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Welcome to another edition of Fitness for All with Cam Jenkins, sponsored by Lebert Fitness.
In this episode, Cam talks with Nichelle Laus. Her drive, dedication, and commitment to health, fitness, and wellness comes from a long time ago. She was an amateur competitive boxer and kickboxer for over 20 years and retired from the fighting circuit about 12 years ago. She then started competing in physique/fitness competitions. She competed in both Figure and Bikini categories, and currently active in the amateur circuit as a Figure competitor.
She has been an online transformation specialist for the past 16 years, and have trained and transformed thousands of girls. She is also a certified personal trainer, kickboxing and kettlebell instructor, a motivational speaker, and a proud mom of 4 boys.
This article is sourced from the Fitness For All Podcast, a top health and wellness podcast. Listen or subscribe below
Scroll to the end of the article for links to important resources mentioned in this episode.
*The following podcast has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
Welcome to another edition of Fitness for All. It is a podcast put on by Lebert Fitness. Today on the Lebert Fitness podcast, we have Nichelle Laus. Nichelle, welcome to the show.
Thank you for having me.
So, I want to start off so the listeners can get to know you a little bit more and maybe talk a little bit about your past and what you're all about now.
Sure, well, do you have about ten minutes?
We have as long as you want!
I'm just kidding. I'm just a very busy girl!
I guess a little bit about my background; health and fitness has really been a huge part of my life ever since I was a teenager. I was always involved in some sort of sport and I was actually an amateur boxer and kickboxer for several years. I think I was about 30 when I retired and that's because I started having kids and I just found the schedule for training for fights is really difficult. Flexibility is really key for me, especially, you know, with that lifestyle.
I now have four boys. Their ages range: they’re growing so big, but they range now from seven to fourteen and so, I really love to be flexible. So, when I stopped kickboxing, I then got into fitness competitions. I really like the element of competition, but by training for competitions like those, it gave me some flexibility because I can do the training on my own schedule; so that really helped in that way.
Once I started delving into the fitness industry, I found this passion for it because I wanted to know more. I wanted to know more about these changes happening in my body because I was athletic all my life, but I never got to transform, I guess you can say, my body to that point. When we were boxing, it was always like you just had to make weight; so, however you made the weight, that was fine as long as you showed up and you had your boxing skills to kind of rely on. With competitions, there's so much more involved. It was proper nutrition or really clean nutrition, and you got your body down to a real state of leanness. Of course, you can't sustain that for a long time, but the whole process just really intrigued me, and I started really developing my skills. At the time I was a police officer. I was a police officer for 15 years and so being on the force, I always loved to ensure I was fit because you never know at any given time, what call you were going to get on, so I just always wanted to be ready, ready for action, I guess. Why I say that is because when I started doing the competitions and feeling really, really good, a lot of my colleagues would come up to me and say, you know, how are you doing this? You know the old expression, “at first they ask you why you're doing it, but then they'll ask you how,” and that's pretty much exactly what happened to me. Everyone started asking me how I was doing it, and can I train them? And at the time I said, well I can't train you; I don't know what I'm doing, I just follow my coach's orders!
As things went along and I started to really enjoy the process, I started taking it a little bit more seriously and I took in one of my first clients almost as a guinea pig. I said, OK, let me try this out and my guinea pig literally lost eighty pounds.
Oh my, that’s amazing!
Yes, it was really good. So, of course it was kind of like a snowball effect; I organically grew as a coach, I started coaching others and then I really found the coaching job really gratifying. One of the reasons why I was a police officer, is because I wanted to change the world, as cheesy as that sounds, but I really did. I mean, that's what most of us caregivers or people in policing or nursing or anything, any of the front-line work, they really care about others. I felt, although I loved my job, I really loved it with a passion; I still do miss it to this day that I'm no longer a police officer, but I felt by doing what I was doing (coaching), I was changing people's lives in another way. It was a lot more gratifying because sometimes when I was a cop, I would do the right thing let's say, you know, send someone to jail, but then they come out in a week or so and the whole cycle continued.
The thing with fitness or transformation, you're transforming people's lives physically, but it's also a whole lot more emotional and psychological and there is so much more involved and to me, I just love it. I did organically grow over the past ten years, so much so, that I decided to take this career to another level, and I left policing. I took my passion for health and fitness to another level, by going basically full time with my online transformation's and my coaching, and I also opened up a gym in Toronto, so it's kind of like a one stop shop type of thing. So, that's my story!
That’s your story and you’re sticking to it! I really resonate with wanting to help other people as well and that's fantastic that you were able to find something organically or kind of move into something. I can't even imagine what it would have been like from your previous career, putting like you said, a person in jail and then they’re out one week later.
What I want to talk about now is what you offer as far as your classes and as I understand, at least one or two are online now. What are those online training programs and also, how does a person know or how do you figure out what program is best for them?
Well, kind of like everything else, it all goes through a process, I guess.
Let's say we want to go on the online journey. So, like I said, I do offer the in-person training, which is at my gym facility, which is called OTC Toronto; it actually stands for Optimum Training Centre and that's in Etobicoke. We've won several awards which we're super proud of, but that's the in person.
