Jimmy Blais has a new lease on life after meeting Claire Jacklin, the community manager at Golden Life's Garden View Village in Kimberley, who encouraged him and helped him start a workout routine, helping him conquer his MS diagnosis. Paul Rodgers photo.

500 revolutions: B.C. man with MS gains back control with help of exercise bike

Garden View Community Manager encouraged Blais to get his body moving

In 2016 Jimmy Blais, originally from Kimberley, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). Two years ago he moved into the Garden View Village independent and assisted living facility after his symptoms made living on his own too difficult.

The 41-year-old was not in a good place mentally and described hating his condition. But after meeting Golden Life community manager Claire Jacklin, who helped him get into a workout routine, Blais has been able to get a whole new outlook on his life and the disease.

MS is a potentially disabling auto-immune disease of the central nervous system that can impact memory, balance and mobility and it can affect people in different ways and at different ages.

READ MORE: Yearly donation to those suffering from MS

Kimberley is Blais’ home town. He lived in Vancouver for a few years, having moved there to seek treatment for drug addiction.

He was a trained actor and made a few films in Vancouver, but he came back home to Kimberley in 2013 when his stepmom passed away, which he said “destroyed a lot of things.”

“My mother died when I was 10,” Blais said. “So losing my step mother, she was my mum longer than my mother was my mom.”

Then in 2016 he got sick.

“It affected me with hatred,” he said of the diagnosis, “and I really, really dislike that word and I really disliked how it affected me personally.”

He met Jacklin while living at Garden View, and she provided him the help to get his legs on the exercise bike and gave him some much-needed encouragement to start working out.

“What really is affecting me badly with this disease is my balance, I don’t really have pain,” Blais explained. “But really she helped me get my legs on the bike. Without that I wouldn’t be able to get on again. And thank the universe that she was here to get me started on that.”

He said that working out has not only helped him feel immensely better physically, but also helped him out with his mental state as well.

“[Working out] doesn’t allow me to really freak out,” he said. “Like I used to scream ‘I hate this’ and now it’s like I can’t because I rode that bike. So coming here and doing that is what’s really fixing the mental aspects of this disease.”

He started out slowly, doing about 10 revolutions of the pedals on the exercise bike. As he regained command of his body, he increased his reps more and more and today can do 500 revolutions.

He works out early in the morning every day and is now working in strength training like push-ups and weight lifting. He’s also walking the hallways of Garden View, pushing his heavy power chair, and doing stairs.

“I’ve never felt better about myself in a very long time,” he said. “I need to remember that I’m doing something to get out of my murk. Can’t sit back there, I’m here now. I want to stay here and keep doing what I’m doing, because I know it’s helping me and my body is changing. I’ve never seen definition in my chest and my arms before. I used to be 400 pounds at my heaviest.”

Were it not for meeting Jacklin and taking the initiative to start working out, Blais believes he would still be “stuck in that hatred,” he felt when initially diagnosed. Now he sees that the disease does not define him, it’s just a part of him.

“Working out has really taught me how to love the disease and know that it’s an experience,” he said. “And that’s what I’m doing I’m having an experience with a really awful thing but I know it now I know this and I’m thankful for it.”

“Although it sucks,” he added with a laugh.

Moving forward, Blais intends to keep working out every day and pushing himself more and more. He hopes to share his experience and inspire others who are battling MS and encourage them to not stop moving their body.

“I know that we lose a lot of our abilities and talents and stuff, but if we work towards a better goal, it’ll come. Don’t get stuck in the spiral that can bring you really down. Work out. Move your body, it helps.”

He also is currently working on a book. He said that this new outlook he’s achieved has helped him see himself as more than what he thought he was before, whether that was an actor, singer or a writer. He thought he’d lost all of that because of this disease, but now knows that it’s all still there.

“When I first found out about it I thought my life was over, I was like this is it I’m done,” he said. “And my step mum just died so I was like, ‘why am I here?’ But now I know, I’m here for this experience and to teach people that life can be what you make it.”



paul.rodgers@kimberleybulletin

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

multiple sclerosis

Just Posted

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.’s Indigenous language, art and culture

North Saanich advisor says initiative supports urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

General manager Lindsey Pomper says Sidney’s Star Cinema cannot wait welcome audiences when it reopens June 18, amid an easing of public health measures. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney’s Star Cinema raises curtain for the first time after months in the darkness

Iconic theatre to reopen at half capacity for Friday night showing

A dogs in parks pilot study unanimously approved by Saanich council will evaluate how park space can best be shared between dog owners and non-owners alike. (Photo by Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Saanich to study park-sharing strategy between those with and without pets

District-wide People, Parks and Dogs study to produce recommendations by fall

Staff member Lena Laitinen gives the wall at BoulderHouse a workout during a media tour on June 16. (Rick Stiebel/News Staff)
BoulderHouse raring to rock Langford

Popularity of bouldering continues to climb across Greater Victoria

The Sooke Potholes is a jewel in the community's crown. Transition Sooke hosts a town hall meeting on community growth on June 26. (Courtesy: Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke forum tackles community growth

To Grow or Not to Grow online town hall meeting set for June 26

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

Most Read