2018 Wellness Champions:

Pictured above: Ana Aguilar

December’s Wellness Champion is running enthusiast, Ana Aguilar, from Financial Services. Ana is involved in both running and road biking.

Ana explained that she runs marathons. She first got into running around 20 years ago. She said that the sense of freedom and happiness she got from running is what first attracted her to do it on a regular basis. She got started in running, because her dad was a runner and he used to take her out with him, and it just became their thing!

Ana explained that once she started taking running more seriously and got into the competitive side of things, she sought out professional help. She hired a coach when she got into running marathons. She feels that having a coach helped her significantly in becoming a faster and more committed runner. Ana said while running she uses a few pieces of equipment, including, running shoes, a Garmin watch, a heart rate monitor and a hydration belt.

Through all the years Ana has spent running, she really found that neglecting rest day did not work at all. She said she usually ended up with injuries and advises that listening to your body is key. Ana suggests that if you’re wanting to get into running competitively, or just running regularly, that you commit to your training and listen to your body. She also suggests that if you are wanting to get started in running, but are not sure where to begin, or how to do it properly, to join a running group.  Ana said that if you want to improve as a runner, the quickest, most fun way to do so is to run with other people. Group runners tend to run more frequently as encouragement from buddies can counter the urge to blow off a workout.

Ana said that running has affected her life in a positive way. She explained that it has helped her to achieve balance in her life and has acted as her coping mechanism.

Please help us thank Ana in sharing her experiences and advice in regard to running, as well as congratulate her on leading a healthy lifestyle!

Pictured above: Bryson Duda

November Wellness Champion

November’s Wellness Champion is biking enthusiast, Bryson Duda from the Library – Information Systems department.

Bryson has been biking to and from work almost everyday for the past 7 years. He says that he was first attracted to the idea of biking to work because it’s much less expensive than driving, and better on the environment. He started by digging out his old bicycle from high school, that he notes was much too small for him. Thankfully, he has gotten a newer bike since!

Please help us thank Bryson for sharing his story, as well as congratulate him on leading a healthy lifestyle!

Pictured above: Ami-Marie Perry


October’s Wellness Champion is biking enthusiast, Ami-Marie Perry, from Enrolment Services.

Ami-Marie is passionate about biking. She recalls the fond memories she has of learning to bike as a child and how she took those skills and continued to use biking as a form of physical activity, transportation and just pure joy over the years. Ami-Marie explained that she bikes as much as possible and wherever she can go.

Ami-Marie has been biking for the past 26 years, ever since she first learned how to as a child. What first attracted Ami-Marie to biking was growing up on a farm. Ami- Marie said that biking was the easiest form of transportation and the best way to take the dogs out for a run.  It was also the best way to be able to see my friends who lived a few miles away before she could drive.

She got started like everyone else got started - with a lot of falling.  Ami-Marie says she is thankful for grass and soft landings!  She described herself as very stubborn, and that was the main driving force behind her success learning to ride a bicycle. She wanted to keep up with her brother, so she powered through the falls and one day it all just clicked, and she hasn't stopped riding since. Ami-Marie says that she is thankful that her Mum was there to help her clean up her scrapes from falling. She says that trying to learn on gravel wasn't always the easiest but having grass to fall on definitely helped ease any fear I had of falling because it was a softer landing.

Ami-Marie shared that if you’re interested in getting into biking, the most important thing is to find a bike that actually fits you and a good seat! Ami-Marie says that biking has affected her life positively, because every place that she has moved, she has had a bike and relied on it to get around.  When she was in university in Kelowna, she didn't have a vehicle so getting to work and back, getting groceries, and going to see her friends were all done on her bike.  Ami-Marie used public transit as well (thanks to the U-Pass that was provided) but it was much more convenient sometimes to just hop on her bike and go.

Please help us thank Ami-Marie for sharing her story, as well as congratulate her on leading a healthy lifestyle!


Pictured above: Emily Brown


September’s Wellness Champion is running enthusiast, Emily Brown from Counselling and Career Services.

