Categories
Opinions

The 75 hard challenge: transformative or troublesome?

Dive into the debate behind this fitness frenzy. If Alix Earle is doing it, we should too… right?

The online wellness community is buzzing as the 75 Hard Challenge continues to garner attention from influencers and fitness enthusiasts worldwide. Created by author and motivational speaker Andy Frisella, this mental toughness program promises life-altering changes over a grueling 75-day period. 

However, as the challenge’s hashtag on TikTok gains popularity, boasting more than a billion views since its debut in 2019, a crucial question arises: is it a path to a healthier lifestyle, or does it border on glorified eating disorder behavior?  

The challenge lays out six stringent rules that participants must adhere to for 75 consecutive days: maintain a strict diet with no cheat meals, abstain from alcohol, consume a gallon of water daily, complete two 45-minute workouts and read 10 pages of a book each day, and take a daily progress photo. Failure to comply requires restarting the challenge from day one, adding an extra layer of pressure. 

I know, right? Exhausting. But influencers across social media are doing this challenge so it must be good for us… right? 

Social media “It Girl” Alix Earle’s account has blown up this year, racking in over six million followers on TikTok. On Jan. 2, Alix embarked on her truncated version of the 75 Hard Challenge, which she calls the “30 hard,” sharing to social media that the standard 75 days was too long for her. 

After completing the challenge, Earle made it clear that exercising twice a day was draining, and not something she planned to continue in the future. 

Skepticism about the practicality and impact of the challenge persists. I spoke to Alexandra Tverdokhleb, a first-year sociology student at Concordia, who first heard of the challenge last year and wanted to give it a go to kickstart a healthy new year.  

“I tried to do the 75 Hard Challenge and I think I lasted two days because I realized it was so unrealistic with my lifestyle,” Tverdokhleb said, a sentiment shared by many students with demanding schedules.  

I also got to chat with Michelle Itzcovitch, a spin instructor at Le Spin for the past six years. With a decade of experience in the fitness industry, Michelle had plenty to share regarding the 75 Hard Challenge.  

Itzcovitch emphasized the importance of fostering a positive mindset in fitness, advocating for exercise as a choice to feel good rather than a restrictive endeavor.  

“I don’t want [working out] to be something that we dread or don’t look forward to,” she explained. “I find when you have something that gives you that restrictive mindset like the 75 Hard Challenge, if you don’t meet these standards, it’s like you failed.” She believes the 75 Hard Challenge is “glorified eating disorder behavior.”  

Michelle’s opinion is a common one amongst people who criticize the challenge online. Yet the challenge’s reach continues to grow as popular influencers on TikTok and YouTube post about it left, right and center. 

Still, the lingering question is: can anyone really tackle the 75 Hard Challenge successfully, or is it all just harmful habits disguised as a health kick?

Categories
Concert Reviews Music

Giddy-up for country sensation Morgan Wallen’s electric Montreal performance

Morgan Wallen’s performance in Montreal on Saturday, Sept. 23 opened with Bailey Zimmerman and Ernest giving the fans a show to remember. 

Montreal’s Bell Centre came alive on Saturday night as Morgan Wallen took the stage to perform the 34th show of his 2023 One Night At A Time World Tour. Decked out in cowboy hats, boots, and flannel shirts, the electric crowd was in for a treat with opening acts Bailey Zimmerman and Ernest. Wallen, riding the high of his latest album, One Thing At A Time, made history with all 36 tracks simultaneously charting on Billboard’s Hot 100, surpassing Drake’s record. 

Bailey Zimmerman, the 23-year-old American singer and songwriter from Illinois was energetic and passionate as he bounced around the stage, high-fived fans on the floor, and flipped his hair back and forth. He sang his hit singles “Fall In Love” and “Rock and A Hard Place” and ended his performance referencing bible verse Mark 9:23: “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” 

“If you take anything away from my show tonight, it’s that there’s gonna be people telling you what you’re doing is crazy, but if I didn’t follow my dreams, I would not be here in Montreal opening for the Morgan Wallen One Night At A Time tour!” he exclaimed enthusiastically.  

Up next was Ernest, American country music singer and songwriter who beamed on stage with his personalized leather guitar strap and his “Gallagher #11” Montreal Canadians jersey. He launched an “olé, olé olé” chant and the crowd went wild. He sang some of his songwriting marvels  “Did It With You,” “Son of a Sinner,” and “Somebody’s Problem”, the latter being a song he wrote for Wallen’s Dangerous: The Double Album in 2021.  

