"Your Job Is To Train"

When my friend was giving me the advice on stunts and pointed out that I was taking on a lot, I told him, “It’s fine, I don’t have a job.” To let him know I currently have a lot of free time. “No, your job is to train.” He pointed out. I do this for acting, finding ways to work on my craft even when I am not in class or on set, but this week definitely made me feel like I was making it my job to train in the physical sense as well.

On Tuesday, I decided to try out a Jiu-Jitsu class in Beloeil rather than just sticking to my elliptical and stuff I usually do when I go home, away from all the classes I take in Toronto. The teacher, Lee Villeneuve, gave a workshop a few weeks ago at 4 points, so when I found out he had a gym less than 10 minutes from my house, I knew I had to go.


It started out with the usual warmup of jogging around and side steps and high knees and what not, but all too quickly, we got into cartwheels (which was fine), handstands and a multitude of things I had never done before. I tried my best to follow along, and luckily there were some really nice people who took the time to show me how to do the stuff I wasn’t quite getting. It would definitely be beneficial for me to keep working on all of these.

There was another girl there, so I worked on the techniques with her, and we rolled together for the first two rounds, before guys chose me as their partners for the last 2 rolls. Very much like the guys from 4 points when I first came in, it was a combination of rolling and coaching, but I really learnt a lot. And will be back for sure, not just for the training, but for the people. The girl I rolled with has currently become my inspiration (not that she knows) because she had no background in gymnastics or martial arts or whatever, but a year and a half ago she decided she wanted to get into stunts, so she trained and she worked hard and she made it happen. And that is badass.

On Wednesday I had a dry run at McGill before driving back to Toronto so I could work as an SP on Thursday.


Once work was done, I met up with Christine, an actress who trains in stunts, that I met in class a few years ago. We were both signed up for an amazing workshop last weekend, so we went for a late lunch where she told me about her journey into stunts and gave me advice on what I should do and what I need in my stunt kit. Who knew that if you needed answers, all you had to do is ask the questions and everyone would be willing to help?

When we were done we went to 4 Points so I could help out and she could catch up with Ayisha, eventually staying way longer than she intended, and working with me for the NOGI class. Since Christine had only ever taken one class before, she went all out, even when we were just working on techniques, which was super frustrating when I couldn’t get it, but also really useful, because when you’re rolling, no one is going to help you (or even let you) sweep them. When we actually got to the rolling, I was with the guys, and one of them wanted to work on his balance when we start the roll standing, so I made many futile attempts to knock him off his feet. I think I managed it once? But learning what doesn’t work brings me closer to figuring out what does…right? We went back to my place and watched a bunch of stunt reels and fight scenes before going to bed.


On Friday, we started the day off with Boxing at 4 points, with Chie. It was the first time I wasn’t alone for one of his classes, which was fun, but I do also love my private sessions 🙂 The biggest difference is that after the conditioning and the pad work was done, Chie stuck around to help us kill time before the jiu-jitsu class. Just for fun, Christine choreographed a fight, we ran it and then we filmed it, all within the span of a half an hour. When Chie left, Christine helped me work on my reactions to different punches and stuff. It all felt like play.

We learnt some new techniques in Jiu-Jitsu, and got in a roll before I rushed over to Ayisha so she could give me eyelash extensions. I am so clueless in this department that I originally thought she meant those fake lashes you glue on and take off at the end of the day with eye makeup remover. I clearly had no idea what to expect.

I was her first ever attempt, and a complete success, if I do say so myself. It took a lot longer than the glue-on fake lashes I thought I was getting, but I was basically on a bed, comfy and bundled up in a blanket, listening to music and having conversations…the only drawback I can see at the moment is that every time I talk to my roommate, she stops me and says, “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear what you were saying, I was too busy admiring your lashes” So not so fun for me, but clearly a good sign for Ayisha.

We were supposed to go to a gymnastics class that night, but my roommate’s boyfriend was in town, so he invited us to a big home cooked meal instead. Christine made a delicious salad with mangoes and avocadoes and tomatoes and cucumbers, then the boyfriend made us a mushroom and steak appetizer, followed by a very rich, delectable coconut curry shrimp pasta. When I did Tough Mudder a few years ago, I was told to carboload the night before, so it was justified, I’m sure 😉

I am going to do a post on the workshop by itself, because there were so many awesome parts to it (and I don’t have the pictures yet), but needless I was blown away by John Stead and his team. We worked on a choreography until 1, when Day 1 of the workshop concluded to make way for the boxing class, which a few of us participated in. Ryan’s class is a killer, but you can’t help but feel proud, strong and like a badass when it’s over.

We ate, then worked on the choreography. It was unfortunate that Christine and I had the same part in the fight, but also really cool, because it meant that we had to learn the other part as well in order to be able to practice with each other. In acting, your scene partner’s lines are more important to listen to than your own, so I think it was probably really beneficial for us to know the other side of the fight as well.

As a reward for a day spent training, she invited me over for a swim, some Jacuzzi and sauna action (not to forget a poolside rendition of the fight choreography) before we went out for supper and talked about the industry, the workshop, and how she has to move to Toronto now.

On Sunday we went to 4 points early to work on the choreography, and I’ll go more into details later, but it was an amazing day. Not easy, but so much fun, and definitely something that I would love to do. I have a long way to go, obviously, but I am ready and willing to put in the work to get there, which was not always the case.

At the very end, those of us who were left went out for supper (we were starving!) and stayed there until 11 o’clock talking about the workshop, the differences between acting and stunts, training options, and I’m pretty sure some acquaintances became friends.

On Monday I drove back to Montreal and am working at McGill for the next few days. Which is work, obviously, but it kind of also feels like I am being paid to hang out with my friends 🙂

“The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.”

-Walt Disney



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