“Jobs of the Future” is a series focusing on career paths, local job opportunities, programs, and tales of success that highlight North Bay's diverse job market.
The landscape of sports medicine has evolved over the last few decades with many more avenues for treatment available to athletes of all ages in North Bay.
That wasn’t the case 20 years ago when Khouri Long was first getting started in the industry. A North Bay native, Long went to university in England and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree and was a sports therapist for some of the professional hockey teams in the United Kingdom for five years.
“We then decided to move back home to North Bay and we realized there wasn’t going to be a job for me in my field at that time,” says Long.
“We talked and decided to make a job for me and that’s when I decided to open Cor Maximus.”
Long says it was an eight-month process to look for a location and design the space.
“We met with designers and worked incredibly hard at designing our facility, which mimicked a clinic that I worked at in England,” says Long.
“It’s a unique space in that we all work in private treatment rooms and we also have our rehabilitation gym. Not many therapy clinics in Canada are set up this way.”
Long says her favourite sport to play growing up was ringette, but she also played sports all through her high school days at Chippewa Secondary School, including volleyball, baseball and basketball. But she says it was at the Olympia Sports Camp she attended at the age of 15 in which she knew which direction she wanted to follow.
“I hurt my knee at that camp and the athletic therapist there started teaching me all about the muscles around my knee and what I had actually done,” says Long.
“From that moment on I knew that this was the field that I wanted to get into. He and I are still really good friends today and he has been one of my mentors through this whole process and continuing on through my practice and I still reach out every now and then for advice.”
Long says having an athletic background has helped her in her career.
“It has helped me understand what the athletes are actually going through when it comes to injuries and wanting to get back in your return to play.”
After returning to North Bay and looking to set up Cor Maximus, Long says the biggest challenge was learning how to run the operations and management side of a business.
“I absolutely had help and guidance in how to do the business side of things when we were first opening. It is a lot of work, but I don’t think you can comprehend the actual amount of work until you’re in it,” she says.
“You can read all the books and do all those things but because you are working with people you have to navigate that as that piece of the puzzle, you can’t find that in the book. It is not a numbers game, it’s not about cash balances, it’s those interactions with people and navigating that was something you learn to work through over time. The trick is to just keep plugging away and learning from each experience. You make a ton of mistakes as you go but the key is that you don’t keep making the same mistakes over and over again and you keep learning as you progress.”
Another big learning curve for Long came during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are 16 years in and that was one of the biggest learning curves,” she says.
“It absolutely affected all business over the last two years now and so while we have learned a lot from that experience we are not where we thought we would be at this point; however we remain incredibly optimistic and positive and learned how to tweak our model a little bit.”
Long says they were completely closed down for a number of months because of the nature of the job.
“Of course, because you are in such close proximity and close contact to people there was a bit of hesitation and understandably so from clients coming back into that kind of dynamic at the clinic, but it’s been really well received, our clients are amazing,” says Long.
“We have tried to be as thorough as possible and go above and beyond to meet all the protocols and we seem to be doing incredibly well as our clients and our staff feels safe coming in. Ten years ago, if you told us we would have to close down for a few months and then have to navigate how to open and run your business during a pandemic, that’s not something I would’ve believed.”
Long says she is happy to see the progression that young women have made in this industry both locally and abroad.
“We were at the North Bay Battalion game last month and the Peterborough Petes had a female trainer that had to come on to the ice to assist an injured player and there are a couple of others in town and that to me is a huge step forward,” says Long.
“When I was going to university that was the goal. I wanted to break those barriers. I wanted to be the first female to achieve these different accomplishments and you actually see that happening now and it’s come such a long way from where it used to be. It really was at a time a predominantly male environment and now to see all these females end up in these high-end sports is so wonderful and that they can integrate into all these team environments.”
She says the biggest piece of advice she gives to anyone going into this line of work is to find an area they will enjoy.
“There are a lot of avenues that we can go into in health care, and all are needed right now. I think that health care and injury prevention and taking care of yourself and the health and wellness space is going to keep on growing,” says Long.
“I’d say you should be navigating in an area where you know you are going to have fun at work every day. It is a grind; it is work but I absolutely still love what I do, and I have loved it since the first day that I started and I wouldn’t pick a different profession and I would never choose to not work with any of my athletes. So, I’m 20 years into this and I still enjoy every day at work and I think that is the biggest part, to find that passion and keep plugging away in whatever avenue you choose.”