Karen Kelly Wellness

Perfectly, Uniquely You

I was recently asked to talk about my path in “following my heart” at Gosia Jurgiel‘s event Perfectly, Uniquely, YOU. I didn’t really think that my story was extraordinary, but maybe that’s what can make it inspirational – anyone can do it.

I spoke about the fact that all of the choices that I’ve made in my career have centred around what I am interested in and what I love to do.

I started teaching fitness in 1988 as a volunteer instructor at Mutual Life – (really only because we got a free weekend away at a fancy Muskoka resort!) but at that time, I remember thinking that I wish I could help people with their health as a full-time career. This was at a time, when personal training was only for the rich and famous! I finally did quit my “real job” some years later and started personal training, but in order to make ends meets, I started organizing corporate wellness programs in a few progressive companies in town. This again was a time when
corporate wellness wasn’t the buzz word that it is today. I had read about it being done in the US and thought it would be a dream job to have. I was “lucky” enough to convince a few companies to give it a whirl (they are still clients today). We provide newsletters, posters, lunch and learns, crockpot days, fitness classes and 1-1 health coaching – basically anything we can think of to raise the awareness of health to employees. The testimonials I get from employees or health coaching clients continue to motivate me to keep doing this – I know it makes a difference in their lives.

My work never feels like work to me; I can spend hours researching a new topic – I just researched Brain Health for a lunch and learn – and get really excited about sharing this information with others. Most of the reading I do is on different health topics. I love the topic of nutrition and have a thing for healthy cookbooks. I probably take 3-4 courses a year – there is always something new to learn.

A few years ago, I started to realize the importance of taking care of our mental health – I had a few issues of my own and I could see increased interest in workplaces on managing stress, so I decided to take a yoga teacher training course and completed a 500 hour yoga certification. I teach at Modo Yoga Waterloo and love that I can teach people how to bring a sense of peace and calm into their lives.

One of my dreams has been to run a women’s wellness retreat and incorporate my love of wellness, yoga and a sense of balance – so lots of fun too! A few years ago, I met a woman – Paula Stanghetta who operates @MPToursLive and she takes people on tours to Italy. Well, guess what? We are collaborating on a Women, Wellness and Wine experience in Italy next year!

Since I wear fitness clothing a lot in my job, this was also something that I had an interest in; at one point, I explored the opportunity of opening up a store in KW with an Australian company, but that didn’t work out. This year, I found out about an activewear company just starting in Canada, called ZYIA Active and I jumped at the chance to pursue my dream of selling activewear.

My main message is to encourage others to keep your heart and mind open to new opportunities and exploring what interests you; by doing so, you can open the door for so much enjoyment and gratification doing things you love.

Thank you Gosia for asking me to share my story. xo

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