Jimmy Blais has a new lease on life after meeting Claire Jacklin, the community manager at Golden Life's Garden View Village in Kimberley, who encouraged him and helped him start a workout routine, helping him conquer his MS diagnosis. Paul Rodgers photo.

500 revolutions: B.C. man with MS gains back control with help of exercise bike

Garden View Community Manager encouraged Blais to get his body moving

In 2016 Jimmy Blais, originally from Kimberley, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). Two years ago he moved into the Garden View Village independent and assisted living facility after his symptoms made living on his own too difficult.

The 41-year-old was not in a good place mentally and described hating his condition. But after meeting Golden Life community manager Claire Jacklin, who helped him get into a workout routine, Blais has been able to get a whole new outlook on his life and the disease.

MS is a potentially disabling auto-immune disease of the central nervous system that can impact memory, balance and mobility and it can affect people in different ways and at different ages.

READ MORE: Yearly donation to those suffering from MS

Kimberley is Blais’ home town. He lived in Vancouver for a few years, having moved there to seek treatment for drug addiction.

He was a trained actor and made a few films in Vancouver, but he came back home to Kimberley in 2013 when his stepmom passed away, which he said “destroyed a lot of things.”

“My mother died when I was 10,” Blais said. “So losing my step mother, she was my mum longer than my mother was my mom.”

Then in 2016 he got sick.

“It affected me with hatred,” he said of the diagnosis, “and I really, really dislike that word and I really disliked how it affected me personally.”

He met Jacklin while living at Garden View, and she provided him the help to get his legs on the exercise bike and gave him some much-needed encouragement to start working out.

“What really is affecting me badly with this disease is my balance, I don’t really have pain,” Blais explained. “But really she helped me get my legs on the bike. Without that I wouldn’t be able to get on again. And thank the universe that she was here to get me started on that.”

He said that working out has not only helped him feel immensely better physically, but also helped him out with his mental state as well.

“[Working out] doesn’t allow me to really freak out,” he said. “Like I used to scream ‘I hate this’ and now it’s like I can’t because I rode that bike. So coming here and doing that is what’s really fixing the mental aspects of this disease.”

He started out slowly, doing about 10 revolutions of the pedals on the exercise bike. As he regained command of his body, he increased his reps more and more and today can do 500 revolutions.

He works out early in the morning every day and is now working in strength training like push-ups and weight lifting. He’s also walking the hallways of Garden View, pushing his heavy power chair, and doing stairs.

“I’ve never felt better about myself in a very long time,” he said. “I need to remember that I’m doing something to get out of my murk. Can’t sit back there, I’m here now. I want to stay here and keep doing what I’m doing, because I know it’s helping me and my body is changing. I’ve never seen definition in my chest and my arms before. I used to be 400 pounds at my heaviest.”

Were it not for meeting Jacklin and taking the initiative to start working out, Blais believes he would still be “stuck in that hatred,” he felt when initially diagnosed. Now he sees that the disease does not define him, it’s just a part of him.

“Working out has really taught me how to love the disease and know that it’s an experience,” he said. “And that’s what I’m doing I’m having an experience with a really awful thing but I know it now I know this and I’m thankful for it.”

“Although it sucks,” he added with a laugh.

Moving forward, Blais intends to keep working out every day and pushing himself more and more. He hopes to share his experience and inspire others who are battling MS and encourage them to not stop moving their body.

“I know that we lose a lot of our abilities and talents and stuff, but if we work towards a better goal, it’ll come. Don’t get stuck in the spiral that can bring you really down. Work out. Move your body, it helps.”

He also is currently working on a book. He said that this new outlook he’s achieved has helped him see himself as more than what he thought he was before, whether that was an actor, singer or a writer. He thought he’d lost all of that because of this disease, but now knows that it’s all still there.

“When I first found out about it I thought my life was over, I was like this is it I’m done,” he said. “And my step mum just died so I was like, ‘why am I here?’ But now I know, I’m here for this experience and to teach people that life can be what you make it.”



paul.rodgers@kimberleybulletin

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

multiple sclerosis

Just Posted

Longtime SOWINS volunteer Diane Fru (far left) walks with members of her family as they Walk To End Abuse Sunday, June 13, 2021. South Okanagan Women In Needs Society (SOWINS) raised a record amount this year. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Walk to End Abuse in South Okanagan breaks fundraising record

More than $53,000 raised so far while the pandemic has increased need for SOWINS’ services

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

RCMP thanked the public for assistance in finding Benjamin Archie, last seen in Princeton. (RCMP)
Missing Chilliwack man found safe and sound

The 80-year-old had walked away from his home in Chilliwack

.
Princeton’s Spotlight wins two provincial awards for excellence

Publisher takes first place for investigative reporting

Princeton GSAR responds 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In 2020 the crew was called out 34 times, and members spent 721 hours on calls, and 683 hours training. Photo Princeton GSAR Facebook
Teen missing in Manning Park found after 24 hours

Young man spends night on mountain and survives with just a few scrapes

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Ivy was thrown out of a moving vehicle in Kelowna. Her tail was severely injured and will be amputated. (BC SPCA)
Kitten thrown from moving vehicle, needs help: Kelowna SPCA

The seven-month-old kitten had severe tail and femur injuries

Vernon Elks Lodge secretary-treasurer Maureen Sather says special relief funding for the organization courtesy of Community Futures North Okanagan has been just that: a relief. (Photo submitted)
Zero funding for Vernon Elks club

Once-in-100-years grant denied after back and forth with city for support

Lyndsay Fillier and Braden Taylor have been living the van life for four years and they've detailed the first year of their adventures in a new book. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
VIDEO: Okanagan couple details first year of van life in new book

Lyndsay Fillier and Braden Taylor have been living the van life for four years

A young child was taken to hospital after being struck by a vehicle on 30th Avenue in Vernon Friday, June 11, 2021. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Child OK after being hit by car in Vernon

Father says daughter was back home by supper time

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘hockey hub’ mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 4, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of CanadaÕs largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘Vaxxed to the max’: Feds launch Ask an Expert campaign to encourage COVID shots

Survey shows that confidence in vaccines has risen this spring

Port Alberni court house (Alberni Valley News)
Inquest set into 2016 death of B.C. teen after a day spent in police custody

18-year-old Jocelyn George died of heart failure in hospital after spending time in jail cell

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

Most Read