Meet Coach Julia


I’m so excited we get to share our stories with you! I will leave out some of the details, but here is part of my past, and the sequence of events that has led me here, to you, today. I hope you enjoy!

Growing up, I knew that I was destined to be an ER surgeon. I had a passion for helping others and was searching for a way to directly impact others and save lives. I went through elementary school and most of high school with the goal of attending medical school. I immersed myself in school work and volunteer activities, and spent my days (and nights) doing homework, volunteering in the hospital, or working part time. Things seemed to be going smoothly, until I started high school. Like every new high school student, I was nervous, self-conscious, and scared – I didn’t want to be a small fish in a big pond. I focused on my school work (I wanted to be a straight A student) and joined multiple sports teams. I played semi-competitive basketball in a league outside of school and trained to be a lifeguard. I was getting good grades and making new friends, but at the time, that wasn’t enough. About half-way through grade 9, I was unofficially diagnosed with anorexia.

It took about a year to recover. I don’t remember what the breaking point was, I just remember looking back when it was over and realizing how grateful I was to be alive. It was at this point I knew I needed to start taking better care of myself and putting my health first. I finished my lifeguard training, worked at various summer camps, kept up with my sports inside and outside school and decided that once I graduated high school I was going to be a doctor.

When I was close to graduating high school, I knew I had to pursue a science degree – I LOVED science and I was lucky enough to have an amazing chemistry teacher who made me love chemistry. But, I wanted to be different – I didn’t want to be like every other “pre-med” student who pursued a biomedical degree – so, I decided to specialize in chemistry. I knew that this path to medical school would be more challenging than most, but I was ready and willing to take on the challenge! Around the same time, a friend encouraged me to start going to Goodlife with him. I agreed to try it because I knew that the end of high school meant the end of team sports – I knew I wouldn’t have the same amount of time to dedicate to sports and I was definitely not at a varsity level. After a few sessions in the gym with him, I was hooked!

After I graduated high school, I went to the University of Ottawa to get my BSc with a specialization in chemistry. My days were quickly packed with school work, so having the ability to pick when I worked out was key to my success (mentally and physically). I could go to the nearby Goodlife whenever I wanted and make the workout as long, short, easy or hard as I wanted. This worked for the first few months until I eventually got bored of my routine. I was hitting plateaus and losing motivation. I knew I needed to make a change. After talking to the same friend that introduced me to Goodlife in the first place about my lack of motivation, he suggested I consider hiring a personal trainer. He recommended someone to me and after our first meeting I knew she was the one! We met twice a week for about 7 months. One of our first training sessions she asked me if I had ever considered competing in the fitness industry. I was shocked and a bit confused. I was as tall as I am now and probably no more than 135#. Bodybuilding!? I thought she was crazy. Especially with all the negative stigma attached to bodybuilding and steroids. Nonetheless, I listened to her and learned that she was referring to “bikini/fitness modelling”. I went home, researched all about it, talked to my mom and then went into the next session and told her I was ready to give it a try (not really knowing what I was getting myself into). I signed up for two back to back fitness competitions in both bikini and fitness model categories. I had about 3 months to get ready for these competitions, which isn’t much time. Competition prep. was extremely challenging, both physically and mentally. My training involved a lot of morning fasted cardio sessions paired with evening weight training sessions. I ate tilapia, rice and green beans 5 times a day – even at 9am in class. I weighed myself and measure my bodyfat regularly. In addition to training, I had regular posing sessions to ensure I didn’t fall flat on my face on stage – heels were NOT (and still aren’t) my forte. I missed numerous social events, and instead spent my evenings in the gym, meal prepping or sleeping. BUT, I loved it. I was addicted to the lifestyle. I got into a routine and didn’t care what anyone else thought or had to say about my breakfasts or lack of a social life, because I was doing something I enjoyed.

In the weeks leading up the competition, I was nervous! I had my final suit fitting to make any last-minute adjustments and started decreasing my fluid intake. Fast forward to competition day. I had to wake up at 5am to get my 2nd coat of spray tan (first was the night before), get my hair and makeup done and make sure there was time to get a pump on backstage. This was probably the funniest and weirdest experience. A bunch of guys and girls in bikinis, doing bicep curls and push-ups to make sure their veins were showing, but not too hard as to sweat off their tan or makeup. Girls in the changeroom passed around pieces of chocolate and Vaseline (for your teeth so you could smile – this is not an easy feat when you are dehydrated). I had my 30s on stage, executed the routine that my coach and I had practiced a million times before and was convinced I would get top 3. In the end, I placed 5th. It turns out I was “too muscular” for what the judges wanted. I was upset and disappointed for a few days (probably a few weeks if you ask my mom) with my placing, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that what the judges said about me was actually a compliment. I wanted to be muscular. I wanted to be lean and look like I did more than bicep curls in the gym. At this point, I decided that I wasn’t going to let someone else tell me how I should look. Those two competitions were my first and my last. As much as I loved the experience, I wanted to have fun with my fitness without having to conform to someone else’s idea of what “fitness” should look like. I hung up my glamorous bikini and went back to Goodlife with a new outlook on fitness.
Pictures on stage from my first two fitness competitions
Throughout the rest of my time at U of O, I regularly went to the gym. I researched and tried different programs, with no goal in mind. I just wanted to be healthy and fit. I tried different group classes at the gym, trained with different friends and continually pushed my limits, but on my own terms. I loved it! Entering the last year of my undergrad, I began to seriously think about my future. At this point I had written the MCAT (standard exam to get into medical school) twice and both times fell short of the standards for the Canadian schools I wanted to apply to. When I finally came to terms with the idea that maybe medical school wasn’t right for me at the time, I started to think of alternative careers. The summer before entering my 4th year I was given the opportunity to do research in a chemistry lab at McGill University in Montreal. This experience helped me realize that not only was I decent at it, but that I really enjoyed it. So, I accepted my offer into the Master’s program at U of T, which bought me some time until I figured out what I really wanted to do in life.
Before moving to Toronto, a friend of mine (somehow) convinced me to try a CrossFit class. Just like most bodybuilders back then, I cringed at the idea of trying CrossFit and thought CrossFitters were crazy! But, I was in a lull at the gym. With no goal in sight, I was just going through the motions and slowly losing motivation. So, I agreed to try a class in hopes that it might motivate me to work harder in the gym. Well, after I crawled out of the gym, had a smoothie and no longer felt like I was going to pass-out, I reflected on the class and knew I had to go back – I was hooked! Everything was new. There were people around cheering for each other and a coach teaching and guiding you through the movements. It was everything I had been missing in the gym! From that point on, I cancelled my gym membership and joined a CrossFit gym full time and haven’t looked back since.
Then, I moved to Toronto (3 years ago) to start my Master’s degree. I planned to graduate and go to law school (I even booked my LSAT). But, I was given an opportunity I couldn’t turn down at school, so I changed my mind and decided to pursue graduate school as a PhD student. From that point on, life events continued to happen unexpectedly and the next thing I knew, CrossFit 6S was born.

Well, that’s the long, convoluted story of how I ended up where I am today. In short, I could have never predicted I would be here, but I am so grateful I am. The people I have met along the way have impacted me in ways that I cannot put into words. I can only hope that I can have a positive impact on others, inspire and motivate other people in fitness and in life, and ultimately make the world a better place.

Some of the most important people in my life, in their natural habitat
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