"I will begin by stating that the training and overall experience I have had with Nick and Vital Strength and Physiology has been absolutely invaluable. Prior to starting with Nick my training was very one-dimensional. I was seeing minimal gains in strength, mobility and endurance. As a chiropractor, my workdays are often quite physically demanding. Add an acute traumatic back injury and it becomes obvious that my case was complex. I have a thorough understanding of the human body and yet I found myself in a frustrating place where I couldn’t seem to get through my week at the office without back pain. Nick took into consideration all of my concerns and gradually guided me in breaking down the dysfunctional patterns I had developed. He is truly an expert in his field. Nick’s demeanour motivates me to train smart, continually reinforces the lost confidence I had in my body’s ability to move and adapt, and he always goes the extra mile. He puts in immense effort to track progress and continually refine the plan to meet client’s needs. My strength, mobility and endurance are now continually improving, but most importantly, my fear of movement has evaporated and I am able to get through work weeks with less pain and have resumed many of the leisure activities I was afraid of doing for fear of “flaring things up”. Healing and progress take time. I have learned so much in this process. Vital Strength and Physiology will help you no matter where you’re at in life, work and training. Nick and Carla have all of my trust. I will repeatedly recommend them to my friends, family and patients. Thank you Nick and Carla, as well as Dr. Amy MacKinnon for referring me to Nick and providing me with the most amazing care along the way. I hope to see this team of people working together to help others for a long, long time!"
-Dr. Laurence Dion
"I started working with Carla when she was interning at a gym years ago. Even as she was just finishing her masters she knew the science and theory incredibly well and she is so personable and easy to get along with that coaching came easy. After years with the National team, constantly under-performing on physical scores and never ending injuries, I knew I needed a change and I sought out Carla to work with me full time. After missing a season due to a nagging tendonitis injury, we got creative of how to continue training to address foundational imbalances. Carla (and Nick) are always finding new ways to make training challenging and enjoyable. The Vital team makes it easy to Trust the Process and works collaboratively to help you reach your goals! "
- Alysia Rissling, Bobsleigh Olympian
"I started working with Carla over a year ago after being referred by my physiotherapist Tyson Plesuk. I had a long list of past injuries including a work related low back pain, L3/4 disc tear, stress fractures among others with the latest being chronic hip pain which impacted my ability, to sit for any length of time, sleep and be active without repercussions the following day. I had tried to manage this injury with various professionals (osteopathy, massage, Pilates, TCM, acupuncture, sports medicine) and injections (phototherapy, PRP and cortisol) as well as the dreaded time away from running and biking without success. An MR-A later diagnosed a near full thickness labrum tear for which I was referred to an orthopaedic surgeon. For me surgery was not an option, but strengthening was. Carla very quickly identified poor movement patterns and weakness that had developed from years of running, biking and swimming without any dedicated strength training.
Rather than being focused on my MRI Carla saw the potential to improve my movement patterns and weaknesses as opportunities. She also collaborated diligently with my physiotherapist Tyson ensuring everyone was on the same page and moving forward.
My initial goal when working with Carla in the fall of 2019 was to be able to manage multi-day backpacking trips and long day hikes on a much anticipated trip to Patagonia that December. Carla’s attention to detail and knowledge of movement was foundational in achieving this goal. I made it through a 12 hour long haul flight and 3 weeks straight of hiking without being limited by hip pain! Carla remained just as invested in my next goal of returning to biking and running. Despite my goal triathlon race being cancelled that spring I spent my summer running, biking and hiking distances I hadn’t in years. After being plagued by injuries for the past 4 years of my life I finally felt confident in my body’s ability to be active, resilient and to use movement as medicine.
