Featurepreneur: Retreat Yo’self!

Genevieve Allen Hearn

*I know it as Canning’s princess house. You may know it as Borden Estate or The Old Place. Whatever the name, the 1864 Gothic Revival style home in Canning is awe-inspiring, and it has now been transformed into a retreat space. Jessica Bergevin leads the Borden Place Wellness retreats, which include physical, horticultural, and historical elements. Bergevin also operates Jessica Bergevin Physiotherapy, and shared her story with *The Grapevine.

The Grapevine (GV): Tell us about your niche in physiotherapy.
Jessica Bergevin (JB): I am a women’s health/pelvic health physiotherapist. Although I treat a broad range of pelvic health conditions, my passion and expertise relate to prenatal and postpartum care. Clinically, I help expectant mothers prepare for labour and delivery and guide them through post-partum rehabilitation. Preventative care for individuals through pregnancy, and a timely follow-up after delivery, supports an ideal continuum of care to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal complications.

Upon moving to Canning in the fall of 2020, I was welcomed by a variety of health care practitioners who recognized the gap in local care for pelvic floor health. Thank you to the obstetricians, gynecologists, family MDs, Valley Doulas, and other allied health members who connected to refer. Apart from the prenatal population, a notable portion of my physiotherapy caseload since arriving in The Valley is equestrian riders—this is certainly different than in the city! Horseback riding requires considerable pelvic mobility and strength. Many of the riders have muscle imbalances of the pelvis that affect the advancement of their riding.

A bold new future for women’s/pelvic health physiotherapy requires strategy, advocacy, and education. It is a career goal for prenatal physiotherapy to be the standard of care in Nova Scotia – even if just one session is covered through MSI. To support this goal, I am currently completing a Doctor of Science in Rehabilitation and Health Leadership through Queen’s University with research focused on improving prenatal care in Nova Scotia.

GV: Besides physiotherapy, what else do you offer?
JB: Pilates! Pilates is therapeutic movement designed to improve body awareness, decrease joint pain and stiffness, and build core strength. The foundations of Pilates are breathing, alignment, posture, and balance. Pilates can be used for injury prevention, management of current muscle and joint symptoms, and abdominal wall rehabilitation.

Wellness Retreats! The connection of physical well-being to nature through social engagement and shared experiences is the purpose of Borden Place Wellness. This summer we are offering small group outdoor exercise retreats of Pilates and Yoga. There are three levels of Pilates retreats being offered: therapeutic (beginners welcome!), intermediate, and advanced. The estate grounds create the backdrop for a unique morning where health shines alongside the beauty of nature and gardens. Lovely hand-crafted wooden platforms ensure personal space and appropriate social distancing during guided movement classes.

GV: Many folks are familiar with the beautiful Borden Estate in Canning. What made you decide to live there and use it as a retreat space?
JB: Borden Place is a historical gem nestled along the Habitant River. Quite simply it is a spectacular property that has been protected from development. The former residence of Sir Frederick Borden focuses on bringing nature into the home. William Critchlow Harris elevated the remainder of a Gothic Revival house into a prime example of Queen Anne Revival style. An inspired vision of a turreted lookout in a park-like setting creates awe-inspiring beauty with playful arts and crafts detailing.

The natural landscape of tidal marshes, meadows, and wild thicket blends with the cultivated historic garden. Celebrating nature’s calendar of blooms and seasonal changes is what drew our family here: “One way to become more knowledgeable about the natural world is to have a special place, visit it regularly, and watch and listen carefully. You will then understand the importance of preserving that habitat and protecting the living things that are a part of it.” (The Old Place, Merritt Gibson, 1997). I envision hosting outdoor retreats through the seasons, and this being a special place for health to grow.

GV: Now that the air is beginning to clear, how can we focus on our wellness after a stressful time in history?
JB: Connect with nature, move your body, and restore meaningful social connections. Schedule time with family and friends that promotes health as those engagements tend to be the greatest memories.

Wellness is the pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health. It is an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence. There are six components of wellness: physical, social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and environmental. Our state of wellness within each component can ebb and flow.

Many of us have not participated in our usual sports or recreational activities for a significant amount of time. As a volleyball player who has not been on the court the past year, I am aware that it is necessary to work on the balance of shoulder strength before returning full swing.

GV: What advice would you give to those starting a business in the health sector?
JB: Look for local initiatives that support business ideas and endeavours. I completed Blueprint for Success, an 8-week program through the Centre for Women in Business, that integrates modules on developing your idea, market research, financial planning, marketing, operations, and legal considerations. For those in the health sector, look for unmet clinical needs—whether geographically or in diverse or under-served patient populations. Create safe spaces for all people. Promote health equity. Collaborate with those around you. The health and wellness vibe in an area flourishes through the dedication of passionate individuals. We are so fortunate to be located in the heart of quality care options. The owners of nearby clinics and services are not competition—they are colleagues.

If you would like to learn more, visit jbphysio.ca. To learn more about Pilates or book a retreat, visit bordenplace.ca or email contact@bordenplace.ca.

Photo: Anna Borcherdt Photography.