Our Stories Archive
|By: Danielle Alfaro |
Assistant Marketing & Communications Coordinator
I sat down with Paul Manning-Hunter, Customer Experience Team Lead, to learn about his love of whitewater kayaking and recreation. Paul has been a part of the MRU Rec team for close to three years and shares how he has grown in various roles with the help of his favourite sport.
Q: How did you get involved with Rec?
Q: Tell me a little bit about your
Q: What skills have you acquired from your experience that have helped you in your career at Rec?
A: As both a competitor and a coach, I’ve
Starting when I was a teenager, I was away from home for up to six months every year racing and so I had to learn discipline in order to get my schoolwork done. Getting to travel all over the world was really eye-opening and gave me an appreciation for other cultures. I’ve had public speaking/presentation opportunities that have increased my overall confidence. Coaching kayaking has also built my leadership and management skills, which I use every day at my job with Rec.
Q: What is next for you? Future
|By: Danielle Alfaro |
Assistant Marketing & Communications Coordinator
Jenn Sheehan moved to Calgary in 2010 and set her sights on the Bachelor of Applied Business and Entrepreneurship: Sport and
Being involved in the sports world, Sheehan had previous knowledge of personal training and sought it out at Rec. Eager to hit the ground running, she pushed herself to exhaustion during her first session, which was when she truly became aware of her current fitness level.With the help of her trainer, Jenn Schmitz, Sheehan set out short and long term fitness goals to get started on right away.
At the beginning Sheehan saw her trainer twice a week to build
|By: Laura Winter |
Marketing & Communications Coordinator
Loud, motivated, eager. Those are the words that come to mind when Bolutife Opeodu (Bolu for short) is asked to describe himself. These characteristics, however, are not ones he considers inherent, rather traits developed over time through his involvement with Rec.
Bolu, a fourth-year Criminal Justice student, is a familiar face around Rec, having been involved in various capacities since his first year at MRU. Like many, he was apprehensive about trying Recreation. He describes his rather humorous first experience when a friend encouraged him to come check out the fitness centre.
"My plan was to walk with him to the front gate and then bail" Bolu says with a chuckle, "I was intimidated and on top of that, didn't have the cash to spare." That's when a Recreation customer service associate overheard Bolu awkwardly trying to make his escape and informed him cheerfully that as a student, he automatically had access to Rec through a fee paid in his tuition.
"That was a defining moment for me," he explains, describing how that friendly interaction was the beginning of a very important relationship he would build with Rec over the next four years.
Since then, Bolu has realized the countless benefits Rec has to offer. In addition to working out in the fitness centre and playing intramural sports, he has developed skills he considers invaluable through different student jobs with Rec.
He has worked in intramurals as a referee, supervisor and sports coordinator. He was also recently appointed as Rec's first student engagement coordinator, spearheading a peer-to-peer program focused on engaging students on campus.
"I really noticed a difference in the quality of my student life when I frequented Rec versus when I didn't. Being in Rec on a regular basis has so many benefits. I talk to at least one new person every time I walk through the facilities. I start to recognize people and they recognize me. I don't always know their names but I know them – the types of relationships that can only happen in this environment."
Bolu also advocates the important role Rec plays in the holistic wellbeing of MRU students. "Students get so caught up in Academic life that physical, mental and social wellbeing gets put on the backburner," he explains. "Being active at Rec is a great way of meeting those physical, mental and social needs."
Bolu hasn't always considered himself as someone who is engaged. "Looking back at high school I was involved, but not to the level I'm involved here," he says. "It takes getting put into a bigger pond to realize you need to take the initiative to go out and meet people because if you don't, you won't have as much fun and enjoy your experience as much."
Working at Rec has also allowed Bolu to develop essential, transferable skills he believes will have a very positive impact on his future endeavours.
"After my first semester working as sports coordinator for the flag football league, I came back the next semester with a lot of things I wanted to change. I faced a lot of backlash from teams and players, including some unpleasant emails and it was hard to push through that," he says.
He describes his intentions of making the league more fun and engaging for participants, but also the discouragement he experienced from the feedback received. Ultimately, Bolu stuck to his guns and implemented his desired changes.
"At the end of the season, a girl from one of the teams, that had been particularly resistant to my ideas came up to me and thanked my for an amazing season," he says with a smile, "she acknowledged that she knew what I was trying to do and that it seemed to have the desired effect. That was awesome. All of the effort and all of the time I had put in was worth it."
