Building a Strong Body for a Strong Mind

Nov 12, 2015
Jean-Luc Boissonneault

Spotting a squat

Fourth-year nutrition and social sciences student Susan Nguyen remembers when she first walked in to Free Form Fitness almost a year ago.

She had just been through a rough break up that had shaken her self-esteem. She wasn’t sleeping well. All this came out during her initial consultation and evaluation with her personal trainer.

But a lot can change in a year.

“If I had to fill that sheet out again, it would tell a far different story,” Susan said.

I feel a lot stronger, and I feel more confident.

The 21-year-old is balancing a double major at the University of Ottawa, two part-time jobs, and two sessions a week at FFF.

Time management is obviously one of Susan’s strong points. But while she has always been physically active, sticking with a consistent routine of fitness is a challenge with that kind of schedule. And even a nutrition student can find it difficult to eat healthy and eat enough when she’s that busy.

Susan wanted a structured program that would keep her accountable. A Google search led her to FFF’s Wellington Street location.

And then Susan learned that lifting weights wasn’t just for the jocks on the football team. She used to work out in high school with a gym buddy, but they had always stayed away from the weight racks.

“When I went to the gym before, we said, ‘we’ll just do the little stuff on the mats, because we don’t want other people to think we’re doing it wrong.’ Girls wouldn’t dare go into the weight section because they were too scared.”

Today, she is doing big exercises with weights like back squats and loves it.

“I never knew I could lift or squat with the pounds I am now,” she said.

She has some advice for other young women who may feel intimidated about weights.

“If you want to work out, just go work out, don’t be scared,” she said. “Everyone is at the gym just to look better. No one should be judging you, if they do, that doesn’t mean they’re better than you are.”

As a nutritionist in training, Susan is eager to see other people take better care of their health.

“I look around at the state of health of other people and I think, ‘what are you doing?’ I’m sure they have excuses about not eating better or exercising, like they don’t have the time, but you have to make the time.

She especially wants more young people to hit the gym to look better, feel better and overcome the esteem challenges she once had.

“I still do want to look a little leaner, and keep being consistent, but I also want to help other people get into it,” she said. “If you are stronger on the outside, you’re going to feel stronger on the inside. So come to Free Form Fitness.”

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