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Ireland to Canada - My Fitness Journey

Before I said my final farewells to my family and friends, and made that Bus Journey to Dublin Airport in the early am; one of the toughest things I had to figure out was what life would actually be like living in Vancouver. I know many people emigrate to Canada without ever living out of home where as I have been lucky enough to spend the Summer and Autumn months of 2012 travelling all around the East coast of the U.S and even parts of Canada coaching Football or as the North Americans call it, “Soccer”.

Although I was unaware at the time, health and fitness has been a huge part of my life from a very young age. My love for Sport enabled me to participate in regular physical exercise and endure the many benefits that came with it. As I grew, my interest in health and fitness did too. I made the decision to further my education in college through many Sport and Fitness courses and before I knew it, I was spreading my knowledge throughout my local community through coaching Sport’s teams, promoting healthier eating and teaching fitness classes.

It wasn’t long before I realized that this was something that I loved doing. After completing my Personal Training qualifications and Bachelor of Science Degree in Exercise Physiology, I decided to take a break from the studies, and promote everything I have learned through healthy living, clean eating and regular exercise. I decided to run various types of fitness classes and personally train clients. From there, I generated a number of clients and before I knew it I was a Personal Trainer. As the years passed, I realized my hunger for knowledge grew and I decided to do a Master of Science in Sport and Exercise Nutrition. This enabled me to not only expand my knowledge, but also to further my clients’ knowledge on Healthy eating as well.

As time passed, I still felt as if I was limited in some way. I would often think about my travels in 2012 and what I learned from living in the U.S and Canada. For some reason, things were moving faster out there and there was never a limit to what you could achieve, learn or even see. It seems that taking my knowledge and experience back to Canada was the best option as I was well aware of the healthy lifestyle opportunities that British Columbia provides. Giving the current economic climate in Ireland, emigration is at an all time high amongst my generation, my close friends and especially my family, as three of my siblings’ are all currently settled out of Ireland with two of them living in Vancouver. Luckily for me, having these contacts already in Vancouver, the move was made so much easier as I knew that if anyone has an interest in health and fitness, then “Beautiful British Columbia” is the place to be.

There is no denying it, the difference between Vancouver and Ireland is huge. Everywhere you look, there is Yoga, Organic food stores, vegan restaurants, gluten free, meditation classes, outdoor gyms and an endless supply of mountain hikes, lake trails and forests. Older people you see are not like the older generation you see back home. Over here they are carrying yoga mats, eating organic foods and they look younger, healthier and leaner. The children over here are more active, slimmer and eating healthier as well. The overall lifestyle is better and it is no coincidence that life expectancy in British Columbia is on average, seven years higher amongst males and females in comparison to Ireland.

The first time I entered a gym in Vancouver, I immediately noticed why. Movement and mobility is Key. As I looked around, everyone was doing their mobility exercises, yoga poses and stretching. They were training with intent, and that intention was not to lift heavier or build bigger muscles, but to simply be able to move and to do it pain free. There is such a different approach to working out these days. Having been in gym settings for over a decade now, I can finally see safe patterns in the gym. People are foam rolling, stretching, crawling, activating their muscles, opening their hips, thoracic spines, mobilizing their shoulders, internal and external rotations, engaging their core muscles and their glutes. Outside the gym’s you can see Calisthenics and outdoor gym’s getting more popular as more and more people are getting involved and staying active at all ages.

As a personal trainer and a sports nutritionist, it is my responsibility to research and provide my clients with the best training and eating methods available. It is very easy to get caught in the world of social media and the latest fad diets and quick fixes that every self proclaimed “instagram celebrity” is pushing on you. As I always say, be careful who you take your nutritional advice from, as behind many articles you may read, there lays a ‘pyramid schemed’ marketing company looking for you to buy their product. There are no quick fixes!!!

Although I have been living in Vancouver for just over 8 months, I have learned so much with my experience so far. There are so many opportunities to staying fit and healthy at any time of the year as there is unlimited access to outdoor activities and clean healthy organic foods. But the one thing everyone needs to know is that no matter what part of the world you are in, there are many opportunities towards a healthier lifestyle out there, it is up to you to go out and take it.

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