When asked what piece of advice he would give to a first year student who has never tried Rec, there's a distinct excitement in his tone, "You gotta try it at least once," he says with enthusiasm, "you'll be intimidated in so many areas of your life. Giving in to the intimidation is like giving up. If you don't go out on a limb and try something, you'll have regrets and you won't even realize how much you are missing out on until it's too late."
|By: Danielle Alfaro |
Assistant Marketing & Communications Coordinator
Erin Davidson and Olivia Raposo became friends while lifeguarding at Recreation (Rec) and pursuing their education at Mount Royal University (MRU). Although their academic interests and experiences differ, they share a common bond found through physical activity.
Both girls where involved in sports in high school and enjoyed everything from volleyball to soccer. When starting university, it was important for them to find ways to get involved and stay active.
Beginning a new chapter in life can be hard and for Erin and Olivia, university life was no exception. Some challenges the girls experienced were having to make adult decisions, an increased sense of autonomy and more responsibility in all aspects of their lives.
Despite being a bit intimidated at first; the girls grabbed the bull by the horns and sought out opportunities to stay active.
While Olivia was impressed with the wide range of sports clubs offered by Rec, Erin was first drawn to the fitness classes. Both girls used the facility differently and found benefits that helped them navigate through the transition from high school to university. Erin lived in Residence and found it easy and fun to workout at Rec with her roommates. Olivia was used to playing team sports in high school, so she loved that Rec offered intramural sports and she could continue playing what she loved.
Student life can be hectic, so making time to be active and staying motivated can be tough. To combat this, Erin signed up for group fitness classes which helped her stay accountable. Putting it in her weekly schedule as social active time helped remind her to stay on track.
Olivia's involvement in team sports helped her to stay accountable to both herself and the team, she explained, "knowing you have people who are counting on you made me want to stick to my commitments because letting my team down was not an option."
Staying active positively impacted both of their academic careers. They explain that it was a huge stress reliever, helped them find balance and increase concentration on their studies. "Often times working out at Rec helped keep me awake and I would use it as a study break to re-focus and gain energy," said Olivia.
When asked what advice they would give to new students about Rec, the girls said "Just do it, one of the easiest ways to ease into Rec is to try a fitness class." Fitness classes are one of the girls favorite activities at Rec and they continue to take classes today.
"Bringing a friend helps to reduce the intimidation factor and the regular gym goers are supportive and encouraging because they were once new to Rec too," said Erin.
Overall, Olivia and Erin's involvement in Rec mad a positive impact during their time at MRU and beyond. They've made solid friendships, learned how to deal with stress in a positive way and increased their fitness level. Erin likes how going to a workout can change your mood and now knows the meaning behind the line "the only bad workout is one that didn't happen." Olivia adds "I think to myself, do I ever regret going for a workout? NO. So go for that workout and feel better."
Erin and Olivia also took advantage of Rec's student employment opportunities and work as lifeguards in the Aquatic Centre.
|By: Beth Billingham |
Communications & Marketing Coordinator
Students Association of Mount Royal University
“Volunteer work was a great time for me to get to know people. It helped me grow by making sure I was communicating well with others and not being shy.”
One of the best ways to make the most of your student experience is to get involved. That’s because success doesn’t just come from doing well in class. Success also means taking on challenges, building your confidence, learning different skills, and meeting new people; university is a social experience, after all.
You could also join a club. It’s a great way to get creative about making time for your emotional, physical and social wellness. Clubs are a chance to find like-minded people, whether you’re looking for a board game buddy, someone to bounce your business ideas off, or a snowboarding partner.
Or you could volunteer. It’s a simple, powerful way to leave your mark and to get involved with the behind-the-scenes work that shapes your campus community. We have so many opportunities – from peer support counseling to event setup to lobbying MRU and the government – that we’re confident we can find a place for you.
Last year, SAMRU members put in nearly 4,000 volunteer hours and raised over $18,000 for various charities. We also gave out 93 emergency student loans, 181 food and hygiene hampers, and about 10,500 free breakfasts, among many other things. That’s a pretty amazing impact.
If you don’t believe us, just check out what these SAMRU volunteers have to say about their experiences last year:
|By: Erinn Powell |
Marketing Event Coordinator
A born and raised Manitoban, Steven Trottier entered Mount Royal University’s halls just like any other first year student: full of excitement, anticipation and a little bit of unease. With his sights set on the Bachelor of Communications degree in Public Relations, he was eager to immerse himself in the University experience.
