Meet Alana Paterson, Inside/Out's 1st Canadian community member. Born in the gulf islands of British Columbia, Alana has traveled frequently throughout her life, starting with family ski excursions and skateboarding trips in her 20s, followed by extended stays in Boston, Spain, Copenhagen, New York and Portland. Now based in Vancouver, she mostly travels for photography assignments for various international magazines like Victory Journal, Monocle and Vice and commercial clients including Lululemon, Nike, Patagonia and Urban Outfitters.


Alana maintains her balance by alternating creative missions (photography); practical activities such as flower farming; intense missions (marine search and rescue); and more traditional sports (rock climbing, running and skateboarding).

Read on for more on Alana’s trajectory, insights into the booming Vancouver wellness scene, and, finally, some tips for discovering the "California of the North."


INSIDE/OUT: What’s the first sport you ever practiced?
Alana Paterson: 
I started skiing when I was 4. Then after that I think it was a Japanese martial art called Wadokai. I went as far as my blue belt until I started skateboarding around 13.  

I/O: And the first one that made you feel confident?
Skateboarding probably. Cause I was a teenager by then so I knew that feeling not confident was thing.

I/O: Was physical education a central element of your identity at school when you were a kid?
Not at all. I was super active and did tons of stuff but I hated P.E.. I was not a sports kid in high school, I was a skateboarder by that point.

I/O: Are you a sports fan?
Not really a sports fan but I admire specific athletes…mostly women. Hilary Knight, Serena Williams, Danica Patrick, Simone Biles, Billie Jean King, Gabby Douglas, Wilma Rudolph, even Ronda Rousy. It's not so much that I admire them for a specific sport - I don’t watch boxing or tennis at all - but rather for their achievements in a world set against them.

I/O: What sports heroes do you remember from childhood?
When I was a teenager I admired loads of skateboarders. Elissa Steamer and Jamie Reyes and Alexis Sablone were the girls at that time. Then the guys…well there was so many…

I/O: Do you have a mantra?
Better than the last, not as good as the next.


I/O: How would you define the relationship that Vancouverites have with the active lifestyle? Do you feel it always been this way? If not, how have things changed?
Super active people! Lots of exercise and ways to exercise. I think Squamish, B.C. (45 minutes north of Vancouver) Is the outdoor recreation capital of the world. It definitely hasn’t always been that way, though. We are a resource-based province, so for a very long time everyone was working too hard logging, mining or fishing to give a toot about extra curricular activities. But now Vancouver is a very wealthy city, it has changed A LOT over the last 30 years. When I was a kid all you saw was blue collar working types, now its investment professionals and personal trainers.

I/O: Is there a certain active style there? What about beauty?
Loads of yoga and rock climbing for indoor stuff and they both have their aesthetics pretty nailed down. Lululemon is from Vancouver so you see A LOT of lululemon around. As for beauty, I'm not a specialist, but they call us 'the California of the north,' so I think there must be a big focus on natural products.

Hilary Knight, Serena Williams, Danica Patrick, Simone Biles (...) It’s not so much that I admire them for a specific sport (...) but rather for their achievements in a world set against them.

I/O: What is your ideal performance garment or product?
I don’t care too much how it looks as long as its works well. For my marine work it’s gotta be Mustang Survival - they have saved so many lives on the water it boggles the mind. For outdoor labor/farming stuff it has to be durable so Carhartt or Helly Hansen. And for training probably Nike. A boring boring answer but their designers just seem to know what I want.

I/O: What lifestyle rituals or routines do you do before or after training?
I usually eat, haha. Before and after. Drinking lots of water. That’s about it. For coast guard stuff the ritual of getting into our turnout gear with the team is pretty nice. It’s like a little camaraderie time before we get serious.


I/O: Favorite beauty brands?
The only real beauty products I use are Penny Frances Apothecary and they are really incredible. They are plant-based and organic skin products. She has this one called geranium botanical face serum which is mind altering. Another one I love is the organic cucumber, rose, prickly pear oil eye serum.

