Epic Fitness - Stephanie

Epic Fitness - Stephanie

Epic Fitness

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230 Beechwood Avenue, Ottawa, ON

Interview: Nikki Gillingham, Blue Whale Communications

Photography: Marianne Rothbauer, Rothbauer Studio


Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started.

I got started in fitness very young. At 5 years old my parents put me in gymnastics at a local community centre in Kingston and really the rest was history. I went into figure skating at 8 years old and competed until 23. At 19 I became a personal trainer while in University and have been a personal trainer, nutritionist and wellness specialist ever since; every year learning more and more about what makes people happy, healthy and resilient. I have always had an inkling towards helping people and knowing what people needed before they knew it. In 2012 after being a trainer and manager at a local gym for 8 years, I went into business for myself with the help of an investor. I wanted to create a place that combined high performance functional training with human psychology. EPIC was born and it's been an incredible journey for all of us ever since.

What inspired you to open a new gym in Ottawa? What sets Epic Fitness apart from the rest?

We combine the challenge and knowledge of a high performance facility with the welcomingness and approachability of a yoga studio. We believe in the power of yin and yang which is what every human being needs in order to truly be EPIC. We are completely holistic and only provide services, products and experiences that are evidence-based, holistic and sustainable. We help people change their lives for good! I was inspired by many things, but mostly the power of the human spirit to want to be better. I wanted a place where people could be inspired and could find the support to help them live their dreams. I hope I have done that :)


Your website says Epic Fitness is about “more than fitness.” Can you elaborate?

Fitness is boring on it's own and it's not the "answer" to what I believe we are all searching for. We have been telling people for too long now that getting "fit" means getting healthy, but the truth is, it's often not the case. We see many fit people in a lot of pain physically and mentally. Doing MORE of the wrong thing does not get us closer to living an EPIC life - it's really about balance and self awareness of what YOU need in order to level up. Establishing healthy habits that are sustainable and are based in science and are 100% tailored to you and your life is the secret. We teach a lifestyle and by doing that we open people up to living the life of their dreams - climbing mountains, crossing items off their bucket list and really appreciating life with no limits. They need less "stuff", gain real confidence, strength in body and mind and truly start living for sometimes the first time.

Tell us about your Epic Kids program.

The younger we can start people off with healthy habits, the better. Self-esteem, body awareness and how kids define success will either set them up to struggle or be happy in their adulthood. We raise money for EPIC Kids and then put it back into the community by leading groups on hikes, healthy cooking, meditation and movement classes. We are currently looking for schools and teachers to work with - if you can benefit from our programming please reach out here.


What’s it been like running a fitness studio? Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Truthfully I did not have a vision of owning my own fitness business early on. I am thankful for that because I think it would have distracted me from my work as a personal trainer for the 8 years that I was working for another company. I have always loved business and there were definitely signs of entrepreneurialism in my life even as a kid, but it wasn't something that I was set on. For me, it happened naturally. I like to say that I opened EPIC because the concept was needed and it didn't exist at the time - had it already existed, I would likely have worked for whoever owned it! Now, I really live an EPIC life. I am really, really thankful for the position I am in. I have the best job with the best people and I can't think of anything better.

What’s it like being a part of the Ottawa business community?

Business to me feels like home just like a gym does. I love the mindset of entrepreneurs and it's nice to know I'm not the only outlier. Ottawa is a bigger hub for business than people give it credit for. I am proud to be apart of the business community here. It's inspirational.


Do you have any advice for people who may feel like they’re not ready to join a fitness community?

My advice is tough to swallow - you don't have a choice to be ready or not for your health. You have a body and there is no way around it. If you want to live as long as you want to, if you want to see your kids grow up, to have freedom in the last chapters of your life, to do great work in whatever field you are in, to see the world and to feel ALIVE, you must take steps to accept that your body, mind and spirit need investment and attention. No one on this planet has the luxury of dismissing their health. It is a debt we cannot pay back. As we say at EPIC - just show up.

Personally, what is your favourite type of workout or activity to stay fit?

Well, I am a purist. As a mentor of mine says, "You have to eat your own dog food" which means I 100% engage in the lifestyle I created for others at EPIC. I do our functional training program every day, I walk 20 minutes every day, I meditate, travel and climb one mountain a year and keep my mind sharp by always learning. Again, being fit is not just physical - it's a full lifestyle, paying attention to mind, body and soul. My favourite thing is DOING the lifestyle I have created that makes me feel SO GOOD.


When you’re not busy running a gym, what are some of your favourite things to do in Ottawa?

Oh, I love Ottawa! I love going to my favourite coffee shops in the morning after my workout to work for a few hours. I love going to the amazing restaurants that we are lucky to have here. I love walking trails in Rockcliffe and along the river, hike in Gatineau park, walk around in different neighbourhoods and spend time with my awesome friends and family. The farmers markets get my attendance as well as a number of great festivals and charity events we have going on all the time. 

What’s your favourite place to go grab coffee or a bite to eat after a workout?

I am in love with the Ministry of coffee, Happy Goat and Equator - they have really created spaces that people want to be in with top notch coffee offerings. I also really dig Grow your Roots in Kanata, Simply Raw in Westboro, Pure Kitchen, and for the fancy times - Fraser Cafe, Riviera, Whalesbone, Fairouz, Genji and Das Lokal who all accommodate food preferences with grace and are really exceptional in what they do.

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