We met Brandon Warren for a chat over the interwebs to talk about moving East to West, physiotherapy, and getting outside. Thank you for your time, warmth, and generosity, Brandon!
You went from New Brunswick to Nova Scotia to Victoria, right? How was the East Coast?
Yeah! I was born and raised in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, which is a really small town. We didn’t even have a Tim Hortons! I graduated highschool there, and there were about forty of us in the graduating class.
After I graduated highschool, I did my undergrad in kinesiology at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. I swam on the Varsity Swim team, which was great — I definitely got the full ‘student athlete’ experience. From there I went to Dalhousie University in Halifax.
I’ve really hit all of the main cities in the Atlantic because I did a clinical placement in St. John’s, Newfoundland as well.
I loved it, but when I got the offer to come out here it seemed right! I’m an adventurous person who loves the outdoors so the Island seemed like the right fit. It’s also great to not have to shovel snow! Now I call home in January when it’s a little chilly, and they tell me they’ve got 30cm of snow.
When did you join us on the West Coast?
It’s pretty new still — just November of this year. I drove across so I got to go coast to coast, which was awesome!
That sounds like an incredible way to turn your move into an adventure! Did you encounter any favourite places on your drive?
Getting into the mountains was amazing! You just get past Calgary and they pop! I stopped in Banff too, which was gorgeous, and it was my first time through the Prairies.
Northern Ontario was probably my least favourite, not because it’s not beautiful, but because it’s about 20 hours of driving longer than it should be.
And did you start working at Arbutus soon after you arrived in Victoria?
Yes, that’s why I came! I knew I had the job at Arbutus before I left home, and I started there in the first week of December.
So this is your first summer in Victoria! What is this particularly strange summer looking like for you so far?
It has been going alright! I’m pretty outdoors-y. I like to hike, and to get out into nature, so it has been alright because — even though I can’t get in the social part — I can definitely get in the distance. I’ve been loving East Sooke. I love the Sooke region in general. I went to Mystic Beach a little while ago, and it’s unbelievable. East Sooke and Gowlland Tod are probably my favourites, though.
You’ve mentioned swimming and hiking — are there other kinds of physical activities keeping you busy?
Growing up I was pretty sporty, I guess. It was a small town so there wasn’t a lot else to do. I was playing in a local volleyball league here before things shut down. I would also call myself a recreational runner, but nothing too serious. I did sign up for a race this coming August, though, actually. It’s 5km of swimming, 20km of running total so I’m going to get a little more serious with my training. I’m pretty competitive. If I’m going to participate in something, I want to commit and do well.
That’s the SwimRun Human Powered Racing is hosting, right?
Yes! It’s the only in-person event happening on the island this summer, I think, and they’ve capped it at 50 people to make sure we can all keep our distance.
How are you finding staying motivated during the pandemic?
It has actually been pretty easy for me to stay motivated because I love it! I make sure I do some kind of home workout, like HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), or get out to run or swim every day. I want to make sure to move everyday, but that has felt easier because it has always been part of my lifestyle.
Have you ever had any of your own sports injuries?
Yeah, I would say I’ve had my fair share. I broke my left wrist twice. The first time I was younger and crashed by bike, and that wasn’t so bad. The second time, though, I broke it playing hockey. I went into the boards at just the right angle and broke my radius and my ulna. I had a full arm cast for that one!
Because I was a competitive swimmer and used a lot of overhead strokes I’d often have shoulder tendinitis by the end of the season as well.
What is your favourite thing about your physiotherapy practice?
I just like the diversity of it! It’s not the same thing over and over again. I’m also really into coaching, and I love meeting someone and being able to guide them towards getting better.
I’m definitely never bored because everything is always so different one day to the next!
What got you interested in physiotherapy in the first place?
The diversity of it was the major thing from the start. I’ve known since the 9th or 10th grade what I wanted to do — physio hits all of my interests. I also had my fair share of physio growing up and I got to see what my physiotherapists did.
During my Bachelor’s I worked at a neuro rehab centre as well, which really broadened my perspective about what a physiotherapist can do.
Do you have a specific body part or injury type that you find most interesting?
Just any type of shoulder injury, which I think comes from my swimming background. I can relate to that one. I love everything, but I especially like a good shoulder.
What has opening back up during the pandemic looked like for you?
At the first there were obviously a few small hiccups, but we’ve got new routines now and it’s going well. We’re all in uncharted waters, and we’re working to figure out the best ways forward. Patients are responding well to our adaptations, and we’ve been able to see people in the clinic since May 19th!
Did you have a chance to find favourite things to do in pre-pandemic Victoria?
It was all pretty new, I was definitely just getting into the swing. I’d been enjoying the volleyball league for sure, and building my caseload, and I was already swimming. The volleyball league play-offs have obviously been cancelled so that’s too bad, but all of the outdoor stuff has kept me going!
I also feel like my pre-pandemic travelling was meant to be, I guess. I had finished my job in New Brunswick before I moved, and so I took 9 weeks and went backpacking around Asia, and then I had my trip across Canada. I also had a placement in Scotland when I was in school!
Getting to travel before all of this was definitely lucky! I also really feel like Victoria is the right city for me!