Turning The Paige: A Passion For Fitness Is Powering Paige Johnston
Only a few years ago, Paige Johnston was a newsmaker for her skills on the basketball court.
Now however, she’s turned the Paige on a new passion, health and fitness.
“Growing up I was always super athletic and being active was a favourite hobby of mine,” says Johnston, who was born and raised in Dresden, Ontario.
“You name the sport, I played it. It wasn’t until May of 2017 when I hit an all-time low due to a sport related injury. At this time I had to get surgery which removed me from all things fitness related.”
Johnston played JUEL basketball for St. Clair in her youth alongside local legend Bridget Carleton, before advancing to play OCAA basketball for Lambton College.
“After my recovery period was over, I really let my health decline. It was the first time in my life where I didn’t feel any pressure to stay active because I wasn’t playing a sport. At the time I didn’t even realize what I was doing to my body. I was not giving my body the nutrition it needed and was not prioritizing physical activity.”
Shortly after that, in 2018, Johnston decided enough was enough, and made the decision to change her eating habits, and put fitness at the forefront of her life.
“I switched to a plant-based diet, and started back at the gym 4-5 days a week. Since then, my journey has not always been easy. There have been times where I wanted to quit because I wasn’t seeing the progress I wanted. But I continued to remind myself that “consistent efforts generate consistent results,” and since then, I have enjoyed the process.”
And the results for Johnston have been clear. She has gained a following on social media, and is building a clientele of individuals coming to her for fitness planning and workout help.
The challenge Johnston faced is one many former competitive athletes encounter in the months and years after the completion of their playing career, and the transition involves a shift in how they understand fitness.
“As an athlete I think I saw fitness as a means to compete. I needed to be bigger, stronger, and faster for performance purposes,” Johnston explained.
“Whereas now, I view health and fitness as a means to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, when I am working out, I am always trying to improve my strength, but not to be able to compete and perform anymore. For me, my journey has taught me to strive towards living the happiest, healthiest life I can, and fitness has provided me with both those things.”
Despite the shift, Johnston, as most athletes do, still attributes the impact of sport to much of who she is today.
“Sport has truly shaped the person I am today. From what I enjoy doing in my spare time, to all of the mentors and teammates I have met along the way, and the lessons each sport or team I was a part of has taught me. It wasn’t until I was removed from sport (when I was done playing varsity) that I fully realized the impact it truly had on my life. Sport made me, me.”
The intrinsic drive, and the passion Johnston developed for sport and fitness, is what has enabled her to build a budding fitness career, and following.
Now she’s trying to help others on a similar journey. To start being more active, and healthy, and to find a love and passion for fitness as she has.
“It’s not going to be easy, but you can do it. Starting something new, or getting back into something you haven’t prioritized in a while is hard. I am the first one to admit that. However, the reward of being able to look back and see where you started and how far you have come is what makes the journey so special.”
“It might not always be weight loss, as each journey to a healthier, happier, lifestyle is different. I think it’s important to focus on your journey and not compare your situation to anyone else. Body positivity can be difficult. We are taught to compare ourselves to those in the media and the standards that are set by society. But honestly, when you can let go of the fear of pleasing others and realize that perfection is just an illusion, you are able to appreciate the process.”
Johnston is speaking from experience, and hopes others will take the most difficult step of starting
“If you have been considering changing your lifestyle this is your sign. I promise you, the hardest step is starting. Once you start, don’t look back.”
CKSN will be publishing a Fitness Friday video tip or workout from Johnston each week. Make sure you follow along, or follow her on Instagram @paigejohnston_fit for inspiration to begin your journey.