Emily is passionate about running – anything from a 100-meter sprint to a marathon! Emily describes running as the basis of so many other sports. She loves that you can do it alone or with a group. It is a great way to clear your mind and enjoy the space around you, and all you need is a pair of shoes!

Emily has been involved with running activities for the past 20 years now. She joined the Lethbridge Track Club and hasn’t looked back. Emily explained that she has had lots of great coaches during her years of competitive track with both the Pronghorns and Lethbridge Track Club and she accredits them for her success. Emily enjoys running because every run is an opportunity to get better and increase your distance. Emily says it is important to remember that you only have to compete against yourself!

Emily’s advice to fellow runners looking for guidance or recommendations is to start slow - alternate between walking and running. Emily said that running has connected her to amazing people and allowed her to travel to different places for races.

Please help us thank Emily for sharing her story, as well as congratulate her on leading a healthy lifestyle!

Pictured Above: Marina Christman’s twin boys

This month’s Wellness Champion is busy Mother of 3, Marina Christman, from SS - Accommodated Learning Centre.

Outside of work, Marina spends most of her time chasing her 2.5-year-old twin boys around the yard or playground. Marina also has a ten-year-old son that keeps her quite active. She found that the best way to burn off that energy most children seem to have, is getting them outside to run around in the fresh air!

Marina explained that they often go on walks to the park, attend swimming lessons, play in the backyard and more, to keep busy during the day. They started this routine when she had her oldest son, about ten years ago. They started doing activities together as a family and have kept up that tradition of staying active with their newest editions to the family. Although going out and about with the twins sounds fun, Marina does advise that leashes can help at times to keep her toddler twins (or as she refers to them) “aka flight risk velociraptors” from straying too far away from her or her husband while they are out on walks!

Marina shared that being active with her kids is fun and rewarding for her. To see how much fun they’re having, makes it fun for her too! She explains that being active together as a family not only reduces stress for them, but also brings out happiness in their lives as well. After her shoulder surgery last October, she found it hard to refrain from wrestling around with her boys, but she explains that physical setbacks like hers sure makes her grateful for the good health that she does have.

Marina is setting an exemplary example for her children through her active lifestyle. Please help us thank Marina for sharing her story, as well as congratulate her on leading a healthy lifestyle, even through the amazing chaos of motherhood!

Pictured Above: Rachel Clarke testing out a new bike

This month’s Wellness Champion is Mountain Biking enthusiast, Rachel Clarke, from the Office of Research and Innovation Services (ORIS).

According to Wikipedia: mountain biking is the sport of riding bicycles off-road, often over rough terrain, using specially designed mountain bikes. Mountain bikes share similarities with other bikes but incorporate features designed to enhance durability and performance in rough terrain. Mountain Biking can generally be broken down into multiple categories: cross country, trail riding, all mountain (also referred to as "Enduro"), downhill, freeride and dirt jumping. However, the majority of mountain biking falls into the categories of Trail and Cross-Country riding styles.

Rachel has been participating in mountain biking activities for the past five years. What first attracted her to mountain biking was the adventure. She explained that she was seeking an adventure filled hobby and found that there is an adventure with every ride. Receiving her start as part of a physiotherapy recovery program the physiotherapist recommended that she cycle as part of her knee rehabilitation. She explained that it started with her cycling on the road as prescribed, and eventually, she ventured into the woods and discovered that it was far more thrilling than being on the road.

She explained that she did have some help, both professional and friendly, along the way. She strives to take a bike clinic every year. These clinics include topics such as body mechanic improvements and courses on emergency bike repair (flat tires, broken chains etc). When participating in her sport, she uses the following equipment: mountain bike, helmet, gloves and protective gear, if committing to a day of downhill mountain biking.

Rachel finds that cross-training in the winter (such as downhill skiing, CrossFit, etc.) really helps her stay in shape and active for when mountain biking season rolls around again. Stating that stationary bicycle training was not particularly helpful to her. Rachel recommends to fellow peers that are interested in getting started in mountain biking is to get a bike that fits you and to try it out. Rachel explained that if you want to get involved in mountain biking, but are unsure of where to start, to join a group ride! She said that it's the best way to get to know other riders in your area.