If I take you on the online course, you can reach me at Nichellelaus.com and what you would do is you would see the different services that I offer and they're all available online. I do have a team of coaches as well so, I'm not by myself, I have my right-hand girls with me as well, and we offer different programs. My most popular ones, obviously, I think would be the customized ones. Now, I do offer a generic program that's relatively on the lower end in terms of price and that's because there's no accountability check ins, and you have to kind of be self-motivated for that one. So, for that program you would get a whole 12-week supplementation guide, nutrition guide and a training guide and then you also get access to kind of a member’s area on my website that gives you all the information. So, it's a great program, it’s just that you have to be self-motivated.
If you're not and you do prefer the accountability check ins, what we do is set you up on one of our customized plans. For the customized plan, we go through a meeting; I haven't met any of my clients, meaning personally, sometimes it's just all through email or now we use Zoom as well, or we can Skype, we do anything like that, and we get to know each other. I find out their goals and for the most part, people want to lose weight and gain lean muscle; that’s about 80 percent of my clients.
Then, we go over their goals, get their measurements and I always tell them communication is key. If you're not liking something, you're not going to obviously enjoy it and when you don't enjoy it, you're not going to succeed at it. So, I always let them know if there's something bothering you or something you don't like, let me know right away so I can make the changes to it, whether that be to the training program or to the meal plans. Also, with the customized training they check in.
How I design their plans is through their goals, through their questionnaire that they fill out and make sure I get to know all their injuries or dislikes or allergies, that type of thing. Then I design the meal plans and training routines and I fit it all in their schedule. So, if they tell me they can only work out, let's say, three times a week, well I’ll design that program for three times a week. It really, really depends on the person. So that would be the online customized plan and then every once in a while, I offer like a special edition of a program. That's amazing because my husband's a photographer. So, I do the Eight Weeks to Fabuloss, get it? Fabulous, fabuloss; you got to play with words, right? It's all about marketing.
I was looking at it and I thought it was fabulous and you’re right, it’s fabuloss, that went right over my head.
I got you there!
So, with the Eight Weeks to Fabuloss, it's amazing because I take them on an eight-week transformation and at the end their goal is to actually do a photo shoot with Dave. Dave is actually the top published fitness photographer in Canada, so we really work well together, and his studio is actually connected to the gym which makes everything really run smoothly like a real greatly oiled kind of engine. The gym is beside the studio, I work online, I work in person there, and it just works really well. So, that is the Eight Weeks to Fabuloss plan and that's pretty much the programs that I offer without getting too complicated. Once the girls are done, they get access to my Facebook page, which is a private network where I share recipes, ideas and all kinds of fun stuff and then the girls can go on a maintenance plan after where they can stay with me as long as they want.
That’s fantastic, or fabuloss. So, with your husband being a photographer, how did that idea come about of combining the program and then speaking to your husband about doing I don’t want to say glamour shot, but the fitness shots?
Well, it was one of those things, you always have to kind of be a step ahead of everybody, right? Maybe not everybody, but you're always going to think of new ideas as entrepreneurs. How we ended up with the gym space to begin with is actually kind of funny because Dave was also a police officer and as I was organically growing my online business, Dave was growing his photography business; he always had a passion for it.
Normally the fitness girls, when we get close to competitions, we look all lean and good and we all want to do photo shoots, it’s just one of those things. So, Dave started taking up photography and he ended up having a great eye for it. I mean, he is so good at it and it just kind of second nature to him. He did wonderful at it. So, as he grew his business and I was growing mine, our side businesses were actually getting busier and more lucrative in that sense that he went out on his own. He started looking for a studio; he worked at a small studio and then once a couple of years in he said, “you know, it's time to spread my wings and I'm going to look for a bigger space.” So, once he found this space, attached to it was this big empty space, which is now OTC, but what he had in mind was a lot of the girls or guys who would shoot with him always wanted a fitness look because they’re fitness competitors. He would shoot them with barbells in their hand or dumbbells or sometimes doing an exercise that had a fitness bench in it. So, his idea was to open the studio and have a small space attached to it, to put some equipment in it, except that small space ended up turning into this big, massive space because we got a couple of friends on board who had fancy ideas and said, “well, why don't you use this whole space? You may as well.” Then one thing led to another and we were signing a lease for a gym and I'm like, oh, boy.
That's really why we left our careers, because I couldn't nurture something that new and something that I didn't really know about; I was never a business owner before, I was a police officer, I had no idea and I decided in my head that, you know, if we're going to pursue this and continue this on as a career, we can’t have both and bring up four babies; this was not going to happen. So, that's what helped us to decide in the end to actually leave our profession and that’s how we ended up with the space. Now with his photo shoot, I just try to incorporate him into my services as much as I can and vice versa. If he is selling one of his packages, let's say, because a lot of his packages are for the fitness industry, he will say, because we work with several magazines internationally, he will also promote me and say, hey, if you need to get in shape for this photo shoot my wife does online programs, or you can come into our gym facility and actually do our classes or our personal training or semiprivate training. So, we kind of feed off each other and almost refer each other so it’s a really good partnership that way.
