Fitness for All: Creating Spaces for YOU at the Gym and in The Studio

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to three fitness coaches from Ottawa who dedicate their days (early mornings and late evenings too) to educating, motivating and training clients of all fitness levels to achieve their goals and beyond. These coaches create safe, judgement-free environments for their fitness communities. They help clients ditch the workout-selfies, perfect angles and one-size fits all images, and truly experience the strength and power of their own bodies!

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Meet, Meghann

(@meghannnevada).

Who are you? Tell us about you.

Meghann: I am a West Coast transplant living in Ottawa for the last 4.5 years. I always tell people I’m from out west because I feel like that will always be home even though I don’t have plans (currently) to go back, still feels like a part of my identity. I’ve been doing personal training and coaching for close to 14 years now, during that journey I’ve worked in every fitness environment you can imagine.  Closest to my heart would be opening Grit + Glory Strength and Conditioning (@gritandglorysc) in 2017.

When did you get into fitness?

Meghann: I’ve been active since I was a young kid, I grew up playing organized sports and working out after school throughout high school. I had a brief hiatus from fitness when I had my daughter, which happened when I was 18. It took me about eight years to get back into fitness after that.  I’ve had a very successful career in makeup, education and sales in the cosmetics industry, and decided to make the full-time leave into fitness about 12 years ago.

What is your motivation to get up at 5am (or earlier) to teach a class, meet with your clients?

Meghann: My motivation always has been and always will be the people that I get to work with everyday, the clients that you work with one on one and coach in group settings make the early mornings and late evenings worth it. Especially now, not being from here, the people I get to work with have become a very important part of my life.

How have you grown as a coach/fitness instructor from when you started to now?

Meghann: The style of training that I was doing and my own personal fitness were very different when I first started as a personal trainer. I was competing in fitness competitions, and that was my wheelhouse when it came to my clients, I naturally attracted a lot of females who wanted to be in competition or look like they competed. But over the years as my personal fitness goals changed, I broadened my knowledge and skills and my client base organically shifted with that. 

How do you motivate your clients?

Meghann: My approach to motivating my clients really changes from person to person. I personally think it’s important to know the client that you’re with, and their specific goals, I know what it is that motivates each individual. Some people are very internally motivated and they’re just looking for your guidance, others need accountability. It’s important to me to know the person I’m with and know when they need me to push them or when they need me to back off and offer a little more mindset coaching. Some of my clients are all about jokes and a little bit of trash talk or healthy competition when they’re in a group setting. It’s really just about taking the time to get to know the people you’re working with, understanding their motivation fitness, learning their personalities and being genuinely interested in them. It’s probably my favourite part of working with people. Each person is so different. 

If you could change something about the fitness industry, what would it be? 

Meghann: If I could change something about the fitness industry it would be the old-school mentality that there’s only one way to coach a person, one way to eat,  only one style of training to achieve a certain result. Fitness isn’t cookie cutter prescriptions, every single person’s body responds differently, we are all genetically different, we have different previous fitness experiences and different starting places. Fitness is not one size fits all. Sometimes the best workout or the best nutrition program is the one that your client is excited about and wants to stick to and gets them the results that they want. 

Finally, what is Healthy is Hot to you?

Meghann: Coming from a competition background, and having trained and dieted to extremes (I am NOT knocking competition lol, I am speaking to my personal experience, don’t @ me lol), I think Healthy is Hot is a mindset. When you have found that place, that sweet spot where you’ve balanced your fitness regimen, fuelling your body with really good food (whatever that looks like for you), self-care, sleep, stress management, and your body feels good, feels healthy, feels strong and you are truly comfortable and happy in whatever skin you are in, that is hot! That kind of confidence and energy is a different type a glow.

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Meet, Nicole.

Who are you? Tell us about you.

Nicole: I started taking dance classes at the age of  2 and began my professional dance training at the age of 10. I then continued my education at Ryerson University where I graduated from the Theatre Arts program in Dance/Pedagogy. I moved to NY where I began my career as a professional dancer. I have worked for different companies and Cabarets  between Canada, the US and Europe. I also spent many years working in the Cruise Industry – performing and seeing the world! I retired as a professional dancer in 2016 and returned home to Ottawa, where I began teaching Yoga and Barre. I joined Barres and Wheels (@barresandwheels) in the fall of 2018 to help set up, manage and instruct at our Elgin location.   

When did you get into fitness?

Nicole: Fitness has been a part of my life since I was a young girl.  My professional dance career required that I remain fit at all times. The discipline required to stay fit opened up and instilled in me a real passion for all types of fitness. I have always been one to do something other than my profession, whether it be Yoga, Barre, Pilates, Running or weight training. “I love it ALL”

What is your motivation to get up at 5am (or earlier) to teach a class, meet with your clients?

