In The Spotlight: Meet Catherine W.

THE FIT LIFT’s In The Spotlight category will interview active, inspiring women from all walks of life who demonstrate strength in many ways. Whether you've made small steps to lead a more healthy lifestyle or train like a best, we want to celebrate YOU. We believe that by sharing our stories, we can help others to both start, and continue on the path of living a healthy lifestyle by leading by example.  If you would like to be featured on our blog, please email us.  

I have to preface this Spotlight by saying what a treat it is for me to open these documents and read through the heart and soul poured into these answers.  It's especially an honour to read through replies of those women in my life whom I know personally and look up to, respect, and admire as the strong, beautiful, and vulnerable women that they are.  

Initially, we hoped that these questionnaires would supply readers with motivation, inspiration and hope that they too, could continue on the path of an active, healthy lifestyle and define their own true meaning of strength and beauty.  We quickly discovered that the process of completing these answers is revealing to the writer.  That it provides an awakening and reminder of characteristics or accomplishments that are often stifled or hidden.  We are so occupied with daily life and taking care of others that we forget how truly amazing each one of us are.  How profound our strength is.  How our beauty shines.  Recognize yourself.  Look in the mirror today and understand who you are and what brought you there.  Be proud.  Own it. 

I've been attending Catherine's classes for well over 2 years.  Last summer I reached out for advice and mentorship on becoming a Group Fitness Instructor.  Catherine was so enthusiastic to help.  We talked non-stop technique and details over coffee and I remember walking away so exhilarated, excited and confident.  I was so appreciative of her advice, and some of those little tidbits still replay in the back of my mind each class I attend. If it weren't for that meeting with her, I never would have stepped outside my own comfort zone and auditioned.  And the energy in the class room is incredible!  You leave sweaty, parched and out of breath... but you also leave invigorated, proud and smiling.

Beyond her mentorship, from that day forward, I consider Catherine a friend.  Her positivity is contagious.  She takes the time to talk and most importantly, she takes the time to listen.  I love her passion for all that she does and encounters, especially motherhood.  I love seeing the contrast of Catherine up on the stage... a tough, confident fighter to the silly, smiling, energetic mom.  I encourage you to read through her spotlight and, especially, digest her closing advice.

1. Provide us a brief introduction about who you are.

My name is Catherine. I am 43 years old. Born in England, UK I was lucky enough to move to Calgary in 2010, with my husband and daughter. The rest of my family are all still back in the UK.

I am extremely blessed to be a stay at home mom since moving to Canada, working part-time as a Group Exercise instructor.

I have always been into fitness. At school I enjoyed cross-country running, track and field events. I am always happy running!

At the age of 17 years I joined the Army Reservists, a physically demanding role. I believe those years of training with the Army helped mold me into the person I am today. Being pushed outside my comfort zone, facing my fears, not ever fully overcoming them, but the feeling of completing something that I thought I couldn’t do was amazing! As an example, I am extremely afraid of heights. Of course, the abseiling, rock climbing and assault courses that we completed were never my strong point, (and between you and me, I cried some of the time) but I refused to give up and the feeling of achievement was overwhelming and so rewarding.

I suppose you can class me as competitive, but only with myself. I like to see how far I can go, how much I can take, and I don’t like to give up. Good or bad, it is part of me.

I began training as a group exercise instructor in my late 20’s. It was a bizarre turn of events. I was bullied at my workplace by a manager. I was eventually signed off with stress and depression. The only place I felt safe, felt like myself, was at the gym, where I was “invisible”, no-one knew me and no-one knew I was suffering. I was attending class after class and stood in the group exercise studio one day and said “I can do that – I can become an instructor, I can help people”. I have never looked back. Group exercise has helped me stay out of the cycle of depression. I am lucky to have found something so rewarding, something to keep my mind and body strong. I know that I have helped others too, through their times of sadness and darkness, just as it has for me all these years.

I also worked with the police service as a dispatcher, which was a fantastic job. I felt I was able to help. I was able to be there for people in their moment of need. A fast paced, sometimes stressful, yet such a rewarding job. Heading to work never knowing what that day was going to bring. Apart from the Army, dispatching was my best (paid) job ever!

