Stacey and Breanne


Breanne says:

I joined Body Buster in April 2018 at the encouragement of a friend, who described it as “super motivating.” I had spent about 80% of the previous year in a seated or supine position as I finished my PhD dissertation, and I was feeling the impacts – creaky and sluggish and generally not feeling great. I knew I needed to get out of the rut so I could look forward to enjoying my wedding and honeymoon later that year. I wasn’t sure I could commit to 2 days a week, though. I spoke to Jamie who offered me a trial of one class a week to see how I liked it.

Before Body Buster, I had never seen myself as an athletic person and had never really enjoyed being active, so I generally avoided it. When I did try to integrate fitness into my life, I struggled to do so in a sustainable way, and I’d never succeeded at making exercise a consistent part of my routine. I recall being the obvious weak link on team intramural sports, which wasn’t super fun! In the one spin class I ever attended I went far too hard, having to leave my shoes clipped to the bike in the middle of class because I could not figure out how to extricate myself as a wave of dizziness and nausea descended on me. Becoming a “boot camp person” was hard to imagine.

On the day of my first Body Buster class, I rushed across town without having given myself time to eat a decent lunch, chugging a litre of smoothie on my way. Predictably, I didn’t make it through Dani’s warm up (IYKYK) before I started getting lightheaded, and I barfed pink smoothie on the front lawn of Indian Road Crescent School as my fellow Body Busters jogged smoothly by. I’m sure I made a lasting impression. I was mortified, but Dani was so kind and normalizing, prepared as ever with Kleenex and apple juice. She coached me through modifying the rest of the workout so I could complete the class, and followed up by email that evening to check in. Her encouraging and compassionate approach got me to another class, then another, and then I kept on going – two times a week, almost without fail, until March 2020 (and after a brief pause, until now).

Becoming a Body Buster has turned exercise from something I “should” do to something I really value and prioritize. So many things are special about the Body Buster approach to fitness. I appreciate that every class is different and challenges me in different ways. It’s never boring, even though we can count on Dani to make the same joke every class ;). The BB team has fostered such a positive and supportive community, a welcoming environment for new members of any fitness level or experience. One thing I really appreciate about Body Busters is that the focus is never on weight loss, changing your body, or reaching any specific standard of fitness. This is such a difficult thing to find in fitness spaces, and for me it preserves the positivity I feel entering class each week and allows exercise to be a source of joy and self-care, rather than shame or punitiveness.

When I’ve had a long day and the last thing I want to do is expend more energy, knowing that I’ll be greeted by friendly familiar faces ready to cheer me on does a lot to get me out the door. The enthusiasm Dani, Samantha, and Brett bring to each class is hard not to catch. Trainers always meet you where you’re at and it’s clear they are there to help you find your unique growth edge, whether it be simply showing up, holding your plank for just 5 more seconds, or ditching your 8 lb weights for 10 lbs. Every Body Buster’s abilities are respected in equal measure to their capacity to challenge themselves. It’s empowering in the truest sense of the word.

This approach has fundamentally changed my relationship to exercise and my perception of myself along with it. In the past, my fitness activities had been very all or nothing – “all” meant making unrealistic goals and expecting myself to be able to do things my body wasn’t ready or able to do. This naturally made the experience unpleasant, demoralizing, and impossible to maintain, so after brief bursts of effort I would give up and tell myself I would just never be an Active Person. With the enthusiastic and supportive guidance of our trainers, I now know and appreciate what my body is capable of, and what it needs to get there – patience, routine, community, compassion, one foot outside my comfort zone, non-sugar-free electrolytes, and a well-timed pre-workout meal (never in liquid form).

Over the last 5-ish years, I’ve learned how to better fuel myself, pace myself, and listen to my body. I allow myself to take a breather or modify whenever I need to, and to keep going in whatever way I can without shame. For a long time I regularly kneeled to lift weights when light-headed, and now this is rarely necessary. My stamina has grown substantially and I’ve felt myself get so much stronger, both physically and mentally. I’ve moved from 5 to 8 lb weights and can do 20+ push ups! I ran a 4 minute km in 30 degree heat this summer! I’ve been truly shocked at what I have been able to push through. I attended Body Buster classes throughout my pregnancy, right up until 2 days before giving birth. I know for certain that all the squats, modified burpees, and hill runs/walks helped me get through labour and childbirth. I felt so supported by the Body Buster community during this time, and I was so grateful to be working out alongside them after long pause during the pandemic, even if it meant I only broke a light sweat. Since returning to class post-baby I feel stronger than ever, and as my kid grows I am glad to be able keep with his truly insane level of energy. Most significantly, I’ve become someone who not only regularly exercises, but enjoys exercise, looks forward to it, and even misses it on weeks off! Plus, I’ve grown some pretty impressive guns – which I regularly demand my husband admire.

