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Local business owner puts the education in physical education

From a basement room to a building, Sarah Applegarth celebrates nine years as owner of Active Life Conditioning
Sarah Applegarth is the founder and owner of Active Life Conditioning, which is celebrating its ninth anniversary. Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

There may be a lot of dumbells between the walls of Active Life Conditioning, but a focus on smart training is what has brought the Colingwood business through the last nine years.

Owner Sarah Applegarth is celebrating nine years in business, and five years in the current Stewart Road location later this month.

“Physical literacy is the thing I’m most passionate about,” she said. “Living a well-balanced, active life.”

Applegarth began a career as a strength and conditioning coach before she graduated university. She helped train her hockey team at the University of Guelph.

She majored in Human Kinetics – the study of the body in motion – and minored in nutrition. Then she went on to obtain a masters degree from McMaster University in Human Biodynamics, writing her thesis on adolescent exercise.

Through her work, she has noticed gaps in physical development of children and youth and attributes it to a reduction in physical education at school and exploratory/free play.

While there are still young athletes excelling at their individual sports, it’s not necessarily resulting in well-rounded “physical literacy.”

“There are other pieces to being a physically literate human being,” said Applegarth. “It’s important to understand there are periods of time in a child’s growth when certain physical variables are really trainable … like speed, agility, strength, and cardiovascular strength.”

“Having roots in these fundamental skills allows you to optimize those skills throughout life.”

Applegarth worked with Alpine Ontario training alpine skiers and hockey players as a strength and conditioning coach.

“I started working with youth,” said Applegarth. “Then the parents would come to me and say, ‘I ski, or I play hockey, can you train me?’”

She used a 500-square-foot space in her basement, she rented a church gymnasium, and she held classes in parks in Collingwood while crafting a vision for Active Life.

“I saw there was a need for a location for people who had specific training needs,” she said. “No one had heard of CrossFit yet … I wanted to use a coach-based system where people could come for a coach and be told what to do and how to do it properly.”

“In my years in the fitness industry, I’ve become very picky about proper exercise form and technique. If you’re going to move, you might as well move properly.”

Then in 2010, she opened a space in Cranberry Mews. In the beginning it was just her, and she soon brought in a yoga instructor and a pilates instructor.

Four years later, Active Life outgrew the space and moved to the location on Stewart Road.

Today, there is a staff of nearly 20 coaches and therapists offering classes, workshops, treatment, and personal training for youth, adults, and seniors with varied goals and abilities.

“Within these walls we have all the tools people need to reach whatever their goal may be physically,” said Applegarth.

The anniversary celebrations kick off on June 21 with a list of free classes to try out. The day also includes giveaways, prizes, and food supplied by local vendors.

Space in the complimentary classes is limited, so call 705-888-6337 or email [email protected] for information on how to register.

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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 15 years of experience as a local journalist
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