Medicine Hat News

Finding inspiratio­n in all athletes

- Ed Stiles

Holy smokes, you have got to love the Olympic Games! Winning or losing, these folks lay it all on the line for themselves, their coaches, their families and their country. Many of the best winter athletes in the world are pushing themselves to their absolute limits. The fierce competitio­n and amazing displays of athleticis­m are often accompanie­d by stories of setbacks, injuries and inspiring comebacks through grit, determinat­ion and passion.

Knowing how hard these athletes work for at minimum four years leading up to the Olympic games, the sacrifices made, the thousands of hours spent training, the agony and the ecstasy of great performanc­es and dismal failures garners a deep level of respect for their journey. Thank you Olympic athletes! All that said we really don’t have to travel to South Korea to witness inspiring journeys. We (the team at the Family Leisure Centre) are six weeks into a 12week Alberta Cancer Exercise program in partnershi­p with U of C and U of A. These are people who have undergone or are currently undergoing treatment for a variety of different cancers. They come in for a group workout twice a week and bring fatigue, stress, new hair and some deep bone pain with them.

Goals vary; decreasing fatigue, regaining lost strength, improving balance, getting up out of a chair without assistance among others but one consistent theme is the willingnes­s to try to be better. Some have literally never exercised in their lives while others have a more active history but they are all embracing the joy of movement and improving, striving and breathing deeper every time they attend. It is a testament to the paradox of exercise that they may drag themselves in and feel deep fatigue at the beginning but after asking their bodies to move and stretch and strengthen that they leave feeling invigorate­d.

The program is an actual study trying to add science to what we inherently know regarding the vast benefits of structured activity and exercise for cancer survivors. To be honest the socializat­ion and camaraderi­e of sharing this experience with others who have lived a similar journey is of huge benefit as well. Thank you ACE athletes! Speaking of journeys, one of our hard-working members shared that he really did not want to be here the other day. He was tired and sore but as he sat spinning on one of the bikes overlookin­g the gym there was a young lady and her caregiver shooting hoops. He stopped feeling sorry for himself pretty quickly as she tried and tried again to get that ball through that hoop.

“Must have been 80 shots,” he said. But on 81 you would think she had won the NBA championsh­ip.

The fact that this awesome young hoopster with a never say die mentality is a person with some developmen­tal challenges adds to the impact of the story but not the theme. Thank you young lady! We all have choices in life whether we are going for gold, fighting a disease or success eludes us; Give up, roll over and fail, or just keep trying to be better. I hope you choose the latter.

Ed Stiles BPE, Certified Exercise Physiologi­st is a member of the Alberta Sport Developmen­t Centre’s Performanc­e Enhancemen­t Team and is the Fitness Coordinato­r at the Family Leisure Centre he can be reached via email at, or at ed1sti@medicineha­

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