A Mind-Body Approach: The Gold Standard for Wellness Transformation
Danielle Ellis is training for the 2022 Sitting Volleyball World Championships, where her team will compete for top spot this November.
Birds are chirping, flowers are blooming and temperatures are rising; it’s official: summer is right around the corner. As we prepare to swap our sweatshirts for singlets and flock to the beach, our physical health is often brought into sharper focus during the sunny season. If your New Year’s fitness resolution crumbled at the sight of a Valentine’s Day chocolate souffle, don’t worry; you’re not alone. Aspiration alone doesn’t usually equate to long-term inspiration.
According to Danielle Ellis, a decorated Sitting Volleyball Paralympian, grueling workouts and demanding diets aren’t the formula for success. In fact, she hints that achieving our desired results is much more attainable than we may think–no cookie jar padlock required.
For the 30-year-old White Rock native, fitness has been a lifelong pursuit. As a member of the Canadian National Team for the past 12 years, she took 4th place at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Prior to that, she placed 7th at the World Championships in 2018 and 7th at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Currently, Danielle is training for the 2022 Sitting Volleyball World Championships, where her team will compete for top spot this November. As one might imagine, the exercise regimen for a professional athlete involves slightly more discipline than the average person. Ellis trains three days a week in the gym, three times a week on the volleyball court and completes two weekly cardio/conditioning sessions.
Thankfully, Ellis doesn’t have to venture far from home to maintain her intense training schedule. She credits Surrey’s recreation facilities as a large contributor to her athletic success, given their exceptional accessibility features and wide range of amenities.
“I train at the City of Surrey facilities due to their support of Elite Athletes and for the options of cross-functional training, like running, swimming and strength-based exercises,” she explains.
Despite rigorous training requirements, Ellis prioritizes balance in her life: “I usually start my day with meditation, followed by some studying or work tasks before hitting the gym or volleyball court.”
Ellis believes that an individual’s overall ‘fitness’ consists of equal parts physical and mental wellbeing, and that self-care is a critical key to your success. Taking a nature walk, enjoying a bubble bath, reading a good book, petting the family dog and treating yourself to the (odd) cookie are all examples of self-care that contribute to your overall health. When embarking on a new fitness journey, incorporating self-care into your daily routine is particularly helpful in avoiding burnout.
While Ellis emphasizes the importance of downtime, she also believes that regular exercise is a critical aspect of good mental health.
“I start every day with yoga to create a mind-body connection. Exercise has a huge impact on my mental health, helping me remain focused on my goals,” she describes.
Essentially, taking care of your mind helps motivate you to take care of your body. Once you start taking care of your body, taking care of your mind becomes that much easier. Recent studies have supported this notion as well.
While Ellis spends a large percentage of her time exercising to meet career demands, she doesn’t expect the average person to mimic her routine–whew! She recognizes that most of us aren’t professional athletes and understands that initiating physical activity for the first time in a while can be daunting for some. Rather than countless hours in the gym or sporadic sweat fests, Ellis recommends small, achievable efforts.
“It’s never too late to start working on your physical fitness and there is no such thing as too small to start. Five minutes a day will improve your life and your well-being. Start small and grow from there, you won’t regret it,” she suggests.
Complete wellness transformation requires a lifestyle change to sustain long-term success. As Ellis explains, it’s truly a mind-body effort. Making time for yourself each day and getting your body moving–even if only for a few minutes–can go a long way. Whether you strive to slim down, tone up, or simply feel comfortable in a swimsuit this summer, start small, pace yourself and explore Surrey’s parks, trails and state-of-the-art recreation facilities to support your fitness efforts.
To learn more about Danielle Ellis and her journey, visit pacificsportfraservalley.com. For more information about Surrey’s parks and recreation facilities, visit surrey.ca/recreation.