I found myself a few years back consumed in a sandwich society situation where I was balancing far too much on my shoulders. I was caring for my elderly mother, working a full time monotonous, solitary job as a transcriptionist/editor, and caring for my small family. I had gained a significant amount of weight which was putting my body into a stressful chaos.  

Before my daughter entered high school, she was overweight also, in fact heavier than myself by about 10 pounds, and thirty years younger. Smart as a whip but slightly introverted, she quietly begged me one day to please make her some really healthy food and told me she wanted to work out. We had already been incorporating good nutrition into our meals, however, now she wanted it bumped up a few notches. It dawned on me in that moment, she was living the agonizing life that I once had, a heavy set and slightly timid young female, and suddenly I knew I had to make very major changes in not only lifestyle management, but also our mental wellbeing, which meant some really tough decisions.  

My daughter had turned 13 and at that time there was only one place in our town who would let us work out together, in the weight room. I borrowed money to get that membership. I had to. I knew I there was chance I could lose her to any number of mental or physical health issues. I knew better. I have a degree in Developmental Psychology and had even completed both the canfitpro Personal Training Specialist (PTS) and Nutrition & Wellness courses. My life has been full of roadblocks, but there was not one roadblock that I would not hit and attempt to conquer for the life of my child. We worked out together until she became confident in herself. Once she obtained her driver’s license she went diligently on her own.  

I took the Nutrition & Wellness course shortly after a divorce, a change in career paths, and looking after my elderly mother, who passed away afterwards. During these challenging times, I was driven into a level of poverty that had become almost shocking, and exercise not only changed me physically, but gave me mental therapy to work out my frustrations. When you incorporate traditional exercise with yoga, meditation, and physiotherapy exercises, you get a repertoire of activities that can leave you satisfied and grounded.  

I need the fitness I see my daughter engaging in just to keep myself not only level-headed, uplifted, and to continue supporting her. It also helps me communicate and relate to her, which is important as she is just nearing 20 years of age and in her first year of university. She likes to talk “gym” and I can understand. She misses going to her gym right now. I am proud of her for doing her booty sculpt, for taking the time to write a workout for me, although I need to make modifications, and for being so dedicated to her workout routines. As she puts it, it is her “me” time, it is her “work off stress time.”  

I do not mind the gyms; however, I gravitate to the great outdoors. I enjoy taking my daughter on small hikes as she likes nature as well, and we have even been kayaking. I am completing my physiotherapy assistant internship right now. I have also enrolled in a yoga teacher course. I have been in and out of nursing homes, teaching exercises to the elderly. What I have noticed is that if they had some level of fitness before entering the residence or nursing home, their bodies stay stronger, and their minds are sharper.  

If you look at me, I do not look like the stereotypical fitness guru. I am short and sturdy, but because of my education I have never strayed that far away from some form of movement, activity, or dream, and I continue to push on because I have reasons to. My daughter is truly my miracle and I hope that exercise will constantly stay a part of her routine. 

If she had not put the brakes on that one day, my life would have gone in another direction, leading us all toward health problems of one sort or another. We may not be fitness professionals, but it is fitness and wellness that saved our lives. Entering a GoodLife Fitness gym before my daughter was even born gave me the knowledge that exercise was beneficial. Continuing studies and watching what has unfolded over the years proves that good nutrition and fitness can make a positive impact personally, and it can help someone else find inspiration. 


Irene Hofstede is a Physiotherapy Assistant/Occupational Therapy Assistant with a degree in Developmental Psychology and Medical Office Administration diploma. She has always believed in continual learning and has always gravitated back to fitness and nature as a type of wellness therapy.