As he strummed the opening chords of his hit song “Flower Shops,” he revealed that this song “validated what [he] thought was true. Country music is still alive and well,” Ernest added.

The audience illuminated the Bell Centre with a sea of cellphone flashlights, swaying in harmony with the music. As the song drew to a close, Montreal Canadiens’ Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield made a surprise appearance, joining Ernest on stage to toss red roses into the crowd.  

As Ernest concluded his performance at 8:25 p.m., the anticipation in the air heightened. Wallen emerged from his dressing room strutting to his duet with Lil Durk “Broadway Girls” at 9:20 p.m. He sported a white long-sleeved shirt, beige jeans, and a green duck hat that matched his duck necklace. Wallen took centre stage atop a riser to kickstart the night with his crowd-pleaser, “Up Down”. Smoke bombs and fireworks sparked as he shouted, “What’s going on Montreal, how we doing tonight?!”  

He thanked the fans for their dedication and introduced his crew on stage with him—Mark “Taco” Annino on drums, Luke Cowboy Rice on bass and guitar, Tyler Tomlinson on guitar, Chris Gladden on keys, Tony Aichele on guitar and Dominic Frost on guitar and lead vocals.

Following “I Wrote The Book,” “One Thing At A Time,” and “Everything I Love” was “’98 Braves” with a story about his love for baseball. He shared that baseball taught him a lot about life and is the reason why he has persevered in the music industry and has created the Morgan Wallen Foundation. The Foundation’s goal is to support programs for youth in sports and music because Wallen believes that “all children deserve a chance to thrive, play, and create.” For every concert ticket sold, $3 goes to support the foundation’s work.  

His next songs were “You Proof,” “Ain’t That Some,” “Sunrise,” and “Cover Me Up”—one of the first songs he wrote. “This song gave me a lot of faith, hope, and encouragement that maybe I wasn’t crazy about moving away from home and being a country singer. Maybe I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. Thank you for letting me sing about stuff that means a lot to me,” Wallen said during his emotional speech.  

He then segued into “Chasing You” and “Thought You Should Know”, a touching tribute to his mother, accompanied by his guitarist Dominic. Wallen invited Zimmerman back on stage to perform a spirited rendition of “I Deserve A Drink”. The latter wore an Expos baseball jersey and bright red jeans. 

Ernest later re-joined Wallen to perform “Cowgirls” together. After returning from a brief break, Wallen emerged sporting a “#7 Wallen HABS” jersey, eliciting roars of excitement from the crowd. The highlight of the night was “Last Night,” which had become the year’s biggest country song across North America in all genres, marking a significant milestone for Wallen.  

His last song of the night was “Whiskey Glasses” and the concert concluded with fireworks, leaving fans thrilled with the experience. “That was officially one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to,” proclaimed Sam Tanner, a fourth-year JMSB student at Concordia. “I went with my mom, and it was definitely worth the money.” 

After the concert, fans flocked to merchandise stands and sang Wallen’s hit songs all the way to the Lucien-L’Allier metro station, concluding a memorable evening of country music in Montreal. 

Categories
Community

Community Food Centre’s “numbers have skyrocketed” post-pandemic

Team members discuss new innovations at the NDG Depot since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout the past 30 years, the Depot Community Food Centre has worked day and night to provide food for low-income families. Originally founded as a temporary emergency food measure in 1986, the Depot has now grown into a crucial resource to ensure food security in NDG and the surrounding areas. 

While its primary purpose is a food bank, their Marché Depot also acts as a grocery store. Volunteers help cook food, serve participants, and stock pantries. Additionally, the centre is solely donation-based. Most of the money comes from grants from the federal and municipal government, individual donations, or charitable foundations. 

A volunteer scoops apple butter from the pot and separates sliced apples with spices. Photo by Jacqueline Lisbona/THE CONCORDIAN

Karima Dajani is the communications coordinator for the Depot. She explained that customers are given a certain amount of “depot dollars” once a month to purchase food depending on how many people are in their household. 

“The depot dollars are split, they have a budget between fresh produce and dry ingredients, and they come for their appointment once a month and shop,” Dajani said.

