The first day I started at the old Durham Activity Centre was the beginning of a new life for me. In fact, if what my doctor was telling was correct my 50th birthday last December may well have been a memorial service. The decision to join the DAC wasn’t really a choice; it was the only option I had left if I want to see my kids grow up. I suffered from a vast array of health problems the least of which was obesity. I was a cardiac arrest or stroke waiting to happen. My personal well being was at jeopardy and out of control. On top of all that my self esteem was in despair. At 42 years old, I was a mess. Like so many others, I thought I knew how to solve my problems. I didn’t know much it seemed, and what I did know was too little and leading me to failure. I was approaching the end of my rope. I didn’t know how to stop the slide. What I did know was that it was my own fault and if I was going to change directions, it was up to me to change course. That much was clear to me, but I still was lost in how to get going. I was like a cat using my ninth life and set of headlights was being down on me. I need someone or something to pull me back to the curb for one last chance.
Without being too dramatic, I owe what I am today to two things. I’m alive because of the DAC and its newest incarnation the Durham Fitness Centre and my brother. He gave me my first membership as a gift. If he hadn’t cared enough about me to give me that gift, I would never have made it to the doors of the DAC and met my first personal trainer. Between her and the DAC board of directors, who went out of their way to accommodate not only me but many other members facing time constraints and other obstacles, I began the slow struggle to regain my life and self worth. They allowed me the place and the time, and supported me with encouragement and all the things I needed to begin the physical transformation that I underwent over the next few years. My life has been transformed beyond anything I could ever imagine in those first few, dark days, and I feel so much appreciation for the Durham Fitness Centre, it’s staff, it’s board of directors and all the wonderful people I have had the great opportunity to workout with over the years. My success would never have been possible without the Durham Fitness Centre. I’m truly humbled by the magnitude of the gifts I have received from my relationship with the Durham Fitness Centre. I owe my existence and lifestyle to it and will forever be grateful for everything it has given me.
Today the Durham Fitness Centre, like the Phoenix, has risen from total destruction. The metaphor is ironic. Over the years, I’ve seen so many people change their lives with the help of the DFC and it’s outstanding staff and board of directors. I’m proud to be one of many such Phoenixes rising from our own person destructions over the years. Today’s DFC is modern and rivals any private, more expensive centre in the region. We are truly fortunate to have a facility like the DFC. As I travel the world doing things, I never dreamed I’d be doing- as I take easy breathes and smile at my personal health and lifestyle- I always remember the DFC and can’t wait to get home and back to the place where my new life began.
For almost a decade, I have opened the doors- first of the old DAC, and now, of the DFC early in the morning six days a week. I consider those first hours every morning the beginning of my work day. The only days I miss are when I am competing or training in another part of the province or country. Some people ask from time to time why I do it. I tell them it’s because I’m grateful, and because I want to pay it forward. I want to give all the other people who come into the DFC every day the same things the DFC has given me over the years. It is an honour for me to serve the DFC each morning as a volunteer. In addition to my health and fitness, the DFC has given me many wonderful relationships ad personal opportunities. It is truly like family for me at the DFC. I thank the universe everyday for the DFC and the many people who have worked so hard to give this awesome gift to our community and keep it there. I’m humbled by their dedication, hard work and sacrifice. You are my heroes, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.John Elvidge –
Grateful and continuous member and volunteer since February 2003