Love Your Body Fitness, the popular Richmond Road gym for new and working mothers, is famous for its fundamental values: community, connection, and accountability. Arguably, none of its highly qualified trainers embodies these principles better than Samantha Wilkie, the Kanata-Stittsville raised psych major who left a life in software to help gym owner Kate Laird promote her active-inclusive philosophy.
“In high school,” the long-haired Wilkie reflects, “they gave you a test that told you what career path would suit you best. I already knew it was helping people, but those tests were more along the lines of being a psychologist or a teacher. For a while, that was the path I was working towards—but it never really felt authentic to me. It wasn’t until I started working out that I realized it was a great way to help people while doing something I enjoyed.”
After that life-changing epiphany came professional certification—then, the transition from her day job at that software interest. “When COVID hit, they laid off a bunch of staff. I applied to some gyms and ended up getting hired as a personal trainer.”
Wilkie eventually landed at Good Life, which proved, fittingly, a good life: “I will be forever grateful for the experience I gained working there,” she offers. “Some of the people I met really helped push me to be a better trainer.” Plus, that hot tip on what has gone on to become her dream job. “One day, one of the girls I was speaking with mentioned that Love Your Body Fitness was looking for coaches. I did some research into what LYB was all about and reached out to Kate Laird to see if she would be willing to meet. It was the trajectory I wanted my career to go in—and here I am!”
Just as grateful are the moms Wilkie motivates on a daily basis, a demographic she’s able to connect with though she is not a parent herself (though she does call herself a “plant and dog mom”).
“Women are a force to be reckoned with, both mothers and those who choose not to be mothers. Every person I work with comes to their sessions every week with the drive to be the best version of themselves. I’ve never seen a more dedicated and
hardworking clientele than LYB’s clients. That said, there can definitely be minor adjustments working with moms. Everyone experiences childbirth differently. But they all put in the work no matter what. Of course, we also love having moms bring their kids in with them if they need to.” LYB, famously, welcomes clients’ children. “Sometimes they don’t have the option for daycare, so I get to spend time with their cute little munchkins while they hit their weekly workout with the same amount of energy that someone without a family does.”
On LYB’s website, Wilkie describes LYB as a place “full of amazingly talented women who empower the other women around them.” It’s not just boilerplate language. “I mean truly,” she enthuses, “how could you not love to be in an environment that
fosters empowerment around women every day? There’s a big shift in how we as women view our bodies. We are fighting to be stronger and more powerful than before, and I think it’s truly inspiring to be around women who can deadlift 250lbs like it’s nothing.”
Feats that don’t come without the proper motivation, a key component of Wilkie’s job. It’s here where her dual disciplines, psychology and fitness, come together. “You learn a lot about different types of personalities when you study the field of psychology,” she explains. “I’ve always been naturally intuitive when it comes to people, but actually studying psych gives you the ability to learn how to work with and coach the different types of personalities you see in your day-to-day interactions—with both co-workers and clients.”
And a spectrum of personalities Wilkie certainly sees, including her share of fretful first-timers, who she handles with aplomb. “Gyms are an intimidating place for people starting off,” Wilkie acknowledges. “I remember it vividly when I started, so we
do our best to make sure everyone feels like they are meant to be there.” And do they all exit with what they came looking for? You bet! “Everyone works out for different reasons but at the end of the day, most if not all do it to feel good. Whether that’s more energy, less pain, better performance, I can 99.99% promise that you’ll always leave the gym feeling better than you did coming.
Even if you had to drag yourself through the door, you’ll be so glad you did when you leave.”
Leave, that is, till you come again. Wilkie’s clients not only love their bodies, but they also love their trainer.
By Dan Lalande