By James Yates
OTTAWA – To start this story, I’ll have to travel back in time more than a decade. I was a fresh-faced, fourteen-year-old ninth-grader who wanted nothing more than to be noticed. I had certain skills in hockey and golf but was always told that I was too small and that I needed more power. Coinciding with those weaknesses, I could barely spell algebra, let alone solve an equation. Mathematics is something I still struggle with to this very day, and I am still not particularly strong. But this is my own fault due to negligence in both areas, and certainly not the fault of my former tutor and personal trainer, Dimitri Bichet.
For over 20 years, Dr. Dimitri Bichet has been operating out of his townhome-turned-facility on Main Street in Ottawa South. He is primarily a chiropractor, dealing with the aches and pains of bones and muscles. With his vast background (which started at McGill University), he is also able to serve as a personal trainer, which is often an extension of his chiropractic work. Furthermore, he is a highly decorated math tutor, beginning at Berkley University in California, to tutoring local high school students like myself, to where he now tutors Ottawa U and Carleton University engineering students. And yes, he performs all three professions out of the same facility at the same time. He truly is a modern-day jack of all trades.
“Being self-employed, you certainly have to be very good at time management,” said Dr. Dimitri Bichet. “We’re lucky these days with iPhones to be able to confirm or change an appointment, it makes it very easy to juggle a busy schedule. I wake up at 4 am and I’m here for 6 am, but by around noon I’ll be done for the day which allows me to have the freedom to pursue other things like my family and other projects.”.
Dimitri’s first passion in life was bodybuilding, and that’s where he was introduced to the chiropractic profession. “I did a lot of bodybuilding, and I always looked up to Arnold Schwarzenegger and he had a training partner named Franco Columbu, he actually just passed away on my birthday this year. And Franco was a chiropractor and could help with pain associated with bodybuilding and helped Arnold through injuries. In my bodybuilding days, I always went to a chiropractor after those heavy deadlifts or squats and I always got relief, so that’s why I decided to pursue a career as a chiropractor.”
Being a high school-level tutor for most of his career, Dimitri was able to gain clients for his personal training business, which was a mix of the young people he tutored, along with an older clientele that came from his chiropractic business that needed additional training. He was able to see the rewards from both the young and the old.
“I honestly prefer training someone older, because you really learn what works, and how to avoid injuries from training someone older.” Said Dimitri. “When you’re training somebody younger, everything works and you’re not able to get a sense of how certain movements or practices can affect the body and you’re able to transfer that the young athletes very well.” “The personal training and chiropractic work very well together.”
Dimitri is also a parent of two sons, who were very active in youth sports and continue to be today. They play basketball and were very competitive in amateur Jiu-jitsu, and this is due to Dimitri’s outlook as a parent of youth athletes.
“My kids are quite good athletes which is surprising because I was never a good athlete at all.” Dimitri chuckled. “But I tried to introduce my kids to sports that I think they would like, I find too many kids pursue things that they’re good at, instead of things that they like. So, I really put an emphasis on them liking their sports.”
His insight into the world of chiropractic and personal training has given him an edge in a business sense, while being able to help young athletes, including his own sons. “The combination of chiropractic and personal training has helped my kids and tons of my young clients stay away from injuries and prevent injuries, like it’s very rare to see people play sports intensively into their twenties without back or knee injuries or whatever at that point, and my kids have been able to and I’m very happy with that.”
Injury prevention is something that Dimitri takes very seriously, and this is where two-thirds of his business are primarily focused. He is very adamant about training within your limits and not pushing them too far (I know from personal experience trying to bench press 200 pounds like I was the Hulk).
“You have to see weight training as more of something to get better. Every athlete does it, but nobody really cares how much you lift, it’s really about going through those motions and doing it for yourself. Stop thinking about the numbers, and think about the process, because it (weight training) is really the best thing for you. But the only problem is when you try to beat the numbers and get too far ahead of yourself, that’s when injuries happen. You should have the same approach as pro athletes; nobody cares how much Lebron can squat or lift, he stays within his limits because, at the end of the day, nobody really cares.”
In terms of weight training, Dimitri can understand that parents of young athletes can be skeptical about it. It not only presents an additional time commitment; it can be viewed as unnecessary and bound to cause injuries on its own. But he views weight training differently: as a secret weapon to gaining that underlying edge every athlete is looking for.
He’s not alone of course, as basically every professional or semi-professional athlete today uses a variety of weight training along with chiropractic and/or physical therapy.
“I think personal training is the best thing, everybody goes to the gym, but having that introduction makes sure that you don’t waste those initial years as an athlete doing things that actually don’t work or can hurt you. It’s something that’s taught in university now, it’s a great introduction to the mechanics of the body. I’m 50 now if you look at when I went to McGill, there wasn’t even a weight room for young people at that time, and now it’s on every college and university campus along with physiotherapists and chiropractors and doctors working around these exercises, you really get a lot out of it and I think kids today will too.”