Dynamix Fitness: Lisa’s WorkStory

By Abigayle Walker, WorkStory Ambassador at University of Ottawa

Lisa Bergart owns her own personal training company called Dynamix Fitness. Her business provides professional in-home training for customers in the greater Toronto region. Saving busy customers a trek to their local gym, Lisa brings the experience to them. With customized workout plans that are tailored to each client’s fitness level and goals, Lisa is dedicated to helping her clients attain the results they desire. Lisa says that there is nothing better than seeing her clients reach their fitness goals and be who they have always wanted to be. Having over a decade of experience in the health and wellness industry, Lisa says she loves her job!

Typically, Lisa starts her day at the bright and early time of 6 AM in order  to meet her first clients. After her morning sessions, Lisa responds to email leads and client text messages. She also takes this time to post to the company website and social media pages. Throughout the rest of the day, she drives around the city and holds training sessions. Lisa says that each day is completely difference and depends on her clients’ schedules.

Lisa received her undergraduate degree at York University in Health and Social Science. She says her degree had provided her with a strong foundation in the health profession. In addition to her undergraduate education, Lisa also received a diploma at The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, becoming a registered holistic nutritionist. She also went on to attain her certification as a post-rehabilitation specialist. This allows her to offer conditioning programs for over 30 medical conditions. In addition, she is also certified as a post and pre natal exercise specialist. On top of all this, Lisa took Seneca College’s Social Media program, which helped enhance her marketing and promotion skills.

Why start her own business?  Lisa had worked at several different gyms across Toronto; the last one being a private training studio. There, she gained the knowledge to create safe and effective customized training, which she needed to start her own business. Lisa was given extra motivation when two of the gymnastic teams she had been coaching received bronze medals overseas, at the Maccabiah Games in the summer of 2013. In addition to being this thrilled by this, it gave her that much more confidence in her ability to train people to reach their fitness goals. 

Lisa says that the success of her business is due to her strong social media presence, as well as her strong community connections through and events with various organizations.  Lisa’s business was featured at the Toronto Women's Expo, Feel Good Women's Expo, Cancer Recovery Foundation of Canada, and The Thornhill, Vaughan, and Aurora Festivals. Although her success has been on an upward incline, Lisa says one of the biggest challenges with owning her own business is staying up-to-date with all the current health and fitness trends.

Lisa’s advice for other young entrepreneurs who want to start their own businesses? Create a business plan and have monthly goals that excite you. Specifically for those in the health and fitness field, Lisa stresses the importance of staying current with health and fitness trends on social media. Her closing words?  Follow your passions and priorities!

Burning Desire: Eric Fick the Firefighter

By Eric Fick as told to Brandon Pedersen, WorkStory Ambassador

Hello, my name is Eric Fick and I am from a little farm town called Bradford, Ontario  and this is the story about how I got to where I am today.

During the early stages of my life, my only wish in the world was to become a teacher. When you ask a 10 or 11 year old, “what would you like to be when you grow up?”, the response is usually: a hockey player, ballerina, astronaut, etc., but not me. As I grew older and matured into a high school student my dream was still there. Throughout grade nine and ten I was determined, and applied myself to my studies, achieving honours in academic courses. It came to my attention, though,  that it wasn't going to be easy going through university and teachers college. As my social life got the best of me for the last two years of high school, I had dropped from honours in academic courses to barely getting by in applied courses. Unfortunately, my lack of self-discipline resulted in me avoiding the university application process. I decided to take an alternative path and applied to Fanshawe College for electrical engineering. I have always been rather handy, so I figured I’d put that to good use. Luckily I was accepted, but did not last very long. I had once again let my social life take over.

After thousands of dollars were basically thrown down the drain, I decided to smarten up and take a more practical electrical course to become an electrician. I had finally been able to return to my former self and completed that course, but something was still missing. I was not happy with the career path that I had chosen. At this point in time I did not know what I was going to do with my life.

Then one day it came to me.

