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THE BODY SMART HEALTH & FITNESS JOURNEY
The Best is Yet to Come
30 years. It can go by in a flash, yet somehow hold the wisdom of a thousand lifetimes, each one complete with its own beginning, end, and resurrection. Each one seemingly new and unique, until at last you realize, in many ways the journey is always the same. For there comes a time in every person’s life when they know they are in their darkest hour. Prospects are bleak. The way forward encased in a shroud of impenetrable fear and doubt. You tried your best, your best was not enough, you failed. It is over. The end. Yet it is precisely then, and not a moment before, that you hear it. Despite all odds, beyond all hope, at the very end of it all; it was here, waiting for you all along. -Hope.
Hope in the form of a little voice that whispers in your ear, not matter how painful, not matter how far, you are exactly enough. Now get up, you have a job to do. The burden’s yours, the way is long, but worth it, for it will transform you in ways you can never imagine. So I will share with you my journey of a thousand lifetimes. And though you may not see it now, it’s your story too. Have faith; come join us. For I promise you, the best is yet to come.
30 years ago (humph has it really been that long?) I was nineteen years old, and full of all the strength and bravado of youth. Certain I had all the answers to life, I was unable to see exactly how far I had strayed from a path that would have made my parents proud. My lifestyle was less than healthy too, and I had made some bad choices which had negative impacts. Despite earning decent wages cabinet-making, deep down I felt my life was going nowhere. This feeling was compounded when I was diagnosed with epilepsy. Each seizure was followed by muscles-aches so bad it took a week to recover, and for a time the hospital bed became my second home. Knowing I needed to change, and despite my condition, I joined a gym. My strength improved and I felt better too. I was active in other sports and soon after learned about powerlifting. While not yet having solid direction, at least now I had a new and more positive focus in my life. Seizure-free and believing the days of hospital beds were now firmly behind me, I threw myself into my training. As I prepared to compete, I was filled for the first time with a feeling that the best was yet to come.
Then it started, a sensation more painful than any I had known. A once minor shoulder problem began to resurface. Whether playing hockey or just taking a nap, my shoulder would pop out of place. An MRI scan revealed damage so severe that it became apparent each painful seizure I’d endured must have contracted my muscles tight enough to dislocate my shoulder close to thirty times! Damage that bad could only be corrected with surgery. Demoralized at the prospect of a long and painful recovery, I began to question everything. Why powerlift at all? Did I like who I was becoming? Did I want to make cabinets the rest of my life? Upon hearing no answer that feeling of going nowhere came rushing came back again. Post-surgery I soon found myself back on that same hospital bed I was so sure I’d left behind. The path forward unclear I completed my rehab and went back to what I knew; cabinets, the wrong crowd, and competing. Six years later and now in my mid-twenties I had only a few bucks, a few medals and a few too many misdemeanours and other close calls to show for it. Disillusioned I heard a small voice inside me grow louder; “This path is not for you”. And so, with no clear destination, I quit the gym, my job, my friends, and went in search of a new beginning. Determined that out there in the great unknown, my destiny was waiting and the best was yet to come.
Alone now in my room, sifting through all my achievements and regrets, it hit me. My life up till now had been all about me. With new eyes I saw all the people who stuck by me throughout my darker years; my parents, therapists, my trainers, my friends. Gratitude inspired me to use my experiences to try and help others and soon I enrolled to become a Registered Massage Therapist. Feeling at last I was back on track, the rigorous studies only heightened my certainty this was the place for me. At college I found not only my calling, but my future wife and business partner too. By 2001, Deanna and I were married, living in Langley, and practicing massage therapy together when we welcomed our first child, Christopher into the world. Wow. How far I had come from that lost 19-year-old of long ago. I smiled. Life was as it should be and the best was yet to come.
As our business continued to grow, so did our family. Our second son Nicholas was born. The joy we felt was matched only by the sudden grief of losing both my father and then my mother later that same year. It was during this stressful time our third son Lucas made his debut. Life was fuller than it had ever been and something had to give. I needed more time at home, and so we bought our first house. Two storeys plus a clinic in the basement. Work-life balance is what they called the longest working hours of our life. Yet despite the stress and sleepless nights, somehow we were making it. And through it all a small and constant voice that whispered “More…There is more for you to do, and the best was yet to come”.
