New Canada Games Pool Needed?

This is a guest post by Andrew Evans, a fitness advisor at New Westminster’s Canada Games Pool who also writes a blog called Fit New West. Andrew holds a Human Kinetics Degree from UBC and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Andrew offers Personal Training services for Health and Performance in New Westminster, B.C. He can be reached at FitNewWest@gmail.com.

Let me start off by saying that I love the Canada Games Pool (CGP). It is the most valuable facility in New Westminster.

My love relationship with the Canada Games Pool started in 2002 when I directed summer day camps and would bring groups of 40-50 children twice a week to enjoy the facility. Upon graduating from university I was hired in the fitness centre and have now been there over five years.  I feel I can safely say  Canada Games Pool is the most important facility in New Westminster because it is biggest source of physical activity for children in the municipality.

Last week the main swimming pool was shut down for two days to repair a broken pipe. The pool was half emptied and swimming lessons and public swims were cancelled for two days. (Editor’s note: The pool is also closed today, Sunday 16th – I tried to go there today myself – Jen) The heart and soul of CGP are the children who use the pool, and for two days, they were missing.  Normally, there are times the pool is so jammed packed with screaming children some older patrons complain of the noise, but really, we all love to see the drenched mobs even though our ears bleed. Gradually these children grow up to bring in their own children. This cycle must continue.

Maybe you were one of those kids who grew up using CGP; starting with parent and tot swimming lessons, joining the Hyack swim club or just trying to sneak in the hot tub during public swim times. I have spoken with many patrons who reminisce about their childhood swimming adventures and hangouts at the CGP and I regularly hear “I’ve been coming here for the past 30 years…”.

14000 swimming lessons are delivered at the pool annually, the most in the country. Furthermore, the instruction is the best in the country, with top notch management and supervision. The only thing lacking at the CGP is assurance the building will last another 10 years. In a year I intend to have my two year old twin boys start lessons at CGP, and I hope that they will be able to continue their lessons into their teens without interruption due to facility issues.  In a December 1st article in the Royal City Record,  Councilor Betty McIntosh suggested there are condominium pools in the city that can be used instead of an updated facility.  From the article:

McIntosh said the city doesn’t have to be providing all services that are offered in the community. She noted there are a number of fitness centres in the city and several apartments have swimming pools. “There are private facilities coming on-stream that are meeting the needs of some new residents,” she said. “The city doesn’t have to meet the needs of everybody. We don’t have to be everything for everybody.”

Since I don’t have access to a condo pool, I suppose my boys can have swimming lessons in their kiddie pool.

Backyard Shenanigans - But is it enough?

In my opinion, I believe it is simply wrong to risk having more shutdowns at the Canada Games Pool and cheating out our children because there are other ‘priorities’ in New West. A solution must be found to prevent any further shutdown of the CGP. The building is old and as we go forward without addressing an upgrade, the children are going to miss out.

In a society where childhood obesity abounds and is on the rise, don’t you think we should be trying to solve these problems? I also firmly believe the provincial government should take a part in a solution since a huge proportion of patrons of CGP are from outside the municipality. Additionally, the provincial government should also be playing a bigger role in promoting physical activity.

An upgrade of the CGP could be an opportunity for New Westminster and British Columbia to demonstrate to the country how to get kids active on a large, practical scale and set a standard, rather than take 14,000 steps backward.

‘We have innovated physical activity out of our lives’

This is a guest post by Andrew Evans, a fitness advisor at New Westminster’s Canada Games Pool who also writes a blog called Fit New West. Andrew holds a Human Kinetics Degree from UBC and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Andrew offers Personal Training services for Health and Performance in New Westminster, B.C. He can be reached at FitNewWest@gmail.com.

Canada Games Pool
New Westminster’s Canada Games Pool. Photo: Will Tomkinson

In North America (New Westminster included), we have innovated physical activity out of our lives. This is trouble for our bodies that require physical activity to function properly. You only have to look at the health section of the news to see the health issues caused by physical inactivity. In response to this concern, I hope to offer some practical advice and renew your thoughts on fitness.

You are constantly bombarded with messages about fitness. Weight loss, gym memberships, shoes that make your butt tight, machines that give you six-packs, belts that sweat your fat away, 3 minutes a day, 10 minutes a day, and so on. These messages are money makers and most of the time marketed as quick and easy. Promoters of these messages even make them look fun from looking at the huge smiles on their model’s faces. I don’t know how someone could smile with some oddly shaped contraption wedged between their legs while they squeeze it a thousand times!

My view is this. Fitness is not quick and easy. It is every day life movement that should be fun and enjoyable. It comes simply by being active with your body, getting it moving every day. There are three basic areas to train for fitness. Cardiovascular (heart and lungs), Musculoskeletal (muscles and bones) and Body Composition (lean tissue vs fatty tissue). Along with proper nutrition, training the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems will produce a healthy body composition.

Some people are naturally active with their bodies daily, for example, active stay at home parents who play with their kids, retirees who garden and clean daily or people with manual labour jobs. These people are up and down, lifting, running, walking, lunging, sweating , breathing heavy, simply using their bodies in a physical way.

On the other hand are people crammed for time in a sedentary job and busy life. Sitting in front of a computer (I am trying to wrap this post up so I can get moving) for hours at a time, spending more time sitting while commuting, and then wanting to relax, feeling worn out and drained from sedentary work. I know I feel horrible after working on the computer for a while and my body and mind just want to lay down. However, I know that if I do something active, I will break the cycle of feeling like garbage, and perk myself up and feel great.

For those who fit into the description of the second group, you probably have to input physical activity into your life artificially. One way of doing this is going to the gym and follow a program. At the Canada Games Pool, they have fitness advisors (DISCLOSURE: I am one of them) free of charge, who can spend about 20mins getting you started on a program, showing you some exercises or answer any questions you may have. If you need more help than that, you can shop around for a personal trainer and have them work with there.

In my opinion, the best way to pursue fitness is to pick an activity and train to excel at it. For example you can choose to run a 10km race annually (The Sun Run) and follow a training program that will help you reach your potential.

You will not believe how enjoyable it is to continually see improvements in your physical abilities and achievements, your health and appearance if you train regularly. When physical activity becomes part of life, everything gets easier mainly because you feel better in body, mind and spirit.