Member Spotlights

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Although I am not the fastest or strongest by far, I am certainly willing to put in the effort. 

Cristina McDonagh 
Member Since – January 2016

My journey started at Repsol in January of 2016 and I was 226 lbs.  What brought me to Repsol is unusual.  I was out of town, in my hotel room, flicking through channels when I came across a broadcast of the Kona Ironman event.  I was in awe of regular people who were crossing the finish line after a 17-hour race!  I watched the whole thing and when it was over I was inspired.  I wondered if maybe I could do something like that one day.  Even half the distance would be an amazing goal.  It was such a crazy idea, but what if I could?  During the summer of 2015 I decided to try a tri-it, and sprint distance triathlon.  With how physically difficult at the time these distances were to me, I just could not imagine how I could finish a longer distance.  I felt slow and out of shape.  I decided to make a change, and as a New Year’s resolution I joined the gym.  

With my new goal, I entered my new gym with new anxiety.  I had no idea what to do with myself!  So at that moment I decided to keep my goal a secret for now.  I decided that I had to start somewhere.  I perused the gym website and found a listing of different group exercise classes.  I thought, why don’t I try one of these cycle classes?  It might get my legs moving again.  I signed up for my first cycle lights class and I loved it.  I was hooked.  I started going to a few more classes, and by the summer, I was taking more cycle lights classes, running on the treadmills, and cycling on the machines.  It allowed me to be in better shape to train outside during the summer.  When the fall came I realized that I had lost about 10 lbs.  My body felt stronger, and I thought that if I really put the effort in, I just might be able to reach that crazy goal I thought of long ago….Without anyone else knowing, I booked my Ironman 70.3 for the next year.  In that moment I decided to commit to an even bigger change.  No matter how slow, and no matter how ugly, I was going to do it somehow.  After a long negotiation with my body and my fridge, I concluded that I had to spend more time at the gym and eat right.  I decided to change to a plant based diet, and after some helpful tips from the gym’s nutritionist, I felt like I was on the right track.  Most, if not all the free time I had was devoted to going to the gym to train myself, swimming laps in the pool, and of course going to those cycle lights classes.  

By the spring of 2017 I was feeling much stronger.  I decided to sign up for a few shorter distance triathlons just before my Ironman 70.3 (which was still a secret to most) to see how my self training was going.  I found myself joining a 30-day cycle/yoga challenge at the gym.  At this point I had not tried a yoga class, and so I did.  Yoga classes felt amazing!  My tight muscles were getting what they sorely needed.  During the challenge I tried every type of yoga class.  With all the of classes I was joining, and the training I was doing on my own at the gym, I found that I was never bored.  On top of that, I was now 50 lbs lighter.  The icing on the cake was finding out that I won 2nd prize in the challenge!  Enclosed in the prize package was a gift certificate which allowed me to pick up my first tri suit.  I was looking forward to what could happen next.

I started June 2017 off with a sprint distance.  I finished it and it felt good!  I felt confident coming into my next race which was an Olympic distance.  It would be my first open water triathlon.  I thought that an open water swim should be just like a pool swim sans the walls, right?  I was wrong.  I panicked, and I was the very last person to finish the swim…the very last one.  I was crushed.  I felt discouraged, and embarrassed.  You name it, I felt it all at once.  I got out of the water though, and I finished the race.  I was one of the last ones to cross the finish line, but it was important to me that I did not bail out.  I had to finish it.  My new found anxiety pushed me to seek swim coaching for the first time only weeks before my Ironman 70.3.  I was contemplating on not showing up for my big race.  My feelings of discouragement quickly morphed into blazing fear.  Over those few weeks I learned that swimming with a group, and being coached was an excellent way to get over my fear.  However, to be honest with whomever is reading this, I was still too terrified to tell anyone that I was just about to participate in an Ironman 70.3.  I mean, what if I chickened out?

July 23rd, 2017.  I came dressed to run a race, and to accomplish my goal.  I finished an Ironman 70.3 that day.  I finished MY race.  My secret goal became a reality.  It was one of the most terrifying days of my life as it was also one of the most amazing.

As of this November of 2017, I am now 64 lbs lighter, and my goal is to finish a longer distance triathlon next year.  The Repsol Sport Centre has been an integral part in reaching my goal this year.  I am now ready to commit to an even bigger change.  I have just recently joined the 3433 Triathlon Club as I feel that training with other like-minded people, and coaches, will help me achieve greater things.  Although I am not the fastest or strongest by far, I am certainly willing to put in the effort.  I may feel intimidated, but I have a goal I want to reach, and no matter how slow or ugly, I’m going to do it somehow.  

On days I want to try something new I feel that I am never without an option.  I have recently tried boxing bootcamp, and adrenaline, and I love it.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who has felt intimidated at the gym, and to them I’d say to keep at it even when things are not going right.  Failing is normal.  Mistakes are normal.  Change takes time, but it will happen.  No matter how slow this process may be for me, I know I have the capacity to overcome what lies ahead.  But of course, all of this is just a secret between you and me.