That's amazing. Let’s now talk about you being the Editor-In-Chief of NL Women’s Magazine. Can you talk a little about that experience and how you became Editor-In-Chief?
Well, that was interesting, because having been in the industry for so long, two of our friends came up to us; they had been in the magazine industry for a while and they basically kind of came up to me and said, “Nichelle, what is next for you? Like, you've done covers of magazines, you've been in articles, you've written articles, that kind of thing. So, what is next in what you want to do in your goals?” I said, I don't know, and they had a great idea and said how about now you run your own health and wellness magazine. It’s funny because it’s called NL and a lot of people think it stands for Nichelle Laus, but it actually doesn't. It’s like the Oprah book, right? The O stands for Oprah; NL isn't actually about my name, even though it does sound really good, it stands for new life, no limits and next level. So, it's a fantastic digital magazine and it's about real women and their stories, their struggles, their passions. There is some fitness in it but it's also about just leadership and results, just every part of a woman's life.
We cover stories, we cover women entrepreneurs, we have article contributors, which we call the voices. So, it's a nice platform to connect as women and really show a strong presence for everyone and so that everyone can relate to us.
How can people reach out to you, whether it's to the magazine or digitally so they can have that support?
Definitely. So, NL Women’s Mag is a free subscription. All you need to do is you can go on, we have an Instagram account, @nlwomensmag, and we also have a Facebook page. You can also email us at email@example.com. So, that's if you want to contribute as an article writer, if you want to be featured as a model, and what I mean by model is we're looking for real women. We're looking for success stories and struggles, transformations, anything like that. We even have a travel section as well. We have a best list. So, let’s say, for Christmas we’ll give you great tips on gifts you can buy for Christmas, that kind of thing.
With COVID happening, unfortunately we didn't publish our most recent post just because everything had slowed down, obviously because the world shut down, but we will be looking at launching another issue. Again, because it's digital and we're running it, just our small team, we had to have it on the back burner for a little while, but it is still active for sure; we do plan on moving forward with it.
You mentioned about COVID, I kind of want to touch on that as well. Have you had to modify anything or do anything different with your business as it pertains to COVID?
I really did. We took a huge hit in the gym, unfortunately, and now we're teeter tottering now literally on whether or not Ontario is going to shut down again, and we can't go down without a fight this time. I mean, we were closed since March 17th, 2020 for I don't know, five months it was. At one point I was counting the days it was closed and it really hurt us as business owners. I think like everybody else; everyone has their own struggles and stories of what happened in COVID.
We got hit really hard being closed, like I said there was nothing coming in and now that we are reopened and we have been reopened since stage three, we still have people not wanting to come back. It's just because they're scared and I get it, they're not going to come back, or some of our trainers don't have any clients so, we dropped trainers substantially. So, yeah, like I read once, we’re in a war, it's not the same war, honestly, like our grandfathers fought, but it's a different war and we really took a beating. Now it’s like the war isn't even over, we’re in it still because we still have to recover from our shutdown and now, we have to rebuild and that is going to take a while as well. As always, I'm optimistic, I'm positive, and I believe everything happens for a reason and I am going to fight to keep it open and be successful again.
You know what, you already are a successful person, and that's one thing I think everyone needs to kind of think about during this, is that everyone is worthy, and everyone is successful. Speaking of successful, from the time, where you said earlier in the podcast, had a guinea pig where they had lost 80 pounds. How has your philosophy changed in coaching or training the person from that first guinea pig up until today?
I think as I change as a coach and just evolution in general, you learn that not everything is I don't even know how to say this, but like a blueprint, nothing is black, well, it should be black and white. But when you're talking about physical changes or emotional changes, everything changes, especially me, like having been in the industry now for almost 20 years. I have four kids now so your body changes, your hormones change, your feelings change just because of stress levels; everything changes. So, you need to overcome and adapt and it’s actually really fun because it's not like a set cookie cutter, it’s not a set blueprint that you can give someone and say, here, take this and go change. You have to learn to adapt to that person or to yourself in order for you to be successful, no matter what you're doing.
That’s a great way to say it, especially because everyone is different, and everybody does need a kind of a plan of their own at the end of the day so they can succeed. Well, Nichelle, I just want to thank you very much for being on the Lebert Fitness podcast and it is sponsored by, of course Lebert Fitness. Is there any other message that you want to get out to anybody or maybe talk about how people can contact you for any of your business?
Sure. I just want to thank, first of all, you, for having me on the podcast. I also want to thank everyone who's listening and to remember that you can overcome any obstacle that's put in front of you as long as you want your goal bad enough. Everything and everybody can be successful in their own way.
You can reach me. I'm sometimes on social media. I laugh because I’m on Instagram @nichellelaus, you can find me, and you can find my coaching @teamlaus as well where I feature all my clients and then of course I have a Facebook Page: Nichelle Laus Fitness and my website is NichelleLaus.com. If you want to come out to our gym to our facility in Etobicoke, we are OTCToronto.com, and we provide personal training, semiprivate training or functional group classes.
Contact Nichelle at: