Empress Avenue had the pleasure of interviewing Canadian National Olympic Weightlifter and Canadian National Powerlifting Record Holder, Isabel Lahela.
Isabel began her health and fitness journey four years ago as a form of self healing to cope with the depression, anxiety, self hate and body dysmorphia that she developed from being a competitive dancer as well as being bullied throughout my life. She now takes to social media as a means of reaching out to others who may have been in a similar position. She aims to help motivate and educate people on how fitness can completely change your mind, body and life through her business SlimThickWorkout.
Name: Isabel Lahela
Business Name: SlimThickWorkout
Education: Honors Bachelor of Arts in Architecture, University of Toronto
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Giveaway: Receive 30% off the SlimThickWorkout monthly workout subscription with code EMPRESS30
Describe your most recent business success and tell us about your next big goal. What’s up next?
My most recent business success is the creation of my training program titled the SlimThickWorkout, which consists of an online workout subscription as well as online personal training. I have also recently partnered with supplement company EHPLabs, nutrition consulting company Renaissance Periodization, and athletic apparel company Virus Intl, which are huge successes for me as I have always used these brands’ products and admired their work. As for what’s up next, I can’t share just yet but it’s something big so stay tuned!
How would you define success?
I would define success as being able to support oneself wholly while being happy and proud of the things you do or create.
Give us the ‘inside scoop’ – what does a day in your business life look like?
In short, everyday I wake up and answer emails, train some in person clients, do my own workout/training, create content for social media, work on my online business and SlimThickWorkout, schedule meetings, shoots, and collaborations!
What types of customers are in your business ‘pink book’ and who are you looking to connect with?
My customers range a lot in age, gender, and location. I have a large following from the US and all over South America online and a really great mix of men and women. The mutual quality that all of my customers share is the desire to change and the initiative and action to actually reach out to someone like me for help in making those life changes. I aim to connect with people who are seeking help with fitness as a means to change their outlook on life as well as serious powerlifting competitors, so I get a wide range of motivators and a great mix of both men and women seeking my training.
If you were not doing this job, what is your plan B? Are you still chasing your dream job?
I think that if you have a plan B you are setting yourself up for failure! Chase your dream hard enough and you will catch it.
I definitely feel that I am living my dream right now. I am very happy and fulfilled doing what I love and helping others achieve the same success that I have physically and mentally. I do love a constant challenge though and am always chasing the next best thing to be continuously improving.
Do you think it’s important to love what you do, or make good money?
I think there has to be a bit of both. If you love what you do you will probably make money because you are passionate about it and to a certain extent I do believe that if you have enough money to do the things you love then you will also be happy. Above all I think happiness is the key driver no matter what that means for you.
Is owning your own business as glamorous as it sounds?
I definitely would not call it glamorous! Owning a business is a constant grind. As they say, I work 80 hours a week so that I don’t have to work 40. It’s tough and can be very scary. Being my own boss is amazing but it’s hard to know when to stop working, although I’m not complaining in the slightest bit, I love it!
What inspired you to start your own business? What made you decide to take the leap?
I was a very academic kid and went to a very difficult university. During my architecture degree I really realized how much I disliked the complacent, office environment and wanted so badly to not be stuck in a cubicle or at a desk all day. I found my passion for fitness while I was in university and once I graduated I immediately started my business since I finally had the time. I gave myself the year to “make it happen” or otherwise dive into architecture so that was a massive motivator as I felt I had a time constraint and it worked!
Photo by Paul Buceta, courtesy of STRONG Fitness Magazine
Where did you get your education? Tell us about this experience.
I majored in Architecture and minored in Music History and Art History at the University of Toronto. I wanted to go to art school but also didn’t want to give up all academia so I ended up choosing Architecture, which was never really a field I had considered before. I didn’t love my program to be honest but I am so glad that I studied at UofT and really value my really the education that I got from there.
What was your first job after college/ university?
What I’m doing now! I bar tended throughout university, but the minute I graduated I went full force into trying to achieve my goals of working in fitness. I started personal training people and began writing a blog and the rest snow balled from there with Instagram, etc.
What are your tips for setting yourself apart in the workplace?
Know your worth, know what you’re good at, hone your niche, and be the hardest worker in the room.
How do you achieve work/ life balance? How do you unplug?
I really try to achieve work life balance but it gets hard when my work is mostly on my phone and I have it on me at all times. I unplug during my own workout and try to see friends 2-3 times a week and not look at my phone at all.
Where do you manufacture your products? How did you source the correct manufacturer?
Currently, I don’t offer any physical products, everything is online or I sell physical products via my partners EHPLabs, Renaissance Periodization, and Virus Intl.
What are your plans for expansion?
I’d love to own my own gym down the road as well as create an athletic apparel line.
What is your favourite travel hot spot?
Hawaii has my heart but I love travelling to new places that I have never seen. I will pretty much go anywhere; the unknown is fascinating!
Can you offer any advice for new graduates looking for a job or new entrepreneurs?
Honestly, it is so difficult to find a job post grad especially if you studied arts but with social media and the web there has never been a better time to start a business. I’d say find a part time job in a field that you love and get started on chasing your dreams or creating your business. There will never be a perfect time so you may as well get started now!
Receive 30% off the SlimThickWorkout monthly workout subscription with code EMPRESS30!
Want to connect?
Facebook: Isabel Lahela
Photos: Paul Buceta, courtesy of STRONG Fitness Magazine