Our Stories

Get Inspired

Our Stories showcase the community in which we work, highlighting the successes and triumphs of our students, employees and community members. Read through the stories below to get inspired and learn about all the ways that Rec can help you get active.



By: Ashley Sherlow
Assistant Student Event Coordinator
MRU Recreation
Every September, Mount Royal University (MRU) students are splashed with blue paint to kick off the beginning of a new school year among friends. A banana costume, still stained blue from last year’s 5th Annual MRU Colour-U-Blue, hangs in Alex Connolly’s closet one year later. Connolly peels back the details of MRU Colour-U-Blue and what impact it has had on his time at MRU.

“I think the sense of community [at the event] is important,” Alex, an anthropology student at MRU, recalls from last year’s event. “It’s a great way for new students to come in. It can be a first event for them and I think that it’s an incredibly important first step for new students.”

Acknowledging the welcome feeling the event represents, Alex encourages all students to participate in MRU Colour-U-Blue, as either a participant or volunteer, as a way to get to know campus life and the people in the community.
Alex came dressed as a banana, with seven other friends from an on-campus club dressed as monkeys. Not everyone runs in a banana suit, however costumes are always welcomed and encouraged.

“Running [in the costume] was difficult - we walked pretty much the whole way,” Connolly says, laughing
at the hilarity of trying to maneuver through the course. “It’s not the most flattering outfit to run in.”

Although Alex came with a group of friends, he mentions he was pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere of openness and inclusivity that the event evoked. Being in such a statement costume encouraged other participants to come up to him and his posse of monkeys to talk and take pictures.

The warmth and enthusiasm at MRU Colour-U-Blue seeks to break down any barriers between students, opening the door for participants to meet new people, show school spirit and strengthen their sense of belonging on campus.


As Alex heads into the third year of his degree, his connection to MRU remains strong and participating in MRU Colour-U-Blue has only enhanced his school spirit and sense of belonging. Having had so much fun last year, Alex intends to once again celebrate his school spirit in a true messy, blue fashion.

On September 16, the whole campus, students and staff alike, are invited to the 6th Annual MRU Colour-U-Blue. Anyone can participate by running or walking the 4.5 km route around campus or enjoy the fun by volunteering. Last year’s event welcomed over 600 participants and every year is getting bigger and better! Check out the photo album of last year’s messiness on MRU Recreation’s Facebook page.

For more information on the event, head to mru.ca/colourublue.


By: Jenna Hamilton
Assistant Marketing & Communications Coordinator
MRU Recreation

In 2016, Mount Royal University received a grant from Alberta Blue Cross, which provided the opportunity for Wellness and Recreation (Rec) to team up and launch the Steps to Well-Being program.

Thirty-five participants in this program were referred by health-care practitioners in Wellness Services who felt the students would benefit from being more physically active. The participants were part-time and full-time students who received five personal training sessions with a certified trainer from Rec, a fitness tracker to help them achieve their goals, and an opportunity to connect with others in the program.

Jordan Richter, a first-year Computer Information Systems student, participated in the program and provided insight on his journey. Jordan explained that one of the main reasons he joined the program was to break down some of the barriers that were preventing him from coming to Rec.


“I wanted to learn how to use the machines and determine which ones would help me attain my goals, but I found the Internet had so much conflicting information on the best practices. I wanted something more personalized,” Jordan explained.

Jordan partnered with Rec’s personal trainer, Jon, and during their first meeting they discussed Jordan’s goals, which gave Jon a better idea how to work with him. Jordan received personalized workouts which helped him get over the barriers he was experiencing and once the sessions were over, Jordan saw so much progress he decided to purchase five more sessions with Jon.

When asked what his favourite activity was to do at Rec, he said that at the end of one of his sessions, Jon handed him boxing gloves and brought him to the boxing bag.

Jordan was surprised at the intensity of the workout and loved the challenge. He also felt empowered and had fun doing it.

“The connection through Wellness Services and Rec gets people active and creates that comfortable atmosphere. The trainers do a great job creating trust and building relationships, while also making it fun. They know what they are doing and more importantly, they care about what you are doing,” Jordan said.


We had a chance to sit down with another trainer at Rec, Jenn, and got her perspective on the program, and the impact she saw in her clients.

“I saw each client improve their self-esteem and this program gave them the confidence to walk into a gym and own it,” said Jenn.

As a personal trainer, Jenn has seen many students get wrapped up in their school work and lose sight of their own health and fitness. After participating in the Steps to Well-Being program, she believes that it gave the participants the motivation to add fitness to their daily routine, and eat healthier. Jenn said that she saw her client’s energy levels increase, along with their ability to manage stress.

Want to learn more on how you can start your journey to well-being? Stop by Wellness (U216) or Rec’s Customer Service Centre to learn about the services they offer to students.




By: Jenna Hamilton
Assistant Marketing & Communications Coordinator
MRU Recreation

Meet Jessica and Shailynn (Shai), Recreation’s blonde bombshell duo. You might have seen them around Rec or heard their infectious laughs during their stretch sessions. They are friends who met under unexpected circumstances and have an important story to share.

