INTRODUCING THE ACTIVE SWITCH ENTHUSIASTS!
- Jim Elyot, 2020 Walktober Month Platinum Prize Winner
- Peter Downs, 2020 Walktober Month Gold Prize Winner
- Yogita Patel, 2020 Walktober Month Silver Prize Winner
- Heather Kozak, 2020 Walktober Month Bronze Prize Winner
- Kurt Headrick, 2020 Bike Month Ontario Winner
- Angela Pollard, Stay Fit Challenge Winner
- Alex Mailloux, 2019 Walktober Grand Prize Winner
- Scott Spencer, 2019 Walktober Grand Prize Winner
- Linda Gluck, 2019 Walktober Grand Prize Winner
- Maeve Doyle, 2018 Walktober Grand Prize Winner
- Surender Pal, 2018 Walktober Prize Winner
- Andrew Tron, Our Cycling Enthusiast
- Sandra McKee, Our 2018 Active Switch Challenge Winner
- Janette Desousa, Our 2017 Platinum Medal Winner
- Eugene Alexeenko, Our 2014 Active Switch Challenge Winner
- Barbara Laskowska, Our 2014 Testimonial Contest Winner
- Rosanna Garcia, Our 2013 Active Switch Challenge Winner
- Lynn Doyle, Our Cycling Enthusiast
- Andy Harvey, Our Cycling Enthusiast
Jim Elyot, 2020 Walktober Month Platinum Prize Winner
2020. A year of uncertainty. With COVID-19 top-of-mind, many are spending more time at home than ever before.
So why participate in Walktober Month? Jim was feeling stuck at home and when he heard about the campaign, Jim’s natural reaction was to go for it.
“Running and cycling have been part of my life for decades but walking was always utilitarian. The lockdown motivated me to go on actual walks (without a destination, or chore in mind) and logging my activity on Active Switch was a daily butt-kick to keep moving, even when everything in my being said no.”
Jim took Walktober Month head-on by challenging himself to go on runs, bike rides (trails, roads and inside on the trainer), and execute a daily count of 5,000+ steps around the neighbourhood in the month of October.
“Being active gets me out into the world. It’s like a daily vacation from all the other stuff.”
When asked what advice he would give to others who are looking to get more active, Jim simply says, “find someone or something to help get you motivated. Don’t try to win a marathon right off the bat. Simply enjoy the little things like gardening, parking in the spot farthest from the door, even riding your bike around the block in the rain! Take it one step at a time, then the next; and the next…
Peter Downs, 2020 Walktober Month Gold Prize Winner
As an avid runner for more than 15 years, Peter Downs has grown to love running and being physically active as part of his daily routine.
Whether at work or at home, Peter stays in motion for a good part of his day.
“My favourite way to stay active is to participate in activities that are outdoors. After work, I like to go for a run or bike ride for as long as the weather allows. Then in the winter, I cross country ski. Having activities that translate into getting outside, no matter the weather, is a good way to keep moving,” says Peter.
When he was notified about Walktober Month, Peter was up for the challenge.
“Since I was already tracking my daily activities with my Garmin watch, it was easy to track and log my daily activities on the Active Switch website as it was very user-friendly. Having to log my daily steps was a good reminder to keep active. I liked how the website tracked my goals and gave me a running percentage of my weekly and monthly progress. The calories and burgers burned is also a nice incentive.”
Peter encourages those who are thinking about increasing their daily dose of physical activity to start by finding something one enjoys doing, even if it’s going for an evening or lunch-time walk. He also suggests finding a group that does what you enjoy.
“This will provide motivation, goal setting, and social interaction. If you meet with like-minded individuals this can only enhance your activities in terms of your motivation, goals, training, mental health, and fun! I would also say, track your progress and over time you will see improvement which is always a good motivation.”
Yogita Patel, 2020 Walktober Month Silver Prize Winner
Yogita Patel was busy at work when she received a notification email about Walktober Month.
New to the campaign and the Active Switch platform, Yogita was inspired to register an account and take the challenge to get more active in the month of October.
“I love to walk and discover new trails, places to visit and take pictures of nature. When the opportunity presented itself, I decided that it was time to start walking to work and track my progress on Active Switch.”
When asked what Yogita would say to others who are looking to get active, Yogita encourages others to “find something you are passionate about and keep at it. It makes it all the more worthwhile and enjoyable.”
Heather Kozak, 2020 Walktober Month Bronze Prize Winner
Heather was looking to reinforce her exercise and health-related routines when she came across a Walktober Month advertisement at work and decided that this is exactly what she needed. A little extra push to help get moving.
