Rediscovering My Story

Prairie Grain Elevators

As a birthday gift my mother sent me a photo of grandfather (her father) along with a few of his personal effects (he passed away in 1998), which included a resume of his medical education and publications.  He lived to be just over 90 years old, so how could two pages tell his story? He grew in Weyburn, Saskatchewan not far from Regina where I spent my FORMative years.

He and I went to many garage sales, he inspired me to become a health care professional and helped form my desire to learn photography (I wish I had learned more from him about film photography). There is a photo of him at my age; we look a lot a like, but I also have my paternal grandfather’s chin, who I never met..

My 40s are approaching, so I thought it was time to review the first nearly four decades.  We tie our identities to many things including what happened in our past, our occupations and our families. While our pasts have shaped us to become who we are today, they don’t have to shape tomorrow.  Each decision we made has had an effect on our lives; that decision could have been simply turning left instead of right a few years ago while walking to the grocer.

It took me many years to be able to comfortably, authentically and confidently share that depression and suicide attempts were part of my life.  The bullying that lead to these is no longer the story I tell, but I realize those years deeply affected my initial level of trust I hold towards people and how I handle particular situations.

Writing out my story from my birth in London, Ontario in 1976 to two wonderful parents, who have been married for nearly 50 years to today when I myself have been married for one and half years was quite a journey of discovery.

Those years after moving to Vancouver were quite traumatic, however I no longer have the emotions attached to high school bullying.  I jettisoned many of the self-defeating beliefs when I attended Unleash the Power Within with Tony Robbins.

What I also discovered is that I really didn’t celebrate that much. Each event I wrote down initially with very little emotion and often skipped over some major accomplishments and awards.  When I went back to fill in the blanks I started to feel very proud of what I have accomplished.

There are also some very pivotal moments in my  life that changed my direction completely.  One was deciding to come back to Vancouver after my undergraduate degree to attend UBC for non-degree related upper-level courses.  During this time I broke up with my fiancée and met Dr. Christensen, who has a spinal cord injury.  He was my first personal training client. Our six months together propelled the focus of my life’s work on providing those with disabilities, medical conditions and injuries with the opportunities, knowledge and facilities to stay active for life. It also inspired my vision for my own facility – which is almost crystal clear.

Being fired from my first job in fitness was devastating. However, one week later I was hired to as Personal Trainer at Fitness World within two days of handing in my resume.  During my eight years with them I blossomed into one of the top in the company for Personal Training sales, met my very dear friends and best woman at my wedding, met my lovely wife and I started Lifemoves as a strategic alliance with them.

Growing up in the Prairies really does define my character and pride. There is a very good poem by David Bouchard:

On the prairies I learned to embrace the snow and winter. I learned to cross-country ski, a sport I will be enjoying my entire life. My first twelve years also gave me a couple of pseudo elder brothers – the Jensens.  The two boys, Erik and Olaf were both older than me, but we did a lot together including learning to ski in Jackrabbits, playing with legos, hiking the Rockies and many Christmas dinners.  Being the youngest, of course I ended up with the hand-me-downs; a good thing in the end.

My time in Saskatchewan changed my blood colour to Rider Green.  Brock and I would get free tickets from Safeway to the kids’ end-zone area and then sneak into the main stadium claiming we had to call home (the only pay-phones in the place were in the concourse). One of my fondest memories is of attending a touch football camp at Taylor Field (now Mosaic stadium). We were mentored by some of my heroes. I still have the t-shirt, but it is a tight fit and my wife won’t let me wear it.

Growing up with my parents – no choice there, love them to bits shaped my values and the type of marriage I sought. I can not count a single divorce in my extended family, nor that of my wife’s.  My mother is doting and very caring, while my dad has is own unique way of showing is  devotion to my well-being.. He challenges me to always be better than I am by being very direct.

While I was younger both parents came on the family hikes and cross-country ski trips, but once I started to carry a pack, which was initially just my sleeping back the adventures became more just myself and my dad.

