This past summer I co-opened a CrossFit / Strength and Conditioning gym in Walkerton ON. If you would have asked me even two years ago if this was in my long term goals the answer would have been “No”. There have been a lot of things in my life that have collectively led me to this point and I am so grateful for every single one of them.
Let’s back track a little.
I grew up in a small rural community just outside of Walkerton, Ontario. After high school, I moved to the big city of London to attend Western University (It will always be The University of Western Ontario to me). I graduated with a Degree in Kinesiology and also competed as a thrower with the Track and Field team. This is where I was introduced to Olympic weightlifting and have loved it ever since.
“...People seemed to be just going through the motions day-in and day-out with no real drive to improve their fitness or health...”
After I graduated, I stayed in London to work as a Personal Trainer at a private studio. This job left me feeling really unsatisfied and drained; long hours and not a lot of gratification were the norm. People seemed to be just going through the motions day-in and day-out with no real drive to improve their fitness or health. For most people it seemed having a personal trainer was more about maintaining a social image than it was about having a healthy lifestyle. After a few years I switched to a new gym in London called Hybrid Fitness Centre and absolutely fell in love with fitness all over again. I trained clients as well as coached classes. It was such a positive environment where people cared about each other’s success and pushed each other to not only do better physically but to live better as well.
Hybrid offers several classes; CrossFit being one of them. I had been doing CrossFit on my own for about a year at this point and joined the team at Hybrid. While there I also acquired both my Olympic Weightlifting Certification and the CrossFit Level 1 Instructor Certification. Sadly I was only there for a year before I was called to move back to my home town. My family needed help with our expanding dairy farm and I knew I didn’t want to stay in the city my whole life so my boyfriend and I moved north to Mildmay, five minutes south of Walkerton.
"...I felt like if people were educated, stronger, and more mobile they would never be in the pain I was treating them for in the first place..."
When I first moved back I wanted to try something different. I am a Registered Kinesiologist with rehabilitation experience but up to that point had never done so in a clinical setting. So I tried my hand at clinic work while also moonlighting at the only CrossFit gym within 40km. Personally, I found the clinic to be one step behind. Obviously my background is in fitness and helping people to stay strong and healthy. However, working with people who were currently in pain and only wanted to treat their symptoms without taking any ownership of their own fitness, strength, mobility, weight, etc. was very frustrating. They were just there for the quick-fix and, for the majority, fitness was not a priority. This area has suffered. Most people associate Walkerton with the E-coli outbreak, sickness, or even suicide; I wanted to make a change. I felt like if people were educated, stronger, and more mobile they would never be in the pain I was treating them for in the first place.
"...Once people try it however, they are immediately hooked on the challenge, the process, and the results..."
Our gym is called Rural Strength and Conditioning (Rural SC): Home of Rural CrossFit. We offer two programs, CrossFit and Strength and Conditioning. Both run throughout the morning and evenings, everyday. We had a few hiccups with zoning and things, but for the most part we opened smoothly and had a pretty good response from the community.
The biggest challenge has probably been the stigma that is around CrossFit and lifting weights in general. Because there are not a lot of options for it around here (there is a heavy emphasis on low-intensity steady-state cardio and Zumba) people only hear negative things about weights and the sport of CrossFit and immediately make assumptions about it. Once people try it however, they are immediately hooked on the challenge, the process, and the results. I love CrossFit and what it has done for not only popularizing Olympic Weightlifting (my favourite) but also the boundaries that it allows people to surpass. There are some areas where I don’t totally agree with some of the CrossFit methodologies (i.e. teaching kipping pull ups before you can do a pull up, high volume lifts before you have a solid base of strength and technique etc.). Being a CrossFit affiliate, they give you the freedom to coach it how you like. My partner and I realize that CrossFit is not for everyone and this is why we offer the Strength and Conditioning program. Some of our clients for example, are retired farmers that have beaten their bodies up for many years that are just trying to regain the ability to reach overhead or walk pain free that would not benefit from doing OLY lifts or explosive power training but can from re-building strength and stability while also working on their mobility. I think my partner and I have done a good job putting in the ground work first giving us a lot of strong and healthy athletes, but time will tell.
