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Yes, I can!

Lessons from the fitness pros

It was a day of flow, starting with a flashback! The keynote speakers at the first OptiMYz Live in 2009 were Olympic gold medal swimmer Mark Tewksbury and his coach Debbie Muir, showing us how they prepared Mark for the swim of his life. Debbie explained how there were two keys: one was the small improvements in technique that that he had to make; the second was getting Mark to believe in himself.

 Now here I was at the Can-Fit-Pro conference at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, hanging out with leading fitness profressionals. Helen Vanderburg from Calgary was on stage, telling the audience how to develop their careers. The key figures in her talk: Mark Tewksbury and Debbie Muir.

When Helen was a12-year-old swimmer, she said, Debbie Muir was her coach. One day Debbie said she would only keep working with Helen if she removed the words “I can’t” from her vocabulary. Helen said she wasn’t even aware of this tendency at the time, but she followed Debbie’s advice and went on to become a world champion as a member of Canada’s national synchronized swimming team.

Helen has been in the fitness industry for 30 years and owns several fitness companies. To succeed in the industry, she said, you must be prepared to grow and adapt. She quoted Mark’s advice: that you need PASSION: perserverance, (positive) attitude, strength, (ability) to strive, integrity, and openness to novel approaches. By chance, I was sitting beside a friend of mine Vanessa Frank, a PFC at Nubody’s/GoodLife Burnside, who is very much a “mind-body” person like Helen.

I spoke to Helen afterwards. She was off to Zenergy, a class taught by Jennifer Horvath of Montreal, that combines yoga and Pilates. I was the last one in the door, placed close to Helen, Cathy Grad my yoga teacher from Burnside Nubody’s/GoodLife, and Jennifer the teacher. (This was cool as Cathy and I were both missing her Saturday yoga class.) It started easily enough with breathing exercises and soon moved into a lot of core work. From the corner of my eye I could see Helen, how strong and flexible she is–how she loves her life in fitness. Having never done Pilates, I could really feel it by the end (kayaking earlier that morning had something to do with it too).

Later Jennifer told me about her path: growing up in India had piqued her interest in Eastern philosophy and religion, and a friend who is a Can-Fit-Pro VP had one day suggested she try yoga. It took a while but she grew to love it and now she is an elite instructor trainer who helps to train Olympic athletes in China and Russia.

Then I was off to take my sister and her friend to lunch on a terrace and visited my mother and my mother-in-law in a retirement home. My 86-year-old mother uses a walker but she loves to be outside and can walk quite a distance. My mother-in-law is in a wheelchair recovering from an operation. She is getting physio and is stronger by the day.

We all have limitations. No-one is perfect. Saying “I can” can make all the difference!

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Uploaded by David Holt