My mother was very happy being a wonderful children’s librarian who knew that if she climbed the library ladder who role would shift a way from the children. She had a knack for finding the oddest things. She would help me with my school projects. While my dad built a software company out of his home. He sold the software in the 80s and we moved – with great protest on my behalf to Vancouver in 1988.

It is his tenacity, hard work and entrepreneurial spirit is why I now own my own business. Being entrepreneur has tremendous challenges at times, but also many amazing rewards. The thought of working for someone else makes me shudder. My summer of kayaking and flexible hours working a training log software helped to understand that coding and software development is something I too enjoy.

Now, there are many similar products, but he was ahead of his time – nearly 20 years, but lacked the resources to make it big.  This makes me think, how can I gather the resources to go after my big audacious idea that I came up with in 2000?

Even with the thunderstorms and heavy rain in the winter, I am still very gratefully for the first year of kicking and screaming twenty-five years ago.  Vancouver is a wonderful place to live. Although I wish have traveled to Europe and USA, I will always come back home to Vancouver.  The day my parents permanently move back to Vancouver I will be jumping up and down with great glee and joy.

Moving to Vancouver has led to many adventures and accomplishments.  It was in Vancouver I started to pursue my dream of learning to fly by joining the air cadets. That same year I tried Biathlon. The shooting added a layer of complexity and joy to cross-country skiing. Sign-me up!

A couple of years ago my dad revealed that he become a coach to help me become a better athlete. Last year he was named Biathlon Coach of the Year for Canada.  It was a BC Winter Games where I came home with several gold medals and one silver in Biathlon – I was grinning ear to ear!  Without Biathlon I would have never realized my own Olympic dreams. He was instrumental in the Vancouver 2010 bid; he and I both had volunteer roles at the Biathlon venue in 2010 and on the field of play.

He was on the range while I my role was an Anti-Doping chaperone. What better vantage point than to be in the tick of things with the athletes spectators and the media? Wow. We were even able to watch the  Women’s Biathlon before our own events.

One thing that has become crystal clear during the last four months is that there are things that might set you back, some times in a very traumatic and dramatic way, but they are meant to propel you to even greater things.  For me, having to move my business suddenly to June made momentarily question my purpose, however it introduced me to someone who then connected me with my own clinic space.  My business now has a stable foundation to growth.

The process of exploring my own story is helping me understand that I don’t celebrate my accomplishments as much as I need to.  Also, that there have been certain things in my life that have shaped my beliefs about finances and money. Thought patterns that I am in the process of changing dramatically.

Try writing out your own story. What do you discover? Find a quiet space, grab some tissue and water, now start writing.

How to Build a Thriving Health and Wellness Practice: Review

Building a thriving and growing health, wellness and rehabilitation business is something I am always striving for.

As a Kinesiologist I know that we graduate from our Kinesiology or Human Kinetics programs with very few business skills; they all learned as we practice. During the last ten years I have had to learn through weekend workshops, business coaching , reading and watching videos or listening to podcasts as well learning from what succeeded and what didn’t.

This weekend I attended an all day workshop on how to build a thriving wellness practice at the Vancouver Yacht Club, organized by Lotus Counselling Services and Chasidy Karpiuk & Associates. This series of seminars started with accounting and bookkeeping, progressed through business planning and finished with building and branding. We also had the unexpected pleasure of having our headshot photo taken. I think it was well worth going to as an opportunity to network with a variety of health and wellness professionals including another Kinesiologist from Fort St. John. This was really a quick business bootcamp which gave wellness professionals a kick start and some of the tools to build their practice.

I remember being in the same place as some of the participants who were starting to transition from being employees to being the self-employed. This was when I was having great difficulty finding work in my industry so I decided to start my own business. This business struggled even after I participated in a Small Business BC Self-Employment program. I still didn’t entirely understand what it was going to take to succeed. Lifemoves® is my second business which I am very focused on making it a success. I folded my previous one I rebranded in 2007 the company brand no longer met my current personal brand’s needs.

