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Fitness guru Europe pledges to turn off the lights

Former B.C. Lion and current personal trainer Tommy Europe was first urged by his mom to conserve electricity. Now he's a member of Team Power Smart.

Posted by Rob Klovance

It didn't take Tommy Europe long to figure out that 11 years of pro football was enough, a choice that may have saved him from limping into middle age. It took him a lot longer to realize that something as simple as turning off a light might make a difference as well.

In September, the former B.C. Lion who turned himself into a made-for-TV fitness guru joined Team Power Smart, and in doing so, took a big step towards delivering on what his mom had been saying all along. He also helped the Team towards its target of 210,000 members by the end of the 2010 Winter Games.

"As the years have gone on, you learn more about the importance of conserving, and you're saving some money, too," says Europe. "I've also been thinking about future generations. You want them to have the same kind of opportunities, if not better, than you enjoyed."

As a kid growing up in Toronto, Europe's first taste of eco activism came in his home, where his mom was obsessed with turning off lights in rooms that weren't used. To this day, he confesses that he still leaves too many lights on, but perhaps that's about to change.

"My mom's from the West Indies, where power was scarce when she was young," he says. "She was already aware about turning off the lights and about not flushing on every single occasion... Sometimes I'd be in my room when I was growing up in Toronto and come downstairs. My mom would get up, look upstairs and say: "Is there somebody in the room?"

Today, Europe credits the fact that he can actually walk up stairs without groaning to his ability to resist a return to the CFL after spending 11 seasons with the Lions, Montreal Alouettes and Winnipeg Blue Bombers. While he was a defensive back more often than not on the delivery end of bone-rattling hits, a lengthy football career can be hazardous to a guy's long-term health. "I can walk, I can talk, and I can enjoy life," says Europe, who also does work as a film stunt performer.

Europe terrorized opposition receivers as a hard-hitting defensive back from 1993 to 2003 and won a Grey Cup with the B.C. Lions on Lui Passaglia's last-second field goal in 1994. But there's a good chance that you know him best as a no-nonsense personal trainer, thanks to his hit Slice reality show The Last 10 Pounds Bootcamp.

In that series, he and nutritionist Nadeen Boman – a former BC Lions dancer – push participants through a harrowing fitness and nutrion routine aimed at reaching a target weight for their wedding day or other big event. While he says he's not entirely surprised the show has survived, he's tickled that it's doing so well.

"I had no idea it would be as strong as it has been," says Europe. "It's gained a good foothold across Canada and the States. Everyone's really enjoying the show and it's a lot of fun to work on."

Meanwhile at the condo...

In joining Team Power Smart, Europe has accepted the challenge of reducing electricity consumption in his Vancouver condo by 10% over the course of a year. That challenge may prove more difficult than dropping 10 pounds in four weeks, however, as his wife is now living with him full-time after moving from Florida.

"I've started to turn the heat down," he says with a chuckle, "but my wife, being from Miami, obviously likes it a little warmer. At some point, I'll get up during the night and turn it down, then feel the wrath in the morning."

Signing up for Team Power Smart is nothing like signing up for one of Tommy's bootcamps. But we're not going to cut him any slack – we'll be back to see how he's progressing towards his 10% reduction goal six months down the road.

Rob Klovance is managing editor of bchydro.com.