From walking, hiking, dancing, and swimming, Heather enjoyed all sorts of activities this Walktober month as she tracked her activity on the Active Switch tool.
“I love hiking as it brings me into the outdoors which I find very mindful and relaxing, says Heather. Active Switch allowed me to track my progress and was an excellent reminder of the great things I was accomplishing and the goals I set out to reach.”
As for the advice that she would tell others who are looking to get more active, Heather recommends to “start slow and build on it day by day. It’s worth it!”
Kurt Headrick, 2020 Bike Month Ontario Winner
Meet Kurt Headrick. His passion for cycling has him staying active all year-round. Not only does Kurt ride his bicycle for leisure, but he also chooses it as his main mode of transportation to work, for business purposes and running errands.
“I commute by bike year-round and have found it to be good for my health (physical & emotional), the environment, and my pocketbook. Even in winter, there is not much difference in time to commute or for errands vs. driving.” When Kurt heard about the Bike Month Ontario promotion through email, it was only natural for him to continue to log his activity on the Active Switch online tool which he says is very convenient and easy to use.
“I already bike almost every day, says Kurt, “but the chance to win a prize for something I am already doing provided additional encouragement to continue my goal of using my bicycle as much as possible.”
When asked what advice he would give to someone who is hesitant about cycling, Kurt recommends individuals to “start slow with relaxing leisure rides, make sure your bike is maintained and dress for the weather.”
Angela Pollard, Stay Fit Challenge Winner
Meet Angela Pollard. A Community Services Worker by day, and a dance enthusiast by night!
As a dance and fitness guru, Angela’s commitment to staying active hasn’t slowed her down during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Due to all the closures, most of my activities are executed virtually. Zumba is something that I have done for many years and thoroughly enjoy. Other virtual activities include dance inspired classes, Body Combat, and classes with a focus on strength training.”
When Angela heard about the Stay Fit Challenge through her workplace, she was excited to participate.
“I’ve been trying to stay active so why not log my activity online for a chance to win a prize.”
Angela registered a free account on the Active Switch online tool and comments on how easy it is to use.
“I like how it calculates your ongoing progress and acts as a virtual accountability partner. Since I was doing everything online, it was really easy to track my activity once I was done each day.”
And when asked what kind of advice she would provide to others looking to get more active, Angela simply says:
“Any day is a good day to start being active. Some people say, “Oh, I’ll start on Monday,” and Monday never comes. Just keep moving and don’t be afraid to try new things!”
Alex Mailloux, 2019 Walktober Prize Winner
Meet Alex from the Town of Tecumseh whose passion for walking took her to new heights this Walktober Month.
“I heard about the campaign through the Wellness Committee at my workplace and since my favourite way to stay active is to go for walks, I decided to step-it-up this October.”
Alex had a few tricks up her sleeve when challenged to earn her Walktober Medals so that she can be entered to win up to four great prizes. She walked and logged over 80,000 steps on Active Switch by hiking Mount Royal Park in Montréal, taking evening walks by the river, walking to the store rather than driving and most importantly, enjoying the vibrant colours the Fall season had to offer.
“I love that the Active Switch Program gives me a boost of motivation to move more. Completing or surpassing my weekly goal is always a good feeling.”
When asked what advice Alex would give to others who may be trying to incorporate more activity into their daily lifestyle, Alex enthusiastically responds: “Choose activities that you love, it will help tremendously motivating you to get active. Consider starting simple like taking the long route to your favourite store in the mall or parking at the farthest end of the parking lot at the grocery store.”
Scott Spencer, County of Dufferin, 2019 Walktober Prize Winner
As an avid runner, walker and now cyclist, Scott’s natural reaction to Walktober Month was to challenge himself to walk more in the month of October. It was simply a natural fit to his already active lifestyle.
“Running has always been in my life, walking at work is a constant and cycling is fairly new which I am now enjoying, and it’s a nice way to arrive at work.”
When asked what he likes about the Active Switch program, Scott admits “I like seeing my personal progress and stats that I have accomplished by logging my activity online including kilometres reduced, calories burned and greenhouse gas emissions saved.”
Scott shares the following advice for anyone who is thinking about signing up for Active Switch and may need a little motivation to get up, get active, and log their activity:
“Start with small goals first and then increase them as you achieve them. Don’t do too much too early and make sure to enjoy every minute.”
