RYU's Featured Athlete
Working out. Eating well. Living mindfully. One thing I've learned is that the key to living a healthy life is to be in harmony with all of these different aspects. Listen to your body. If you're feeling stressed, anxious, or worried - the best thing I can recommend is to get yourself moving. Go for a walk, head to the gym, pull out your yoga mat. Take a deep breath and give your body what it needs. Focusing our attention in this way creates a shift in the way we are thinking, and as we know, our thoughts are what shape our reality.
My passion for health and fitness began when I was 16. I realized happiness and fulfillment in life all comes down to one thing - how we take care of ourselves. Our lifestyle impacts our lives not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. Growing up I struggled with my self-esteem, and the turning point for me was when I started on a journey of never ending self-improvement - my first day at the gym. As I started to strengthen my body, it turned into a desire to strengthen my mind as well. Both are connected, and both are tools we can consistently sharpen. Nobody is perfect, and there is always room to grow and to expand our awareness.
DISCOVERING MY PERSONAL GAME CHANGER
During my first few months at the gym 10 years ago I started off by only using the cardio equipment. It felt great - I was getting a good sweat and releasing endorphins, but I wasn't seeing the physical improvements that I really wanted to see. Then I was introduced to strength training. It was a game changer. My metabolism accelerated so I leaned out quite quickly, my clothing fit much better and life in general became more productive. It was a way to track physical progress, which in turn sparked a desire to improve other aspects of my life. I began to realize a strength within myself that I never knew existed.
LIVING IN THE FLOW OF LIFE
I experienced a shift in mindset. I went from comparing myself to my past, to realizing the importance of being present in each moment and living in the now. Every experience from the past, whether good or bad, is a lesson. There's nothing we can do to change the past, but we can learn from it and grow in the process. When you're in the midst of a challenging workout, there's that moment when you persevere and push through your challenge point - that state of mind follows us into our lives. It's a state of focused awareness, and the more we allow ourselves to live in that place, the more we allow ourselves to live in the flow of life.
NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE
A healthy lifestyle can transform your world. Realizing this first hand, I decided to become a certified personal trainer so that I could show as many people as possible a way of life that would bring them happiness beyond what they could imagine. I see health as living a life in balance. Through eating a nutritious diet, exercising, and living mindfully with regular meditation and yoga practice - you can achieve that balance. Our potential is limitless, and when we focus our attention on what we want and keep moving forward toward our goals no matter what - nothing is impossible!
Written by Leighla Claydon
About the athlete
Model, trainer, dancer, Leighla Claydon is passionate about helping people reach their full potential through developing the strength and discipline necessary to reach their goals.
Exploding out of the gates with my sled by my side, I sprint across the ice and land head first into the saddle that cradles my ribs and waist. In the same instant, I calm my heart to its slowest beat-pattern and navigate a frozen wonderland of twists and turns - all the while resisting gravitational forces of up to five times my body weight. No seatbelt. No brakes. And a dizzying speed up to 140km/hour. I keep ankles together and arms glued by my side. I may not wear a cape. But this is how I fly.
My name is Cassie Hawrysh, I was born and raised in Brandon, Manitoba and I’m most commonly known as a member of the Canadian National Team as a Skeleton Racer. That being said, there was once a time I was more commonly recognized on the volleyball courts and as a multi-disciplined athlete in the track and field world.
MY WORLD LOOKED NOTHING LIKE I THOUGHT
Almost eight years ago, I was a recent University of Regina graduate from the School of Journalism with a full-time job, challenging the 400m Hurdles across the country, and was fully convinced that I had all my ducks in a row. However sometimes when we get caught up standing really close to a point of time in our life we aren’t always aware the image is out of focus. In a random flash of reality - which I could have brushed aside as insecurity, worry or confusion - my heart spoke up. I allowed myself to step back, way back and see the bigger picture. In that moment, I discovered my world looked nothing like I thought.
Thankfully, with the support of my family and some patience with myself I was able to set out on a brand new journey - a journey that placed me right into the arms of Skeleton Racing.
Never be subject to the perceived power of “how things have always been done”. Find your true north and push past the default.
A BRIEF HISTORY
I was invited to do summer dry land training with some of the then Olympic-hopeful Skeleton Racers of the 2010 Olympic Games.
I learned the basics of Skeleton and was able to take my first runs from the top of the Canada Olympic Park track in Calgary not only surviving, but loving every single millisecond of it. And demanding I be allowed to go again.
I was able to be trackside in Whistler, BC as Russell, Manitoba’s Jon Montgomery won Men’s Skeleton GOLD during the Vancouver Winter Olympics. It was truly AMAZING! A moment of Maple Leaf pride that I can never truly describe - I think all of Canada felt like they were atop that podium with Jon that night!
During our annual team selection races, I earned my place on Canada’s World Cup team.
Was named at the Alternate sled for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia!
I continue to pursue my Olympic goals and I’m racing to be a member of the 2018 Winter Olympic Team, which will be held in PyeongChang, South Korea.
ANYTHING BUT A PERFECTLY EXECUTED PLAN
I’ll give you a moment to catch your breath; it’s a lot to take in. The truth is, some days I have a difficult time processing it all myself. And while that quick recap reads like a perfectly executed plan, I must admit the truth is: it has been anything but.
I have been and continue to be faced with hurdles every step of way. Both internal and external, some expected and others heart-breaking. As such, no matter where you are right now, no matter what dream you are chasing, or have yet to realize: I want to leave you with one thought: Never be subject to the perceived power of “how things have always been done”. Find your true north and push past the default.
I strive to live my #BeautifulTough every single day and you best believe, you can too.
Canadian Skeleton Racer