1. Where are you from and what brought you to Toronto?
I grew up on a dirt road outside of Rosseau, Ontario, which is in Toronto’s cottage country just west of Huntsville. During high school I lived in Belleville ON, close to Kingston and then later moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba for post-secondary school. After graduation in the fall of 2014, I decided it was time to move closer to my family and for some new job opportunities; Toronto was my instinctual choice.
2. Were you always active growing up?
I could not keep still as a child. I fidget, if you watch me in class coaching I never stand still. You can catch me dancing on the spot, stretching, demonstrating a cue or laughing hysterically. I began dancing at the age of seven, after being taken to see the live show Riverdance, an Irish step-dancing performance, twice. Scottish Highland dancing was the closest dance style offered 45 minutes away from my family home and so my dance journey began.
I learned how to downhill ski from an early age, as my mother is a Level 3 Ski Instructor. I have done most common sports, including soccer, gymnastics, badminton, tennis, bowling, golf, sailing, kayaking and cross-country running, to name a few. Even though I tried and succeed at many sports, nothing really stuck with me quite like dance.
3. You have a background in dance? Could you let us know about that?
Beginning Scottish Highland dancing at the age of seven, I quickly became hooked and started competing shortly after. Highland dancing is a year round, 365-day commitment; there is no off-season. My mother travelled two and a half hours every Monday to take me for lessons for four years; that alone was a commitment.
I have danced in front of Queen Elizabeth II in Braemar, Scotland and placed 4th in the North American Championships at the age of 12. At one time it was my goal to be a World Champion Highland dancer, however my vision began to change when I started ballet to compliment my Scottish Highland technique.
The difference between the two dance styles is shocking. Woollen kilts and velvet vs. tutus and satin pointe shoes; at a certain point I had to make a decision to choose the style of dance that would give me a working, dancing career.
At the age of 15 years old I moved to Belleville ON, to attend The Quinte Ballet School of Canada, a professional ballet school located east of Toronto. Living in a billet home, separately from my family, I went to high school from 8:30am-1:00pm and danced from 1:30pm-6/7:00pm five days a week and during the morning on Saturdays. Dancing over 35 hours a week and performing multiple times a year, dance became more than my life.
After graduation, I moved to Winnipeg, MB to join The School of Contemporary Dancers, a post-secondary professional dance program for contemporary and modern dance. I spent four years immersing myself in a different side of the professional dance world and found who I was meant to be as a dancer; free.
Contemporary dance is anything you want it to be. It can showcase classical lines and movements that resemble ballet technique or it can confront an audience on purpose with text and nudity to convey a message. Dance is an expression of true human emotion through movement and music. Contemporary allows a person to explore their inner emotions and those being expressed in front of them with no boundaries.
I have had the pleasure of performing for NAfro Dance; Brent Lott, Director of Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers; Odette Hynn in collaboration with Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra; Stephanie Ballard; and in two Winnipeg Fringe Festival productions in 2012/2013.
For 15 years I was on stage at least once in the span of an entire year, not including competitions. For the past two years I have not been on stage once. It has been an eye opening experience and one that I look back upon that I only now miss dearly. It will be time to return to the stage in 2017.
4. What brought you into the fitness world? More importantly CrossFit?
During my first year of school in Winnipeg I went from dancing 35 hours a week to only 15, due to my class schedule. I took a certain amount of dance classes and a certain amount of university lectures at the U of W campus. This was quite the shock to my body. I began to find myself needing to supplement the amount of activity I was doing with going to the gym for the first time in my life. I started like so many other woman start, in a stereotypical machine and free weight mixed gym: by using the elliptical, treadmill and doing my own stretching and body weight exercises.
I was shown CrossFit about six months later on YouTube, very basic circuits and barbell movements. When I tried to do a pull-up for the first time, not even in a CrossFit gym yet, I could not believe that I did not have the strength to pull myself up. February 2012 I joined CrossFit Winnipeg, as I was struggling to get that pull-up on my own and knew it would be the only way to reach that goal. CrossFit changed my life, like it has for countless numbers of others around the world, which is profound. If you were to ask me five years ago would I be doing what I am now, I would have said ‘Bring it on!’
5. Did this lead into you becoming a trainer?
Simple answer. Yes.
I completed my CF-L1 Certificate in June 2014 and then began self-studying for my CPT, certified personal trainer certificate, with the National Association of Sports Medicine in November 2014. I started working as a full-time personal trainer and fitness specialist in January 2015 after moving to Toronto.
6. What are your current goals as a CrossFit athlete?
1. Crossfit Regional Team Athlete 2018.
2. Clean and Jerk 200lbs – Current: 180lbs
3. Snatch 165lbs (body weight) – Current: 135lbs
That’s it. Once I reach those goals I will end my CrossFit athletic career. The reason why? I have so many abilities physically and the one that is most dear to my soul is dance. There is a day, coming soon, that dance becomes my physical priority again. The body types and musculature of a dancer and a high-level CrossFit athlete are completely different. You can be ‘good’ at everything, or ‘extraordinary’ at one thing and right now, I choose to be extraordinary at CrossFit. I have a long life to live, so once I am done CrossFit as a sport, it will still be a part of my daily life, but not at such a high-level physically.
7. What inspires you as a trainer / Coach?
Two distinct things inspire me to be a trainer: the look on an individual’s face at the beginning and at the end of a workout. Not everyone enjoys working out, and even for those that do, like myself, some days you just do not want to workout, whatever the reason. Regardless of the time of day, almost every person that walks into their gym space has a look or presents body language of ‘why am I here?’ As they begin to warm-up and go through the different stages of the workout, their posture, attitude and movement quality improves. It does not matter whether they are crushed or refreshed after the session, the look of a relieved smile and satisfaction in themselves that they did something to better themselves is what I was able to help them achieve. Improving peoples’ quality of life, one air squat at a time is essentially what a trainer or coach is meant to do and I do that every day. It is very gratifying.
8. Fun fact people might not know about you?
Fun fact:I have been hit in the head with a golf club and only walked away with a scar you can barely see on my forehead.
Fun fact #2: My dad raced Alaskan husky dogs; we had our own kennel of, at one point, over 60 dogs in my back yard.
9. What advice would you give someone looking to start out as a trainer?
Advice for a new trainer starting out, or someone that is interested in becoming a trainer is to: teach a class. Whatever type of fitness, dance, or movement class it may be, create a class and teach it. Getting in front of a group is a whole different ball game than coaching or teaching one-on-one. This was one of my biggest fears starting out as a Crossfit coach, if you can believe it. I love coaching classes and am comfortable being professional and/or goofy in front of anyone, just like I have been comfortable being on stage in front of hundreds of people my whole life. Taking a group of individuals through a class is an art and one that takes practise, so challenge yourself and break your own boundaries when starting out.
10. People can find out more information about me on my website:
Or ask me for a coffee or tasty beverage, I love getting to know a new or old face, don’t be shy.