February 14 2020
Oh Hi! This is Sara! She's a coach, gym owner, and CrossFit athlete. She tells us how she overcomes the challenges and stereotypes as a female entrepreneur in a male-dominated industry and how CrossFit has helped shift her mindset not only in training, but in everyday challenges. We love how she tailors her programs to each individual which allows her to dive deep into the minds of her clients to help them through the ups and very low downs.
When did Fitness become a fundamental need in your daily routine?
I grew up playing competitive sports - soccer, basketball, volleyball and track and field, so fitness has always been a huge part of my life. When high school ended, I had an opportunity to play collegiate soccer, but turned it down as I wanted to focus on my studies so I could get into medical school. Without that competitive outlet and daily physical activity, I really struggled in my first year of university. I started lifting weights in 2012 when I was out at UBCO for school, and then in 2015 got into Crossfit. Originally, I trained to try to help change the way my body looked on the outside. Now, I train for my mental health, it's become a crucial part of my self-care routine, and a huge contributor to my self-confidence. Focusing on my physical performance and how training makes me feel has completely changed the way I show up as a friend, daughter, sister, coach and partner. I truly believe that our fitness should enhance our life, not take from it, and this mindset shift has allowed me to view my fitness as a fundamental factor in my success.
How have your workouts evolved over the years?
Oh my, when I think back to when I first got started in the gym it makes me cringe. I was definitely that girl watching "fitspo" vlogs, doing tons of cardio and sets of 15+ reps because I "didn't want to get bulky". Luckily, I was in my Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology, and learned quickly that this was not going to get me the results I wanted. I've had many coaches over the years which have helped shape my training and develop my strength, endurance and capacity. A coach is invaluable for making you work on your weak spots and pushing you out of your comfort zone. My training currently is revolved around performing well in Crossfit, but I think it's important that we are able to adapt our training to our lifestyle. For example, if I was trying to train at the intensity and volume I am currently at three years ago when I opened my gym, it would have been a recipe for disaster. Learning to not tie my identity to my training style/status/volume, and learning to make these adjustments has been crucial for my mental sanity and health over the past few years.
How did you first learn about CrossFit? And how has it positively impacted your life?
I first learned about CrossFit in 2015 when a few of my friends started doing it. We started out doing WOD's in a regular gym - which was definitely not well received at the time - until one of my friends opened up a box in the city I lived in. It might sound cliche, but CrossFit has completely changed my life. It was through CrossFit that I was able to develop an appreciation for what my body can do, and take the focus away from how it looks. Being able to set a goal, put in the work, and see your efforts pay off as you hit a new 1RM, get your first ring muscle up, or PR your Fran time, is something that transfers over to every aspect of our lives. The physical changes in strength and body composition are a nice benefit, but CrossFit and strength training in general is bigger than that - it truly affects how we view ourselves, approach challenges, respond to adversity and show up in our lives.
Have you faced many challenges directly linked to you being a female entrepreneur in the fitness and nutrition industry? What has been the biggest challenge?
There are so many I could list here. As women, in general, I feel that we are not taken as seriously as men not only in this industry but also most others. I felt this a lot during my undergraduate thesis completion in my last year of university, as well as during the construction of my gym. Developing my confidence and doing the inner work to figure out why I am how I am, my strengths and weaknesses and how to overcome them (via work with a therapist) has been crucial to helping me overcome the insecurity that comes with being a woman in these spaces. Doing research specifically on female physiology has also been very empowering for me, learning to appreciate our unique physiology and what makes us different from men. Other challenges have included imposter syndrome, constantly feeling like I am "not doing enough", learning how to have a voice in an over saturated market - especially in the online world - without using my body/sexualizing fitness, but these are definitely not exclusive to women.
What do you love most about coaching?
Thinking about this makes me want to happy cry because I am so passionate about what I do, and there are so many rewarding benefits to being a coach. By far my favorite part of coaching is watching a client learn to recognize their self-worth, strength and capabilities. So many times I hear the words "you changed my life", and the feeling I get every single time is indescribable and hands down one of the best feelings in the world. I think because I have been through my own struggles with body image and confidence. I've beat myself and let others beat me down to the ground, and learned how to build myself back up, and I know what it feels like to feel helpless and completely out of control. Helping my clients through those dark times and cultivating unshakeable confidence and an appreciation for their bodies is rewarding beyond words, and something I know doesn't happen for many people in their careers. I feel so grateful to be able to do what I love every single day.
In one sentence, what is your best advice for women that want to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
This is difficult to do in one sentence! You are MORE than a number on the scale - approach your diet and fitness from a place of love and appreciation for your body and trust the process, don't rush the process.
Tell us something about you that would surprise us.
I'm actually a really big introvert, which is surprising to most people considering what I do. A quiet night in by myself is one of my favorite ways to spend a weekend evening. I enjoy socializing and being around people, but it really wears me down. Scheduling intentional alone time (including a room in our house that none of the boys are allowed in) is something that I need to do regularly to avoid feeling overwhelmed, especially if there are a lot of social outings going on.
Owning a business myself, I know there are Ups and Downs. What or who has been your biggest ally to push you through those low moments?
I am lucky in that I have an amazing support system. My family is definitely my biggest ally, they have been there with me through every high and low on this journey and always support me in everything I do. My business partner, Nicola, has been the best friend I could ever ask for, she's my voice of reason, crying shoulder and everything in between. And my partner, Brad, who always believes in me even when I don't believe in myself. There are many more, but those have been the shining few as of lately.
What are your goals this year? Personal, Work, Growth, etc?
My overarching goal this year is to be happy. It's pretty vague, but I've spent a lot of the last few years working all day every day, stressing about every little thing and not taking enough time to slow down and enjoy all that I've built and reflect on my progress. This year a few of my goals are to deepen my connections with my friends & family, travel more, be more responsible with my finances, continue with my personal development journey via therapy/journaling etc. and to continue growing my businesses. Fitness wise, my goals are to improve my gymnastics - specifically, get 10 unbroken strict HSPU and consistent ring muscle ups (my arch nemesis) - clean and jerk 200lbs and just really enjoy my training!
How can our readers follow along your journey?
I post a ton on my Instagram account - @saracoddfit, if you follow me make sure you slide into my DM's and say hi! I love learning about my followers and where they are at in their own health and fitness journeys :)
How can our readers follow along your journey?