Photography by Becca Lemire
Ever wonder what would happen if you switched careers? Or spoke up about something? Or overcame a lemon life handed you?
Nichelle Laus is the poster woman for inspiring stories and following a path of passion.
At 14 years old, she broke her silence about sexual abuse that she was victim to. She turned to kickboxing as an outlet, and never realized how much it helped her overcome her situation. By channeling anger and negativity into something positive, she was able to overcome a lot of her demons and pain. She was an amateur competitive boxer and kickboxer for over 20 years, and retired from the fighting circuit about 12 years ago. She also became a police officer for 15 years, and resigned two years ago to pursue her passion for fitness coaching and mentoring.
Today, Nichelle is one of the most in-demand fitness experts in the industry.
Tell us about a time that life handed you lemons. Did you make lemonade?
I am great at making lemonade! In fact, I have been making lemonade since a very young age and I couldn’t be prouder of what I have accomplished. Turning and channeling negative energy into a positive energy force is what I do best. My childhood was not the greatest. I was abused for many years and when I decided that I would not tolerate that abuse anymore, my entire life changed. Standing up for what is right and believing in myself has been the foundation of my life plan.
Describe your ideal work environment to get sh*t done.
I have 4 young boys ages 6 – 12 years old so ideally, it would be nice to get things done when the house is quiet but that rarely happens! I find my moments of solitude to chip away at the things I need to get done and since I have to use my spare time wisely as I don’t get much of it, I have mastered being a great multi-tasker!
After that first year, how did you scale your business and continue to grow?
It’s a hard balance trying to promote the business while trying to scale it back to stay within budget. There are always unexpected things that arise that you aren’t prepared for. What helped us is reaching out to other small businesses and focusing the on local community to keep growing. Even though it may take longer, word of mouth is always the best form of referral.
“Success isn’t about how much money you make; it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.”
How much of your success as an entrepreneur has come from taking risks versus playing it safe?
Owning a small business sure is risky, but most of my life’s successes has been about taking risks. I took the biggest risk of my life to open my gym, Optimum Training Centre, in Toronto, Ontario. I left a 15-year secure career as a police officer to jump into entrepreneurship that I didn’t know anything about. It was scary yet so challenging!
How do you measure success in your career?
Success isn’t about how much money you make; it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives. The smiles on our members' faces when they walk through our door say it all!
You're 30 minutes away from walking into an important meeting. What do you do to get yourself in the right headspace?
I usually sit in my car 5-10 minutes prior to the meeting to go over what I personally want to get out of the meeting, and what I can take away from it. I like to be organized and focused, but I also have the flexibility and an open mind to listen to other ideas that may be in the best interest of what the meeting is about.
What is something on your bucket list?
Travel bucket list: I would love to go to Malta.
Personal bucket list: I would love to meet The Rock, can anyone help me?! ;)
Work Bucket list: I would love to host my own show one day.
Remaining fresh and innovative as a business owner can be hard. How do you stay creative and where do you look for inspiration?
I use other influencers for new innovative ideas and try to stay on top of things by reading Blogs, websites, and the latest social media trends.
What is something that you read, watch or listen to regularly?
I love to listen to inspirational podcasts if I get the chance, as well as keep up with the latest business news by subscribing to different entrepreneur lists, newsletters, and connecting with other like-minded individuals.
Finding time for yourself can be difficult as an entrepreneur. Do you have a self-care routine and what does that look like?
My self-care routine usually involves an occasional trip to my favorite blow-out bar for a blow dry or a trip to the nail salon for a manicure and/or pedicure. I am always still in “work” mode but at least I can relax while scrolling through my emails.
What excites you most about your career?
It’s always changing and there’s always someone to help. People are always looking to improve their way of life through health and fitness. I am helping them physically, but more importantly, mentally, and emotionally and that’s what excites me.