Tag: exercise

March 15, 2018

Did you know that you CAN exercise while pregnant, even if you haven’t really been that active prior to pregnancy? We just have to ADJUST what you will be doing.

Important factors to keep in mind while exercising:
✔️ check your intensity – target heart rate zones should be on your radar
✔️ your intensity should be somewhat hard
✔️ you should be able to carry on a conversation throughout your workout.

FYI: Target Heart Rate Zones based on your pre-pregnancy fitness level:
❤️ low or active- target 130-145 BPM
❤️ fit – target 140-160
❤️ obese – target 100-120

💡Remember: do NOT do Valsalva manoeuvre (holding your breath while you are exerting yourself ie, lifting a box off the floor) as it can increase your blood pressure and increase your chances of non-functional diastasis recti. Instead, exhale on exertion and inhale on relaxation.

‼️Important! You are not training for a competition, YOU ARE WORKING OUT TO MAINTAIN YOUR FITNESS LEVEL.

Working out during pregnancy will help you during your labour and delivery, but it has also been shown to have positive effects on your baby and their APGAR scores!

📣Disclaimer!! STOP if you have shortness of breath, chest pain, painful uterine contractions, vaginal bleeding, gush of fluid, dizziness or faintness.

Click Here for more practical tips and helpful info on your pregnancy!

April 7, 2016

Mel’s Meandering: Getting Started

It’s that time of year again. Runners are pounding the pavement, fair-weather sports are starting up, and everyone is peeking outside their windows and doors to see if it’s nice enough to just be outside. It’s glorious.

Spring, with it’s promise of change and renewal, is a great time of year to start a new exercising  regime. I was recently inspired by a friend doing just that, and I wanted to share her story.

“I was athletic in high school and was on several school sports teams, but when I went to university, I stopped almost all physical activity and predictably gained the Freshman Fifteen (more like twenty).

“Two years ago I stepped on the scale and seeing how close I was to 200lbs hit me like a ton of bricks. I decided that I needed to make a change and I started going to the gym. I would do some random combination of strength training and cardio exercises and clearly I didn’t know what I was doing or have a plan; I just moved some weights around for a while and then jogged on the treadmill.  I found I didn’t exercise regularly and couldn’t stay in the gym for longer than 30 minutes without becoming anxious and so bored that I had to leave.

“Recently, I went to a gym with a group of friends, and challenged myself to set a new Personal Best for deadlift. I ended up lifting three times more than I had ever lifted before! I felt so alive. I wanted to start being dedicated to training and getting stronger.

“Not long after that, my husband started training with his friend; after seeing how quickly he was making gains and how happy he was with the progress, I decided to do the same.

“I have been training for five weeks and I have seen such amazingly satisfying improvement. I feel stronger, I don’t have any back pain (for the first time in nearly ten years), and I have so much fun doing it.

“In a month I get to test my Personal Bests again and I cannot wait to see what happens.

 

IMG_0706

“I would recommend strength training to anyone because I have never felt so strong and fit. It can be intimidating to start a strength training program but if you have the right trainer (like I do) it is accessible, exciting and instantly gratifying!”

Knowing this woman is amazing; she inspires me with her tenacity and drive. I know that she has days where she doesn’t want to go to the gym, but she shows up anyway. After each time this happens, she always says “Man that was great, I’m really glad I came even when I didn’t feel like it.”

So what drives you? What will push you this spring to get yourself moving again? Are you going to join a league? Get a personal trainer? Find a friend who will join you for weekly trips to the gym, or even evening walks? Whatever it is, get out there and MOVE, your body will love it.

 

Melissa Beals is an RMT with Whole Therapy. Melissa works extensively with athletes of all levels with a goal in mind to increase their athletic performance through education and understanding of their bodies. See more about Melissa here.

Melissa

September 4, 2015

Dictionary.com defines change as the following:

CHANGE
verb (used with object), changed, changing.

