CAMPBELL-PASCALL UNITING ATHLETES AND PUBLIC FOR WORKOUT SESSIONS
Cassie Campbell-pascall admits her mindset has changed a little since her days as captain of the Canadian women’s hockey team.
Sure, she loves to see her name on the Peloton leaderboard, but it’s not first-or-flop.
“I try for a medal performance — gold, silver or bronze,” said Campbell-pascall, who hung up her skates after the 2006 Winter Olympics and is now a colour analyst for Sportsnet’s NHL broadcasts. “I’ve never gone for a silver or bronze in my life before, but I do with this. Even a topfive.”
With a Rolodex of high-profile pals, she’s not making it easy on herself.
Campbell-pascall has been the ringleader for what’s now being called #Jointhemovement, a call for all — from elite athletes to admitted couch potatoes — to come together for virtual workouts.
It started out simple enough — Campbell-pascall and curling ace Ben Hebert, each with a Peloton bike in their basements, trying to find extra motivation for their at-home spins.
Campbell-pascall, now back in the fold with Hockey Canada as an adviser to the women’s program, has patched in many of the current national teamers via Facetime. (Only Peloton owners are tracked on the live leaderboard, but you can download the app and complete the same instructor-led classes on any stationary bike.)
The everyone-welcome workouts have now grown to include special guest sweaters and dozens of ordinary folks.
Wednesday’s cast was headlined by Roberto Luongo, third on the NHL’S all-time wins list among goaltenders.
On Friday, Flames centre
Sean Monahan and defenceman Michael Stone will be joining the fun.
Melodie Daoust, Brianne Jenner, Meghan Mickelson, Marie-philip Poulin, Natalie Spooner and other Team Canada standouts have been spotlighted.
Perhaps the most memorable session was a special wear-red ride — featuring Nova Scotia’s own Jillian Saulnier and Blayre Turnbull — after the tragic shootings in their home province.
“That’s when it kind of escalated,” Campbell-pascall said. “The two Nova Scotia players, they didn’t know but their whole team did it behind the scenes, too, so they all sent them their pictures wearing a red shirt and supporting Nova Scotia Strong.”
That team element is important to Campbell-pascall, who captained Canada to gold at both the 2002 and 2006 Winter Olympics.
She spreads the word about the rides on her social media accounts and then shares post-workout photos of the big names, usually soaked and smiling.
“Athletes, nobody really feels sorry for them — especially the Nhlers, because they make millions of dollars,” Campbell-pascall said of the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. “But an athlete is so used to usually working out with people, whether it’s their coach or their trainer or their teammates. So I think it’s been very difficult to be secluded for athletes. You often push each other. I know it’s your job to push yourself, but working out with teammates, they’re missing that. This brings back some kind of normalcy, I think, as far as being able to work out together and push each other.
“And now we’re just encouraging all people to ride your Peloton, ride your bike, run, walk, whatever. It’s been fun for us, and I think we have a few people that have got off the couch to join us.”
Indeed, everybody is welcome. This isn’t supposed to be a race, although it’s tough for any high-performance athlete to simply switch off their competitive streak and treat this as a casual cruise. Luongo, who retired after last season, must still be in tip-top shape because his total output stats — a combination of resistance and speed — were untouchable on Wednesday’s ride. Hebert, who never misses the group workouts but insists he deserves no credit as a co-organizer, was among the closest in Luongo’s virtual rear-view.
“I heard that Monny is coming on and I was like, ‘Oh, I might have to be sick that day.’ I don’t want him to light me up too bad,” said Hebert, a gold medallist at Vancouver 2010, with a chuckle. “I’m certainly not the Lance Armstrong of curling, I promise you that. I just got into the spin thing and I’m really enjoying it.
“I think it’s cool, too — it’s not like every day I get to hop on the bike and challenge myself against Nhlers and other Olympic medallists from hockey and other sports,” he continued. “It’s fun, and I wouldn’t say it’s a competition. Everyone can go at their own level. It’s just motivating when you know you have 30, 40, 50 people jumping on with you at a certain time — you can’t bail on a workout last-minute, being lazy. You have to make sure you’re ready to roll. So it’s been something to look forward to through these groggy days of sitting in and self-isolating. We’re trying to stay positive through this and keep the mind healthy and keep the body healthy.
“It’s a fun little escape. And the more the merrier. We would love to get as many people as we can.”
The number of participants should only grow.
After all, it’s pretty cool for a hockey fan to be able to say they broke a sweat with legends like Campbell-pascall and Luongo or current stars such as Poulin and Monahan.
“I think that’s been unique for people to say, ‘Oh my god, that’s Sean Monahan, I’m going to see how close I can get to him,’” said Campbell-pascall, a Canadian Sports Hall of Famer and proud mother of one. “But it’s not a competition. Some of my girlfriends and my mom friends, who aren’t necessarily athletic, they’ve been on and they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t keep up.’ And I tell them, ‘That’s not the point!’
“We’re not going to post our scores or anything. That part is so insignificant. It’s just to get off the couch and get a workout.”
Cassie Campbell-pascall, seen in inset, chats with Brianne Jenner. Campbell-pascall has been spearheading the exercise and fitness initiative now being called #Jointhemovement.