Val Desjardins of PUMP Fitness MTL, knows a thing or two about a balanced lifestyle. The woman literally has done it all. The self-described “entrepreneur at mind and an athlete at heart” was a national level soccer player and World Cup winning roller derby captain for Team Canada. She has a Masters in Visual Arts from NYU. Her focus is now concentrated on health and wellness, working with everyone from professional athletes to celebs like Jennifer Aniston and Michelle Pfeiffer.
Six years ago, she developed PUMP Fitness as a brand and decided to be a full-time coach with Montreal as her base. She started working with pro-athletes including figure skaters and soccer players, then began working with everyday women utilizing her sports psychology background. A year ago, she purchased Victoria Park Fitness Club – a 20,000 square foot facility in Westmount Quebec. She developed a circuit program, and the club has classes in barre, spinning, yoga and more. As a personal trainer, Val believes in mixing up your workouts. She wants her clients to create their own fitness adventure and do what they love in between training sessions.
On top of everything else, she and her wife Jen share a beautiful daughter Brooklyn, now six, and she understands the challenges of balancing work and family life. Val is a highly accredited personal trainer and health coach, so when we wanted to learn more about everything from fitness to building an intentional mindset, she was the perfect person to turn to find out more.
Fitness and Nutrition
The four pillars of wellness, mindset, movement, recovery and nutrition are all linked together. The first thing I do when I meet a new client is to go through a general assessment of what is possible and work from there. If you are going to be successful in creating a healthier lifestyle for yourself, at some point, you will have to have some impact on redesigning the environment that you are in.
In the past, there was the attitude that it all came down to will-power. Sometimes it’s as simple as having an agreement with your partner that Monday – Friday you don’t drink wine. You need a buddy system in your direct environment to give you some accountability or support. It’s about giving the person in your life an hour to go to the gym, to train or even just go for a walk. Design your space, your environment and the people around you to be on board with your goals.
Nutrition is a big component of a healthy lifestyle. We are now at home more. It’s not just about will-power. People are tired and stressed trying to manage their feelings around a pandemic. A pantry full of sweets means that you are not setting yourself up for success. Help yourself and design an environment where you are supported and set up for success even when you are exhausted.
I like the template of the week – we know it works and I personally think it’s helpful. Be tight with what you eat Monday to Friday and loosen up on weekends. Take some time on Sunday afternoons by yourself or with your family to set up your week. Carve this into your schedule like you would any other meeting. Plan that food. Taking an hour to prep for the week makes a big difference. Pre-cut vegetables and fruit to have them ready as snacks. Get your lean proteins reading for meals. Having access to healthy food in your fridge so that you can just grab and go is important. The biggest challenge that I hear about is lack of time. People tell me that they get busy and then they end up making poor food choices. Think about your training schedule too – when will you fit exercise into your week?
Just having kids exposed to movement as much as possible is great. Saturday mornings, we all hang out for a bit as a family and since our daughter was born, she knows that Jen is going to dance and I’m going to get on treadmill or the Peloton. We are all together as a family, but we are all doing some kind of movement or practice. Even if she’s just having her breakfast and watching cartoons on the bed, she’s exposed to it. She’ll want to try things like walking on the treadmill or start dancing with Jen.
We are lucky to have this wellness club and she’s literally grown up in a gym so she’s learned it’s fun. She’ll play with the boxes and balls and creates her own little circuit. The important thing is to make it fun for kids. It’s not about exercise and practice with children, it’s about making it fun to go for a walk, throwing balls around or putting on music and dancing. It’s about getting them moving and away from their devices.
Having that environment where people support you for your training is important. So is carving out some kind of mindfulness practice. I think that’s the new normal now. You have to have some kind of practice, whether it’s five minutes, ten or twenty; there has to be an intentional moment every day. We used to think that once a month getting a massage, going to the spa or taking a vacation was enough to recover. It has to be carving out that time every day for some sort of practice that pertains to mindfulness and recovery.
Be mindful – take five or ten minutes to use the Calm app and do a ten-minute meditation with headphones on. We can all do that and its way more productive doing it for ten minutes every day then taking a day once a month to get that massage.