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

The river behind the ball field. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)
Pulled by the flow: river stirs up childhood memories

Gazette editor makes trek through Port Hardy wilderness to swim in the river

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Alert Bay council has decided to cancel Canada Day celebrations. (Alertbay.ca photo)
Alert Bay council cancels Canada Day celebrations

The decision was made in wake of the mass graves being found at former residential schools

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Most Read