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Community Involvement

Michelle Tanner, pictured, and Kelly Shelswell have been training hard in advance of the upcoming Run4RKids event set for Jan. 3 at York University. The event is a fundraiser for youth who live on the Pikangikum reserve. The local runners are hopeful people will pledge their support to help the people of Pikangikum.

A pair of Orillia athletes will be running to support kids to kick off 2015.

Michelle Tanner and Kelly Shelswell have been busy training to participate in the gruelling Run4RKids event Jan. 3 at York University’s Toronto Track and Field Centre. The annual run is a fundraiser organized by Addiction Free Youth to help raise awareness of and money for First Nations youth suffering in Pikangikum — a remote fly-in reserve on the Ontario/Manitoba border that made headlines in recent years when it was declared the suicide capital of the world.

“We just want to try to help this community,” said Tanner, a personal trainer. “These are kids who are following the same rituals as their mom and dad. There’s no employment, no hope … They live in difficult, harsh conditions that most Orillians can’t even imagine.”

And while Tanner recognizes suicide touches our community, in Pikangikum, she noted, “it’s an epidemic. Maybe if they knew other people in Ontario cared about them, it would make them feel better. We help people impacted overseas by tsunamis … but these people are right here in our province, in Canada.”

Tanner said the running community has rallied to host this year’s run, freeing up Addiction Free Youth to concentrate on helping the youth.

“The race founders almost pulled the plug this year because they’re so busy trying to help these communities, so they appealed to the ultra-running community, which is really a tight-knit group, that has answered the call,” said Tanner.

While it’s not too late to register to run, the event is not for the faint of heart. Athletes will run for six or eight hours or can choose distances of 30, 21.1 or 10 kilometres. The event will happen indoors at the York University track. Tanner has opted for the eight-hour run; Shelswell has chosen the six-hour marathon.

“You run non-stop around the track,” Tanner said, noting runners will change directions periodically. “My training for this has involved a lot of treadmill work to get used to the monotony … I know I will be really fried by the end.”

Tanner and Shelswell are no strangers to gruelling, lengthy runs; Shelswell has participated in the Oxfam 100-mile Trailwalker event and Tanner has run in a variety of ultra-running events — up to 100 kilometres in length.

“When you start an event like this, you need to know you are going to feel pain. You need to accept it, embrace it and continue with it,” said Tanner. “You don’t have room for doubt.”
Tanner said the feeling of elation that comes with completing the race, coupled with setting a good example for her three children, drives her to the finish line.
“The finish line keeps me going — that and my kids,” said Tanner, a trim, fit runner who once tipped the scales at more than 350 pounds. “My kids went off to camp this year and my daughter had great pride to stand up and tell people that her mom had just finished a 100-kilometre race.

“It takes away limitations for my kids, their friends … It makes them realize if this 350-pound chick managed to do this, why can’t they?” she said. “We all have a choice … I have a reason to get up; my reason is to run, to empower other people to make a change in their life.”

It’s why she became a personal fitness trainer.

“I had one woman who took classes with me … Now, not only she runs, but every single one of her grandkids runs and now her children run,” Tanner said with pride. “It impacts a whole family long-term. Maybe if she didn’t start, her grandson, who went to provincials this year, wouldn’t have started. Maybe he wouldn’t have realized his potential … One person can make a big impact.”

And pushing yourself, testing your body’s limits is enlightening, said Tanner, who often begins her training sessions — running to Barrie and back — at 4 a.m.

“When you push yourself, you find out what you are made of,” she said. “If you can do this, what else can you do? If I can do this, who else can I help?”

You can help — without running. The local duo is hopeful people will pledge financial support. To do so, visit and, under the “register” tab, you can support the local athletes.

“For anyone who donates more than $20, I will offer four free personal training sessions,” said Tanner, who runs classes at her studio and through the city’s parks, recreation and culture programs. “Our goal is to make people more aware of the sport of ultra-running and to help this community.”


INDEPENDENT TRAINING SERVICES- would like to thank all of the clients involved in the “LOSE TO DONATE” challenge that was held in December 2007. Since I.T.S Grand opening in September clients were given the goal to donate 1 non perishable food item for every pound lost. Through this challenge clients donated approximately a hundred pounds of food to the local food bank. “The goal was to allow clients the visualization tool to perceive their achievement and to feel good about helping our community, a win- win for everyone!” said Michelle Tanner I.T.S personal trainer

Top Stories

Column 3 -Orillia Packet and Times

By Michelle Tanner

“The Fitness Honeymoon”

Many area residents and visitors could not have planned a better day to enjoy the annual renewal of one young Canadian’s dream created 30 years ago. Kudos to the participants and dedicated volunteers on another great Terry Fox Run -- your diligent fund-raising efforts take us that much closer to finding a cure or better treatments for all types of cancer.

