Christine Barnes was forced to reinvent herself after a devastating car crash almost 20 years ago left her with a permanent brain injury. Though Christine, 37, speaks slowly and often searches for words, she loves chatting and communicates her thoughts well. And while she relies on a walker for support, she is able to walk on her own and works out five days a week at the Hamilton Downtown Family YMCA.

 “Christine is among our toughest, hardest-working members,” said personal trainer Ben Devine, who leads strength training and conditioning class she frequents. Christine is also an avid swimmer. “The full-body workouts in these fitness classes help Christine maintain the mobility, strength, endurance and coordination needed to preserve her independence while swimming provides a great cardio workout,” said Ben.

Christine’s passion for physical fitness dates back to childhood when, growing up in small-town British Columbia, she swam and played on her school’s volleyball team. Then, at age 18, her life changed forever when she was a passenger in a horrific car crash. After a long recovery and extensive rehabilitation, Christine moved to Hamilton where she had family, acquired brain injury services, bus service and a YMCA near her home.

Christine first started visiting the Hamilton Downtown Family YMCA 12 years ago. “I’ve made lots of friends here,” she said, adding, “I’m a work in progress but I’m doing great. Who knows what life will bring, so be grateful for what you’ve got.”