually do the trick. And so much gear is available second hand, through gear swaps, rentals from MEC or outfitters, on loan from adventure buddies or gear pooling if you’re tripping with a group.”

What is the biggest thing you’ve learned adventuring in the outdoors?

How good it is for my soul and mental health. Being active outdoor calms my brain and gives me a fresh perspective on life. 

Every outdoor adventure is an opportunity to learn something new – about myself, the people I’m with, and the world around us. I’ve learned that I’m stronger than I thought I was, that I (and my friends) are capable of so much, and that no matter what the weather is, everything feels better if I make time to play outside. Adults need recess too!

It’s so easy to lose part of yourself in the city, to become so caught up in the “hustle culture” we have lately. Hustle for what? Work for what? Adventuring outdoors especially this past year when I got laid off was so absolutely grounding for me. I was working myself sick, and I needed to give something back to myself. I needed to be in nature and remember the things that really matter, to remember what it was like coming from nothing and still being happy when I was living in the mountains in the Philippines. My love for my work — not money. My need for connections not things. .

A true sense of awe and gratitude. I can experience it when looking at the stars, running on trails, portaging, climbing a mountain, sitting on a rock, swimming in a lake, around a campfire. I find that adventuring in the outdoors gently beckons mindfulness. There is endless abundance of connectedness all around us just waiting for us to pay close attention to.   

What is one of your roadblocks to getting outdoors? If you were able to overcome it, how did you do it?


“My mental health. I have depression and manage it pretty well, but sometimes it makes it that much harder to get outdoors when all I want to do is lie in bed. I’ve learned to be kind and gentle with myself, while also knowing when I need a bit of a nudge.”


“I own a busy business, and in the past year I’ve pivoted our in-person events (Camp Dovetail and Dovetail Summit) to an online community. I used to be able to spend more time outside prepping for and leading our programs, and now I’m behind a computer 99% of the time.

I started taking full weekends off, and making time to get outside every day – even if I’m in the city and my trail run is through a local ravine and not out in the woods where I’d rather be!”


“I used to be so ashamed of running outside. I used to only run in the nighttime with my dog. I started to feel more confident, not from the weight loss but from my capabilities, from not being able to run for 30 seconds to summiting and trail running 17 km, these were so empowering for me. Everyone has their own journey– be proud of yours.”  


“Oh, I used to be scared of so many things! The dark, the forest, animals, breaking a leg, needing help, getting lost – you name it. I started to overcome it when I realized that I was most scared of was missing out on the richness of experiencing being outdoors the way I dreamed. So I tackled it by getting more experience with a buddy or a group, hiking and camping with pals and MeetUp groups and Outfitters. I grew my skills and confidence and took on solo hiking, camping and paddling trips. I still get nervous when I’m planning something that challenges me, but I know what a gift it is to feel the edges and make the gains.”

What’s one piece of advice or recommendation for someone struggling to get outside or is new to the outdoors?

Baby steps. Maybe ask an outdoorsy friend if you can join them on their next outing, or check out a city or provincial park. Tap into those existing communities and resources, because they are there! One of my favourite organizations is Parkbus; they offer city-dwellers transportation to nearby nature parks and offer guided outings. 


Start small, find an awesome local park and spend time there every week. Get some decent outdoor gear (it doesn’t have to be pricey), never wear cotton next to your skin (it will get damp and stay damp, and you’ll be cold/ uncomfortable), and dress for the weather. It doesn’t matter what you look like when you’re in the woods – just get warm, comfortable, and enjoy the fresh air!


You will find more of yourself outside, lost deep in the forest,  than surrounded by all your belongings in your own home.  I’d say to make a promise to yourself to spend at least 30 minutes outside a few times a week and see how you feel!


Find adventure buddies to motivate you to get outside, challenge you to try new things, dream big and share the experience.


What would be your dream outdoor adventure and why?


“A world-wide tour to participate in all the epic SUP events such as the Paris SUP Open and Chattajack31. I love the idea of paddling in an awesome setting with a big group of people who all love SUP. It’s such a friendly sport and a great community!”


“Patagonia has been on my list for a few years. I’d love to go backpacking in Torres Del Paine National Park and do the 5-day W-Trek.
I’d also love to do an ocean crossing in a sailboat, and spend a season sailing in the Mediterranean!
There are so many incredible adventures, my list of dream adventures is always growing!”


“My dream adventure is to summit in the Rockies! I’ve travelled to so many places, I truly think our country is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. I think it’s important to explore as much of your home as it is other places!”


“I have an endless list of dream outdoor adventures. The top contender currently would be a sea kayaking and camping trip in Gwaii Haanas. I visited Haida Gwaii with a friend in 2011 and we spent most of our time hiking and adventuring on Graham Island, we took a one day Zodiak trip into the park to visit Haida cultural sites and villages. The beauty and the magic of this place are unrivalled and I can’t wait to return and experience by kayak and to sleep in mossy forests with waves crashing close by.”  

What about you? What motivates you? What is your advice?

Share in the comments below.

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