When Shai was a baby, she was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a disease that robs people of their physical strength by affecting nerves in the spinal cord. Despite being given the life expectancy of four, this quick-witted gal has defied all odds and at 21 is living life to the fullest. Shai is currently completing her third-year of Criminal Justice here at MRU and plans to go to law school for Human Rights Law at the University of Saskatchewan.

Jessica, originally from a farm outside of Winnipeg, has lived in Calgary for 10 years and co-owns a local sandwich shop, Chachi’s, with her husband. Jessica is one of the most positive, outgoing individuals we’ve had the pleasure of meeting. You wouldn’t be able to tell upon meeting her that she’s experienced a tragedy of her own when her six month old son, Lewiston, passed away from SMA last November. The diagnosis of her son is what brought Jessica and Shai together.

Shai is a member of the Calgary Chapter of SMA at The Alberta Children’s Hospital and upon hearing about Lewiston’s story, she reached out to Jessica to see how she could help. In addition to providing comfort and support, Shai was able to give Lewiston a voice and help to explain what he was struggling with, since she’s been through it herself. From there, a friendship formed and now Jessica is helping Shai manage her SMA. Together, this dynamic duo is achieving goals they never thought were possible.


“With SMA, your nerves don’t send signals down to the muscles and they slowly die off. Stretching can help manage this but I don’t have the ability to stretch my body without help,” Shai explains. “By doing stretching exercises with Jessica, it keeps my muscles alive and lowers the chance of injury.”

The progress Shai has made stretching has qualified her to get revolutionary treatment by scoring a 10 on the Hammersmith Muscle Function Test, a scale that tests strength and monitors progress for those who have SMA. Shai can qualify for this treatment by being able to do controlled movements like holding herself on her hands and knees and sitting with her feet out. These movements are virtually impossible with SMA and in order to continue being a candidate, Shai has to maintain her muscle strength. Jessica has played a large role in helping Shai do so while they are here at Rec.




Another opportunity heading Shai’s way is the pending approval of a drug in Canada that has been life changing for children in the United States. This drug has been able to give kids with SMA the strength to hold themselves up to stand and crawl. Shai plans on using this treatment once it’s approved.

When asked what their favourite part about Rec is, their response was both hilarious and inspiring.

“While we’re stretching, we like to scope out the men to find one to help Shai get back into her chair,” Jessica laughs. “We’ve seen the most generous and amazing people come together to help. It truly shows that Recreation is a place where community happens.”

Shai adds that when she’s trained at other facilities, laying helpless was a bit intimidating. However at Rec, she doesn’t feel judged as everyone is willing to help. She also explained that it teaches others that people in wheelchairs are normal, she has the same goals as anyone else, which is to move and be active.

Although challenging at times, Shai and Jessica are motivated to achieve Shai’s goal of one day walking. Once achieved, they intend to head off to Vegas for the weekend and celebrate their accomplishments. With their hard work and determination, we see a trip to Vegas in their future.

Feeling inspired by these two ladies? Follow their journey on Instagram at @jsjanzen and @shaibrooketayy. To learn more about SMA, click here.


SUSTAINABILITY_STORY_HEADER2Breathe Easy - Mount Royal University Receives Five-Star Energy Award
By: Jenna Hamilton
Assistant Marketing & Communications Coordinator
MRU Recreation

Students at Mount Royal University (MRU) can breathe easy knowing their school received a five-star energy rating achievement award in December from Camfil, a leading provider in clean air solutions. The award recognizes MRU for its efforts towards meeting all Energy Cost Index standards and continued energy saving initiatives, while ensuring everyone is breathing top quality indoor air. The award follows a pilot project led by the Building Operations department in MRU Recreation’s (Recreation) U-wing last October.

“We wanted to steer away from the traditional thought process and become more innovative in thinking bigger on how we can improve this institution,” says Owen Zarazun, Manager of Building Operations.

With air filtration equipment older than most of the students enrolled, it was time for MRU to invest in new technology. The new equipment is more efficient in removing particles from the air and maintaining air flow, along with the added bonus of less frequent filter changes. In addition to the new equipment, MRU Building Operations staff save energy and labour costs which will allow their attention to be focused on other university initiatives.

The new equipment has certainly made strides in Recreation. While working out, patrons can breathe easy knowing dust particles are being removed from the indoor air. Poor air quality can have a negative effect on performance and health. Unfortunately, we can’t make your workouts shorter or easier, but to help get you more active, more often we’ve ensured the air quality does not interfere with your workout.

The university has been crushing the sustainability game since the pilot project’s inception in October, by demonstrating a triple win of sustainability which includes:

  • 84 per cent waste reduction, eliminating 42.6 cubic yards from the landfill (enough to cover Recreation’s Kenyon Court!)
  • 50 per cent energy savings due to using less restrictive filters, enough to power 28 homes for one year.
  • 90 per cent labour reduction, approximately two full working weeks reallocated to other MRU initiatives.

With the success of this pilot project, MRU is committed to continue improving the filtration systems around the school, with hopes of achieving even more energy savings in the future. So breathe easy folks, something fresh is in the air.


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