I began my fitness journey when I thought it would be a good idea to enrol in a fitness competition for the first time. I always used to watch fitness shows when I was growing up, they used to be televised and I’d sit within inches of my TV to watch the fitness stars dance and stunt on stage. Growing up, I was a singer and dancer for the Young Canadians of the Calgary Stampede, performing for the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth and what an experience that was. I went on to dance and cheer for the Calgary Stampeders Outriders and the Calgary Roughnecks Drill Crew – both professional sports teams in my city. The life of a dancer has a shelf-life, but I know my purpose in life revolved around movement and performing, so one day when I saw a flyer at my local gym of a girl competing, I thought – lightbulb! Turns out, this girl and I would become great friends through that journey to the stage, and still remain great friends today. That ignited my fire for bodybuilding and really set the stage for my goals following my time in dance. Like anyone, I prepped for my first show which was a regional show in Calgary. 16 weeks of the most intense diet + exercise and several hundred if not thousands of dollars later. It was all worth it, though. I won that show as the Overall Winner in the Bikini division and completely shocked myself in the process. I went on to compete at the provincial level a few weeks later and won my respective height class. Nationals followed and there I became a Canadian National Champion, a dream come true. I wasn’t done, though.
I wanted to show people that you don’t have to spend hours in the gym like I did to maintain a physique that you love. I wanted to show people how to work SMARTER, not harder.
I was so driven and committed to this sport that I just fell in love with it, so I decided to keep the drive alive and compete at an International show, showcasing some of the best amateur bodybuilders in the World! I felt my best going in and I was laser-focused. I ended up winning my class at that show and tying for the Pro Card that was awarded. I was disappointed at the time, but I know that everything happens for a reason. Shortly after that competition, I was involved in not one, but two motor vehicle accidents within 3 weeks of each other. I had already committed to another competition a few months from then and had everything sponsored to compete in Columbus, Ohio for one of the biggest amateur shows in the world of bodybuilding, The Arnold. Looking back, I wish I had taken some time to rest and recover before jumping into training again, but I didn’t want to let anyone down, especially those who had invested money and time into me. I ended up going to Columbus and placing 5th in the world. The whole experience was an absolute dream that I’ll never forget.
After that show, I decided to shift gears a bit and focus on one of my other purposes in life, to become a Mother. It wasn’t until going through pregnancy and postpartum with my daughter that I realized how different fitness was for people who have carried a baby. I took that experience as an opportunity to fine-tune my passion for fitness and start to learn more about the female body, how it works and what it needs, particularly postpartum when it’s been through such a dramatic change. Thus, began my journey to try and educate people and inspire people to want to LOVE fitness and make it a part of their routine that they might not have known they needed. I knew I loved fitness, but I also knew that not everyone did. I wanted to make other women love their bodies and love wanting to work on their bodies, not for the looks of it – like bodybuilding was, but for the feeling of having a strong and functional body that can carry us through life and motherhood. I felt that education regarding postpartum fitness was lacking and people were not helping themselves by training as they did before they had kids. Since then, I’ve been on a quest to bring short but incredibly effective workouts that you can do in about 20 minutes. Sometimes more, sometimes less. My workouts are ones that I do, from the comfort of my home yet can be done in a gym, too. Workouts I did not only to help my body but specifically to help heal my deep inner core from the inside out, something so many of us play a blind eye to but can seriously impact our quality of life over time. I wanted to uplift, inspire and help to motivate people to show up for themselves, not for any other reason than wanting to become the strongest and greatest version of themselves. I wanted to show women that we can take care of ourselves, and by doing so, we can take care of others around us even better. I wanted to show people that you don’t have to spend hours in the gym like I did to maintain a physique that you love. I wanted to show people how to work SMARTER, not harder. That is where my brand POWER by Petra Inc. was born and is something I’m working on currently. It’s been a long journey to this point, but I’m grateful for all of the lessons along the way. Nothing is ever a failure to me, always a lesson and always helps shape the direction of your path.
