What change would you like to make?
Greater Vancouver is consistently rated one of the the world’s most “livable cities”, and there are many amazing qualities that make me proud to call the coast my home. Unfortunately, it’s not like this for everyone: too many youth in Vancouver deal with heavy gang activity, crippling income inequality, and consistently high child poverty rates.
Many youth end up being driven into violence, crime and homelessness as a result of the circumstances they find themselves placed in. I believe that we can all make bad choices and that we must be held accountable for our actions. Yet, for many youth without mentors, opportunities, or healthy communities, these are often the only choices they can make.
My goal is to change that with the power of movement. Building on the success of organizations such as Innercity Weightlifting, Steve’s Club, and the Mind-Body Awareness Project, I believe that the gym offers a positive alternative to the streets.
The change I’d like to make: to train and hire marginalized youth to be coaches and mentors at our gym. I believe that movement practice & mindfulness offer a way out of the streets: an opportunity to build personal character, economic mobility, and social inclusion in a supportive community.
To this end, I am launching an apprenticeship program for the gym that I run (Feral). I will work with 2-3 youth over a period of 6 months, studying and training in three core areas: movement, mindfulness, and service. At the conclusion of the program, I will offer each student a paid position as a coach at my gym and the opportunity to continue building our training business and mentoring subsequent youth in our gym.
Our curriculum consists of three modules:
1. Movement. Training to build physical efficacy, fearlessness, and habits of wellness. We will focus on training, anatomy & physiology, recovery, sleep, nutrition, food preparation, and practical time spent coaching and developing one’s own practice.
This looks like one-on-one and group training sessions, theoretical material on physical training & coaching psychology, practical lessons cooking and preparing meals, shadowing personal training sessions, and training one’s own athletes at the gym.
2. Mindfulness. Training to build awareness, patience, understanding, and to relieve anxiety and stress. We will focus on meditation practice, mindfulness trainings, and an embodied understanding of suffering (and how to transform it).
This looks like weekly meditation practice, reflections on mindfulness, one-on-one and group discussions, and facilitation of mindfulness trainings for interested community members.
3. Service. Mental and physical training truly fulfill their potential when applied for the service of others. We will implement student-designed community service projects to assist those most in need our city, analyze and track the impact, and learn from experience the best ways we can use our gifts to serve.
This looks like student-led planning sessions, budgeting, and networking, to implement free meals to marginalized community members, care packages for homeless folks, free mindfulness and meditation practice for the community, or other initiatives as designed by the students.
How would you spend the money? Please give an approximate breakdown:
In addition to the funds that we currently raise from our business, the money received from Change Chats would be spent on:
Material support for our students: this includes items such as compass cards, books & printing, personal training & first aid certification, continuing education, training gear, ingredients for shared meals, etc.
Community service initiatives: to provide a small budget to assist student-led service projects. Youth will be required to raise/donate funds of their own accord, but I wish for funds to be available such that students aren’t limited in the potential impact they can create.
Tell me a little about yourself:
My name is Conlan and I’m the founder of Feral Strength & Conditioning. I’ve spent my entire life living along the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the past ten years studying movement and coaching.
In 2016, I founded Feral Strength & Conditioning, with the goal to use movement as leadership develop for marginalized youth and to build a community dedicated to world-class movement training.
Coming from a poor and broken family in Vancouver, I had few opportunities to truly develop my potential and change my material reality as a kid. Thanks to a chance opportunity to study martial arts as a teen, I became fascinated with the physical. This catapulted me into a diverse world of training, studying, and learning from as many methods as I could soak up. Today, it’s an understatement to say that I’m OBSESSED with movement.
Movement did more than just make my body feel strong; it changed who I was, how I saw the world, and how I interacted with others. Practice forged my spirit, teaching me values of perseverance, patience, and compassion and enabling me to begin to change my reality. I was able to apply for university, and received a scholarship to study the liberal arts at Quest University. My degree focused on exercise physiology, buddhist studies, and Indigenous studies, informing the skill-set with which I approach training and youth work today.
After returning from university, I decided to launch my dream: pursue athletic excellence in business and empower youth with the same skills that changed my life. Currently, I am privileged to work with a diverse and wonderful roster of athletes that support my aim to share movement with youth across the Pacific Northwest, and am looking forward to launching our apprenticeship program. My latest project includes teacher training from the Mind-Body Awareness Project, research on the science (and training) of breathing, and a systematic methodology for physical skill acquisition.
Additional info, links to projects, social media etc:
Our website: www.feralstrength.ca
Our facebook: https://www.facebook.com/feralmvmnt
Our instagram: https://www.instagram.com/feral_strength/