To make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something)
different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone:
To change one’s name; to change one’s opinion;

To change the course of history. 

trapped

Not sure if this office setup has the lumbar support I need..

What a simple, easy to understand, straight to the point definition.  And yet, as simple as it is to understand, why then do we humans have so much trouble implementing change into our own lives?
I’m not talking about changing the tires on your car, or, the vacuum bag, or your little human’s diapers; although some of these things are dull, taxing, or unpleasant.  I’m talking about real change.  Meaningful life-altering change.

Four years ago I found myself in a terrible position.  I was stuck in a dead end job with no further room for growth.  I wasn’t learning any new skills or even really developing my current skill set.  The monetary compensation was less than adequate, and I was oh, so very bored.  I can look at that time now and easily identify these symptoms for what they were:  I was stuck.  I needed a career transplant.

I was trapped in this Grand Canyon-sized rut where it became easier to do nothing than to fix my situation. I had absolutely no idea how to get out of it.  I was walled in and (thought) I didn’t have the tools to get myself out.

But everyone has a boiling point, don’t they?  Everyone will eventually find themselves in a position where change becomes inevitable.  And sometimes, all it takes to initiate that change is a little luck, a little timing, and a little pro-activity.   Jamie, a co-worker of mine at the time, knew of my struggles with the daily grind and had often been a sounding board for me when I had to let off steam.  Jamie turned out to be the husband of my current employer, the incomparable Jen Wright.

Taking action, finally

Combine the fact I had recently returned to high school to obtain my diploma after a 17 year hiatus (that’s a change story for another time) with an increasing difference of opinion on certain matters with some of my co-workers led to me investigate a suggested employment agency here in the city. I set up the appointment to meet with someone in a fancy downtown office; I took their online office skills test, and went for the follow up meeting on a Friday after work.  I was told that they would be in touch with me and that was that.

It was the following Monday when Jamie stepped into my office and said to me.  “Jenny is looking to hire an office manager, are you interested?”  Boom.  All of a sudden, I had a lifeline.  It was like Regis had just given me an extra phone a friend and I was about to become a millionaire.

The next week when the employment agency called, I happily told them I had found what I was looking for and that their services would not be needed.

I don’t normally put a lot of stock in Karma or that kind of thing, but I can honestly tell you that I believe the only reason that the offer came my way was because I had taken the first step and had unknowingly asked the universe to give me the change I needed.

sea creature

“Try the Human, it’s delicious”

The reason people have trouble with change is because, not surprisingly, it’s really hard.

It’s like jumping into a lake you’ve never swam in before.

You know that moment when you’re standing on the dock, imagining all the hideous and murderous monsters that are right now swimming just below the surface?  That’s how change can feel.  Scary.  Scary, slimy and covered  in murder-y scales.

Change is difficult for me because I like things to be consistent.

Everything in their place and all that. The big win for me was learning to realize that things were broken and out of place.  It took me a long time, but I did it.

When I finally realized that I couldn’t keep doing things the way I’d been doing them, the universe responded with a giant “Well it’s about time.  Here, take this happiness and meaning.  Have a good day” and vaporized all the sea mutants waiting below the surface.

So yes, change is difficult.  But is it essential to survival?  Yes.  Is it one of the keys to happiness?  Probably.  Have and will I continue to look for opportunities to evolve?  Certainly.

 

We at Whole Therapy want to hear from YOU! Take a picture or write a post about your #ChangeOneThing experience. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #WholeTherapy as well. We’ve got some great prizes to give away!

 

Pat Moore is the office manager at Whole Therapy.  Pat works alongside a team of dedicated professionals and is here to help ensure that your visit at Whole Therapy is as pleasant as possible.  For more about Pat, click here!

Pat

August 24, 2015

Husband Jamie and I took the kids wilderness camping at Algonquin Park a few weekends ago; it was their first time, and they loved it.

