Whipping You Into Shape: Interview with Health Columnist Mike Dietrich

Canadians are falling into worse and worse shape, and in most cases, there is no excuse. Those are strong words, and for some, they strike a nerve. This week, we’re very excited to do our part in creating a healthier readership, through the addition of our new health columnist, Michael Dietrich. Every Friday, Mike will bring you his thoughts on what it takes to lead a lifestyle built around fitness. And he’s the perfect guy to do it. Growing up, Mike starred on the national soccer scene, taking Southwest United to a nationals gold. He’s since founded fitMD, one of the fastest-rising personal training businesses in Alberta.

With introductions out of the way, here’s a quick interview with our health columnist. Take a look and come back on Friday for his first piece.

 1. Not too long ago, you founded fitMD, and it’s really taken off from there? Tell me more about the business, and some of the things that you’ve been doing with it.

A little over a year ago fitMD was founded in Vernon, BC. We started off in Vernon with one-on-one personal training, online program design, nutrition counseling and bootcamps. Bootcamps are what really took off for us. It was amazing: noon, 30+ degree weather, not a cloud in the sky, running large bootcamps on the Kalamalka Beach. Although things were great out there, it wasn’t home. Our online programs had really caught on and we found that most of our clientele was based back home in Edmonton. We made the move back home and here we are to stay.

Now that we are home, we are based out of all City of Edmonton locations; however, we most frequently train out of Kinsmen Sports Center focusing on one-on-one and small group training. We specialize in weight loss and aesthetic body transformations, but also work with top level athletes and competitors looking for that extra push. I do hands-on work with many clients, but not everyone’s schedule matches up and not everyone is nearby, so I continue to offer my individualized program design and nutrition counseling. I do this by working via e-mail, Skype and over-the-phone tracking, checking in with client progress. This has been a huge success, holding my clients accountable and on track to accomplish their specific goals. That’s currently our main focus and what we do.

2. Before heading to Vernon, you were a pretty avid sportsman in Edmonton. What sports did you play, and what were some of the major highlights?

Growing up from as far as I can remember, I played soccer and continued to do so until several knee injuries got the best of me at nineteen years old. Some of the major highlights of my career would have to be winning gold at nationals with my Southwest United boys in 2008. My scholarship offers to various schools throughout the United States were a huge reward to me. Another major highlight that comes to mind was getting the call up to play for the Edmonton Drillers indoor professional team along side my childhood heroes, where we went on to win the league. Perhaps the best decision I made in my soccer career was to take my scholarship for soccer here in Edmonton with the NAIT Ooks where I enrolled in the Personal Fitness Trainer program, which got me to where I am today. I could go on forever about highlights of my career but those are some that come to mind.

3. It seems that our country is falling to worse and worse levels of health. What are your thoughts about this?

I am really glad you asked that. Our country, along with many others, is falling so deep into the hole with health-related issues, due to a lack of physical activity. It is frightening. It is most frightening to me for one reason, and that is because it is all so preventable.  People are becoming increasingly sedentary with everything needing to be convenient and make life easier. You don’t need to go into the bank; you drive through. Go grab your morning coffee… Might as well drive through. Watching a movie this evening? No need to travel, just surf through Netflix on the couch. All these little conveniences are taking away the little physical activity sedentary people had already, which is accelerating the problem faster than ever. This would be a dream come true for me and other health professionals in the fitness industry, but imagine if the government focused on preventative care and subsidized a portion of a health service rather than wait for people to become sick to treat them. Oh to dream… I could go on and on but in short, obesity is an epidemic and no one is to blame (on most occasions) but the people themselves. There is no true secret to weight loss. Eat less, move more. A little discipline goes a long way. Society today is definitely setting us up for failure but it’s up to us as individuals to win the battle.

4. What would you say to someone that is looking to be more active, but doesn’t really have a significant sports background?

I work with so many general fitness clients and absolutely love it! I thought I wanted to work primarily with athletes, but general fitness is where it is at for me. For someone with no background in sports, I would definitely find an activity that they enjoy and get after it! Do not do something that you don’t enjoy. This might take a little trial and error but try everything. Bike, run, swim, walk stairs, go to the gym, try signing up for a sports team. No matter what you will see the best results if you enjoy what you are taking part in. I would also recommend finding a friend to go with, someone that will hold you accountable, keep things fun and help to push each other. Lastly, someone with very little background in sports is in a great position to work with a trainer. This will help them learn good habits, be held accountable and take the confusing guesswork out of training so you can reach your goals faster!

5. Do you have any favourite sports teams?

This is crazy actually. I take a lot of heat for this. I would not say I have a favorite sports team. I actually hardly watch sports at all. I would rather be doing than watching. In saying that however, I have tremendous appreciation and respect for all sports and the athletes that play them. From endurance to strength, from skill to speed, all sports and athletes that play them are incredible and unique in their own way. And I think it is absolutely incredible to see that diversity. And umm… Go Oilers?

6. Who are some of your role-models in life?

Without even having to think it is 100% my parents. My mom Angie and my dad Gord have been supportive of anything and everything I have ever done. They have truly made me everything I am today, without them I would not be where I am. Everything I have ever accomplished has never been a solo effort, I have a huge support system that has been there for me at my worst and at my best, never losing faith in me. I know to this day that I never need to stress or worry about anything, because I have such an amazing family that has my back through thick and thin. And remember for them, that the support goes both ways!

Cover photograph courtesy of Skye Oleson-Cormack.

Related posts: