The Every Body Bootcamp
 


Saturday.
Fighting through another round of shots at a tequila soaked bar crawl in North York when a conversation on gallery commissions gets me halfway to thinking I might just need another bottle of antidepressants. 
Or 10.

Outside. 
Fresh air.  I meet Derek.  He's a bouncer who suggests a way to expel some toxins.  I smirk while the tequila swirls.

Sunday. 
Low voltage pinging in my temples as the morning haze begins to lift.  Eglinton East, top of the hill. 9:42 with plenty of time to spare.  I wade through a never-ending orange-coned ramshackle mess to descend along the tree-lined paths of Leaside.

This being my first bootcamp and not knowing fully what to expect, I skip the non-mandatory but totally suggested pay-it-forward donation to the Daily Bread Foodbank, and instead sit for a chat with bootcamp coordinator and personal trainer Kyle Sharp during the post-training social, which I find out has become a bit of a tradition for this group.


Kyle, a professional boxer by training, runs and owns SHARP Fitness, a performance-oriented fitness & sports-rehabilitation practice. Located steps away from Charlotte Maher park, SHARP Fitness serves as the gathering place for the after bootcamp social.

The Every Body Bootcamp is our way of giving back to the community, and it’s a way for our community to directly give back to those in need – This is where the “pay-it-forward” Bootcamp comes into play. Everyone is deserving of living a happy, healthy lifestyle. I believe this starts with building community and connecting with likeminded individuals not only looking to better themselves, but to be a part of a movement that helps so many others in the process.
This is the way we like to spend our Sunday mornings. Habit and consistency are the keys to success, and our Sunday bootcamps are a big part of ALL of our continued success. It’s more than just a workout – We support and encourage each other. We hold one another accountable. We really have become a “fit-family” and we want to welcome every-body, to join us in this amazing co-creation.
What we are doing really works because every person who comes out to the Every Body Bootcamp simply focuses on their personal best every week. It’s not a competition or race. It’s not about working out until we want to puke – It’s about creating habits and friendships that will last a lifetime.

Indeed, the bootcamp circuit consists of 12 exercise stations of medium intensity, all focused on everyday movements and functional strength. The Everybody bootcamp is literally for everybody and everyone participates, children and adults, women and men.

By the time we're through, everyone is flushed and the mood has lifted, a healthy substitute for morning coffee which comes with healthy snacks and hanging out with welcoming strangers. We chat about health and wellness, share personal stories and make plans to meet again; a pleasant conclusion to a pleasant morning, a perfect cure for a lingering hangover, and many reasons to come back next Sunday. 

The Every Body Bootcamp is a 3-part series focused on health and wellness which takes place every Sunday morning starting at 8.

 

Leaside Roadrunners
An all level running group that meets at the SHARP Fitness studio for a warm-up at 8 AM.

 

Breaking Barriers
A weekly get-together at the SHARP Fitness studio focusing on feedback, support and motivation, starts at 9 AM.

 

Functional Strength
A fun multi-level all-ages group work-out at Charlotte Maher Park, meeting at 10 AM.

 

Post-Workout Social
Refuel after the workout with some complimentary drinks and snacks at the SHARP Fitness studio at 11 AM.

 
Starting-up in Canadian Art & Film
 

Below is a transcript of a conversation I've had with Mr. Levitan, a Toronto-based media-lawyer, film and television producer, on the topic of the peculiarities of the Canadian film industry.

A conversation with Steven Levitan, founder of Protocol Entertainment.

A conversation with Steven Levitan, founder of Protocol Entertainment.

So you are both a lawyer and a television producer. That seems like an unusual path to tread, can you please tell me about the relationship between media law and film production here in Canada?

It isn’t unusual at all, once you understand the nature of the Canadian film industry. See, no other developed nation in the world, that I can think of, spends as much tax-dollars on cultural production, on a per-capita basis, than Canada. And we have so little to show for it.

Of course, one could point out to the roaring success of the Toronto Film Festival (TIFF) and the record-breaking sales, year after year, at Art Toronto.

Of course. And there is plenty of talent here, no doubt. And if you look at the fact that most Canadian talent has to travel south of the border in order to gain notoriety and reach, you’ll start to see what I’m talking about.

How so?

Well, any creative project requires, first and foremost, start-up funding. And every creative project is, in many ways, a gamble.  

As Canadians, we share a border with the single largest machine of cultural imperialism in the world. And this, of course, makes the Canadian government quite uneasy, to the point that we pour untold amounts of money into creating and sustaining cultural industries of our own.

