Playfield Stories is a series of incredible individuals chosen for how they show up in this world. These are people who make it their priority to create a positive impact in their community - they are passionate leaders, influencers, and mentors.
This month we are featuring Kyle Williams from Changing Gears. The Changing Gears Movement is in partnership with Fresh Start Recovery Centre that inspires people across Canada that are living in recovery to join local communities that incorporate fitness into their daily lives. The fitness community is full of individuals that challenge others to join them in aspiring to be better, healthier, and happier versions of themselves every day.
Changing Gears started out as an idea that fitness and recovery from drugs and alcohol could go hand in hand. After riding my single speed bike from Penticton to Calgary in 2015 I knew I wanted to create something bigger and more impactful. Changing Gears was born and I rode from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Victoria, British Columbia stopping at treatment centres along the way sharing my story and donating money to help bolster fitness programs.
2. Cycling across Canada must have given you lots of time to think, what’s one revelation or thought that stands out to you the most from your journey?
“You’re going the wrong way” stands out a lot. People continue to tell me that because I decided to go the hard way and battle Canada’s prevailing winds. On a more serious note, I had time to deal with some of the things I didn’t deal with in rehab. One thing I learned about myself is that I really can do anything once I put my mind to it. Your parents aren’t lying when they tell you that.
3. Do you believe that fitness can be used as a tool to make a change? If yes, how?
Absolutely, I’m living proof. Fitness and exercise create a physiological change in our bodies, releasing endorphins and other chemicals in our brains. That coupled with the uplifting supportive community in most fitness studios creates this incredible environment that fosters great change. I think that along with proper treatment fitness can make all the difference.
4. Where would you like to you see Changing Gears in the years to come?
I’d love to see annual rides that support treatment centres across the country. The money being used to once again bolster fitness programs for people going through treatment and living life in recovery afterwards. Creating a space for individuals to get engaged in different activities is also something I’ve thought about starting. A safe place for people living in early recovery to come and sweat and find a caring community in a fitness setting.
5. What advice would you give someone who is going through personal challenges/battles?
Becoming vulnerable is your greatest strength. Once you tear down the walls building a stronger foundation becomes easier. Asking for help is uncomfortable but nothing changes if nothing changes. I think the other thing that is important to note - especially with a younger generation - is that you aren’t alone. With technology attached to our hands that allows us to contact nearly anyone in the world at any time, we also have a tendency to isolate ourselves from real interaction. Reach out if you need help.
6. Was there ever a moment on your journey that you felt like quitting? If so, what helped you push forward?
I don’t think the word quitting was ever in my lexicon but there were definitely times where I questioned why I was doing it. That question becomes a whole lot easier to answer when you fall back on a set of values that are important to you. I found that Kindness, Authenticity, Reliability, and Love were the things that always pushed me through. I said I was going to accomplish this dream and it was important to me to do so. Those things along with a network of incredible supporters helped me push the pedals every single day.