27-year-old Matt MacDonald isn’t wasting any time cycling to his university town of Antigonish, Nova Scotia. His mission? To motivate and inspire the country to get fit, eat right and just ‘keep moving’.
Employed as a part-time gym teacher at St. Francis Xavier university, MacDonald is keeping up the pace of 150 km average per day since beginning his trek from Vancouver, BC. on May 18. He reached Princeton on May 19—two hours early, despite the particularly difficult Sunday Summit on his way to town. MacDonald’s plan is to reach Antigonish, Nova Scotia in only 50 days.
MacDonald, who has earned a BA in Human Kinetics, B.Ed and is working on a master’s degree in Physical Education, is the owner-operator of an organization called We Move This Town.
“When I moved back to town (Halifax) from my university town of Antigonish, I was looking for another group of like-minded people who are into fitness and exercise that I could spend my time with,” says MacDonald on how he came up the name for his group. “It’s a big, big party town – everybody goes out and parties and that really wasn’t something I was into.”
MacDonald, who was on a search for others who were passionate about health, fitness and wellness, created an e-mail list and began sending out e-mails inviting anyone and everyone to join him on a Saturday morning bike ride.
“There were maybe 10-15 people on the list, most times there’d be six or seven of us riding every Saturday,” MacDonald explains. “Really informal, really casual and then I thought, ‘wow, this is a really good idea’, but I wish it was a little bit more structured and I wish it was a little less exclusive for people who don’t own a bike.”
Discovering that in his hometown of Halifax, there was a Bluenose marathon scheduled— their slogan was ‘We Run This Town’. So he wondered what sport would be a little more inclusive that others would be interested in. MacDonald came up with an idea. He created his website and began organizing a free weekly event to inspire healthy lifestyles and physical activity. The name he chose for this venture was We Move This Town with the hope that he could attract others to follow his lead in getting and staying fit and healthy— essentially, to just get active.
“On my website, I would post anything that was happening, and anyone who wanted to come could just log on to my website and just see the activity, and they would just show up,” said MacDonald.
He started organizing different events that could include any person interested in getting fit— a venue that could include Tae Kwon Do, skating, swimming, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing among just a few.
Through that process, MacDonald was branded in the community as ‘the mover guy’, the guy who was big into promoting health and wellness. He is often approached by people asking him to develop different sports events, weight training, requesting his suggestions on what foods to eat that would improve their general well-being.
“Wow, I thought, I could almost have a business,” says MacDonald on his blossoming popularity. He has since begun doing personal training on the side, as well as acting as a nutritional consultant.
His most successful program to date has been the ‘Antigonish Biggest Loser program’.
“It’s insane how wonderful… how people who have had no physical activity in 25-30 years—they’ve lost 70 pounds in 6 months,” he says, “so I’ve had some really incredible success stories.”
MacDonald feels that no matter what your age, or how bad your lifestyle, it’s never too late to make a change. He gets inspiration from those he helps and those he helps feel mutual inspiration to get themselves on track, get healthy by eating right (plant based foods, vegetables, fruit), getting plenty of exercise and drinking lots of water.
While on his journey, MacDonald logs on to his computer on Monday nights to continue working toward his Masters in Physical Education.
“It’s a personal goal —I’m all about telling people to set goals for themselves, otherwise things don’t get done, so I’m always encouraging my clients to set goals beyond their limit—I thrive off seeing people change their life.”
MacDonald hopes to reach his destination by July 7. Visit his blog at www.wemovethistown.com.