Whether or not they stay on their own or build to multiple practitioners is up them and what they want to get from being self-employed. Building a thriving practice is a continual process of trying different things, searching for new knowledge and continually making changes as you progress towards greater success.

Keys to Building a Thriving Practice

  • Pay attention to your financials, in the beginning every month. This enables you to make adjustments as needed.
  • Maintain good bookkeeping habits. This helps your accountant at the end of each year to complete your taxes.
  • Set Goals, create a business plan with strategies to achieve them. Re-evaluate.
  • Be clear on who your market is and isn’t.
  • Save money by doing a waste audit. Sometimes it is time to pull the plug on a project that is draining resources
  • Be aware of your billable and non-billable hours. Earnings / Non-Billable + Billable Hours = Hourly Rate
    • Look for ways to be more efficient during your non-billable hours
  • What are your political, environmental, social and technological constraints?
  • Define your strengths and weakness. Play to your strengths.
  • Understand key threats and opportunities.
  • Build a story around your business which is the core of your business brand. Communicate that in as many ways as you can, but stay consistent.
  • Ace customer/client service – this is how you gain long-term clients as well as referrals.
  • Use social media as one portion of your 7 touch points: Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogs, YouTube, Twitter are just five ways to contribute to the conversation and communicate with your clients.
  • Have a website and blog at a minimum. Referred clients will search for you and evaluate your level of professionalism and whether or not you can provide the appropriate solution for them. This is part of brand a reputation building.
  • Use images that are appropriate to your market and that create emotion and connection. Ensure these are consistent with your brand’s story.

As an entrepreneur I always set goals, create a plan, evaluate progress and then redefine the goal or the plan. During these sessions we shared our goal and suggested different strategies to meet them, mine is develop a team of 5 Kinesiologists at the Steve Nash Fitness World in North Vancouver. This weekend’s workshop helped me to identify some areas where I can focus to take Lifemoves® to the next level. I do recommend that this workshop to anyone who is trying to start/build a wellness practice; click here to find out when the next one will be held.

Did you attend this workshop at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club? Can you think of any other ways to create a thriving health, wellness and rehabilitation practice?

Climbing Mountains for BC Children’s Hospital Grind for Kids

It was nearly 20 years ago when I first completed the Grouse Grind in North Vancouver while training for cross country skiing. I remember being in awe of how steep and how challenging it was. It took me until three years ago to get back on the mountain.

Grind for Kids
Participating in Grind for Kids motivates me because I know that I am participating in something that gives back twice: it increases my own fitness while raising money for the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.
This type of fundraiser reminds of Jump for Heart – a jump rope event back in elementary school aimed at raising money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
Unlike a singular event where you gather pledges to participate on one day, Grind for Kids offers nearly four months of opportunity.
Meeting Jason Chong who completed over 400 Grinds this season and 1,000 in his lifetime, inspired me to finally get on board with Grind for Kids. Thankfully my previous 20 climbs count towards my total goal of a minimum 35.
I founded Lifemoves because I believe that movement is an integral part of life, no matter what your current physical abilities are or what your fitness level is. Giving back to BC’s children is important because it will enable them to enjoy more of life’s movement such as running around in the park, riding a bike or swimming in the ocean.
Supporting this foundation is important to me because it is one way I can thank everyone at children’s hospitals in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Ontario.
6 months and 4 years old
I was born with a medical condition that made my life very tenuous and my parents were quite concerned about my survival. I had surgery twice as a child, once in Ontario when I was 6 months old and another one in Saskatchewan when I was about 4 years old. All I remember of the second in surgery is the ticklish sensation of having the stitches removed. I also have several good scars to tell the stories with.
As a stubborn 4 year old, I placed my hands in my pockets while going down some icy steps, even though my mother told me not to. There are consequences for such actions, and I hit my head on the stairs. Thankfully the hospital as only a few blocks away.
Youth
There were two major times I was in BC Children’s Hospital while in high school. The first was when I ended up on my back, twisted in a snow fence after falling during a cross country ski race in 99 Mile House. After being carted out by snowmobile and ending up on the front page of the local paper, my Dad drove me, sedated and braced in his car, back to Vancouver. I was kept on a minimal diet for three days in case I needed surgery. Thankfully, I didn’t.
This crash happened just before the BC Winter Games in Vernon, which I had qualified for by being first in my zone. I watched the games on TV as all my friends raced on the trails of one of my favourite places to ski. Determined to get back to skiing, I even went up to Hollyburn Lodge on Cypress Mountain by snowmobile while still in a cast.
The second time was when I needed corrective surgery for a deviated septum which was making breathing difficult (it didn’t fully correct). I am not sure how my nosed ended up sideways because I don’t remember breaking it. I woke up to a orange popsicle being handed to me by a nurse, who was also my friend’s mother. Getting the stuffing taken out of my nose was one of the most painful experiences in my life. Thanks Mom for letting me squeeze your hand!
As you see, there are many reasons for me to give back to all those who made a big difference in my life, most likely making it possible for me to continue. My wish is for the kids to have the best care possible and their parents to have outstanding support during their child’s illness.
Please help make a difference on my behalf by donating or pledging for for each climb:

