As a 4-year paddler, the time seemed right to make my way to a dragon boat training camp, Space Coast Dragon Boat Camp, located in Melbourne, Florida. There were many factors for me to consider before committing to this – accommodations, transportation, finance, just to name a few. I wondered if the training would be too challenging, and if I’d be able to handle it.  I’ve surprised myself in the past, so it was time to surprise myself again. Thirteen of my teammates also made the decision to attend the camp, so I was not alone.  

Accommodations were made close to the camp, and the planning began! I decided to join a convoy of 8 teammates to travel there by vehicle. (It helps to have a vehicle to transport paddles and life jackets. While they CAN be checked at the airport, it’s much safer to have them transported by car. ) We left Hamilton at 4:00 am on Friday morning, spent the night in Charlotte, North Carolina, and then arrived in Melbourne in the late afternoon on Saturday.

Camp began on Monday morning, after a brief meeting with all paddlers on the Sunday evening. We began our day at 7:00 am with mobility exercises with Anne Baker. As a paddler herself, she is extremely knowledgeable about how paddling affects our bodies. Lots of moans and groans could be heard during our sessions as we worked through these stretches.  After 45 minutes of stretching, we headed to Oars & Paddles Park for our first in-boat lesson with our coach, Aaron. One of the benefits for those of us living in colder climes,  is that we truly have the most wonderful sea life to observe in a sunny and warm climate. From the very first paddle, we were fortunate to see dolphins dancing in the water. And this continued for the entire week!  

Aaron took us out and began the process of getting to know us as a team and as individual paddlers. With his gentle guidance and encouragement, we also began the process of getting to know him. We all enjoyed our time on the water- it was exciting to be back in a dragon boat to enjoy the sport we love. We had a second practice in the afternoon which, while exhausting, was highly successful. The week went on like this – yoga/mobility, practice at 8:15 and the second at 2:45, both lasting for 90 minutes. In addition, we had a daily “Coach’s Talk”, which was not mandatory to attend. We learned about the origins of the camp, and the direction the camp was heading in the future.  

On Thursday, we had a 16 km paddle, known as the Causeway Paddle. To be honest, this paddle was something I was most apprehensive about.  It seemed daunting to me, despite reassurances from others that it was manageable.  I have never paddled this distance since I’ve started dragon boating but I was there to get the most from this camp, so off we went. And it WAS the most challenging paddle I’ve ever experienced but I’m happy to say that I did it. We ALL did it! And it was exhilarating, to say the least. 

Saturday was race day – a 2000m race for the 5 teams at camp. For a 2k race, boats are released at the start line every 30 seconds. For me, the 2000m is a race of endurance and strength. Our team is very much accustomed to emptying our tanks and leaving nothing on the boat. And this race was no exception. With 17 paddlers in our boat, we came in second place. We were thrilled!  The boat that took first place had a full boat of 20 paddlers.  

Traditionally, after this race, a lunch and social event takes place to close out the week. Our team did a dance for both Jim Farintosh, founder of the Space Camp, and Aaron. It was very well received and our team had a lot of fun with it.  

Saturday evening, we convened at our condo and had a potluck dinner. What better way to empty our fridges and pantries than holding a potluck! The festivities started at 5:00 and it wrapped at 7:00 – exhaustion had become our constant companion at this point. Many were preparing for the trip home and wanted to get to sleep early.  

I think I speak for all of us when I say that these camps are a real learning experience. Having a different perspective on this sport was immensely helpful to me and, with the base I had already developed, I learned a lot. My goal is to bring this knowledge onto the water when we get back to training in May!  

Bryan Kelly is the Owner of SMBS Personal Training and Wellness Studio, located in Hamilton, Ontario.

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Bryan Kelly to ask him about his role as a Personal Trainer. Bryan has been instrumental in working with our team and with our team members individually to help build strength not just for our sport, but for every day life. 

What are your qualifications? 

Although the industry is not regulated, I am a Certified Personal Trainer. In order to remain certified, I need to complete credits through continuing education on a yearly basis. I am also a Certified Indoor Cycling Instructor, Certified Nutrition and Wellness Coach, and a Pilates Instructor. 

How long have you been in the fitness industry? 

I was certified in July of 2003 but have been in the industry 20+ years. 

Is there anything unique about training women with breast cancer? Any specific challenges? 

The short answer is that clients always come with challenges and it’s my job to adapt to these challenges. Even prior to being involved with Knot a Breast, I had clients that had battled cancer. Knot a Breast clients taught me more about breast cancer than I ever knew. Out of that, I’ve come to realize that scar tissue can be a huge issue and one of the largest challenges that these women face. I’ve realized the importance of how it all plays a role and how hard it is to deal with. As well, I’ve heard that it’s not something that is really dealt with enough after surgery. 

You recently had an opportunity to paddle a dragonboat. Did it change anything with regard to workouts for your KAB clients? 

