We spoke to Arthur Biyarslnov, Canadian Professional Boxer and Olympian, as he describes his experience growing up in St. James Town while providing some advice on how community members can stay active during the winter.

1. Growing up in St. James Town and training in the Cabbagetown Youth Centre – what initially drew you to boxing? What memories do you have of that time? 

Growing up in St. James Town was really exciting and busy, there was always something going on and so many kids to play sports with. My brother forced me into boxing for self defense and at first, I hated it because I was really bad at it but eventually I started to enjoy it.  St. James Town has people of all races and culture around the world and there was always so many kids to play with. I remember how I would always be outside playing sports and doing a lot of activities.

2. As the holiday period approaches, albeit differently this year, and with winter setting in, why is it important for residents to stay active?

Staying active is very important, not just because of the times we are in but in general itself because staying active keeps you healthy and makes you feel great! I notice when I take some time off training, my mood is not the same as it would be when I am training…So yes! Staying active does bring up your mood. Most importantly staying active strengthens your immune system and that is very important in the present time as proven by the doctors that stronger immune system is better protection against Covid-19.

3. Obviously staying fit is critical for your profession but how else has fit and healthy been a benefit to you – for example, mental health? 

Staying fit always brings up my mood, most people think that they may be tired and not have energy after working out but actually, it makes you feel so much better both mentally and physically. Not only does it make you feel better but it strengthens your immune system and you feel and look a lot healthier. 

4. How did you manage to stay fit during lockdown?

I can’t really take time off training as I am used to training every day, but during lockdown, there were times that gym facilities were closed and everyone had to train on their own somewhere home or at parks. I would go for runs and do exercises using my body weight. 

5. Can you give us any tips for working out and staying fit within a small space? 

You don’t necessarily need a lot of space or a lot of equipment to work out. The best is body weight exercises and to replace weights by using elastic bands. You don’t need much space at all for these exercises.

6. Do you do outside fitness activity during the winter period? If so, are there any activities which you would recommend for residents in St. James Town? 

I don’t take the risk of getting sick by training outside during wintertime because if you don’t dress appropriately you can easily get sick, so I like to stay inside, do my runs on the treadmill. However, one of the best things you can do for outside activity and specifically in St James Town is running the stairs (steps) most buildings are over 20 floors in St James town and its perfect way to get a nice burn in the legs and not get too cold.  

7. Do you have any final remarks that you would like to share, perhaps with the younger generation in St. James Town? 

Listen to your parents because they want the best for you and will only always try to give you the best advice they can. And be committed to everything you do because without commitment your dreams will never come true, you need to work hard and stay focused and committed to what you do if you want to achieve your dreams even if it’s boring!