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Online fitness mentorship is Coldwater kickboxer’s latest victory

Provincial medalist no stranger to overcoming new challenges
2020-04-22 dh
Provincial kickboxing champion Jill Sargent of Wild Life Fitness and Recreation stands ready to take on whatever ordeals might stand in her way.

Worthy opponents allow for an athlete to face adversity, discover latent strengths, triumph against the odds while also providing the opportunity to learn about one’s self in the process.

Under these merits, Jill Sargent has succeeded in transforming Wild Life Fitness and Recreation, along with her husband and co-director Jason, from the mobile world into an online variation.

“We’ve had to put a lot of the business online,” says Sargent, who's based in Coldwater. “Learning new technology and being able to provide classes to my students is fantastic.”

Sargent is a 2009 and 2010 provincial champion kickboxer, a competitive boxer up until 2016, and a world championship obstacle course racer most recently.

“The business started out of me joining kickboxing, because I started when I was 28 and then ended up becoming a personal trainer after that,” she explains.

“Then, our business just evolved all the time. The kickboxing we do is fitness-kickboxing. We do train people how to do blocks and ducks, we train as though you were going into a fight, but we don’t put you in fights.”

Prior to the impact of COVID-19, Sargent held kids’ and adults’ kickboxing classes at Canadian Martyrs’ Catholic School in Penetanguishene as well as a team boxing and a kids’ boxing class for Autism Ontario’s Simcoe County chapter in Barrie.

“We always say we’re based in Simcoe County because we’re a mobile company so we actually go to you or go to your location,” Sargent remarks.

Shifting from an in-person mentorship to a telepresent role hasn’t lessened the importance of her experiences, and instead has opened up the range of her students beyond local boundaries.

“We’ve had some pretty cool moments over the last few weeks,” Sargent says. “We have some kids’ dance classes, some family dance classes, and we had a family from South Africa joining us in our dance class recently.”

COVID-19 has affected society and the economy profoundly, causing many businesses to adapt accordingly in order to survive, and Wild Life Fitness (click here) is no exception.

“Professionally, we basically got cancelled within a minute,” recalls Sargent about the common struggle.

“So it’s like starting a new business over again; offering more trial things and putting yourself out there way more. We’ve done more marketing than we’ve done in recent years.”

The shift in strategy has paid off in her home life where she is able to spend more time with her family.

“I feel like people are connecting more now, because we’re all missing it,” says Sargent.

In a release from the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, board chair Adam Upshaw states that “during these uncertain times, we do have control over our behaviours and that is empowering.”

“Getting active, moderating screen time, and ensuring a consistent bedtime routine with sufficient sleep duration, while adhering carefully to public health guidance, can help maintain a healthy immune system.”

Midland family doctor Ashley McCann agrees.

“There’s a lot of small local businesses in the area that have converted to virtual classes online,” McCann says. “If people can try and maintain 30 minutes per day of activity— whether yoga, resistance training or cardio at home— it helps to relieve stress and maintain some form of normal routine in their life. And it also helps to support small businesses.”

Sargent has a specific routine she’s shared with her students involving calming music and meditation to handle their stress.

“Stress means that you actually care a lot about what is going to happen,” Sargent reveals. “It’s not about getting stress away; it’s about being able to manage that stress so breathing, meditation and guided visualization trainings are huge.

“My advice that I’ve learned, not necessarily related to COVID-19, is that fitness is a direct link to your mental health.If I’m not at least doing something physical everyday, my mental health potentially suffers. So use fitness and exercise as a mental health (support) and it will help you get through these crazy times.”

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Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Derek Howard covers Midland and Penetanguishene area civic issues under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada.
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