WHEN PASSION MEETS PURPOSE
An enthusiastic health and wellness entrepreneur, a university professor and an international speaker, Mike is driven by his passion to bring tangible health results to the masses. His journey started with a simple curiosity for the world of fitness as a student athletic therapist during his undergrad at the University of New Brunswick in Kinesiology. While training various sports teams, he continued with his studies by completing a Master’s in Applied Exercise Physiology at Memorial University.
During his PhD in the Faculty of Medicine at MUN, Mike began to see clearly that most people struggle with their health goals due to the myriad of information found in mainstream culture. This onslaught of misinformation often leads to fad diets and ‘health’ trends that are not only restrictive and impractical in nature but leave many feeling like they can’t participate. With this in mind, Mike built a wellness business, borne from his studies in obesity, with the mission to support clients in realistic, scientifically backed weight loss strategies.
As the business grew, Mike began working with clients in all areas of heavy industry from mining to construction, factories to oil & gas. His understanding of the strain put on the heavy industry workers’ body made him a sought-after wellness expert in the offshore oil & gas industry.
FROM TRAGEDY TO ACTION
In March of 2009, a routine flight from St-John’s (NLFD) headed offshore to the White Rose oil field carrying workers for two rigs, when it suddenly crashed. All but one person died on the flight. The tragedy really hit home for Mike, as he had flown the exact route several times before and knew many of the victims in the crash. As the investigation progressed, questions of worker fitness emerged. Were heavy industry workers fit enough to survive and escape an accident like a helicopter crash or an explosion?
This event was a catalyst for change in Mike’s approach to wellness. His doctoral research focused on obesity and shifted to directly address recommendations from the inquiry. The research highlighted the considerable importance of healthy workers in the workplace, but more importantly how much fitness can truly be the difference between life and death. The work quickly became far more about putting real health back into health and safety than simply promoting weight loss and exercise.
A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO WELLNESS
Historical approaches to industrial health and wellness have often focused on the observable indicators like injury reduction and safety compliance. Equally important is the 90% of health challenges that are not always easily visible. As time went on Mike broadened his approach and noticed that workers wear hard hats to prevent head injuries all the while quietly suffering from mental health issues. Or, that they wear steel toe boots to protect themselves from foot injuries when diabetes accounts for the most common form of amputation. It quickly became clear that a holistic approach to wellness would be the key factor in promoting proper wellness practices and could bring considerable ROI to his clients.
The combination of his extensive workplace experience and evidence-based research allowed him to create an innovative approach to wellness with tangible results. This has enabled him to partner with leading heavy industry organizations to complete further research studies that have informed policy changes and actionable workplace programs. His work has garnered international recognition and has taken him to all corners of the world from the North Artic to South America, Europe and North America.
Having spoken at over 100 conferences, Mike is seen as a thought leader in the industry of workplace wellness. He uses humour, anecdotes and a ‘down to earth’ delivery style to help individuals and organizations translate complicated health information into tangible facts that shift workplace cultures towards new perspectives on wellness.