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Monster Fitness hosts Karma Yoga for one of its own

Wednesday, 31 January 2018. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

Monster Fitness hosts Karma Yoga for one of its own

Shani Gingras and Amanda Barrett, friends and fellow instructors at Monster Fitness, take a moment to share an embrace prior to a Karma Yoga session held last Wednesday to support Shani in her battle with cancer.   Photos by Georgia Dale

Monster Fitness hosts Karma Yoga for one of its own

By Georgia Dale

Witnessing a community embrace a person in need is a humbling and inspirational experience. Talking to Shani Gingras, an instructor at Monster Fitness, about how she felt receiving that kind of generosity from residents of Pincher Creek is equally inspiring.

People gathered at Monster Fitness on Jan. 24 to participate in a Karma Yoga class led by instructor Amanda Barrett. The cost was left up to participants, and all the proceeds went to Shani and her family, who face the complicated new reality that comes with a cancer diagnosis. The class raised over $3,000.

Shani does not describe herself as a public person; she says she is far from it. But she never kept her diagnosis a secret, choosing instead to reach out to her children’s teachers to ensure they have the support they need from their community.   

She says that although there have been many difficulties associated with her diagnosis in August 2017, the response from her hometown has been an “incredible silver lining.”

Shani grew up in Pincher Creek — in fact, she was born in the Lebel Mansion — and her family has deep local roots. Her dad was born here and her grandmother lived all of her 105 years here.

Her close friends and her partner, Kurtis Reimer, have arranged a ride schedule to make sure that she can get to appointments in Lethbridge and that the kids can get to and from school and sports. Shani is thankful for this extra time she gets to spend with these friends.

Another friend set up a meal rotation for the family, which has relieved Shani from cooking duty, much to her family’s delight. This is a running joke in the household — they’re not sure if they’ll be able to get used to her cooking again when this ordeal is over.

Not only is she thankful to be excused from cooking, but she says it has been a great way to get the kids to try new foods and, in doing so, get connected to their community by tasting the favourite foods of their friends and neighbours.

As I was talking to Shani, it became apparent that she is very proud of her kids for their ability to adapt to these adverse circumstances. She says all four have really stepped up their game in terms of doing chores and looking out for one another. One day, she says, they will make their spouses really happy with the practical skills they have acquired in recent months.

She says this ordeal has been a lesson to her family about the value of the golden rule, and the fact that she and her kids have had the opportunity to witness their community practising it firsthand, with such enthusiasm and resolve, has been “overwhelming.”

Shani is proud of her community too. She told me that she has always been happy to participate in fundraisers to help support the community, but never imagined being on the receiving end, and how much it actually helps.

Between medication costs and the gap between when her employment insurance and her last paycheque came, the family had a lot on their plates.

Angels Among Us was also able to help Shani with her medication costs by quietly leaving $1,000 for her at the pharmacy.  

The actions of her close-knit community, she says, are a great antidote to the negative stories that dominate the news some days, and are a fantastic reminder of the amazing acts of kindness that people are capable of.

They’re more than capable, they are overjoyed to participate in collective acts of kindness. This was evident as I observed the Karma class. The huge room was completely full, with people participating from their spots tucked away in corners and the modest donation jar fairly overflowing with donations.

It was obvious to everyone present, including Shani, that she is loved in this community and that there are many people who can’t wait to help her defeat her diagnosis and heal up as fast as she can.

Shani sends her thanks out to everyone in her family and community. And while she would “hate to miss anyone in specific,” she knows they will know who she means when she sends a special nod to her “brew crew” and her “kittens.”

She is thankful on a daily basis for the actions and presence of her partner and “rock,” Kurtis, her parents and her four wonderful children. Their family can’t wait to put this ordeal behind them and “pay it forward” each and every day.

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Supportive community members came together at Monster Fitness last Wednesday to tap into healing vibrations and share mellowing stretches in support of Shani Gingras.

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