“As much as I teach other people, I’m learning from people all the time here, because I see their struggles and it makes me feel like my struggles mean nothing.”
These humble words come from Christopher Kelly, Causeway’s very own “Renaissance man” of fitness. As head of the Wellness Program at Causeway Work Centre, Christopher runs the fitness centre at Causeway, teaches nutrition, leads the spin classes, works in the community kitchen and provides Causeway clients and staff with personal training services. Needless to say, he is always on his feet, which is exactly the way he likes it. Before Christopher discovered his passion for Wellness coaching, he was a tech support manager for an automotive company,
“It was a nice cushy job, in a chair… not for me”
As an energetic and enthusiastic person, he knew he needed a job where he was kept active. Christopher doesn’t take the traditional approach to personal training, as working with Causeway clients often presents him with unique challenges. These challenges are just part of the job for Christopher, “I’m always excited to work with people that have issues that need to be overcome. It’s a neat challenge.”
This June’s Run/Walk for Mental Health will see Causeway clients, staff and supporters come together to help raise money for Causeway Work Centre. Causeway is a non-profit agency designed to help those living with mental illness overcome barriers to employment. By giving its clients the tools to unlock their own success, Causeway is helping change the stigma associated with mental illness.
Causeway runs a number of programs that advance its mission to help those living with mental illness equip themselves with the skills to gain meaningful employment. Causeway’s Wellness Warriors are clients who have been training in the fitness facility in the Causeway building, many of whom are preparing specifically for the June 13th Run/Walk. The Causeway Wellness Program takes Causeway clients from all walks of life and teaches them the fundamentals of fitness, how to structure workout routines, and how exercise and proper nutrition can positively affect quality of life.
Exercise has been proven to help manage some mental illnesses, and overall is an excellent outlet for those struggling with mental illness. Christopher himself has dealt mental illness in his life, largely through fitness and coaching, and feels his experience with A.D.D. and depression allows him to relate better to the clients he works with.
There are a range of obstacles Wellness Warriors have to overcome, from physical limitations such as recovering from a stroke, and mental illness challenges such as depression. Before he can tailor a workout regime to a client’s needs, Christopher feels it’s best to teach them the basics of exercising. Most clients are either too intimidated to go to a gym or have no experience at all with fitness training. Imparting this fundamental knowledge allows the Wellness Warriors to take more away from the fitness experience, and can apply these lessons outside of the gym for events such as Causeway’s Run/Walk for Mental Health. Christopher also teaches the clients the fundamental principles in healthy living, as he feels that nutrition is a key component in “Wellness.”
When asked whether there were one or two clients that stood out to him as exceptional recovery cases Christopher’s response was frank and to the point,
“It doesn’t matter what [illness] they actually have, to each person it’s huge.”
On the surface, the Wellness program provides Causeway clients with the basic building blocks needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but at its core it serves a greater purpose. Providing the Wellness Warriors with opportunities to better themselves with the knowledge and support from people like Christopher has made possible things that would no one expected. One case in particular is a Wellness Warrior, who despite having Cerebral Palsy, has decided that she will be participating in the 5km portion of Causeway’s Run/Walk. She has been training in Causeway’s fitness facilities for ten years and has shown tremendous resolve in her dedication to creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Money raised at the Causeway Wellness Run/Walk for Mental Health goes to programs such as the Wellness Program. There are many ways that you can help Causeway and its Wellness Warriors on their continued journey to end the stigma associated with mental illness. You can sponsor the Wellness Warriors or sign up for our Run/Walk for Mental Health on June 13th at Britannia Beach.