From actor to weightlifter

In UTM’s high-performance facility, Varsity Blues football players push their athletic bodies through a rigorous weightlifting routine that improves their performance on the field. Not only the players’ roars of enthusiasm are essential for the workout; so is the commanding voice of their personal trainer, Darren Turner.

The main goal Turner has set out for himself is to encourage and educate his trainees on proper technique and alignment, ensuring that they build strength and reduce the chance of injury. Christopher McDonald, a Varsity Blues athlete and first-year political science student, can attest to the training techniques’ effectiveness. “Darren brings core strengthening and flexibility to a whole new level with the ways he gets you to lift,” he says. “I’ve improved my mechanics for all the lifts that make me a better athlete. I used to avoid Olympic lifts, but now I enjoy them.”

Originally, Turner set out to become an actor and stuntman, and studied theatre and drama studies at UTM. But once his personal training career took off, he decided to switch career paths. “Even though I was successful in my acting career, the whole personal training deal took over,” he says.

On his path to becoming a stuntman, he experimented with a range of physical activities for both group and individual sport to hone his abilities and increase his confidence.

He now uses the techniques he learned to train others. “It’s the diversity of my athletic experience that allows me to do what I do here so well,” he says.

“Looking at it from a stress-management perspective, physical activity releases serotonin—which is all your happy hormones—which leads to happier emotions and more confidence, ultimately making all your other priorities throughout the day achieved much more efficiently.”

Turner believes that those who work out consistently will be more likely to eat healthier foods. “If someone is conscious about their workouts and dedicated to improving their quality of life they’ll be more conscious about their eating habits,” he says. “You want to eat your fats and complex carbohydrates to fuel the body, along with your proteins for recovery.” The worse the food you eat, the less energetic and enthusiastic you’ll be, which will take you away from the weight room and take your attention off your schoolwork.

He adds that students interested in working out on campus who find the environment intimidating or know little about the available resources should join MoveU, a campus group dedicated to helping people reach their fitness goals. “Some students don’t know about all the intramural or drop-in opportunities here, and it’s a shame because not everyone has to lift weights—they can join in and play a game of badminton,” he says. “Everyone is different in what they want, and there’s ways of getting what you want here at UTM.”

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