Gorgeous weather as we set out. What's not to love?

Gorgeous weather as we set out. What’s not to love?

When camping, one has a singular purpose: to survive.  There’s no luxury to camping in the wilderness, save for a decadent square of dark chocolate at the end of the evening, or a luxuriously dry pair of socks when your body is damp to the bone.

We pushed on, canoed until our arms and shoulders ached, carried our canoes and packs on our tired backs, found a place to rest, set up camp and made food to fuel us.  We slept when it darkened.  Then we woke up and did it again.  In between, we swam and laughed, interacted with each other (without the distraction of electronic devices), made up stories, sang songs, and observed the wonder of nature.  It was amazing.

Yes, the pack IS as heavy as it looks.

Yes, the pack IS as heavy as it looks.

The rhythm of camping and portaging is simple, satisfying.  I felt better about myself camping (dirty, calloused and aching) than usual, and I didn’t touch a phone or look into a mirror in over 72 hours.

That’s not an accident.

I was able to really feel my body on our trip. I felt the strength in my legs and back as I hefted my 65-pound pack (and added Little One’s pack to it as well, when she tired).  I felt my hunger rise up as we finished setting up tents: a natural reminder to eat for fuel rather than out of habit or boredom.  And I sank into sleep each night, sardined in with Middle and Oldest, I felt heavy and worked, and grateful to be lying down, and even though a thermarest is hardly a plush mattress, I slept like the dead.

If only life were so simple, I thought as we travelled – a clear purpose, a drive and need to succeed.

Reflecting on life in my journal.

Reflecting on life in my journal.

But life is so many shades of camping – not quite urgent, or so much more so, not quite survival, but living “to the fullest” – whatever that means.

Everything in nature does its best to adapt.  Not like humans, who try and shape the world around us to fit our own needs.  In nature, even an acorn blown by mistake to the edge of a cliff will grow sideways and thrive as it reaches for the sun.

img_0198school

We need to learn to grow sideways.

 

In this way, the simplicity of the wild is so much more advanced than our technologically brilliant society; we, in the acorn’s position, would look for a better, more advantageous spot to grow, and though we may grow straighter, taller, we would miss out on that amazing view. Not to mention, we would miss finding out what we are made of.

I thought about that acorn, and survival, a lot on our trip.  Obviously we were close enough to civilization that most emergencies could be easily rectified.  But most of our creature comforts were taken away: no couch to laze on. No phone to surf Facebook.  No coffee maker, no takeout, nothing quick. If I wanted a meal I had to work for it. If I wanted to be entertained I had to use my imagination.

Little One hams it up in the tent.

Little One hams it up in the tent.

There was no passivity, no boredom.  Only a deep sense of appreciation for the skills and strength I possess, my family, and all the beauty nature has to offer.

And now that we’re home, and continuing our journey here, I’m more than content with some wine, some good conversation, and a sunset.  More rolling with the punches, less trying to shape the world to my whims.

I want to see the view from the side of the cliff.

 

About the Author: Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen

July 29, 2015

Life is like a Spartan Race. No, seriously. Let me explain. On June 5, 2015 I participated in the annual Spartan Sprint at Edelweiss Ski Resort. Being a relatively fit individual, I felt I was pretty prepared for the upcoming 5 km obstacle course race. Spartan was to be conquered and I was going to be the conqueror. I was so confident that my plan was to yell “SPARTA” at the top of my lungs using a deep Gerard Butler-like voice while performing air kicks victoriously over the finish line.

Why was I so foolishly confident?

 Three days a week I work out across at the gym doing some form of weight training at the discretion of my trainer. I run three days a week with a good friend of mine for at least a distance of 5km. I also play beach volleyball in a league every Wednesday night. I like to think I am a fairly active person. I can squat, lunge, jump, sprint, burpee, crawl, climb, push and pull.