This sounds like good news.... ?

Well it is for Quebec, where these subsidies have given rise to a distinctly unique flavor of french-Quebecois culture in art and film.

The same does not hold true for English Canada, where we seem, by and large, more than happy to consume American entertainment. We ultimately do not see the same cultural threat as the Quebecois.

So English Canadian productions have to compete with American ones?

Basically, when you take cultural identity out of the equation, cultural works become popular because they are good. There is no formula for success. Something is good if it is good.

Now, in the funding scheme that we spoke about, the government is basically the main patron for the arts. Much like the Medici family in Venice during the Renaissance.

The problem with having a governmental body acting as a private patron, however, is the distribution of limited resources among many applicants. Issues of equality and fairness come into play. Because funding is awarded by government officials and government employees, objective guidelines have to be put in place to determine who gets funding and who does not. And objectivity in the arts is poison.

Objectivity in art is poison. May I quote you on that?

Please do. Because funding for the arts is awarded by people ultimately not involved in the arts, and because the criteria have to be objective. The official stance of the Canadian government is to fund projects that uphold Canadian values.

And in English Canada, these distinct cultural values are...

Your guess is as good as mine. Perhaps expect a few more hockey movies. 

Thank you very much for this conversation.

Based in Toronto, Steve Levitan is a Canadian Media & Entertainment Lawyer and the President of Protocol Entertainment.  has produced 4 feature films, over 675 episodes of TV drama, and 5 TV movies which have enjoyed widespread success all over the world.

 
Artist Profile with Zarah Nguyen
 

I sit down with animation artist Zarah Nguyen shortly after the main-exhibition event of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF).

... a celebration of comics and graphic novels and their creators, which culminates in a two-day exhibition and vendor fair featuring hundreds of comics creators from around the world.
— http://www.torontocomics.com/about-tcaf/
Vietnam born, Oakville Artist Zarah Nguyen. Black and white artist profile portrait.

Vietnam born, Oakville Artist Zarah Nguyen. Black and white artist profile portrait.

Born in Vietnam, currently in the final year of animation at Sheridan Collage and bound for Los Angeles to intern with animation studio Six Points Harness, we discuss Zarah's impressions of Toronto, the themes of her work, and her thoughts on year's main TCAF event.

 

 
zarah-8035.JPG
 

For those who might not be familiar, can you please tell me a bit about TCAF

TCAF is a place where independent coming book artists and illustrators gather to present their work, sell original art and to network.

It is a place particularly for young and emerging artists to develop an audience while expanding their own voice, to present journeys, explorations and themes which might not be spoken about elsewhere.

Not Safe for Work, in other words....

Definitely Not Safe For Work

Did you see anything that stood out to you in particular this year?

Absolutely. One graphic novel I ended picking up during the show is Canopy, by Karine Bernadou.

It’s an unconventional work dealing with tales of cruelty and growth, and the way the two are intertwined. A person growing up, who sees the people around her die and she herself betrayed in turn, all happening for no apparent reason.
Of course.

In your work so far, and in previous mentions, the theme of gender fluidity comes up more than once. Surely that must be relevant to a society which seems to increasingly acknowledge by name various gender-related identities.

It’s more nuanced than that, and I prefer to focus on gender fluidity rather than gender identity.

Gender fluidity, I conceive as a state of mind and body, a state of social and personal preference of body consciousness, given by anything at any time. It is an individual’s attitude towards the environment, those within it and themselves.

In that sense, labels or distinct identities become flags with which we may adorn ourselves...

But your work seeks to address something more profound than that?

Who is your work relevant to, or who do you hope to reach?

Millennials, naturally, is a common niche for me and for those attending TCAF. But really, I hope my work can reach out to anyone who can relate to experiences or some form or uncertainty or doubts.

Doubts with regards to what?

Their own identity. Their own society and those around them, versus their own unfiltered selves.

Tell me about Darling Martyr.

Darling talks about NSFW things, those gritty things that people tend to forget about; or feel embarrassed about that they hide them underneath a social persona.

When riding a wave of adrenaline it is easy to forget the moments of past experience, moments of doubts and of vulnerability which make us fully human.

A successful or initiated person gains a label, or many, and all the strings and expectations that come with that. I seek to show more than that, to reconnect or to show for the first time, the full range of human experience.

