FitSpirit Celebrations | Sport without pressure, without judgment and without competition

“The mandate, today, is only one and that is to have fun! A facilitator of the FitSpirit program launches at the microphone as the teens begin to arrive by the hundreds at Maisonneuve Park, in Montreal.

Posted at 16:40

Katherine Harvey Pinard

Katherine Harvey Pinard
The press

Tuesday morning is FitSpirit’s holiday. More than 2,000 teenage girls aged 12 to 17, from dozens of schools, are expected to attend this event, which will mark the year of the organization. A first in three years – thank you, pandemic.

The aim of this meeting is, in line with the mission of the program, to offer teenage girls the opportunity to exercise with friends in a festive atmosphere, without pressure, without judgment and without competition.

“Our message is that we all have a sport that sticks to our skin, explains to The press FitSpirit founder Claudine Labelle. You just have to find it! That is our mandate. It’s to say, “You’re going to trip. If there are barriers that prevent you from doing so, we will remove them.” †

Throughout the park, representatives of different sports federations or organizations welcome young women to let them try a sport: ultimate frisbee, football, ringette, rugby, judo, handball, boxing, volleyball, para sports… There is something for everyone whatever you want .

At the end of the field, five girls experience yoga and try – in vain – to balance on one leg. Just down the road, four others are laughing heartily as they try bocce.

“I like it a lot that all girls, we can come and work out together! says Ariane, a 13-year-old triathlete and freestyle skier who took advantage of the day to box.

Sports bring me happiness. When I’m stressed, it helps me to exercise.

Ariane, triathlete and freestyle skier

“According to the statistics, nine out of ten girls do not exercise,” recalls Alain Taillefer, president of Québec’s École de pétanque. If you can make them have fun, even if it’s not a lot of physical exertion, there are still benefits [à la pétanque]† There is the motor, sensory, social and intellectual side. †

Invested Godmothers

At around 10am, everyone gathers in front of the large stage set up for the occasion, where a group warm-up is scheduled. The thousands of young women do not need to be prayed for to participate.

At 10:50 am the groups arrive in waves in front of an inflatable arch to set out for a 5 km. Two distinguished guests are there to cheer them on: freestyle skier Justine Dufour-Lapointe and professional dancer and choreographer Kim Gingras, both FitSpirit meters.


PHOTOGRAPH ROBERT SKINNER, THE PRESS

Professional dancer Kim Gingras and freestyle skier Justine Dufour-Lapointe, sponsors of FitSpirit

“The goal is to motivate each other between girls and to have nice, to do a sporting activity, to exercise outside. And may this activity be a beautiful memory and may the girls keep these beautiful living habits throughout their journey and throughout their lives,” says Dufour-Lapointe, who is in her third year as a sponsor of the program together with her two sisters. Maxime and Chloe.

“That’s FitSpirit,” she continues. It’s as simple as that, but events like this are needed to give young people experiences, to give them the chance to move in a beautiful context, where they are not judged and where there is no competition. […] They don’t have to be Olympic champions, they just have to have the taste. †

Kim Gingras, for her part, has only been a sponsor of the organization for a few months. The one who danced for big stars like Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake offered virtual conferences with schools registered in the Fillactive program during the pandemic.

“I think you should stay curious. For that I invite young people. [Quand j’étais jeune], I did some karate, badminton, running, gymnastics. It was when I came across dancing that I thought, “Wow, that’s what calls me.” †

Birthday

FitSpirit is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. The program has come a long way since it was founded in 2007 by Claudine Labelle. There are now as many as 230 schools and 6,250 teenage girls enrolled.

“I had envisioned something big for FitSpirit, but that big? So powerful? I do not believe. We often minimize the impact we can have on people’s lives. I have seen lives changed. Girls who grew up in FitSpirit, who come back to me and say, “Lucky I came across FitSpirit. Now I want to move and I do that with my gang.” †


PHOTOGRAPH ROBERT SKINNER, THE PRESS

FitSpirit Celebrations at Parc Maisonneuve, Montreal

Her team made sure she was there for the young girls during the pandemic, including offering virtual training sessions.

“There were young people who were sinking and it was important to hang them,” she said. It was very difficult to find the magic recipe in such complex circumstances. But I think we succeeded, honestly. †

FitSpirit meetings are planned in the coming days in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Rimouski, Sainte-Gertrude-Manneville and Port-Cartier.