P.B. Health and Performance Inc. is a leader in providing comprehensive health, wellness and high performance services to corporations and individual clients. 

 

The official start date was October 15, 1991 when Barrie and Sheldon decided to work together in their own company (initially working in a small one room office). Once Caron joined the team, PB was set with the skills, diversity, and leadership necessary to grow into a company which has helped thousands of individuals, and dozens of corporations achieve their goals.  Personal Best also organizes events (which have supported youth anti-obesity programs, anti-bullying fundraisers, and animal shelters support) plus PB co-ordinates special active living and high performance camps in Canada, the United States and Europe.  Read below for a bit of information about our history, and why Gord and Barbara Brockie are our heroes. 

PB_office2 About Us - Personal Best

First Personal Best Office 1991

Our Team

Contact Us

SETBACKS ARE ONLY A MINDSET

It was 1991, Sheldon and Barrie had been given a termination letter from the company that they had been loyal to for the previous year.  With no real savings, Sheldon and Barrie had to decide if they wanted to start their own company or go their separate ways.   They took a full weekend to reflect, decided to trust their skills, work ethic, and each other enough to start the company formally in the fall of 1991.    

With no cash for a buffer, they put all their savings (less than $3000.00 dollars) into a Personal Best Corporate account and rented office space on Lawrence Ave at Bathurst in Toronto.  Thanks to Olympia Sports Camp owner Dave Grace who rented a room to Sheldon and Barrie at a great rate. They purchased a testing bike, one heart rate monitor, a printer, and two computers.  Thankfully they were loaned two folding tables and two chairs for the office.

With no excess cash to cover any unforeseen setbacks, they put their heads down and started working 12-14 hour days, seven days a week, willing to meet a client any time at any location. When a client did want to come to them, either Sheldon or Barrie had to leave their one room 200 sq. ft. office space so that the other could meet and test or consult with a client.  Sheldon thought big right from day one, and when a client would call for Barrie, he would answer the only phone and say "let me see if he is in" and then hold the phone for 20 seconds before he would hand it to Barrie to make it seem like our office was big and we were busy.

While they were working hard and generating moderate sales, they were too young and naive to understand cashflow projections and their budget was essentially day by day.  Just because they created a sale, didn't mean they had the cash to actually pay the bills.   They shopped every bank that would take a meeting, and while the account managers loved their enthusiasm and energy, none would lend them a penny because they had no collateral.  

As hard-working and as enthusiastic as they were, things were looking very grim as the cash projections where not looking good to pay the modest office rent.

JANUARY SPOTLIGHT

PB is turning 30 years old in the fall of 2021. Barrie, Caron and Sheldon met each other while they were students at McMaster University, in Hamilton Ontario.  

In 1991, PB's corporate colours were neon yellow and purple.  Although the corporate colours changed, it has been interesting to see neon yellow and purple in style, out of style, in style again, and back out of style again over the past 30 years.  What about world events?  At the Oscars, Whoopi Goldberg won best supporting actress for Ghost, but Kevin Costner was the big winner with multiple Oscars, including Best Picture, for Dances with Wolves. 

Madonna and Bryan Adams were topping the charts.  However, the most amazing song of the year was a remix of Unforgettable with Natalie Cole and a computer synched Nat King Cole (her father). And while Dances with Wolves was the movie of the year during awards season, 1991 was also the year of Terminator 2 with Arnold making good on his perpetual “I’ll be back” catch phrase. John Grisham’s book The Firm was a best seller, and the top 3 TV shows in the US were 60 Minutes, Roseanne and Murphy Brown.

With sadness, it was the year the world lost amazing Queen front man Freddie Mercury, plus Redd Roxx (hilarious comedian), Miles Davis (phenomenal musician) and Michael Landon (co-star of Bonanza and Stairway to Heaven).

The Sky Dome (as it was called back then) was a cool place to hang out and watch a game.  The Dream team of Bruce McNall, Wayne Gretzky and John Candy owned the Grey Cup winning Toronto Argos and the Jays would win their first World Series the following year.  Many Canadians were happy to see Mario Lemieux win the Stanley Cup, even if not Pittsburgh Penguins’ fans.

Other notable events included the Hubble Telescope being launched, free elections in Taiwan, the goods and services tax (GST) came into effect, and the USSR came to a formal end, officially dissolved on December 26.  Finally, the world wide web was officially launched 1991. 

It was an eventful year, and for Barrie, Caron and Sheldon, their favorite event was the birth of PB.

