Elizabeth (Beth) May talks kinesiology, UVic, running and physiotherapy

We sat down to enjoy a coffee with Beth recently. We talked about physiotherapy, running, the University of Victoria, community building, and chickens…

We sat down to enjoy a coffee with Beth recently. We talked about physiotherapy, running, the University of Victoria, community building, and chickens.


You’ve just moved back to Victoria, right?

Yes, I did my BSc in Kinesiology at UVic [University of Victoria], but I’ve been in Vancouver doing my Masters at UBC for the past couple of years.

How was your time at UVic?

It was great! I started in the general sciences with an interest in biology – which was great but the department was so big – and then I transferred to Kinesiology which I loved because at the time they only accepted 30 people a year. It made for a nice community.

All of my professors were awesome as well! They are all great researchers, but also such amazing teachers! I was always struck by the level of care. Sandra Hundza stands out as an incredible professor who inspired me to apply for physiotherapy. She is one of those “I want to be like her” mentors.

I also did lots of work through the UVic Co-op Program. A highlight of that was working in Wales for a summer at UWC Atlantic College. It was an outdoors program for youth with physical disabilities, and we all lived in the castle! I also volunteered at the UVic physiology lab, and once a week at the hospital.

Beyond kinesiology-oriented activities, I was in a girls choir and travelled to England and Seattle with that group. I’d love to get back to singing. I also did – and still sometimes do! – illustrations for the Martlet. Climbing was something I was doing then as well!

How have you found building community since you moved back to Victoria?

It definitely helped to have done my undergrad here. Lots of people who did undergrad in Victoria came back to start practicing. Some of my closest friends were in Kinesiology with me. Madeline Spangle and I became friends during our undergrad, and then both went to UBC to specialize before coming back to Victoria together. We are actually planning a trip to Mexico right now with another friend we made in Kinesiology at UVic.

I also take a pottery class and go the MEC run meet-ups sometimes. Both of those are great ways to meet people. Working in Oak Bay is great as well because it is a close-knit community.

Beth May sitting outside on her steps with her three chickens on head, shoulders, and lap.

What attracted you to physiotherapy?

I guess I’ve been interested in the human body and anatomy since I was really little. I also knew that I wanted a career that would allow me to build connections with people over longer periods of time. That’s one of the things I love most about physio – you can help people live their best lives throughout their lives. 

It’s also my preference to be part of healthcare prevention rather than treatment. I like giving patients the knowledge and confidence to help themselves. Empowering people to work towards living their best lives is something I find really beautiful! 

The research is also supporting this approach, which is really important to me. I really need to believe in what I am doing.

Physiotherapy ticked all of these boxes, and I’m so glad I chose it. I love my job!

Were there things that surprised you about physiotherapy when you started?

I was surprised by how many different things I could do as a physiotherapist. There is such a range of related careers, as well as so many options for specialization!

Do you have a favourite body part?

[laughs] I really like the pelvic floor, and shoulders as well! Lynn Watson is the shoulder jedi, and I took a course with her. Shoulders are complicated. There are a myriad of things that can go wrong with shoulders – but that’s really because they’re so interconnected to all our other body parts! I prefer looking at the body as a whole!

I am also really interested in pursuing Pelvic floor health, although I am not certified at this time. It really appeals to me through the population it serves and the positive outcomes that are supported by the research.

You mentioned running and climbing. Which other sports get you outdoors?

I love cycling. I’m not competitive, but in the evenings I’ll go along the Goose, and occasionally I’ll go mountain biking. I’m also big into dipping – swimming [laughs] – and I like to bike out to the lakes in the summer.

Backpacking is another favorite. I did some of the Sunshine Trail last year with some girlfriends. I’ve been on the Juan de Fuca trail a couple of times, and I’m planning on the North Coast Trail.

Are you training for anything right now?

I’m training for the Goodlife Marathon, which is coming up in October. I’m doing it with my friend, Tanya Lahdeneham, who is a competitive rower, so that’s a bit intimidating! She’s a physio as well actually.

I did my first marathon with a friend last year – the BMO in Vancouver. My sister and I have also recently done the Oak Bay half marathon.

What else is happening for you this summer?

I got chickens! I’m so excited! I had chickens growing up, and I loved them. I did 4H, which helped as well.

I’ve been a student so long, and moved around so much, and I’m finally in a place to have chickens. We have a fair amount of outdoor space, and I ordered a custom made chicken coop from Vancouver.

Our chickens came from a Chicken breeder in Langford. We’ve named them Kate, Harriet, and Gilly.

Beth is on the left with her sister on the right and her brother in the middle. All are standing around a gargoyle in a garden at government house and smiling.
Beth May with her siblings at Government House, Victoria.
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