“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.” ~ Aristotle
After 21 years in the Health and Fitness industry, I can finally say that I’ve found my niche. I am a strength and conditioning coach at 2 well known gyms located in downtown Toronto. I also work part-time as a physiotherapy assistant. I like the balance of helping individuals to attain their fitness and aesthetic goals; as well as aiding those who require a more therapeutic form of exercise; whose goals are more predetermined and specific ( ie, get up from a chair without knee pain).
I’ve always been an athlete, kind of the black sheep in my family in respect to that. I saw being active as pure enjoyment; the racing heartbeat, adrenaline and sweat was something I always enjoyed. I’m also very competitive by nature and I excelled in all sports related activities. My favorites are soccer, water polo and volleyball. I enjoyed these mostly because of the energy and synergy of the team environment.
As I got into my late teens, I had a shift in feeling about the team dynamic and felt like I wanted to try a sport where the competition was within one’s self. At 18 I began running long distance and by the time I was in my second year of university I had run 4 marathons. As much as I liked the cathartic feeling of a long distance run and the endorphins that followed, I was not built (bio-mechanically) to be a good runner. I experienced several injuries in my plantar fasciitis; knee and back discomfort, as well as a fateful left hamstring tear which occurred while running a marathon in Massey, Ontario.
After that injury I saw a chiropractor as a form of preventative treatment. My Doctor at that time recommended that I begin weight training to strengthen my hamstrings and offset the imbalance created by my strong quads. At the age of 21, I started on a path to bodybuilding and it has been my passion for almost 20 years. To me there is no better feeling than lifting heavy weights and pushing the body beyond its comfort zone. It’s not a natural state of mind; it can be extraordinarily painful; yet I continue to push forward to attain the desired goal. This thought process or state of being has transferred to other areas of my life. It has made me persevere, maintain focus, calm my mind and feel more confident. When I set my mind to something “I WILL” get it done. In other words I have attained a level of discipline that cannot be taught by book; classroom nor motivational speech.
The hardest obstacle that I’ve had to overcome as a female bodybuilder is twofold; the need to create balance between the gym and my personal life, as well as society’s misconception of women who have attained larger than average muscles. Unfortunately, it’s not as accepted as I’d hoped. Crossfit and various athletic (or fit) celebrities have helped somewhat, yet I can still occasionally feel the look of disapproval from people who don’t know me, yet judge me on what they see. It has nothing to do with masculine or feminine. In my eyes it has always been about building the perfect human form through weight training. I’ve always likened it to adding bits of clay to a sculpture bit by bit, until the results are perfect. I’ve discovered however that once attained there’s always a new goal on the horizon.
In the last 20 years, I have competed and won 5 times. I’ve also competed at Nationals and placed 4th. I’ve gone on to do discuss body building in the media, as well as trained other fitness athletes who themselves have attained great success. I now envision myself a mentor and teacher to other women with the same ideals.
My current workout routine, after trying several variations and muscle groupings, is 6 days a week, 1 body part a day, no more than one hour if possible, followed by 20 minutes HIIT cardio (high intensity interval training) or 1-2 x a week – spin class. My diet consists mainly of fish, sweet potatoes, Ezekiel bread, oatmeal, whey or casein protein, and several servings of fruit and vegetables as well nut butters and coconut oil for fats. My supplements have been basic for a while, as I try not to rely on them for my nutritional needs. I have a greens supplement drink first thing in the morning, followed by a pro-biotic and vitamin C. Post workout I have BCAA (branch chain amino-acid) as well as a shake. At night I take a multivitamin, vitamin D and magnesium.
My current fitness goals are trying to add more muscle to my legs and back; it’s the support system for the body and we can always benefit from getting stronger and more muscular.
One of the things that I try to convey to all of my clients is the fact that being inspired to train is good, but you must get to a point where you don’t need inspiration; only dedication. It all comes down to how badly you want to succeed. If the want is greater than the need, you’ll never be able to truly understand what it takes to get into the best shape of your life.
The sacrifices are many, but the rewards are tenfold physically, mentally and spiritually.