Determination to Stay Fit and Healthy: Michael Gossack Isn’t Letting Anything Stop Him from Working Out at West End Athletic Club

Have you ever had an injury where you thought, this is it, I’ll never be able to “insert sport or physical activity here” again?!

At the age of 40, Michael Gossack experienced one of the worst and most painful knee injuries; a bucket-handle meniscus tear. He went through surgery and rehabilitation only to have the exact same injury occur two years later. Thinking that after this repair he could get back to his workout routine and daily life, Michael did rehab on his knee again.

Then, really without much warning or symptoms, Michael developed a neck issue, a pain that wouldn’t subside and that went down to his shoulder blade. “I went to see everyone, a chiropractor, an osteopath, you name it. The pain was so bad.” Finally, Canadian Neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Tator diagnosed Michael with spinal stenosis, a medical condition characterized by the narrowing of the spaces within the spine, which can put pressure on the nerves travelling through the spinal canal.

Michael Gossack walking on a treadmill inside the West End Athletic Club Boxing and Fitness Gym in Toronto.

Michael Gossack refuses to live a sedentary lifestyle

Back of Michael Gossacks neck, post-surgery with 25 staples from April 2019.

Two rods and 25 stitches later, Michael Gossack pushes through his discomfort every day

Undergoing two spinal fusion surgeries, Michael now lives with two rods in his cervical spine to stabilize his neck. “It’s been about 4.5 years since I’ve had that surgery and the pain is still there every day, it’s been life-changing. I can’t do many things I used to, simple things like lifting grocery bags, but I go to the gym five days a week, and maybe I’m doing some things I shouldn’t, but it’s hard to tell myself that I can’t.”

His fitness routine has changed, Michael focuses mainly on stretching, walking on the treadmill, some weight machines, and lifting light weights; he cannot do anything that requires lifting above the shoulders. When he gets home, it’s Tylenol and a heating pad to alleviate the pain but “I’ll wake up the next day and I don’t feel worse, so I have to keep trying.”

Aside from the gym, Michael swears by his routine trips to Cortona in Southern Tuscany. “I don’t know what it is, but my pain just feels better there. If I’m able to go, I’m outta here.” Michael understands that one day, for all of us, we may not be able to do the things we used to so easily so he is set on living every moment and enjoying all that he can regardless of his physical limitations.

How Michael Ended Up Connecting with West End Athletic Club

Born in Montreal, Quebec, Michael moved to Ottawa, Ontario when he was 11 years old. He attended Carlton University and earned a Broadcasting degree with aspirations of becoming a Sportscaster. With his girlfriend at the time, now wife, being from the Toronto area, Michael knew opportunity awaited him in the city so upon graduating he applied for positions in the Toronto area. Working an internship for 680 News, he revelled in covering the Toronto Maple Leafs and Blue Jays games; “I did everything there that I could. It was a great experience.”

From there he earned a job with Headline Sports and had a short stint at 1050 Chum Radio. Eventually, he wanted something more stable for himself and his family so he worked as a Talent Agent at The Characters Talent Agency in Toronto. But Michael wanted to use his creativity; he needed to be on the go and had a natural talent for art. Pairing his sports background with his love for art, Cherry Hill Design was open for business.

A Toronto Maple Leafs-themed room in a brand-new house. Everything in the room is hand-painted and flat except for the shelf and TV.

Michael Gossack married his experience in sports with his passion for art

“I did sports-themed rooms for commercial spaces like dentist offices and also for people’s homes. It evolved into any kind of theme. My job was to transform the space into the vision that my clients wanted.” The themed rooms turned into a complete renovation company, where Michael was doing a lot of the physical work himself. One day he stood up and his back went out on him; after two meniscus tears and the back injury, Cherry Hill Design permanently closed as he could no longer perform the needed tasks for the job.

Born out of his injuries and surgery was MY3D Agency, “I loved the concept of scanning a person in real life and then creating a physical model in just a few days.” His business was inside a building on Bering Ave. in Etobicoke, where one day West End Athletic Club found a home.

Pre-COVID, the 3D printing business went well, and then the world shut down. “I found myself going to my office just to get out of the house. There was no work to be done, but I was having such a hard time with the lockdowns.” After only being open for a short time, West End AC had to shut its doors too. No one was going in, but “they opened their doors to me, it was the best outlet I could ever have had. Every day, I would look forward to going to the gym, I never stopped.”

Actor Jason Priestley holding his 3D print.

Michael Gossack married his experience in sports with his passion for art

 3D print of West End Athletic Club’s Vinny Cappuccitti.

MY3D AGENCY paying homage to West End AC’s Vinny Cappuccitti

Working Out at West End Athletic Club

Due to his restricted movement, Michael has adapted his workout routine exponentially. He always spends 20-30 minutes stretching, then tries to do strength training with bands, free weights, or machines. Cardio is still very important, so he will go on the treadmill for a 30-minute walk, sometimes a light jog. “Walking is my thing, when I walk, I don’t feel pain.” Whenever he is at West End AC, he tries to incorporate something new, like medicine ball work and different core exercises. “I just want to stay as strong as I can, it’s important for me to stay in shape and be as active as possible.”

“Of course, I love working out at West End, but my favourite part is when the professional boxers come out to train. Watching them sparring is a treat, it’s just fun. I’ve had a few gym memberships over the years at different places but they’re all kind of the same. West End is different. There’s a sense of family and community there. Anyone who goes there would say the same thing. It’s not a commercial gym, it’s what I’ve always wanted, there’s nothing like West End Athletic Club.”

Staying Motivated to Work Hard No Matter the Circumstances

It would be easy for Michael to live a more sedentary lifestyle; he experiences pain every day of his life but he refuses to stop. Eating a balanced diet and ensuring that exercise and movement are a part of his everyday routine gives him strength and purpose. “Finding a gym you like matters, somewhere you want to go versus somewhere you have to go. That’s what West End does for me, I want to go there, and because it’s right next door, I have no excuses.”

“If I wasn’t going to West End AC, I know I would be worse off physically and mentally. Letting an injury or surgery placate you can’t be an option it’s about the quality of your life. I’m still able to do things I want, it looks a little different now but I am managing and learning to find a balance. I was able to go to Israel after the Hamas attacks and volunteer my time by picking fruit for five hours a day; this meant so much to me, it was meaningful and physically challenging work but I survived.”

Determination and a strong will don’t let injuries or pain deter you from finding the proper workout routine. At West End Athletic Club we can help guide you through whatever challenges you are facing. Our various classes or private training opportunities can support any individual seeking to improve their quality of life.