Although this process was not linear and there were no short cuts it has given me the confidence to put my newfound strength to the ultimate test- pregnancy. I am now over halfway through my pregnancy and Carla has continued to adapt to my changing mechanics and frame as I continue to swim, run and cross country ski. I would have never imagined that despite my growing body, I continue to grow stronger with Carla’s guidance. I can’t thank Carla and her team at Vital enough for taking me back to basics, teaching me how to move, strengthen, and recover so that I can keep coming back for more. The team at Vital is second to none. So, if you “think” you might need a strength coach, you do. It’s Carla. And if you think you know how you’re moving and where you are breaking down, you don’t. Ask Carla."
"One of the qualities I value most in Carla is her ability to make every session spent together count. Through her keen eye and overall knowledge of how the body works she can immediately and accurately identify points of weakness and formulate solutions for improvement. Her attention to detail is unlike anything I’ve experienced with other trainers, while athletes and coaches alike can get caught up looking at the end goal, Carla is meticulous and takes the time to work from the ground up, building a whole and healthy athlete and person. On top of her impressive skill set she builds a personal relationship with her clients and commits herself to being your biggest fan and supporter, going above and beyond."
- Bianca Ribi
“Through nine years of working with Nicholas Simpson, he has watched over my training regimen from a developmental athlete to a two-time Olympian. Nick’s knowledge of human performance and development is matched by his immeasurable passion for helping everyone reach their fitness goals, both at the highest level of athletic performance to the daily function of human being – there was not a day that stepping into the gym wasn’t met by a smile and his enthusiasm to get to work. Furthermore, his ability to listen to his athletes, adapt and work with their extenuating circumstances was what I valued the most. In sport, injuries and bad days are inevitable yet Nick always found a way to maximize the time we had in the gym no matter the situation. The time and willingness to explore new ideas has kept nine years of guidance and friendship fresh and exciting.
Nick has been, and continues to be, an important factor in my athletic career and many others. Everyone says “work smarter, not harder” but with Nick you get a delicate balance of both. He is an invaluable resource to have in your corner and I’m unbelievably grateful for all he has done in my career.”
- Gilmore Junio
"It’s hard to put into words the immense appreciation and heartfelt gratitude that I feel having been coached by Carla Robbins. With a lifetime goal of completing the New York City Marathon, Carla worked alongside me, week by week, and kilometre by kilometre, to propel me across the finish line. She tailored my training schedule to my fluctuating work hours, rehabbed me through (what should have been) a marathon-ending injury, and taught me how to fuel the fire so I stopped hitting the wall. I had no idea that entering a race as a solo runner, was in fact a team sport… but Carla filled the role of training partner, coach, motivator, and personal cheerleader all in one brilliant package.To say ‘I couldn’t have done it without her’ would be an understatement, but to say ‘I will never train for anything again without her’ would be pretty on point.
Carla, 'Thank You’ just isn’t enough. I’ve spent my whole life setting goals, but this was one I NEVER thought I’d actually be able to accomplish, and honestly means more to me than most. I did it just for me, and it felt fucking amazing. So thank you."
- Zoe Polsky
“Nick Simpson truly saved my life. After over training and just simply doing too much for most of my life, I had developed many symptoms that inhibited my lifestyle and health. I was not sleeping well, getting frequent UTI and kidney infections (undiagnosed), losing my hair, my mouth was always dry, my moods where erratic, I had kidney pain, back pain, my joints hurt all the time, I was itchy around my kidneys to the point of scratching myself raw, my breasts hurt all the time, I did not enjoy being around people, and some days I could sleep for 20 hours and feel like I could sleep for more.... until I crashed and ended up in the hospital. I had many symptoms that my family doctor diagnosed as pre-menopausal. After many doctors and blood test, EKG, after urine samples, hormone tests, ultra sounds, X-rays and drugs. I met the *Best thing to happen to me and my health*, I met Nick Simpson.
Nick first started coming to see my husband for treatment and soon we all became close friends. Nick programmed for me, and helped me recover and figure out what I needed to eat, and take in order to sleep, in order to not have night sweats, in order to not lose my hair. The list of my symptoms was long, but Nick took the time to educate me and teach me why and how to make myself feel better. He has helped me with my long list of symptoms and continues to send me material to read about things that can help my condition.
