Listen Up: These Fit Females Have Some Knowledge to Drop

Who run the (fitness) world? Girls.

February 2, 2018

By Alyssa Hirose

Getting fit is one thing, but inspiring others to do the same is a whole other beast. So we caught up with four of Vancouver’s female fitness founders to get the scoop on motivation, commitment and leadership. From ballet to boxing, these passionate entrepreneurs know a thing or two about sweat, strength and success.

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Ella Jotie (Barre Fitness) on Trying New Things:

If just thinking about exercise makes you sweat, Ella Jotie’s got some wisdom for you. She’s the founder of Barre Fitness, a studio that offers ballet/pilates fusion classes set to upbeat tracks, who transformed her formerly low-self esteem into rocking confidence—and she has some bomb tips about trying new things.

Find Your Comfort Zone
“Don’t compare yourselves to others,” says Jotie. “If you’re not ready to step into the gym/studio environment, start at home.” There are a ton of fitness websites and apps out there (many of them for free), so it’s easy to find a space you’re comfortable in. Jotie also recommends wellness retreats—travelling to new destinations with a fitness group—because nothing motivates better than sunshine!

Establish Your Foundation
Getting psyched for fitness is great—just make sure you start with basic technique. “Do not neglect the importance of postural strength work,” says Jotie, “it’s the foundation your body needs for life.” The same goes for healthy eating. Jotie suggests you start basic and focus on how you feel, not how you look: “Measure your success by the way that you feel, not by the number on a scale.”

Be Bold on a Budget
Working out can be expensive, especially for beginners who aren’t yet sure which kind of exercise is best for them. But Jotie has a solution for that, too: “Many studios have trial offers for new members; it’s a great way to try something new without a huge commitment up front.” Test out multiple facilities (at a discounted price!) until you find one that’s right for you.

Embrace Support
Whether your endeavour is taking a new class, trying a new gym or starting a business of your own, Jotie says building a strong support system is key: “I’m lucky to be surrounded by great females in my industry and amongst the franchisees in my company; together, we lift up each other up.”

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Ashley Ander (Ride Cycle Club) on Finding Your Rhythm:

So you’ve already gotten started: you bought your first membership, completed your first warm-up stretch, sweat through your first sports bra—now what? Ashley Ander, owner of Ride Cycle Club—a spin-focused studio with a total party vibe (think: work hard, play hard)—says setting small, achievable goals for yourself is a great way to stay motivated.

Strive to Satisfy
“Fitness has to come with some satisfaction,” says Ander. “If I started by aiming for a six-pack, I would have stopped working out a long time ago.” Instead, Ander suggests setting small goals to ensure you feel accomplished, not beaten down, after exercising.

Find Friends
Still lacking motivation? Join a group class! “If you think you’re the type who doesn’t like working out around other people, it’s possible you just haven’t found the right studio yet,” Ander says. “All it takes is one great class with a studio built around its community to take you to the 
next level.”

Listen to a Pro
Consulting a professional is also a valuable investment. “Balancing your budget and allocating a percentage to a trainer or studio membership is imperative,” says Ander. “That’s where you learn all the technique, and you have someone to help you stay motivated.” The same goes for healthy eating: “I’m not a nutritionist, and I wouldn’t want to pretend to be one either…I’d say do what feels right, and if you’re stressed about it, talk to a professional.”

Mix it Up
Finally, Ander says it’s important to mix up your routine every once in a while. “Take a boxing class, go swimming, take a dance lesson, join a run club, come to Ride! Try something different and completely out of your comfort zone,” she suggests. Trying new things, making new friends and sweating in different spaces will keep boredom at bay.

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Barbie Bent (Lagree West) on Revving Up the Intensity:

Ready to up the intensity? Barbie Bent, owner of Lagree West (a studio that offers high-intensity full-body workouts that demand deep core strength and stimulate the cardiorespiratory system), knows a thing or two about bringing the heat. To her, being fit is about feeling strong and healthy, and releasing positive endorphins that help you get through the day with energy and purpose—but even she knows elevating your workout is a bit more complicated than doing a few extra sit-ups.

Quality Over Quantity
“We see a lot of people trying to ramp up the intensity of their workout routine by increasing the number of times they work out per week, or even per day,” says Bent. But this tactic doesn’t work, and can actually be harmful to your body. Hitting the gym several times a day, for example, can up the cortisol (stress hormone) in your body, and more stress = less success.

Little Impact, Big Reward
If upping the intensity is difficult for you (maybe you’re a beginner, or maybe you’re recovering from an injury), you still have the power to bring it—with a few modifications. “Incorporate something that is low-impact into your routine, but that still lets you be active,” Exercise that is high-intensity but low-impact (lagree or barre) reduces your risk of injuring yourself or aggravating a past injury, but still makes you strong.

Hold Yourself Accountable
At the end of the day, no matter how heavy your weights or how tough your instructor, only you have the power to push yourself. Bent says to set goals that will challenge you, but not overwhelm you, in order to make sure you keep at it: “Set achievable goals and build them into a routine to help keep you accountable and on track.”

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Anna Farrant (All City Athletics) on Breaking Down Barriers:

Whether you’re an occasional gym rat or a self-diagnosed couch potato, any kind of lifestyle change can be intimidating. Anna Farrant, co-founder of All City Athletics, an underground non-contact boxing studio in Gastown, realizes that sometimes life can get in the way of fitness; a lack of time and resources can limit accessibility, and getting fit is easier for some than it is for others. Follow her advice for how break down your own barriers and support others.

Start Small
Most women can’t commit their entire lives to exercise, but you can focus on incorporating healthy habits into your regular routine (“We all have the capacity to look at our lives and see where we can make small improvements.”). Farrant suggests little changes like drinking less, eating more veggies, walking a few days a week or finding a workout buddy to hit the gym with.

Keep it Simple
Exercise and healthy eating shouldn’t be something you dread. When eating healthy, Farrant tries to remember one simple thing: that she loves her body and wants to take care of it. “If I can make choices  most of the time that reflect this (eating whole foods, lots of veggies, less sugar and simple carbs, less meat, drinking lots water), I am likely on the right path,” she says. “If I overcomplicate things, I run the risk of feeling disappointed when I slip up.”

Work Smart
Another way to make the most of your workout routine is by choosing exercise that does double-duty. For example: boxing! “It’s a lot more cerebral than people think,” Farrant says. “There is a lot of coordination and technique involved, which keeps it engaging.” Being economical about fitness by challenging your mind and body at the same time is an excellent way to make your workout do the work—and to take some stress off of you.

Lend a Hand
If getting fit is a piece of cake (maybe that’s bad phrasing—a piece of kale?) for you, there are lots of ways to support other women and girls who have a harder time accessing fitness; Farrant spent years volunteering with Eastside Boxing’s youth programs. You can give back, too—find a gym, program or community that resonates with you and see how you can help. “I feel very fortunate to have health and wellness at my disposal,” says Farrent, “and being able to provide the opportunity for young girls to find their confidence through sport seems like a natural fit.”

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