However, after the pandemic, the Depot Community Food Centre adapted and improved their safety measures and distribution system. According to Randa Abu Hakima, a volunteer of six years, one of the changes is that the depot no longer accepts food donations from the public.

“It’s a much better image to present to people in the community. It is food that we would eat rather than outdated cans of food or stuff people rejected from their homes,” Hakima explained. 

Dajani said the demand for their food has increased since the pandemic.

“Our numbers have skyrocketed. Not just because of COVID, but also because we’re seeing a lot more immigrants. December was by far our busiest month ever. We provided emergency food for around 2,770 individuals,” Dajani recalled. 

Dajani also explained that a new “award-winning healthy food policy” has been implemented since the pandemic. “We only serve meat at the restaurant once a week, and everything is as clean and healthy as possible, she said.” 

Okra is chopped to add to the vegan curry. Photo by Jacqueline Lisbona/THE CONCORDIAN

The COVID-19 outbreak also gave the community food centre the opportunity to reflect on their food distribution system.

“During COVID we were delivering to people, so we had to change the way we operated. We had to shift super quickly,” Dajani said, explaining that they had to stop their delivery services post-pandemic.

Despite the changes, Hakima still feels at home when she volunteers.

“I feel part of a community, a very special community and it relates to food. I love my food so I want everyone to enjoy their food and to have food so it’s a very happy and rewarding place to be.”

Categories
Community

The Family Store’s initiative to save Montreal residents in need

Amid soaring food prices, the Family Store is an oasis providing groceries at or below costs for those in need in the Jewish community.

Back in December 2008, Rabbi Yossi Kessler created The Family Store located on Courtrai avenue in Côte-des-Neiges. Kessler had the intent of helping lower-class Jewish residents obtain grocery items at a subsidized cost. 

What started as a small pantry has grown into a well-oiled machine with volunteers bustling at 11 a.m. on Sunday afternoons. 

TFS brings together volunteers from different cultural backgrounds. Volunteers can help on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Wednesdays from 5 to 9 p.m.

“One must qualify to be a member here. They must make below a certain income threshold or have a certain number of kids. What we sell here is all either at cost or slightly below. We are not giving it away for free,” said Joel Rashkovsky, a volunteer at TFS for almost nine years. 

Volunteers flood the warehouse on Sundays and Wednesdays. They do various tasks such as placing labels on cardboard boxes and they grab carts to fill orders for customers.

Customers can place their orders online using the “digital pantry”  including over 1,300 stock codes for each food item offered. Once the order is placed, the grocery items are listed the same way they are presented in the store, making the packing process more efficient.

On those two days, volunteers filled up their carts with an assortment of kosher groceries like matzo farfel, beef franks, and Gefen grape juice. In the back, the noise from the rumbling fridge full of two types of kosher chicken made its presence known.

The products at The Family Store. Photo by Jacqueline Lisbona/THE CONCORDIAN

As soon as the volunteers have finished shopping for the order, they pack the items in reusable cardboard boxes and a text message is sent saying “come pick up your order.” Their system is quick, efficient, and improves every year. 

According to The Family Store’s website, last month, they had one of their biggest fundraisers ever. While the initial goal was $872,000 on Thursday Dec. 15, 2022, it was announced that they surpassed it and raised $913,172.

As volunteering becomes an even more vital part in education, many high schools such as Bialik High School have made volunteering a requirement. 

“I’m doing a mitzvah [a good deed] while having a great time,” said Hailey Murad, a grade 9 student at Bialik High School.

“When I first started, I didn’t realize how many people in our community need basics like food. This experience has taught me to be grateful for what I have and thoughtful for those in need.”

“Volunteering with cousins and friends makes it even more enjoyable,” said Charlotte Stermer, another grade 9 student at Bialik. 

“On Sundays we have a lot of high school students who come and want to get their hours done,” said Michelle Moryoussef, another volunteer at The Family Store. Many student groups from universities like McGill help as well.  

Founder of TFS Rabbi Kessler exclaimed that over the past two years with COVID and inflation, “the prices were unbelievably high and far from what people could afford. These people are working very hard to make a living, and we decided that we had to do something to help these people,” he added.

A man is seen looking at the products of The Family Store. Photo by: Jacqueline Lisbona/THE CONCORDIAN
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