Written by Ashley Dier | Academy Of Lions Media Team | Toronto

Meet Joti Gill, Academy member, law clerk, business owner, jewelry designer. Last December, after being encouraged by a friend, Joti stepped far out of her comfort zone and joined the Academy. "I felt like I wasn't doing anything for myself, other than just working a lot," she said. Two months prior to joining Joti had launched her first solo business, Iccha, a fine jewelry company and brand. By using various techniques Joti meticulously creates one-of-a-kind pieces of wearable art, all here in Toronto, all by hand, all after she finishes her day job as a law clerk. Although unknown to her at the time, making the decision to join the Academy would have have benefits far outweighing any physical transformation.

I recently sat down with Joti and we discussed how that Academy acted as a stepping stone for her and her business.

Describe how it was starting CrossFit at Academy when your business was still brand new?

Oddly enough, the structure of it was really good for me. I felt really encouraged when I would come to and get through a class. It took a lot of mental prep to even come to class, I can't explain the kind of anxiety I would feel. But every time I got through a class I felt empowered, it gave me that push to be like "I'm on the right track," even with my business. For me, the drive and push to get through how difficult I found that environment was exactly what I needed to keep pushing with my business. I have no business partner, there is no one calling me to say keep going, but I would come to class. During the workout, you have all these people telling you "you can do it" they're pushing you through. I would take drive away from that and somehow, someway, it helped me keep pushing with my business.

What skills have you developed through CrossFit that have also helped you with your business?

When I joined CrossFit I had this mentality, I don't ever miss a class unless I'm out of town. That's my dedication to myself to see results and it's kind of the same with my business. When I first started there was lots of opportunity to be like "I'm not gonna go" but I knew that if I did that even once or twice, it would be the very same thing that would happen with my business. When it comes to skills that I've learned, it's the push. It's the push that gets you through the class and then you set your next goal. It's kind of the same with my business, I've learned, something will happen, I'll celebrate the success, and then right away I set a new goal. You know, because you gotta keep going forward. For me CrossFit has done a lot, both mentally and physically.

How has the community and your relationships at the Academy affected your business?

There's this support system here that helps me benchmark things. I really considered getting a business coach because at times I felt really lost, but I found that having a coach here and the friends I've made through my CrossFit class, that has helped me figure out my goals both in class and in my business. There are a lot of entrepreneurial type people here. Through my class I've become really good friends with Mishka, she helps me do all my social media. I saw the way she approached a workout and her way with social media. I haven't known her for very long, but I was like I was wondering if you would be interested in working with me, and it's turned out to be one of the best partnerships I've ever had. She now does my PR and social media. I find that people in CrossFit have this great mindset, a push to keep going and it's turned out to be a great support system. These little pockets of community like the one here are so good, they feed your soul.

How would your business be different if you weren't at the gym?

I think that my business wouldn't have progressed as fast as it has. I say that simply because I had to overcome so many issues of fear and self doubt just to come here and do this [doing CrossFit] . If I didn't love what I do, I wouldn't be able to do it when I'm tired. CrossFit here has helped me balance things, I come here and I have a goal, then I go home and I feel inspired to keep going. When I feel inspired there I come to class and I feel inspired. I mean, I have classes where I feel disappointed, but then I check myself...or someone will check myself for me, which is amazing. It's the whole idea of making myself uncomfortable that has helped me push

What is your end goal?

My first goal is to be able to leave my day job and for the business to pay for itself and me, laughed. And then once that happens it's to grow my business. I have big goals for my business. If I'm going to be really honest with you, I want my jewelry business to be synonymous with Cartier. To maintain everything being made in Canada because there's a lot of great talent in Canada. My biggest thing with a workout or with business is your attitude. Attitude is everything, and I don't really have space in my life for a bad attitude. I'm not going to get anywhere if I have a bad attitude about things.

The Academy of Lions is much more than a gym, this we know. The creativity, passion and dedication of its members causes this remarkable spill-over effect. Lessons, drive and values developed and nourished inside the walls of the Academy spill out into the the lives of its members - Joti is a perfect representation of that. The skills she has developed through CrossFit have helped her grow a successful business. Passion and drive have always been present within her, it's evident when you talk with her, but I can't help but feel that her joining the Academy when she did was nothing short of perfect timing. The Academy has become the business and life coach she was looking for. - The Academy of Lions is far greater than its 64 Ossington address.

"The one thing that all of us share is fear, of different things, we all have insecurities. Sometimes our insecurities make us behave in ways we probably shouldn't, but the reason is because of fear, fear of being judged or not being good enough. And I think that when you're here it helps you overcome that, the more you talk to someone or are willing to put yourself in a situation where you're going to try tackle that fear," she said.

Want to check out the beautiful pieces Joti creates? Check out Iccha Jewerly here