I always knew that dragonboat paddling was one-sided but once I paddled, I better understood it and felt it – the “awkwardness” of the motion strengthened what I was originally thinking and helped me to stay the course with the KAB members. 

There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding around diet and nutrition. What advice would you give to those looking for this information? 

The most important thing I believe is that there needs to be a good balance – no diets, no trends, no cutting things out. There is no easy fix. Common sense and consistency is so important. A large part of working out is mental. You need to balance your approach. No over doing the good or the bad stuff!

With regard to diet and exercise, what does a typical day look like for you? 

I’ve had to revisit my diet and nutrition needs over the years due to changes in my own body. Breakfast is a smoothie with a type of greens, a combination of different sources of starches, proteins and fats to try to get as much nutrition from as many sources as I’m able to for myself. Then a snack with again a different type of green veggie with hummus, a variety of nuts, and usually a small piece of cheese. Lunch is a protein, starch and salad. And dinner changes daily (with an 8 year old more pizza then I care to admit). Depending on the goals that I set for myself and what I’m trying to achieve, I workout 4-6 days a week, mostly resistance based training. 

Do you have any success stories you can share with us? 

Honestly working as a trainer for over 20 year there has been quite a few. I’ve had people come in with an injury or have pain that affects their quality of life on a daily basis. After working with them for a while, they say that they no longer think about that pain. I love hearing that working with me has impacted a positive change to live a better quality of life. 

Your current business model is 100% remote. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this? 

Prior to the pandemic, I was doing remote training for about 15 years with select clients. So switching to 100% remote was not a big deal for me. The challenging part was getting clients to understand that they can work out in their own home with little to no equipment and still get a quality workout. I believe I have been able to deliver safe and effective programs to my clients and classes online.

What is the biggest challenge you face right now? 

It’s what a lot of small business owners face I guess – advertising and getting the message out that I can help people achieve their goals and help them feel better. 

What is the best thing about your job? 

Helping people to realize they can achieve their goals. 

What do you do for fun? 

My favourite thing is spending time with my wife, Juliette, and my son, Max. It doesn’t even matter what we’re doing, as long as we’re spending time together. 

What is something people would be surprised to know about you? 

Maybe some people don’t really know that I’m an introvert! I never was really comfortable speaking in front of a group, but when it comes to fitness and nutrition it’s not really a problem. I guess it is just where I am comfortable. 

If you were doing what your 10 year-old self wanted to do, what would your career be? 

At that time, I guess it would have been a veterinarian. When I was young boy in grade school, I spoke with my teacher about my love for animals and always having pets growing up. I thought caring for animals as a veterinarian would be great, but as I grew up I realized I would have a hard time seeing very sick animals I could not help, or seeing them die or needing to put them to sleep.  

Thanks to Bryan for taking the time to speak with us!

When asked about their experiences with Bryan, team members offered this:

When Covid hit and gyms closed, my long time personal trainer, who had trained me and supported me through two Dragon Boat and one Outrigger World Championship, decided it might be a good time to retire. Great for her, but what about me? I wasn’t sure that I wanted to compete internationally anymore, but I knew that I wanted to maintain the strength and fitness that I did have and wasn’t sure I could do it on my own. Not long after that I joined KAB and, through the Metabolic sessions he conducted for the team during the off-season, I met Bryan Kelly. After realizing that working out on my own wasn’t cutting it, I decided to reach out to Bryan to chat about personal training. Great decision. Bryan listens to his clients and works with them to ensure that they get what they want from their workouts. He’s caring, compassionate, and a lot of fun. And, while I can’t say that I always look forward to my session with him, I’m always happy that I made the effort when they’re done. I have  made gains in strength, but, probably more important, I have seen significant improvement in my functional fitness. We on KAB are very fortunate to have him as a resource and a support.Sue H

Since 2016, Bryan has provided personal training to me. His programs are customized for his clients based on their goals, strengths, weaknesses, injuries, health issues, eating habits and much more. For me, knowing we were preparing for IBCPC in Florence, Italy, I was focused on strength training and building endurance, and Bryan got me there!

Bryan is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about his training programs. He keeps me focused, energized, and motivated by changing up my program every few weeks ( he knows I get bored) and is dedicated to all his clients to make it happen. And if Bryan asks, “do you think you have more set in you”…you say YES (you won’t have a choice anyway)!Jo-Anne R.

Bryan Kelly has a studio in Hamilton but also trains his clients remotely. He is able to tailor a workout to his client’s personal needs. In addition, he is an expert in nutrition and can educate his clients on how to make food work for them and their lifestyle.

