Gorilla Jack Clothing
Arliss Kurtz

Iron Will Award Candidate:
Arliss Kurtz


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Arliss' Submission:

My doctor muttered "uh oh" as he listened to my heart. He detected an irregular heartbeat. An ECG and having to wear a holter monitor for 24 hours followed. Around this time, a friend organized 12 non-running moms to train for a race. On our first run, the monitor was strapped underneath my jacket. At 40, I felt old, scared and out of shape. I was next referred to a heart surgeon.

Shortly after, a friend asked me to do a boot camp with her so she could get in shape for her wedding day. I attended my appointment with the surgeon and mentioned the boot camp. He would not agree for me to do it until he ran a stress test on me, but it would be months before I could get in. The bootcamp began next week! He told me to be at his office before it opened the next day.

The surgeon said my heartbeat evened when I was working hard and irregular when I was at rest. He told me to strengthen my heart with exercise and to "never stop moving."

I did that bootcamp and the running moms have since run many races. A year later, my doctor said I had corrected the condition with nutrition and exercise, but cautioned that if I stop, the irregularity will return.

I soon met a trainer who introduced me to the world of sports conditioning, weight training and eating clean. He brought me to a level of physical fitness I had never experienced before! I had also become fascinated by fitness competitions.

I didn't always have support from others. I am a "hard gainer." As I became lean and fit, rumours arose that I had an eating disorder. They were so far from the truth! I was devastated. I wanted to role model healthy living not be the subject of vicious gossip. Unfortunately, I also underwent dental surgery and orthodontics that made me look gaunt. I persisted and distanced myself from negative people.

In 2007, I joined the Body Awareness Dance Team despite having no dance background. At Novice that year, we danced in the intermission. What a rush! I decided then that I wanted to compete in fitness! I had also faced one of my biggest challenges - overcoming performance anxiety that I battled since childhood.

A month later, I raced in the Fort Whyte Eco Challenge. My team was racing well - until we hit a slope in the pavement during the rollerblading leg. I lost control and wiped out in a twisted lunge. I tried to get up but my left leg couldn't skate. I was unable to finish the race. I later learned I tore my hamstring and injured my hip flexor. Eight months of athletic therapy and physiotherapy followed.

Slowly, my training got back on track and eventually I was able to run again. I began gymnastics 3 years ago despite having no gymnastics background. Now, At 47 years of age, I will be competing in 2011 Novice Masters Fitness and Fitness Tall!


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