There are so many reasons I could have quit over the years. It is truly not convenient – I leave my house 45 minutes before class starts in order to get there on time. It means I miss my toddler’s bed time routine a couple nights a week. Time is tighter than ever and there are always things that I could use Body Buster time to finish at home or work. The app and virtual classes are amazing, but I struggled to maintain a routine while in-person classes were paused. Even with all the wonderful things Body Buster has given me, I know that the single thing that has most bolstered my ongoing commitment to regular exercise is the camaraderie of my very dear friend and steadfast BB buddy, Stacey.

Stacey was a relatively new acquaintance from book club when I invited her to join me at Body Busters in 2019, and she’s since become one of my closest and dearest friends. What I most look forward to on Tuesday and Friday evenings – what reliably gets me out the door with my running shoes on – is the chance to hang out with Stace for a couple of hours. During our half-hour drive, we get to catch up, talk about life, the challenges we’re facing, and the big, happy life developments we’ve had over the years. Then we get to smash a work out together, cheer each other on, and leave feeling like absolute warriors. We do a great job of hyping each other up after a tough class – “well done, us!” we like to say. Sometimes we celebrate with a hot dog and fries from the Black Oaks café or a real big glass of wine. It’s been amazing to share this practice and all the fruits of our hard labour with her. The benefits are only doubled by having a partner to do it with. I highly recommend it!

If there ever comes a time in the future when I’m no longer an active Body Buster, the experience of being one has ensured that I will always be an Active Person – a person to prioritizes this time to care for myself and my body and show myself what I can do. And the experience of being a Body Buster with Stacey has ensured that we’ll be friends and BB buddies forever. Thank you, Body Busters, and thank you, Stace! I can’t imagine my life without you!

Stacey says:

I joined Body Busters in March 2019 – amazing to think that it’s been nearly four years!

I love the supportive atmosphere – everyone is friendly and encouraging, and I never feel like anything is a competition. I really appreciate the messaging of listening to your body, modifying when necessary but also pushing yourself when you can; there is never any shaming or negative energy in class or from any of the trainers, and that is so important for wanting to come back every week.

While it doesn’t happen all time, finishing the 1km run always feels like a tangible accomplishment. Being able to hold a full plank is also definitely a result I am proud of.

Making time for myself and prioritizing my physical health and fitness has been very important to me over the past few years, and Body Buster makes that achievable, fun, and rewarding. The trainers, especially Dani, motivate me to work hard and show up. Being able to spend time with Brea twice a week is also a huge part of my Body Buster experience. She is a major source of support and encouragement, and I really value getting to come to class with her. We’ve been through a lot over the last four years, and our commitment to each other and Body Buster has been, and continues to be, such an important touchstone in my life. I really love that Body Buster provides such a fun and friendly environment for us.

I definitely notice a positive difference in terms of muscle tone and cardio fitness. Training with Body Buster makes me feel like I am nourishing my body with movement, especially because I have a desk-based, work-from-home job. I find myself challenging myself more, both in and out of class, to do a little more than I might otherwise, and this has contributed to feeling generally more active. I feel a lot more positive about my health, knowing that I make time for training on a regular weekly basis.

I have really benefitted physically and mentally from integrating the program into my life and prioritizing that time for myself and my fitness. It’s very easy to let that slide, but being a member of Body Buster helps inspire me to stay committed. I have also gained an even stronger friendship with Brea through the sweat (and occasionally, tears!) of training and through supporting each other in continuing to make the program part of our lives. The program has helped make me more confident in my ability to try new activities or push myself outside my comfort zone, knowing that I have accomplished things in class that I would not have thought myself capable of. It’s also lovely to be a member of Body Buster and feel like part of a community, and to see familiar friendly faces each week.

I would like to be able to be active and as healthy as possible as I continue through my adult life. I want to keep enjoying my favourite activities and protect as much as possible against injuries or preventable health challenges. I also really enjoy the social aspects of many activities, so it’s important to me to be able to participate in them and reap the benefits of those social interactions.

I’d encourage them to just give a class a go. Once they’ve been to one I think they’ll see how inclusive and supportive a program it is. I’d also say that they should try to focus on themselves and doing their best in class without worrying about comparing themselves to others. Pressure or competition are never part of the vibe in class, and focusing on challenging yourself can be a good way to help overcome any feelings of self-consciousness.

Try to find a friend, or make a friend, with similar goals and commit to a plan together; being accountable to another person can be hugely helpful if you find it hard to remain accountable to just yourself (I certainly do!). Joining Brea in Body Busters and committing to twice-weekly classes together makes it harder, and also less tempting, to come up with an excuse not to go. For me, it was also really important to set boundaries and make it non-negotiable that this was Body Buster time; I didn’t double-book plans for class times and I made it clear to people in my life that I was not available at those times. That is a privilege that not everyone will have; however for me that is what helped really deeply incorporate Body Buster and regular exercise into my life, and after awhile it gets (a little!) easier to maintain.

I was a little anxious about joining a ‘bootcamp’ class after years of grad student life and a significant leg injury, but from the first class I’ve felt welcomed and valued, and all the Body Buster team has supported and enabled me to do more than I thought I could. Brea was not wrong when she told me that it was a really positive space, and I’m hugely thankful that she encouraged me to join her and has been sticking with me ever since.

*Results may vary from person to person

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