Have you made a New Year’s resolution to get fit? If so you might want to try something a little different in 2022 like introducing kettlebells to your exercise regime. A good place to start is with a class from Kettlebell Kickboxing Canada (KBKB) in their Regina flagship studio at 2135 Broad Street or with one of their online training classes.

Traditionally, a kettlebell is a black cannonball with a cast-iron handle attached that is used in lunges, swings and lifts to simultaneously engage a variety of muscle groups. Typically the regimen is done in bare feet with just one kettlebell appropriate to the participant’s skill level and strength. Like loading weights on a barbell, kettlebell workouts increase strength while burning fat, as well providing an effective cardio-vascular workout without the need for extensive space or expensive equipment.

According to Jodi Barrett, owner of the sole Canadian franchise for Kettlebell Kickboxing Canada, (KBKB Canada), kettlebells are considered “the new kid on the exercise block”. However, they are an ancient training tool that can be glimpsed in antiquated photos of circus strongmen. Russia is considered the modern cradle of kettlebells but they are long-evidenced elsewhere in the world. Strongmen in Scotland threw a kind of curling stone over a high bar during primitive Highland Games and even today a variation is used in modern competitions. Pavel Tsatsouline, a Russian, is credited with bringing kettlebells to North America in the latter part of the last century. In the 21st century they exploded in popularity. The benefits of short, intense workouts without the need for much space or equipment propelled kettlebells to a premier choice for both the fit-conscious and film stars. Gerard Butler used kettlebells to transform into a Spartan warrior-king in the hit movie 300 – as did many of the film’s other Spartans. A study, published in 2013 by the American Council on Exercise, documented kettlebell benefits. “In addition to the predictable strength gains, kettlebell training was also shown to markedly increase aerobic capacity, improve dynamic balance and dramatically increase core strength.” Kettlebells’ better results can also be seen by spending less time in the gym.  

Medical advice is recommended before beginning any new exercise program. In addition, the appropriate kettlebell weight is crucial so an initial consultation with a certified trainer can be highly beneficial. Fortunately for Regina, Jodi Barrett was recognized among the top kettlebell trainers in Canada in 2021 by the premier health and fitness publication Impact.  

A long-time fitness buff, Jodi gravitated towards kettlebells following several “pivotal life points” including the transition to single parenthood after 13 years as a stay-at-home-mom. “I got brave,” she says, “and recognized I needed more and wanted more.” Her background as a farm girl from Bengough, Saskatchewan fueled an entrepreneurial spirit and a university degree in Physical Activities, with a major in fitness and lifestyle from the University of Regina in 1998, ultimately led her to New York, where she trained in a kettlebells program fusing core principles of marital arts, particularly kick boxing. “It was huge, uncomfortable and exhausting,” she says. But her efforts and expertise attracted the attention of key players, and soon Jodi was participating in international training events including that with former US Navy Seal, Thom Shea and earning Master Level credentials as both an instructor and as certification trainer. In 2017 she was granted the sole Canadian franchise for Kettlebell Kickboxing (KBKB) and two years later, she opened her Regina studio. Classes are offered both in-person and on-line via the website Jodi continues to contribute to the field, by blogging, teaching, organizing retreats and maintaining an active presence on social media.

Rather than resting on her achievements, Jodi is working towards a new definition of fitness – a physical one enabled by KBKB training that promotes inner harmony within a community of like-minded people. “It’s re-thinking fitness,” she says, “as a big picture of both fitness and wellness, while creating a community one work-out at a time.”

The Prohibition Room at The Hotel Saskatchewan


There is no signage announcing the purpose of the secret room tucked into an alcove of The Hotel Saskatchewan, but an ancient typewriter placed on a table out front contains a sheet of paper displaying the word “Prohibition”. Though the calendar says 2022, this place suggests a century earlier, the 1920s, when prohibition laws forbade the production, sale and consumption of alcohol. 

The Prohibition Room in The Hotel Saskatchewan took two years to complete before officially opening in November, 2021. Like many businesses experiencing COVID-19 restrictions, creative means were sought to maintain income while continuing the hotel’s commitment to its legacy. The hotel’s aim with the recent creation of the Prohibition Room, as it was throughout the hotel’s extensive renovation in 2015, was to ensure that the hotel’s spirit and heritage would remain.  

Cupboards were searched and photographs collected to create a speak-easy of the kind built during the prohibition era. Dominating the Prohibition Room is a massive, century-old, rosewood sofa original to the hotel. Velvet-topped stools cluster round a central bar whose back shelving once hung in the newspaper and smoke shop. On the walls are framed old documents and photographs of the people who patronized the hotel throughout its near century of operations including British royal family members. One is personally signed by “Elizabeth and Phillip”! Since opening in 1927, The Hotel Saskatchewan, known as the Grande Old Dame of Victoria Avenue, hosted many of Regina’s prominent guests and events.

Back in the 20s the hotel was built in less than a year. At peak capacity some 1,000 men worked round the clock to complete the block-long hotel across from Victoria Park. As with the Saskatchewan Legislative Building, Tyndall stone from Manitoba was quarried for the hotel’s exterior. Inside, white marble, massive crystal chandeliers and hand-crafted mouldings created the old world grandeur of sister hotels built by the Canadian Pacific Railway. 

Today The Hotel Saskatchewan continues to honour the spirit of the Prohibition Era it originated in with a daily ritual in its Circa 27 lounge. At precisely 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, the bartender, likely Jody Sutherland who has been there for thirty years, blows a train whistle connected to an air compressor to authenticate the sound, and provides patrons with a half-shot of whiskey. He then toasts the end of the ‘dark days’ of prohibition and urges the guests to enjoy the current pleasures on hand.

Prohibition was prompted by the Temperance Movement, whose members believed liquor was the demon fueling family violence, economic uncertainty and moral iniquity. Provinces closed bars and prohibited the manufacture and consumption of alcohol, though some exemptions were permitted. For example, come Christmas, doctors encountered a near-epidemic of illnesses requiring ‘medicinal’ prescriptions filled at government pharmacies!

The prohibition legislation also prompted a thriving industry of “rum-running,” to the United States with its stricter alcohol laws and longer period of prohibition than Canada. Moonshine made with illegal stills popped up like prairie crocuses as did speak-easies where liquor was discretely served in quiet rooms such as the Prohibition Room now found at The Hotel Saskatchewan. 

Currently restrictions to service are based on COVID-19 health and safety guidelines rather than alcohol prohibition. Melynda Loder, Director of Sales and Marketing for The Hotel Saskatchewan is optimistic that the future will soon allow for a greater variety of food and drink and greater number of individuals to enjoy the Prohibition Room. Melynda said: “We wanted to create new ways to tell the story of the hotel within the community and stay true to its history.” With the addition of the Prohibition Room it appears they have done just that.

Today, the Prohibition Room can be booked for small groups wanting to sample canapés, cocktails, mocktails and cups of “Prohibition Tea”. As in a speak-easy of old, the “special tea” is laced with whiskey and poured into traditional china cups with saucers, to suggest a refined beverage is being served and not a contraband one. Crafted with the hotel’s own curated blend of tea and whiskey from Lumsden’s Last Mountain Distillery, the drink is served from small bottles, resembling glass medicine bottles of the 1920s, each one sealed with red wax.

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