Spartan had nothing on me, right? Well, here’s the thing about the Spartan Race. You have to run UP the ski-hill at Edelweiss TWICE. Emphasis on the word, UP. Ski hills are not meant to be run UP, they are meant to be skied DOWN. The ascension up the mountain literally kicked my ass!! I was not used to keeping my heart rate so elevated. This resulted in nausea and feelings of pukey-ness. Not a great start for this aspiring conqueror. Let’s just say I cursed gravity quite a bit during this pesky obstacle course!

 

So alas, here are 3 life lessons I learned (or, probably already knew but effectively ignored) while completing the Spartan Sprint.

spartan race 2015 bails

  1. No matter how prepared you feel you might be, sometimes you just aren’t. That’s life. And it’s ok! You can’t be prepared ALL the time. Sometimes you need to get your ass-kicked to remind you that there is still work to be done.
  1. Sometimes winning is just seeing it through. Instead of me yelling “SPARTA” at the top of my lungs while performing air kicks victoriously over the finish line, I hauled my tired, muddy butt over the finish line in a zombie, pain-induced state. But I finished, and it was AWESOME!
  1. You’re better than you think you are. Although the mountain kicked my butt, the obstacles did not. The obstacles actually served as a much needed break from running UP the ski-hill. And the feeling of being strong is one of the best feelings EVER. Just check out my game face captured in this photo of me after I dominated the gymnast-like rings. Clearly I was high-fiving myself in my mind! My body is capable, and that’s pretty cool!

 

Bailey Gresham is a registered physiotherapist for Whole Therapy. She specializes in manual therapy and movement-based therapy. She likes bridging the gap between rehabilitation and performance training.  More about Bailey here.

Bailey

 

July 22, 2015

Got my red belt in karate this weekend. My first coloured belt; I’m no longer the lowest on the totem pole! My gi has pizzazz now: and I’m proud fit to burst.

Celebrate!

Celebrate!

So often, in the dojo and out in the world, I see people brushing off their achievements.

“Yeah, I just ran a 10k, but it’s not like it’s a marathon or anything.”

“I did just work for 5 years to lose that weight, but it’s no big deal; I really shouldn’t have been fat in the first place.”

“I got my red belt, but it’s just red – I have a long way to go before my black belt.”

Seriously. Can we cut out the false modesty?

Seriously.

Seriously. Cut it out.

Achieving things makes me happy and fulfilled.  As it should.  I work deliberately to get things done. I’m not the kind of person to whom things come naturally.

My fitness level? Worked my ass off (literally) to get here. I still work extremely hard; if I didn’t, I would be much weaker and flabbier.  My pear-shaped body likes to be softer; I was never the skinny kid, and I never will be able to just eat whatever and not gain weight.

So I take pride in completed workouts in which I did my best.

My business? I went through a lot of change and learning to open it.  Then a lot more to transition it to something I truly believed in.  It’s been tough – rewarding, but really tough.  Some days it stresses me out, and other days I revel in the smoothness of operations. But it’s never easy.

So I take pride in the new things I learn and the firm decisions I make.

And now, my red belt. In March, I had never done karate before. 4 months later and I’m committed to weekly (or more) classes in the dojo, and practice with Sensei Jamie outside of that. You’ll often find me brushing my teeth in shiko dachi, a wide-legged stance.  I have to repeat movements about a million times before I’m even serviceable at them (choreography of any kind is not my friend). I love every minute of each comfort-zone-pushing class.

karate red belt

It’s NOT just a red belt! It’s the culmination of my hard work so far. 🙂

So you’d better believe I’m not brushing these successes off.  You shouldn’t brush yours off, either!

Little triumphs can make the difference between a fulfilled life and an unfulfilled one.  If I work hard, I celebrate. I don’t need to win a gold medal in the Olympics to be proud of myself.

It’s not, contrary to popular opinion, arrogant or overconfident to celebrate your achievements, rather it’s a necessary component of living a happy life.