“I really enjoy playing dodgeball” he says with a smile, “When I’m playing it’s a great way for me to destress and meet new people from around campus.”
Like many students though, Steven’s four years didn’t go quite as he had planned. Upon entering his fourth year in the Public Relations program he bravely decided to make the switch to the Bachelor of Business Administration and it was at this time that he started working at Rec as the Assistant Event Coordinator.
As an active and involved student, Steven brings his drive and enthusiasm to everything that he does. His experience working at Rec is no different, with his stand-out moment being able to help lead the planning and execution of the 4th Annual MRU Colour-U-Blue in 2015. The event was a huge success with over 500 students running and walking the 4.5 km route around campus while getting sprayed with blue paint. Standing on stage with a live DJ pumping up hundreds of students coloured head-to-toe in blue paint is a memory that Steven won’t forget.
“I had a great manager and lots of support from the full-time staff at Rec who helped push me everyday to keep learning more” he
Since then, Steven has taken on additional roles at Rec such as a Student Program Coordinator and a Get Rec’d Ambassador.
In October of 2015, Steven went through an extremely difficult time. His father passed away unexpectedly, leaving him and his mother stunned. He and his father were very close and explains that it would have been easy for him to derail his education and slip away from himself. In the midst of the most difficult time of his life, he was amazed and comforted by the support that he received from Rec.
“That was the moment which showed me how much Rec values not only their employees, but everyone who walks through their front gate and how they are willing to do anything to help people through a challenging time” he says wholeheartedly. “The last two years of my degree have definitely been the most challenging, but Rec was there for me every step of the way.”
Today, Steven is thrilled to be accepted into the University of New York in Prague’s Master of International Management program which he will start in September. Until then, he continues to use dodgeball and longboarding as a way to unwind and destress and is soaking up as much of the MRU experience as possible.
When asked about what he would say to students who are new to trying out Rec, Steven advises, “Whatever it is that you think you might enjoy, try it! No one cares whether you can bench press 300 pounds, make 10 three-point shots in a row or take out the entire team you’re playing against in dodgeball singlehandedly, it’s just about getting active.”
Steven got involved by using of Rec's student employment opportunities, learn more about how you can work at Rec here.
|By: Danielle Alfaro |
Assistant Marketing & Communications Coordinator
Heather, a.k.a Get Fit Fiona, wasn’t always mindful of her health, but
Upon completing university in her early twenties, Heather worked for a few different organizations before she decided to follow her passion for health and wellness and change careers. She quickly realized this was going to require going back to school to diversify her skill set to give her the tools she needed to succeed. She chose MRU because of its positive reputation and small class sizes. It was also important to her to be able to earn her education in a short period of time, so when she found the Personal Fitness Trainer Diploma through Continuing Education, she was elated. Proud of herself for making the move to go back to school later on in life and be educated in something that inspired her, Heather didn’t anticipate the impact student life would have on her.
Heather had to learn how to prioritize more effectively; being a student is not always easy and it can be demanding. Often times in efforts to keep up, she found herself skipping workouts and grabbing not-so-healthy fast food choices. It wasn’t until both her parents fell ill that she really became aware of her health and how important it is both physically and mentally. She knew she had to start making changes if she wanted to be successful and achieve her goals, so she set out on a journey to become a better version of herself.
Heather began putting her health and wellness at the forefront of her priority list by learning how to meal prep and plan out her food. This helped her make healthier choices instead of grabbing unhealthy options while at school. She also needed to make sleep a bigger priority and is mindful of how much sleep she needs to be productive the next day. Soon after beginning her program, Heather discovered Rec and was hooked shortly after trying out her first fitness class. Her favourite thing about Rec is that there is a wide variety of classes and activities to choose from, so she never gets bored. Some of her favourites include ViPR fitness classes and Sunday morning yoga.
When thinking about her first impressions of Rec, Heather explained “at first the weight room was intimidating, but I became more comfortable with it after taking a strength training class and got used to the space and its elements.”
Working out also motivates her to eat healthier. Heather finds spending so much time and effort at the gym helps her recognize the importance of fueling the body with what it needs. Enjoying life and being social are important to Heather; occasionally heading out to enjoy a treat is one way she sustains balance. She explains, “it’s what you do most of the time and consistently that counts.”
After settling into the healthy lifestyle change, Heather decided to start a blog in 2012. She wanted to share her personal experience and journey to a healthier, active way of living in a creative way with others. She creates blog posts by simply writing about her experiences. She gains inspiration from books and other online content that interests her such as new healthy recipes or different ways to get active.