I always had an interest in the firefighting profession, but people had always told me it was too difficult to get into, especially in an era when fire departments are hiring more women and minorities. I had soon learned that, yes it is extremely competitive, but it is strictly the best man or women for the job that gets hired. This increased my desire – I’ve always loved a good competition.

I decided to apply to the Pre-Service Firefighting program at Seneca College. From day one I knew it was what I wanted  to pursue for as long as my body would allow me to. I worked for one year straight harder than I ever had in the past. I am happy to say that I graduated with honours and a GPA of 3.8. I had never achieved such good marks and feedback from my teachers before. It was extremely rewarding and helped me realise that this is truly what I was born to do.

It is commonly known that it can take years and a lot of money and volunteer hours to just get involved in the hiring process for any given fire department. The lengthy process includes a written test (with components such as reading compression, memory skills, math skills, and mechanical aptitude), a physical test (including eye sight, hearing, claustrophobia test, acrophobia test, strenuous endurance and strength test, swim test) on top of the entire interview process. Right from the moment I knew I wanted to be a firefighter I started practicing all on these skills.

I stayed focused and when an opportunity to become a volunteer firefighter arouse in the town of Bradford I obviously jumped on it. Not even half way through my Pre-Service Firefighter course,  I had been hired on the Bradford Fire Department as a paid part time employee.                       

As of January 27th 2015, I have responded to 47 emergency calls and counting. The job of a Firefighter is well respected and I love everything it has to offer. To me, there is no better pleasure in the world then to rush to the fire hall, jump on the fire apparatus, and head over to make the worst day of someone’s life better.  It has been a rollercoaster ride to get to where I am today, but it has all been worth it and it is only looking up from here. 

"Joshua Camacho Works with the Fishes"

By Vanessa Grillone, WorkStory Contributor
I have a big family, which makes room for many different people going after various different careers. My cousin Joshua Camacho is a year older than myself and has the most interesting job I’ve ever heard of. By title he’s a commercial diver and even though I tell people he’s an Underwater Welder, welding is just one of many things that he does underwater. On any given day he could be does an inspections, construction, welding/cutting, salvage or even cleaning intakes. He’s even recently worked for an aquaculture company farming salmon.What I find so interesting about this job is that it’s ALL UNDERWATER! How the heck does someone get into a job like this one? 

Well, in high school Josh enjoyed his manufacturing class, especially welding and working with tools to make things or take things apart. He assumed that welding was a trade and that he could make decent money. He later heard of underwater welding and thought that was the coolest thing ever and went for it. After high school he went to Seneca college in King City, Ontario. They  offer the Underwater Skills program, which is two semesters from September to June. Diving Physics, Diving Physiology, Welding (dry and underwater), and Small Engines were just some of the classes he took. They even had the opportunity to do some practical projects underwater in the lake on campus, and some deeper dives off of boats and barges in lakes Simcoe and Huron.

“We received a college diploma so we had to do the compulsory english and computer courses or whatever else buy my favourite part of the course was probably going up to Wiarton and setting up our work barge using cranes and winches. We used hot water suits and a decompression chamber during the work day along with pumps and generators that power everything. I received my unrestricted surface supplied air diver and restricted commercial diver certificates surface supplied air comes from large cylinders filled by approved compressors. You breathe this air with the help of diving helmets such as the kirby morgan and S.C.U.B.A. you carry all of your air cylinders on your body.” 

Within the last few years, Josh’s job has allowed him to travel for work, mostly within Canada. He loves that my job allows me to travel within the province, country, or world depending on what he wants to do, “I can stay inshore diving for commercial diving companies or go offshore and work for oil or drilling companies. Every day is different. It keeps life interesting. This week will be a diving operation in the spent fuel bays of a nuclear power plant, next week could be setting up fish farms in the Caribbean sea”. But traveling is the bitter-sweet part of the job.  It can be a curse or a gift. Josh, a laid back and hardworking individual, just goes with the flow. He figures that NOW is the best time for him to travel, he’s twenty-five and doesn’t have that many responsibilities, plus, he knows that it’s part of the job. 

