I have written before about how I started my business, and what the driving force was behind wanting to launch a fitness company at 41, but I have never really written about what the last 5.5 years have been like. Possibly, I was not ready to put the raw down for others to read. Though going forward, I will give you a glimpse back so that you can understand the beginning.
It was 9 years ago already that I left my marriage of almost 15 years; I had chosen to be a stay-at-home mom because after my middle daughter got sick, I decided my children needed me at home and my spouse at the time was able to financially support that decision. My world has drastically changed since then and one of the most pivotal moments that sparked that change, was when I was at the gym one day.
The gym was where I spent a lot of time because it had become my escape from my reality. It was the one thing I had solely for me so when the kids went to school, I spent 2 hours at the gym making myself physically strong so I could endure my internal unhappiness that had crept in over the years. A person who is not specifically training for a sport of a specific goal does not need to spend 2 hours at the gym and run 10k every other day. Two hours was too much, but not when you are avoiding and trying to numb the pain.
As I was learning who I was again, I began to realize that we often need to uncover what we have covered up with our expectations or others’ expectations of ourselves.
The pivotal moment came one morning when I went to the gym, sat down on the bench and literally looked up in the mirror at myself not having any strength to lift anything other than my head. I sat there staring at a very physically strong woman. Training had led me to this moment, the moment when I had to finally own my shit. I got up, grabbed my bag and walked to the lake, stood at the bridge and cried. I thought I was broken then but now, I know I was brave because I was in uncharted waters and finally was going to make a change. I knew I had to leave, I knew I would disrupt 4 lives during the process and had hoped one day that they would all understand. After 13 years of wanting a perfect family, and perfect marriage, I was going to leave so I could remember who I was supposed to be. I am not saying you have to leave your marriage to find yourself; you don’t; it was something I had to do because I had checked out.
So, my journey began and after taking time to simply be me, I found I was drawn back into fitness as moving my body was the most natural thing for me. As I was learning who I was again, I began to realize that we often need to uncover what we have covered up with our expectations or others’ expectations of ourselves. All the labels that we use allow us to get lost in the roles of our lives instead of who we truly are. I was a mom and a wife, but I also was caring, funny, fun, adventurous and full of life!
I decided as a single mom to launch a fitness company across Canada. My goals were big, and part of my goal was to show my children that you could go after your dreams at any age and that if you worked hard and smart, you could do it!
During this time, I found 2 things along my journey, martial arts and kettlebells. I enjoyed the discipline of training during this time because if any of you have been divorced you know everything feels out of control and in chaos while you are in the midst of it. Training led me to look at my inner self then it gave back to me the ability to have control over one area of my life. It allowed my body to feel good, my mind to have an escape and allowed me to be tired at night so I could sleep peacefully when my world felt nothing like peace. There are a lot of ways to escape your day and I dabbled in the bottle of red wine until I too realized that that only made it worse. The training was the root of myself, it was my teacher and it only made sense to me when I founded Kettlebell Kickboxing Canada that I could use it as a tool to get people fit and to teach and inspire them to work on Strong Body ~ Strong Mind.
Now that is a quick Coles version of the start of the process, as no story can start without a beginning, but what I wanted to share today was that at 41, I decided to do something out of the ordinary. I decided as a single mom to launch a fitness company across Canada. My goals were big, and part of my goal was to show my children that you could go after your dreams at any age and that if you worked hard and smart, you could do it!
So, at 41, I launched this company across Canada, never having been a CEO before other than for my children and household and I ran my own dance club during my university days. Now to be clear, I had no idea really how I was going to accomplish this feat, only that I knew I would, but I just didn’t know the steps quite yet. I had much to learn every day, OMG like every day and still every day. From technical information to running the website, which involved a bit of coding, to branding, marketing and sales and still working at being a mom. I give myself little credit for my tech skills but truthfully; I think I kick ass for what I have learned. No, IT is still not my strongest suit but at 41, I was learning and after all those years of multi-tasking as a mom, I knew I was very capable. I began doing certifications across the country and travelling doing pop-ups in different provinces, yes carrying 20 20lb kettlebells in the back of my vehicle…. not the safest occupation at times, but I survived. Along the way, I failed many times, having pops with not many people and being left feeling defeated. One time when I travelled to a pop I remember the turnout was poor and walking back to the vehicle feeling discouraged when my son who had travelled with me simply said “I guess today was about learning”, he would have been roughly 16 at the time. I took a deep breath in, looked at him and smiled and said “Yes, I guess I did”. Mindset is so important with everything that you do in life and at that moment my 16-year-old son taught me something very valuable and I still smile thinking about how I learned that day!
