Once a month we will also be sharing a client’s story. To kick off the year we have an incredible woman from across the pond who not only has made Ottawa her home, but has become an incredibly motivating and inspiring member of the Free Form family.
Treena Grevatt (@treenagrevatt) has been a client at Free Form Fitness in Kanata since the September of 2016. An active woman with a history of playing rugby, rock climbing, sailing, hiking, kayaking, orienteering and track. She is no stranger to the active life! Cycling is her true passion and she is one of 100 women across North America with Trek Bicycle and Bushtukah as a woman’s advocate encouraging more women to join the sport.
Read her inspiring (and hilarious) interview here:
RP: First start by introducing yourself. Where you’re from, what you do for fun, family. Just a few fun facts to help people get to know you.
TG: I’m a really keen cyclist and adventurer; I’ve tried many, many sports but like variety and learning new things. I’ve played rugby, competed at orienteering and track, been a rock climber, sailor, hiker, kayaker, and so on. During the day I work in hi-tech at Ciena, and I have the great privilege of working with Trek Bicycle and Bushtukah as a women’s advocate; there are 100 of us across North America working to get more women cycling. I was born in the UK and came to Ottawa in March 2000 as part of my job with Nortel Networks, back in the days of the optical telecoms boom. I liked Ottawa and Canada and decided to stay.
RP: When did you first decide to join Free Form Fitness?
TG: End of September 2016. When I was younger I had done a fair bit of strength work from time to time and knew that my body responded well to it, but I had neglected functional strength over the years and just done cardio, I was injury-prone and pretty squishy as well. I had completed up to a half-iron distance triathlons and several half marathons but I didn’t feel healthy in my mid 40s.
Entering the 2nd half of my forties I became more aware of the benefits of strength training on physical and brain health as we age. BUT, I had a long history of ‘non-compliance’ attending group classes, using a gym or following a program. I needed to find the right place, that understood how to motivate and interest me and make suitable goals. One of the signs in the Kanata location that really resonates with me and my reasons to join is one that says simply “Age Healthy”. That’s what’s most important to me. And if I can have fun and feel accomplished doing it then I’m happy.
RP: What was your initial goal when you joined?
TG: Merely to improve my functional fitness, stick to a program, have fun and not waste my money (which is what I usually did by dropping out). Although I knew I would get strong reasonably easily once we overcame the initial challenges I was adamant that I wanted a gradual start so that I learned good technique and didn’t overdo things early on. If the day-2 muscle soreness was too bad I knew that I would get frustrated and disheartened. I was also pretty demanding and particular about what types of exercises made me feel good.
My biggest priority was enjoying my sessions so that I wanted to come back. That meant exercises that challenged my brain as well as body, things that tested my stabilizers so I had to concentrate on not falling over instead of just reps – so a plank on a Swiss ball, rather than a plank on the floor for example.
Also, because I was (still am) pretty large around the torso, exercises that were impinged by body bulk just made me feel clumsy and out of shape. I’m focusing on getting strong rather than cutting weight, and as I get strong I find that my body composition is evolving – more muscle, less fat – so clothes fit better, but the scale is not a friend.
RP: Has your goal changed since you started?
TG: Hell yes! I really enjoyed lifting heavy and how it made me feel. Once we worked that out I started to learn to use barbells and started powerlifting. Now working on building my technique and strength at the three main lifts, with a view to competing occasionally.
I want to push the limits of what I can lift and am aiming for a 400lb deadlift. I started out as Novice or Beginner for all my lifts on Strengthlevel.com, now on two I am intermediate, and aiming for advanced. A dream of mine it to get a CPF Masters lifting record in my category. There is so much to learn, I had no idea how much technique went in to doing a good bench press for example. This is keeping it fresh and interesting for me.
RP: What type of adversity have you faced in the time you’ve been with Free Form?
TG: Business travel & trips home to visit family – getting good at using hotel gyms (but sometimes they have limited lifting options so I have to adapt) and have a great lifting gym in my parents’ village where they are super welcoming; so we plan my training cycles around travel, knowing that equipment and time might be limited. I do remember teaching an Air Canada flight attendant some body weight squats on one long haul flight to Hong Kong!
Fitting gym in during summer riding season – leading a group cycle ride, straight after leg day is a special level of pain. I tend to drop my weight training back to more of a maintenance level so that I can enjoy the good weather and cycling friends. Because I cycle, my legs can get pretty sore from that, and I have to also work on hip mobility because I am a cubicle dweller at work too.
In Feb 2018 I had a mountain bike crash where I went over the handlebars (note to any cyclists who travel, the brakes are reversed in the UK!). I got quite a limiting soft-tissue arm injury, so we made adaptations for the couple of months that it took to heal. Now stronger than ever but was a little fed up at the time.
RP: Have you experienced success at Free Form Fitness? Tell us how you got there.
TG: Oh my goodness, where to start!? At first I hated squats with a passion, I would cuss and mutter at my poor trainer when they suggested them, I literally learned squat technique by squatting down to a chair, I did single leg RDLs with a broomstick for support and had to do so many foundational things before even touching a barbell or squat rack. One particularly memorable day I worked up to reps of goblet squats with a 100lb dumbbell and it was pretty much time to get serious with barbells.
Another milestone was 7 plates each side for a leg press max.
Now I love to encourage newer gym members with my story, since it can be pretty intimidating to get started. It’s really hard to describe the mental and physical high that comes from lifting heavy weights. I wish more women knew about how awesome it is. Lift heavy $hit, feel badass. Plus you can open jam jars and carry all your grocery bags from the car in one go. In August I attempted my first powerlifting meet, I was super nervous but the community were so supportive and encouraging. I didn’t do as well as I hoped, but learned so much. It’s given me new empathy for my role helping new cyclists too.
RP: How else do you live a healthy lifestyle?
TG: Diet, exercise (bike, walk, massage / FST maintenance, and mental health) – time with friends, secret FB support group; being kind when rest needed etc
I tend to eat a reduced carb diet, my brain and energy levels work better with it. I cannot eat gluten and have some silly reactions to things like raw fruit and veggies, so I do watch what I eat. I love good food and cooking though, so if I am going to have something rich I would rather have less of something really good. Budget permitting, life is too short to eat processed cheese and low quality chocolate.
I am a huge fan of gin, Negroni cocktails and Pimm’s. But tend to drink only once a week most of the time. I’ll have days when I run out of oomph completely and recharge on the couch, those days are needed so I don’t begrudge them.
I’m learning how important FST, massage and mobility work are for keeping me lifting heavy. So I put effort in to those before and after my workouts. I’m single and my family is in England, so my friends are really important to me – both for company and mental health. Ideally I combine socialising with a workout or hike, but sometimes chilling over coffee and a natter (British Slang for ‘Chat’) is just what is needed. I made a secret Facebook group for some close friends where we support each other (rant, vent, post for accountability or whatever). Oftentimes, we think we are alone in our challenges, but others often feel the same way. I find sharing really helps me and others.
Know yourself and any reasons for previous fails etc; talk to other clients – it really helps for support (them and you!) and to see other friendly faces.
Don’t be self-conscious – everyone is too busy doing their own thing to worry about you. Share your goals with trusted friends for accountability, remember how far you have come and celebrate the little successes as well as the big ones.
Learn good form! It’ll stand you in good stead for life. Do your accessory and mobility work! It’s not so much fun, but it really helps (if I say it enough, maybe I will heed it too!)
Follow Treena’s Fitness Journey @treenagrevatt on Instagram
Have a story you want to share with your fellow FFF members? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org