Meet Hailey. This empowering beauty played soccer with me back when we were 12! I have always enjoyed her passion for life, and hilarious personality! Her light shines so bright in everything she does, but don’t take it from me. Read about her, get a taste for the positivity she breathes and let it inspire you to do the same.
Name: Hailey Wojcik
Occupation: HR Director, Northern Europe for large Internet company
What were you doing before you fell onto this path?
In many ways I have always been on the fitness path, it has just taken me a long time to see it clearly. My day job is working as the HR Director for a large Internet Company (Groupon) however in my free time (yup, that means early mornings, evenings and weekends) I am actively involved in my passion. From training friends to teaching aerobic-style classes and working on my lifestyle blog Fit, Fun & Free, fitness is present in all that I do and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Would you say you were happy with what you were doing previously? Or was there something that was missing from your previous career path?
Fitness is the only thing I have ever “tried” at. In other words, I have always been interested in learning as much as possible about living a healthy, active lifestyle and have spent a lot of my free time soaking up all I could about how to continually push myself to be better. It was only recently, within the last year, that it became clear to me that this is what I wanted to spend my life doing. When I am teaching classes or lifting heavy in the gym, I am happy on such a fundamental level- I feel like I could spend all day every day doing it. That’s gotta be a pretty good sign, right?
If you were happy with your current career, what was it about (Your passion) that made you believe it was time to act on this interest & develop it into more than just a hobby?
Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and I love the company I work for. In many ways I am incredibly thankful for the opportunities I have had in my current career as they have helped shaped my passion and give me a platform to make a difference in other people’s lives. HR is all about people, and it was only after working in this field that I realized how much I loved making people happy and leaving them feeling good about themselves. I knew that if I were to take my love of business, people and fitness and combine them together, I could create the perfect blend of the things I professionally love most.
However, given that I am not ready to transition quite yet, I am finding new ways to incorporate my passion into my working life. For example,
I am currently working on something called ‘Groupon Active’, a program aimed at helping employees find a better work/life balance by setting goals to help them achieve their aims in the areas of clean eating, exercise and general health and well being.
It is a massive project and is all very hush-hush. But I want to use what I know and love to benefit those that I work with as I know it can have a really positive impact on the business and the staff within it.
Had you had experience in an area like this before?
When I was Activity Supervisor at Camp Oconto, part of the job was to develop robust full-cycle programs for campers ranging in age and ability levels. While it may seem incomparable, I like to think that 300 girls aged 6-14 are the toughest critics you will get, so designing an active lifestyle program to aid in work/life balance should be a walk in the park.
More seriously though, I have designed several different programs for myself and friends over the years so building it out on a larger scale will be a welcome challenge. I’m looking forward to it!
Did you have a mentor/ role model whom you confided in as you ventured into this new territory? How did they help shape your decision to follow your passion/ how have they shaped your journey?
I have been incredibly fortunate to have two of the best role models- my Mom Lucia and my boyfriend Nick.
Ever since I can remember, my Mom has been incredibly fit and active. When I was about 5, I remember going to the gym with her in Orangeville, Ontario (where I was born and raised) and she would do it all- aerobics, squash, weights. That woman was a machine! And the best part is that she always made a point of making her health and fitness a priority. In my house, it wasn’t unusual to see weight belts, lifting gloves, squash balls and racquets lying around the house. Only difference? They belonged to my Mom, the strongest woman I know. When I was in high school, some of my guy friends were intimidated by how big her biceps were and a few even commented that she was stronger than their Dad. I didn’t realize it at the time but my
Mom set me on the path for a life of fitness. She taught me that it is OK to be strong and that strong is beautiful.
I hope I can be a role model like this one day for other young women (and men!).