Linda Gluck, 2019 Walktober Prize Winner
This October, Confederation College promoted Walktober Month and encouraged faculty, staff and students to walk as often as possible and log their activity on the Active Switch online tool for a chance to win great prizes.
As an avid walker, Linda took this opportunity to get active with her colleagues and insert some friendly competition into her daily work day.
Here’s what Linda enjoys about the Active Switch program:
“Participating with my collogues and keeping track of my progress and goals on Active Switch kept me motivated to do more. I also found that I was becoming even more competitive when I saw others involved.”
Linda walked and logged over 100,000 steps in the month of October to earn all four Walktober Medal.
“I love walking and hiking. It gives me time to reflect and unwind from my day. Walking with my coworkers also allows me time to catch up with what is happening in our work community by having mini meetings while walking!”
And when asked what kind of advice she would provide to others looking to get more active, Linda simply says:
“Just do it! You will feel more refreshed and energized!”
Maeve Doyle, Our Walktober Grand Prize Winner
A self described “gym rat” since her teens, Maeve has always loved to workout. This fall she added something new to her fitness routine by taking part in the UTM noon nature walks lead by the Recreation & Athletics Centre. After taking that “step”, participating in Walktober just seemed like a natural fit!
Here’s what she enjoys about the Active Switch program:
“The Active Switch program inspired me to try something new. I took my first hike on the Sawmill Valley Trail – something I’ve driven past a million times. Basically, the Active Switch program motivates me to move more and get outside – it helps me find the determination to achieve my goals.”
Walktober provided Maeve with an opportunity to reconnect with colleagues and meet new people. Here is how she logged her 100,000 steps to earn her platinum Walktober medal:
“The trails in Mississauga are gorgeous, especially in October. I caught up with people I haven’t seen in a while by signing up for the guided walks. I also met some new people. In addition to my new-found love for going on hikes, I’ve always enjoyed outdoor yoga. It combines mindfulness and movement with the awareness of this beautiful precious environment around us. It reminds me to be grateful for my health and for this place where I live.”
Maeve shares this advice for anyone looking to get more active:
“Try the Active Switch program and log your activity – it inspired me to try something new and can do the same for you! Success often comes from seizing the small opportunities – take the stairs, walk to a further coffee shop, join a fitness class. Most importantly, keep trying until you find what works for you.”
Surender Pal, Our Walktober Prize Winner
An avid Active Switch participant for over a year, Surender Pal from AECOM saw an e-blast about the Walktober campaign and made a conscious effort to log his activity throughout the 31-day challenge. It paid off as Surender is the happy winner of the silver medal prize – the Google Home Speaker!
Here’s what he enjoys about the Active Switch program:
“Active Switch let’s me know how active I’ve been and inspires me to do more. I like how I can keep track of my activities and know that if I don’t complete the goal set out for myself for that day, that I can work a little harder the next day to get it done!”
Walktober was a natural fit for Surender as he loves to walk. Here is how he logged his 50,000 steps to earn his silver Walktober medal:
“I have always enjoyed going for walks, ever since childhood. Ten years ago, I began doing yoga and about five years ago I started working out at the gym, however, my favourite activity still remains walking!”
Surender shares the following advice for anyone who is thinking about signing up for Active Switch and may need a little motivation to get up, get active, and log their activity:
“Join Active Switch and see your logged activities grow. Soon being active and logging on the Active Switch tool will be second nature – you’ll be enjoying yourself and inspired to do more!”
Andrew Tron, Our Cycling Enthusiast
What got me started on cycling to work? A number of factors were in play, but a big factor was the G20 summit in Toronto in 2010. My place of employment was (and still is) at Toronto Pearson Airport, and there were one or two mornings during the summit when I was stuck in standstill traffic, as the police blocked the roads for some world leader’s motorcade to pass by. I couldn’t stand one more day of being stuck, so I resolved to bike to work the next morning. And so, I did. And though I was held up by the traffic police that morning when I biked to work, waiting for yet another motorcade to pass by, I was held up at the front of the line, rather than being stuck a kilometer or so to the rear. When the motorcade had passed, I and another bicycle-commuting work colleague were the first to be let through by the police.
Sandra McKee, Our 2018 Active Switch Challenge Winner
Sandra first came to know about the 2018 Active Switch Challenge through an online posting at her workplace and is now the grand prize winner of the $1,000 Marlin Travel gift card!
Sandra has always enjoyed walking for exercise and wanted to increase the frequency of her walks to improve her physical fitness. During the Active Switch Challenge this past July, Sandra would go for walks around home and on hikes when away camping. She has this advice to offer anyone needing a little extra "push":
"Try it, you have nothing to lose but a lot to gain! Even two or three 10-minute sessions of walking a day helps!”
Sandra signed up for the Active Switch tool in 2017 and for her there’s no looking back. She continues to use the tool to log her walking, hiking and yoga activity and is seeing the rewards. “
"Just get off the couch and go for a walk. Your body will thank you!"
Congratulations Sandra! Enjoy your $1,000 Marlin Travel gift card and keep up the great work!
Janette Desousa, Our 2017 Walktober Platinum Medal Winner
When This Green Thumbed Gardener Received a “Green Tip of the Month” in Her Inbox, She Went for it – and Won!
“Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live in,” is a mantra that Janette Desousa, Oshawa resident and Walktober Platinum Medal Award winner lives by.
This past summer, Janette (who has always enjoyed walking and gardening) found herself struggling with something that we all do from time to time – motivation to stay active.
One day at work she received a routine “Green Tip of the Month” email which was advertising the Walktober Campaign – for Janette the challenge and resource guides were exactly what she needed to get back on track.
“The page (activeswitch.ca) provided a lot of helpful information for becoming more consistent with exercise and activity…I like the resources such as a monthly calendar with a walking fact sheet. I also liked to see what the steps amounted to (marathons completed and burgers burned for example).
Janette found that the warm Fall weather helped her to get out and get active. She committed to a schedule of regular walks and time spent gardening and accumulated over 100, 000 steps during the month of October – a tremendous accomplishment!
With Winter just around the corner, Janette has some ideas and advice for herself and others to help keep up their fitness routines. “I’ve started taking the stairs at work over the past few months”. She also advocates for several small blocks of activity over the course of a day. “Ten to fifteen-minute walks, two to four times per day will benefit you come Spring/Summer. Consistency is key.”
Janette also finds walking to be great for increasing energy and boosting mood. In addition, she likes that you don’t need to have any special equipment to participate. “I enjoy the fresh air and having time to think.”
Congratulations Janette on reconnecting with activities that you love and being the recipient of a $300 Canadian Tire Gift Card for your amazing effort during the Walktober challenge. Keep up the great work!
Eugene Alexeenko, Our 2014 Active Switch Challenge Winner
Nobody forgets how to ride a bike. Many of us have proud memories of progressing from riding around the neighbourhood on a tricycle, followed by a bike with training wheels and eventually, riding without those unwanted training wheels.
Meet Eugene. Eugene remembers what it was like to walk or ride his bike to school in the small community where he grew up in Russia. Although it was more a product of his modest upbringing, Eugene fondly remembers the simple pleasures of riding a bicycle as a small child.
Now working for the City of Toronto, Eugene recognized that he lived a manageable distance from his workplace and registered an account with the Active Switch program. He seized the opportunity to cycle to work near the waterfront; in fact, Eugene walks or cycles to work almost every single day. As Eugene said, "I feel really good since I exercise, save some money on gas and make our world greener."
In the summer of 2014, Eugene logged into his Active Switch account and logged his activity during the Active Switch Challenge. More information about the promotion, including its results, can be found here. A random draw was taken to hand out the grand prize for the promotion; two plane tickets to either London, England or Paris, France, courtesy of Transat Holidays. Our friend Eugene was ecstatic when he found out that he was the winner!
Eugene has since visited the two European cities and has been kind enough to share some photos of his trip below.
The moral of the story? Well, not everyone can win a European vacation, but commuting to work using an active mode of transportation can benefit you in ways you may not have recognized. Sure, it works to help you maintain and even improve your health, it is great for the environment and it also helps to reduce traffic. However, simply riding a bike to work can be sentimental. Our friend Eugene can attest to that!
Barbara Laskowska, Our 2014 Testimonial Contest Winner
Congratulations to Barbara, a worthy winner of two tickets to see the Toronto Raptors vs. Houston Rockets, courtesy of BOSS Promotions.
We hope that Barbara’s inspirational story motivates you as it motivated us!
"I started to cycle to work on a daily basis (except in the winter, when I walk) and it completely changed my life! I discovered bike paths and parks that I never knew existed! When I think of commuting to work (cycling, walking), it only brings positive emotions and it makes such a great start and end of my workday. I see a positive change in my work performance and emotional state and my coworkers have noticed it. I wish they all gave it a try..."
Rosanna Garcia, Our 2013 Active Switch Challenge Winner
Nervous to give cycling a try? Here’s how Rosanna Garcia from Pickering, Ontario got started!