FEBRUARY SPOTLIGHT

GORD & BARBARA BROCKIE TO THE RESCUE  

AEsSrBoQDnwSAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC About Us - Personal Best  

Within days of their pending financial ruin of their newly created company, Gord Brockie asked to meet them at a regular Tuesday night Track Run at York University.  While Sheldon stayed at track side to finish coaching, Gord and Barrie met privately. Barrie was nervous thinking that Gord was going to terminate them because he wasn't confident they would still be in business when his Ironman race came around the next fall.  Gord inquired about how their finances were doing in their fledgling business, and Barrie shared that they were days away from insolvency.

Gord handed Barrie an envelope.  Barrie thought it was a final payment for the previous work they had done, but instead it was a cheque for $15 000.00.  Barrie and Sheldon had never seen a cheque for $1500.00 let alone $15 000.00 and wasn't sure what it meant.  "Barbara and I like you and Sheldon, we trust you and believe that you will pay us back when you can" said Gord.  Barrie was shocked.  At first, he said they couldn't take his money.  He assured Barrie that he had seen enough of their work ethic, believed they would be successful and would eventually pay him back. No contract, no documents, just a simple handshake.  

That money allowed Personal Best to then go to the TD Bank and get a New Business Venture Loan.  They would match, dollar for dollar, what was put into the business and it was interest free for three years.   With $30 000.00 in their bank account, they could now start to take an actual monthly salary, pay their bills, invest in additional resources, and able to wait for the cashflow to come in from clients who took a few weeks to pay for their services.  Barrie and Sheldon were also fortunate, that had Gord and Barb not extended their assistance, Sheldon's parents were also willing to help too.   

In the 2021 monthly newsletters, PB will celebrate many of their achievements these past 30 years.  Most significant however, was the good will, faith and loan gifted to PB from Gord and Barbara Brockie.   

Sheldon, Barrie, and Caron took Gord and Barb Brockie out when the loan was paid off, to celebrate the corporate milestone and to thank them for their trust and belief.  The kind couple from Mississauga still come to PB's yearly celebration suppers.  One of Barrie's fondest sporting memories was giving Gord a big hug as he past him with 300m to go on Ali Drive at the famous Hawaii Ironman World Championships.  Gord finished that race (and many many others) as usual, with a big smile on his face. 

MARCH SPOTLIGHT

PB’s FIRST TEAM MATE (Deb McCann)
 Deb_McCann About Us - Personal Best

Introduction: Deb McCann was Personal Best’s first employee. Or as we prefer to say, she was our first team member, and was a full-time PB team member for 19 years, until she moved to Collingwood. A review of key people who have contributed to PB’s success over the last 30 years would be incomplete without words from Deb.  
 
Anyone that has been in a room with Barrie Shepley is familiar with the energy this man exudes.  Sheldon asked me what were my fears were about Personal Best securing the contract for Corporate Health and Wellness at General Motors (GM) in 1991.  My first reaction was not one of fear, but one of pure joy. I knew then, as the manager of the facility at General Motors, new and exciting things were about to happen under the guidance of Barrie, Caron and Sheldon.

As many know, GM through the years has had highs and lows, but the constant throughout the transition was their commitment to the better health of their employees and the benefits of having a healthy and connected work force.  Personal Best was instrumental in helping the company recognize the importance of the health and wellness of their employees.

During my tenure at GM we ran many programs (four per year) both company wide, and for the fitness facility members.  One that was very popular was “Fitweek’.  Each day a unique fitness program would be offered company wide with the last being our “Killer 5K race’.  

Group bike rides and run sessions were very popular at GM, and PB was instrumental in providing oversight.  Teams were organized from members that inspired GM teams to compete in road races, bike races, Triathlons, X-country ski races. 
Another program that that was very popular was called the ‘Turkey Trot’ which was a health and lifestyle program running for 4 weeks.  For every healthy life habit a person incorporated into their lifestyle, would earn points.  The balance of health and wellness for physical, mental and spiritual health is what made this program so successful.  I now look back at the challenges that people are having with COVID, and I realize that these factors are even more important now.  

As I look back on my experiences with Barrie, Caron, and Sheldon, my advice 30 years ago would be to keep reinventing yourself.  However, if you know Personal Best, you know that is what they have always done.  They are true believers that ‘If you do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got.’ They have the ability to keep changing and adapting. 

Having entered my 65thyear, the passion that I have for health and fitness is still vibrant In my bones.  As the clubs and facilities closed their doors to classes due to COVID, I now teach my favorites online: Yoga (which I got my certification from Caron!), Eccentrics (still trying to reinvent myself) and Strength.  The online venue has been successful and rewarding for me as it keeps me connected and promotes movement and self-awareness to my participants. 

