Rosemary Westie: Client for Life with a MadLab Coach for Life
“When you’re talking about the idea of a coach for life, I really do think it’s about becoming a part of their lives. It’s a relationship. …There are a lot of good coaches out there, so it has to be about more than that.” – Rosemary Westie, client at MadLab School of Fitness
Rosemary Westie still remembers the moment she decided to turn her life around.
She was 38 years old, and at 5’1″, she weighed 160 lb. at her heaviest and was a size 14.
“I was so self-conscious about my body. And one day, I was at home and I remember I had shorts on—I didn’t wear bathing suits or shorts in public anymore—and I came around the corner and my nephew was there. And I found myself hiding behind the staircase. I was so embarrassed that the kids would see me as this lazy, bigger woman,” said Rosemary, who is turning 60 years old this month.
She added: “I realized I wasn’t even the person I used to be and I hated that I wasn’t. I missed that person.”
After that day, she embarked on a path to change her life. She started by joining Jenny Craig and buying an elliptical ski machine. Soon she added running to the equation and got heavily involved in trail running, marathons and even ultramathons. Today, 20 years after that day she hid behind her staircase in her own home, Rosemary is a lean 113 lb. size two. She has also logged more than 35,000 miles as a runner and has raced in 25 marathons and ultramarathons.
Four years ago, Rosemary realized if she was going to keep running and stay healthy in her late 50s and 60s and beyond, she needed to build strength or she’d wither away like so many ageing adults who suffer from sarcopenia—age-related muscle loss.
She turned to MadLab School of Fitness in Vancouver, was teamed up with coach Tom Sarosi and began personal training.
Rosemary explained without Tom in her life in the last four years, she isn’t sure how her body would be holding up today.
“A lot of people my age who I used to run with can’t run anymore because of injuries, and they’re always asking me, ‘How are your knees? How are your hips?’ Your recovery just gets tougher when you get older, but because of the strength training I do, I haven’t had any issues,” she said.
Rosemary doesn’t think this would be the case without a personal coach in her corner, who individualizes her workouts to meet her specific needs and goals.
“He always knows how far I can go. I think it’s quite funny because whatever weight he tells me to do, it’s always the right one. Sometimes I think he’s just pulling numbers out of thin air, but he isn’t. He knows exactly what I need. He’s just really good at what he does,” she said.
Tom knows when to push and he knows when to pull back, she added.
“I asked him once why he doesn’t let me climb a rope, and he looked at me and said, ‘Because you weren’t born in 1993.’” she said. “Then he’ll have me do something that duplicates climbing a rope, but close to the ground, and it’s really hard and I’ll think, ‘What was I thinking? I’m so tired, I would have just fallen from the roof had I climbed the rope.’”
She added: “He always has my best interest in mind to keep me safe….He seems to know my fitness level (and) body better than I do.”
Most recently, Rosemary has been training for a 44-mile race on D-Day this June in France. She is raising money for the Save Your Skin Foundation.
“That race is my priority for a bit and Tom knows that. So I come in one day and Tom has a schedule of exactly what days I’m doing my long runs and what days I’m doing my short runs, and has taken all that into consideration to give me what I need so it helps prepare me, but doesn’t fatigue me too much,” she said.
Though Tom has helped Rosemary gain strength and stay injury-free in her late 50s to pursue her passion for running, what Rosemary said she values even more is her relationship with her coach.
“Personality-wise, we might seem like an unusual fit—I’m a crazy personality and he’s a more serious one—but we have a developed a great relationship. I tease him, he’s like my son, but he also keeps me grounded,” she said.
Two years ago, Rosemary lost her mother, who was her best friend. Tom was particularly valuable during this time, she explained.
“I used to talk about her all the time, and I remember one days he asked me, ‘Are you prepared to lose her?’ I wasn’t prepared. So he really has seen me at my most vulnerable. Sometimes he doesn’t t say a lot, and sometimes he just watches me cry during a pt session…But if I didn’t have him on my calendar during that time, I would have struggled to get out of bed,” she said.
This relationship is the reason Rosemary said Tom will be her coach for life.
“God love him, he isn’t the warm and fuzzy type, but I will be his client for life because I take my relationships seriously, he does a great job and he really cares about me. We’re important in each other’s lives, and not in a crazy weird way,” she said with a laugh. “I’m not even sure it’s something he thinks about or realizes, but it’s so much more than just the fitness he has helped me with.”
He DOES smile sometimes…
She believes relationships like the one she has with her coach are important in any professional industry.
Rosemary is an investment advisor and has been for 30 years. She’s very good at what she does, and she credits this to her relationships with her clients.
“My clients are always telling me, ‘You’re not going to retire, right? You’ll work until you’re 90?’ The reality is I see my clients as friends first. I’m at their kids’ weddings, I’m there when their grandkids are born. When you’re talking about the idea of a coach for life, I really do think it’s about becoming a part of their lives. They won’t leave me and they care about me. It’s a relationship,” she said.
Rosemary added: “There are a lot of good coaches out there, so it has to be about more than that. I would never quit MadLab. My first thought would be, ‘Oh Tom, I can’t leave Tom.'”