If anyone in my family needs nutritional/medical help I will always go to Nick first. Before taking drugs, before running to the doctor I run to Nick Simpson. He truly has changed my life. “
"I have been training on and off with Carla for a few years and she helped me make massive improvements in strength, body awareness, and mobility for competing in a high-level sport. When I train with her, I always learn something new. At the same time, she is curious about my sport and watches me in competitions to learn more about what I do and find weaknesses that other coaches may never notice. Carla is really more than just a trainer! She's dynamic, smart, and really fun to spend time with!"
-Paige Boklaschuk (International level Bouldering)
"Carla is an amazing person…and she also happens to be an excellent trainer and founder of Vital Strength and Physiology. I have never met anyone as talented in the domain of scrutinizing movement and finding ways to improve its flow through strength and improved muscle recruitment. I started with Carla almost 5 years ago with the major goal of injury prevention in the activities and outdoor pursuits that I so enjoy. I was hoping to resume running after many setbacks, I wanted to have more strength for climbing and skiing and I wanted to remain as active and fit as possible as I grow older. Carla has helped me immeasurably with each of these goals and I am SO grateful to her. Equally important however are that she really cares about each of her clients and celebrates each gain, small or large, with enormous pleasure, AND she is most gracious, patient and kind. I am very indebted to you Carla for all your guidance and help these last years. I look forward to 2021 with you with much excitement and anticipation. THANK YOU!"
- Gabrielle Savard MD
“Over the last four years that I've been fortunate enough to work with him, Nick has played a critical role in my athletic development. Nick pushed me to work harder, showed me how to move smarter and encouraged me to train with intent and greater focus. I became stronger, more skillful and more confident in my ability than ever before. However, more important than the personal bests and medals of success achieved under Nick's innovative training plan is the value and strategic approach he brings to recovery and lifestyle. Nick's vast scope of knowledge, constant learning and passion in all fields related to human performance, whether athletic or health based, makes him the ultimate resource; to this day Nick is who I trust the most when it comes to maximizing not only my athletic performance but also my human potential.”
Helena Hlas (rower, cyclist)
"As a member of the National Speed Skating Team, I have been fortunate to have Nick a my strength and conditioning coach for over five years now. Nick layers proven fundamentals in S&C with new variations built upon them. I have worked closely with Nick on many specific projects and goals. Each of which he has taken his time to take into account my specific needs and challenges to reach my goal regarding power, body composition and performance. Nick is well up to date in the scientific journals, and often applies his knowledge in his programs, for a refreshing change. Of everyone I have worked in my career, Nick has will continue to be my go to for personal and professional advice in strength and conditioning, body composition management and performance."
"I met Carla almost four years ago with a goal of playing varsity level hockey. Not only did Carla customize a program that suited my fitness goals, she also improved my mobility and body-control. Carla’s programs are intentionally planned out and there is no injury, irritation or weakness that she doesn’t want to tackle. Carla’s “lets try it” attitude has pushed my limits as an athlete, and she is constantly trying to improve her personal knowledge and skills. This is wrapped up in one upbeat personality that is approachable and passionate. I couldn’t ask for anyone better to see me through my varsity career. Thank you, Coach!"
-Kira Makuk (Varsity hockey)
"I've had the honour and pleasure of having known and worked with Nic for nearly a decade. As a young strength coach he was an exceptional mentor and role model. His drive to constantly be on the top of new research and his methodical approach to training has lead to international success for many of his athletes.
During the early parts of my career as a strength coach, he was pivotal in shaping my approach to health and fitness. He would openly provide advice and resources so I could create my own understanding of the pillars of strength and conditioning. Beyond that he has always kept an open mind and is always exploring ways to not just be "healthy", but to optimize health. This attitude is an attitude backed by emerging evidence. He will never give a recommendation unless he has thoroughly researched the question at hand. This evidence based approach is a rarity in the landscape of the fitness industry.