Rachel explained that this activity allows her to disconnect from everything else.  She explained that “mountain biking requires focus - it’s not like you’re given much of a choice either, what with all the roots and rocks and tight corners along the way. It’s all about being present in the here and now. Rolling with it. Going with the flow. Everything else, all the stuff life throws your way, is magically blurred out. And that’s the beauty of the ride." 

Please help us thank Rachel in sharing her experiences and advice in regard to mountain biking, as well as congratulate her on leading a healthy lifestyle!


Pictured above: Dawn Vickers

This month’s Wellness Champion is paddle boarder, Dawn Vickers from the Accommodated Learning Centre. Dawn describes Stand-up Paddle Board (SUP) as a great after work and vacation activity. When the forecast is nice Dawn likes to keep her paddleboard on the roof of her car, making for a quick ride to one of the small lakes close by. Dawn isn’t the only one in her family that enjoys SUP; her dogs are always up for a paddle.
Dawn has been participating in SUP for four years. Dawn was first attracted to the idea of paddle boarding when, having experienced some health issues, she was looking to replace intense activities like running that could no longer fit with her new reality.  She found paddling to be a great overall workout that includes core stability, strength, and balance components while being able to set one’s own pace. Longer kayaking trips are also a big part of her summers but she finds that the paddleboard is easier to load than a kayak allowing for more spontaneity. Sometimes, Dawn likes to add a little yoga to her SUP workout when the water is clean enough to risk falling in. While she is out on the water, she uses not only her board and paddle, but she always wears a PFD and weather appropriate clothing. Her dogs are also outfitted for safety.
Dawn first got started in SUP through friends who own a local canoe and kayak store.  She explained that she had tried their boards a few times to decide if she liked the sport, and to determine which style of board would work best for her. She was primarily self-taught, finding it easy to check out tutorials and different techniques online. Dawn advises that patience has really helped her build her skills, as is not being afraid to fall in the water. Dawn says that it is best to keep paddling when your balance becomes shaky. She explained that most people tend to stop, and that makes capsizing much more likely.
Dawn’s advice for those interested in giving SUP a try, is to rent a board or take some classes to ensure that it is a good fit prior to taking the plunge and buying a board. She also suggests to start out with a wider, more forgiving board like one meant for yoga.
Dawn has found that paddling has positively affected her life, as it is an activity she can do alone or with friends. Sometimes it is nice to sit, meditate and get grounded.

Please help us thank Dawn for sharing her wellness tips and tricks with us and congratulate her on practicing a healthy lifestyle!


Pictured Above: Buffy Martin Tarbox, from San Francisco, CA (left), Sharon Lawson (centre), Brittany Hanlon, from Huddersfield, UK (right)

We Did Not Choose Trivia, Trivia Chose Us

Our April Wellness Champion is trivia enthusiast Sharon Lawson from the Faculty of Health Sciences – Dean’s Office. Sharon has been a fan of Jeopardy! since it started back up in the ‘80's. She got into it right away and describes herself as a trivia nut! Sharon lives by one of her favourite quotes from the book Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs - “We did not choose trivia. Trivia chose us.”

Sharon and a friend of hers from Lethbridge College started taking the practice test for Jeopardy! years ago to prepare themselves if they were ever given the opportunity to audition for Jeopardy!. Sharon was just recently given this opportunity – which has been a dream of hers for some time now. She was invited to try out to be a contestant on Jeopardy! last month.

Sharon explained that when you take the initial online test, you select where you would want to audition from a list of closest cities to you. The Jeopardy! team contacts you via email to notify you if you have been selected for an audition or not. Sharon shared that she almost accidentally deleted the email she received inviting her for an audition! The nerve-wracking part is that you must reply to their email within 48 hours of them sending it to you! So, when Sharon got that email she called up her friend and travel partner Lisa, and they started making travel plans for Vancouver.

