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A Call Back To Stability: Steph’s Sublime Strength Series

04/20/2015, 5:00am PDT
By Kelvin Cech

Have you noticed the shift?


The sun is shining. Birds are chirping. Purse dogs are hitching a ride on the seawall. 

Have you seen a shift in your own mentality as the earth warms up and brings us out of hibernation? Steph St. Laurent has seen a shift in people in the fitness centre. A shift toward positive change and toward empowerment. 

A shift toward strength.

This is the last in a four part series with the director of HybridStrong at the North Shore Winter Club. 

Kelvin: Is the enlightenment in people part of the cycle of how the season goes for you because you’ve been doing this for so many years? You’re clearly passionate about getting people in there for the right reasons.

Steph: I’m really passionate about people being healthy and fit and having the quality of life that we all deserve, getting one’s hands to do the work. And they’re not alone. Because a lot of people feel that they are alone, by themselves and being able to achieve these goals. There has been a change in the gym facility, some of the new faces that I’ve seen the past few months, is it a January or a New Year’s resolution thing? Is it that we have new members that joined our club who I haven’t seen yet? It’s nice to see new faces, but the bottom line is I hope that it’s sustainable, I hope these people do remain and stay the course because it’s not a New Year’s resolution scenario. It should be a year-long scenario. 

It just happens to be the first part of the year? What’s it like working with the new people?

It just happens to be the beginning of the year. Whatever gets you started, great, because you can do something with a start. And that’s where we, as trainers within the gym, we hope to at least have an opportunity to talk to some of these people. Have a conversation with them and even say you know, just hey, how are you doing? What brings you to the gym? I haven’t seen you in here yet, welcome! What are you looking to achieve? And in the same breath, we’re here and we’re glad to help with anything that you may have, questions about nutrition, questions about programming and how you should be approaching your time in the gym. 

You talk about the new shift in fitness awareness wears off, why is that?

It has to be a constant. I can’t say in the 20 years in doing what I do that I’ve seen a change in that regard, people give up. It’s cyclical. It’s just the human condition. Living in a western world where we’re keeping up with the Jones’ and we’re driven by material, we’re driven by money and what we can do next and a lot of time people are caught up in their own world. Especially if you have kids, parents will all identify with that, that consumes a lot of your time. Especially if they’re in competitive sports. You’re spending much of your time driving from one rink to another, to another place, to another place.

You’re emotionally invested in every move they make and it’s tough to invest in your own moves.

Yeah and you just said something that’s huge there and I’d love to jump on that. The emotional part is people get fatigued. It’s not only about being physically fatigued and people saying they just don’t have the physical energy to think about doing a workout. Some people just don’t have the head space and the emotional head space to initiate getting into some time for themselves that way because they’re spent. They literally don’t have an ounce left in them to think outside of everything else they’ve just had to accomplish within a week. So what I would say to that is, that’s something you have to change. 

Okay fix this for me. I was in the gym last week and I got on the bike and I had three hours until I had a lesson or whatever. I had a ton of time and I jump on the bike and and I was just trying to ride without thinking of all the work that I needed to do. The work I needed to do after just coming back from the holidays, back from our tournament in Calgary and I just couldn’t get it out of my head. And I got super frustrated and I rode the bike hard for fifteen minutes but then I left. And I went and I just worked. Not like anything was due the next day or anything like that but I just couldn’t get into my zone in the gym because of everything that was in my brain. And I work for myself, I don’t have a boss. So it sucked. How do you fix that? Fix me Steph!

How do you fix that? Well that’s a classic one. What happened is that you allowed for all that work to consume the head space that was suppose to be allocated to that “you” time, that “you clock”. It’s time for yourself and nothing else exists. It happens, you’re a human being. You’re not a machine and I tell people that all the time. You need to cut yourself some slack. If you’ve seeking perfection, then you’re going to be unsuccessful. You’re going to fail. You have to understand that if you set out twice a week to work out for an hour, some days are not going to be as great as others, you’re going to be dragging your butt now and then. Some days you’re going to feel great. Some days you may get a little bit more accomplished in the gym, or not. And it’s really just sharpening your mental blade, but there are times in our lives where we are more overwhelmed with what’s going on. 

It was a moment where you allowed all your work to take over into that space to where it consumed you. Or you no longer had the “wind in the sails” to get a good workout in. You were fuelling your desire to appease and get to your work to quell that anxiety that you had about what you needed to get done. So it’s really being able to step back and identify and go, oh okay, this is what’s happening right now as I outlined, being able to go, ok, I see what’s happening, I understand the trigger, is it going to change anything if I get to it in an hour? And we all know the answer is no it won’t so what you do is you shelf all that crap and get to it. Get it done, just get it done.

Yeah, yeah. I feel better already.