But a special mention also goes to my boyfriend, and best damn personal trainer I have ever met, Nick. We were introduced by pure luck when my previous (and not so great) trainer suddenly left the gym, and I was transferred to Nick for my remaining sessions. I told him I wanted to focus on training legs because it was the area I had the toughest time with. And man oh man did he deliver! He developed the perfect program for me and with his help he boosted my confidence and got me wearing shorts- something I hadn’t done in years because of how much I hated my legs. Now that we are dating he still inspires and motivates me to be my best every single day. He has really been the one to show me that fitness is a way of life, not a burden and I love him for changing my life in that way (but I love him for loads of other reasons too!)
Many books that I’ve been reading talk about discovering your happiness in life, and the easiest way to start is to look back at what you were interested in as a child. Did you ever play games/ participate in activities related to this field?
Oh you couldn’t keep me away from physical activity as a kid! A competitive figure skater and dancer for 14+ years, every day of the week you could find me engaged in some sort of activity. Winter was dance and skating, summer was football (aka soccer). I loved it all. I was also very fortunate to have parents who believed in me and prioritized our fitness pursuits. For example, when I was skating competitively for Dufferin Peel Skating Club, they would get up at 5am with me to get me to the ice rink (which was a 30 min drive away) for my 6am morning ice practice. And they did this twice during the week. Their commitment to me meant that I was committed to my sports and I don’t think I can ever thank them enough for their support and dedication to both me and my brother.
What were some of the challenges you faced when deciding to follow your passion & pursue this dream?
I think the biggest challenge is having confidence in yourself. At first I would compare myself to everyone else in the field and feel that I didn’t stack up in comparison. But instead of focusing negative energy on what I couldn’t do, I channeled positive energy into what I could do. I focused on the small steps first- eating clean, lifting heavy, and working hard. As my confidence developed, so did my skills and
I realized that everyone is different but that shouldn’t stop me from chasing my dreams.
Do you have any advice to other women who are possibly on the fence with following their own directions?
Do your research and listen to your gut. If you see a future in fitness, or in any passion, make sure you know what the road ahead for you holds. Look into challenges that others faced, and what quick wins they may have had. Learning from others means we are not reinventing the wheel, but improving on it.
Also look for ways that you can infuse your passion in your current routine before taking the “all-or-nothing” approach. Start a running club at work or a recipes board where you share healthy food options. Finding a way to engage people around you without making drastic changes means that you can improve on your ideas as you go, so when you do decide to take the full-time plunge, you will have direction and feedback to help guide you in the right direction.
Lastly, look for kindred spirits. Read an inspiring article or see someone kicking butt in an area you aspire to kick butt in too? Reach out to them and build relationships with like-minded individuals. You never know when it will come in handy down the road and in the mean time, the support will be invaluable!
Looking back, is there anything that you may have changed that you think would have helped you get on this path sooner?
Success is a journey, and it takes time to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. Don’t beat yourself up for not getting it right the first…or even tenth time. I think I have been really hard on myself over the years as I have struggled with my own personal motivation and will-power. Looking back, I wish I would have saved myself a couple of guilt trips on the way. However, I do know that everything I have gone through has contributed to who I am today, and that in order to appreciate the good moments in life, you need to experience the bad. I always try to remember this when I hit a rough patch on my journey to success.
Where do you see this passion growing to over the next 5 years? And 10?
Nick and I have plans to open our own fitness-focused business within the next 5 years. However, given the nature of the business and the unique value proposition of it, I can’t disclose too much. However, I can confirm it will be a combination of our greatest loves and it will be different from the majority of what currently exists in the market place.
Fitness is our life, our passion. We want to spend the rest of our lives doing what we love most in this world. And while we are waiting to officially launch, we are using all of our free time planning and preparing!
Where can someone find more information about your company/ career choice?
Right now we are in the initial planning stages, but if you want to check-in on my journey, check out Fit, Fun & Free (http://fitfunandfree.com/) where you will find updates on my adventures, clean eats and training recommendations. This will also keep you up to date on future plans so be sure to check back and see what is in store for us over the next 18 months!