This summer, Ismael Trepanier started Iqaluit Run/Speed Walk to encourage Iqalummiut to achieve better mental and physical health.
Trepanier, who used to be a professional runner about 20 years ago, was initially inspired to create the group for his employees as well as for himself.
It’s about working together to get “back on track,” he said.
The attitude should be “Let’s go, you can do it. Don’t give up on yourself,” expressed Trepanier, adding it is important to have a healthy mind and body.
When his employees started inviting their friends to the group, the number of members increased exponentially each week.
“I was sincerely not expecting so many members in such a short period of time,” said Trepanier. “So I was like, ‘Okay’, I guess I’m gonna go create a group for fun and then let’s see where it goes.”
Since June Iqaluit Run/Speed Walk has grown from five members to 128.
Mauricio Rojas Gramal, one of the original members, said “Personally I didn’t like to run but I started slowly. Now I really like it. We help each other.”
Gramal added he has not missed a single session. “Every time I go to the session it makes me more energetic. It just makes me happy to have this club,” said the Iqalummiuq who is originally from Ecuador.
Every session begins with a group warm-up. Individuals can then choose to speed-walk or run at their own pace on a designated route.
“It’s not a competition at all,” assured Trepanier, adding it is a non-judgmental environment.
“I want to make sure everyone will be capable to attempt the activity … and finish it,” he explained.
The route is usually between 2.5 kilometres and 5.5 km. Presently, the group meets Wednesdays at 6 p.m. and Sundays at 11 a.m.
In the future, Trepanier hopes to increase the number of sessions to at least four or five weekly.
Anyone regardless of their age or fitness level can join the group for free, said the founder.
Inuk Jenna Korgak said she joined the group to find motivation for getting back on track with a healthy lifestyle. By attending the sessions, Korgak feels the motivation to be more active and eat healthy in general. Another benefit for her is the socialization aspect.
“I like the group because I get to socialize more often and there are always new people coming to the run. So I get to make new friends, and it is nice to see people in Iqaluit being active and doing an activity in a positive way,” said Korgak.
Another Iqaluit resident from Niagara Falls, Jesse Welton, said, “As a group, we work towards motivating each other, recognizing everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and using encouragement and common goals to achieve our own personal bests with each session.”
“We’re here to help each other,” reiterated Trepanier, who has already lost 20 pounds since June.
“Bring your shoes, your smile and a bit of discipline. And you’ll be fine.”
Those interested in joining or looking for more information can contact the Iqaluit Speed/Run Walk group on Facebook.