PEOPLE OF BEHAVIOUR
Marie Claude Bernard
Behaviour’s Director of Communications, Marketing, Marie Claude Bernard, recently spoke with Masao Kobayashi for his podcast What Else Do You Do, which explores the after-hours activities of game developers.
Over the past five years, Marie Claude has gone from being “never the sporty type – never, never, never” to a Canadian record holder in Olympic weightlifting.
Here are a few moments from the podcast, which you can hear in its entirety here.
So – what else do you do?
I’m a competitive Olympic weightlifter. It’s not powerlifting, it’s not crossfit. It really is the sport you see in the Olympics that’s comprised of two movements: clean and jerk and the snatch. So, I don’t bench, I don’t deadlift; I really do Olympic weightlifting.
How did you end up doing weightlifting?
It starts off a bit sad but I’m so happy to share this now because I think it’s important.
In 2014, I suffered from severe depression. I went on sick leave for six months, I was in therapy for a long time, and still am, medication – all of that. At some point, my therapist told me, “Marie, you need to start moving.” I was never the sporty type – never, never, never – but I said, “OK, fine. I need to do this; can I find a sport where I don’t need a lot of equipment, where I don’t need to go to the gym and be surrounded by super fit people.
“Why am I doing this to myself??”
I thought I could try running – you don’t need much, you can just get out of the house and run for a bit. I’m kind of of an over-achiever, so I told myself let’s go from couch to half-marathon. I did my half-marathon in Hawaii – the experience was great but I just didn’t have a passion for running. The scenery was beautiful but every step of the way I was like, “why am I doing this to myself??” I checked that goal and decided to find something else…
When I moved there was a CrossFit gym across the street, so I said well let’s try this. I did that for a number of years, and I competed in the sport, too, and I liked it but what I liked the most really was weightlifting.
So, I said, ‘let’s try it out’ and I found a weightlifting club. There’s a wonderful club in Montreal called “Les Géants de Montréal” and I tried it out and loved it and four years later I’m still a member and that’s the story, that’s how it all started. I love this, I really do.
What do you get out of weightlifting that you don’t get out of the games industry?
The short story is the physical exertion – lifting heavy shit. There’s something really powerful in doing this. It allows me to forget about my day, forget about anything that went well – or wrong – during the day and just focus on that bar. It’s just me and the bar … you’re the only person responsible for your success, and that’s just not the case in the games industry.
I also get to interact with people who come from all horizons. When you’re in the industry so long, you get used to your bubble: we talk about games; we work on games; we look at the future of games. This has me in an environment where I’m with IT guys, physiotherapists, teachers, people on the national team – it opens up my horizon and gets me talking about other things. It’s just been so powerful for me.
Weightlifting is about technique and timing and focusing on this and not thinking about everything else that goes on in the day, in the world has been very powerful to me. It complements my meditation practice, and that’s been great health wise.
What does weightlifting bring to your job, in terms of process or creative output?
First and foremost, it keeps me grounded knowing that at the end of the day I can go to my training and unplug. It helps me during the day to be able to say, ‘OK, let’s focus on work – we have this after.’
As a sport, it really empowers me. It gives me a lot of mental strength – when you’re alone with a bar and you need to lift so much weight over your head, you have to develop very specific techniques of visualization, trust in yourself and self-confidence and that’s really helped me.
It changed how I manage my team and how I help people grow. I take a lot of cues from my coach in that regard.
The most important thing is it’s made me realize that small progress is progress. Small progress is a big win and that should be celebrated. It’s the most positive thing that’s come out of this for me.– Marie Claude Bernard
How much can you lift?
A lady does not share her numbers!
I started as a rookie in a CrossFit gym. I’ve now won provincials twice, I’ve won a bunch of local competitions and I won the nationals last year in my category. I also hold a national record in the snatch movement, so I guess I’m OK!
So, from a very low point in my life to winning competitions. I’ve been amazed at my progress and proud of this. It’s not something I say very often but, geez, going from no sports to participating in those meets is kinda cool.