For their first big meeting since 2019, the girls were invited to a 5 or 10 kilometer race, without a stopwatch or classification. For the simple pleasure of moving. They could also walk from one kiosk to another to handle petanque balls, discs or balloons.
The program’s sponsors, professional dancer Kim Gingras and freestyle skier Justine Dufour-Lapointe, warmed up the crowd on stage to kick off the day. They had messages for young people.
For me, it’s to continue to be curious and to seek the physical activity that makes you happy, explained the artist who notably danced with Justin Timberlake and Beyoncé on tour. Sometimes our passion won’t necessarily be running or playing badminton. I tried karate, gymnastics, then I came across dancing. That was my crush. It’s nice to search until we find what makes us feel good.
The FitSpirit program, I’ve done that a bit all my life in fact, says Justine Dufour-Lapointe. Throughout my career, I had my sisters by my side and they were a source of motivation during the most difficult times. Some mornings, when I was not tempted, they were my godmothers.
For me, FitSpirit is a movement to make girls feel comfortable, adds the youngest of the Dufour-Lapointe sisters. He has no competition, it’s for the pleasure of moving so that one day, perhaps, it becomes a healthy lifestyle. Together, it’s motivating.
Claudine Labelle is the president and founder of the FitSpirit program, which she created 15 years ago. This year, she managed to implement her idea in 230 high schools in Quebec, a record.
Throughout the year, the girls are encouraged to move, together.
We are 70 schools away from being in half of the secondary schools in Quebec and we do not want to stop there, she explains. In an ideal world, all schools would participate in FitSpirit. Today is proof that it works.
Claudine Labelle set up this program in 2007 to fill the gap in participation in physical activities that exists between girls and boys in adolescence. If the number of registered schools is increasing, the number of participants, on the other hand, has dropped during the pandemic.
In 2018, the Montreal stage attracted 4,000 participants, double this year.
We’ve seen a number of girls drop out of physical activity, it’s been hard for us to see it, but this year, to be able to get them back into the face-to-face, to have experiences like these today, it was really important, both for their mental health and our physical health. We have 6000 subscribers to FitSpirit and we continue to make it move.
The girls who are here today are our resilient ones and it was not easy to retain them. Now, being able to have face-to-face access to them helps us enormously. When they were more isolated, many girls faced mental health issues, motivation was affected. When we are with our peers, it gives us additional motivation to want to move.
Justine Dufour-Lapointe, godmother for the third year, insists on the need for a program like that of FitSpirit for teenage girls.
The girls have a little more difficult or different stakes than the men, explains the champion of the Sochi Games. At puberty, we are perhaps more concerned about our body and sometimes it comes to slow us down in our physical momentum. Here, we remove the barriers and we are really just there to move between girls, without judgment, without competition.
The Montreal stoppage was the first in a series of six events.
The tour will then stop at Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Rimouski, Sainte-Gertrude-de-Manneville in Abitibi, then Port-Cartier on the North Shore.
Dufour-Lapointe not quite back on earth yet
Justine Dufour-Lapointe was all smiles at the FitSpirit celebration. Sunglasses on her face, looking relaxed, the acrobatic skier seemed rested.
The last few months, and even the last few years, have been tough on body and soul. While the tears that streamed down his cheeks after his fall in the final of the moguls event at the Beijing Games have gone, the memories have not all dissipated.
It seems like yesterday in my head and I still feel in the process of returning to Quebec, explains Justine Dufour-Lapointe, officially 20th in Beijing. The Games and the preparation were very intense and the tension is still slowly decreasing to this day. I am still in this process and I let myself go. We will see for the next few months.
For the moment, she has not resumed training seriously.
She doesn’t get bored of skiing in the moguls, especially not at -35 degrees like during the last Olympic Games.
Despite open questions from Radio-Canada Sports, she remained vague about the rest of her career.
The gold medalist in Sochi and silver medalist in Pyeongchang has not stepped on an international podium since February 2020.
I keep training here and there because it’s important to do it and it’s hard to stop it, but I’m a bit status quo right now, she said. We watch the summer go by and after that, serious training will happen in the next few months.
At 28, she is still trying to learn from her Chinese misadventure.
After a brief stay in Quebec in February and a last World Cup in France, Justine Dufour-Lapointe took a very pleasant ski vacation, far from the bumps, with her sister Chloé.
She is better, much better, even if everything is not yet perfect.
I’m fine, but some days are more difficult than others, says the skier. I think it’s just normal and that’s the experience that these Games will have given me. Learn to grow from that, learn to live with those emotions and find a way to do good and come out a winner.
On Tuesday, his way of doing good was prominent, appreciated and successful.
She shared her joie de vivre and her passion with 2,000 teenage girls.