"...Five months in, I have no regrets..."
We have also introduced a Youth Conditioning program which I find very rewarding. I love working with kids and these guys are so excited about everything that we do and are always hungry for more with seemingly never-ending energy. To them it’s not about working out to be fit or to look a certain way; it’s about having a blast, trying new things and becoming a better athlete that I think many people could learn a thing or two from.
Five months in, I have no regrets. I still walk in every morning with a smile on my face, excited for what the day brings. This is going to sound very cheesy but it is true what they say - “Choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.” I didn’t have that at my first job or even at the clinic, but I love what my partner and I have created in Walkerton. Can’t wait to see it grow!
- Sarah McIntosh, Head Coach, Rural SC
Your road to fat-loss consists of repeating a series of dietary and behavioural fundamentals over and over again. Though many enjoy structure and routine, this repetition can be boring for most. Unlike your body, which requires only a few essentials to survive and perform, your mind requires constant stimulation. Advertisers understand this tendency.
Have you ever wondered why there is a new diet, a new pill, or a new exercise gadget released almost monthly? Have you ever noticed how many diets, gadgets, and fads from years gone by seem to cycle back into favoritism every few years? If all the exercise physiology textbooks keep repeating the same old advice (exercise more, don't eat more than your body needs, everyone's needs are different) but diet trends change with the seasons, who is right? Have you ever noticed how most diet fads promise weight-loss without exercise? Ever notice how so many popular diets revolve around a single nutrient or hormone. These programs are "incomplete at best" and are thus "destined to fail", according to Tom Venuto, The Body Fat Solution.
Raspberry ketone, green coffee extract, Acai berry, and hCG are a few products that tout unbelievable health and/or fat-loss claims without any scientific credibility. In the case of hCG, some over the counter products are even illegal.
So how is it that hCG is so readily available?
Fraudulent products are so rampant in North America and abroad that the FTC and CFIA just can't keep up. Whenever they pull one product from the shelves there is another to take its place.
But if the product is going to get pulled eventually, why even market it in the first place?
Because those desperate enough to be perusing the weight-loss aisle in Wal-Mart account for the majority. Furthermore, fraudulent companies willing to sell unproven product are also willing to sell fake unproven product. Most hCG products are really just distilled water. This creates less overhead and a smaller pricetag, which is very enticing. Even if remotely skeptical about hCG, people convince themselves that "even if it doesn't work I only spent $XX".
The third point is celebrity association. Two of the four products listed above gained notoriety due to being promoted by recently shamed TV celebrity Dr. OZ.
Most people don't investigate products before they invest, instead making purchases based on impulse and emotion. This gives fraudulent companies plenty of opportunity to make loads of money before getting busted. For them, it is often well worth the risk.
Wouldn't it be nice to take a pill, go to sleep, and wake up skinny? Sadly, most people waste years of their lives on this fruitless pursuit, getting duped by fradsters such as Dr. Bernstein, Dr. OZ, Dr. Mercola, and Kevin Trudeau. Sadder still, they have no results to show for it.
Those who fall for these gimmicks are not less intelligent than those who don't, of course. Marketers are experts at appealling to your psychological tendencies and emotional impulses. In the practice of psychology there is a principle called The Law of Least Effort, which says that no intelligent human being will choose a slower way to achieve a goal if a faster way is available.
Contrary to popular belief, diet gimmicks end up being drawn out over the long-term without any results to show for the money and effort put forth.
Ask yourself, would you rather perform 8 weeks of diet and exercise to successfully reach your goal, or would you prefer to spend the next 4 years of your life trodding through failed diet fads?
The Body Fat Solution, Tom Venuto
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