Like most novice cycle-commuters, Rosanna Garcia had reservations about cycling to work. “I wasn’t sure that I would be able to do it,” says Rosanna as she recalls her first attempt at the idea, “so I practiced!”
Rosanna tried a test-ride on a day-off over the weekend, so that she could familiarize herself with a safe route to work, the distance and time. To her surprise, not only was a commute to work by bicycle possible, it was also enjoyable. Rosanna’s doubts are now a thing of the past, as Karyn and she have formed a buddy system and cycle to work together.
Rosanna’s perseverance paid off when she participated in the Active Switch Challenge and to her surprise, WON big!
An all inclusive trip for two to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, courtesy of Transat Holidays.
“The trip couldn’t have come at a better time as me and my husband will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary next year and we are using this trip to celebrate!”
Rosanna has set a goal to continue cycling to work at least once a week, in addition to cycling around her neighborhood for fun. She continues to use the Active Switch, Walking & Cycling online tool to set goals, log her distance travelled and keep track of her progress.
So the next time you have any doubts about your ability to cycle to work, just follow Rosanna’s lead and as she says, “get on your bike and see how far you can go!”
Lynn Doyle, Our Cycling Enthusiast
Lynn is the ultimate smart commuter. She first began cycling to work intermittently about 10 years ago but decided that it was faster and easier if she rode every day…that was seven years ago.
"I cycle to work in order to reduce my carbon footprint on the environment. I love leaving the house early and taking my time riding along the roads enjoying the smells and sounds of spring and summer," says Lynn. She also adds, "It’s good for the mind, body and soul."
Cycling a round trip distance of approximately 20-25 kilometres daily, Lynn admits it has many health benefits and she feels more satisfied at work. "Riding to work is like meditation for my mind. I feel peaceful and energized for my work day."
In addition to cycling to work each day, Lynn also cycles two evenings per week usually through the rolling hills of north Durham. On the weekends, Lynn embarks on longer rides from Oshawa to Port Hope using the Lakefront Trail System and county roads – now that’s impressive!
Lynn is registered on the Active Switch Program and uses the program on a regular basis as a motivational tool. "The more activity I log, the more I want to do!" says Lynn.
When asked if she has any advice for new or apprehensive cyclists, Lynn suggests "Get in touch with a local bike shop/club and join them for their group rides. You can learn a lot of valuable information and tips from riders of all skill levels."
She also adds, "New or experienced riders, respect on the roads must always be a priority! Always ride like you are driving your car. Use signals, have a light system, adhere to the rules of the Highway Traffic Act and make yourself as visible as possible! Some municipalities have better bike systems then others (designated bike lanes) so you must always be diligent and aware of the traffic around you."
Andy Harvey, Our Cycling Enthusiast
By definition – Andy is a smart commuter. As the Manager of Rapid Transit and Parking at the City of Mississauga, Andy feels a strong obligation to use sustainable modes of transportation when travelling to and from work.
“I love the ride and it takes less travel time than transit. I also use the shower facilities at work and feel quite refreshed for the start of the work day,” says Andy.
He began cycling to work on a regular basis in June of 2012. In the spring and summer months, Andy cycles the entire way to and from work – an incredible 17 kilometres round-trip up to four times a week– and uses a combination of bike paths and trails. As a participant in Mississauga’s annual Bike to Work Day Event, this year is no exception. Andy plans on joining the main group ride from Riverwood Park to Mississauga Celebration Square on Monday, May 27, 2013.
Andy will tell you enthusiastically that he cycles to and from work for a number of reasons - for exercise, for the environment, and as a great way to relax after a long day of work. He’s also proud to tell you that his family recently sold its SUV in an effort to be more sustainable and are now a one car family.
Last year, Andy took his passion for cycling one step further by registering for the Active Switch, Walking & Cycling Program. Since registering for the program in May 2012, Andy has cycled an astonishing 908 kilometres and has helped to save more than 197 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from entering the atmosphere! “It’s a great program to help me track my mileage,” says Andy.
When asked to provide any tips for new or hesitant cyclists, Andy says “Give it a try and see if it works for you. Do a little research on the advantages and challenges and see if they can be overcome. Smart Commute and the City of Mississauga have many valuable resources that can assist you in planning a safe cycling route.”
Are you an Active Switch enthusiast?
Active Switch invites you to share your success stories, cool solutions, and testimonials to help fellow commuters choose a sustainable and active way to get around!
Please email us your testimonial/story along with a picture (optional) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Once submitted and reviewed, you just might see your testimonial/story promoted on our testimonials page.