It can be easy to come up with reasons not to get fit. For mother-of-two Marilyn Modler from Ottawa ON, those reasons compounded for years before she decided to make a change in her life. Now, she refuses to look back. 

“For 20 years I put myself and my body last. Being a mom was my priority, and fitness kind of took a back seat. My body was a wreck, and I had arthritis so bad in my knee that we were considering selling our multi-level house.” 

Marilyn and her husband took a vacation to Italy in 2018. After returning, she reviewed photos from their trip and wasn't happy with what she saw. She realized how badly she needed fitness in her life. From that point on Marilyn was dedicated to becoming more active. 

She signed up for personal training with Helkat Jaffer at the Place D’Orleans GoodLife, and says the changes to her quality of life were monumental. 

I lost 60 pounds, and noticed such a tremendous difference in the way my body moved. Getting fit with my husband and Helkat gave me a sense of control I didn’t even know I was missing in my life, and now I refuse to go back to the way I was.

Her resolve was tested in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and gyms were forced to close. 

Marilyn did nothing for two weeks, but then decided to take a stand for her health and continue her focus on fitness from home. She found old exercise equipment in her basement, and began using online fitness videos, remote training, and even dance classes to build in some exercise. 

“I am so motivated to keep moving forward for myself, my family, and my trainer. I couldn’t be where I am without Helkat, and I’m so thankful for his dedication to me and my health.”

Marilyn takes a break from working out on her deck while gyms were closed.

Marilyn takes a break from working out on her deck while gyms were closed.

While Marilyn quickly discovered ways to maintain her physical health during lockdowns, she says her mental health was often a different battle. Getting out of the house for walks, or even just chatting with her trainer would help get her out of a negative mindset.  

She knows many Canadians are facing that same battle, and hopes they too can find healthy coping and support mechanisms. 

“I’m missing the feeling of togetherness and community that you get at the gym. The friendly nods, the supportive trainers, all of it. I’m so fortunate to have family support and a job and equipment in the basement and an awesome trainer, but not everybody has that. I worry about them, and I hope they can find ways of moving forward until we can come out of this pandemic together.” 

The pandemic has been full of challenges and triumphs for our Members and Associates, especially in areas where gyms have faced frequent and lengthy closures.  

Throughout June and July, we'll be using our channels to share your stories. We want to hear from you. Tell us what you missed most about gyms being closed during the pandemic and how it impacted your health. What are you happiest about now that gyms are open again?

Please submit your story here.