Barbara Arn has cultivated a career in personal training and fitness that is rooted in her personal wellness journey. In high school, Barbara (known as “Barbie” to her family and friends) was in a car accident that left her with painful back issues. To ensure she wouldn’t be afflicted with a bad back at just 17 years-old, she was told to make a significant shift towards a healthier physical, and mental, lifestyle.
For the physical, Barbara took up training with a local fitness coach and ex-CFL player who lived near her hometown in rural Ontario, and started seeing improvements in how she moved, and felt, in short order. For the mental, she turned to cannabis and meditation to help heal her mind and support her body. With a newly found passion for fitness and nutrition, she decided to pursue a career as a personal trainer, fueled by a genuine interest in helping others to feel their best.
People often come to the gym with the goal to lose weight or lift 300 pounds. But I prefer to help my clients get to a place where they can feel good, move well, and feel at home in the bodies they’re in. It’s about developing practices today that will serve our ageing bodies, tomorrow.
Training is an intersection of sciences: your body’s anatomy, but also psychology — understanding your motivations and behaviours. There’s a way the body is supposed to move, but there’s also a lot happening in the mind. I want to believe my work is about helping clients make a connection between the two.
Growing up, I was really insecure, and getting into fitness really helped me shift my perspective. I used to say no to everything. I didn’t want to go out with friends, even, and half of it was that I didn’t want to pick out an outfit — I felt uncomfortable in everything I was wearing, or how people might see me. I never wanted to try anything that I might be bad at, so I just said, “no.”
Now I’m so much more comfortable with myself and I realize that I’m not supposed to be good at everything. You can go dancing without being a dancer. You can sing at the top of your lungs, just for fun. Being comfortable in my body has allowed me to say yes to new things and be open to so much. Without that comfort, that starts with self-love, there is no play, there is no fun. ”
Anxiety runs in my family. From a very young age my mom and I both had a hard time sleeping. Because of my anxiety, I started therapy at 15 and the first thing I was told was to get more sleep, and then I was offered medication to help me sleep. As a nurse practitioner, my mom’s view is that once you’re on medication, you’re on medication. She didn’t want me to be reliant on sleeping pills as a teenager unless it was a last resort, so the attitude was “let’s try every other approach first.” That’s where cannabis first came into the picture for me. My nightly routine included a vaporizer or CBD tinctures, and it worked. With a better night’s rest, I experienced less anxiety during the day. Later, when I added working out, nightly journaling, and mediation, I found a recipe that was right for me for the long-term.
Now I’m so much more comfortable with myself and I realize that I’m not supposed to be good at everything. You can go dancing without being a dancer. You can sing at the top of your lungs, just for fun. Being comfortable in my body has allowed me to say yes to new things and be open to so much. Without that comfort, that starts with self-love, there is no play, there is no fun.
This is what I want for my clients, too. Training the body is also about training the mind. It’s about being happier and more confident, and taking small steps for really big, life-changing results.
I have a very open relationship with my clients, and I’ve always been honest and upfront about my relationship to cannabis, mostly because I don’t feel there’s anything to be ashamed of. There have been a few times where a client has expressed that they don’t agree with my choice, but I’ve never lost anyone because of it. Training can be a really vulnerable thing for people, so you have to build a relationship. If I expect someone to be honest with me, I will hold myself to that same standard. And I am trying to teach others about how our bodies and minds are connected when it comes to our health, so I practice what I preach. Cannabis means a good night’s sleep, and without sleep I couldn’t serve my clients with the amount of focus and energy I put into my work. I’m a high-functioning, intelligent, successful person, I am finally comfortable with myself and I love helping other people get to that place with themselves, too.
Each morning before you leave the house, and before bed, after a long day, take five minutes of “internal time.” This could mean meditation, breathing techniques, whatever. Just take 5 minutes without any external stimuli to ground within yourself. Sometimes the mornings can feel rushed but I have a very distinctive night routine I never stray from. I take my cbd. I make a pot of tea. While my tea is cooling I will check in with myself, and spend those few dedicated minutes to reflect on how I’m feeling.
You don’t necessarily have to commit to a whole work-out, but opening up the body in the morning is really important. When the body is stiff after sleeping, and we don’t ease ourselves into movement, this can signal stress and anxiety. Treat yourself to 3 minutes of stretching when you get out of bed. Any movement that opens the heart will work. Bring your arms over head, taking in some deep breaths from the ground. Try a few yoga flows, starting in a forward fold and moving into an overhead reach. You’ll feel more in control of your energy.
Journaling is an important part of my nighttime routine. It doesn’t need to be a novel — try writing down a couple points about how you felt, or what things affected you in the day. I like to write something that I was thankful for that day, because we so often under-appreciate all the things we have and focus on all the things we want instead. If your head is full with thoughts like, “I need to change my life,” or “My life sucks,” you’ll start to believe it after a while. Instead, try looking at the small luxuries you do have, that make your life so great: A good shower, a pet cat, an evening at home to watch tv. Journaling has helped me shift my attitude and be a happier person. Yes, I want to be better, but I’m ok right now, things are actually pretty good!