The truth is, when you are an entrepreneur, it’s a game where you are in constant motion to turn right, go up or maybe was that left? Or so it has been for me thus far. I believe if you are an entrepreneur, you should love what you do and have a vision and purpose.
I had also started teaching Kettlebell Kickboxing Classes as I knew if I was going to guide trainers, I must also experience what they would experience and if I was to teach them the craft, I wanted to be hands-on also. Finding harmony in my world, I believe 5 and a half years in I could say that maybe now I understand, and I work on what that looks like. It took learning, as it took my children moving out for me to do some deep looking at my goals and how I wanted all my relationships in my life to look. I believe life will teach you if you are willing to listen. I also think that sometimes we fight what we have learned, and we carry regret instead of simply learning, forgiving ourselves and moving on.
On forgiving myself, I took a flight to South Carolina to do a 24-hour walk with an Ex-Navy Seal Thom Shea, to even realize that I had not yet forgiven myself for leaving my marriage and changing how my family looked. I had to forgive myself and acknowledge what life was teaching me. I simply had to learn not to carry the weight of my mistakes as reminders of failures but to carry forward what I had learned so that I could grow as an individual. I share this because if you think your personal life does not flow into your business; I believe you are wrong. When working on the masterpiece of your life it encompasses all areas.
During my 5 and a half years, I have definitely felt and been in the grind. I see success differently and often have to sit and remind myself that there are many different types of success, so I sometimes have to ask myself what success will ultimately be for me. I have had the opportunity to travel and meet incredible people, I have written for magazines, for various companies, certified over 40 trainers in Canada, pivoted my studio classes online within 48 hours of a global pandemic and launched a flagship location during this pandemic. I have done much of this alone because I thought I had to prove to myself that I did not need anyone and that I could do it, you know, a single woman in her 40’s trying to prove that it can be done. After having done so much then to finally look at it and allow me to feel success and say “I did what I could alone and realize that now I don’t have to do it alone anymore.” The flagship has allowed me to learn the true value of the team as I have had to hand over the reins to my trainers so I can travel for retreats and projects. This has been one of the biggest accomplishments for me personally. I have learned when you find good people you need to embrace them and take care of them because when I travelled I always knew my clients were in the best hands. One of my personal challenges was taking time to fly to South Carolina and returning early only to stay home as I had staff in place to run the studio. I have learned as a leader if you want your people to learn how to lead you must allow them to. I confidently let them run the studio while I stayed home, took some time to reset and worked on the backend of the business.
The truth is, when you are an entrepreneur, it’s a game where you are in constant motion to turn right, go up or maybe was that left? Or so it has been for me thus far. I believe if you are an entrepreneur, you should love what you do and have a vision and purpose. Your success will lie in all different areas of your business because when one isn’t going as planned you can find strength in the smaller successes. I have spent many days sitting on the floor in tears wondering how or what to do. By learning more about internal dialogue, I am able to get back up, and move forward each day, with goals for today, tomorrow and 6 months from now. I have learned that no business survives on a plan that is set in stone because if you don’t change and grow you will crash and burn fast. Mentors are needed, downtime is needed (this one I still work on), and truthfully, spirituality and relationships are needed. All can fluctuate, but they are needed to be complete as not only a business person but as a person. I have learned this the hard way. As a personal goal and business goal, I won’t concentrate on surviving, because I know I am a survivor and it is not time to step forward into the next phase of success! I can finally allow the top to be lifted off so that I can truly see what I have envisioned for myself and my company.
Currently, 5 and a half years in, I am now growing my online training platform, running our flagship location, and doing certifications and travel retreats. The sky’s the limit and as I grow as an individual, I am curious about what will happen in the next year because the future never ceases to amaze me.