Josh admits that the toughest thing about his career is having a girlfriend and just relationships in general outside of work. He’s constantly back and forth between jobs in Ontario, from Niagara to Windsor to Manitoulin Island, or out to Newfoundland for a month or more at a time. It takes a good deal of effort to try to plan anything and to stay in touch with friends and family.

Although it was difficult to get constant work at the beginning now, Josh is self-employed and has a number of contractors he can call for work. The industry does have some slow periods through the year here in Ontario so you have to plan around that. Thankfully he’s in a good position as far as being comfortable goes but would like to work offshore on a oil rig or station of some sort just to experience it.  

Joshua’s advice to anyone interested in being a Commercial Diver: 
I love what I do and you HAVE to love this kind of job. There are many things that you can do with a commercial diving ticket. Most commercial diving isn’t glamourous work, often you’ll find yourself in tight pipes, contaminated water, uncomfortable working conditions, but if you love the job and the traveling it isn’t so bad. You will have to work hard and if you are not willing to drop everything to go work then things will be even harder. Welding or another trade would be a great reliable alternative."

To Teach is to Nurture Passion

By Vanessa Grillone, WorkStory Contributor

 A great teacher can nurture their students’  passions and help them reach their full potential.

 At least that is what Katrina DiFeo – Early Childhood Educator –  believes. Katrina works in the Full Day Early Learning Kindergarten Program with Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board. I’ve known Katrina for many years and know that she has the patience, passion, and determination to turn a kindergarten classroom into a place where children can learn and grow.

Katrina’s journey began at a young age. From babysitting and helping out in classrooms, she knew that she wanted to be an educator. In Grade 12, she tried out a co-op program at an elementary school close to home. This gave her a chance to be in the classroom and gain some amazing experience. After high school she enrolled in a two-year diploma program in Early Childhood Education at Seneca College. Katrina enjoyed all classes and loved learning about the ways a child absorbs information. She enjoyed coming up with teaching plans and spent much of spare time researching new ways to get children involved in their lessons. After getting her diploma she applied to the school board, hoping for a full-time position. Katrina admits that it “can be difficult to get a job with the school board but if you’re passionate, dedicated, and patient your time will come”.  Many people have to start with supply teaching before they find a full-time position. The supply teaching phase is an important one because it allows you to network, to engage with students and faculty members, and to prove yourself.

 When asked about a day-in-the-life of Ms DiFeo, Katrina said it’s busy but fun.

“In order to be successful I need to be 100% attentive to the students. Keeping an open ear allows me to document the children’s conversations and interactions, then develop invitations for learning based on their interests. An invitation for learning can be as simple as a blank piece of paper and pencil or as much as random, loose materials from the outdoors. We are sure to bring clipboards, pencils and the camera everywhere we go! I have to be prepared and on point every minute of the day in order to cover every area of inquiry the students may have. It’s important to help guide the children by offering conversations with open-ended questions to help take the learning to a whole new level”.

Katrina loves the spontaneity of her job. There is a lot of planning involved, but she also leaves a lot of things up to her students. This gives them a chance to discover their passions and learn what is required. She enjoys seeing eagerness and excitement in her students. Their enthusiasm when they see a centre of interest makes her feel rewarded. Her goal is to see her students grow socially, emotionally, and cognitively during the school year.

Katrina has worked in a classroom for three years and hopes to work at the board level and be an itinerant for the full day kindergarten program. She would like the opportunity to visit a number of different schools and full day early learning classrooms and assist in the presentation of the classroom layout and program development. She wants to be able to share her ideas and for the program based on what she’s learned through the experiences in her own classroom. 

For all of those future teachers out there, Katrina says, “Be prepared for a lot of planning and even taking some work home with you. Remember that patience goes a long way. It’s important to be loving, open, and kind to all of your students. Be a good role model, be the kind of person you hope your students will grow into. And don’t forget to have a little fun. Learning is fun.”