I am often asked what I am training for and the answer is always the same – life. 

Michelle Dagenais 
Member Since – November 2011

Growing up I was always very active. Track, boxing and baseball kept me busy during my school years.  However, after graduation, the level of athletic competitiveness declined, and I struggled to find what I needed as an adult.  I tried different gyms and trendy activities, but never did find the right fit until I found Repsol Sport Centre. That was over ten years ago. 

Repsol Sport Centre is a world class facility where athletes go to train and this energy, with a few other things, are what keep me coming back year after year.  It is common to see Olympic athletes training in the gym, competitive swim meets and high school students racing on the track.  It is a facility that attracts world-class athletes AND everyday people working hard to be better than they were yesterday.  Seeing people push themselves inspires me to train harder and be better!  

I am often asked what I am training for and the answer is always the same, life.  I train because it makes me happy.  Every morning I get a choice.  A choice to sleep in or a choice to work out and feel good.  I chose the latter. I feel very blessed to have my health and want to take advantage of it as long as I can because one day it may not be a choice. I rarely follow a program.  I prefer to listen to my body and energy levels.  Getting a good sweat is what makes me feel accomplished in my workout, and so I am often integrating plyometrics into my routine to keep my heart rate up.  Some days are better than others, but I always try to jump higher, run faster or lift heavier than the last day.  It doesn’t always work out that way, but as long as I show up, even if it is just for a stretch, I feel better for it.

Training is a mindset, a belief, a lifestyle. It is my choice.


What motivated me was the want of change. If I can do it, you can do it too! 

Masoud Foroozan 
Member Since – November 2007

Being 189lbs with height of 157cm at the age of 53 in Feb 2015, I wanted a change but didn’t know exactly what kind of change, I just needed a change.

I joined gym and a month later a friend mentioned that he was joining a 10K marathon. I also signed up, even though 10K seemed to be out of reach, I started exercising every chance I could. Despite this, my weight didn’t come down much as I expected so I learned to watch my calorie intake and diet. Slowly my weight came down. On marathon day, I was able to finish and felt as though I still had energy to burn. I continued my training and ran the Kelowna Marathon, which I finished. I felt that every penny I spent was worth it and the feeling of achieving this goal was incredible. 

When I told one of my good friends he suggested I try IRONMAN. I wasn’t quite sure what this was and he explained that it is a triathlon with longer distances. I didn’t think too much of this at the time so I stuck to running marathons. 

It seemed that every time I completed a marathon, they became easier and I was seeing better results. I was so excited from the energy and the joy of athletics that I registered for the Whistler 2016 full IRONMAN not knowing how to front crawl swim and not even owning a triathlon bike. I booked a hotel and started training for the IRONMAN at Repsol Sport Centre, focusing on my front crawl. It was difficult and stressful learning the front crawl, knowing the race was only 2 months away and that I had to swim a distance of 3.8km. I practiced swimming up to three hours every day. It was so tough that some nights I could not move my neck because it was so sore. One of my friends told me that I must practice in open water; it was another challenge for me. I found a group of swimmers using a lake community to practice, joining them made practice a lot easier and more fun. It was nice to meet some like-minded individuals as well. One month before the IRONMAN my bike arrived. I only rode my bike twice from a distance of 50 to 70km. To IRONMAN standard I was not ready but in my mind, I was.

When the IRONMAN started with the swimming portion, I finished it in 1hour and 37minutes. During the biking portion, I fell and still had around 13km left to finish but was not allowed to continue the bike race because of race rules. I had to forfeit the race, I felt so disappointed. The very next day I registered for IRONMAN 2017. I continued to practiced and trained with all of the free time I had. 

Finally, in July 2017 I participated in my second IRONMAN. Although it was windy that day I continued with lot of energy and focus and when I crossed the finish line I felt on top of the world. 

What motivated me was the want of change. Sometimes we want change but we don’t know what. We should try everything that comes our way. The answer sometimes lies in being committed and loyal to what you pursue and these consistencies bring happiness. What has worked for me is exercise, training, participating in organized races and a good diet. When you want to change, you should change your thoughts, your approaches and your what you put into your body. Surrounding myself with a positive atmosphere, conversations, movies, books and people was also part of the change.

My advice: Your body is the instrument to enjoy and make your life flourish. You should take care of it spiritually, mentally and physically. These three can lead to a well-balanced life. Get inspired and inspire. If I can do it, you can do it too! 

Repsol Sport Centre

2225 MacLeod Trail South,
Calgary, Alberta
   T2G 5B6

Hours of Operation

Monday to Friday: 5:00am to 11:00pm
Saturday: 6:00am to 10:00pm
Sunday: 7:00am to 10:00pm
Holidays: 7:00am to 8:00pm

There are no Group Fitness or Registered
Classes on statutory holidays.

Closed on December 25th

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