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Hiking, microbreweries, and what’s fun about being a physio with Remy Roest

During our chat with Remy, we learned about how a brief foray into HR training led him to the world of physiotherapy, and how his life in the Netherlands prepared him for Vancouver Island’s wet weather.

Why do you think staying active and mobile is important?

Well, there’s no doubt about the fact that the research and science clearly tell us that it’s of the utmost importance to keep in the best shape possible. Staying active helps us keep up our cardiovascular fitness, too. And, everybody can accomplish that in their own way whether it be through hiking, cycling, swimming, team sports, the list goes on! I think in the end, it doesn’t matter what the activity is, as long as you’re doing something that you enjoy. That’s when you get the most benefit.

Of course, everybody has different goals and wants to compete at a different level, but you don’t necessarily have to be an elite athlete in order to have the benefits of an active lifestyle.

How did you end up on Vancouver Island?

There are a few steps involved in that process! I was born, raised, and schooled in the Netherlands, and started work there as a physiotherapist. My wife is American and was living in Southern California in 2017, and eventually, I moved there. However, it was difficult for me to transfer my license to practice from Europe to the USA. We had been considering leaving SoCal for somewhere else, and we’d visited Vancouver a few times in the past and both liked it, so it felt like it could be a good place to explore. Especially with all the outdoor opportunities it has to offer, plus its climate was ideal.

Obviously, the pandemic came and complicated things severely, but in 2022 we were able to make the move to Vancouver. While there, we visited Vancouver Island several times. Both my wife and I are into the outdoors: we love hiking, camping, and cycling. It’s a little outdoor paradise out here! We live in the View Royal area and I can go by bike to the clinic. So far things have been great!

What’s it like working in the Colwood community?

It’s been a great experience so far, full of nice people and seems to be a very active place. When we moved here, some people asked us if we’d get bored and if would we run out of things to do living on an island. But it all depends on your lifestyle. If you enjoy the outdoors and being active, the Westshore is a good place to live! Here, everybody seems to be into running or hiking. (I see lots of running-related injuries in my practice.)

Do you have any favourite outdoor spots on the island?

East Sooke Regional Park! It’s among one of our favourite places. It’s a beautiful park, has nice views, it’s lush, and you can spot some whales once in a while. It’s really fun. It’s easy to spend a whole day there exploring.

Remy Roest poses with his hands on his hips atop a mountain in East Sooke Regional Park on Vancouver Island.

What drew you to physiotherapy?

I would say it’s partly coincidental. When I was 17, I had no idea what I wanted to do, so in school, they advised me to choose a field that would give me different options. I started in an HR training program, but after a couple of months, I realized I didn’t like it. It so happened that the physiotherapy program was in the same building, though, and that’s how I got exposed to it! 

I had never considered physiotherapy as a career. I hadn’t received physiotherapy before, but I was always in sports. It felt like a better fit for me (much better than HR). At the time, I was still only 18, so what do you know then? I decided to switch programs and ever since, I’ve been working in the field. I don’t regret it! 

What’s fun about your job?

For me personally, the fun part is getting to work with a variety of clients and helping them get back to their previous level of fitness or improve beyond that. My plan when I started was to focus just on sports rehab. But I actually really enjoy the variability of, for example, getting a soccer player onto the field again, or helping an older adult get back on their feet after a hip replacement.

An athlete wants to be in the best shape in order to compete but for other people, it might be an achievement to simply walk a couple of blocks or climb a set of stairs without pain. Both parties have to put a lot of work and effort in, even if the outcomes are different. It doesn’t make the one more interesting than the other one.

How do you stay up to date with new research in physiotherapy?

I like to pick up continuing education courses when I can and pick up new techniques for my practice. Right now, I’m doing an online course focused on running rehab. After that, I’m planning to pick up a dry needling program. I work mostly with musculoskeletal and overuse injuries, and dry needling can be a useful treatment. It’s proven to be beneficial. I’ve been circling around it for a while!

What is life like in the Netherlands?

It’s a good place to grow up and live! For people that’s never been there, it’s a small country. It’s only 25% bigger than Vancouver Island, but it’s very densely populated (17 million people!). Because of that, it’s a very organized place; I always say, “The rules in the Netherlands have their own rules!”

It’s a very flat country, with no mountains. There isn’t the same level of outdoor options as here on Vancouver Island. But don’t get me wrong, the Netherlands are beautiful. It’s very green there, and very wet because it rains a lot! Before we moved to BC, people were warning us about the rain but I pretty much grew up in the rain, so for me, it’s not that big of an adjustment.

Living in Victoria, it’s so easy to access the wilderness. Growing up in a densely populated country like the Netherlands, Vancouver Island feels very “wild.” I like that. I like spending time in the outdoors and by living here, I don’t have to drive 1.5 hours to get somewhere. Within 10 minutes I have access to a variety of trails and nature. 

Do you have any favourite hangout spots in Victoria? 

We like to visit microbreweries! We’ve been to a couple in Victoria and recently, we ended up at one in Sooke, Bad Dog Brewing. It was great! We enjoy hopping in to see what the vibe is like (and try the beers).

Remy Roest sits at a picnic table holding a glass of beer at the Bad Dog Brewery in Sooke on Vancouver Island.