The Daily Gleaner, Published Saturday December 3rd, 2011
By LORI GALLAGHER
As an artist, trainer, instructor, business owner, husband and father, Silas Robinson is busy and fulfilled.
Silas Robinson readily admits his life is busy, but he’s not complaining.
James West/The Daily Gleaner
Silas Robinson relaxes for a moment at the gym with his wife, Amy Dow-Robinson, and their 16-month-old daughter, Ava.
An artist, personal trainer, college instructor, business owner, husband and father, he’s exactly where he wants to be right now.
“I’m trying to make a really positive influence in the lives of others,” he says. “I’m trying to help people empower themselves and really believe in themselves, that they can do things they really don’t think that they can.”
Most days Robinson can be found at Lift Personal Fitness, the fitness facility he owns and runs. He opened the business five months ago. So far, he says, things are going great.
His goal is to help people build their confidence levels, so they feel like they can do things on their own.
“We’re not trying to build dependence, we’re actually trying to build independence. Everything we do is functional training, so it’s related to everyday things that you do in life, like bending, squatting, twisting, turning,” explains Robinson.
“It’s not focused on changing your physique, unless that’s an issue you want to address. It’s about improving your life and preventing injury.”
The name Lift comes from wanting to lift people up to a heightened state of awareness in their life.
“All of our trainers have the highest level of certification available,” he says.
This is important, as physical and mental health is so key.
“You should know 100 per cent what you’re talking about when you talk to people, and you should be continually educating yourself.”
Robinson’s personal path to fitness came about in an unexpected way.
“I moved out of my house when I was 15,” he says, adding that he never lived at home again.
“Fitness became my way to de-stress. It became my way to get more in tune with myself and my body and my mind.”
It has helped him stay focused throughout his life.
“I’ve always had it in my life. I started doing track and field when I was in Grade 7,”
When he left home, he also dropped out of school.
“I dropped out for three years and then I went back and actually graduated with honours from Harvey High School.”
He was living in a group home in Harvey, but after graduation he moved back to Fredericton. Besides his love of fitness, he was passionate about art and went on to study at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, graduating in 2006.
A lot of his artwork is inspired by the forest, a place he spent a lot of time growing up.
“I used to build a lot of forts and I was always looking for the best place to build, so I was travelling a lot in the woods on my own,” he says. “A lot of times you would see light through the trees and it would seem like a clearing. Sometimes it was, but a lot of times it wasn’t.”
The emotion of that is what he tries to capture in his paintings, he says.
“The fact that you’re always trying to get through things to get to that light that’s on the other side,” he says.
While sometimes things don’t turn out as we expect, there is an area we can get to if we keep moving forward.
“That’s my whole philosophy, especially behind my recent work over the last five years.”
Robinson has always been an artist.
“I have had some formal training, but I’ve been painting since I was 13 and drawing since I was seven. I was doing charcoals, pastels and watercolours when I was 13. And that hasn’t stopped.”
He planned to go study fine art at Mount Allison, but decided against it as he was already exhibiting his work with others who had graduated with a fine arts degree.
“We were critiquing each others work, I was already in that circle anyway. I have a library of books and am constantly studying.”
He’s inspired by the work of artists like Franz Kline and Philip Iverson. He worked with mentor Rick Burns, who critiqued his work.
“I’ve actually had a lot of mentors. I shared studio space downtown for at least two years with graduates from Mount Allison. I currently exhibit my work at Ingrid Mueller Art Concepts.”
He studied clay for three years at the NBCCD. It’s where he met his wife, Amy Dow-Robinson. She did a bachelor of fine arts degree, a combination between college and university.
“We have a studio at our house, my wife does clay, too. We do that together,” he says, adding, “I specialize in sculpture and raku.”
His wife also works two days a week with him at Lift Personal Fitness.
“It’s a family thing. She does my planning and my administration, and she helps me with the accounting.”
On top of his art and his business, Robinson teaches health, wellness and recreation at Eastern College. He’s been doing that for two years.