Now, as a Physician he is one of the few Fitness Professionals who I would recommend to my patients looking to improve their health. My trust in his approach and knowledge is unwavering. On numerous occasions he has helped me with my own injuries and I believe in his ability to enhance the health of others. As an individual his character is of the highest quality, and as a Coach I believe he is one of the best kept secrets in health and fitness. "
-Dr. Sumeet Gill
“While my career highlights of World Championship titles and Olympic medals in speed skating are due much to Nick’s excellent programs and expertise over the years, it’s another story that really makes Nick stand out from the rest of the crowd as a great strength trainer. We know that every person has different goals and different needs, but Nick’s ability to create exclusively personalized programs was highlighted to me following a motorcycle crash I endured in 2015. My concussion, broken bones, torn ligaments and internal damage created a very uniques set of challenges for me for several years. It was Nick’s knowledge, expertise and patient guidance over that period which brought me back from the dead and helped me see my goals come to fruition when I managed to qualify for my 4th Olympics in 2018. Thank you Nick!”
"Carla has been my head strength coach for over two years now. She has changed the way I approach my training and movement, and also instilled the confidence in me to know what I'm doing in my program when I am away training and competing. She goes above and beyond each day to ensure she understands the demands of my sport. The commitment to me as an athlete is extremely evident. She has a strong attention to detail and the drive to continually learn more, which is so appreciated. The technical knowledge in her programming is incredible, but it is the coaching that takes the program from good to great. The learning that Carla provides in session helps guide you towards your goals and understand your movement patterns and weaknesses. In between sets, conversations are had that creates a fun and motivating atmosphere. I would not be where I am today without her support, encouragement and coaching! Thanks Carla!"
-Grace Dafoe (Skeleton)
"I have worked with Carla for 8 years now. She is thoughtful and kind all while pushing you to be your best. I have loved all her programs but the online training program is my fav. Freedom to do it when I have time and as a single parent, that is my main priority. I would recommend her to anyone, beginners to advanced!" - Amanda Blacktopp
“I am not generic. And I am not an easy client. My body needs a bunch of things, in a unique order, under constantly changing rules. I have 2 auto immune issues, a family history of hypothyroidism and extreme anxiety/depression and I am recovered anorexic/bulimic...all of which make my system very, very special. Oh yeah - and I am professional athlete, actor and stunt person so I need to be able to move, act and perform, all the time, in amazing ways.
I am picky about who I take training or nutritional advice from. I went to school, got a great education, had a fun career as a strength coach and personal trainer. I am not a naive or an uneducated population. I have had many a coaches tell me all kinds of things over the years. Nicholas is the first person to look at my system as a whole. Not only in the framework or sport performance, but also for me as a human being with a life after sport.
He is happy to work WITH me and my doctors to help fill in the gaps between what they have determined and what he has seen in his cleints. He isn't afraid to make mistakes, learn from them, ask for feedback, tweak, tweak again, and again...until he figures it out. This guy has mad patience, a huge lovely brain that is basically an encyclopedia AND a huge heart.
I am excited about our journey together. I am looking ahead with hope. I know that the changes will be small, sustainable and made with my long term well being in mind.”
- Kelsey Andries
"I started working with Carla in February of this year. I have some chronic neck, back and knee issues related to injuries in the past. Carla was recommended to me by a friend. I had a goal of backpacking the 180 km Sunshine Coast Trail in July and knew I needed to get onto a specialized training program to achieve my goal given my chronic injuries. Carla's initial assessment to determine "problem areas" was excellent and her programming based on my goals and areas of weakness in my body was spot on! Her attention to detail in the performance of the exercises is top notch and a necessary part of getting the "most" out of the program. Carla knows her stuff and she takes the time to listen and modify exercises as needed. I have had other trainers, but none with the knowledge, skill and level of care that Carla provides! I did achieve my goal in July.....Solo backpacking trip of the Sunshine Coast Trail. 180 km, 20,000 feet of elevation gain and loss over 10 days.....no problems at all, I felt strong and well prepared! Thanks Carla for getting my body ready. I couldn't have done it without your help!"
