After nine and a half years of running Lemon Cree, Theresa Ducharme says she finally feels like she has found the “missing link,” when it comes to changing people’s lives through her original fitness program. With almost a decade of experience behind her, Lemon Cree has evolved into a program that is about healing the “mind, body and soul.”
Laughing about moving back to her hometown of Winnipeg after living in Montreal, Toronto, and several places in British Columbia, Ducharme calls herself “a true nomadic Cree.”
Expressing a desire to be closer to family, Ducharme said she is making the move from the Tsleil-Waututh Nation in BC after spending four years there working with the community of 500 to refine her process with creating trainers and teaching fitness into healing people from emotional and physical places where they were not happy.
“I listen to what are the needs of the people I work with. At first, it was about fitness, but then I noticed that there was a disconnect because of the mental and emotional part of what we experience as women,” Ducharme said.
Ducharme said she felt like she was banging her head against the wall because while she was so focused on her clients’ physical wellbeing, she was seeing was an increase of anxiety and depression among the many First Nations women she was working with. Eventually she realized that it was “self-love and communication in talking with ourselves” that was really necessary. By talking with clientele in different communities she decided it was an element that needed to be added.
“We do a lot of empowerment workshops. We still do bounce fit, but now we include sound therapy and meditation which are real therapy tools,” said Ducharme.
While she was in BC, Ducharme brought on board Rachel Noémi, a yoga/ meditation/ fitness instructor with roots in Japan and Russia who, after working with Ducharme for a while, became a sound therapy practitioner through a program in New York.
“Sound therapy and meditation are all about the sound-body-spirit thing using our breath and harmonic instruments that help release these anxieties and the body’s stress. It helps people attain a deeper state of relaxation,” Ducharme explained.
Beyond the sound therapy, giving her clients more time to talk as part of the process seemed to be extremely effective. Having visited some of the Quebec communities over the last decade, Ducharme was able to see what worked and added valuable changes.
“This was what I wanted to bring back for the women and the more we talked, the more we seemed to heal. We did this in Whapmagoostui where we all sat around and opened up and we quickly could see what the issues were that were stopping our growth,” said Ducharme, pointing out that after these discussions the workouts would be a lot more powerful the following day.
Ducharme is looking forward to trying out this evolved process in Waskaganish when she visits October 24-27, and added she has bigger plans for those who want to use the Lemon Cree experience as a retreat for healing and revitalization.
As for the future of the Lemon Cree business, Ducharme said her ultimate dream is to take what she has learned and offer it as a sunshine retreat down south. Her initial attempt for this four-day program will probably happen in February 2020 in Cancun, Mexico.
“My long-term goal is to offer a four-day, complete relaxation, de-stress in the sun and on the sand retreat. We did this last year in Florida – with the Tsleil-Waututh youth collaborating with the Seminole youth – and it was very successful,” said Ducharme.
As an alternative to the typical resort getaway, Ducharme said the concept would be to offer retreats for people who want to go away and feel “recovered” as a step in the direction to restored health.