Heather believes that the mental aspect of staying healthy is just as important as the physical and working out helps her increases her productivity at school. It also helps increase her energy and mental clarity.
“Working out allows me to shut off my brain and just focus on my physical health and wellbeing in the moment.” These are topics she writes about in her blog and feels sharing her personal trials and tribulations are a way for her to express her creativity as well as help others.
Heather is inspired to stay healthy in order to live a long and fulfilling life. She knows it takes hard work to be able to reach her goals and looks up to other strong women for motivation. She admires the Canadian Women’s Soccer Team because they are students, employees and moms on top of being elite athletes and respects their dedication and strong will.
A nature lover, Heather also enjoys getting out and walking around her community to take in the sights and sounds of the outdoors while connecting with community members. Mixing it up in order to avoid getting bored is important to her and she’s always looking for something new to try. When asked what advice she would give in order to inspire others thinking about making a lifestyle change she explains, “find something you really enjoy doing, I’ve tried so many different things, but it
If you’d like to learn more about Heather and follow her journey to health, visit her blog getfitfiona.com and see what she’s been up to this semester.
|By: Christine Thompson |
Social & Digital Media Coordinator
Meet Colin Cooper. Some may know him as #31, the goalie for the MRU Cougars Men’s Hockey Team, while others recognize his friendly face from business class or the time he spends at MRU Recreation (Rec). Between balancing hockey and school, this self-described funny, happy and competitive hockey player is one busy guy. I sat down with the second year business student to talk about how he likes to stay active, and of course, hockey.
Why is staying active important to you?
Besides hockey, what’s your favourite way to get active?
So you use Rec quite frequently. What do you like to do when you come to Rec?
How do you think Rec has impacted your time at Mount Royal?
What advice would you give someone thinking about trying Rec?
How do you balance being a student and being a student-athlete?
How do you get pumped for a hockey game?
What is your favourite Crowchild Classic memory?
Why should MRU students come to the Crowchild Classic?
MRU Cougars VS UofC Dinos
Visit mrucougars.com to learn more or pick up your free tickets at the door.
|With Mirjan Knapik Ph.D. |
MRU Wellness Services
I don’t think any of us, when the fuel gauge in our car shows empty in October, expect it to run fine until we can gas-up in December. But it seems we expect ourselves to run on empty. Self-care is about refueling and without doing so, our physical, mental and emotional functioning will become impaired. We develop sleep difficulties, have trouble focusing, find it difficult to prioritize and end up feeling overwhelmed, emotionally reactive and irritable. We don’t feel like ourselves and those around us can’t benefit from all that is wonderful in our hearts and minds. Self-care is necessary for us to be well with ourselves and others.
If you’ve thought that self-care is either too selfish or too time consuming, here is an invitation to shift your perspective. What if self-care was something we did because it was simultaneously good for ourselves and others? What if self-care could help us identify the stressors in our lives so that we create healthier conditions? What if self-care could lead to social change?
Most of us know the usual list of proposed self-care activities: warm baths, cups of tea, leisurely walks with a pet, or any of the things you find in this Play Book that gets you moving, centred or connected with others. However, not all strategies are equally accessible or effective for everyone. So I invite you to begin your self-care with stopping, rather than doing more, and checking in with yourself using a different kind of attention. Be silent and still and ask yourself, “How am I ? How is my energy? What is important to me at this time in my life? To what am I giving my energy and attention? Is this in line with my priorities?”
This kind of stopping and noticing allows us to see what is going well and feel grateful. There is compelling evidence about the health benefits of expressing gratitude and extending loving kindness toward self, others and the world. Reflecting in this way also allows us see where change is needed so we can respond with a plan rather than react in a state of stress. We may recognize how the context contributes to our stress or identify the barriers for self-care. This awareness can be a first step to exploring with others what meaningful social change might look like. Self-care can reflect a concern for others and the world. We can also view self-care as something we weave into our lives moment to moment.
We practice self-care when we communicate in ways that de-escalate destructive conflict, use strategies to calm our distress, live more mindfully, or take steps to overcome the fears that keep us from connecting with others. We can improve our ability to do these things and build resilience. Self-care is about treating ourselves with the same consideration we give to those people we care about.
How will you be a good friend to yourself today?
Student counselling services offers many workshops that support self-care and resilience building. Connect with us:
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