Some kids have dreams about flying. Ever since I can remember, I have had dreams about running. Running like the wind. Light. Free. Effortless. The ease of movement I felt in those dreams - I have never felt during my waking-time. I am a nutritionist. I’m all about the food. As co-founder of Feed Me Ottawa, I’ve got that DOWN. That movement thing is optional right?

I’m intimidated by exercise. I was that shy kid who was absolutely the last picked for every team sport. The only time I have ever enjoyed doing anything “athletic” was as part of the “Ballsheviks” - my softball team in grad school. We were political economy nerds and clearly delighted in bad puns. And even then - my teammates laughed their heads off when I ran. As in they were bent over at the waist gasping for breath. It was loving laughter… but still.

So as the partnership between EPIC and Feed Me Ottawa geared up and Stephanie invited me to a personal training session at EPIC, I agreed with the appropriate expression of excitement. But inside - I had that familiar sinking feeling reminiscent of elementary school gym class.

When the day of my session came, I appeared at EPIC’s bright, cheerful location on Ogilvie Rd… having forgotten my running shoes. No joke. I showed up to a personal training session in socks. I waited half hoping they would want to reschedule… and I wouldn’t have to do it. But no such luck! Apparently all personal trainers have extra pairs of shoes lying around. Who knew? Escape thwarted.

After donning my borrowed shoes, Justine, my charmingly enthusiastic personal trainer, went through the short questionnaire I had filled out - smiling that I indicated ping pong was the only sport I enjoyed and that I was only here because I had heard that lean muscle mass was an indicator of longevity so I figured I had better get on that.

As she led me into the workout space, it took me a few minutes of nervously staring at my feet to actually look around… and then I realized that there were no machines in the room other than the treadmills. Mysterious stations set up with resistance bands and weights… yes… but no machines. Hmmmm… well, that seemed slightly less scary.

Even better, Justine lead me past all the stations and into the yoga studio. A nice empty space with nothing I could trip on or injure myself with. We then went through various exercises like walking lunges and “high knees” (which she always demonstrated first) and learning how to squat. By this point, I was smiling and despite myself… having fun in moments.

During my time with Justine, I had two big aha moments. One was that I was intensely uncomfortable when she complimented my technique. Or breathing. Or anything really. Because this was EXERCISE. I’m not good at that…. Right?

The second came when she was showing me how to squat. I have had right knee pain since teenagehood… so avoiding movements like squats is second nature. And I did a few - and sure enough… it hurt like hell. See?! I can’t do this. It hurts too much.

But then she adjusted the tilt to my pelvis, instructed me on which specific muscles to contract and described where I should be feeling tension… and where I shouldn’t be… and then holy hell… I squatted all the way down… and up… and again… and it didn’t hurt! Pretty sure the grin on my face was blinding.

I walked into EPIC feeling intimidated and awkward… and I walked (no… I strutted) out of that room feeling like a serious badass. #mindblown

The next day, I woke up to a world where I was painfully aware of many (many) muscles that I never even knew I had. My body was sore in an exhilarating way and Justine and I accomplished that together without a single machine and with a lot of laughter along the way.

My time at EPIC was a profound wake up call. We need to do more things that make us feel like badasses! We need to do the things that scare us… because we might turn out to be pretty darn good at them! That’s right people, this nutritionist now knows how to squat like a BOSS.

And if I’m actually (possibly) good at this exercise thing… what ELSE could I be good at and I’ve just been too scared to find out?! Pardon me while my badass-self swaggers away… to go find out.

Jessie Lindley