MOM, Fitness Trainer, Fitness Instructor, Fitness Coach, Corrective Core Specialist, Fitness Nutrition Specialist
In your opinion weight loss is more of a fitness issue or a health issue and why?
I think they go hand in hand, you can’t really have one without the other. If you target both, you’ll be more successful overall and probably see results much sooner. I always think of the body/mind/soul approach as I believe mindfulness plays a big role in all of it.
If you have 100 tokens in total and you could apply them to the following categories, how many would you apply to each?
- Fitness level: 30
- Health level: 70
Not just consumption of food, but things like self-care, meditation, taking your vitamins and supplements, spending time in nature, etc.
Thoughts on HIIT, Powerlifting, TRX, Yoga, bodybuilding, others?
I think they’re all great! I personally spent a year in competitive Bodybuilding and was able to become a National Champion for Canada. I think each style has a different goal, so knowing your intention and goals can help to decide what training style might work best for you. For me personally, I don’t love HIIT as much as I love Yoga or Strength training, but I think it has its purpose. I think the reason I don’t prefer it is because I find it challenging so when I am up for a challenge I opt for a HIIT style workout because the cardiovascular benefits are an important component of health and wellness. Ideally, I think a mix of all styles could be the best-case scenario for the general public, but I also think it’s important to commit to an exercise style that you can truly follow through with. I would say it matters less as to “what” it is, but more so the fact that you’re engaging in physical activity and moving the energy in your body consistently, every day is best. I would say my personal favourite style would be closest to that of bodybuilders. I clearly love fitness and love training and I loved bodybuilding and still do. I simply don’t have the time to dedicate to training like a bodybuilder now that I have a toddler and have focused more of my efforts on working in fitness than competing in fitness, but bodybuilding is definitely a passion of mine!
How did your passion for fitness start? And what was the biggest challenge you have faced on your journey?
I truly think it started when I was a little girl, my mom would always ask if I had ants in my pants, lol!! I couldn’t sit still, I was always moving and shaking and dancing and flipping. I would take on physical challenges all the time just to prove to myself I could do it. I fondly remember watching bodybuilding competitions on the TV, as they were televised and I think that’s how the seed was planted!
Share your unique training/coaching methods?
I like to split workouts by muscle groups, time, length, sequence, effectiveness, and areas that people generally look for. I program my workouts to be time efficient for the busy mom but also to make mechanical sense. I like to target all areas of specific muscle groups so you know you’ll get the best burn for your buck. I aim to make workouts challenging and intense, but still achievable with a good effort. I like to make them accessible to everyone, but always like options for added resistance if you’re up for more of a challenge. Workouts that you can more easily fit in your day so you’re doing something beneficial, because if they’re too long or too energy-consuming, people wouldn’t do them.
When I coach my clients, I asses their goals and what they’re willing to contribute to those goals and make a game plan to move forward. The fitness portion is usually quite similar; however, the coaching portion is where many people differ and that’s where the mindfulness comes in. I like to focus on goals, affirmations and healthy habits to help my clients be successful. I aim to teach them as much as I can so they can sustain those healthy habits over time without needing my guidance or support. I think something unique to myself is my focus on deep inner core healing and training. I see a lot of people training core and abs with sit-ups and crunches, as I used to as well. But over the last several years, my focus has been more around strengthening the transverse abdominis, the main stabilizer for our body, prioritizing that over the very visible rectus abdominis. Something that seems redundant or overlooked as I mentioned, but truly so important for things like low back pain, posture, pelvic floor dysfunction and more.
Find a plan that works for you and you can commit to it. Something challenging but achievable and measurable, just like all goals! Be fluid with it and adhere to what you can oblige to. I’m a firm believer that you don’t need to work out every day to see the physical and emotional benefits, but you have to enjoy it and be willing to make it a part of your lifestyle and livelihood.
Currently, I train about every other day. I would love to be able to train more, however, there are other things I’m working on that require my energy and attention so I aim to properly train every other day and then sprinkle some nature walks, yoga flows and other styles in there when I have a chance, including my daughter in the process when I can.