Seeking the Peak: Being Happy With Your Accomplishments – Stop Living in the Gap

Ever since I was bullied in high school, I have had trouble being happy with my accomplishments. The art of being happy is connected to the gap between our actual self and our ideal self. How often do we live in the gap between these two when we don’t meet our goals? Entrepreneurs tend to set these wild and somewhat unrealistic ideals, invest their life savings and then come out on the other side with nothing but bankruptcy.
We need to mitigate our risk by evaluating our goals as being realistic while still pushing the boundaries. Ever watch Dragon’s Den on CBC? Some people have some very interesting ideas, but no sense what their idea is truly worth or whether there is a need for their widget or service.
When I started my training for Seek the Peak, my ideal was a sub-2-hour time which, with my knowledge and endurance training background, I could achieve with the appropriate training. However, this training was promptly side-tracked by my adding staff to Lifemoves in May and June.

We base our goals on what we know. Early in June I knew that my ideal time had to be adjusted or I would end up feeling frustrated, defeated and sad. However, this did not stop me from going after my original plan of participating and proving that I could complete the 16km and 4,100m journey from Ambleside Park to the top of Grouse Mountain.

A few weeks before July 4th, I completed a couple of Grouse Grinds and my time was around 44-46 minutes. So, based on this, I predicted a finish of 2:30. A few days before, I came up with a race plan of warming-up properly then, as the race started, gradually increasing my pace using an increasing heart rate as the race progressed to ensure that I didn’t fatigue too quickly. My background as a Strength and Conditioning Coach gave me skills to have a plan for my heart rates, but the missing part of it was a detailed nutrition plan.
I only ever looked at my watch to see that I was at the appropriate heart rate — not going too slow or too fast. Sticking to the plan was crucial. About 10 years ago, one of my coaches gave me sound advice: Run your race. In other words, stick to the plan no matter what others are doing. You can control yourself — not others. Only you control your reaction to the environment around you.
My mantra the whole way was, “race your own race.” Prior to the race, I had not trained on the sections before the Grouse Grind, so I was really unsure of the terrain which, in the end, slowed me slightly. The trails on the North Shore are beautiful and I am looking forward to running more of them this year.
The first two stages were very nice and everyone was fairly spread out. Once we hit the Grind, my legs were starting to fatigue and we encountered all the other Grinders who were not racing. I struggled to get my heart to 175bpm; it averaged 165bmp instead, with a time of 53 minutes for this section as the traffic kept me at a good pace. At the end of each stage I felt really good and very happy with how much I was able to push and keep going.
Going up the last portion from the top of the Grind, around the chalet, and up to the top of the mountain were the toughest parts. We were encased in clouds and not able to see more than 10 feet in front of us. My mind wanted to run this portion, but as many experienced trail runners before me have said, “you will be walking steeper sections,” which I did.
Looking at my watch as I scurried around the pylon to make my way down, I saw that I was on pace for my goal. Knowing that it wasn’t too far to go, I picked up the speed and pushed myself until the end.
Near the Capilano Dam, someone said, “Pain is only temporary.” I responded with, “Victory is a lifetime.” It feels great to have completed something as strenuous as the Seek the Peak in a time of 2:24 hours. If I had not shifted my goal, I would have thought my time was awful and not experienced the joy that this race offered.
