Photo: Courtesy NHL.com
Gabriel Hardy, Executive Director of Fitness Industry Council of Canada was on his feet, cheering on the Las Vegas Golden Knights during the Stanley Cup, watching proudly as Jonathan Marchessault was named MVP and awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy.
And he had one pressing thought:
Hardy, who has trained Marchessault since the age of 16, said the Conn Smythe’s winner did what any great athlete does – he rose above the challenges in his life, the moments when he was sidelined, traded, relegated to the minor leagues, and became even more focused. “Jon’s journey is forged by resilience, hard work and determination. I have the highest honors for him, and he deserves this moment,” says Hardy.
Marchessault is the first undrafted player to win the Conn Smythe trophy since Wayne Gretzky. The 32-year old leader from Quebec City plays consistently in the regular season, and according to reports “comes alive in the playoffs, with 34 goals and 36 assists across 876 playoff games.”
And while fitness facilities across the country work with Canadians of all fitness levels from the mom carving time for herself away from kids, to the senior working on mobility, strength and balance, to the young adults coping with mental health through exercise, it is important to remember that “athletes train in our facilities, too,” says Hardy. “And, all Canadians have access to the same trainers that motivate and inspire the best.”
Hardy believes that hard work is an attitude and one we can all learn from.
“Right now, my club is full of hockey players training for next season, and gyms across the country are training Olympians getting ready for 2024, high-level marathoners cross-training, and future NBA stars,” says Hardy. “Gyms are partners for all Canadian sports.”
The reality is that many young athletes will not make it as far as Marchessault. The reality is that many athletes don’t simply lose the vision of entering professional sports – they lose the desire to exercise when they lose their sports goal. “As fitness professionals, we are trained to inspire and motivate. This is what you find in the gym.”
Jon Marchessault is an inspiration to every Canadian, says Hardy. “As he lifted the trophy over his head, he lifted the spirits of every young Canadian hockey player. He inspires us not to quit, that the struggle to get there is always worth it.”
“Are you willing to work hard for what you want? Canadians can look to Jon and see that results come through hard work,” says Hardy. “And this is our job, in the fitness industry, to show them the way. We need parents training in the gym, inspiring their children to exercise. We need a society where exercise and hard work is always worth it.”
As for Marchessault, he will be back training for another Stanley Cup and Hardy will be pushing him outside his comfort zone. “History is only written once! And when the going gets tough, it’s not easy to push through it, to project yourself into the future. Jon did, and came out stronger, making his story that much more special,” says Hardy.
Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC) is the not-for profit trade association that represents the voice of fitness facility operators across Canada. Representing more than 6,000 facilities with more than six-million members nationwide, FIC pursues a legislative agenda in the hope of bettering the fitness industry for both consumers and operators. FIC aims to work with both industry and government to improve the health and physical activity levels of Canadians.