Weekend Warrior: SFU’s Sarah Lubik gives body and mind a solid foundation

After trying running and triathlon, the business school prof found her Zen in weightlifting.

Credit: Adam Blasberg

Weightlifter Lubik puts her muscles to the test at Innovative Fitness in Port Moody

After trying running and triathlon, the business school prof found her Zen in weightlifting

Sarah Lubik likes to end her innovation classes at SFU with a lesson on entrepreneurial happiness, in which she implores her students to stay active and take care of themselves the best they can.

After all, “the more you teach and learn about entrepreneurial journeys, the more you realize there are a lot of people at really significant risk, from burnout, especially,” says the executive director of the Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship.

But a few years ago, when a former student visited Lubik and asked what she’d been doing to keep moving, she started making the excuse that she just didn’t have the time—before he called her out.

“I went that week and started looking at personal trainers and said, If my problem is that I lack the commitment, then I shall go and make sure I will have that commitment, that I have someone I’m accountable to,” she recalls.

That turned into a passion for running, and Lubik ended up completing a few half marathons before turning her attention to another hobby: weightlifting.

“I met a friend that was doing weightlifting challenges and just going for strength, and it looked so impressive,” she says. Lubik began working out of Innovative Fitness‘s Port Moody location. “IF does an amazing job of creating community; you start to get to know people and their goals and journeys. And the people who were lifting just seemed so cool.”

She quickly found that weightlifting is more about form than anything else. “You have to have your body and mind in sync—you have to think, OK, this is locked in, this is locked in, because if you don’t do that, you can hurt yourself,” Lubik says. “And it becomes this Zen moment. I know many of us have so many things competing for attention at any point in time, so getting this moment when you just get to be focused on this one thing, it’s addictive.”

Though COVID-19 slowed her goal of deadlifting 200 pounds by the end of 2020, Lubik did her best to train when the gym was forced to close. But much of that was focused on body movement: “I live on the second floor of a condo building, and no one wants you to drop a 200-pound weight through their ceiling,” she jokes.

Lubik now hopes to hit that target by the end of the year—she’s currently at 160—and will lean on advice from a couple of work colleagues to get there. “One of our experts-in-residence at the school is an engineer and also an Ironman. He was giving me tips, but explaining them from engineering perspectives,” she says. The two chatted about developing resilience, and Lubik spoke to an expert in gerontology. “He talked about how there is some resilience you’re born with, but you can build resilience.”

She even took that message out of the weight room and into the classroom, adding a section on resilience to the Chang Institute’s end-of-year newsletter. “Creating that ability to bounce back is also about having different things in your life that you’re working toward, not just school or work.”

More than anything, Lubik’s own message—repeated back to her by that former student—has stuck as a key lesson for entrepreneurs (and people in general). “Because your hobbies and community become more important, when one thing goes wrong, not everything went wrong,” she says.

“You have that ability to look at your life as this more holistic piece or collection of people and activities and things you’re working toward. Your hobbies aren’t only about what you do when you have time; they’re something that you have to make time for in order to build more resilience in your life.”

That goes double in COVID, when people are spending more and more time glued to their home offices, unable to pry themselves away from the workday. Having some worthwhile passions and hobbies “makes a huge difference in being able to cope with all the things we’re facing,” Lubik says. “And I say that as someone who is well aware that I get to sit at home in a condo.”

Warrior Spotlight

As executive director of the Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship at SFU, Sarah Lubik manages 15 employees, five student ambassadors, 14 mentors and experts-in-residence and more than 45 affiliated faculty and staff champions. She also oversaw the creation of Canada’s first program to give university credit for an entrepreneurship program run entirely at high schools. “Teaching entrepreneurship and innovation and change-making isn’t important because we need more businesses; it’s important because we need more people that can think like an entrepreneur,” says Lubik, who has a PhD from Cambridge University. “At the root of the entrepreneurial mindset is adaptability, opportunity and imagination–and that’s important, whether you’re an employee, a citizen or an entrepreneur.”