Today, we launch The Cowe’s #LocalLove where we highlight boss babes in the city that we admire and respect for their everyday hustle.
To kick off, we feature our ultimate motivation, Jennifer Lau, Read on for how Jenn is truly an inspiration beyond just kicking our a$$ in the gym!
Give us your “quick and dirty”
I’ve been a personal trainer for over 11 years. I focus on functional training and use modalities such as kettlebells and barbells. I am co-owner of Fit Squad, a personal and group training company in downtown Toronto and we just opened our first brick and mortar location! EEEK!
I am one of 20 Nike Master Trainers for North America and the only female in Canada. I’m first generation Chinese Canadian which means I can 100% understand Cantonese but will usually respond in Chin-glish! I’m a Leo so I’m in introverted extravert and according to Gallup, my top two strengths are competition and harmony.
#LocalLove is all about showing love to bad-ass bosses like yourself. Can you share with us what you do for work and how you make an impact?
As a personal trainer I work with a variety of clients to help them reach their health and fitness goals. I am also head coach for Fenom Training, our all women’s strength training program. Fenom Training was created out of a mission to break stereotypes of what women can and should be doing in the gym and in the realm of fitness. Strength training is not reserved for just men. Training has helped me empower other women to find their strengths, gain confidence and realize their potentials.
In January of this year, I co-founded a movement called The Real Toronto. It was created in response to the events and activations held in the city that continued to lack representation of the diverse women in the Toronto’s health and fitness industry. This platform is an all inclusive mission to help bring together the “real women” in Toronto so that we can meet, network and celebrate each other as it is so important for us to be able to see ourselves in these roles. All proceeds from each event benefit Sistering, Toronto’s amazing work for women in our city.
How did you get into the world of training and wellbeing?
I was an athlete growing up and coached volleyball and swimming. I went to school for fashion design and worked in the industry for four years before getting into fitness. I was teaching bootcamps part-time which eventually led to personal training. It soon became a full time job and I then pursued my holistic nutrition designation.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Know when to walk away. I owned a meal delivery service about 5 years ago. Ran it for almost four years with a chef where we created healthy and delicious meals (gluten free, dairy free and soy free), delivered fresh to client doors as well as healthy baked goods for local coffee shops in the city. We didn’t spend a dime on marketing, it was all referral based. The company operated alongside Fit Squad’s training services so essentially running two businesses at a time with zero experience in the food world! In our last year, our commercial kitchen ran into challenges and my chef was looking to take a different direction. As an entrepreneur it’s difficult to walk away from a business you spent blood, sweat and tears for. But it was extremely stressful and probably aged me 10 years in those 4 years- ha ha ha! So after a long decision process I decided to walk away from the business. It was a tremendous learning experience and although it was so much work and sacrifice I don’t regret any of it. I’ve gained so much knowledge and experience and most importantly learned how to make tough decisions based on business and not emotion.
How about the worst?
She will hate me for this but my mother advised me, probably 2-3 years into my career to quit and take a trainer job at a private club because it offered more security.
If you could paint your ideal life, what would that look like in 5-10 years from now?
One of my clients once said she knew she had made it when she walked into one of her clubs and no-one recognized her as the owner. That’s the level I want to be at. Where the company runs on its own and I can focus on high level businessy things.
What are your favourite resources that you’ve come across over the years?
My favourite resources have been my mentors. Finding people who are in your field doing what you want to be doing is the best resource. I would suggest everyone have someone in their field and have someone that is not. It’s important to have someone that is a business mentor to help you grow and make tough business decisions.
We also work closely with an executive coach who has been instrumental in helping my partners and I work best together, as well as our team.
Who are 3 of your favourite Canadian entrepreneurs that our readers should absolutely be in the know about?
Obviously Catriona Smart. That’s a no-brainer. She’s talented, driven, a visionary and down right good people. Name something she hasn’t done…point made 😉
Jenny Bird – Jennifer Lynn Bird. Jewelry designer with such a huge following – her customers are affectionately called birdgirls! I just love her designs…wonder if they’re looking for ambassadors? Ha ha ha
Ruth Tal, founder and owner of Fresh Restaurants. She’s turned a juice stand into a vegetarian restaurant empire! Like whhhhaat?! I am a huge fan of their reinventions of some of the flagship Fresh locations and she’s now expanding into the US
Hope you enjoyed reading, Cowes! Keep up with our #LocalLove feature every Friday on the blog. 🙂