I used to track macros to the gram when I was competing, which was great for a very specific purpose. Now, I eat intuitively and listen to my body’s cues around hunger and satiety. One thing I’ve done for years is intermittent fasting which I love and will continue to incorporate, with exceptions of course. I focus on getting a decent amount of protein in, good and nutritious carbohydrates and healthy dietary fats as they are imperative for proper hormone function, especially for women. I try to get my fuel from whole foods whenever possible, but I like to indulge at times, too, without feeling guilty. I think it’s important to have everything in moderation. I opt for plant-based choices when possible, however, I personally am sensitive to lactose and eggs so I stay away from those. I’d say I consume whole foods and nutrient-dense foods about 80% of the time and like to enjoy treats the other 20%. Balance, right??
I have used so many different supplement products and brands while I was competing. Lots of protein powders, BCAA’s and pre-workout powders. I was previously sponsored by Popeyes Calgary which gave me an opportunity to try a whole bunch of supplements. More recently, I’ve been more into the plant-based, natural lines as they align better with my goals right now. I’ve been trying the BioEdge Sciences line of 100% natural supplements and not only do they taste great, but I feel comfortable consuming the products knowing they are benefiting me and not loaded with harmful sugars or artificial sweeteners.
Do you prefer to take and recommend all natural (no sugar, no artificial colors/flavors/sweeteners) supplements or supplements with artificial flavors and sweeteners? And Why?
I used to not care about sugar and artificial sweeteners all that much. While I was competing, everything I ate pretty much contained artificial sweeteners as that is how I could continue to enjoy social events and food while still working towards my very specific goal. Now, I try to stay away from sugar and sucralose as much as I can. Natural products are my priority now and I’m happy I found something that I feel confident taking with the BioEdge Sciences line of natural supplements.
Please describe the importance of mental health?
Mental health is crucial in my opinion. I have struggled with anxiety and depression in the past and I’m always working on my mental health to try to limit those emotions from my experience. I have done and continue to do a lot of research and studying on mental health and mental well-being and I find for myself, meditation has become a huge pillar of my daily routine. If I don’t have a chance to fit it in, I can definitely tell. It’s not something that came easily to me, I worked at it for several years before getting good at it. Now, I actually usually prioritize meditation over exercise and even work, because I truly believe a clear mind is an efficient mind. Our mental and emotional state can say so much about us and how we cope with life, and I think it’s such an important area to work on when speaking about life goals.
Take us through a typical day in life for you?
During the week, I wake up and get my daughter ready for day home. Come home and typically either workout or meditate in the morning as that is when there is the least resistance. If I don’t meditate in the morning, I do it midafternoon, before the workday is over. I find I’m most productive in the morning, so I’ll get to work on client check-ins, managing my social content, workout programs and plans, tending to the house, running errands and everything in between. I eat my first meal between 12-2 pm, with the exception of coffee or tea in the morning. That fuels me for the afternoon lull that many people experience. I’ll do some more work, whether it’s content creation or production, meetings with my network or running the business operations for my merchandise line. Pick up my girl, make dinner, do the bedtime routine and then usually eat dinner around 8 or 9 pm. Pretty unconventional, but it works for us. Usually, my husband and I will catch up once the evening is over and try to watch a dramatic show just to switch off of work and parent mode.
On the weekends, my daughter and I have a slow morning with cartoons for her and a coffee for me where we just have no urgency to be anywhere or do anything. Those are my favourite moments, I hold her close and snuggle her in like nothing else in that moment matters. My husband coaches football so throughout the football season, he’s working a ton and we don’t get to see him often. It’s an interesting lifestyle but we do our best to make the most of it. We try to spend time with family and loved ones whenever possible, family is very important to us. They’re always a million things on the go, but I love every minute of it!
What separates Status from other fitness magazines?
I’ve known about Status since I began competing in 2017. I was able to work with Status photographer, David Ford, when he was shooting for the shows and since then, we’ve been connected ever since. The Status team feels like a family and I love that.
If you could ask Status Fitness Magazine Editor in Chief Rodney Jang any industry question, what would that be?
What are your goals for yourself personally and professionally 5 years from now? 10?