Did you exercise today? Pat yourself on the back.  Did you check any items off your to-do list? High five! Notice I didn’t ask you if you’ve hit your goal weight or completed your to-do list; those are bigger celebrations.  The little ones count too, though, and should be recognized.

Whether it’s a belt in karate, getting my shopping done, eating well today, or something else, I’m going to continue to live deliberately, working towards and celebrating the milestones, whether they are big or small.

Life’s too short: celebrate every bit of this journey.

 

About the Author: Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen

June 11, 2015

MEL’S MEANDERING MASSAGE MIND: HOW DRY NEEDLING “SAVED MY LIFE…”

For most of my life I have noticed that my range of motion with my right shoulder isn’t quite up to par with my left. My right anterior deltoid has been in contraction for what seems like forever and I get headaches due to muscular tightness in my upper traps.

For relief in the past, I have gone to massage therapists, chiropractors and physiotherapists, seeking help for ailments that limit my training. Thus far, it has usually been focused on my shoulders and upper back, and the everything has worked temporarily, but I wanted a more permanent solution.

So I asked Bailey (our brilliant physio) to dry needle my upper traps a few times. For those of you who aren’t in the know, dry needling (also know as intramuscular stimulation -IMS) is similar to acupuncture but also completely different. It uses needles to go into trigger points in the muscle belly to try to alleviate the cause of the pain rather than using specific acupuncture points to achieve the same result.

So Bailey dry needled my traps, and lo and behold, my headaches have gone away. What’s more, the contraction in my anterior deltoid also disappeared without her even touching it.

dry needling

Not only has the pain relief been liberating, but the release of my traps has elevated the quality of my workouts; now when I bench press, my right shoulder no longer comes out of position (which used to throw off my bench press constantly). This means I’m now able to begin fixing muscle imbalances that have been creeping up; which means I’m going to be able to ultimately bench more weight! Getting my shoulder fixed has been amazing and is getting me back into lifting with more confidence.

Benching

If this doesn’t have you convinced already: a couple of weeks ago, I hurt myself in the gym. It’s not something that happens often, but when it does, it can be debilitating. On this particular occasion, I couldn’t move due to a rib which had decided it didn’t like its current position and moved slightly out of place. Ouch.

Although seeing Bailey with an acute injury is not always recommended (in most cases, there is nothing that can be done right away), I truly believe that if I didn’t get in to see her, I wouldn’t have recovered so quickly. As it was, I had to cancel my day of massaging; had I not seen her, I’m sure I would have been out for the rest of the week. And believe me, no one wants me to cancel my day; it means you don’t get the treatment that you want and we have to scramble to find another time to get you in quickly!

Now, I don’t want to say that dry needling is for every body, because it’s not. But I have found that this modality works wonders for me that other modalities (massage, chiropractic, and general physiotherapy) haven’t been able to touch. I am grateful for Bailey helping me out with all this, and I couldn’t ask for a better physio to work with!

 

Melissa Beals is an RMT with Whole Therapy. Melissa works extensively with athletes of all levels with a goal in mind to increase their athletic performance through education and understanding of their bodies. See more about Melissa here.

Melissa

June 1, 2015

I’m watching Jessica Kanstrup run a bootcamp class.  At first glance, the 26 year-old is an intimidating figure, even at 5’4”; she paces slowly back and forth across the studio stage in her black tights and red GoodLife Fitness shirt, stopwatch in hand, brow knitted, watching her crew of ladies sweat it out in their circuit.  It’s clear from the stern expression on her face that no one is going to slack off under her watch.  Then suddenly, she looks down at the stopwatch, clicks it, and shouts a command: all of her ladies come to a relieved stop and stare at her with expectant expressions.

Jess’ face breaks into a huge grin and her hands fly into the air in victory.  The rest of her crew does the same; the class is over.  They’ve done it!  The exhausted and relieved expressions on all of their faces say it all: they are both ecstatic to be done and delighted they came.  Jess congratulates each lady in turn as they leave the studio.  It’s evident she is someone who loves her job and cares about her clients. IMG_1423

“Having a trainer is so important for success,” she says as we sit for the interview, “It’s definitely been important for me [training for this fitness competition].  My first show, Chris [a male colleague] trained me, then I trained myself for the second one, and this time I wanted a female perspective.  We correspond every week, and I see her once a month so she can measure me and take my body fat, and take a look at me to see how my body is coming along. It’s been great so far.”

I believe her.  Training for a fitness competition is definitely hard work, but this beautiful blonde hardbody seems to have it all together.  What’s her secret?

“Not a lot of cardio!”  She laughs.  Jess is weeks away from her third fitness competition.  Last summer, she competed for the first time in SAF (Serious About Fitness), as well as in Physique Canada.  She took home first place in both shows, blowing her competition out of the water with her balanced physique and elegant stage presence.

“It was the most IMG_1431exciting day of my life,” she says, “I discovered my passion for competing and pushing myself to the limits to be the best I can be.  I competed again in the SAF Elite Pro Championship last October, and also placed first again with Physique Canada and became a Tier 1 Pro.  It’s been a whirlwind.”

A whirlwind to say the least, but Jess is used to a lot of activity.  “Growing up,” she says, “I was always an active kid that loved to be outside and moving around. I never played any specific sports, [but] I took acting classes and loved to sing and dance and be in front of the camera.”

Jess is definitely great in front of the camera.  From her pictures, it seems as though she was born to be in the spotlight.  Is it hard for her to stay grounded in such a vain industry?  “It’s hard sometimes.  It crossed my mind, getting implants, but it was more just a thought.  I compete naturally in an industry full of enhancement – drugs and plastic surgery – and while that’s fine for those competitors, I realized it’s not my style.  So I enter natural competitions so I can compete on more of a level playing field.”

And what led her to a career in fitness in the first place? “I come from a family with a history of alcoholism and drug addiction; my family has suffered a lot of loss and tragedy.  As I grew up, I realized I never wanted to end up down that path, like my two half-sisters who I have lost.IMG_1420

“In grade 11 I discovered weight lifting and fell in love with fitness.  I realized I wanted to help others discover this love for fitness and decided to pursue a career as a personal trainer.  I attended Algonquin College in the Fitness and Health Promotion program and then started working at GoodLife when I was 18.”

With ssidebar jessuch a demanding schedule (she works 7am to 7pm at the gym, plus works out five days a week), how does Jess
find time to unwind? “Wellness for me is taking time for myself to rest; I’ve been doing yoga once a week, and I always try and get enough sleep.  In this sport, recovery is almost more important than the workout.  It’s a little extreme, so you need to make sure you balance the hard stuff with enough rest.  The team at Whole Therapy have helped me as well; I see [Jen] for massages as often as I can.”IMG_1425

In light of her success thus far on stage, I wondered if modelling was in Jess’ future career plans.  “I’m not sure if I could or would make modeling my entire career.  Right now it’s something I do on the side that compliments my training.  In the future I’d love to do more of it, and get into coaching other competitors as well.”

Look for Jessica Kanstrup at next weekend’s SAF and Physique Canada shows, taking place Friday and Saturday, June 12 and 13 at the Canadian Museum of History.  Get tickets to the show here.

Interested in knowing more about Jess?  Check her out on twitter @JessikaCan and her website http://www.jessikafitness.com/

 

Know someone who would be great in the Wellness Spotlight?  Send us an email! info.wholetherapy@gmail.com 

 

Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen

 

 

May 26, 2015

I love treating runners.  I love, love, love it.  Not because I’m a runner myself, and not just because runners tend to be concerned for their own health and well-being (although I do love that about them).  Runners are a cohort of people that have an energy all unto themselves, and I love being a part of their journey.

run for the voices2I’ve been a runner now for 13 years.  Prior to 2002, I was an outright non-runner; my running experience was the sum of sprinting to catch buses combined with failed attempts to circle the track in high school.  The first time I attempted to run on purpose for recreation was in the summer of 2001.  I heroically clambered onto the treadmill at work (I was a personal trainer then) and decided to “run a short mile.”  I thereafter decided that running was an evil thing designed to break even the strongest of people, and I didn’t attempt it again for almost a year.

