Photo by Dan Walton

Muscular sisters teaching the Valley how to kick a**

Luraina Undershute oddy and Jolaine Undershute talk about their competitive drive

By Dan Walton

Special to the Pioneer

They’ve thrown around their weight all over the globe, and now the Columbia Valley’s Undershute sisters are finally offering their world-class training programs under the same roof.

Luraina Undershute Oddy – who’s been a kickboxing teacher in the Valley for the past 18 years – has recently opened the doors to the Rocky Mountain Martial Arts, which expands upon her sister Jolaine Undershute’s training facility in Athalmere, Endeavour Fitness.

“It’s really nice to be living out the dream we both had,” said Luraina. “We’ve always talked about owning our own gym together.”

Most Valley residents know that Jolaine’s expertise is in CrossFit, in which she ranks third in the world for her age category.

“It doesn’t matter how sore my legs are, if I’m competing, I’m going to out-squat that person next to me,” she said.

Although the two sisters have mostly practiced different disciplines, they found common ground a decade ago, when they took part in fitness competitions and had a platform to show off the results of their training.

Now just what are the odds that two top-notch athletes get cut from the same family cloth?

“It’s all mental but we were really blessed with genetics,” Jolaine said, also mentioning that relatives have discovered Roman gladiator heritage through a DNA test. “We have to be thankful of that combination of good genetics and discipline. With this really, really crazy work ethic, you’re going to be on a podium somewhere in some sport. But you can’t do it on talent alone – there’s gotta be talent, but genetics play a huge role in CrossFit, or in any sport.”

The Undershutes were raised in a competitive family – their dad encouraged Jolaine to do her first handstand at the young age of 4 (and almost immediately she upped the ante by doing a handstand-pushup, prompting her parents to sign her up for gymnastics), and he wouldn’t let Luraina take easy while they were bowling and she was eight-months pregnant.

“My sister and I are just able to push through the pain threshold and put ourselves in different state of consciousness where we’re able to perform at a level higher than most people because we’re able to click that off and push past the ouchie,” Luraina said.

After their bout with fitness competitions, the two sisters later branched off in different athletic directions.

Jolaine, after opening Endeavor Fitness in 2009, began to focus her training on on CrossFit in 2012. Luraina was a young mother at that point who continued teaching around the district.

“I taught kickboxing on beaches, I taught at the Valley Fitness Centre, I taught at Kicking Horse Coffee,” she recalls.

Their two businesses have some collaborative crossover benefits.

“It’s great because (Jolaine) lets me use her equipment, which helps some of my students with strength training,” said Luraina. “She uses the mirrors in here, not really any of the other stuff though.”

Luraina was able to appreciate her abilities at a young age thanks to high school gym class, when several other students would be trying to pin her down as part of a game.

“And nobody could pin me down, so at that point I knew I was stronger than the average Joe.”

By the time Luraina was an adult, she had the bravery to take on opponents who had much more experience.

“I went into tournaments and there would be all black belt women and I just didn’t care, nobody could beat me.”

Both sets of the Undershutes’ grandparents had property in the valley, so the sisters were regular visitors through their entire lives. When Jolaine was in her 30s and moved to the area permanently, she felt the need to open her own fitness facility.

“I have to do something different,” she says. “I can’t watch people exercise with bad form, and do it in a way that’s not safe. My goal was to bring everybody under my roof, where I can teach you, keep you safe and make you better.”

Both sisters strive to lead by example.

“I don’t think (local) people know, anybody who comes here from Calgary is like, ‘Oh my God you train with Jolaine Undershute, that is so cool you are so lucky I wish I had that privilege,’” Jolaine said.

The two have been coaching for more than 50 years combined.

Luraina hasn’t competed since 2002, but her kids are now older and there’s a new Masters category for mature fighters, so she’s thinking about getting back in the ring.

“I’m toying with the idea,” she said.

Jolaine and Luraina both recognize that it can be intimidating for newcomers in CrossFit or kickboxing to approach their gym, so private classes are offered for those who aren’t yet ready for regular sessions.

Anybody who’s curious can pop their head into the gym during regular hours, or call 250-688-0783 to set up an appointment.

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