Wellness Champions

2019 Wellness Champions:

Richard Larouche

Richard Larouche is a professor of Public Health at the University of Lethbridge. Richard is also a member of the Wellness Committee and an inspiration as he bikes or walks to work most days. 
On May 9, 2019, he will begin a bike ride across Canada, cycling East to St. John’s, Newfoundland. He will finish his ride by cycling through BC. This 8000 km trip is an effort to promote physical activity and collect funds for research on Alzheimer’s disease, which affects several members of his family. The funds collected will go to the Alzheimer Society of Canada. Cycling across Canada will represent about 2 million pedal strokes at about 90 revolutions/minute (that’s his revolutionary side!). That being said, one must go one stroke at a time, and he sees his fundraising with this attitude. He is used to teaching SMART goals to his students and it is in this perspective that Richard is starting with the goal of collecting $25,000, which seems realistic, but he would be more than happy to increase this goal as appropriate. If you wish to contribute to this fundraising effort, please visit Richard's CanadaHelps page.

Thanks so much for sharing your story Richard, good luck in your ride, we'll be watching your progress!


February’s Wellness Champion is cycling enthusiast, Kevin McFadzen, Supervisor in Sports and Rec Facilities & Services department. Kevin has ridden a bike since he was young but probably really got hooked after Grade 8, when his dad took his family for a bike tour across Scotland. Kevin said his dad made him and his siblings ride their bikes for 30 minutes a day in preparation for that trip. Initially he hated it, but found he was pretty good at it and began to enjoy it.   He started bike racing when he was 13 or 14 and a few of his friends were also involved.  He felt a sense of accomplishment when finished a race or ride.   
Now Kevin rides his bike to work on a daily basis, even in the cold and snow! Kevin said for the past 8 years he has gone on some kind of bike tour every summer.  He and his wife and daughter will go on 3-5-7 day tours each summer. He has a tandem bike that he rides with his daughter.
Last summer Kevin rode to Vancouver from Lethbridge on his bike. It took 11 days to ride through the northwestern states, up through the Olympic Peninsula, north of Anacortes, Washington to Victoria where his wife was waiting for him. He would ride 120 km per day. Challenges were +30 degree weather, (some days it was between 37 – 38 degrees celsius!) and some ‘really big climbs’ in Washington.  Even with the challenges, Kevin described the trip as ‘fun!’ and really beautiful.
Kevin said he used a bike coach when racing but after that, he really just got on his bike and rode. He says he rides his bike for the enjoyment of it and feels like a kid again once on his bike.  His current bike is a ‘gravel’ bike – which is a cross between a road and mountain bike. The tires are a bit wider and it is stable off road. It is a really versatile bike.
Kevin explained that the tools and equipment are pretty straightforward, a bike, bike shoes (that clip into the peddles), helmet of course, some basic bike tools for longer trips, water and a snack.
Kevin’s advice to people that are interested in cycling is to ‘just do it!’.  Start slow, go at your own pace and enjoy the ride.  
Kevin says that cycling has had a really positive effect on his life. He says he is ‘not pleasant to be around’ if he hasn’t cycled for a few days.  He says it helps with his mental wellness as well as his physical fitness.
Thanks so much Kevin for sharing your story and expertise, as well as congratulations for being a role model and wellness champion!

Feb 8 is International Winter Bike to Work Day! Check out more info here.



January’s Wellness Champion is Pickleball enthusiast, Ilsa Wong, from the department of Kinesiology. Ilsa has been participating in Pickleball for almost 4 years now. She was first attracted to Pickleball because she found that it was fun and the type of sport that all ages and all skill-levels can play. One day her parents were playing, and they invited her to join them.  After that first day, she was hooked!

Ilsa explained that the sport is so young that there really were no ‘professionals’ or teaching pros when she started. Therefore, she didn’t have a coach or anything to guide her in the new world of Pickleball. She simply learned from watching and asking questions of the higher-level players she met along the way.  A lot of those higher skilled players all played at the same tournaments that Ilsa and her group attended. So, it helped that they got to meet them on a regular basis. She also explained that, of course, the internet has also been an excellent source of information for her. She knows a lot of players who get better by watching the many YouTube videos related to the sport.

Ilsa explained that the only equipment one needs to use is a Pickleball paddle and balls. She also explained that the nice part about the sport of Pickleball is that it can be played on badminton-sized courts with a modified net system, so it is a very accessible sport. Ilsa suggested that if a new player wants to get to know the game better, that playing as much as possible so that they can get used to the rules and the difference between other racquet sports will really help.

Ilsa’s advice to people that are interested in getting started in Pickleball but are not sure where to start, is to look up the Lethbridge Pickleball League. The Lethbridge Pickleball League just recently formalized and Ilsa said that they are a fun group of players who are very welcoming. Ilsa mentioned that local players should go their website to find out when and where they play. Her tip to fellow Pickleball players is to stay out of the kitchen. She mentioned that when you start playing the sport, you will understand what that means!

Ilsa explained that Pickleball is very contagious, and a lot of people who try the sport are keen to continue playing for one of many reasons. Players have a lot of fun, they meet a lot of great people and can play to whatever level they want to. If a player wants to play recreationally, they can, or if they want to play tournaments, they can! Right now, Ilsa trains to play in a lot of tournaments, along with some occasional recreational play. But most importantly, she has been fortunate to meet so many wonderful people from all over the world and wherever she travels her paddle goes along with her.

It sounds like Pickleball has had a positive impact on Ilsa’s life. Please help us thank Ilsa for sharing her story and expertise, as well as congratulate her on leading a healthy lifestyle!

For more info on Pickleball in Lethbridge check out the Lethbridge Pickleball League.