SPOTLIGHT for SEPTEMBER: Hailey Wojick

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.

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Name: Hailey Wojcik
Age: 27
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!

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Interest VS. Commitment

In the past five years, I have made it my mission to follow through on anything that scares me. When I look back at when I was a child, I can pinpoint specific moments that can explain why.

Between the ages of 5-12, I can recall countless trips to Canada’s Wonderland, waiting in lines for roller coasters with parents, and friends. I would be so excited to try the roller coaster, we’d be laughing and talking– that is, until we got close enough that sheer terror would set in, and I’d start to feel sick to my stomach. Sure enough, our turn would come and I would get into the car, slide over for my partner to join me, and JUST before the safety bar came down, I’d bolt. I can remember the look of confusion on my friends faces as the buggy pulled away without me, and I can still feel the anger that was boiling from my father as he would ride solo on a coaster I know he didn’t even want to be on.

I don’t know why I’d bolt. All I remember feeling is that knot in the bottom of my stomach, and before I could even give myself to chance to stand up and face it, I’d quit.

Oh, and then there was the time my parents took me to see TVO Kids, a broadcasting corporation (I’m a 90’s baby haha) and I had a chance to be on “TV” in the same room with “Patty” and “Kevin”. Over an hour waiting in line, and we finally got to the front–

I put the brakes on. Started crying. And through gritted teeth, my parents took me home.

I always felt guilty afterwards, like I had failed in some way. Kids were always excited to go on roller coasters, and I was ALWAYS tall enough but never wanted to. It’s like I felt like I was wasting the opportunities I had!

At age 21, things changed for me. I decided it was time to push through that nervous “knot” and start taking pride in some accomplishments. So to fast track over 5 years, let me give you a sneak peak into my life:
– white water rafting
– cliff jumping
– impromptu trip to Florida for 4 days with one of my best friends
– move to Australia for teacher’s college
– traveling alone across the world
– taking a picture of myself with a snake around my neck (I HHHAATTEE SNAKES)
– snowboarding in New Zealand
– surfing in Oz
– back to Canada (ENTER JEREMY)
– move with with Jeremy after 6 months
– engaged to Jer after 1 year
– skydiving with my girlfriends
– rock climbing indoor & outdoor
– snowboard instructors cert.
– wedding!!
– bought a house
– personal training cert. (working on prenatal & postnatal)
– running boot camp classes
– working for the school board
– spartan sprint
– tough mudder
– two 5 K runs: Girls on the Run & Women’s Run
– 1 Triathlon (haha that’s a WHOLE other story)
– 16K run
– Fitness transformation: 24 + pounds, 14++ inches over my body,

All of this information is critical in order to understand what I’m all about. To the untrained eye, you can see all of my interests; but
what I want you to understand is that I’ve made a commitment.

I decided that I was tired of getting off the roller coaster. I was tired of waiting in line and walking away from the spotlight because I was scared. I decided that instead of ducking my head and walking away from an opportunity, I was going to take a deep breath and simply go for it!

more often than not, it requires me to stop weighing the pros and cons, to stop actually THINKING about it. Start to embrace the moment, and commit to the whole experience

I have made the conscious effort to commit to experiences that could potentially open me up to opportunities that I never even considered before. ALL of the moments I have listed were opportunities where I took a leap of faith to give something a try. Yes, some of them were just fantastic memories, but the big ones… teacher’s college, Australia, snowboard instructing, personal training, JEREMY, they’re they big leaps of faith that I committed to which has brought me to where I am today.

My newest addition to that list is this blog. I’ve been talking about it, brainstorming how to make it happen, meeting with friends to discuss what to do… and to be honest? The longer I sit, think, and plan… it’s just another way that I was getting off that roller coaster.

If I want to make myself better, learn more from others, and have people learn from me and hear my voice… I need to write! I’ve been writing my whole life, but I think it’s about time I commit to it. I’m going to invest in this fitness blog so that my readers will invest in me. No more stalling, no more excuses– just results. Here we go!

apply this to any area of your life.

apply this to any area of your life.