This is a little background on how Movement has positively affected me, and why I whole-heartedly believe in organizations like Bootcamps for Change.
Read on :)
I have always been drawn to Movement.
There's a box with all my drawings in it at my Mom’s house from when I was a child. The majority of them are of me, standing on an Olympic podium with medals around my neck.
I loved the feeling of freedom I had when I was moving through the water. I was determined to be an Olympic swimmer. In the water, I felt unstoppable. I also had stamina; I wasn't the fastest swimmer but I could outlast everyone. Over time, the pool became a place where I could let go of my day; I could just be.
I wanted so badly to continue swimming, but we couldn't afford it. I was heartbroken. A few weeks after I stopped swimming, I ran 1500m as a warmup in gym class before we started playing soccer. I felt my body come alive. I remember running up to my gym teacher, breathless, begging her to let me keep racing the clock on the track instead of playing soccer. Every day after that, after the final school bell rang I'd head down to the track and just run laps. Keep in mind- back then, we didn't have cell phones or ipods- it was just me, my breath, the track, my thoughts. It was such a release.
I think I must have been drawn to swimming and running early on because of the chaos that was happening around me when I was a child and teenager. I began to experience severe bouts of depression mixed with high anxiety as I moved into my 20's.
I completed my Yoga Teacher Training in 2010 and it was honestly the first time in my life when I realized that I was in charge of my body; I was in charge of how I could move it, when I wanted to move it, what I could do with it. It was so empowering.
My life up until that point had been so external- I was constantly thinking about other people, looking at their actions and how they were reacting to me because I was always on guard and trying to protect myself. I began to use Movement to help me because it was the only way I knew how to help myself. Through my worst periods of anxiety, I ran. When I was depressed, I walked. When the panic attacks happened, I did yoga.
Fast forward years later- I ended up starting The Move to Heal Project, an organization that focuses on fitness as an additional aid for anything mental health related. It’s also a place where people can share their own stories, where they can learn how to fuel the body properly, and also a place where they can find valuable resources in and around the GTA.
I was in Calgary two years ago opening a restaurant, training an entire service team of people. Sometimes people would fail to complete the tasks we had assigned them (Hang on- this is relevant!)
My boss pulled me aside and said that in these moments we, as trainers, had to ask ourselves 2 things:
Do they know what the task entails? Do they have the tools to complete the task? If I answered No to either of these questions, I had to go back and try a new approach.
I love this, and I think it can completely apply beyond the restaurant industry.
For example: What about the people that want to get physically stronger but don't know how to go about doing it? What about the people that want to run but don't have shoes? What about the people that are curious about nutrition but have no idea how to fuel their body properly?
We are so lucky. We take so many basic things we have access to for granted. Some people don't have that.
I recently connected with two amazing women that are removing barriers in regards to affording organized sports and fitness programming: Katie Heggtveit and Kam Kuzminski of Bootcamps for Change.
I love what Bootcamps for Change is doing because they are driving conversation on things that need to continually be talked about and they are also taking action on the things that need to be changed for youth in Canada.
Katie Heggtveit, the co-founder of BFC, volunteered for 10 years with homeless youth in Canada and abroad. Kam Kuzminski was a guidance counsellor and teacher for at-risk youth for 10 years in Saskatchewan and pursued her Masters in Educational Psychology to fulfill her passion to work with marginalized youth.
Once Katie began to notice there was not enough fitness and nutrition programs in shelters, she joined forces with Kam and together they took action.
Now, BFC strives to provide in-shelter fitness programs for marginalized youth in Canada with the end goal of hiring them as paid employees of Bootcamps for Change under a canfitpro certification scholarship.
I love this because it directly breaks an old cycle and implements a new, impactful one. It provides marginalized youth with the tools they need to succeed. It provides them with the knowledge of how to build new foundations to stand on in order to do so.
HOW AMAZING IS THAT.
The reason I shared a little bit of my story today is because the ability to exercise in a community actually change my life- it had a huge ripple effect on my own mental health and physical health. I don't know that I would be where I am today without it. And the thing is- this should be accessible for EVERYONE! But unfortunately it's not.
Everyone that knows me knows how much I get pumped up talking about the benefits of exercise on Mental Health (I could go on and on here)- and knowing that Katie and Kam are leading this change for youth in poverty and in the shelter system makes me stand up, cheer, and applaud them because it is so, so needed.
WANT TO GET INVOLVED?
Contact Katie Heggtveit and Kam Kuzminski personally:
“Katie Heggtveit”: +647-244-0097
“Kam Kuzminski”: +306-501-1510
Volunteer at their In-Shelter Fitness Programming:
CHECK OUT THEIR INSTAGRAM: @BootcampsforChange
Or DM me for more details!!