The world will still spin on its axis, man. It won’t come to a grinding halt. And that’s what I apply to myself. It’s the same thing. I make time for myself, for my training, My time slot is noon every day to do my training. A new client could come to me and say you know what Steph, I’d really love to train with you and I say ok what’s your available times and all I have is noon, lunch time to do my training and I say, no, unfortunately I’m not available. Because that time, and even if the person says I’ll pay you a million dollars a session, I’m exaggerating here, but that’s how strong I am about the point for my time. No, it doesn’t matter how much money you have and you’re willing to pay me for having that time slot. 

It’s spoken for.

It’s spoken for. I know if I forfeit that time I’m going to eventually resent it, I’m going to be miserable because I’m not getting the time in for myself. And my training is more about the mental side of things, it always has been from an early age. It helps me be even, it helps me take care of stress, it helps me think clearly. Once I get my work out in, I’m a much more productive individual. I’ve been doing it long enough to understand the triggers, so you know what, why am I feeling a bit more anxious? Usually I’m worrying more because oh yes, I’ve allowed enough stuff to get in the way, it’s been three days since I’ve worked out. And that’s what I’m feeling right now. Rapping at my door is stuff, so you better get to your workout or you’re going to pop.

Go and take care of that.

Go and take care of it, right?

Yeah. That totally makes sense.

And we’re all smart. We all get it. But we’re happy to take the easy route. It’s easier to “not do” than “to do”. It’s easier to take inaction than to take action.

In the short term?

In the short term.

And in the long term you’ll appreciate it.

That’s right. That’s like anything in life. You like to procrastinate on things that cause discomfort. And of course for anybody who is like yeah you know, I should get back in the gym, oh I’ll be in there eventually. I just smile and I just – okay.

Like getting up and having a meeting at 9 am Monday morning?

That’s right.

That’s craziness, who meets at 9am on a Monday? But look what we’re getting out of it!

But that’s just it right? The crux of it is, it’s just really putting out a reminder to people that nothing’s changed. Nothing’s changed in the way it works. There is no quick fix. There’s no quick diet. There’s no magic bullet. There’s no, like you said before, magic beans. It doesn’t exist and people need to expunge that out of their minds. And that it’s just consistent, the hard work doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Hard work doesn’t mean it has to be gruelling. But the right amount of work over a consistent period of time can yield the things that you desire so much for yourself from a health and fitness perspective. And that’s really the reminder that I want to put out there. 

We need to get away further and further away from buying stuff on the home shopping network and products that we think are going to solve our problems. And it’s not the case, we all know that. And to kind of maybe leave the topic, I remember watching an episode of Dr. Phil awhile back, and there was a gentleman that came on his show, I think in excess of 500 pounds, and of course you think of an individual being that weight, you’re not only looking at how it affects you, the kind of car you drive, he had a dream car he wanted to be able to drive but he couldn’t fit in. Dating was non-existent. His ability to meet girls was absolutely impossible. We all like companionship, that’s a very basic primal thing that we all make up our lives with. It leads to some happiness, there were so many things that  he could not do because of his weight, so Dr. Phil ended up working with him and spent some time with him and he lost all of his weight, got down to 185 pounds, I believe if I’m not mistaken. Dr. Phil gifted him with the car of his dreams for doing so, and some time passed, he got to go out on dates and everything else, finally living the life that he wanted.

So Dr. Phil followed up with him after a couple years or so and this gentleman put on all the weight again that he had lost. So he had him back on his show at the weight that he started off with and Dr. Phil asked him a very simple thing. He goes,”so (we’ll call him John), so John, when you lost all that weight, and you were starting to date girls, you got to drive the car of your dreams, you got to travel, do all the things that you couldn’t do. How did you feel?” And this guy said, “great”. And Dr. Phil responded to him, he said “so what didn’t you like about great?” 

It was so poignant. What I liked about that moment, it was so simple, because if you felt so great, all the work that you did to lose that amount of weight, we’re not talking about people who are just looking to lose 20 or 30 pounds here, we’re talking a guy who lost over 300 hundred pounds.

Half his body weight.

Yeah. So what was so significant about what he didn’t like about great that you ended up putting all that weight back on. Because something significant in his mind didn’t change within that journey of losing that weight. It’s the part of him that’s damaged in the sense of how he abused himself. You have to feel that you are deserving and that you’re worth it, and that you care and respect yourself enough to make the changes that you need to change. When you do that, you’re going to do it from a healthy perspective and you’re going to be more likely to have it be a mainstay in your life. Instead of ebbing and flowing and then up and down.

It will become the constant instead of…

It will be your norm.

Where’s John now? How long ago was the segment?

It’s probably a few years ago when I saw this interview. So it’d probably be interesting to look into that. And for every John story, there’s another thousand of them right?

Oh for sure.

If I were to title this article it would be a “call back”. It’s so … perfect. Call back to what you deserve. Call yourself back to health. I think that’s pretty much all I have to say about that.

For now…

Steph & I will be back in a few weeks with more shop talk. I hope you like podcasts.

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