AT H L E T E S W I T H I M PAC T
A Healing Journey A grieving mom finds solace through movement Personal trainer, Erica
BY RHIANNON RUSSELL – Freelance journalist based in Whitehorse, YK RHRUSSELL
hen the pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, Erica Van Vlack quit her job as a personal trainer at a gym in Whitehorse, Yukon. She was newly pregnant, and as someone who, in her words, “doesn’t pregnant well,” she decided to start her own business so she could have more flexibility. Van Vlack is an avid athlete—she runs, bikes, swims, and lifts weights. She’s loved movement her whole life, from growing up in Ontario playing team sports to competing in triathlons as an adult. It helps her clear her head and feel good. During her pregnancy, running and long hikes were too uncomfortable, so she did strength and mobility workouts in her home gym—a little cabin on the property she shares with her husband and two-year-old son Gunnar. She worked with her fitness clients virtually from there too. “She was on every Zoom class, she was in every workout,” Van Vlack says of her in-utero little one. With every client, she had a joke or a goal based around the baby’s arrival. You’ll be able to do this exercise once
50 Outdoor Summer 2021
Van Vlack shares her unimaginable loss.
she’s out! Your injury will be healed by the time she arrives! Last December, Van Vlack went into labour. At the hospital, she quickly delivered her daughter, Trinity, and then immediately began hemorrhaging. It was a whirlwind: The doctor told her Trinity hadn’t survived and that Van Vlack had to go to the operating room right away to save her own life. Once Van Vlack emerged from surgery, she had to face the fact that Trinity was gone. There was no medical explanation for her death— the placenta was healthy, she says, and there was no abruption. Before she left the hospital, she and her husband held their daughter. She was beautiful. “Just because Trinity isn’t here doesn’t mean that she isn’t playing a part in my every move,” says Van Vlack. “It’s important to recognize the milestones in a stillbirth just as much as the milestones in a living child. Trinity has changed me, as all babies do. She was born still, but still born.”