How This Mother of Four Turned Her Passion for Fitness Into an Exciting New Career

For Nichelle Laus, overcoming a childhood trauma led to kick-boxing, police work and, ultimately, a new life as a business owner and fitness trainer.

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Nichelle LausPhoto: Courtesy of Nichelle Laus

"The Gym Walls Became My Safe Place"

I was born and raised in Chateauguay, a small town suburb of Montreal. I was always very active growing up, playing various team sports. I went through a traumatic time in my life, after I finally broke my silence about a long-enduring child-abuse experience inflicted by a person of supposed trust. I turned to kick-boxing as an outlet. By channelling stress, anger and negativity into something positive, I was able to get by day to day and learn to help overcome a lot of demons, stress and pain. I competed in kick-boxing, and later boxing as well, for many years afterwards, as the gym walls became my safe place, my sanctuary.

After breaking my silence, I wanted to be a police officer. I wanted to give back. I wanted to help others the way I was helped during that awful time in my life. In 2000, I was hired as a police constable near Toronto, so I packed up all my belongings in my car and drove down the highway towards my new and exciting life.

My life in Toronto has been nothing short of amazing. I met my husband, Dave, who was also a police officer, and we now have four handsome boys—four, seven, nine and 11 years old. After we started our family, I found the training demands for a kick-boxing fight or boxing match were far too intense and time-consuming. I decided to compete in fitness competitions instead. Training can be done on my own time and I can still have the competitive edge.

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Optimum Training CentrePhoto: Courtesy of Nichelle Laus

"You Must Follow Your Heart and Your Passion"

I started coaching a short time afterwards, and by word of mouth my online training business started to grow rapidly. The shift work and scheduled days off associated with being a police officer made it somewhat easier to pursue a second job. But after a while, all my time off was spent working on my online training business.

At the same time, my husband also started working a second job, as a fitness photographer. Our passions for what we did shone through and as the years went on, our second businesses became so successful that we decided to take it to the next level. After a few consultations with some business mentors, we decided to open Optimum Training Centre (OTC), our 6,000-square-foot personal training studio in Toronto.

In order for us to run at our full potential, we decided that we had to make an important, risky decision. After 15 years as police officers, we both resigned to nurture our newly opened business. It was very hard to leave my comfort zone. I had a secure job, with great benefits and a pension. But in life, you must take risks to get ahead. You must follow your heart and your passion, and realize that other great things are meant for you.

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Nichelle Laus and her familyPhoto: Courtesy of Nichelle Laus

"Never Give Up If You Have a Dream"

Being a mom to four little ones and owning a business is pretty hectic. Sometimes I don’t even know how I fit it all in, but I do because I have to. There is no other choice, and to make things happen, you have to hustle. You can’t sit there and dream about making things happen. You have to go out and make them happen!

My typical day starts early in the morning. I usually get up at 5 a.m. and hit the gym by 5:30 a.m. for my daily workout. I like to get it done early so it doesn’t interrupt family time. It also means I don’t have to worry about finding the time during my busy day to squeeze in a workout.

After getting the four kids off to school, I head to work to train clients for part of the day. Then, of course, I work on all the administrative stuff that comes along with owning your own business.

After 3:00 p.m., I go into full-time “mom mode” again, which involves after-school activities, cooking, cleaning, laundry and snuggles. Once the kids go to bed at night, I relax by having a bath or shower, then work on my online business.

Scheduling and consistency is key to juggling it all. Everyone knows their daily roles and routines in the house. As for me personally, I always keep an open mind as well as a flexible schedule. Anything can change at any given time. Although I do wish I had more time in my day, I manage to get most of my daily tasks done. And if I don’t, I prioritize it for the next day if needed. A daily to-do list and learning to multi-task is extremely important to making all the pieces run smoothly together.

Never give up if you have a dream! Jump. You will find your wings along the way.

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Originally Published in Our Canada