Status Fitness Magazine runs model searches across North America including the largest one at the Arnold Classic for the Status cover. As part of the Status family, you will receive a special participation invite. How excited are you for this opportunity?
VERY, the Arnold is very near and dear to my heart, as is fitness, photography and performing. All things I’m very passionate about and align with deeply.
Describe your coaches and the impact they have on you?
I think my biggest mentor is my Husband. As a football coach, I get to see him working with his players to help shape them to be the best they can be on the field, but he places a large emphasis on making sure they are successful and prosperous off the field as well. I think everyone I work with has lessons that I can learn from and I’m grateful for all of them. They’ve helped shape who I am today, and have helped me discover my own passion for coaching and helping others, in the field of health and wellness.
Do you have a sponsor? List them and what they mean to you?
I have been partnered with a North American Athletic wear brand, Jed North Women for a few years now. Their partnership means everything to me and they’ve been so incredible to work with. I do my best to showcase their efforts and continue to be loyal to them as they have been to me. Support is crucial in this industry.
Can you share with us your goals for fitness and life?
My goal for the near future is to become a pioneer in the realm of pre and post-natal fitness. I want to continue educating as many people as possible on how to heal and strengthen their deep inner core, especially after babies wreak some havoc on it. I want to be able to offer my unique training programs to people around the globe as if they have their own personal trainer at home with them. I want everyone to never forget their own POWER and to own it and be confident every step of the way. I would love to release a prenatal and postpartum program in the near future and take everyone on a journey to living a healthy life throughout the stages of pregnancy, including the fourth trimester. A step by step approach to experiencing pregnancy and postpartum in the healthiest way possible.
5 things people don’t know about you?
- I have a Social Work Diploma.
- My husband and I hold an annual Turkey Drive in our city to donate funds to those less fortunate, majority of the proceeds going to the local food banks and other non-profit organizations.
- I volunteer with United Way as an ambassador.
- I’m super petite! 5 feet nothing and 95 lbs soaking wet.
- I don’t like to cook all that much, hah! I much prefer baking as I find it quite therapeutic.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
That perspective is everything. It’s important to understand that people make decisions based on their own perspectives and I seek to empathize and see all views.
5 most important attributes you see in a person?
- Work ethic
If you could inspire one person, who would that be? And why?
A fellow mother, because that’s the demographic I want to see be more successful with their healthy habits moving forward. As mother’s, we are always showing behaviours to our kids and if it starts young, we give them more of an opportunity to grow up making healthy and beneficial choices that will help to propel them forward. I want to show women that although motherhood is a different way of life, we can still make it enjoyable and we can excel even more with the proper skills, education and knowledge. We are superhuman!! We have to start taking care of ourselves so we can take care of our tribe that much better.
Who inspires you? And why?
So many people. My friends who own businesses, my family who supports my every move, my husband who is just an absolute living legend, my daughter whom I literally do everything in life for. I would not be here pursuing this dream of mine if it weren’t for her. I’m grateful for all of the amazing people and connections in my life.
What is your number one tip for people on their fitness journey?
That it is a journey, not a destination. It’s ever-evolving and changing and just like us going through changes, you’re sure to go through changes along your fitness journey, too. Be gracious and kind with yourself and find something you absolutely love and something that makes you feel amazing when you finish. Do it for no one else, other than you. Be the best version of yourself, because you want to and because you deserve it. Sure, it might take some effort, but isn’t your life worth it? Fitness has changed my life immensely and I believe it can change anyone’s life.
What does success look like for you?
Health, Happiness and Progress. Living my dream, being able to make fitness at the centre of my work and career, as well as motherhood. Constantly striving for new goals and projects. Continuing education in my respective area and being able to share that information with other people that can benefit from it. Building a strong network of women around the world who prioritize their health and wellness. Above all, being a great role model to my baby girl, showing her that anything is possible if we put our energy and attention into it.
What is your favourite quote to live by?
“Never a failure, Always a lesson”
“Nothing worth having comes easy”
Connect with Petra: IG | Website
Photos By: Kelly Hofer | Graham McKerrell