Bryan can be reached at: 

Email –

Mobile – 905.746.4433

Knot A Breast breast cancer survivor dragon boat team (KAB) has been very busy this winter, both in skills training and in improving our fitness levels. “Zoom” has really been a game-changer for our team during these long months of Covid restrictions! This fabulous platform has allowed us to keep training together the last two years. Tuesday and Thursday evenings we meet online for Live classes led by amazing trainers that range from barbell classes to tabata and yoga. We also get to virtually visit with our “snowbird” teammates who join in to exercise and share their warm weather adventures! Coach Kathy Levy is always in attendance, giving feedback, correcting posture and encouraging the team to keep pushing hard!

“Zoom” has really been a game-changer for our team during these long months of Covid restrictions!

Sundays have meant training at Welland International Flatwater Centre where we practice our technique in the tank and do circuit training in the gym. The flowing water in the tank provides an amazing opportunity to simulate paddling during the long winter!

Our team stays engaged via our private Facebook group page. This winter we focused on challenges to improve our mental health and focus on building healthy habits, like getting outside more and enjoying better sleep. We share recipes, milestones, jokes and encouragement with our team this way.

KAB has definitely been impacted by Covid. We have many new members that have yet to race despite being with our team the last two years! We also have a crew of national champions (Regina, 2019) that have been chomping at the bit to finally get to that international race they earned a berth at!

Knot A Breast is looking forward to getting back on the water to get both our new paddlers ready to race in the Hamilton Dragon Boat Festival, and our performance crew prepared to head to Sarasota in July to compete at the Club Crew World Championships!
However, beyond the races we have to look forward to this season, KAB is really looking forward to Saturday morning practices at Macassa Bay and being Together Again!

By Carrie Brooks-Joiner, KAB member

Many sports work specific muscle groups to a greater extent than others. As dragon boaters, Knot A Breast Breast Cancer Survivors focus on strengthening the shoulders, core and lats, and improving our overall cardio-fitness. While we have heard one of our coaches say that “dragon boaters don’t need strong legs,” our health and fitness can benefit from adding other sports or types of activities.

Among the benefits of cross-training include:

  • Improved total fitness. By adding in other activities that bring in more cardio-fitness, stretching and/or strength training, we can improve our overall fitness.
  • Reduced risk of injury. Spread the load, and increase flexibility and strength.
  • Weight loss. More activity burns calories. Need I say more?
  • Sticking with fitness. Switching it up reduces boredom and provides new opportunities to try new things and train with others.

By Kim Short, KAB Member

There is no better way to kick off the dragon boat season than participating in a training camp, especially when one gets to paddle at the beautiful, world-class Nathan Benderson Park in sunny Sarasota, Florida. This year’s training camp was held on April 28 to May 4, 2019. Members of Welland’s SNCC Warlocks, Sarasota’s Survivors in Sync, and London’s Rowbust and Pendragons joined thirteen members of the Knot A Breast Breast Cancer Survivor Dragon Boat Team. Our practices were 90 minutes long, twice a day for seven days with expert coaching from Kathy Levy (Knot A Breast), Doug Jones (SNCC Warlocks) and Cheryl McLachlan (Pendragons/Rowbust).

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It’s finally April and our breast cancer survivor teammates are eager to get outside! There are so many benefits from working out outdoors — from increased Vitamin D levels to mood improvement. However, if we don’t take some precautions, we could quickly get injured.


Every website we visited listed this piece of advice. Even if we have been walking/running on a treadmill, spinning indoors, or doing the elliptical, we cannot expect to take the same level of training outdoors right away. The pavement is harder, the weather adds to the workout, and the incline varies outdoors. Scale back to about 70% of what you were doing inside and gradually work your way back up. And if (gasp) you haven’t been working out inside, START REALLY SLOW!!! There is time — you will get there. Start with a brisk walk.


This way you can get in some tough workouts indoors, but still reap the benefits of the outdoors. Try increasing the incline on the treadmill to prepare yourself for elevation changes outside.


So often we are so happy to get outside and run or bike or swim or walk or hike that we forget to keep up with the weights! But in order to do cardio, our muscles and bones need to be strong! You could even take the weights outside. Dragon boating demands cardio fitness and strength.


Now is a good time to evaluate your “gear”. Check your shoes. Do you need more cushioning for your feet? Do you have layers that can be taken off when you work up a sweat? Do you have a water bottle to take with you outside?


No more excuses! Now is the time to get fit!!! Have fun!

On Monday, February 11, 2019, members from Knot A Breast Dragon Boat Team were joined by members from SNCC Warlocks Dragon Boat Crew to participate in the Threshold Metabolic Challenge. The challenge was created to raise awareness of and help end the stigma around mental illness.

Now that we’ve enjoyed the holidays, it’s time to get down to serious business.

Dryland/Pool practices are every Monday at 7 p.m. We alternate between group fitness training in the gym and a poolside practice focusing on technique. Training is held at the Hamilton YWCA at 75 McNab St S.

If you are a breast cancer survivor and are interested in coming to check it out, contact us for more details.