Nicole: I actually wake up at 3:30 am every morning to arrive at the studio for 5:00 am. LOL!!! It was definitely a big switch for me after being a professional dancer where we would perform twice a night and not get to bed until well after midnight. I was definitely a night owl for many years. I’m a huge believer in starting the day off right, and to me that’s a workout. It really comes down to my passion for fitness and helping others achieve their goals. It takes a lot for someone to get up early and show up to workout. My clients are ROCK STARS!!!

How have you grown as a coach/fitness instructor from when you started to now?

Nicole: Well I have to say I’ve learned a lot over the years. I started as a professional dancer, became a certified Yoga Instructor,  became a Barre Instructor and I was just recently certified as a Piloxing Instructor. Continuing my fitness education is how I stay current and relevant. My growth is key to giving my clients the very best version of me. The more I know, the more I can give. My clients have definitely shaped me as an Instructor – they all learn differently, have different body types, and react to movement differently. They also keep progressing with each class and that keeps me on my toes!  

How do you motivate your clients?

Nicole: By keeping it new and exciting every time they walk through the door. Also by encouraging them to strive for more. We are so much more capable than we give ourselves credit for. Sometimes that little extra push helps them to realize “Wow I’m stronger than I thought”. Some clients shock themselves, and it’s a really awesome moment when you see that happen. I’ve definitely had some tear jerker moments throughout my years of teaching. It may sound corny, but I really love what I do, and I believe it translates to the clients because it comes from an authentic place. 

If you could change something about the fitness industry, what would it be? 

Nicole: The “PERFECT” Body Image – really??? How about the “HEALTHY” Body Image – it’s so much more realistic and kind. We get so caught up in this notion of perfection that we forget about the healthy aspect. Healthy and Fit comes in all shapes and sizes.

Finally, what is Healthy is Hot to you?

Nicole: Achieving and striving for a Healthy Mind, Healthy Body & Healthy Soul!

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Meet, Anthony

Who are you? Tell us about you.

Anthony: Born and raised in Ghana. Canada is my second home. I am the youngest of 4. Growing up nothing was handed to me, I had to work really hard to get to where I am today. One thing that I always really enjoyed growing up was sports. I loved the adrenaline, I loved the feeling of winning, being part of a team, acquiring new skills and most of all it gave me an identity. A strong athletic identity, a strong sense of self and sureness of who I am and where I plan to go.

When did you get into fitness?

Anthony: I started fitness at a very young age. At 5 I was the captain of my football team. At 10 I was crowned MVP of my basketball team. At 15 I was weightlifting, imitating my older brother who practically lived and breathed fitness. At 18 I earned my first football scholarship bursary. All in all I never deviated from fitness, it was a part of me then and more so now than ever.

What is your motivation to get up at 5am (or earlier) to teach a class, meet with your clients?

Anthony: My clients are my motivation to get up and get to work in the wee hours of the morning. Knowing they rely on me to reach their fitness goals, holds me accountable. Also being a leader/trainer in this fitness industry means you must lead by example. You have to do exactly what you expect from your clients and sometimes that means getting out of your comfort zone or bed. To be completely honest, getting up earlier and training clients puts me in a far better mood than sleeping in (Check me lol).

How have you grown as a coach/fitness instructor from when you started to now?

Anthony: When I started training clients years ago, I would train them the way I trained in the gym, mostly strength training. While many people did not see that as a problem, I did. I knew I wanted to be versatile and diversify because not everybody wanted "BIG" muscles like me. So I started taking action, I educated myself on different types of training and mobility such as circuit training, cross-training, functional movements, aerobics, plyometrics and calisthenics. Continuously educating myself and paying close attention to my clients and their needs has helped me to grow tremendously as a versatile personal trainer.

How do you motivate your clients?

Anthony: We set realistic short and long term goals and celebrate small victories along the way. We have an open communication policy, which allows them to come with any questions or concerns they may have whether big or small. I have vowed to be the positive chip on my clients shoulders through the good and bad times. I keep training challenging, exciting and fun! I mean my clients keep coming back time and time again so I must be doing something right :P

If you could change something about the fitness industry, what would it be? 

Anthony: If I could change something within the fitness world it would be spreading the message that no injury is sexy. Empowering people to succeed in reaching their fitness goals requires meeting clients at their current physical level by providing programming that they can engage in safely and confidently. New clients and gym participants should undergo an initial assessment and be educated about the need to implement corrective exercise strategies into their regular workouts. This will ensure that imbalances and dysfunction are addressed in the early stages of their exercise program. This industry-wide change would facilitate greater long-term client success by reducing both potential injury and the likelihood that people will drop out before reaching their fitness goals.

Finally, what is Healthy is Hot to you?

Anthony: To me it means being confident and comfortable in your own skin. Being healthy is not just a "look good" thing but a "feel good" feeling.