Doris Ward has always had a passion for fitness, mental health and connecting the two.
The fitness instructor’s innovative efforts in her field were recognized by one of the country’s leading health and fitness magazines as she was named one of the Top 100 Health and Fitness Influencers in Canada in the January edition of OptiMYz magazine.
“I believe my purpose is to help others heal through mindful movement in regards to mental health and healing their mind and their bodies together,” said Ward, who grew up in Sackville N.B., and now lives in Cornwall.
The magazine highlighted Ward’s multiple certifications, including as a trauma-sensitive yoga instructor, mindfulness practitioner, life coach and mental health first aider. She has been a certified personal trainer since 2003.
Among regular personal training and yoga classes with her business, For the Love of Fitness, Ward has specialized workshops and classes, including a body image workshop, yoga for chronic pain management and yoga for trauma classes for people with post-traumatic stress disorder, high anxiety and other mental illnesses.
The yoga for trauma classes are close to Ward’s heart because she has had PTSD since she was 13 years old from experiencing sexual abuse.
“I decided I needed to teach yoga classes that were dedicated to people who have experienced trauma because I know how it can help,” she said.
Ward also instructs yoga classes for chronic pain management in partnership with the P.E.I. Pain Institute.
The goal of the class is to keep people moving.
Chronic pain is something Ward can relate to because the now 40-year-old was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and chronic migraines at age 20.
“I have been able to manage my chronic pain with mindful movement and, of course, medication,” said Ward.
“Finding Doris and finding this class has been magical for me. It’s done so much.”
Pam Garland of Stratford has lived with chronic pain for nine years. There is no named diagnosis for what Garland goes through. She has constant pain in her back and nerve pain in her legs.
Medications to treat her pain didn’t work on Garland, who found out pain drugs had no effect on her.
She started going to Ward’s chronic pain management classes after her doctor recommended it.
“Finding Doris and finding this class has been magical for me,” said Garland. “It’s done so much.”
Ward’s body image workshops are targeted towards body acceptance through a mind-body connection.
“It’s learning about body awareness and following your body’s own intuition, learning to appreciate your body for what it does for you,” she said.
Connection between fitness and animals
All of Ward’s classes have a maximum of 10 people to keep them intimate and personal.
Ward also won the personal training specialist of the year award with Canfitpro in August. The award recognizes a Canfitpro certified and practising professional member who has demonstrated exceptional leadership, motivation and technical skills and has inspired clients to achieve their goals.
When Ward won, she used her acceptance speech as an opportunity to stress the importance of mental health and helping animals, which are her two main pillars in running her business.
“It was just as important to me, if not more important to me, to read that speech when I got that award,” she said.
Ward’s love of animals and passion for fitness are connected.
As a member of the P.E.I. Roadrunners Club, she races as a fundraiser for non-profits. She also started the Karma Personal Training program, which offers personal training sessions in exchange for donations to the P.E.I. Humane Society.
For more information about Ward’s upcoming fitness classes, visit fortheloveoffitnesspei.com.