The health and fitness industry is vast and offers many opportunities for young professionals and entrepreneurs. I’ve been involved in this industry in both personal and professional capacities over the past ten years. My first job after my dietetic internship was as a nutrition specialist at Talisman Centre in Calgary and it was there that I met Sasha Bahador. At the time, she was training clients and managing fitness staff and programming; today, she is a yoga instructor who splits her time between Calgary and New York City, where she facilitates yoga teacher training, advanced yoga workshops, and retreats, with a specific focus on women. Her professional story offers many lessons for other young professionals who are making their way in this industry.
When we met, you were managing a team of trainers and group fit programming at Talisman Centre; can you give me an overview of how your fitness career has evolved over the years?
Sasha: After earning my degree in Kinesiology, I spent the first five years of my career working strictly in the fitness industry as a trainer, coach, and manager. This continued until my body and mind fell in love with the philosophy and art of yoga. For the past 6 years, I have immersed myself fully in being a practitioner and teacher of that path. I still integrate all my kinesiology knowledge and fitness background into all that I do within yoga classes and mainly my private yoga therapy work.
Many young professionals dream of ending up in New York City at some point in their career; how did you get there?
Sasha: I had always loved the city, and decided last year to take the plunge and split my time between Canada and New York. I started studying with a few teachers whom I had always admired in New York and I networked with several studios. I was recently granted a work visa to work as a consultant with a yoga studio, and will begin to immerse myself in the yoga community in New York City.
What do you think draws people to work in health and fitness?
Sasha: I believe the feeling of enabling, empowering, and being a catalyst for positive change in other people's lives is the main draw. We all want to make a difference and to belong to a purpose that is beyond ourselves, and the fitness and health industry does that in a very special way. When I am having an off day, I will refer to my client/student testimonials and instantly feel lifted knowing that I sincerely and wholeheartedly cared for that person's well-being.
The best part about what I do is belonging to a very soulful, conscious, inspired community of people who strive to live the best life possible. There are challenges: whether it is yoga or fitness, our work is so driven by our physical bodies and requires us to encourage others and that can wear on the system. The hours are often long; it isn’t unusual to have a 5am class and then another that starts at 7pm and runs through the late hours of the night. It is critical yet difficult to manage our own practice and routine to stay healthy, rested, and current.
Do you have any advice for people who are looking for a career in health and fitness?
My biggest piece of advice would be regardless of the profession, you have to love it and it has to love you back. Bad days are allowed – those where you forget that you love what you – but those are counted on one hand versus the reward and passion you feel channeled back to you.
Otherwise, in this ever-changing industry, the best way to get noticed is to practice what you preach. Teach only what has been time tested in your own body and experience. That kind of authenticity will create longevity.