AUGUST 24, 2010

What a great couple weeks I’ve had since last I wrote!  I got to visit Vancouver for four days for the first time since ending that 62-year gold medal drought, my hometown of Buffalo for two and my actual bed the rest of the time in Calgary.  I also met one of the most inspirational people I’ve ever come across, to be honest it takes a very special person to inspire me in huge ways, and I rediscovered a great workout that I’m so pumped to get back into!

After my four day trip to Vancouver I returned to Calgary for a couple days then got back on a plane headed in the other direction to give a motivational talk to a financial firm in Buffalo.  The night of my arrival I was to meet the CEO of the company and the other motivational speaker that was brought in to speak.  When I arrived I did not meet the person I was expecting. 

Michael Aronin ( is articulate, funny, confident and puts one at ease instantly…all traits you’d expect from someone who travels the country spreading a message of tolerance, hope and the idea that your own personal shortcomings should not get in the way of your success.  The one thing I didn’t expect out of this amazing individual before I met him was the Cerebral Palsy he has spent his entire life with.  Try complaining about being sore from a workout or being judged poorly in testing for your sport while keeping this man in your mind and you will simply laugh at your ‘problem’ at hand and understand we are all capable of anything we want to accomplish.  I learned more from one dinner with, and listening to him speak the next day than I have from one other person in a long, long time.  Thanks Mike!

After my incredible experience in Buffalo I headed back to the airport and boarded another plane bound for Calgary…ahhhh., pseudo home-sweet-home for a couple weeks!  Unfortunately for my body though, I had promised a good friend of mine and his fiancé that I would attend my first Yoga class in over six years with them, the day after I returned.  I decided that it was time to get back into working out more consistently and that Yoga would be a great place to start.  I had taken it up 7 years ago as a way to increase my flexibility when we made changes to the back half of our 4-man bobsled, requiring me to get into a much more stretched position.  I really loved Yoga for this but once I moved to the right side of the sled and the ‘3’ position from pushing on the brakes, I decided I could spend my extra energy in other places for the time being.

Well, let me tell you this, Yoga has CHANGED over the past 6 years!  Or, at the very least, the variety of yoga readily available to the general public has changed.  My buddy’s fiancé signed us up for an evening class of Hot Vinyasa Flow Yoga, apparently one of the more challenging variations.  I was scared!!!  I thought that I would most likely pass-out halfway through and I had nightmares of the paramedics having to pull me out on a body board. 

Ok, I’ll be the first to admit that my imagination was a bit dramatic, but the simple fact is that we fear that which we do not know.  And I didn’t know Hot Yoga.  I decided this would be, at the very least, an entertaining vlog for the week so you’ll see the before and after videos here.  What you don’t see in the video is the actual class, which was a workout idea changing experience for me.  Halfway through my first class I decided this would become part of my ‘official’ (more unofficial I guess, potato-potahto!) workout routine! It’s so much fun to discover a new activity that causes you to sweat as if you are running laps around the equator and stresses your muscles as if you’re climbing the stairs of the Empire State Building.  While at the same time an exercise that calms your mind and leaves you feeling like you’re floating 3 feet above the ground when you’re done; credit to our classes’ teacher, Stephanie!   And to keep it in perspective, you’re reading this from a guy who bobsledded at 95mph for 10 years and didn’t feel his training regiment was complete each week unless he hit failure in the squat rack!

So as I begun, all and all it was a great couple weeks.  I got to inspire people with a motivational talk while being inspired in a way I haven’t been in a long time by the most unlikely of people.  This great couple of days was followed by a new inspiration in my life of staying fit after three Olympic Games.  I can’t help but think that meeting Michael gave me the open-minded approach it may have taken for me to really get what I did out of my first Yoga class.  I guess it just goes to show that seemingly completely unrelated events in life are all tied together and that if we look at things in a positive light everything we come in contact with can enrich us…

P.S.- YES, I was sore the day after my first class.  And YES, I’ve been back again for my second class already!