It was three years ago that Ottawa physical education teacher David Benay decided something needed to change. He started delving into the physical literacy world, documenting his progress via a blog called Ottawa Gym Critic. Things escalated quickly from there.
“I was tired of playing traditional sports, running half and full marathons, and weightlifting. I wanted to improve my movement repertoire and try as many gyms, dojos and studios as possible,” Benay told Sport for Life.
“I started writing reviews about all the different locations I visited. Since then, I’ve written over 50 posts and 46,000 readers have visited my blog. I’ve done parkour, gymnastics, CrossFit, primal movement training and variety of martial arts and stunt training.”
And experiencing this multitude of physical literacy experiences has transformed his life, leading him down the path of personalized fitness. He believes this is a powerful way people can expose themselves to movements they might never otherwise try — exactly what he’s been blogging about these past few years.
“Learning to move and moving to learn is important for my physical literacy. My Ottawa Gym Critic blog allows me to do just that. It’s allowed me to discover my weaknesses and improve them. I found strengths I did not know I had. Most importantly, I’m enjoying improving my health.”
Sport for Life director Drew Mitchell, who met Benay during our annual Summit in Gatineau, believes his work could ultimately inspire others to move outside their comfort zone.
“Physical literacy is a journey not a destination, so there’s no finish line when it comes to exploring movement. By exposing himself to a number of different types of activity and then sharing his findings online, the Ottawa Gym Critic is showing that physical literacy is a multi-faceted journey,” said Mitchell.
“One of the most inspiring aspects of the work we do was hearing stories like these, and seeing the impact this movement is having in the lives of countless individuals. As he’s shown, engaging with your own physical literacy is something that ultimately benefits others as well.”
Benay believes he’s a better P.E. teacher since embarking on this journey.
“Most P.E. teachers want their students to try as many activities as possible to become a competent mover. We need to model that behaviour. We can’t expect our students to move in a variety of ways if we don’t. We have one body and we need to take care of it. I feel a lot healthier now that I’ve changed my approach to fitness and health.”