Living in the town of Blue Mountain I stay active cross-country skiing, hiking, running, swimming, biking and snow-shoeing.  I completed a marathon at 60 years of age and 2 Olympic Triathlons at 61.  Last year, during the pandemic, I designed an Olympic distance triathlon for a training friend of mine to complete (her first Tri), and at the end, I gave her a medal that I had ordered specially for her.  There were tears. 

Working as a part-time nurse is demanding.  I worked through SARS in the past but in our lifetime, there has never been such an impact on human life.  Not only because of the virus, but because of the loss of connection, financial independence, and freedom of movement. On the flip side, I also see the resilience, the determination, the creativity and the spiritual connection.  It all brings hope and pride that we can come back, in some ways, even stronger.

To my dear friends at Personal Best, Barrie, Caron and Sheldon, I wish you a Happy Anniversary.  You will always have a special place in my heart.  Through good and challenging times you continue as the enduring torch along the way. I thank you.  Keep reinventing!

APRIL SPOTLIGHT

PB’S FIRST OLYMPIC ATHLETE

Josee_pix_rollerblading_2 Home - Personal Best

JOSÉE CHOUINARD is a multiple national champion and two-time Olympic figure skater.  Over the years, PB Coach Sheldon has worked with dozens of pairs, ice dance, and singles, figure skaters including Jean-Michel Bombardier, Marcus Christensen, and Josée (see picture). However, of the thousands of athletes, at every level, from over two dozen different sports over the past 30 years, Josée was the first Olympian PB had the privilege to worked with. 

WORDS FROM JOSÉE:
It is an honor to be part of this milestone anniversary and to share grateful for Personal Best being part of my team at an important time of my career. 
 
I moved to Toronto 1993, leaving Montreal meant leaving my support system, family, fiancé, and friends, to focus on my ultimate goal, the Olympics with 10 months only to prepare. Once settled in my new training facility. I started working with Sheldon and PB. His attention to the details, and his interest in not only the athlete but the person made me feel important.  Sheldon was very meticulous with my overall training.  He quickly recognized my strengths and weaknesses.  It was easy to trust Sheldon. Trust is a big part in any athlete’s success. As most of our motivation comes from within ourselves.  His compassion and leadership were what definitely pushed me.  He has an ability to inspire the desire to excel in people.  I remember going rollerblading through Sunnybrook park in Toronto for workouts, creative, fun, and rejuvenating. 
 
Today I share the same passion as Sheldon, teaching young athletes, inspiring and empowering them to become better every day, better then yesterday. I teach beginners to international competitive level. It gives me such excitement and fulfillment to witness a skater achieve a new skill after hard work. I recently broaden my skills to work with hockey players who wish to improve their blade techniques with edges and turns. It keeps me young, active, and engaged. 
 
Thank you Sheldon, and Personal Best, for bringing back great memories! Wishing you many more years of success. I know our paths will continue to connect! 
 
Josée 

MAY SPOTLIGHT

STUART DORLAND

Stu_Dorland_Nice_2 About Us - Personal Best

It was the fall of 1991 and Personal Best was in it’s first months of infancy with few clients or assets.  Toronto's Stuart Dorland walked into our Lawrence Avenue single room office and his life was changed forever.  

At the time Stuart was working as a regional manager for the Grafton Clothing company.   His seven day a week job left little time for the formerly athletic man to stay active.  In his high school and college days, Stuart had been active in hockey, baseball, and volleyball.  Stuart now found himself well over 220 pounds with elevated blood pressure and blood lipids.  

Stuart had seen both the famous Hawaii Ironman and Nice Triathlon races on television. He dreamed of changing his inactive lifestyle to do a long distance triathlon.  With an affection for Europe, the June 1992 Nice Long Distance Triathlon was the perfect project for Stuart Dorland.  Stuart's biggest challenges were working seven days a week and a desire to lose the 40 pounds he gained since college.  After some strategic planning with Barrie and Sheldon, Stuart committed to a plan to do the June 1992 Nice Triathlon.

Daily swims at the Toronto YMCA with organized group rides and runs started the ball rolling. First 5 pounds, then 10 then 15 pounds of weight loss.  Personal Best original winter training camps were held in Austin Texas. Stuart took the big plunge of quitting his high paying job and travelled to Austin Texas with Barrie, Sheldon, and the PB campers. When Barrie and the campers returned to Toronto after two weeks, Stuart stayed in Austin with Canadian professional triathletes Mark Bates, Mike Stirling, Rick Hellard, and Robin Hutchinson.  By May of 1992, Stuart was down 40 pounds.  He had the fitness and confidence to tackle the Nice Long Distance Triathlon Race.