  1. Run for the silence.
Glorious.

Glorious.

Runners often run to get away from problems.  I was not  exception when running finally stuck for me in 2002.  I was in a bad relationship.  I was an overweight personal trainer feeling inept and sorry for myself.  It was almost my 21st birthday.  I needed a kick in the ass.

So I decided to train for a triathlon.

The running was hell, I’m not going to lie.  Swimming and biking were fine, but there was something about running that set off my inner demons like nothing else.  I felt crazy running most of the time, not to mention sweaty, winded, wheezy and inelegant.  My head would fight me the whole time, at first, but soon I noticed moments of silence in my head.  Really, really nice silence.  This kind of silence was different than the awkward moments on the phone with a new boyfriend.  This silence was peaceful, I realized, and I began to crave it more than I hated feeling winded.  So I continued to run.

  1. Run for the voices in your head.

Running makes you realize you’re a little nutty.  Maybe nutty for running in the first place, who knows.

run for the voicesThe voices in my own head reared up immediately and sneered at me, What on earth do you think you’re doing?  This isn’t possible, you know.  You’ll try and fail.  Don’t even bother. Just quit.  And on and on.  I started to run for those voices, though, because you know what?  They’re easily beaten.  And once you beat them off, you win.  They come back, and you beat them again. And you win again.  And eventually you realize that you’re better than your voices.  You realize you’re better than your demons.

And you realize you’re still running.

  1. Run for the killer legs

One thing I notice amongst all of my running clients is that they have really strong legs.  It doesn’t matter if the client is young or old, slim or stocky, male or female.  They all have killer, tough legs that don’t quit.  I can spot a runner a mile away now, just by the legs.  It’s great.

run for the stories 1

We all want nice legs, don’t we?  Well, running does that.  And I won’t even mention all the cool running tights that look amazing on toned, lean legs.  Ok I will mention it: running tights come in all sorts of cool patterns now, from swirly galaxy ones to fish-scale ones to ones with all the leg muscles drawn on.  Tights should actually be a reason unto themselves to run.

  1. Run for the hardware

Free shirt, chunky medal, crowds of people cheering you on.  What could be better?  Most of the time I’m not excited about receiving a participation award; in fact, I believe it’s a huge blunder on the part of school systems and recreational sports teams that they grant losing teams awards for just showing up.run for the hardware

Somehow, though, running is the exception to this rule.  Running is a solitary sport.  Everybody can win because everyone is playing against themselves; the only exception is the elite runners, who are actually running against the pack because that’s their job.  For the rest of us: you cross that finish line and you’ve done it.  You deserve that hunk of aluminum, and so does everyone else who fought their demons and pushed on for the last number of minutes and hours.

I remember my first ever medal, for that infamous triathlon I set out to complete in 2002.  I thought the whole time that I was going to drown, fall off my bike, and trip, respectively, but I did none of those things.  Instead, I won against my inner demons and my body’s complaining and I beat back the loser in me.  I was so proud of myself that I cried, and that medal hangs on my wall today to remind me where I’ve come from.

  1. Run for the stories

Whether you’re a solitary or group runner, you amass quite a few stories along the way (and I get to be privy to many of them while massaging people).  I’ve heard stories of tears, of triumph, of hysteria and hardship, and they are all essential pieces of the epic story that makes up Your Running Life.

Yes.

Yes.

