My First Time Attending the 2017 Toronto Pro SuperShow EXPO

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to check out the Toronto Pro SuperShow Expo. It was my first time attending and to be honest I was a bit skeptical. For those of you unfamiliar with the Expo, it showcases hundreds of booths with the latest in sports equipment, nutrition and apparel. I thought it would consist mainly of company representatives pressuring you to buy their products. But the EXPO is much more than the booths. It hosts several sporting competitions and events. It also draws in industry professionals and guest speakers.

I thought I would highlight some the pros in attending this year’s Toronto Pro Supershow Expo.

Bang For Your Buck

The ticket cost $20 for basic access to the Expo. I’ve paid more to get into nightclubs. This year it took place in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The location was easy to get to via transit. The idea of driving out of the city to attend the event sounds daunting anyways. I don’t want to sit in traffic alongside spending money on gas and parking.

The building hosted so many different brands. You could find anything you were looking for. Whether it was new workout gear or nutritious snacks, they had it. Most booths were also providing great promotions and deals on their products.

For example, I bought a giant tub of protein powder for $60 flat. Originally, they were going to sell it to me for $70 but because a friend of mine was also interested, they provided two tubs for $120 with no tax. One tube alone sells for $120 in stores and online. I was pleasantly surprised.

Free Stuff!

Who doesn’t like free stuff? I walked away with t-shirts, two shakers, protein samples, pre-workout, multivitamins and more. Though you have to be patient. There were some long lines in order to obtain some of the free products being offered. But I wasn’t in a rush anyways so I took advantage as many others did.  

The Diversity

It was great to see the various body types and backgrounds of people that attend the event. I took some time to check out some of the competitions taking place. My favourite was a competition that featured bodybuilder with disabilities. The crowd was cheering the competitors on with such positive energy. I was amazed how they didn’t let their disabilities hinder their desire to achieve the bodies they wanted.

The Experts

I came across so many athletes I recognized from social media. I took advantage of the opportunity to ask them questions about their workout plans and nutrition. It was free of charge. Many were willing to show me

Overall it was a worthwhile experience. Opens your eye to the various types of people and activities involved in the Expo.

My Weapon in Battling Depression

Everyone has a reason to be active. Whether you hit the gym to improve your mobility or sculpt your physic to catch your crushes eye, any reason is a good reason to stay active. But my reason isn’t one that is commonly mentioned or talked about. My reason is mental health.

I took a long break from hitting the gym as I reached the end of completing my B.A. It proved to be a challenging year full of personal obstacles that felt overwhelming. So overwhelming that it made life feel impossible. After speaking with my family doctor about how I was feeling, she suggested I begin taking anti-depressants. I remember hesitating at the thought of putting something in my body that could change who I was as a person. But I already felt a change. That was why I was sitting in the doctor’s office in first place. So I agreed. It seemed like the only option to shake off the agony I felt everyday throughout the day.

I was told the effects of the medication would take 3 to 4 weeks. But I felt a change within the first week. Actually, the problem was that I wasn’t feeling at all. I became numb to everything. Not happy, not sad, not angry, nothing. Suddenly I welcomed the idea of feeling depressed than not feeling anything at all. I decided to go off of it but made that decision after doing a bit of research. Surely there was another option.

I’d heard how exercising was beneficial when it comes to reducing stress. I jumped online and read articles about eliminating or mitigating depression naturally. You’ll find various articles that discuss the links between exercising and endorphins. The endorphins released during exercise reduce your sense of pain. They impact the same receptors in the brain that are used in many antidepressant medications.

I dug deep for the motivation but the push was there after discovering an alternative to medication. I grew up watching people close to me battle depression and the only answer seemed to be medication. Slowly I eased getting back into a routine at the gym after almost two years. It proved to be challenging but worth it. I woke up with more energy than before and caught myself smiling more. I was proud of myself. Not only proud of the change I was experiencing both mentally and physically. But happy that I found a solution that didn’t completely eliminate my depression but mitigated the feeling of agony. Since then I’ve kept up the routine and have coupled my exercise with eating properly.

Don’t get me wrong. This form of therapy alone is not be for everyone. I understand that people need medication to help them battle various degrees of depression. The positive results are evident for many people. But, personally it wasn’t a method working for me at that time in my life.

Many of us are fighting similar battles. We might all have access to the same weapons, but it’s a matter of figuring out which one works best for you in order to win.

How to Become Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable at the Gym

Most people can probably recall the first time they stepped into a gym. It’s kindof like walking into class on the first day of school. As you made your way to your desk (or in this case, equiptment), you catch the group of bigger “cooler” kids across the room. You feel as if all eyes are on you and your nerve scale creeps closer to a 10. You feel judged.

At the start, I couldn’t share equipment. Anytime someone approached me asking “Can I work in?”. My immediate response was “Oh, I’m done. It’s all yours”. I didn’t want them to watch me and think “this guy doesn’t know what he’s doing”. I was 20 but I still felt like that 15 year old chubby kid trying not to fumble the ball in gym class. Though, I should mention I was fortunate enough to attend a school for the arts. So being a pro at sports wasn’t a mandate.

Though I was a stranger to the gym, I wasn’t a stranger to the cruelty of social media. I didn’t want to become the next internet “what not to do at the gym” sensation, like these guys…

So after my first week at the gym, I decided to strike a deal with a trainer. My money was as low as my knowledge so I only purchased three sessions. Enough to learn how to train each body part. He showed me proper form in avoiding injury and maximizing results on primary exercises. After a few sessions I remember my confidence level grew alongside my results.

We all have to start from somewhere. In many cases that “somewhere” is zero. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not here to throw a bunch of cliches your way. But I am here to suggest a few ways to get comfortable with being uncomfortable at the gym.  

Get a Trainer

We can’t all afford to dish out money for a regular trainer. But if you’re committing to a gym membership to stay in shape, purchase some insurance. Speak with the trainers available and see if they can provide you with a deal for a few sessions to show you how to properly use the equipment. You’ll not only mitigate your risk to injury but it’ll boost your confidence as you fly solo.

Go with a Friend

Doesn’t a blind date sound a little less stressful when it becomes a double blind date with a good friend? Anything new can be a bit easier when you have someone by your side. It’s fair to say that you probably have someone in your life that knows a thing or two about working out. So as you decide to start your fitness goals, try starting the journey with a friend.

Go off Peak Hours

This can be challenging, I know. But if you can find time to workout when the gym isn’t full of juice heads and cycling fanatics, you’ll benefit in more ways than one. First, you’ll maximize your time by not having to wait in line for the squat rack. Second, you’ll be able to familiarize yourself with the machines without feeling rushed or watched

No One Cares

This might seem harsh, but the world doesn’t revolve around you. People aren’t whispering and judging your technique. People hit the gym focusing on bettering themselves. They put their headphones in and leave their judgements at the door, focusing on their activity.