I/O: What activities say 'Vancouver' the most?
AP: Yoga, hiking and trail running probably. In the winter skiing or snowboarding because of the North Shore Mountains and the close proximity to Whistler.

Rock climbing is exploding right now. And I think that’s really cool. Its such primal, basic movements and your body reacts so well to it.

I/O: What trends do see happening? 
AP: Rock climbing is exploding right now. And I think that’s really cool. Its such primal, basic movements and your body reacts so well to it.

I/O: What activities have you recently discovered or want to try?
I’ll try anything once.

I/O: Favorite studio and class? Other activities or groups that you like?
I love my coast guard training. We train once a week for 2-3 hours and then we are expected to train an additional 6 hours a month with our specific crews (our station is broken down into groups of 5). Training is mostly on the water boat handling, rope handling, towing exercises and then there’s some swimming and cold water survival stuff we have to prepare for.


I/O: Have you ever traveled for sports or wellness?
AP: When I was a kid we travelled with my family for skiing and I travelled for skateboarding a lot in my 20’s. These days travel is mostly for work - photography stuff.

I/O: When travelling, how do you connect locally?
AP: Well skateboarding is amazing for that. You have a community instantly. I think rock climbing is like that, too, although I’m fairly new to the sport and haven’t started travelling with it in mind yet.

Well skateboarding is amazing for (connecting). You have a community instantly.

I/O: Do you feel more connected to communities online or physically?
Physical first. The digi side is great for research. That’s mostly what I use it for.

I/O: What destinations are on your wish list? 
I want to go to Russia so bad. It’s mostly for the mind. Create some relativity.

I/O: What role does music play in your practices?
 I like listening to music while I run and skateboard but I also like to not listen to music sometimes. Especially when I’m trail running in some nice deep woods. Very good natural sounds in there.


I/O: Are exercise and selfcare the new social/nightlife?
AP: Yes, for sure. The rock climbing gyms are 100% the new dating scene. It’s like one giant dating market in there but everyone is super healthy and active.

I/O: Do sports or physical activities impacted your eating habits?
Well my new thing is breakfast. 2018 is the year of eating within half an hour of getting out of bed, and honestly I’m noticing a big difference in my energy levels and how much I have to eat to keep my energy up.

I/O: How do you strive to find balance in your life?
AP: I really embrace all the different things I do and feel no need to combine them. Photography and farming are a perfect example. One is very cerebral while the other is very practical. It's a nice combination to have both. One sort of keeps me grounded while the other helps me elevate creatively.

I/O: What are your thoughts on feminism?
AP: To me feminism mean being equal. It means fairness on both side of the aisle. I hang out with a lot of men because of coast guard and skateboarding and a lot of them have no understanding of the simple differences men and women face. When I talk to older men about the issues women face they often seem very confused. That needs to change. For me, it starts with the type of encouragement that little boys get vs. what the little girls get. In the past, girls were not taught to pursue their interests like boys did. This caused a great divide. It's changing now of course, but there is a lot of work to do, especially in educating the next generation of men coming up. They need to understand and fight for it also. If they understand it, they will have an easier time when things start to change dramatically.


Also check out "Slam by Me," the video Alana wrote and directed for Vans, inspired by the classic film Stand by Me, featuring girl skateboards who "go out and explore and do cool stuff." 



Tips to improve performance: Focus, flex before lifting, stretch and roll out! 
1 trainer: Michelle Ford of Peak Power Athletics
1 app: A period tracker, haha. And Sunsurveyor - very helpful when scouting photography locations.
1 podcast: Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History
1 blog/site:, to keep up with Vancouver's farmers' markets
1 food address: Harvest Community Foods!
1 beverage: Water! Or tea.
1 inspiration: Working class historic photographs
1 woman we should interview: Cait Opperman