Other then a few embarrassing GI problems on the 30km final run, the Nice Triathlon was a huge success for Stuart.  Stuart stayed in Europe for an additional few months and was still in Barcelona Spain in 1992 to watch the summer Olympic Games in person.  Millions of people around the world, including us, saw Stuart on the live Olympic Marathon television coverage running along the road with a Canadian flag and wearing a PB T-shirt!!    

When the trip ended, Stuart did not want to return to the stress of retail sales.   The early 1990s was the start of the growth of mountain biking, and Stuart saw the opportunity to create a recreational race series for weekend warriors.  In 1993 he founded his company TriLife.  TriLife's first race had a modest 120 participants and the company didn't even recover the cost of hosting that first event.  With his creative mind, hard work, a bit of luck, and support from PB, Stuart and his amazing wife Maria, Tri-Life grew into a successful juggernaut.  

By 1998, over 12 000 people were racing in one of the 13 massive races Stuart was hosting in North America.  With eight races in USA and five in Canada, Stuart was the world leader in mountain biking events.  Each race combined mountain biking with music, food and fun fitness.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars were being raised for local charities and some of the biggest trail improvements in North America were stimulated by volunteers within the race series.  It is amazing how tossing one stone into a pond can create a ripple effect on society.  

Stuart’s desire to change his own fitness level in 1991, led to his meeting our PB Staff.  That meeting led to his successful completion of the Nice Long Distance Triathlon.  Stuart's journey to the Nice Triathlon and his lifestyle change led to him and Maria meeting new friends with positive mindsets.  

Stuart and his wife Maria continue their passionate desire to see the world and live a unique life.  The two just bought a house in Victoria British Columbia after travelling the world for the last four years. The happy couple have found their perfect retirement home in Victoria and a base for them to leave for their next big adventure. 

Never underestimate the impact that you can have on another person.  Our Personal Best Team is proud to have played a small role in the unique journey of Stuart and Maria and their huge impact on tens of thousands of riders over the years.

JUNE SPOTLIGHT

RADIO STARS: JESSE AND GENE

9k= About Us - Personal Best9k= About Us - Personal Best

From 1986 to 1997 Jesse Dylan and Gene Valaitis were radio show partners, on a few stations, who were funny and entertaining.  During that time, they won an ACTRA award for on-air personalities of the year, and the Mayor of North York gave the green light to a street being named in their honour (see picture).  Apart from their amazing on-air talents, Jesse was interested in training for triathlons, and Gene was interested in marathon training. As fate would have it, in the early 1990s PB was extremely fortunate to cross paths with the two radio stars.  Coaching relationships began with Barrie working with Jesse to prepare for triathlons and Sheldon working with Gene on his marathon preparation.  
 
Jesse and Gene were amazing to work with, and PB benefited in a massive way from the relationship.  Not only did Jesse and Gene invite Barrie and Sheldon to be on air with them during their live morning shows on several occasions, they also talked about PB and their respective training progress on a regular basis. In fact, Sheldon conducted Gene’s first fitness test live on air! 
 
The relationship also extended beyond conversations about training. A perfect example was Barrie’s marriage proposal to Caron, which Jesse and Gene broadcasted on their show with Barrie holding a phone in one hand, and the ring in the other. Lasting memory of that radio show was when Barrie stated, “hey guys, it’s on her finger”.  To which Jesse responded, “what’s on her finger??!”
 
Beyond the amazing on-air opportunities that Jesse and Gene gave Barrie and Sheldon, it led to additional coaching relationships with other on-air talents including Chris Eagle, Donna Saker, Tony Daniels and Dave Trafford. Furthermore, during those early days, Barrie was able to practice and learn the finer points of on-air interviewing skills from Jesse, Gene and Dave, which would become invaluable in his eventual role as an international triathlon commentator. Additionally, the relationship with Jesse and Gene led to Sheldon’s opportunities as a radio segment host of two different radio shows (Personal Best Weekend Warrior Report, and Personal Best Fitness Facts).  
 
Thank you Jesse and thank you Gene for your important roles in helping us reach 30 years in business. We had some enjoyable, memorable times together. Wishing you continued success with your current Jesse and Gene Podkast (yes, podcast with a “k”), and happy to know there is NO adult supervision!  

JULY SPOTLIGHT

WORLD CHAMPION DR. LEITH DRURY