Coaches and InstructorsMeet the Coaches – Clara Bernier

October 2, 2019

Hi everyone! 

I’m very excited to be writing my first blog for the club, as a chance to share a bit more about me, my motivation and values for coaching, as well as my interests and aspirations outside of gymnastics with you. 

For those who may not know, I was a rhythmic gymnast myself for 11 years. During this time I had the privilege of training with some of the country’s top coaches and the honour of being selected to the National Team for seven consecutive years. I travelled throughout Europe representing Canada at Grand Prix and World Cup competitions, and while it was filled with some pretty incredible experiences I also sacrificed a lot, including moving away from home and my family at age 12 so I could train in Vancouver. Still, I wouldn’t change it for anything because gymnastics gave me invaluable life skills, friendships, memories, and it molded my personality to include characteristics that I am proud of. I am so grateful for all of these things that I hope, as a coach, I can provide the same for our gymnasts because it’s about so much more than just the physical aspects. For me it’s about fostering confidence and encouraging self-esteem, building up mental toughness, fortitude and a strong work ethic, finding perseverance in tough times, learning to respect your teammates, yourself, your coaches, your competition, the judges… the list goes on and on. So on a daily basis in the gym I try to make progress on these fronts because they are skills that will hopefully serve the girls well later in life. Even in my short time coaching at Island Rhythmics I’ve loved watching the girls grow and improve, and I’m excited to see where they’ll go in gymnastics and in life! 

My coaching is also largely shaped by my post-secondary education as well. After I finished gymnastics in 2010 I went on to complete my BSc. at UVic; majoring in Biology and Psychology. Then, after taking a few years off of school, I decided I wanted to pursue a Masters in Physiotherapy. So I spent 2018-19 studying Kinesiology back at UVic, completing the necessary prerequisite courses and some additional ones out of personal interest. I studied human anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, motor learning and athletic therapy last year (among others) but these courses in particular lend to my coaching. I now prioritize physical safety and well-being more than ever, and focus on healthy stretching and strengthening, proper technique and recognize individual anatomical differences, some bodies just don’t bend a particular way and that’s totally normal. I really enjoyed studying Kinesiology but then, just as life goes, my plans changed and I actually started acupuncture school this Fall at Pacific Rim College. Long story short, this change is on the same trajectory and will still get me to where I want to land as a clinician; only much faster. I have taken a real interest in treating chronic pain cases since I began job shadowing once a week with a local physiotherapist last October. I had previously been ignorant to just how many people live with chronic pain. The emotion of all of this struck me deeply, and that combined with loving the challenge of solving the “unsolvable cases” my path seemed fairly clear. As a practitioner I plan to combine acupuncture with IMS and manual therapy mostly to eradicate chronic pain completely and not just briefly pacify symptoms. It feels like a fairly large and somewhat daunting task because the more I learn about the human body the more I realize we don’t totally know, but I’m so curious and keen to learn it all and hopefully be an effective clinician. 








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