by Steven Fouchard, Army Public Affairs


Master Corporal Shaina Ryan didn’t fully embrace physical fitness until she joined the Canadian Army Reserve, but can now stand proudly among the country’s fittest soldiers.

She recently joined a select group who have achieved Platinum level on the FORCE Assessment. This mandatory, annual test of fitness includes a sandbag lift, sandbag drag, 20-metre rushes, and the intermittent loaded shuttle (five 40-metre shuttles with a weight and five without).

MCpl Ryan currently serves as part of the human resources team at 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown Detachment Aldershot in Nova Scotia. Personnel there, she notes, are very much encouraged to use work time for physical training, which makes keeping fit that much easier for the busy mother of two.

And that approach would seem to be paying off: two other Aldershot soldiers, Sergeant Garrett Bessagato and Warrant Officer Casey Welbourn, also scored Platinum this fiscal year.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What was your reaction to the news of your results?

I honestly didn’t expect to attain that level. I was just trying to do my best with each separate task. The Commander of 5 Canadian Division Support Base, Colonel Osmond, came down from Gagetown and gave me my award in front of all my co-workers and superiors. It was really nice to have the whole room cheer.

How did you prepare?

Here at my unit we are encouraged to do physical training every day, which is really nice. I also like to lift weights and do Yoga. I like to sprinkle a bit of everything into my training.

The elements of the assessment are all very different and require multi-dimensional training. Someone definitely can’t solely focus on aerobic activity and do that well. You need to do weightlifting, there’s cardio, flexibility, stamina – a lot of different areas.

Was fitness a big part of your life before you joined the Reserve?

Actually it wasn’t [laughs]. In high school I couldn’t even do one push-up. So all my growing physically, training-wise, has happened strictly in the military and because of the military. They brought me here. It’s the demands of the job and, honestly, I ended up loving it and using my time to the best of my abilities.

I’m a mum of two and I can’t carve out the time at home very easily so I try and make my time count at the gym when I’m offered it at work. And I’m afforded the opportunity every day. There’s the odd day when the mission comes first but we all make our time count at the gym.

Describe your job at Aldershot.

I maintain personnel files, I help with planning events here at the camp. We make travel arrangements and generally get people where they need to be. We stay organized and on our toes.

I’ve actually been full time since 2007. I’m very happy to still be around my family and my support network. Especially since I’m raising two children. I really like it here.

What are your favourite parts of your job and the Reserve generally?

I feel like I’m on a team every day and I feel important within my team. I’m really proud of myself and I get to be challenged and I challenge myself. It keeps me on my toes – there’s not one day that’s like another. And I’ve got really great benefits.

Do you have any particular career plans or ambitions?

I’ve wanted to do a Technical Assistance Visit for a while now – that’s a mini tour. My personal life’s a bit chaotic right now so I’m going to wait for things to kind of settle down before I volunteer for anything like that. My kids are six and three. My hands are full but my heart is too. Of course, if my country needs me before then then I’ll be going somewhere I’m sure.