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The Journal’s Exceptional Person of the Week: Cam Davies

Published on

Cathy Dobson

Cam Davies’ exceptional ability to dig deep and find solutions has been changing lives for decades.

He calls it the thrill of the chase. His friends call it an incredible thirst for knowledge and a giving spirit.

Many Sarnians know Davies from Ironworks gym, which he owned for 27 years.

Ironworks started in 1985 as a small group of guys who took powerlifting and hardcore training seriously. It soon opened to the public and moved to Michigan Avenue. Davies was a member in those days, then bought the gym in 1991, full of enthusiasm for powerlifting.

“Then I was asked by Miriam Carmody (retired manager at the Strangway Centre) if I wanted to work with seniors and it all changed,” he said. “I began working with people with strokes and health issues of all types, mobility problems, new knees, and new hips.”

While his gym catered to the usual fitness crowd, Davies became increasingly determined to use training and fitness to solve mobility problems and resolve pain. He became a medical exercise specialist.

“He’s like a pitbull,” says friend Dave Schaller. “Cam is a super nice person and does a lot of great things for people that no one knows about – and he tends to like it that way. But the truth is he is a mover and a shaker.”

In one instance, Davies was determined to help a man resume driving after a stroke. When they were successful, the man’s doctor wanted to meet Davies.

“I ended up working with his physiotherapist and that opened another door for me,” Davies said.

“I frequently accompany my clients to the doctor so I can learn how to make a difference in their lives, not just go through the motions.

“I do whatever I can to get them better,” he said.

Davies also commits a lot of his time to a group he calls the Iron Eagles. For years, he has worked twice a week with people challenged by various health issues and trained them to compete in the Special Olympics.

“I just ride on the coattails of other people,” Davies said modestly. Dave’s the brains with all the ideas. I just owned the gym and we developed a community around these folks.”

Not true, insisted Schaller who is the lede of special projects at Pathways Health Centre for Children.

“Ironworks has always been a little gym with a lot of heart. That stems from Cam being a role model. He is always open to all ideas to get kids into weight training, to get them fit,” said Schaller.

Davies sold Ironworks – now located on St. Clair Street in Point Edward – six years ago but he continues to do personal training and follow his passion.

“Ownership was great while it lasted,” he said. “But now I get to do what I love.”
Twenty-five years ago, Schaller and Davies started an annual bench press competition that soon became a fundraiser for Pathways.

Give the Kids a Lift integrates people with no health issues and people with challenges.

“It’s far more than a competition,” said Lise Shaw, an Ironworks member who volunteers at the event. She sought Davies’ help after suffering a brain aneurysm.

“I just love the man,” said Shaw. “He is so positive. And his dedication to the kids is incredible.

“The event is so uplifting when you see their sense of accomplishment and the families cheering everyone on.”

Give the Kids a Lift has raised more than $250,000 for Pathways over the years.
Davies was also responsible, with his daughter Justine, for starting a boxing program for people with Parkinson’s disease.

The two of them trained at the Rock Steady headquarters in Indianapolis so they could bring the program here.

“It’s Justine’s program really,” he said, preferring not to take credit. “It’s so great to see people come in and have such a good time.

“Working with people with a whole spectrum of health issues and seeing them smile is really what it’s about for me.”

Who do you consider an exceptional person in Sarnia-Lambton? Nominate someone you know and explain why you think they should be The Journal’s Exceptional Person of the Week. Email [email protected].

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