Brain Hacking to Move Better: Coach Patricia & Balance Program Fitness

Using the Brain to Fix the Body

We partnered with Patricia Careau, owner of L.E.A.P High Performance School of Fitness to facilitate the movement requirements of our Balance Program. It is Patricia’s unique approach to physical fitness that make her a natural fit for our holistic wellness programming.

Patricia Careau is a native of Quebec City, who found her way to the Ottawa Valley through her Canadian Armed Forces career. Upon the conclusion of her military career Patricia was called into the mental health field and became a Social Worker. However, it was the work she was doing through coaching the Petawawa Predators Swim Team that changed her focus to fitness.

An elite athlete herself, Patricia realized she was able to connect with her clients and their mental health through fitness. In 2010, the L.E.A.P High Performance School of Fitness was established. They originally specialized in Crossfit and Spin (Stationary biking) sessions, however once she really started paying attention to the movement of her clients, she noticed something was missing. She thought there had to be more to movement than just putting in “the reps”. The challenge became not only the workload, but also the quality of the movements to result in improving performance.

Neuro Science to the rescue

Currently she is a student of Z Health, an 11 leveled program that focuses on the Neurology(Science of the Brain) of Movement. By assisting her clients to improve access to their sensory (vision, touch etc) systems, it resulted in a different output. She changed the way she addresses movement restrictions by attending to the information the brain receives (input).

They started moving better, performance increased, experienced less pain and demonstrated a decreased fear in performing specific movements. So what does that mean? With traditional fitness regimes the focus tends to be on practicing a specific movement in order to increase repetitions and load. Whereas, at L.E.A.P clients are assessed to determine where movement restrictions occur and how to change the neurological (brain) input to correct that. For example, a joint locked in the foot may prevent a client from accessing the full range of motion in a squat, thus the foot is addressed first.

What to expect at L.E.A.P

Every potential client receives a free consult to determine if this centre is the right fit.  Patricia’s priority of service is address the pain first, old injuries and then optimizing movement. This is achieved through one-on-one coaching or small group fitness sessions. To compliment the movement, clients are also exposed to spinning classes. A cyclist herself, Patricia values the low impact advantages of spinning and the longevity this activity can have on the body. It is as close to riding a bike as possible. She incorporates visualization (picturing something) so clients can experience their own potential and recognizing that being an athlete is not just a look, but also a mindset. She takes her clients on scripted rides to Mount Washington, on the Tour de France, and even the Olympics in Rio.

Movement and the Balance Program

The Balance Program is a great program to test and apply the theories and skills of Patricia’s training. This group demographic presents various and often serious health conditions in addition to diverse attitudes towards fitness. At first, they are generally not open to or are afraid to start a movement regime because of past experiences with the fitness industry. Once they are exposed to the neuroscience approach to movement it opens up more options and skills for the participants to include into their own lives. Clients are able to engage in activities they have not been able to like playing with their grandchildren, standing to do weekly meal preparation or walking their dogs. The participants become movement people rather than gym people.

New Location New Services

L.E.A.P is expanding as the demand grows in our community. In addition to the current services they will be adding restorative and neuros yoga, targeting new and seasoned yogi’s who are looking to improve their practices, in addition to Thai Chi. They will also be adding kid sessions. Starting this summer, Ali Sylvestre, a kinesiology student at the University of Calgary, specializing in Children’s Physical Literacy and Patricia’s apprentice, will be coordinating children’s movement sessions from ages 3 to 14. These camps will all be taught through the lens of neuroscience.  Once settled into their new location L.E.A.P. will host an open house event, look for info on our Facebook Page for details.