Archive for September, 2013

Steveston Smiles

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

I have driven by Steveston Smiles countless times yet until I met with Dr. Michele Nielsen I had never been inside the building. Her father, Dr. Doug Nielsen, had the facility built when he was a new graduate from UBC Dental School, and opened his practice in February 1973. The first thing I noticed was the open concept architecture, which conjured up images of a stacked beehive. The building houses four separate dental practices (which make up the Steveston Dental Group) including Steveston Smiles.

Growing up with a dentist as a father one would think that Michele Nielsen (to avoid confusion they go by Dr. Michele and Dr. Doug) knew that dentistry was her calling.  Throughout her teenage years she assisted in the office, yet she did not dream of following in her father’s footsteps. In fact, she laughs when she says she wanted to be original, and considered teaching or biology as possible career options, however she soon came to realize that dentistry combined all of the things she loved.

In 2001 Michele Nielsen graduated from McGill University and in 2002 she began working with Doug Nielsen. In 2004 she spent an additional year training in forensic dentistry, which she finds fascinating but she is so busy with work and home life that she has yet to pursue this area of interest.

In April 2012 Michele Nielsen purchased the business and Doug Nielsen continues to work alongside her. Three dental hygienists, three assistants, and two front desk staff all assist in making this busy practice thrive. Steveston Smiles takes pride in offering a caring family environment with dentists who listen and have the talent and skill to achieve the results you’re looking for – whether it’s a simple procedure, or a life changing transformation.

What is it like working with her father who, she jokes, now reports to her? Michele Nielsen describes Doug Nielsen as “amazing.” She says he is her mentor, and that they value learning from each other.

Doug Nielsen conducts many of the root canal appointments while Michele Nielsen sees many of the younger patients, and admits this is one of her fortes. This is not surprising as she exudes a genuine warmth and compassion that children must gravitate towards. She has two young sons and radiates a maternal streak.

In 2003, the B.C. Dental Association launched a campaign recommending that children visit the dentist six months after their first tooth or at one year of age. Since this campaign commenced Steveston Smiles has offered complimentary orientation visits for children under the age of three. This visit includes an exam by Dr. Doug or Dr. Michele, a tour of the office as well as a baby bag of goodies to help care for your child’s teeth. For older children a visit to the toy chest is always a post appointment highlight.

In 2006 Steveston Smiles began offering Invisalign braces, a modern approach to straightening teeth. These virtually invisible custom-made aligners gradually and gently shift teeth into place. There are no metal brackets to attach and no wires to tighten.

Have you dreamt of having a crown completed in a single visit? CEREC is a dental restoration product that allows a dental practitioner to produce an indirect ceramic dental restoration using a variety of computer-assisted technologies. With CEREC, teeth can be restored in a single sitting, for natural looking, tooth coloured crowns. No impressions or temporaries are required. You can relax while you watch the computer mill your new restoration before your eyes.

Michele Nielsen showed me the fascinating digital x-ray technology they use. This high-tech diagnostic tool can help detect tiny problems and prevent them from growing larger. An added benefit, digital radiography dramatically decreases the amount of radiation required for an x-ray. Clinicians wear tiny ‘microscopes’ on their glasses, or loupes as they are called in the dental field, which enable them to get a better view of your oral condition, and patients can see the images magnified on the computer screen (no more trying to decipher a tiny film negative).

Believing that dental anxiety should not be a barrier to getting dental work done, Steveston Smiles offers nitrous oxide sedation free of charge. Nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas,” is used for its calming effect. It can help to relax you, ease your fear and make you feel more comfortable during your dental treatment.

Beginning in 2007 The College of Dental Surgeons of B.C. began allowing dentists to perform Botox. This makes sense as dentists know the facial muscles very well. Michele Nielsen explains it is a service that some patients appreciate while they are already at a dental appointment, while other clients come in simply for this treatment.

Michele Nielsen enjoys seeing generations of families come to the office. Recently they found a photo album from the 1980’s of “No Cavity Club Parties” containing pictures of Steveston Smiles patients, and today Michele Nielsen works on some of their children’s teeth. She says, “It is so rewarding to have a true family practice.”

Playing a role in changing people’s perceptions about dental appointments is another satisfying aspect of her job. Michele Nielsen has treated patients who for years avoided getting any dental work done yet “with time, patience, empathy and compassion we have been able to change their experience and restore their mouths and dramatically improve their oral health.”

The dental office has created a number of clubs with gift certificate incentives to encourage participation in health care and promote overall wellness. The Happy Smile Club is for 2 to 8 year olds. Every child has their picture taken and placed on the Happy Smile board. The Junior Achievers Club (9 to 12 year olds) and Teens to the Top (13 to 19 years old) encourages these age groups to practice a high standard of preventive dental health care. The Referral & Rewards Club thanks clients for introducing new patients to the clinic.

Steveston Smiles takes a proactive approach to tooth decay by offering all ghouls and goblins a very attractive post-Halloween offer. Donate your candy during their 3rd Annual Sweet Swap (between November 1 – 5) and in exchange you will receive an entry ballot to win an iPad mini. Now that is sweet!

Steveston Smiles

3951 Steveston Highway Richmond BC V7E 2J9

Telephone 604-277-1131

Russel Sean Fitness

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Russel Sean Favel and I recently sat down to talk after he returned from a week’s vacation.  As the owner and head trainer of Russel Sean Fitness (RSF) he felt a bit restless partaking in some downtime, as he is completely devoted to his business.