-Karen Martino (Physiotherapist; Written July 2019)
"Carla is NOT one size fits all! Carla spends the time to fully assess where you are at, your limitations, injuries and the way your body moves to fully ensure she puts together a program that meets your needs. Her knowledge on proper loading techniques will prevent injury and stop injury in its tracks no matter what your sport is. Besides her technical knowledge, Carla is passionate, kind, encouraging with a bit of tough love to get you where you need to be!"
-Lana Ledene (Triathlete)
"I found out yesterday that I'm not in the running for Markham Fire anymore, however, the plan you made has been amazing. I am sticking with it and seeing great benefits. 3 weeks ago when I read that I had to run 8K I was thinking holy shit, this won't happen. I'll do my best and hope for 6. Welp, I did it today and that's thanks to your plan. I'm squatting more, benching more, dead-lifting more too. Although I've got more in me and plan on finding it I just wanted to say thank-you. I'm sure other clients have said the same and truly mean it just like I do. Hopefully Calgary calls me soon and I can take that VO2 head on but until they do I've got some new knowledge and enthusiasm on how to improve! Very much appreciated and I wanted to let you know you've made a difference for me and it's the kick in the pants I needed!"
-Nate Smith (Fire fighter)
"Carla's passion for knowledge shows through her work. Always researching ways to improve your personalized program outside of the gym, her strong work ethic and highly trained skills will suit your needs.
When I was seeing a physiotherapist for my lower back, she designed a program that was complementary to my situation without compromising my athletic performance in the sport of Bobsleigh.
She is also a great listener which makes her stand out from other coaches. Any questions I had about training, the body, or performance, she was able to provide an answer based on academic articles and other sources. Connected to the community and keeping up with fitness knowledge, you will truly get the best quality when working with Carla! "
- Liz Janze (Previous bobsledder)
"Carla has been involved in various stages of my athletic career ranging from a World Cup skeleton athlete to a retired athlete, trying to get involved in new activities. Throughout the entire journey, Carla's positivity and willingness to collaborate with me has been amazing. As a former elite athlete, I sometimes struggle with the thought of not being the best at new sports. Carla puts herself into these new situations with me and helps me remember that the goal is fun and new movement, not to immediately be the best. She has created a community of people that wants to see the entire group succeed which is rare in a high performance training environment and something that I will forever be thankful for. I would absolutely recommend Carla to anyone serious about committing to improving their health, fitness and athleticism."
-Micaela Widmer (Previous skeleton athlete)
"Throughout my career I put my faith in Nick to strengthen my specific weaknesses as an athlete. He has a very wide scope of knowledge, which combined with his passion, willingness to learn and ability to think outside the box, result in a very effective
strength and overall health program. He is a true professional."
"I moved to Calgary in 2011 to begin my high performance speed skating career at the Olympic Oval. My progress in the sport has developed alongside Nick’s support and programming mainly in strength and conditioning. He has been an immense help in my successes over the years. His keen work ethic and sharp eye to detect subtle weak points have helped me make the major jumps but just as importantly, the marginal gains to get ahead in my skating. Nick has a wealth of knowledge he can apply to any athletes circumstances. For example, when I struggled with reoccurring knee issues he went above and beyond adapting a program and came up with unique and successful ways for me to maintain strength with limited ability to perform most weight bearing exercises. Moreover he has been a go to person that is easy to chat with trackside and share thoughts about why we train the way we do. An all around great guy and I hope to be able to work more with him in the future."