Maureen ‘Mo’ Hagan is the Vice President of Program, Innovation and Fitness Development with Goodlife Fitness. Hailing from Oakville, Mo has had a life long love affair with fitness and built herself a career where she can not only encourage others to live a healthier more fit life, but she can also be an agent for healthy change in the community.
How did your athletic career begin?
I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s in Oakville and all fitness was sport based, so if you wanted to go out there and move, you had to be on a team. I was a very hyperactive kid; I loved movement and my mom put me in every type of lesson known to woman because she thought I was going to hurt myself by making my own balance beam in the back yard or try to teach myself other moves in the basement.
I was not a natural athlete and my Phys-Ed teacher, Mrs. Armstrong, told me that if I wanted to be successful and make a team, I had to work hard and had to get stronger. She taught me exercise and taught me how to run and she taught me to do push-ups and how to get a stronger core. She taught me to do whatever it took to make the team. I didn’t make a lot of teams and I tried out for many, but what I learned was the value of fitness. In my graduating year, I said that I wanted to teach people how to exercise . I had thought that meant teaching Phys-Ed, but I didn’t want to teach Phys-Ed, I wanted to teach fitness and health. I grew up in a health care family and I created my own career path and helped to shape the fitness industry.
I graduated from Western taking what is now called Kinesiology and went on to become a physical therapist, which taught me how to create exercise programs. I was very blessed to be introduced to Goodlife Fitness back in 1984 and I have worked there ever since.
I didn’t exercise because of health. I didn’t need to lose weight. I exercised because I needed to put my energy somewhere effective and it made me feel happier when I was moving. I knew it was a way to channel my energy into wellness and it turned into a career quite by accident.
What Adversity Have You Had To Overcome?
First of all, I was told, right from day 1, as a pre-mature twin that I was going to be sick, frail and would need to be taken care of. I was a late walker, I had to have rehabilitation as a little kid to help me start walking. I was very injury and accident prone, so I was always in rehab. I had a body type that wasn’t naturally strong, so until I found a sport that worked for me, which was long distance running, I was told no, a lot. As a young woman, wanting to fit in with your friends, and wanting to be popular, if you weren’t on a team, you were rejected.
But really, it was being told no. Right up to being told that I couldn’t have the career that I desired. While I went in multiple directions because of that rejection, I decided I’d create my own path. I had to work hard for things, which, although it created adversity, it taught me a lot about leadership, which I use all the time in my career.
How has fitness changed your life?
It changed the whole trajectory of my career. I worked in critical care and while I still do love it, working in that end of the health care spectrum was really taxing on my mindset, because people were very laisse-faire about their health and I struggled with that, because they thought that health care was there to fix them. I love working in this end of the industry I’m in now because it’s where people are trying to fix their own health. They walk through our doors because they want to make a change in their life and I love that. So it really has changed my entire life.
I’m very blessed to have fallen in love with fitness while I was a kid and kept that passion and now I get to work with that every day.
I get to help re-define what it means for men and women to age because age is just a number and aging is an attitude. I’m helping to preach that message so that future generations who get to their 40’s and 50’s aren’t told their getting older, their being told that their getting better. The best part of your life is your second half, because you have the wisdom to know how to live that second half right.
How often do you work out and for how long?
I work out 6 – 7 days a week because it keeps my head on straight and if I don’t exercise it feels like I’m missing something. It sets up my peak attitude, my focus and my brain clarity. Even when I travel, I turn a walk through the airport into a work out. I never take escalators or walking paths.
On average it’s 30-40 minutes at a time, because of the time crunch. If they’re shorter work outs I make them harder and if I have more time, they are moderate to intense or sustained. I work out with a personal trainer once a week. I love my personal trainer because he holds me accountable. I eat better because I want to have results, and I want to be accountable for my results.
So usually I do 3 strength training work outs and 3-4 cardio/strength training work outs per week.
What is your #1 fitness tip?
Consistency is the key, especially if you are getting on in years. It’s not how much you do it’s how consistently you do it.
People go in and start to hard, get sore or injured and then they never come back. Focus on technique and form. Respect your body for how it feels. And then build up. Be consistent and stay at it, because that’s how you get results.
How important is the mind body connection?
The mind body connection is the key. We used to believe that it was the body and aesthetics that motivated people, but in the industry we have come to realize that it is the mindset that is most important. It’s the willingness to want to feel well.
You need to find that moment to ask: What am I doing? Why am I doing it? Is it bringing me joy? How is it making me feel? You need to connect the mind to what you are doing. If it’s not making you feel good and if you aren’t feeling connected to it, than something is missing. You need to keep seeking that connection. You need to connect with what your body is doing in order to get the most out of what you are doing.
Lornes Take: I really like what Mo has to say about the importance of consistency and accountability and how a good Personal Trainer can help with this.