Harness the Healing Power of Physical Activity

2012 Surf City Half Marathon in California - 1:37!!

My life's passion is helping people use exercise to manage their medical problems.  This involves how to exercise safely and effectively, which many clients never thought possible.  And how to see beyond perceived limitations, achieving milestones that had once seemed untenable.  Over the course of my 20-year career, I have successfully helped individuals with

  • chronic pain of all types
  • back problems, arthritis, osteoporosis, and fibromyalgia
  • orthopaedic conditions including joint replacement surgery
  • high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome
  • cardiovascular risk factors and disease
  • frail elderly
  • weight management
  • general post-surgical
  • cancer treatment including post-surgical
  • stroke and brain injury
  • physical disability and visual impairment
  • autoimmune diseases, and HIV
  • mental health issues such as depression and anxiety
  • non-acute sports injuries

I am an Ontario Registered Social Worker (MSW, RSW), an ACE-Certified Medical Exercise Specialist, an AAHFRP-Certified Post Rehabilitation Conditioning Specialist, and an ACE-Certified Personal Trainer. How did I end up jumping from social work to where I am now?  When I was in graduate school pursuing my Master of Social Work degree, I had an epiphany that I should combine counseling with the healing, restorative power of physical activity.  I knew that physical activity had the capacity to be transformative, as I had experienced this first hand - but at the time, it was a new idea.  Today, it is well-established that physical health and mental health are inextricably linked. How did I end up specializing in working with people with medical conditions?  Something life-changing happened to me 19 years ago, that determined the trajectory my professional life would take: While biking home one evening in downtown Toronto, I was hit by a taxi. I flipped over my handlebars and landed on my head – so hard that my helmet cracked in two. I remember flying through the air as if in slow motion, and then the noise of my helmet hitting the pavement.  I learned a few hours later, on a hospital gurney, that I had broken a vertebrate in my neck. Miraculously, there was no nerve damage as the fracture was “distal” – away from – the spinal column. That being said, it was a Grade Four whiplash injury with extensive soft tissue damage. Recovering from this injury sparked the fundamental question of how one can exercise with a medical condition that ostensibly would exclude physical activity. I became fascinated, and slightly obsessed, by this. Soon I was specializing in working with clients who had medical problems and chronic health conditions, and within several years had added two advanced level qualifications. Even though my bike accident was 19 years ago, at times I still live with considerable pain. This has deepened my understanding of the experiences of individuals who also suffer from chronic pain. Breaking my neck did not diminish my goal-oriented nature, however. While out for a brief, very slow walk shortly after my accident, many years ago, I made a firm decision: that I was going to become a long distance runner. I had been very active, but could never run very far. Somehow, I managed to climb out of an abyss of chronic pain, and do exactly that.