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Estevan firefighter to partake in provincial calendar contest

Annie-France Bizier is among 16 firefighters from across the province vying to be part of the 2024 calendar.

ESTEVAN - An Estevan firefighter is taking on a lifestyle challenge and partaking in the Saskatchewan Fire Fighters 2024 Calendar competition, which is also a fundraiser for the Jim Pattison Children's Hospital Foundation.

Annie-France Bizier, who's been a part of the Estevan Fire Rescue Service for about a year now, said the fundraising component of the competition was one of the main reasons for her to join, but she also wanted to test herself.

Registration for the competition opened in January, when Bizier submitted the application explaining why she wanted to participate. She also had to provide a couple of pictures illustrating where she was in her fitness journey.

In mid-February, she was notified that she made it to the next round, along with another 15 firefighters from across the province. The voting and fundraising have recently opened on the Saskatchewan Fire Fighters website.

All participants that made it to the next level were assigned trainers that are currently working with them to get them ready for the big selection night that will take place April 22 at Casino Regina.

Bizier said she is a personal trainer herself, specializing in pelvic floor dysfunction, and she knows a lot about fitness and nutrition. But she decided to take the opportunity to leave the work to the trainer and try to get the best results faster.

"We've been working with a trainer, and he's also donating his time for the fundraiser, so it's wonderful that they can get people to participate in that capacity as well," Bizier noted.

The selection night will see participants showing off in their formal wear first and then in sleepwear, which would be underwear for men and a tank top or sports bra and sports shorts for women. Then they'll also have to perform with their turnout gear, Bizier explained.

The physical journey is personal for every participant, she noted.

"They don't require you to look a specific way. If you didn't want to go hardcore, get a six-pack and all that stuff, I don't think you necessarily have to. You just put in your best effort," Bizier said. "As for the trainer, though, he does have an overall trajectory where he maps out, 'Okay, so we want you to be around this body fat percentage or weight by this date, and by that date, we're hoping to reach this.'

“Obviously making it realistic and sustainable so that you don't have to starve yourself. So, it's not so much like it's a calendar that sets the standards, it's whatever you want to do, whatever you feel you're capable of doing with the trainer."

She's been sharing her fitness journey with friends and the community to try to attract attention to the cause and help with fundraising, but it's another challenge, as she is more of a private person.

"I'm dealing with my own insecurities and lack of self-confidence, so I'm working on that and working on building that up. It's interesting," Bizier shared.

She's never competed in this kind of event but has always been into testing out different theories on herself. Bizier went to school for fitness and took many nutrition courses.

"It's always been a passion of mine," she said, noting that it's sometimes hard for her to let go of control and follow the trainer's recommendations, but she is doing her best to "surrender", trust the process and get the best results.

Two other current Estevan firefighters, Lincoln Empey and Mike Wock, partook in the competition in the previous years, and Bizier got some good advice on the fitness process and the selection night from them.

"They gave me just little tips and tricks, but that is literally life-changing," Bizier shared.

Former Estevan firefighter Justin Charron was in the calendar, too.

While people can vote in advance, they will also do so during the selection night. The winners will move on to the actual photoshoot that will happen in the summer. They will also have to sell at least 40 calendars each, Bizier said, with proceeds benefitting the hospital as well.  

Bizier is a mother of four, a paid on-call member with the EFRS and is also looking into putting up free workshops for postpartum fitness.

To vote for Bizier go to the Saskatchewan Fire Fighters website.