London, Ont. was the site of The Amazing Race Canada Tuesday evening, and Western University was front and centre for the latest leg of the Race.
Western provided racers with a unique challenge, one where they had to calm their mind and body in a mindfulness test rather than a show of endurance or strength, before racing across campus to the mat at Western Alumni Stadium. The mat is the finish line for each leg of the race, and each team must step on it in order to move on to the next phase.
From research into mindfulness, to appearances from school mascot JW, the Western Mustangs cheerleading team, and the Western Mustang Band, Western’s research innovation and school spirit was on full display.
Psychology professor John Paul Minda was tasked with coming up with a unique test that would challenge the racers in a way that would be unexpected.
“We asked the racers to try to calm their mind in a particular way that would not be at all what they would be expecting to do in a race. Usually, they’re working on adrenaline or trying to do something that’s physically challenging,” said Minda.
The goal was to provide the pairs with a challenge that would be mentally, rather than physically, demanding.
The pairs arrived to find a room full of Muse® headsets that provide real-time feedback on brain activity during meditation. They were tasked with sitting and calming their minds in order to complete the challenge successfully, and ideally quicker than other teams.
The added pressure of trying to win made calming their minds that much more difficult.
Minda, who participated in the show as the meditation challenge ‘clue giver’, was thrilled to showcase his team’s innovative mindfulness research on a national stage.
“I loved being able to greet everyone, and say ‘Welcome to Western.’ I felt honoured to be the voice of the university for a brief period of time,” said Minda of his experience.
It’s a sentiment that is shared by student and Mustangs varsity women’s basketball player Jordynn Brooke Bryan who welcomed the racers to the mat alongside show host Jon Montgomery.
Bryan, a third year double major studying at Brescia University College, said she grew up watching The Amazing Race Canada with her family.
“It was amazing just being there and seeing how everything plays out, it was a very cool opportunity. It meant so much to me to represent Western and the Western Mustangs.”
The newly upgraded Western Alumni Stadium which will be on the national stage again this November when London and Western host the Vanier Cup, was also prominently featured as part of the show.
The Western cheerleading team and Mustang Band were also there to cheer and motivate the racers as they made their way into the stadium towards the mat.
These two groups are not new to performing on the big stage, having performed with Loud Luxury at the 2019 Juno Awards.
The episode of The Amazing Race Canada aired Tuesday, Aug. 16 on CTV, and with filming taking place this past spring, there was the added pressure of keeping everything under wraps until now.
Minda admitted it was challenging to keep the news to himself due to the excitement of being involved.
“It was a lot of fun, and it was incredible to see the work that went into the episode – not just from the production company, but also from people at Western and the London area. It was great to be a part of it.”