By Perry Lefko
Deanna Mamo Pacheco and her 11-year-old son Kyle can be found most days at the Battle Arts Academy, training individually or collectively, and to understand why is to appreciate a bond created by health and fitness and an athletic centre that provides a special place to share some quality family time.
Deanna has raised Kyle as a single parent since her husband, Rui, passed away suddenly 10 years ago. That in itself is a challenge, although she has been helped by her mother-in-law with whom she and her son have continued to live.
Four years ago, Deanna suffered a health scare that forced her to evaluate her fitness. She experienced pains in her torso, running up her arms to her jaw, sweating profusely and feeling as though she would pass out. Her mother died at age 48 because of an aneurysm, so immediately Deanna worried that she may be facing a similar issue. Years before after her husband passed away, she experienced an anxiety issue. This felt similar but with more acute pain. She had been driving at the time, so she pulled off the road and into a donut shop near her home. Concerned about her appearance, an employee called for an ambulance. When the emergency medical personnel arrived, Deanna had been drifting in and out of consciousness. Medical tests were done, determining she had a mild heart attack caused by a heart cramp.
She was advised to enroll in a health and exercise program for cardiac patients, which entailed going twice a week for two hours apiece to learn about nutrition and do some cardio work.
Deanna joined a gym at the same time and began exercising on a regular basis, intensifying her weight training and cardio.
“Now I’m addicted to it,” she says with a laugh. “I feel like I’m cheating myself if I don’t go.”
Last fall when Battle Arts opened, she joined it with Kyle because the facility offered wrestling classes for people of all ages interested in learning the fine art of grappling in the squared circle. WWE superstar Santino Marella, one of the owners of the facility and someone who grew up in Mississauga and wanted to give something back to the community, would be heading up the program. Because Kyle is a huge fan of pro wrestling, Deanna knew that her son would want to be part of the kids’ wrestling classes. While Kyle is active in sports, he had not been a member of an athletic facility.
“I looked for a health club, but there’s not any that have kids’ programs,” Deanna said. “The kids programs here are phenomenal. I can’t believe a child wants to be here seven days a week. He just wants to do everything. He does two or three classes a night. He does the kids’ wrestling, the kick-boxing class that the adults are doing, and then he’ll do Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.”
Kyle expressed an interest in joining his mother in the strength and conditioning class for adults taught Saturday mornings by Steven J. Wong, one of the owners of the facility, and so far the youngster has fit in seamlessly. He has become the Boy Wonder, proving age is no barrier if you have the heart and desire.
Battle Arts has allowed Deanna to help Kyle learn about health and fitness in a fun way.
“It helps us maintain that healthy lifestyle that we’re going to need, especially if I’ve had a heart attack or heart problems,” Deanna said. “Being a boy he is more susceptible to it. He understands health. He still likes the TV dinners that my mother-in-law will buy for him. He knows that physical and mental health will help with baseball, which he starts this summer, and it helps with his swimming.”
It’s wonderful how a mother and her son can experience something together in a healthy environment. Kyle has a wonderful disposition and his love for physical exercise is only exceeded by his love for his mother and her health.
It is easy to see why Deanna is always smiling.
Perry Lefko is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author living in Mississauga. He has worked in the media for more than 30 years, including 21 for the Toronto Sun, in which he was a runnerup twice for the Dunlop Award for outstanding sports writing in the Sun Media Newspaper chain, and voted writer of the year by the Ontario Curling Association. He has also had articles published in The Toronto Star, Trot Magazine and is currently a frequently contributor to Goodlife Mississauga Magazine and Goodlife Brampton Magazine. He is also a contributor to Sportsnet.ca. He writes about sports, health and fitness, business, entertainment, arts and politics. He is passionate about writing personality profiles, in particular the human condition and overcoming the odds. He has had seven books published, including two that were national bestsellers: Sandra Schmirler, The Queen of Curling; and Bret Hart: The Best There Is, The Best There Was, The Best There Ever Will Be. He has also written books about Doug Flutie, Michael (Pinball) Clemons and Sandy Hawley. He has been contracted by Penguin Publishing to help broadcaster/athlete Colleen Jones write her life story. He also reviews books for Quill and Quire Magazine. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.