At 36, I came home from work and went to go check in on my son Christopher, who had not been feeling well and was in bed. I noticed he was shivering under the covers and went to sit beside him. I pulled the covers and immediately noticed he was in a full-on seizure. I scooped him up and yelled for Deanna to call 911 as I ran downstairs. The paramedics came, his fever hit 104, still seizing as we rushed him to the hospital. Viral encephalitis they called it. Stunned we heard the echo of the doctor’s words as if from very far away; “…life threatening condition…brain damage…coma”. Our hearts sank. Our only thoughts “God, give me the strength to get us through this”.
For three months, the hospital bed became my second home. Deanna stayed with him during the days, and I stayed through the nights. My sisters watched our younger boys as we waited to learn the full extent of the brain damage. Once off life-support we learned one side of his body would be permanently impaired, there would also be cognitive and behavioural deficits, the full extent of which could not be known until adulthood. Devastated, we slowly came to terms with the fact our little boy would never be the same again. Time heals they say, but we were told Time reveals all wounds. We are still waiting. In the meantime, our son was still alive, and so was that faint small voice. Through our pain it lingered. Never wavering, we clung to it and heard it say. “The best is yet to come”.
Pain. I used to think I knew all there was to know from my own injuries. But nothing scars a parent more than suffering that befalls their child. Four years later, still grieving the loss of our first son’s future, and forever changed, our first daughter arrived. So different from boys she was a welcome distraction from the daily challenges of work and family. Ava turned three and a half that summer. It was hot, we were busy. After a decade of working from home, we were preparing to move the clinic to a bigger space the next day. And that’s when it happened -the fall. Trying to reach the cat, she leaned into the open window, screen popped out. She fell. Two stories down to the concrete below. To this day I can barely think of it. First my boy…and now my baby girl… No!
Airlifted to the Children’s Hospital, unconscious, she flew. We waited by the hospital bed, again. And I thought “Why? Why can’t I get away from this God-damned hospital bed?” But in the end, God did not damn it. That day He sent angels instead. She recovered. And four days later, on my birthday, we brought our baby home. That day, all my prayers were answered and now I knew for certain that the best was yet to come.
Still reeling from the events of those past few years, we eventually moved the clinic into that bigger space. Another seven years, another lifetime of growth and once again we outgrew that space too. Limited space, expenses looming, staying here was not an option. Over a year of searching, exploring endless options, four dead deals and no new prospects. And here we were again. What now? My memory flew over all that we’d been through. The bad choices, the pain, the uncertainty, the heartbreak. Well we had a good run. If this is as far as we get, it’s not so bad. I’m pushing 50 maybe it was time that I be slowing down.
I waited for that too familiar voice, but instead I heard the phone ring. It was the realtor. “Remember that deal that fell through last month? The 10,000 square foot gym just down the road, perfect location? – Well, it’s back on the table, are you interested? We called our partners, pooled our resources, pulled every string, brought every client we had, and just like that, we found our next adventure: BODY SMART HEALTH & FITNESS
In addition to my story, I have heard and seen a great deal more from the thousands of hours I spent with my clients and trainers, and if I’ve gained any wisdom over all those lifetimes it’s this: that every life is filled with adversity, and there comes a time in every person’s life when you know you are in your darkest hour. Prospects are bleak. The way forward clouded with fear and doubt. You tried your best, your best was not enough, you failed. But persevering through pain has taught me that every end is a new beginning. And that through my darkest hour I am never alone. Like me, everyone at Body Smart has a story; the owners, the therapists, the trainers and you.
I urge you all to seek that little voice inside you. The one that says have faith; for no matter how scary, or painful, or far, you are exactly enough. So matter where you are in life, get up, you have a job to do. The burden’s yours, the way is long, but worth it, for it will transform you in ways you can never imagine. (I know. I’ve been there). Come join us. You are never alone, and the best is yet to come.
John & Deanna Reimer both own and operate Body Smart Health & Fitness. They have been practicing Registered Massage Therapists (RMT) in Walnut Grove for the last 20 years.