The busy fitness facility, which opened in January 2012, offers a variety of workouts. Russel Favel runs the boot camps and personal training while Yasmin Alexandria instructs yoga and Wendy Young and Terri McGinley lead spinning classes. In addition, registered dietitian Carolyn Berry is available for personal nutrition consultations. He is full of ideas and is eager to introduce more classes into the mix.  Anne-Louise Parry of Lulu Family Fitness has recently come on board to assist with body sculpting and indoors mum and baby classes.

Believing that your body is the best fitness tool you have, Russel Favel helps his clients create goals and focus on how to attain them.  Specializing in fat loss and high intensity training, workouts are designed to be fun, challenging, and realistic. He stresses that the gym is a non-competitive environment, and the only person you are competing with is yourself.

Many people look at celebrities and envy their ability to afford a personal trainer to attain their fitness goals. Undeniably working with a personal trainer is one of the most successful ways to improve your health and fitness.  Unlike many gym owners, Russel Favel is determined to make fitness affordable and provides very reasonable rates for all of his programs as he feels “fitness shouldn’t be a financial burden.”

The boot camps are both mentally and physically challenging through full body strengthening exercises, and cardio activities that can be reached by all fitness levels.

Spinning classes will take you on an indoor journey through hills, flats, mountain peaks and sprints. These high-energy sessions are accompanied by motivating music, and Russel Favel promises indoor cycling will leave you “covered in sweat and smiling ear to ear.”

He decided to offer yoga to complement the gym’s high intensity workouts. Classes include a variety of postures with a meditative flow and an emphasis on breathing, alignment and safety. This candlelit class helps you find inner peace.

RSF is housed in the same business park as Cartwheels, The Arts Connection and Renaissance Kids Early Learning Centres.

Multi-tasking Steveston mums in particular take advantage of this convenient location to drop off their children and squeeze in a workout of their own. Russel Favel says his “clients are the best” and he is motivated to help them attain their goals. As much as he receives accolades for inspiring and motivating his clients, he derives satisfaction from what they give back to him.

Erinn Bryan, owner of O’Hare’s GastroPub is a devoted RSF client.  She says, “Russel is a great motivator, very serious about fitness and also a lot of fun. I am addicted to going to RSF. The boot camp workouts are always very challenging and the results are awesome. I’ve met some really amazing people and I’m delighted to have boot camp as part of my work/life balance.” Indeed Russel Favel verifies that the gym is very much a community where people are made to feel welcome and a place where they look forward to catching up with friends.

The Favel family moved to Canada from their homeland of South Africa when Russel Favel was six years old.  After a brief stint in Vancouver they settled in Richmond and have called the area home ever since. Always industrious, from an early age Russel Favel had summer jobs and chuckles when he reveals that his first job was in Grade 9 at Pajo’s cutting potatoes. Not long after graduating from Steveston High he earned his certification to become a personal trainer.  Starting with boot camps and word of mouth marketing, his business began to snowball as friends told their friends. Subsequently, social media has become a great communication tool for RSF devotees.

With his vision and entrepreneurial spirit, Russel Favel (26) is mature beyond his years. He is quick to thank his parents for his work ethic and credits his father Mike Favel for his exemplary commitment to fitness. From the time he was young he recalls seeing his dad run marathons and participate in triathlons and Iron Man competitions.

He points out that his father is his role model. When Russel Favel was in Grade 7 his father’s true “fighter mentality” exhibited itself when he was diagnosed with the first of three bouts of cancer.  Mike Favel has been completely clear of cancer for seven years. Russel Favel says, “seeing someone who was so strong battle cancer for so many years, and being so resilient, taught me and gave me motivation for everything that I do in my life today.”

His mother, Sandra Favel, helps with business decisions, and assists with some of the gym’s administrative work. Russel Favel calls her “his rock.” When problems arise she imparts words of wisdom and offers solutions. He says, “If I am still not able to work it out, then it’s probably just the way it was meant to be. I like to believe I have inherited my mom’s emotional and mental balance, which allows me to keep going, even through those tough times.”

Although Russel Favel has very little free time beyond his business, he continues to enjoy his favourite sport, soccer. He also makes it a priority to spend time with his girlfriend, Michelle Kwieton, his sister and brother in-law, Teri and Justin Wachtel, and his newborn nephew, Hudson. Judging by his commitment and passion for his career and family, he seems to have found the perfect balance.

Another source of inspiration is his uncle, Martin Smith, who formerly owned and ran one of the biggest gyms in Johannesburg.  He was one of the first people to bring the whole “fitness lifestyle” to the gym, with the swimming pool, circuit classes, and aerobics and has provided Russel Favel with many helpful ideas and tips.

Martin Smith is a friend of Jon Jon Park, the CEO and founder of Legacy Gym in Los Angeles. Legacy Gym is named in honour of Jon Jon Park’s father, Reg Park, who was a professional body builder and held the title of Mr. Universe three times. It was Reg Park who inspired Arnold Schwarzenegger to pursue his career in bodybuilding. Jon Jon Park emigrated to L.A. from South Africa to follow in his father’s footsteps, and is now one of city’s top trainers to celebrities and professional athletes.

While Russel Favel has not met Jon Jon Park, he hopes to, “so I can let him know how much of an impact he has had on me. Jon Jon’s pictures and his father’s pictures are one of the first things you see when you walk into RSF gym. I use them as a reminder that hard work and genuinely caring for your clients and what you believe in will get you furthest. It is not about the equipment you have, it’s about you. The equipment doesn’t do the work, you do.”

It is Russel Favel’s authenticity and ability to learn life lessons at such an early age that distinguishes him from some young entrepreneurs who are driven by monetary success. While he is certainly ambitious, his ultimate quest is to help as many people as he can by bringing them happiness and helping them feel good about themselves.

Russel Sean Fitness

Unit 9 – 12491 No. 2 Road

Richmond BC V7E 2G3

Telephone 604-341-4288