Darling Martyr is a first person account of "life as a foul minded squishy."
Fans, and those interested, can find new installments of the Darling Martyr series on Instagram, Facebook and tumblr

Until next time

 

 



 
Rooftopping With Liquid String

My collaboration with Liquid String resurrected a long-time personal passion, namely roof-top and city photography, which came at a time when on-going assignments were otherwise forcing me to remain grounded.

Valentin Coman, the man behind the Toronto-area technical solutions provider, Liquid String, took me on assignment to survey and photograph real estate properties through the Greater Toronto Area on behalf his long-time client AA Property Management.

 
Valentin Coman, Liquid String.

Valentin Coman, Liquid String.

Yours truly, Michael Victor Studio.

Yours truly, Michael Victor Studio.

 

Subsequently going out on a few outings of my own, I present for your enjoyment a collection of city views taken from various suburban real-estate development nodes in the Greater Toronto Area.

Digital Collage, Architectural Models

Wet cobblestones and row upon row of masonry warehouse set the stage for this photo shoot in SOHO, New York CIty. Taking out my canon 8-15 mm fisheye lens out for a spin, see below my two favorite captures from the trip.

Digital Collage created from a collection of personal architectural photographs taken on trips to the United States and Eastern Europe, as well as from a collection of studio shots featuring student models from George Brown College. Prints made their debut at the Kensington Market Art fair, in Toronto, November 2014. 

Earthcam Installation

Once again on photographic assignment with Liquid String, this time to perform technical documentation and photography for social media.

 

The subject, a high definition EarthCam installed to survey a residential condominium construction site in High Park, Toronto. Ultimately, the EarthCam is anticipated to record 2 years' worth of construction, producing a high-definition time-lapse of the entire process, from start to finish.

Studio Photoshoot, George Brown

Included in the continuing education digital photography curriculum at George Brown College are a series of self-guided studio shoots, facilitated and supported by George Brown instructors. Find below a collection of the best portrait photos from those sessions, as well a few from independent shoots.

More description here.

Beachest studio shoot with Darren Kane

I had been intending to do a high gloss studio shoot for quite some time when I met Toronto stylist Darren Kane at a post-show party subsequent to the fall Art Toronto exhibit at the Metro Toronto Convention center.

A natural camera darling and beaming with masculine beauty, Darren proved to be wonderful talent to work with for this studio photoshoot.

Shot in Toronto's east-end neighborhood, the Beaches. [Beaches Studio]

Featuring HIM Toronto models @night.danger and @garett.mma

 

AA Property Management

Surveying the various properties managed by AA Property Management took me to locations through the Greater Toronto Area, including a gathering at an upmarket North York residential condominium building for a team photoshoot.

 
Logo Variations.

Logo Variations.

The Whole Team Together.

The Whole Team Together.

Grand Lobby, North York Residential.

Grand Lobby, North York Residential.

 
Cover Art for Indie Musician Vivienne Wilder

Graphic design, artist profile portraiture and cover art for Toronto indie musician Vivienne Wilder.  The photoshoot took place in Corctown, at the border between the newly constructed residential community and Corktown Common Park, and the large swaths of industrial and rail lands sitting fallow on the eastern edge of downtown Toronto.

In the artist's own words:

Vivienne Wilder is a woman who was previously victimized and deeply hurt from heartbreak and betrayal, but has overcome this and become stronger, centered, and observant. Despite the giant chip on her shoulder, she is still a a hopeless romantic. She is a lone wolf, always has been, always will be. She is drawn to the downtroden and misunderstood, the ugly and overlooked. Vivienne wants to see the beauty in the broken glass and she wants to rescue it and give it a good, loving home.

Vivienne spent a long time in the South. Bright colours, exuberant personalities, intense experiences, heat. She wanted to be there because she thought that the South could “fix” her, cure her darkness, melt her aloof and frigid nature. She thought that by proximity she could become Southern. She was addicted.

Betrayals, both by intimates and by her self, ultimately kept her in the North. She has grieved the idea of the South and she has despised the North. Yet in the North she has had to face her demons. She realized that her fixation with leaving was entwined with a sense of panic towards facing personal history; the belief that she oughtn’t stay somewhere too long or else there will be consequences and complications. Leave now so you don’t feel the reverberations of your past actions. Don’t get too close to anyone. Or else, the cold months will make you think about what you have done.
— Vivienne Wilder

Toronto's east end provides a unique environment, vistas of urban intensity juxtaposed by a swath urban industrial decay, tracing a by-gone era which evokes feelings of melancholy and emptiness. An environment found fitting for the setting of a story, my cover art and artist profile photography sought to illustrate a musician's experience through a lens of visual art.