“I’ve actually worked in the health and fitness industry for about seven years now.”
Robinson and Dow-Robinson are the proud parents of 16-month-old Ava.
Becoming a father, he says, totally changed his perspective. Ava already has him wrapped around her little finger.
“I want to be a father that helps her seek out the right kind of man,” he says. “I want to teach her respect, values and independence.”
He hopes to encourage her to be independent from a young age.
“I want to build her up to become an amazing person. That’s something I didn’t have. When I was younger I didn’t get built up, I didn’t get really encouraged in anything.”
He believes his awareness of that, along with his determination for things to be different for his daughter, is making him a better father.
“If you do enough of the right things, you can do that,” he says.
“I want to build a family culture where family supports family. I think that’s a better life.”
Robinson says his priorities have definitely shifted over the years, as he’s gotten a heightened sense of purpose.
“That comes from my business. I know that I’m affecting lives and I know that’s a pretty big responsibility,” he says.
“Because of that, my priorities have gone to how do I make sure I’m the best.”
He’d like to see Lift Personal Fitness grow and spread across Canada.
“Since I’ve been 18, I’ve become aware of the fact that there are gyms all over the place, but I’m not really feeling a lot of caring.”
The focus is on exercise, but not on finding what works best for each individual client. That’s the focus he takes, connecting exercise to how it can improve a client’s life.
“There’s a connection between how a painting is emotional and can mean something different to everybody,” he says. “So can fitness.”
People bring past experiences into the gym with them, including failure, intimidation and stress. It’s important to know these things, and how a person is feeling, to figure out what works best for their individual needs.
“Fitness is the opposite of negativity,” he says, or at least it should be.
He’s trying to pierce through the negativity that exists in this area and create a viable business with a positive effect.
His work, and the people he works with, constantly change him, he says.
“I change every day. I had to become a chameleon in order to meet each person at their level with communication, with demeanor, with attitude. I’ve had to learn how to connect with so many different people.”
The benefit of this is it has helped to improve his communication skills.
“My stress, although heightened at the start of a new business, overall it has been dramatically reduced because people don’t like to be around people who are stressed.”
Robinson has taken up meditation and yoga, and has taken more time for himself, to keep his stress levels down.
“I do whatever it takes to make sure I’m focused and relaxed, and that my mind is clear.”
Every morning he takes time to visualize his day, including how his interactions will go. He finds it makes a big difference.
“I keep a small black notepad on me all the time and I try to write down the top-five things I have to do each day. … I make sure everything that is super important is getting done and I’m not getting distracted by life,” he says.
“It’s improving me, it’s make me a better person.”
He also has a 30-second rule. If something is still bothering him after 30 seconds, he makes a conscious effort to let it go. He likes to be positive and to surround himself by positive people.
“I’ve actually felt lifted up by the energy of people around me,” says Robinson.
“If you’re able to open yourself up to more positive energy, you feel so good about you and the people in your life.”
As well, each week he makes sure to take one day to do nothing but spend time with his family
“That’s actually how I relax the most.”
Life has taught him to never give up, to just keep going and learning and growing.
He’s also learned that to be successful, you need to have desire.
“Everyone could need or want to be healthier, but if you don’t have a desire, you won’t be able to grow,” says Robinson.
“And that’s something that comes from within.”
>> Full name: Silas Vance Robinson
>> Birthday: April 15, 1983
>> Favourite food: Nachos
>> Favourite TV show: Love It or List It, Property Brothers
>> Favourite book: The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield
>> Favourite music: Anything with high BPM (beats per minute) – it’s high-energy
>> Favourite place you’ve visited so far: The bottom of the ocean
>> Favourite movie: The documentary Planet Earth
>> Favourite movie snack: Nachos
>> Do you prefer phone or email: Email
>> Trait you most admire in another person: Professionalism
>> The person you’d most like to meet, living or dead: Paul Chek, an internationally-renowned expert in the fields of corrective and high-performance exercise kinesiology and the founder of the C.H.E.K. (Corrective Holistic Exercise Kinesiology) Institute