2. What does STRENGTH mean to you?

Strength for me covers such a variety of areas. But it is all to do with inner strength, not the ability to lift extreme weights, but the strength to continue forward during challenging times. Those people who face illnesses, physical or mental challenges daily, those people who refuse to let it get in their way of living their life the way they want. Those who set themselves goals and aim high, even when others believe they will not succeed. Those strong people, who will find a way, never give up and push through, no matter what. Finding that inner strength, that inner warrior, to get you to the next level, whatever challenges life throws at you – big or small – standing strong and living life. We all have challenges, they just come in different shapes and sizes, it takes strength to stand and face them.

3. What does BEAUTY mean to you?

Beauty can’t be put on the front of a magazine; beauty can’t be photo-shopped. It comes from within. It is all that is good in the world, simple things like kindness, caring, and thoughtfulness. Visual beauty you will find with Mother Nature, human beauty is found in the heart and soul. I try to look past what my eyes see, it is not important that people are visually perfect (whatever that means?!) but when people open their hearts and love and care, then I see true beauty.

4. What inspires you? What is your driving force?

So many things inspire me. Social media, Television and the internet allow us now to share such personal events, I have lost count of the times I have sat and read/watched about people’s lives with tears rolling down my face. It takes work to be happy; it takes work to be the “cup half full” person, the person who looks at life positively. But then if you want anything good in life you have to work for it. As they say – nothing in life is free. Inspiration comes when you say “I am going to try” rather than sit and wonder what if.

I have met people who have told me about their lives, they inspire me. They have seen their own darkness, but have pulled through.

I support veterans, serving forces, emergency services; it is those people that inspire me. Those people who sacrifice themselves for others. Those people who happily go to work, missing their families’ birthdays and Christmas, and all those wonderful events in life to keep the rest of us safe. Those people inspire me.

Those people who stand up and say – yes I will and yes I can!

I thank all those people – you all inspire me to be a better and stronger person.

5. What is your proudest accomplishment?

I am super proud of all my accomplishments. I display them all!! There are all so different, yet all so very relevant in making me who I am today. They are all intertwined, if you were to take any one of those accomplishments away, my life today would not be what it is.

Joining the Reservists, the British Army, gaining the rank of Corporal in 5 years, it was that experience that got me into dispatching for the police, that is where I met my husband, we married, had our daughter, it was his hard work and determination that got us to Canada. Then there are all the other accomplishments in between.

But, saying that, there is one that shines brighter than all the rest and that is my daughter. I am watching her grow into the most beautiful girl. Full of confidence, she has such a gentle, caring soul. She is intelligent, bright, funny, crazy, adorable, a truly wonderful girl. I glow with pride.

It is my accomplishments that make me a happy mom, a confident mom, a mom who is willing to be crazy and silly, caring and patient. I am super proud of her (and me)!

6. What is your biggest challenge?

Forgiving myself! I don’t let go of problems. I still sit and worry over things that happened or things that were said years ago. I find myself stressing over things that I just can’t do anything about, keeping me awake at night. Some things that swim around my head are from so long ago, but it still haunts me.

I need to be able to forgive myself, we all make mistakes, but I just find it extremely hard to let go.

7. What is your mantra? What are your favorite words to live by?

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone

This is so true for everything.

Just take a moment to think about it, from the moment we are born, our first steps, our first tree climb, our first day at school, our first skiing lesson, the first race, the first group exercise class, marriage, first house, the first child! It is basically all that is unknown at the time! Will it work, will I be successful. What if…..

We have all stepped outside our comfort zones, but they are all so taken for granted, just things that happen in life right? But what if you didn’t take that first step because you were afraid of falling…….? I for one would rather try and fall, because that makes a great story at dinner!

Live for those moments that give you “butterflies” and that “I don’t know if I can” feeling. The little pit at the bottom of your stomach!

Look at all the great things that can happen when you just step outside that comfort zone. 

If you never try you will never know.


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