Keeping fit and having fun

Nathan Liewicki
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Joanne McLeod and Hal Johnson gave the keynote address at the Get Healthy Moose Jaw 2014 event at the YaraCentre Saturday. The Body Break couple encouraged people in attendance to "keep fit and have fun."

Johnson and McLeod still exuberant about health and fitness after 25 years

For the last 25 years Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod have remained positive and upbeat, but how have they done it?

“Editing,” Johnson said, before he and McLeod laughed aloud.

The Body Break duo was in the Friendly City on Saturday to give the keynote address at the Get Healthy Moose Jaw 2014 event at YaraCentre. They also attended the Moose Jaw Warriors’ game against the Red Deer Rebels Friday night, dropping the puck at the ceremonial faceoff.

It was the first time since 1980 that Johnson had been in Moose Jaw, and for McLeod it was her first visit to our city.

“When we were in the Amazing Race Canada and we were in the lentil bin past the (Regina) airport, I saw the Trans-Canada sign to go to Moose Jaw and I remember saying to (Hal), 'Wow. I’ve never been to Moose Jaw,’” said McLeod. “And then eight months later we are here.”

Although the duo was eliminated from the race on an exceedingly hot summer day in Regina – temperatures were in the 40C range – they enjoyed everything about it.

Johnson told the Times-Herald his highlight of the race was when he had to perform a diving task in search of the Ogopogo at the bottom of Lake Okanagan near Kelowna, B.C.

“It was a wild experience,” Johnson said.

Body Break has also been a wild ride for the couple, whose “keep fit and have fun” motto has resonated with thousands of Canadians over the years.

Johnson said he came up with the phrase when he was writing the script for Body Break in June 1988.

“We questioned whether or not to say keep fit or get fit, and we thought let's go with keep fit because get fit is always like you're starting,” McLeod said. “When you are keeping it's like you are already at a certain level.”

They thought keep fit as opposed to get fit was less demonstrative and would encourage people to be have fun being active, regardless of their fitness or physical activity level.

Johnson and McLeod’s active nature was evident even before they met. He was a baseball star at the University of Colorado and was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds. She was a four-time national hurdles champion.

“Body Break is us and we are Body Break,” McLeod said of the lifestyle they have continued to adopt for the last quarter century.

“I'd like to say we had a master plan of carving out this brand, but we just said if we can do this little thing that we've got an idea for, for one year – that was back in 1988 – then we thought maybe we could have a second year. Maybe we wouldn't have to get a real job and then we could have a third year and then we could have a fourth year,” Johnson noted.

“Now it's been 25 years. So, I mean we've been having fun for 25 years doing it.”

Now with a 14-year-old daughter, Johnson and McLeod said she is very engrossed with being physically active and understands the keep fit and have fun message her parents have been saying for years.

Of all the people who have been encouraged and inspired by Johnson and McLeod, their daughter ranks atop that list.

“She’s the most important to us by far,” said Johnson.

As much as the duo – and their daughter – remains active, they don’t recommend any specific workout, or activity.

“Do what you enjoy,” Johnson said. “I play hockey a couple times a week, I play 80-100 rounds of golf a year and I've got this new thing called a Fitbit that tracks my steps and my goal everyday is do 10,000 steps.”

“I train for marathons, but most people – if we were to promote training for a marathon –they'd say there's no way. I even said that when I started out,” said McLeod. “That's why we always go back to take the first step, the second, the third and it builds.

“It's almost like when you get into it, you want to challenge yourself because it makes you feel good.”

And there’s no better way to feel good about yourself than to keep fit and have fun.

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

Organizations: Trans-Canada, Times-Herald, University of Colorado Cincinnati Reds

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Regina, Friendly Lake Okanagan Kelowna

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