The weather in Vancouver was awful that weekend and several flights from Calgary were cancelled, so making her way to Vancouver was a challenge in itself - never mind the intense 50 question test she had to complete as part of the audition. The test consisted of answering 50 questions in a short period of time. Such a short period of time in fact, that each contestant is given less than 10 seconds per question to write down their answer.  Sharon explained that there is no organization to how the test is structured. Each question can skip to a new category or topic with no rhyme or reason. These tests are designed to test how fast you can think on your feet. Thankfully, (and you bet we asked) spelling does not count! However, your answers must be legible.

Sharon said that there were 25 people in her audition. She said it was very intense at first, everyone was looking around, trying to size up the competition. When the introductions rolled around she learned that about 60% of the eligible contestants were from Vancouver and the surrounding area. The rest of the contestants consisted of one from Kelowna, one from Salmon Arm, two from Edmonton, one from Calgary and herself from Lethbridge, one from Saskatoon and even one from San Francisco. Sharon explained that they participated in a sort of icebreaker quiz. The purpose of it was to calm everyone's nerves and make the environment a little more relaxed, all while preparing you for what was to come. It was designed to get participants to wait until the entire clue was read before buzzing in (this didn’t go very well J). Sharon was then given the opportunity to do a trial run of a mock Jeopardy! game that consisted of 3 participants at a time with real buzzers and even a video greeting from Alex Trebek himself!

When Sharon isn’t practicing trivia, she spends her time playing golf, reading, hanging out with friends and playing with her cat, Graycie - who is leash trained and even enjoys walks outdoors! Sharon is also an avid traveler, having been to England 3 times already, with another trip planned for July. She loves spending time in London and also attends the University of Cambridge, where she takes Medieval History classes. Sharon finds joy in her many interesting hobbies and we think she is an exemplary model when it comes to practicing self-care. Sharon takes the time in her life to focus on the things and places that truly make her the happiest.

Please help us in congratulating Sharon on her exemplary lifestyle.


Pictured Above: John von Heyking (left) and Sebastian von Heyking (right)


Our March Wellness Champion is mountain biking enthusiast, John von Heyking from the Political Science Department. John enjoys mountain biking, along with hiking and skiing. John explained that in the summer months, he would typically take a 2-hour ride and relish in the motion and physical exertion. He feels that this allows him to be more productive, once he is back at work, as he has burnt off excess energy, anxiety, and stress.


John says he has been participating in mountain biking since he was in his twenties when he started biking in Calgary in the Nose Hill area. He continued biking through his graduate studies in Indiana, and then once he moved to Lethbridge, he discovered the coulees. He currently finds the coulees an excellent and accessible place to mountain bike. He explains that he can follow the trails easily for 2 hours or so. He likes the closeness of the coulees and the wilderness they provide, right within the city. There are enough hills and trails to make the ride challenging for him.


John says he is attracted by the fun factor of mountain biking – he enjoys the motion, the fresh air, the wind and the rhythm of biking. He also likes the fact that it is a great cardiovascular challenge.  There is one trail starting from the College going down to the river which, he described as a ‘flowy’ trail (mountain bike speak), which allows him to get into a smooth rhythm and a meditative frame of mind. He also enjoys the beautiful scenery.


John says he belongs to a local mountain biking club called the Headwinds Biking Club and would join a lot of rides that way. John mentioned that his son, Sebastian, and himself ride together a lot in the coulees. Sebastian even competed and earned a medal in the mountain bike race, Coulee Cruiser, Headwinds organized last May. John also started a Facebook group called Coulee Mountain Bikers and this is a great way to find out if someone is going on a bike ride that one can join.


John admits that the equipment can be expensive and explained that he has a carbon framed bike, which is lighter and shock absorbent. Although the initial cost of a bike can be pricey, John did share that his last bike was purchased in 2009 and explained that purchasing a bike is an investment that will last a number of years. Bike maintenance and repair is a factor, and of course, a helmet is mandatory and bike shoes (with clips into the pedals) can be helpful as well. John explained that when they ride in a group, they look out for one another and make sure everyone’s wearing a proper helmet because the risk just isn’t worth it.


John described that many of the local bike shops have been very helpful over the years regarding purchasing appropriate equipment. John advises new mountain bikers to find people who know the trails, join a mountain biking group such as the ones mentioned above and start easy. Go out on gravel roads and just explore!


