Two weightlifting RCMP officers are learning the power of sport can benefit more than your muscles.
After years away from the sport, a broken back and a fight with cancer, Cpl. Gregory Young is powerlifting in international competitions.
Young, who focuses solely on bench press, recently represented Canada at a world championship where he lifted 242.5 kilograms, placing fourth.
He says training helps keep his work in federal criminal operations on point.
"It enhances my abilities by being fresh and sharp every day," he says.
When Young began policing, he says strength training also helped with confidence.
"It's comfortable to know you can handle most physical situations," he says.
Cpl. Megan Apostoleris is another international competitor. Her sports of choice: CrossFit and weightlifting. CrossFit combines high-intensity aerobics, weightlifting, and gymnastics for a complete work out.
She recently ranked fifteenth in the world among 27,000 women in her age group and narrowly missed a spot in the CrossFit Games, the sport's most prestigious competition. In August, she'll attend the World Masters Weightlifting Championships in Montreal.
Body and mind
Besides a physical job requirement, being strong and keeping fit contributes to overall well-being.
For Apostoleris, the benefits of exercise are as much mental as they are physical. She credits CrossFit for helping her overcome anxiety and depression — conditions that had her off work three times between 2011 and 2017.
"I found CrossFit and taking control of my life and the dedication has made a huge difference," she says.
Competitive fitness training also ensures officers are fit for duty.
"If you do CrossFit, the PARE won't be a challenge," says Apostoleris, referring to the Physical Abilities Requirement Evaluation that RCMP members must regularly complete.
Apostoleris says the speed, power and agility needed for CrossFit match what's needed for the PARE's obstacles and lifts.
While a rewarding activity, competitive fitness can be time consuming.
Apostoleris trains three hours a day, six days a week. She starts her day at the gym before work and visits again after clocking out.
"The biggest thing for me is discipline. When something's a priority, you make it happen," says Apostoleris, who works in the Security Intelligence and Background Section in Ottawa.
Young shares that dedication.
He trains four days a week practising his bench press and strengthening back and leg muscles. But lifting isn't the only aspect of his training. Hours go toward meal prep and proper sleep ensuring adequate energy for the 250-kilogram lifts.
"Powerlifting can be all consuming," he says.
Both say a workplace that supports active lifestyles makes fitness training less daunting.
"My whole unit is cheering for me and there's a lot of encouragement to be healthy," says Young.