Life seems richer when you run regularly; you encounter people (and often their dogs), places (with and without mud puddles), and experiences (closed roads, icy paths, crazy weather and bathroom troubles, to name a few) that you never would encounter otherwise.

The running community is full and diverse, and can provide a contentment and enrichment to life that is unmeasurable.  My mother, who is now a 7-time marathoner, has forged deep friendships with a group of running friends that she calls her Sole Sisters.  Their stories can entertain me for hours; they’ve been lost, got stuck in snowdrifts, tripped by dogs on leashes, and nearly peed their pants laughing multiple times along the running trails.  Friendships and stories like theirs are part of the reason running reaches so many.

Whether you run for the reasons above or for other reasons, running is a pretty great sport.  It’s easy to learn, it can be inexpensive to begin (all you really need are shoes), and it’s benefits, in my opinion, far outweigh its evils.  You can run all the time, or only occasionally, but the road is always there waiting for you, and it never really changes, even when you do.  It’s predictable, grounding, and even though it can be extremely challenging, it can also transform you into the best version of yourself.

 

Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen

May 11, 2015

I’m on a mission to “create space” in my head.  That was part of my homework when I had my nutritional consult with Karen, and I’ve been searching for it ever since.

Meditation is the obvious choice for opening the mind, but meditation, it should be said, is like stabbing myself in the eye with a fork is not really my thing.  I can’t picture myself sitting cross-legged doing nothing but contemplating for any length of time.  Actually, thinking about it now makes me laugh – my three year-old, Molly, would be like, “Cool! Mum’s a jungle gym!” in about five seconds.  Plus my mind wanders incessantly, and my inner monologue would no doubt have a field day: Why are you doing this? This is boring.  This is stupid. You have an itchy leg. What’s that noise outside? I wonder if that laundry’s done.  What is Molly up to? Is she colouring on the wall again… and so on.

So no meditation.  But space is still the objective.  Running helps, but I need something more.

A few weeks ago, our family joined a local dojo.  Husband Jamie has studied martial arts since he was six years old, and his old Sensei practices nearby.  He thought it would be a good experience for all of us to join together.  So off we went.

karatemolly

I was nervous at first.  Even with all of my fitness experience, I have never delved into the world of martial arts.  It was an entirely unexplored arena for me; a thought that both terrified and excited me.

My first few classes, I followed along tentatively as we punched, kicked, and learned the white-belt katas.  My choreography skills and spatial perception are crap, let’s just get that out of the way. It’s a wonder I can tie my shoes in the morning. Thank goodness I don’t operate heavy machinery for a living.

Sweat, eyebrows scrunched up in concentration, more sweat, repeat this move, repeat that move. And again. And again.

Soon, I realize, I’m starting to get it.  I’m moving in the right direction! I can high block and low block and even kick a bit without falling over.  It isn’t pretty yet… but I’m realizing that it won’t be unless I repeat those movements thousands of times over.

I watch Sensei Jamie in his black-belted magnificence, doing the same movements as I am, yet with an assured confidence, and an air of absolute mastery around him.  He has practiced these moves for thirty years. I’ve been practicing them for thirty minutes.

Still, I see what is possible, watching him.  The katas are beautiful, thirteen ways to artfully kick your opponent to the curb.  When I practice, I see each movement as it comes, and I struggle to remember how to execute the next one.  When Sensei Jamie practices, I see no struggle behind his eyes: just a space in his mind that is both peaceful and full of warriorship.

I want to get to that place.

And so I go to class. I practice at home. I’m dreaming about karate, and my body is learning and adapting to new movements and mindsets.  I never would have dreamed I would love it so much in such a short time, but I do.

As the journey continues, I for once am not focussed on the end result. I don’t really care to get a higher belt, or more recognition, or really ever lay a hand on an enemy for real.  I’m focussed on getting to that place of serenity that repetition brings; that bubble of nothingness that I’m on the edge of grasping.  I’m almost there.

Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen