By Kenda Blum
It is that time of year when we need to pull out the shorts and swimsuits – and I don’t know about you but I am finding it hard to stick to the goals I was so excited about in January. It is sometimes hard to stay motivated when you are being pulled in so many directions – my ME time (which was often the gym) seems to be disappearing very quickly. I have to get back on track.
In order to do this I asked a couple of fitness experts, how they balance their lives, health/fitness and hectic work schedules – to help motivate me! It worked. I think you will be surprised by some of their answers. Bottom line they are just like you and me. Busy lives that sometimes makes “fitting it in” hard to do.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself
I grew up in a large family with a strong Greek upbringing in Richmond Hill, Ontario. In school, I was a bit of a keener! I got straight A’s, I volunteered any chance I got and played on every sports team in high school. I attended York University and played for the varsity field hockey team. I was pre-med, studying biology/kinesiology until a professor strike in 1997 halted my plans. But as they say when one door closes, another one opens. During the strike I signed an exclusive contract with Robert Kennedy Publishing and suddenly found myself with a career as a fitness model after appearing on my first fitness magazine cover in 1998. In 2000 I signed with WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) and I traveled the world performing 250-300 days a year for almost 7 years until I retired. A few weeks after my retirement, I married my high school sweetheart.
In 2008, I turned my focus to building my brand – Stratusphere. I launched Stratusphere, with the opening of my yoga studio in Toronto. Last year, I returned to my fighting roots when I made my feature film debut starring in an action movie called Bounty Hunters. Most recently, I have become a New Balance Canada Brand Ambassador and my first initiative is to represent their Minimus campaign throughout Sport Chek stores across Canada. This is a great partnership as New Balance is a brand that celebrates fitness industry professionals and they recognize how important their role is to inspiring others to lead healthy and active lifestyles.
2. How did you get into what you are doing?
My whole world turned down a totally new path during the university professor strike. It was during this time I was introduced to Robert Kennedy, who would become my lifelong friend and mentor. He was the one who offered me an opportunity to do my first profession fitness shoot. I ate slept and trained for 6 months for that shoot and it is what landed me a contract – and my first cover! When an internet rumour started to whirl about the WWE signing a Canadian fitness model from Toronto – I prepared for the opportunity. I found a wrestling school and I began training. And sure enough when WWE came a knocking, I was ready! I had months of training under my belt and I left my first meeting at their headquarters in Connecticut with a contract. I made my television debut in 2000 and the rest is history! Once I retired, it was a natural transition for me to return to my fitness roots. Stratusphere gave me a platform to spread my message of yoga, health and fitness, and it also was the foundation for starting my brand.
3. What motivates you?
The fact that everyone has the ability to effect and influence other people’s lives. I put forth my true self and to try to lead by example. I surround myself with positivity and pursue happiness with every experience I engage in. Life is short, so I make a point to make most of every moment.
4. What is one indulgence you cannot live without?
My mom’s apple pie!
5. Define balance. How do you achieve balance in your own life?
‘Achieving wellness through balanced living’ is the motto of my brand – I truly believe wellness is a result of a balanced life. I always make sure I carve out some ‘me’ time. That is why my yoga is so important in my life, it is my ‘excuse’ to step away from a busy day and spend some one-on-one time with myself. These precious moments are when I can reflect on my day, on what I’m surrounded with and what I want to get out of my everyday.
6. What advice do you have to motivate others to “stay on the fitness / health wagon”?
To not look at it as a fitness/health wagon, instead as a path. And by staying on the path is the only way to see results and long-term benefits. It sounds cliqued but one must embrace health and fitness as a lifestyle. How motivating is to know that more you take care of yourself, the better your will feel and the happier you will be. That is the only way you will be able to make those around you feel good too!
7. If you have a FREE day how do you spend it?
A ‘free day’ in my world is a ‘cheat day’! One that is filled with scrumptious yumminess!
8. What is your favourite workout gear?
My New Balance ‘Go 2 Tight’ leggings – they really are my go-to! And I am obsessed with my New Balance Minimus shoes – I live in them! The ‘closer-to-barefoot’ experience that it delivers gives me a huge advantage in my training whether I’m running or doing a Crossfit WOD. I even do my yoga in the Minimus shoe because I
get the grip and the flexibility of the shoe moving as I move. It’s especially beneficial when I’m practicing Stratusphere Yoga, which incorporates a lot of squatting and lateral movements.
9. What is your fave go-to snack food?
Nuts! I especially love cashews. I always have a ziplock full in case.
10. If you could train with any other athlete (living or non-living) who would it be and why?
I’d like to train with Muhammad Ali – just a little sparring session to show him I can float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
Jennifer Ettinger – Author, television host and fitness expert
Billy Blanks. He changed my life. When I was sick in bed I saw him on TV performing Tae Bo on Oprah. His high energy and kindness shined through the tube. He touched by life.