John shared that maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle is important to him and his family. He explained that this year, his family decided to ‘embrace winter’ and bought skis, as well as passes for the ski hill, and made sure their kids had lessons. As a result, his family has been out skiing numerous weekends this winter already. This has definitely been the year for it!


John feels that there is a definite cost benefit to participating in activities such as skiing and mountain biking. He is able to maintain strength and cardiovascular fitness, and the overall health benefits are worth the cost.  


Please help us to congratulate John on his exemplary lifestyle and willingness to help others find their passion of mountain biking as well!



It's More Than a Diet - It's a Lifestyle

Our February Wellness Champion is a strong believer in Veganism. Melissa Horning from the Facilities Department has been practicing veganism for over a year now.

Veganism is both the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, and an associated philosophy that rejects commodity status of animals.  A vegan diet is a type of vegetarian diet that excludes meat, eggs, dairy products and all other animal-derived ingredients. Melissa explained that for her, being a vegan is more than just a diet – it’s a lifestyle.

Melissa explained that her decision to go vegan was influenced by her love for animals. The impact that her old lifestyle choices were having on both the environment and animals inspired her to make a change. Melissa explained that what really opened her eyes to her dietary choices was actually a documentary on Netflix called “Forks Over Knives”.

Melissa began her journey over a year ago now. It was over the Christmas Break 2016, that she decided to go "cold turkey" and make the change. She explained that for her, it wasn't as challenging as one may think to give up the products she had once enjoyed. The changes her new lifestyle has had on her own health is remarkable. She noted that before making the decision to go vegan, her eczema used to be very bad. Now that she has been following the vegan lifestyle for over a year now, she hardly notices it.

Melissa has been very happy with her decision to make a lifestyle change and is happy to share any information others might need to make the change themselves. Melissa suggests that if anyone is interested in learning more about veganism, or is interested in trying out some vegan recipes, they should head over to Veganuary’s website.

Please help us to congratulate Melissa on her exemplary lifestyle choices and compliment her determination to make a change.

Pictured above: Deirdre Coburn (left), Craig & Deirdre Coburn (center), and Craig Coburn (right)

Becoming the Best You

Our January Wellness Champions are husband and wife duo, Craig and Deirdre Coburn. Deirdre works in the School of Graduate Studies as a Graduate Awards Advisor. Craig is a faculty member in the Geography Department. Together these two lead an exemplary life in regards to healthy lifestyle choices.

Both Craig and Deirdre dedicate themselves to being in the gym on average, 5 times a week. They are both members of the University’s Fiat Dux Dragon Boat racing team. They meet twice a week in the summer to practice. Their season typically runs from June – September.

Craig is an avid car racer, which he explained requires a degree of fitness and keeps him out of trouble. Craig is a member of both the Southern Alberta Solosport Club and the Lethbridge Sports Car Club. He shared that he races a 1981 Volvo 242 that he built himself. He has also raced at the Canadian Autocross Nationals, which he thoroughly enjoys. Craig is in the gym at least 5 days a week for an hour session to keep his fitness up. He also enjoys the outdoors and hiking.

Deirdre explained that she has always been a part of the athletic world ever since she was young. As she grew older she wanted to find new athletic challenges to keep her active and healthy. That’s when she discovered the sport of Olympic Lifting. Deirdre has been competing for about the past 5 years now in the Masters category and typically competes in 2-3 competitions per year. She spends 5-6 days a week in the gym practicing her lifting techniques. Deirdre is also involved with the figure skating community. She used to figure skate herself when she was younger and still manages to hit the ice 1-2 times per week. Deirdre mentioned that she likes to contribute back to the skating community and help out the up and coming generation of skaters. She does so by volunteering as a judging official all the way up to the national level. Deirdre travels all over Western Canada to participate as a judge on a regular basis. She typically judges a couple competitions a month. She just recently traveled to Montreal to contribute her time as a judging official for a national level competition.

It is safe to say that these two are an active couple that strive to better themselves on a daily basis. Please help us to congratulate both Craig and Deirdre on living exemplary healthy lifestyles.