Meet Matthew Lee!
What brought you to the Oval? What made you choose the Oval?
The Oval has allowed me to keep up with my fitness goals in a world class facility in the city I grew up and still live in. I was piqued by the variety of activities offered as part of the membership. I don’t do much weight and cardio machines as focuses of my fitness regimen, but knowing that I can access them while getting value out of the other activities has been useful.
What are your favourite activities here and why?
My favourite activities at the Oval are rock climbing and yoga. For rock climbing, I like the mental aspect of problem solving that comes with the physicality of positioning your body between moves. There’s no specific route that I take but sometimes I use the auto belay to do laps and get my heart rate going. It’s nice to have staff helping out at the climbing wall and to give tips for a smoother climb.
Yoga encourages me to think about my mental and physical health – giving me time to actually focus on dealing with stress from work life or any nagging injuries from my more active pursuits.
How do you find the Oval different from others? What makes us unique?
Apart from the aforementioned variety of activities to participate in, the fact that there’s always something else going on at the Oval is neat. One day you could find yourself watch an underdog high school basketball team pull off an upset win from the treadmill machines on the balcony above the court; the next you could see fencers from around the world duel while you are dangling four storeys up on the climbing wall.
What inspired you to make a trip to Mount Kilimanjaro? How was it different than Vancouver?
I’ve wanted to climb Mount Kilimanjaro since reading Ernst Hemingway’s The Snows of Kilimanjaro during high school. Amongst its themes is a message to live life without regret and to maintain a positive attitude and strong work ethic. This summer presented an opportunity for me to cross off a bucket list item.
I haven’t actually done rock climbing in Vancouver, but have hopes to climb next summer!
When you were preparing for the trip, what made you want to train at the Oval, and how did you train?
I had an existing membership at the Oval, so it was the natural location to choose. Training for Kilimanjaro is really about building endurance and lung capacity for when the air thins out during the back half of the hike. In addition to my regular practices with UBC Thunder, my university’s competitive dragon boat team and my second family, I came to the Oval three or four times a week to do cardio work. This consisted of running five kilometers on the treadmill, then immediately climbing 150 storeys on the Stairmaster, more or less the equivalent the CN Tower. Frankly this regimen may have been overkill for most people, but I felt for myself it was a good push.
When the typical hiking season in Vancouver closes, the Oval is my favourite place to keep active. I hope to reach Mount Everest Base Camp and summit Denali by the time I turn 30. Now that I’m just starting my full-time career, I probably won’t be doing either in the near future, but my regular work at the Oval will keep me in good enough shape for when I start ramping up for the next mountain.
What other activities have you tried at the Oval? Are there activities you’re interested?
I did a spin class once early on after getting my membership – I got my butt kicked, so I’d like to tackle it again eventually. Other than that, I try to come at least twice a week for Hatha Yoga.
What do you enjoy the most in life?
I enjoy challenging myself and being outdoors – two things you should be if you’re attempting any multi-day hike, let alone one of the Seven Summits, so thank goodness. The happiest moment of my trip may have been opening my tent on the second morning of the Kilimanjaro hike– quite a breathtaking sight, but that may have been the altitude.
Is there anything that you would like to see the Oval to improve?
The close proximity of the yoga classes to the basketball courts and dead lift area of the weight section can sometimes cause disruption to an otherwise meditative class. Perhaps exploring the YYoga offering would help me avoid that.