With three decades as a fitness pro, Tara Imerson loves what she does and wouldn’t change a thing
Tara Imerson, 57, has never really looked at fitness as “fitness.” As a kid she was always active (she swan, skied, did gymnastics and in college added squash) and she just followed the path of opportunities and lifestyle that came naturally. Then when her pool closed for three months, that’s when she discovered classes and she has never stopped.
That path has changed over time, of course. For one, her routine has changed as she learned more over the years. “We used to think that if we exercised, we could eat anything and everything, but now the realization that food is fuel gets the results both in performance and physique,” she says. Imerson follows an eating plan that’s balanced with her activities. “Choose the right food at the right time for the workout schedule,” she says. “You do have the ability to change your physique. Get guidance and be realistic.” She strongly believes in the importance of developing an eating lifestyle you can live with.
The active part of her life has changed and grown over time, too. From kettle bells to nordic skiing, along with running and lifting, there are too many sports she loves for her to choose a favourite. Imerson is a big fan of watersports as well. “SUP is my current passion. I discovered it about eight years ago. I feel comfortable and at peace on my board,” she says. After a couple of novice races, she realized how challenging a sport it could be, and now continues to learn from others while also teaching the sport herself.
When it comes to challenging times, though, while Imerson has some great support in her longtime girlfriends, she also says she digs deep to stay motivated and focused on her own. “I’ve never leaned too hard on any one person for support but I’ve kept my end goals in sight with self-discipline.” To get back on track? “Plan another challenge!” she says with a laugh. In fact, she often finds the accomplishment of completing a challenge is a reward in itself. “The high of completing an event you once thought you could never do is amazing… though sometimes a glass of wine is, too!”
There are, too, of course the support she gets from SUP coach, Jessica Rando, and her kettlebell coach, world champion Lisa Killah Pitel, and her fellow Team Canada members along with her clients. Not all of her support comes from coaches and teammates directly, though. “My nephew was my crew and support for my longest race to date, a 50k paddle on the Rideau Canal known as the K20.”
Even with all the support, everyone can get thrown off track from time to time, and when she has been derailed, Imerson has a tactical approach when dealing with painful personal changes impact you deeply. “Disassociation, removing yourself from it mentally at that moment, and association, tuning keenly into the physical component, can be the tools to get through a tough time,” she explains. “Sometimes we choose sports that require so much focus, all the bad parts of the day disappear. It’s freeing, really!” Think of that exhilaration you feel when you complete an event. “When you do something you didn’t think you could do, it’s amazing! And that glass of wine you have to celebrate is amazing, too!”
Photos by ChrisVLinton