 In this space, I have tried to encourage you to become involved in the Terry Fox Run and to use the opportunity to enhance your fitness. Now that the event is over, ‘what’s next?’  Now that you’ve decided to become more active on a daily basis, a little creativity may help you stay motivated as the daylight hours get shorter and the crisp fall air moves in. Here are a few tips my clients find helpful to continue striving for optimal health and fitness.

·         Plan and Schedule Your Workouts -Be Flexible When Scheduling Workouts - If you haven’t had enough rest the night before a planned, early morning workout, adjust your schedule to allow your body more time to get moving. Or, adjust your workout time. You’ll be able to find the energy you need to successfully engage in activity.

·         Get Outdoors – Sometimes when your mind is in a rut, this may be hard to do, especially if you are a regular gym user. Nothing will pick you up more in late fall as hiking, biking, running, or walking outdoors.

·         Turn The Lights On – If you work out at home, and are used to working out between 5 and 6 a.m. or 7 and 9 p.m., make your surroundings brighter. Light can help awaken your body and keep your energy level high.

·         Vary Your Workouts – Walking or running the same distance or course every day can become boring.  Keep your routines interesting and fresh by taking a new route or trying a new class.  By varying your workout, you’ll activate your mind and challenge your body.

·         Be Creative – Run while your children bike. Rake leaves. Walk to appointments. The options are endless. Also, find “non- workout” activities that can be enjoyable, cause your heart rate to increase and pump your blood.

·         Find A Partner – Having someone relying on your presence and your commitment will motivate both of you.

·         Find Workout-Related Rewards – Massages, pedicures, new fitness books, new socks or shoes, and music are all great choices to - - but stir clear of food related rewards ---unless it is a healthy choice.

·         Set Goals – Terry Fox used every road sign and fence post as interim goals during his Marathon of Hope. It works! Short- and long-term goals will provide focus. Set realistic, SMART goals that you can achieve, such as (short term) exercising three times a week in order to lose, say, 25-lbs (a long term goal). By setting achievable goals, your mind will allow you to keep pushing to your fitness goal.

·         Use Upbeat Music - Good tunes will get your mind pumped and your body energized.

·         Imagine – How do you want to feel or look?  I love the feeling after I have just finished my workout.  The sense of accomplishment is so empowering and can keep you motivated on days when you’d rather throw in the towel.

 By trying these creative ideas or sticking with ones that have worked before, you will be well on your way to a healthy, active lifestyle and ready for next year’s Terry Fox Run…September 18, 2011. Keep on trekking!


Michelle Tanner is a Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor who owns Independent Training Services. Learn more about Michelle and I.T.S at or call (705)326-8015.

Articles Published about I.T.S & Community Involvement

  • January 2015- On The Run- Orillia Packet & Times
  • July 2007, Tanner the Trainer wants to get Orillia Moving. Orillia Packet and Times.- People- community businesses.
  • Keep a look out for an article to appear in the month of January in the Packet and Times in regards to I.T.S food drive.
  • Barrie Osprey- Tanner the Trainer gets community moving- community businesses.
  • Orillia Today- Mike Dodd- People.
  • February 15 2008 - Packet & Times - Loose to Donate Challenge
  • September 2008- Terry Fox Run - Fitness Instructor for walk/ run
  • September 2009- Terry Fox Run - Fitness Instructor for walk/ run
  • September 2010- Terry Fox Run - Fitness Instructor for walk/ run
  • September 2010- Preparing for Community Events
  • September 2010-
  • September 2010- The Fitness Honeymoon- Orillia Packet & Times- Article
  • October 2010- The Fitness Guide for Gardeners
  • September 2011- Terry Fox Run - Fitness Instructor for walk/run warm-up.
  • April 22 2012- I.T.S Sponsors Unity Spring Thaw- Barrie ON
  • September 2012- Terry Fox Run- Fitness Instructor for walk/run warm-up.
  • September 2013- Terry Fox Run- Fitness Instructor For Walk/Run Warm-up.
  • January 2014.- Sponsored Athlete for Running Free