The gap would have been 30 minutes, and looking at it as a percentage, it still would be 80% which, in university, is a very good grade.
So what if you don’t reach your goal? Are you going to be unhappy and morose? Instead, think about how much progress you did make towards it and what lessons you learned. I stared from not being able to run for more than 10 minutes without stopping, to running 16km UPHILL non-stop.
Ideal – Actual 1 (start) – Actual 2 (end) = Gap (1). Ideal is perfection which we never reach. How often do you live in the gap instead of celebrating getting to Actual 2 knowing that you put your in your best effort? Time to take this new philosophy into my business goals. Stop measuring yourself against an ideal and perfection.
Stay Happy and Avoid the Gap.
1. Sullivan, Dan. “Learning How to Avoid the Gap: The Skill of Building Lifetime Happiness. 2004

Kinesiologist Gains International Spotlight on Physioguru.com

Marking my tenth year as a Kinesiologist came with being interviewed for the Spotlight section of Physioguru.com. It is an unexpected honour to be recognized for my innovative approach to active rehabilitation, my efforts as an entrepreneur to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities and chronic medical conditions through exercise and lifestyle interventions, and my leadership in the field of rehabilitation.

Physioguru.com is a comprehensive resource for Physiotherapists around the globe aimed at enhancing their clinical practices. Each month it highlights one practitioner. It is nice as a Kinesiologist to be recognised and appreciated as part of the worldwide rehabilitation team.
Read the entire interview. Thank you Devdeep.

Seeking the Peak: Learning to Lead the Climb

Learning to lead the climb to the peak is forcing me to grow as my business grows. We just hired two Junior Kinesiologists (1st and 4th-year students) and one who recently graduated. Brielle and Nicola started their first week at Lifemoves by standing at our Move for Health Day table.

This was a quick, reactive opportunity on my part to introduce them to the gym, members and our clients while celebrating a World Health Organization initiative. The timing was actually very good. Even though putting the event together was a bit hurried, it forced me to learn to delegate and trust that the tasks I give others would get done (not easy for an only child). We now have a base for Move for Health Day in the future.
I am not sure if I was looking for, or received, as much direction when I first started working for Fitness World in 2000. I believe I was told to do a job and I figured it out mostly by myself. I succeeded despite a lack of leadership from my immediate managers. Perhaps after the first couple of weeks, and with the proper direction, our new employees will figure out how things run and become more independent while taking more initiative.
These proteges are young, willing to learn and open to me leading them. At the moment they ask for direction. What I need to do is unlock the talent that lies within them and show them the way in a supportive manner that does not involve too much hand holding.
I don’t know the exact path we will take to reach where I want to grow my business, but I do know our ultimate destination. I am learning that when I am asked a question, I need to be more confident about the next step and answer, even if it means deferring and doing more research. I will do whatever I know how to do to help my team be successful. For me this means that they have a sustainable client load and are engaged on a day-to-day basis in areas they are passionate about.
I am confident that Nicola and Brielle will be successful and I am looking forward to Leah joining us in mid-June. There is a difference between management and leadership. With a vision, I know I am capable of leading my team of Kinesologists on the climb towards fantastic opportunities.